Author Archives: Ralph Grizzle

There are 445 articles by Ralph Grizzle published on this site.


Long River Cruises: How Many Days Could You Do?

One of my best river cruises ever was one of my longest river cruises ever. In 2016, I spent 15 glorious days cruising from Amsterdam to Budapest on AmaWaterways’ AmaSonata. After transiting the Rhine, the Main, the Main-Danube Canal and the Danube, I was left with one thought: Could I stay on and do the cruise in the opposite direction?

Of course, the answer was yes – from me – but a hard no from AmaWaterways. In fact, AmaSonata was not headed back to Amsterdam but would instead operate a series of Danube cruises. Sigh.

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In last week’s post, we talked about the trend toward longer river cruises, longer than seven days, that is. Nearly all of the major river cruise companies now offer long cruises, with some itineraries approaching two months in duration. Two months? That wouldn’t bother our reader Linda at all.

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We wondered when it would happen: When would a savvy river cruise company pick up the rest of Crystal River Cruises fleet. Nearly a year after Crystal went bankrupt, Riverside Luxury Cruises acquired the double-width Crystal Mozart. That left four recently Crystal-built river cruisers with an uncertain fate. We worried that with companies recovering from the pandemic no one would be flush enough with cash to purchase these spectacular ships.

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In anticipation of wave season, Emerald Cruises will expand its ‘Explore the Extraordinary’ campaign into the new year. This campaign, which runs from December 16, 2022 to March 31, 2023, offers savings on a variety of 2023 and 2024 river cruises, along with bonus offers when guests pay in full.

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Emerald Cruises Wave Season Offer: Savings up to $3,000 on River Cruises

In anticipation of wave season, Emerald Cruises will expand its ‘Explore the Extraordinary’ campaign into the new year. This campaign, which runs from December 16, 2022 to March 31, 2023, offers sizable savings on a variety of 2023 and 2024 river cruises, along with a new menu of bonus offers available when guests pay in full.

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One of my favorite river cruise vessels will soon be back in service, the m/s Mozart. I first cruised on the storied ship in 2008, when she was operated by Peter Deilmann. Aside from being awed by Mozart’s impressive width, nearly double that of a typical river cruise ship, I’d never been on a river cruiser with an indoor pool.

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Award-winning luxury river cruise line, AmaWaterways, tells us that travelers can now book unforgettable river cruise vacations on all 2024 itineraries on the iconic rivers of Europe, Africa, Egypt and Asia. With an added reward for early bookings and extended seasons on the Rhine, Danube and Douro rivers, guests have the opportunity to save now when reserving their much-anticipated journeys. Whether celebrating a milestone anniversary, a special birthday or a reunion with friends and family, river cruising with AmaWaterways offers the perfect variety of included tours and culinary experiences to please all ages and types of travelers searching for a more personalized way to reconnect with the world around them.

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We’ve done a number of articles featuring our best river cruise tips. Search our site and you’ll find posts such as Our Top Three Tips For Choosing Your River Cruise, Three Tips For Cruisers Going To Europe, Five Tips For Choosing Your Stateroom, Airfare Hacks: Cheap Business Class Tickets For Your River Cruise, and many more articles designed to provide you with a better (and often, cheaper) river cruise experience.

This week, we turned to Emma Cakmak, owner of A Passport To Travel. Emma just returned from a river cruise in Bordeaux. That’s her in the photo above doing what we often love to do on our river cruises: exploring by bicycle.

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News that comes as no surprise to us: Riviera River Cruises is proud to announce that it has received 2022 Magellan Awards from Travel Weekly for its solo traveler offerings. We’re not surprised because we have long touted – and advised single travelers – that Riviera represents one of the best choices when it comes to traveling solo. See Britton’s story, Riviera River Cruises: The Best For Solo Travelers?

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Focus On France & Beyond

This week, Britton is gearing up for her Rhine river cruise on Riviera’s Geoffrey Chaucer. That means arranging for pet-sitters, shopping for new clothes (of course), and finalizing the logistics of her trip. She’s become quite the traveler, something that she began training for early on in life. In fact, she was only approaching her first birthday when she crossed the Atlantic on the venerable Queen Elizabeth 2, the first of many cruises for the now 27-year-old.

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Earlier this week, we heard from a reader who was “stuck” in Passau on Uniworld’s River Duchess. Underway now, the ship had been stationary since September 3 due to low water levels on the Danube. “The River Duchess has been impacted by the low water near Passau,” Uniworld’s CEO Ellen Bettridge told us on Wednesday. “Good news is that it is raining.”

The stretch of river between Passau and Regensburg had been impassable until Thursday of this week. This afternoon (Saturday), River Duchess was heading toward Bamberg, doing six knots per hour (~7 mph), according to cruisemapper.com.

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For most of us, a river cruise represents a significant investment. First, there’s the investment of planning your vacation and carving out time to do it. If you’re retired or if you have a flexible work schedule, finding a time to river cruise probably isn’t an issue. You still need to plan, though. Planning is likely why you’re here researching on our site, River Cruise Advisor.

Second, there’s the investment of getting to your river cruise destination, and perhaps getting there a few days before your river cruise begins so that you can shake off the jet lag and acquaint yourself with the destination. You’ll spend for getting to the airport, the flight, the transfer to the dock where your ship departs or your hotel. If you’re arriving a few days early, you’ll need to budget for dining out and sightseeing. And if you’re flying in comfort, you’ll need to shuck out extra money for seat upgrades. Before you even get to Europe, you’ve spent a fair amount of money.

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Weather.com tells us it’s raining right now in Kaub, Germany. That’s good news for the German town in the picturesque Rhine Gorge. The Rhine is set to rise too, approaching 50 centimeters at the Kaub marker, after having dropped to 30 centimeters earlier this week. The low water levels disrupted most, but not all, river cruises.

