Q – We’ve done a fair amount of research as this will be our first river boat cruise. The best options seem to boil down to the Viking Longboats, all of which are new, or the Uniworld company and their boat the Antoinette. We’re in our early sixties, not all that traveled, and we like the finer things in life. We appreciate good service and we are choosing a river boat for a sailing in July or August next year. Any advice would be appreciated since the internet boards have confused the hell out of us. Everything sounds good.

A – Well everything sounds good but somewhere among the good is “the better or the best”.  We have some concerns about a generation that seems to believe what it reads without knowing anything about the background of the reviewer.

You will enjoy your cruise no matter which company you choose. But in terms of overall quality, we would urge you to do the SS Antoinette with Uniworld. She is a one-of-a-kind river boat with beautiful interior designs by Uniworld’s partner, the Red Carnation Hotel group. Uniworld has better food and the service is partly a reflection of the on-board math. The longships have 180 guests served by 40 crew members. The Anotinette sails with 150 guests served by a crew of sixty.

In hotel terms, look at Viking as a Marriott and Uniworld’s Antoniette as a Peninsula. It is all in the details and Uniworld continues to rise in our ratings. As to the best month, July is always better than August on any itinerary in Europe. That has less to do with the weather than it does with the exodus of many small business and restaurant owners, resulting in closings that could affect your vacation. This is less an issue in Germany but it is an issue in Italy, Spain, and Portugal.