Although we had traveled with Gate 1 previously on land (India and Nepal and Romania just prior to this sailing) we had no firm idea what to expect from them on a river cruise. All we knew is that they were considerably less expensive than the "name" brands like Viking, AMA, Avalon (in some cases barely half the cost).
We were totally impressed. Although this was our first river cruise we've been on over 85 ocean cruises from 7 days to 35 days, on mainstream and luxury brands alike. The ship is very nicely decorated, has adequate public spaces for the pax load (133 on our sailing) even a small fitness center.
Food was way better than expected. Lots of local focus--Bulgarian dishes when there, a Hungarian night, etc. Service top notch. Wine and beer included with dinner but not lunch (which differentiates it from e.g. Viking, but not worth the extra price). A draft beer and a white wine at lunch ran a total of 8 Euros when we ordered that during one lunch.
The Cruise Director, George, from Romania was everything you could ask for in that position and much more. Did 2 extremely interesting enrichment lectures, highlighted by one on the EU, for whom he works in the off season. Personable, knowledgeable and very approachable.
The rest of the staff was friendly and more than capable in their positions. Stateroom spotless, restaurant and bar service perfect.
Ended the cruise with absolutely nothing but compliments and no complaints. So happy that we decided to take a chance on Gate 1 instead of dishing out lots more money for one of the legacy river cruise brands.
Cabin nicely appointed. Plenty of storage. Bathroom smaller than on some other Gate 1 ships but perfectly adequate.