Europe, Germany, Danube River, ms Swiss Jewel, life on board, Sun Deck, Guests: seated: Lisa Engelbrecht, Karen Kalli-Nagy, Standing: Jeff and Julia Wright, Peter and Rae Murphy

Q –   Greetings from the coast of Carolina! We have taken too many ocean cruises to count, and are considering a rivership cruise.  After reading just about everything on your EXCELLENT site, our brains are ready to explode.  Here are some basic needs/filters, and most of our friends (we live in a very active 55+ community and most of us travel– a lot) would be interested in the same needs/filters:

Fancy staterooms not required, but comfortable ones please. Fancy meals not required, but choices at each meal pleas. We are most interested in good tours, as Road Scholar is our gold standard!

We would like to have some daytime cruising, to enjoy the views. We love being with people from other countries and cultures, so bring on the Aussies and Brits, and any other kinds of people! A possible itinerary would include a beginning or end in Budapest, as we want to spend extra days there.  Maybe a seven to ten day cruise?  Probably ending in Budapest, as you recommend downriver. Also willing to go anytime, since we are all retired.  You also recommend late May, September, and early Oct on the Danube to increase our chances of ‘cruising’ rather than ‘busing’.

Not big wine or spirits drinkers, would prefer not to subsidize other people’s drinking. I would say we do not require luxury lines, but no Motel 6 lines please!

Are we asking for too much, or, do such cruises even exist? Thank you very much.

A – Really helpful information about you and your picky friends. You have thrown in some hardballs in the sense that no line will give you exactly what you want. So the first part of our response is – no, that animal doesn’t exist. The two issues that are challenging are day sailing and superior quality touring. You will find both on Crystal – but Crystal is relatively expensive and all drinks are included. Tauck, Scenic, Uniworld are also inclusive.

Our biggest concern is your desire for superior touring. For that, you have to turn to Crystal or Tauck as they go far beyond the more typical local guide walking tours offered by most of the other lines.

To come closest to what you want, we would suggest you concentrate on Avalon and AMA. AMA includes wines with dinner and does have better than average sightseeing. Avalon has some lovely, new boats that feature balcony-facing windows and the kind of American-style dining you are seeking. Our recommendation, therefore, is to consider only those river boat lines that begin with the letter “A”. There is no line that meets everything on your checklist but we think AMA and Avalon will come closest.