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Everything posted by loriva

  1. Here are tour descriptions. The first three days we preselected via the Scenic trip personalizer. The rest we are selecting on board.
  2. 22 June, boarding day, continued: Boarded our bus about 20 minutes later than the scheduled time. An uneventful ride of about two hours with commentary by another Scenic Tour Director (ours was catching a flight home—he’s only doing the Oberammergau extensions) and arrived at Breisach around 1530 hours. Jade was rafted with the Pearl on the outside—we switched places around 1900 as Pearl was remaining in Breisach as the first stop of their Romantic Rhine and Mosel itinerary. It was pouring rain when we arrived. Scenic had set up canopies to keep the luggage dry, but nothing for passengers. All we’re pretty wet by the time we crossed the parking area to the ship and climbed the steps to board. (Crystal greeted you at the door of the bus with an opened umbrella when it rained.). Greeted by CD Tadej and crew and directed to the lounge. Staff was then to invite you by party to go to Reception to check-in, but there was a scrum at the desk of previous cruisers. In the lounge we had a trochen and a short talk by the CD then proceeded to Reception for check-in. That consisted of turning in our medical forms and having our photo taken. Our butler escorted us from Reception to our cabin, where the luggage was waiting. We unpacked, trying to find space for things. The cabin is nicely designed from an aesthetics point of view, but lacks in functionality. To conserve floor space, the closet doors slide over each other so only half of the closet is available at anytime. There is only about 6 inches of hanging space for long clothes as the back of the closet is pushed out on one side so the coat hangers will not fit in. That side of the closet has a small and a medium drawer on the bottom (substituting for the drawers on the nightstand on the right of the bed, which is just a table). The minibar is also here with a shelf above for glasses. The other (left) side of the closet has about a foot of short hanging space plus shelves. One of the shelves had two electrical outlets (European two-pin) so you could use it for a charging center. The desk/vanity area also has outlets (all Euro) and three lit shallow shelves above. It has no drawer. It has a small, stubby chair and there is another small arm chair and an oddly placed small table. An ice bucket on a stand completes the furniture. The bed is an oversized queen with a duvet and is quite comfortable. There is a pillow menu available on the TV, which has a lot of information about the cruise as well. And the “balcony” with two wicker chairs and a small, round table. Our room has a bathtub and a shower. There is a clothesline in the small shower cabinet. It would be better for drying over the tub. There are only two towel bars by the end of the tub/vanity, so you can either hang the bath towels so they can dry or double them up to leave space for the hand towels. There are two hooks on the door, but if you hang the robes there it covers up the only full-length mirror in the room. The bath should have more hooks and room for towels. There is great storage space behind the mirrors and under the vanity.
  3. Wednesday, 22 June: Our first rainy day. Nice breakfast in hotel and had to have luggage out by 1000 (a change from the schedule). On our own, we walked down to Lake Zurich and did the 55-minute, mini-tour on the boat. Not great visibly due to the rain, but still fun. Download their app beforehand for commentary or follow along on Google maps. Back to hotel for checkout at noon. Now waiting for the bus to the ship. Everyone crowded into the hotel lobby but there is a cafe on the street where the bus pulls up. We’re unloading from Pearl and Jade (surprise!) and now loading the Pearl’s Mosel and Rhine first and now waiting for a second bus (we think) for Jade. Running slightly late. Will report from the ship!
  4. Thursday, 21 June, continued: Bus arrived in Zurich around 1530 hours and checked into the Schweizerhof Hotel. Great location at the end of the main shopping street, Bahnhofstrasse. Greeted with a glass of Prosecco. Rooms of greatly varying size—some received large rooms and some tiny. No system we could figure. Five-star hotel with lots of amenities. Excellent soundproofing—did not hear any noise from the street eve though our room faced the train station. Our Tour Director gave an excellent, 90-minute tour of central Zurich at 1700 hours. For some reason, Scenic only rents the Whispers until the evening, which met we were too late to go into any of the churches. But that’s not the fault of the TD. Despite being his first tour for Scenic in two years and issues in the travel industry in restarting since the pandemic, he did a great job. We were on our own for dinner and went to a place in the 1,000 Places to See Before You Die book, Kronnenhalle. The founder collected masses of art, befriending Matisse and others. You can ask for a binder describing the art in each room. Go early—fewer people and easier to explore. Not cheap, but nothing in Zurich is.
  5. Lake Constance aka Bodensee from Michael’s Chapel in Bregenz. For @notamermaid! On the final day of our pre-cruise excursion with Scenic.
  6. BTW, if you decide to try to get a European SIM, be advised they will only work if your cell phone is unlocked. (It may not be if you did not purchase your phone and are still paying your carrier for it on an installment plan. You also need to submit a request to the carrier to unlock it and, with AT&T at least, it will take 48 hours for this to happen. Best to check before you leave home—and then ask the shop selling to check again before they activate the SIM.). Also be advised the SIMs are only good for a limited period of time—2 to 4 weeks. You can buy data-only or data plus calling plans. Prices ranged from 15-60 euros.
