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  #41  
Old September 3rd, 2012, 04:55 PM
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While you're waiting for Viv's photos (they're terrific and now we'll want to see the Russian ones too) here's a link to Ralph Grizzle's slideshow. He did one of the early voyages and did a review on his website. Hope the link works:

http://www.flickr.com/photos/avidcru...19829379/show/
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  #42  
Old September 24th, 2012, 07:29 PM
agreene agreene is offline
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Originally Posted by amyr View Post
While you're waiting for Viv's photos (they're terrific and now we'll want to see the Russian ones too) here's a link to Ralph Grizzle's slideshow. He did one of the early voyages and did a review on his website. Hope the link works:

http://www.flickr.com/photos/avidcru...19829379/show/
Fabulous pics! Wonder what kind of camera he used?
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  #43  
Old October 4th, 2012, 04:38 PM
alexandra cruiser alexandra cruiser is offline
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Thumbs up 2 new reviews posted...

and looks like lots of improvements have been made...

Keep those reviews coming in,,,,thanks...
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  #44  
Old October 26th, 2012, 08:37 AM
alexandra cruiser alexandra cruiser is offline
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Question A new review has me wondering,,

said APT passengers set tone of cruise??what does that mean,exactly?

Think its an Australian tour company,right? Do they book most of ship,or what? Why would that matter,,,maybe OP reviewer can answer.

Rest of comments positive,great.
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  #45  
Old October 26th, 2012, 10:38 PM
freddie freddie is offline
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AC - APT is, as we were told on our La Marguerite cruise last year, not only an Australian tour company but also a significant part-owner of Amawaterways. I cannot speak to any cruise except ours; but in our case, the large APT group (all Aussies) very much set the tone of the cruise and not in any positive sense.

About a third of the pax on our cruise were with the APT group. We don't know how they behaved on the land portion of the trip, as we did our own private tour before and after the 7-day Mekong River cruise. However, they certainly seemed to have a rather disturbing sense of entitlement on the boat. It was our distinct impression, along with that of our four traveling companions (however flawed that impression may have been) that the APT group considered themselves rather a law unto themselves because of APT's financial interest in AMA. For example, once at the bar I heard one of the "ringleaders" of the APT group remark that, "Don't forget - this is our boat! We own it!" Of course, that isn't true, as La Marguerite is owned by a Vietnamese company and Amalotus is only partially owned by Amawaterways in partnership with that same Vietnamese company.

In any event, the APT group was particularly annoying in the dining room, which has a low ceiling and a serious noise problem. Members of the APT group thought nothing of shouting from table to table, starting cheers or songs during dinner, and generally behaving as if the rest of the passengers were of no consequence whatever. They behaved in a similar fashion in the lounge and even in the small library/computer room, the latter of which was designated as a "quiet space" for the comfort of all passengers.

Further, even though AMA is emphatic (in its literature and in the documents that we received upon boarding) that it is not possible to reserve tables in the dining room, in fact each evening there were at least three of the prime tables clearly reserved (with less-than-subtle placards) for the APT group. As for the rest of us, we were required to get to the dining room just as it opened to try to snag a table for our little group of six.

I will concede that the boisterous and inconsiderate behavior of the APT group was encouraged a bit by the CD, who was a sort of cheerleader type and appeared to relish such things as passengers yelling out the name of their tour groups (sort of like some lame Holiday Inn lounge lizard asking everyone from Iowa to stand up and shout out).

The appallingly noisy dining room experience was distinctly unpleasant and was the only genuinelly negative aspect of the cruise on the Mekong.

So, AC, if it is possible to determine whether there will be a large APT group on a cruise that you are considering, we would seriously counsel finding another date. In your case, as I know that you're already booked, I will simply wish you the good luck of not having an APT group on your cruise.

By the way, we have close friends who are Aussies and would travel with them without any reservation whatever. Therefore, please do not consider my comments here to be anti-Oz. However, it may well be that when APT enters the picture, things get less than ideally pleasant.

