A friend had cruised with Gate One and recommended them. Because Gate One doesn't over advertise, I wasn't sure what to expect, but I was WOWED by the quality of the service, staff, tours and entertainment.
We enjoyed the precruise tours in Budapest and the hotel choice (Budapest Hilton) was in an excellent location. It is attached to a mall and there is a grand market within walking distance to buy authentic cultural food, souvenirs and more!. Went to the Budapest thermal spring spa on our own, but probably wouldn't do that again. It was crowded and not that relaxing, so I would spend time seeing one of the many other amazing sights in Budapest.
Food throughout the week was excellent and always plenty of choices. Didn't miss the wine/beer at lunch like other companies offer. Having those options at dinner was ample for us.
The entertainment and activities on board surpassed other river cruise experiences I have had, but it wasn't too much. Ice cream sundae bar on top deck one afternoon, and a variety show performed by staff one evening for example were fun!
All staff were professional, friendly and organized!
We did the optional "gypsy forest" dinner in Budapest. Fun and worth the money! Optional concert in Vienna was in an impressive, intimate concert hall and included talented musicians and a couple dancers.
I highly recommend Gate One Monarch Empress!
Cruised for our 35th wedding anniversary and paid extra for the suite. Worth every penney with the larger bathroom and more space at the end of the bed for sitting. Larger viewing area at the glass sliding window/doors. In the past I have stayed in regular cabins when traveling with a girlfriend or sister, but this suite definitely made my husband a more contented traveler for the week!