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Old 09-26-2020, 03:12 PM   #17
Grand Villa
CaptJacksFamily's Avatar
Join Date: Nov 2008
Location: Fantasyland (Orlando)
Posts: 2,083

Language and not being able to communicate was one of my big issues and probably keep us going to Europe sooner. One of my coworkers use to tell me I was crazy but I would answer that EPCOT had everything I needed. Well she was right! If you are letting language stop you don't! We have found that almost everyone has at least limited english and if the people that you are dealing with don't someone near by probably does and will be willing to help. In the very few cases when we couldn't communicate pointing and sign language worked very well.

As far as the language on the river cruise boats go they have language of the boat and Crystal cruises that we did were always english. We did see some boats that different languages were used, we saw both Chinese themed boats and German themed boats.

While we have never done big boat cruising I would image you have to brace yourself for a much lower key experience. The dress code for the boat is causal to business casual no reason to bring the suits unless you want to. The excursions are for the most part covered in the cost of the cruise (at least on Crystal) although there are some upgraded trips that do have fees. You can have a very nice trip taking only the included excursions. You are welcome to cancel a trip at any time, there were times we decided to just kick back on the boat and would cancel an afternoon trip. The longer trips did not included lunch but this typically was a plus because it required you to experience local establishments. One of the issues is that the food and drink on the boat is included and is very good, you have to talk yourself out of going to the boat to eat and force yourself to try local flair. Crystal did offer a car and driver at almost every port at an extra cost but it wasn't cheap. Most excursions they would do a tour then leave plenty of time to explore. In some areas they would run shuttles back to the boat at various time intervals so you could kick around at your own pace. You can also leave the boat at any time and explore on your own as long as you get back on board by the establish departure time. As a note from what I have heard in the current COVID world cruises will not allow for anyone leaving the boat that isn't part of a tour.

As a comparison for those of you use to big boat cruising this is a picture of the Crystal Ravel. The top deck is an observation deck (with a pop up bar), on the next deck down the windows toward the bow are the lounge and middle section is reception and stairs the larger windows toward the rear are the guest rooms. On the lower deck the windows toward the bow is the dinning area, the middle again reception and the window towards the stern are guest rooms. As you can see by the picture the river cruise ships often are pretty much just tied up to the shore without docks or support buildings and no booths bring to sell you tours. The Crystal boats do not have balconies but the window is the entire width of the room and the top have of the window lowers so it pretty much turns your entire room into a balcony.

If you are interested we could probably cobble together a trip report of our trips.
- Richard
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