Cheers, Fred

Last edited by freddie; October 26th, 2012 at 10:57 PM.
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  #46  
Old October 26th, 2012, 11:34 PM
shoshona2 shoshona2 is offline
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Unhappy Apt

Hi Freddie,

We had the same situation on the AMA Katarina when we did the Volga River last year. My husband went down at 7:00 a.m. every morning to reserve a table in the upper dining room which was smaller and less noisy than the main dining room. Apparently, my TA told me that AMA has NO control over the Russian cruises and the Vietnam cruises. They only care about the European cruises. I believe that APT owns the majority stock in AMA. After being lied to by AMA, we decided NEVER to give them another dime of our money no matter how wonderful the reviews are for their European cruises. There are other companies besides AMA and we have a choice!

Sheila
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  #47  
Old October 27th, 2012, 10:37 AM
alexandra cruiser alexandra cruiser is offline
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Wink Thanks,,now I get what they were referring too

and will just have to HOPE we don t have same experience. Have never heard of this before on this cruise,so MAYBE a fluke???

My travel agent is an Aussie and I asked him,,said that would be "rare occurence" that most Aussie s "just want to have fun and tend to be a triffle loud,,haha". So he better be right,or he ll hear about it.Even booked a Scenic Cruise for next yr.(that s an Aussie company too).

Sheila,,,I wrote about my Viking Russian Cruise in response to your AMA cruise complaints.We had similar bad cruise staff experiences(but passengers seemed fine and easy going). Guess its the luck of the draw when ships are owned by others??

Did take AMAcerto June cruise(Prague to Budapest) and one of my FAVORITES so far. So it really VARIES,it seems.
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  #48  
Old October 27th, 2012, 10:40 AM
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Default Amawaterways/APT

As Aussies, who travelled on the Amalotus independent of the APT group, and who met and socialised with people from other parts of the world on that cruise, we were a bit disappointed to find our booking on Amakatarina was all APT with passengers who were mostly Aussies, a few people from NZ and the UK. We travel because we like to meet people from all over the world and learn about their culture and would never have booked the "all APT" cruise if we had known at the time. Only one Amakatarina cruise each year is dedicated to APT. As it happened, we enjoyed the cruise and didn't find the group particularly rowdy and met delightful people from different parts of Australia and NZ. (I will be putting our review up soon- still working on the photos.) We did chat to an APT representative who was sailing with us and asked why they have ships that are almost full of Aussies It seems the main reason is that we are not good tippers as it is not something we do much in Australia - people do get paid very well. This has meant that on many cruises the crew members are not very keen to work on a ship that has a high % of Aussies as they need their gratuities to make up the not-so-good-pay! We are fortunate that we have an economy that is doing better than many at present, and so it is Aussies who are filling many of the river cruises - especially in Vietnam and China as they are closer to home than Europe. Our fares are quite a bit higher than what we see advertised for North American passengers - because our gratuities are included. On the Amakatarina they also made other additions to the itinerary - two bottles of water in the room each morning and evening, Vegemite at breakfast !! The Moscow Circus, Armoury and ballet were included rather than offered as options. Again because Aussies prefer to pay as much as possible in advance.

When we asked some of the Aussies, who always use APT, why they did prefer to travel with their countrymen/women their response was that they felt APT understood their needs better - but also that they had been on cruises that were more than half filled with people from the USA who tended to take over and stick together. This was particularly so on Uniworld and Viking. So it should be looked at from both sides.
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  #49  
Old October 27th, 2012, 12:06 PM
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When I told my husband that we would likely have a lot of Aussies on board with us he was excited because he lived in Melbourne for a year and loves Australians. They truly are delightful and interested in having a good time. That being said, I understand the groups are pretty segregated mainly because of the Aussie tipping structure. Since their gratuities are included they keep their own tour guides while the rest of us have to dole out dollar bills at every turn. Personally, I prefer the Australian way and wish it was set up like that for us.

I was dismayed a couple of months ago when I read freddie's review, and I'm holding out hope that the group he ran up against was a group of travel agents and/or APT employees that were on a FAM trip. Having been on a FAM trip or two and sailed with a group of travel agents on an X cruise, I can testify that it can be a pretty entitled crowd no matter the nationality. Hopefully that was the root of the "we own this boat" comment that freddie heard.

I had wondered when I tried to book LaMarguerite for the trip starting four days after our AMALotus cruise and was told it was chartered if they weren't starting to segregate the groups onto two different ships. Seems understandable with the fee and amenity structure being so different. Someone popped into the other thread though from California who managed to book onto that LaMarguerite cruise, so that's obviously not the case.