Both Riviera and CroisiEurope have continued to sail through the Rhine Gorge without interruption. “On the Rhine, we’ve continued to operate our two main programs:  Amsterdam-Basel and Strasbourg-Remich,” says Michael DaCosta, general manager, North America for Strasbourg-based CroisiEurope. “There has been some rain this week, which helps a lot.  We’re lucky that we have relatively small ships, designed with low water levels in mind.”

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The weakness of the Euro (and the strength of the U.S. dollar) is unfortunate for the Europeans. Citizens in the Eurozone appear to have a tough winter and a potentially deep recession to endure in the months ahead. We hope that doesn’t come to pass, but what is clear is that the Euro is in decline, which may, or may not, be transitory.

Earlier this week, the Euro and U.S. dollar reached parity, and in fact, the Euro even dipped slightly below one U.S. dollar on Wednesday. Parity between the two major world currencies hasn’t happened in 20 years, and some analysts posit that the Euro has even further to fall. Read the rest of this entry »

AmaWaterways To Launch Second Nile Ship

On the heels of AmaWaterways’ beautiful AmaDahlia celebrating the close of her first season on Egypt’s legendary Nile River last week, the company announced it will launch a second ship in Egypt. The second ship, named AmaLilia, after the sacred blue water lily flower of ancient Egypt, will set sail in 2024 to meet the growing demand for this exotic offering.

Like AmaDahliaAmaLilia will sail the immersive Secrets of Egypt & Nile itinerary, offering an unparalleled 11-night cruise and land experience including a seven-night roundtrip river cruise from Luxor, paired with three nights pre- and one-night post-cruise stays in historic Cairo. Similar to her sister ship, AmaLilia will be thoughtfully designed with regionally inspired décor, spacious staterooms and suites, and a specialty restaurant included in the river cruise fare.

Check out the AmaDahlia photo gallery below. Photos courtesy of AmaWaterways. Read the rest of this entry »

Avalon Has ‘New’ Leadership

Normally, promotions at a river cruise company wouldn’t be something we’d publish. But in this case, we’re pleased to see that Pam Hoffee has taken the helm of Avalon Waterways. We’re pleased because Pam’s passionate about river cruising. Under her leadership we expect even better things to happen for one of the world’s most popular river cruise companies.

Pam tells us that she will be 100 percent focused on Avalon, instead of dividing her time between Avalon and other duties. “I am so thrilled about it as the brand is growing so much and deserves this attention,” she says. “I am very excited for the future with Avalon.”

Yep, we agree. Avalon is doing some wonderful things. We’ll be reporting on what is setting Avalon apart in future posts here on River Cruise Advisor.

Here’s the official press release … Read the rest of this entry »

In last week’s survey asking What, If Anything, Is Holding You Back From River Cruising In Europe, more than half of respondents (52 percent) said that it was war in the Ukraine that made them hesitant to river cruise this year. We did not ask readers to elaborate, something we may do in a future post.

War in the Ukraine was followed closely by the Covid surge in Europe. Nearly 30 percent of you expressed concerns about the variant tearing its way through Europe. I am on barges traveling in France now with a group of 20+. On the last morning of our first barge trip, two people tested positive. Both were mild cases. When I checked in with the two this morning to ask how they were feeling, they replied, ”Generally okay, symptoms similar to a cold, some coughing, sinus draining, slight elevated body temps.” Read the rest of this entry »

In last week’s survey asking What, If Anything, Is Holding You Back From River Cruising In Europe, more than half of respondents (52 percent) said that it was war in the Ukraine that made them hesitant to river cruise this year. We did not ask readers to elaborate, something we may do in a future post.

War in the Ukraine was followed closely by the Covid surge in Europe. Nearly 30 percent of you expressed concerns about the variant tearing its way through Europe. I am on barges traveling in France now with a group of 20+. On the last morning of our first barge trip, two people tested positive. Both were mild cases. When I Read the rest of this entry »

SeaDream Yacht Club recently announced a more than $10 million dramatic upgrade and renovation project for twin yachts SeaDream I and SeaDream II. The project is now complete on board SeaDream II, and on March 26 SeaDream I goes into drydock for 54 days in Lisbon, Portugal to undergo identical renovations as SeaDream II.

A recent onboard photo shoot has resulted in a glorious new collection of images showcasing the beauty of SeaDream II and serves as a precursor to SeaDream I’s upgrade. Quotes from recent SeaDream II guests such as “Love all the updates,” “New spaces are outstanding,” “Simply Read the rest of this entry »

France To Suspend Pass Sanitaire

It wasn’t long after we published last week’s post, Seven Workarounds To France’s Pass Sanitaire, that we learned of the French government’s plans to drop requirements for the health pass. This comes as welcome news to travelers heading to France this spring and beyond. In fact, Britton is headed to France on Monday. See I’m Going To Paris On Monday.

While we won’t know the full details until next week, this site, www.gouvernement.fr/info-coronavirus, (translated from French), suggests that the Pass Sanitaire will not be required for most activities: From March 14, the application of the “vaccination pass” will be suspended in Read the rest of this entry »

With river cruising abroad resuming, many of us have plans to travel to Europe in the coming months. One vexing issue, particularly for those of us from North America, is how to obtain the European Union Covid Certificate, which effectively provides freedom of mobility while in Europe. While, yes, anecdotally, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control vaccination card can suffice in some cases, assuming that you’re fully vaccinated (which in France includes the booster), the paper card is not guaranteed to work when stepping off an international flight in Paris, for example, and hoping to catch the train to the Strasbourg or Bordeaux. From our understanding, doing such will likely require the QR codes representing the Read the rest of this entry »