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Monarch Empress Cruise Review
4.0 / 5.0
Cruise Critic Editor Rating
10 Reviews

5 Star Cruise, 2 Star Home Office Customer Service

Monarch Empress Cruise Review by SandraPittsburgh

34 people found this helpful
Trip Details
  • Sail Date: Oct 2018
  • Destination: Europe River

My husband and I took the Danube River Cruise with Prague & Budapest end of October. We are highly seasoned international travelers. We have taken numerous ocean cruises (premium to luxury), and this was our second river cruise. Through no fault of Gate1, our flight was delayed by 6 hours due to having mechanical issues causing a change in aircraft, and then waiting for the reserve aircraft to go through safety checks prior to departure. While waiting for departure, my husband called not once, but twice to keep Gate1 apprised of the situation. Long story short, we arrived in Prague, and even though we had been told by Gate1 that they would be monitoring the flight status, we, and one other couple, were ABANDONED at the Prague airport and essentially told that we did not arrive within the time frame according to their contract, and it was up to us to make our way to the hotel via taxi. Excuse me, but we were in the Immigration line for 1 hour and 25 minutes, and you took the other 10 passengers AHEAD of us that were on the SAME flight. Post trip -- I issued a Complaint with Customer Service that Gate1 owed us an explanation and an apology … that was 10 days ago … still waiting. I've decided that the home office is simply not equipped to handle simple apologies when they fall short, so expect about a 2 rating on Customer Service from this company from the home office. And, don't expect them to be waiting for you at the airport if your flight is delayed. Honestly, it was a BIG DEAL because we had paid for our transfers as they were not included in our package. And, when you pay for a product, you expect the service to be delivered.

The REAL REASON for this review, is honestly once we got past the initial disappointment, and the "Uh Oh, what have we gotten ourselves into" ... the whole experience changed dramatically. Everything about this trip was truly Top Notch! From the European Guides to the Hotels to the Tours to the Meals provided. Last year we took a Rhine River Cruise with Viking with additional nights pre-cruise in Brugges, Belgium, and Amsterdam. Both cruises were so close in nature that I think you can't go wrong. Following were our comparison observations:

1. Agents/Tour Guides/Cruise Director: All Excellent.

2. Hotels: Both Viking and Gate1 provided superb hotels.

3. Longboats: We upgraded to a true balcony cabin with Viking. Gate1 offers French balcony. I was concerned that we would not be satisfied with the sliding window, but as a matter of fact, it was great. I thought there was much more storage provided in the cabin with Gate1; excellent design. Both companies kept their longboats immaculately CLEAN!

4. Dining Room: There seemed to be just a tad fewer choices on food items with Gate1 as opposed to Viking, but I thought both the quality and service was better with Gate1.

5. Tours: All included tours and optional tours were top notch.

6. Fellow Passengers: Well, this truly is luck of the draw, so it will vary. Based on our two river cruise experiences, the Gate1 passengers tended to be much more diverse and more friendly.

7. Price: Reviewing the invoices, and comparing the differences paid in cabin category, shore excursions, airfare, and the additional night provided on one trip as opposed to the other, we paid roughly about the same for both trips.

8. Home Office: Viking is definitely more high touch. If you have not traveled much before, or are somewhat uncomfortable with traveling overseas for any reason, I would recommend trying Viking first. Viking's home office can't seem to do enough for you pre- or post-cruise. Additionally, even though their home office is located in California, their response time is super fast. This is where Gate1 truly misses the mark, and needs to improve.

In summary, would we travel with Gate1 again? Yes, we absolutely would. The trip itself was absolutely wonderful.

Final note: If you don't purchase your airfare with a cruise, you must pay for your airport transfers separately. I highly recommend contacting the hotel assigned to you. Many times they offer a car service at a fraction of the cost of what is provided by the cruise line. Lesson learned.

SandraPittsburgh's Full Rating Summary
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Cabin Review

Cabin C 210

Beautiful cabin kept immaculately CLEAN! Comfy bed and linens, amazing amounts of storage. We did request a top sheet as we are not used to sleeping with the slip covered duvet alone. The bathroom was very nicely designed and surprisingly roomy, plenty of hot water in the shower, very nice toiletries provided. Our Cabin Attendant was AMAZING!

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6 Reviews Written
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