As for Uniworld, we were told on our Danube Cruise that they primarily market to Americans (and Canadians too, I presume) but we met a lovely couple from Tasmania who made the best of it with our tipping ways.

Our AMALotus tour begins one month from today!
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  #50  
Old October 27th, 2012, 09:51 PM
freddie freddie is offline
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Amyr - The group of boorish passengers on our cruise was not composed of TA's or APT employees. Rather, the group comprised people who had apparently been convinced by their group leader that they were endowed with a certain greater status than the other passengers on the boat and therefore could behave in a manner which did not require any consideration for the other pax on board. This had nothing to do with the accommodations, as we and our traveling companions had the premier suites on the boat.

Further, the behavior of the APT group had nothing to do with tipping included or prepaid. I have no reason to believe that tipping protocols have anything whatever to do with the group dynamic of the cruise or the conduct of the passengers in any group.

When you state that you were "dismayed" by my earlier posts, that concerns me very much. I remain, as I thought that I stated in my earlier posts, convinced that AMA is, at this time, the best way to cruise the Mekong.

Cheers, Fred
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  #51  
Old October 28th, 2012, 06:16 PM
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Oh dear, Freddie, don't be concerned - I too think that AMA is the best way to see the Mekong. Being a past Uniworld passenger and knowing I could get a past passenger discount, I took one look at their itinerary and their ship and booked the AMA trip - I think it's much better. I am really, really, really hoping that your boorish crowd was a one-off though. Hopefully that group leader isn't leading tours anymore, and it's only 7 days out of the whole tour anyway. I'm sure we'll be fine, but I will be sure to report back here
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  #52  
Old October 29th, 2012, 05:34 AM
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I am not sure who wrote that but it seems to make sense! I think you can be unlucky with groups on a cruise or tour - so often with the aid of a glass of wine or two, people can behave on holiday in a different way that they might at home - they feel anonymous and perhaps use the wine to give them courage to socialise with strangers. On our Amalotus cruise, it was a large group from Finland who caused most of the noise and the fact they also made that noise in their own language closed the rest of us right out of the fun they were having. On the last night of the cruise we ventured to the sundeck where the Fins usually congregated after dinner. We asked if they minded us joining them at the bar and it was they who were able to speak to us in English. In no time we were laughing with them, and chatting in English - it seemed they had felt a bit neglected by the other passengers - who possibly didn't even realise they spoke such excellent English, because they hadn't tried speaking to them. We wished we had made an effort to speak to them before as many of them were very interesting. Perhaps rather than being irritated by a group who are obviously enjoying themselves you should ask to join in, you might find, as we did, that much of their "sticking together" is a shield - they had one certain thing in common, their Nationality. Of course the Aussies bragging that the ship was theirs was over the top but perhaps it was those glasses of wine speaking with encouragement from an overzealous guide?
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  #53  
Old November 2nd, 2012, 09:23 AM
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I posted this in the other thread, but I'll add it here as well. My TA sent me this link to an AMALotus review that I hadn't seen before, I guess this guy went in August/September. I'm going to try to link it here. He wrote a pretty good blog of his trip as well - if you click on his name in the review (Eric Goldring) and then once you get to his blog scroll down to August, you can begin reading his entries from the bottom up. They continue in September. I had to laugh because he, like freddie, encountered a loud entitled group, but they were led by their travel agent and were from Vancouver. I forgot to mention in the other post that they stayed at the Sheraton Towers in HCMC, when I thought we would be at the Sofitel as others had reported. Sure enough, I checked my documents (which arrived yesterday) and we're at the Sheraton too. I think the location is much better. Also worthy of noting was that on his included AMA tours they visited the Hanoi Hilton and the War Remnants Museum in HCMC, neither of which I thought were on the tours, so I made my own arrangements to visit them. I'll post this in the review thread as well:

http://www.expertclick.com/NRWire/Re....aspx?id=41705

PS - They stayed at the Sheraton Towers in HCMC, when I thought we were at the Sofitel. I checked my documents, and sure enough, we're at the Sheraton too. It's a much better location, so I'm pleased. Glad I saw it though as I had a Cu Chi Tunnels tour set up with a pick up at the other hotel!

Last edited by amyr; November 2nd, 2012 at 09:37 AM.
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  #54  
Old November 2nd, 2012, 03:41 PM
alexandra cruiser alexandra cruiser is offline
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Smile Thanked you in other thread,,but

I ll hold off making other tour arrangements till I see exactly WHAT is inc. in Ama tour.

