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River Cruise Between Budapest and Amsterdam

Has anyone on the forum taken a river cruise between Budapest and Amsterdam? If you did, which cruise line did you take? Did you like it, pros and cons? What time of year did you go? Do you think there are better destinations for a river cruise than going between Budapest and Amsterdam? I know most people will question why a river cruise, but there are reasons that I won’t go into for taking one.

Posted by
564 posts

You should ask this question at CruiseCritic.com. They have a forum for river cruises.
I can't speak from experience, but we just booked an Amsterdam to Budapest river cruise for April 2019, with Viking.
I looked at other river cruise lines, and this seemed to have good reviews and was cheaper than Tauck, Scenic, AMA. UniWorld.
No need to explain why you want to do a River Cruise. Everyone travels differently. I have done Europe in the hostels, hotels, VRBO's, both as a single and a family and a couple, by Railpass, driving on our own, and guided tours. I think its time for a little pampering and luxury and letting someone else plan the trips.
Have a great time on your river cruise!

Posted by
2507 posts

We did a Scenic cruise to Cambodia and Vietnam and that company is excellent. I would look carefully at the itineraries to see if they appeal to you. Some of the itineraries are better than others.

Posted by
982 posts

I've never been on a cruise, river or ocean, so I may have no business interjecting my opinion, but many of my friends enjoy the Viking river cruises. Just throwing this thought out there: The Danube seems particularly susceptible to seasonal low water levels. Good friends just returned from the most expensive European bus tour ever when their Viking ship from Budapest was able to cruise only ONE day of the scheduled itinerary.

Posted by
8248 posts

I hear very nice things about the river cruises. A number of my friends have taken them.
The drawback for frugal me is the price. I could take three ground trips to Europe for the price of one river cruise.

Posted by
11368 posts

Our favorite river cruise was with AMA Waterways on the Mekong River in Cambodia and Vietnam. We visited places we never could have seen otherwise.
We have taken two with Viking and liked the the one in Russia from St. Petersburg to Moscow more than the one on the Danube. It was more interesting and could have been because of the bad weather, heavy rain, on Danube as well as differences in service on the ships.
Comparing the three cruises, AMA Waterways offered us a higher level of cruise, rooms, food, amenities.

Posted by
489 posts

Yes, we have done the Amsterdam to Budapest on AMA Waterways in the spring of 2016. It was phenomenal. We met great people, drank great beer, ate amazing food, had some great thrilling experiences, biked, saw my first cuckoo bird, experienced the amazing locks, and drifted along history.
Okay, not so you think it was all glory (but 90% yes) the worse part of the trip... was some high water that caused us to be stuck until the levels lowered so we could get under the one bridge that no one bombed during the war. The cruise line does everything possible to allow you to experience the sites. And I will add that this is a LONG cruise. So pace yourself with the beer and wine! But it was lovely to wake up, get a cup of tea and watch rural Germany float by while sitting on our balcony in the morning.
I made perogies in Bratislava at the Hilton Restaurant instructed by their chef.
We have traveled a lot with many different ways in the last 4 years. We've done 3 river cruises with AMA. We've done RS tour. We've done 2 Road Scholar tours. We've done month long trips on our own. We've done a Baltic Cruise of the capitals. We are doing our own trip this fall and then in the spring going to do a OAT trip to Turkey.
River cruises are a non stressful way to see a lot of Europe. They are a bit expensive (we don't do the pre or post stuff) but we love being taken care of like royalty. If you have any questions, please send me a message.

Posted by
23473 posts

We used Viking in southern France and were very pleased. We will be doing Amsterdam to Budapest next Sep (2019). One issue that is uncontrollable and unpredictable is water level. Sometimes too high in the Spring and cannot get under some of the bridges. In the Fall, the reserve. Not enough water to float the boat. We try for mid Sept both for weather, number of tourists, and avoiding high water. This year the reports are not good because of a very hot and dry year in Europe in general. This is a case where you have to be willing to go with the flow. We have friends that always goes in July because of water issues but then she complains about the heat.

You don't have to explain your reasons for a river cruise -- they are great and very convenient.

