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Ask Trip Coach: River cruising

By Brad Tuttle
January 27, 2022
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Illustration by Chris Gash

For a charming, laid-back, no-hassles tour of Europe, river cruising is hard to beat. If you've ever had questions about this elegant mode of travel, send them in to us now.

River cruising, while growing rapidly in popularity, is new to a lot of travelers—and that's why we're devoting an upcoming Trip Coach column to the topic.

You might be wondering:

What are the most scenic rivers?

What are the most interesting and fun riverside villages and towns to explore?

Besides Europe, where are river cruises offered?

What are the differences between Avalon Waterways, Viking River Cruises, Uniworld, and other companies operating river cruises?

How different is river cruising from the big-ship ocean cruise experience?

And of course, how do you get the best price on a cabin?

Send in your questions about river cruising, and we'll do our best to clue readers in on everything they need to know about the experience in an upcoming issue of Budget Travel.

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Tips for Cruising on a Budget

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Cruises: Getting to the meat of the matter

Sneaky add-ons aren't just an airplane phenomenon anymore. The word on the high seas is that Royal Caribbean is floating (excuse the pun) the concept of charging more for items like premium steaks in its main dining rooms, where passengers have had the luxury of ordering anything they want for no extra charge. The line has started to sell 10-ounce Black Angus steaks for $15 in the main dining rooms on two of its ships, Freedom of the Seas and Majesty of the Seas. What do you think? Has the line, well, crossed the line? Or is this a positive new perk?

Cruises

River Cruises: Watch out for bankruptcies

The popular German river cruise company Peter Deilmann Cruises will shut down its river cruise operation by year end due to money trouble. [UPDATE 7/10: Its ocean cruises will continue to operate.] Meanwhile, one of the largest European operators, Viking River Cruises, has been having a bumpy ride financially. A planned funding deal this past spring to cover expenses has fallen through. But—unsurprisingly—Viking claims it is in sound financial condition, reports The Travel Insider. Bottom line—be careful with whom you book a river cruise with. Given the struggling economy, river cruise lines—and the travel agencies that sell them—may sink in red ink. Book with a credit card. If you never receive the cruise you paid for, write a letter to the "billing inquiries" address on your credit card statement (and keep a photocopy for your records). You should get a refund to your card within 60 days, thanks to protection under the federal Fair Credit Billing Act. If you buy travel insurance, buy it directly from an insurer like Travel Guard or Access America rather than from a cruise line or travel agency, which may go bankrupt and charge marked-up prices for policies.

Cruises

Puerto Vallarta says it's safe, despite Princess canceling calls

Following the news this week that Princess Cruises has canceled calls in Puerto Vallarta, the Mexican beach destination assured it remains safe for tourists. "Puerto Vallarta is a leading cruise destination in Mexico and continues to offer a wide range of shore excursions and a safe experience for all cruise passengers visiting its port from around the world," the Puerto Vallarta tourism board said in a statement this week. Princess Cruises canceled its calls in Puerto Vallarta on three Sapphire Princess sailings: Nov. 19, Dec. 10 and Dec. 31. "Our security department continues to monitor the actions taking place in specific areas of Mexico. As the safety and security of our passengers and crew is our highest priority and based on the continued violence in these areas, we've made the decision to cancel our calls to Puerto Vallarta and Mazatlan," the cruise line said in a statement. Those departures will instead include a two-day call in Cabo San Lucas and Ensenada, Mexico. In April, the U.S. State Department issued a travel warning that outlined areas throughout Mexico where there have been reports of crime and violence. For the state of Jalisco (Puerto Vallarta is located in Jalisco), the State Department said that official U.S. government employees are prohibited from traveling to the cities of Colotlan and Yahualica in Jalisco, "because of an increasingly volatile security situation." It also stated that "border areas between Jalisco state and the states of Zacatecas and Michoacan, as well as in or near the cities of Tepic and Xalisco, Nayarit have been sites of violence and crime involving TCOs. You should exercise extreme caution when traveling in these areas." (TCOs stand for transnational criminal organizations.) However, there was no mention of Puerto Vallarta in the State Department's travel warning. The Puerto Vallarta tourism board said in a statement that it was "sorry to learn of Princess Cruises' recent decision," but referred to a recent security assessment study conducted by security consulting firm Thomas Dale & Associates, which found that the number of negative events involving foreigners or non-foreigners in Puerto Vallarta is fractional compared to the millions of visitors that vacation in Puerto Vallarta annually. The study also found that visitors to the destination feel safe and continue to visit Puerto Vallarta repeatedly. The Puerto Vallarta tourism board said that despite Princess' decision it "looks forward to welcoming Princess Cruises and its passengers to Puerto Vallarta again in 2012." More from Budget Travel: One incredibly delicious reason to be grateful to Mexico The ideal vacation: Indulge or detox? What's your worst "lost luggage" story?

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