Re;hotel.Says in brocure Sofitel,,wonder whay they switched.?
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  #55  
Old November 3rd, 2012, 09:34 AM
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I don't know why they switched, but it seems to be an upgrade, at least for location. I'm thrilled. The Sofitel Saigon was a bit out of the way I thought, and this one is right on Dong Khoi down by the river. It will be an easy walk to the Renaissance where we will pick up the Saigon Express boat to the Cu Chi Tunnels. Now if they had changed from the Sofitel Metropole in Hanoi, I would have been upset.

We have HanoiKids set up for tours and were planning to skip the Temple of Literature and add the prison based on others' experience. This guy didn't mention the Temple (doesn't mean they didn't go) and talked about the prison. They're both important. What to do, what to do?
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  #56  
Old November 3rd, 2012, 10:45 AM
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Originally Posted by alexandra cruiser View Post
Sheila,,,I wrote about my Viking Russian Cruise in response to your AMA cruise complaints.We had similar bad cruise staff experiences(but passengers seemed fine and easy going). Guess its the luck of the draw when ships are owned by others??
I would be curious in reading your review. I couldn't find it. If you could point me in the right direction, that would be great.

Also, it is my understanding that Viking owns their ships in Russia (one of the few lines that owns their ships there) and hires their own individuals. It is possible that maybe they leased an additional ship this year or something like that.

I still think the way to go in Russia is staying in hotels!

-------------------

We had a very large APT group on our AMA Russian trip. They were very mislead. They thought the ship would be only Australians and that APT chartered the whole ship (which apparently they sometimes do). They were (initially) disappointed because of this. We had half of the ship Canadians and then probably the next largest group was the APT trip and the APT people did not cause any problems on our sailing.
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Last edited by Coral; November 3rd, 2012 at 10:51 AM.
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  #57  
Old November 4th, 2012, 09:19 AM
alexandra cruiser alexandra cruiser is offline
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Wink Coral,,,sorry I was referring to a post

I answered Shoshana on another section..sorry,but was a few yrs.ago and never posted review.Have learned and do NOW...

Re.Russian river cruises,,ex.for the negative comment about food and some crew members.I d go on another again and realize this can happen on any cruiseline due to country,ship,passengers,etc....so many variables.All in all,it was a great experience,but might look at other cruiselines offering same in future.

Have been on all the major river lines,,and all good ,,,nothing perfect.
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  #58  
Old November 4th, 2012, 10:19 AM
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I answered Shoshana on another section..sorry,but was a few yrs.ago and never posted review.Have learned and do NOW...

Re.Russian river cruises,,ex.for the negative comment about food and some crew members.I d go on another again and realize this can happen on any cruiseline due to country,ship,passengers,etc....so many variables.All in all,it was a great experience,but might look at other cruiselines offering same in future.

Have been on all the major river lines,,and all good ,,,nothing perfect.
Thanks - for clarifying
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  #59  
Old November 8th, 2012, 08:53 AM
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I ll hold off making other tour arrangements till I see exactly WHAT is inc. in Ama tour.

Re;hotel.Says in brocure Sofitel,,wonder whay they switched.?
I reread the blog, and it seems they did go to the Temple of Literature, if "visited some Confucius temple" is what he was talking about. I think it is. I'm still curious about his mentioning the prison since nobody else visited it with AMA. I noticed there is a gap between 11:30 and 3:00 where you're on your own, so maybe they went on their own? I don't think I need to see it twice, but I don't want to miss it.

Do you have your docs yet? There is a pretty in-depth itinerary in there.
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  #60  
Old November 8th, 2012, 04:41 PM
alexandra cruiser alexandra cruiser is offline
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Wink No docs yet,,but probably not for a few wks?

Have been looking at the weather,,will be cooler in Hanoi(averages 72 and 60,it seems) then warmer in south.So bring layers//for Fl.residents seems to be similar to us.

Trying to plan my last day in HoChiMinh,,,may do private tour,but will probably just wait and figure it out at last min.,,when there.May be sick of "tours" and want to branch out on own. Many have recommended Zoom,but he wants deposit and plans unsure now.

Will look forward to your review and hints.Have fun.
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