Posted by
9 posts

I traveled this route on Vantage some years ago with my mother just after my dad passed away. It was an amazing, healing experience gliding smoothly down those many rivers. The tour guides were quite knowledgeable and took great care with my mother who was not always up for the excursions. We liked that this was truly an all inclusive pkg. All excursions were part of the cost so that we were not nickeled and dimed to death. I wouldn’t hesitate to travel with that line again.

Posted by
907 posts

We've taken 3 river cruises with Tauck - Rhone, Rhine/Moselle, and Seine plus 2 land tours. We are booked on their Budapest to Amsterdam cruise for next year. They are pricier than some like Viking, but their river cruises are truly all inclusive. No tipping, no charge for any drinks or alcohol, no extra charges for excursions, etc. They also reward returning travelers with a free night in their contracted hotel (4 and 5 star) at either the beginning or end of your tour (your choice).

I've known people who have taken Viking river cruises that they were very happy with and you can certainly save some money with them. But they do charge for alcohol beyond beer/wine at meals, expect you to tip and have extra excursions at extra cost. The biggest complaint I've heard though is that they don't handle problems well whether that is sudden health issues, airline changes, or water level issues. They don't seem as motivated to keep you returning to them like Tauck - which has so many other tours (land, small ship, etc) to offer.
And yes the Danube does seem more prone to seasonal water level issues. In fact they are having issues right now which means the ships are stuck and you have to be bused to tour locations. We are booked for late May next year so hopefully can avoid.
One of the things I'm looking forward to on the Danube is that so many of the stops are in places where you can walk around and tour at your own pace right where the ship is docked. The Rhone and Moselle were like that. Not so much the Rhine and Seine.
And yes you can read through Cruise Critic but frankly I'd take some of the comments with a grain of salt. I've read ridiculous comments there. They seem to get a high percentage of cranks who are just never happy with anything.

Posted by
6 posts

We took our first river cruise on AMA for 7 days Basel to Amsterdam. We loved it so much we decided we wanted to do the 14 day Budapest/Amsterdam trip. When researching, we realized the price difference from AMA to Viking would almost pay the cost of a RS Berlin-Prague-Vienna tour! Needless to say, we decided to combine both!

We did the BPV late Sept. 2015, then took the train to Budapest from Vienna - easy to do. As for the Viking difference, we were totally happy with Viking. There were a few tours at additional cost, but you did not have to purchase them. We bought the one to Rotenburg as RS really talks it up - it was worth it. There was an included tour every day that was sufficient to get your bearings and most every stop was within walking distance of the town. Viking did not have bicycles - which we never used on AMA.... Otherwise they were much the same. Food was great, beer & wine included with lunch & dinner or you could eat/drink in town or buy what you want & bring it on board (not allowed on ocean cruises). It was totally relaxing not to have to pack & move every few days after a very active RS tour (which was also terrific, BTW).

We did have some gloomy, chilly days in early Oct. & some rain. If I did it over I would go a few weeks earlier, but at that time we had no choice as to time of year. We were concerned about low water levels on the river - we were the first ship to be able to make it the whole way through after weeks of drought. But Viking has enough ships that they could transfer their passengers from one end of the blocked area to an identical ship on the other side and continue on as scheduled - ship swapping. Luckily we did not have to do this.

I would recommend this trip 100%!!! As a matter of fact - we are leaving in 2 days to do RS Village Italy, then fly from Milan to Lyon & go on Viking Provence from Lyon to Avignon - just finished packing the backpacks & ready to go!!!!

Posted by
1878 posts

My wife and I did a river cruise from Budapest to Nuremberg on Avalon in 2014. This was on the Danube and the Main-Danube Canal. While this mode of travel inevitably comes with trade offs, it was a great trip. The nice thing about a river cruise is that you are usually right in the center of things when the boat docks, most excursions (for us) were included, and it's just more of a luxury experience overall than an ocean cruise. You lose your evenings in town because that's when the ship moves. The shore is witting sight of the ship, so when you are sailing during the day you have nice scenery. One downside is that it tends to be a lot more expensive than an ocean cruise of traveling on your own. They have sales at certain times of the year though.