Monarch Empress front lounge
Monarch Empress front lounge / Hans Heiligers
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Gate 1 Travel's Monarch Queen
Gate 1 Travel's Monarch Queen / Gate 1 Travel
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Monarch Empress suite cabin
Monarch Empress suite cabin / Hans Heiligers
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Monarch Empress dining room
Monarch Empress dining room / Hans Heiligers
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Monarch Empress front lounge
Monarch Empress front lounge / Hans Heiligers
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Monarch Baroness outside cabin
Monarch Baroness outside cabin / Gate 1 Travel
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Monarch Baroness sun deck with Jacuzzi
Monarch Baroness sun deck with Jacuzzi / Gate 1 Travel
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Monarch Baroness dining room
Monarch Baroness dining room / Gate 1 Travel
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Monarch Princess
Monarch Princess / Gate 1 Trave
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Monarch Princess dining room
Monarch Princess dining room / Gate 1 Travel
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Outside cabin on the Duchess Deck of the Monarch Queen
Outside cabin on the Duchess Deck of the Monarch Queen / Gate 1 Travel
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Monarch Queen lounge
Monarch Queen lounge / Gate 1 Travel
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Monarch Queen lounge
Monarch Queen lounge / Gate 1 Travel
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Monarch Queen top deck with hot tub
Monarch Queen top deck with hot tub / Gate 1 Travel
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Monarch Queen exterior deck
Monarch Queen exterior deck / Gate 1 Travel
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Gate 1 Travel
Our Review
Deal Expert / Travel Blogger

After years of privately chartering ships to sail on the world’s rivers, ubiquitous vacation packager Gate 1 Travel has gone a big step further — building and owning its own ship. The Monarch Empress debuted in 2016 when it joined its three chartered sister ships — the Monarch Queen, the Monarch Princess, and the Monarch Baroness — in the company’s fleet. Now, with these four ships sailing in Europe and plans to add a fifth in 2019, Gate 1 Travel is making a strong case for affordable, unpretentious river cruising. The company also sails a number of chartered ships in Asia.

What We Love
It’s Affordable: Coming in at about two-thirds the cost of its major competitors, Gate 1 Travel’s river cruises — which take you to all the same ports and offer similar tours — are a bargain. In fact, air-inclusive prices with Gate 1 Travel tend to cost less than just the cruise on other lines.
 
It’s Laid-back: There are no formal nights, no didactic dress codes, and the staff is refreshingly personable. They're much more likely to share a joke or a personal anecdote than to fuss over the placement of your napkin.
 
You’re in Familiar Company: With a loyal following in the United States, the vast majority of cruisers on Gate 1 Travel’s ships are American. 
Best Known For
The Classics: Gate 1 Travel's bread-and-butter Europe itineraries on the Rhine, the Danube, the Main, and the rivers of Holland and Belgium offer a comfortable, stress-free way to get acquainted with river cruising.
 
A Deep Connection to Land Touring: Gate 1 Travel has more than 35 years of experience booking packaged land vacations. Want to add a weeklong guided land tour of Eastern Europe after your river cruise? You can book it seamlessly here. You’ll also notice that, thanks to this history, all of Gate 1 Travel’s in-port programming runs like clockwork. Buses and tours depart exactly on time or even early, and optional excursions (which can be booked for an extra fee) almost always have a worthwhile, free-to-join guided tour as an alternative.  
 
Seasonal and Last-Minute Deals: Gate 1 Travel offers some amazing discounts on its already well-priced cruises. Signing up for the email list is a good way to keep up with these. 
Who It's Best For
Older Couples: Retired couples from across the United States are sure to find like-minded companions onboard.
 
Newbies: If you’re just getting your feet wet with river cruising, Gate 1 Travel's ships are a good place to start. You’ll find that many cruisers onboard have transitioned to river cruising after years of joining Gate 1’s guided land tours. 
Don't Say We Didn't Warn You
There's Less Downtime Than You'd Expect: Though a river cruise sounds leisurely, remember that Gate 1 Travel specializes in guided tours. The opportunities to join them on its river cruises are many; sometimes there are multiple offered in a single day. If you crave some independent wandering time, you’ll have to work — and curb your FOMO (fear of missing out) — to find it for yourself.
 
You'll Cruise in Comfort, Not Luxury: These cruises offer excellent value for the money, but if you're in search of cutting edge  design, Michelin-star cuisine,  or white-glove service, you may be disappointed here.