Q – We usually do the travel planning for our group of six friends (We all worked together at Caterpiller). Next year, the group wants to do a river cruise and we were thinking about the Rhine versus the Danube. We love walking around towns together, stopping to shop, having a drink or two, and stopping to enjoy a fine lunch. We’re not a museum crowd. We have served in the military and we do have an interest in seeing some of the former Soviet bloc countries. Is the Rhine right for us? We have sailed NCL and Crystal and we’re looking at Avalon and AMA. Love to have your best recommendations. Keep up the good work.

A – You are really late. It will not be easy to secure three cabins on the sailing and date you want for this coming summer. That said, we think the Danube is a better option for you. Both Avalon and AMA are well thought of but AMA comes in with higher ratings in most categories.

The Rhine offers some terrific castles and nice settings. It flows from Switzerland to Holland. This is considered a bit more of a history and culture itinerary versus than the Danube which starts in Germany, usually the village of Passau and ends in Romania. Many of the cities along the Danube were closed due to the imposition of the Iron Curtain. There is an energy in Serbia, Croatia, Slovakia, and Bulgaria that is palpable and it is, quite frankly, an itinerary that is a bit more exciting given your specific interests.