Q – I am starting to plan my 50th birthday party on a river cruise in Europe. I will have approximately 6-8 persons traveling. We have 2 singles (issue). I am looking for the most economical cruise that can handle our couples and singles. I was thinking of Nuremberg to Budapest but with the influx of people fleeing bordering countries and flocking to Budapest, I do not feel this will be a good fit. I love scenic, walking, art and wine. Some of us are very active while others are slow movers. I am also an RCI timeshare member and can get discounted rates with most of the water way cruises. I would really appreciate any and all help. Again this is for the big 50…. Thanks.
A – Thank you for visiting us at traveltruth.com And congratulations on your approaching 50th. The procedures to follow can get confusing. This is what we would recommend:
01 – Research the lines with whom your RCI timeshare will get you a substantial discount. It is likely you will need to book it through them to get the discounts. Be cautious – it is possible you will be talking with someone who thinks a riverboat is some sort of canoe.
02 – If they will allow you to choose a consultant, we would suggest finding someone locally who really knows river boats well. You should meet with them face-to-face to plan this special event.
03 – Pay less attention to the fare for doubles and look carefully at single rates. If the single rate is not attractive, and you pro-rate, the fare will be much higher for everyone. Do not expect to earn a free cruise. That begins with 15-20 guests. River boats will not grant free trips to any group below that level. Don;t negotiate this personally. let your consultant deal directly with the line.
04 – You are seriously overreacting to the situation in Budapest. If you are traveling next year, the situation should be a non-issue as Budapest is just a passing point for the refugees, who are headed further north.
05 – We do like the Nuremburg – Amsterdam Routing. Basel to Amsterdam is also a nice itinerary. Good choices.
06 – Your consultant will make several recommendations but, in terms of best value, we would suggest you look most carefully at Emerald Waterways, the budget brand belonging to Scenic. You should also look at Avalon and Viking River. Those three lines will get you the best pricing. Some of the very best values will be found on Avalon and they have several lovely new-builds. None of these lines is inclusive so your actual cost will not be determined until you get back home where you can get suitably depressed when the final bills arrive.
We hope this outline will help you organize your approach to this important trip. Try to select a consultant who is a member of one of the two or three most respected consortium groups. They will have more clout than agents who don;t as they will likely represent millions of dollars in consortium bookings. Key question to ask: What arrangements will my boat arrange for “The Walking Dead” – as some industry types jokingly refer to slow walkers. Make certain there are enough bus tour overviews to accommodate the slow walkers in your group so they don;t feel left behind.