  7. 20 June, Munich, continued: Le Meridien had another lovely, European buffet breakfast including self-service espresso machines. We had a three-hour city tour starting at 0900 hours, including a coach tour around the ring road (built on the site of the old city walls), a stop at Nymphenbourg Palace, by the Olympic park and BMW complex, and the English Garden prior to parking behind the Opera House. Then we walked to Rathaus (Old Town Hall) to see the glockenspiel at noon. Then we had free time in the city. The group had an option to rejoin the TD by the Rathaus for a return to the bus and a trip to BWM World. They returned to the hotel at about 1600 hours. (Most museums in Munich are closed on Mondays, so options somewhat limited.). We’re not car people, so elected to walk around the food market, old town, and back to the hotel (about a mile) on our own. At 1845 we met the group in the lobby where we rode the bus back to the Opera parking lot and walked to the Ratskeller restaurant under the town hall. It is a huge place and usually crowded (we’d been there in the 1990s) but found we were the only guests as they were also catering an event for the Mayor and decided to leave the restaurant free to host those 500 guests as rain was predicted (passed before the event started.). Salad starter, choice of sauerbraten, pork knuckle, or chicken entree, and apple strudel with vanilla ice cream for dessert. Plus seemingly unlimited drinks from the small list of beers, red or white wine, or nonalcoholic drinks. Dinner wrapped about 2100 hours and we toured around the empty restaurant before the return to the hotel (around 2200 hours). On the bus to Zurich. TD just handed out surveys for his portion of the trip/ More tomorrow. Please feel free to ask any questions and I’ll try to answer (or find an answer).
  8. Here are the daily programs for the final two days of our land extension prior to our cruise. We have always traveled independently, never done a bus tour package like this, but our travel companions primarily travel via cruises and like to have the convenience of someone else arranging the details.
  9. Whispers is the QuietVox system. Scenic uses them for their land tours. We’ll turn them into the Tour Director tonight after our walking tour in Zurich. We’ll switch to the Scenic Tailormade app on the ship. Speaking of which, two days ago the TD told us we would not be boarding the Jade, but he didn’t know which ship Scenic would be using instead—he thought the Amber. But CruiseMapper shows that ship in Vienna today, so don’t think so. The Jade and the Pearl are both in Strasbourg, and I received an email today from the CD of the Jade, so think we will be boarding it. (So, don’t take lack of communication or miscommunication from Scenic personally—they seem to do the same with their own personnel (independent contractors, in the case of the TDs.) The TD did notify us yesterday we would NOT be boarding in Basel. He said it was due to a strike yesterday (20 June) in Strasbourg. As I noted, the CD for the Jade sent me an email this morning asking if we’d been advised of the change of boarding port due to a strike by lock workers in Basel (not sure if they are Swiss, German, or French workers or a combination.). So, we’ll miss Basel tomorrow and will drive instead from Zurich to Breisach am Rhein. We’ll be sharing a bus for the transfer with a group also joining the Jade. We’ll lose our bus, driver, and TD tomorrow morning In Zurich—which explains why our documents from Scenic included a separate transfer. To close out a previous topic, the TD did reimburse us in cash (euros) for the transfer from the airport to the hotel Scenic.
  10. Le Meridien is a good hotel, again part of the Marriott chain (albeit not the Luxury Collection.). It is across the street from the main train station, which has some fast-food eateries and a small convenience store. It’s a short walk to the Augustiner beer garden with a range of drinks and food. Off for breakfast and then city tour.
  11. Sunday, 19 June — Oberammergau to Munich Breakfast at the Parkhotel am Soiersee was very good, but a bit chaotic. Viking also uses this hotel and they had an earlier walk-up call so there were no clean tables available. But breakfast of the usual fine European variety and they made espresso drinks at the bar. Scenic made today a little relaxed after the long day before. Luggage call was not until 0900 and we left at 1000 hours for Neuschwanstein castle, about an hour away. Scenic’s reservations for the castle tour were not until 1305 hours, so we walked round the lake a little while others went to the museum (an extra charge) or otherwise killed time. You have to use local buses for the trip up to the castle, so we gathered at 1215 and got a bus about 1230 hours. There is quite a lot of walking to get from the bus stop to the castle and lots of steps inside. (We’ve had no problem getting our 10k steps per day—yay!) The tour was underwhelming and there was a problem getting the horse carriage down, so some of us had to walk back down. (Not Scenic’s fault, but reflects the ongoing problems of resuming travel. This is the Tour Director’s first time on this itinerary since the shutdown.) Back on bus by 1500 for the 1.5 hour-ish drive to Le Meridien hotel in Munich for a two-night stay. Will post on it tomorrow or so. Since I’m doing this on the bus, a couple of words on the bus. Scenic does not have their own fleet—like Viking does or Crystal did—but leases them along with a driver. They are nice buses—for us, very comfortable as we’re only 19 passengers. Scenic provides water from a built-in cooler (and beer!). And there’s Wi-Fi. Arriving at hotel!
  12. Saturday, 18 June (Happy 80th birthday Sir Paul!) After a lovely, but quick breakfast in the hotel (no time for a mimosa today!), we were on the bus and rolling out of Salzburg by 0800 due to regulations about the Old Town. We drove about 2.5 hours to the Parkhotel am Soiersee, where we offloaded the luggage and the Tour Director picked up the tickets for the Passion Play. Then about a 15-minute drive to our assigned bus parking area (there are at least four as we were in Parking 4.). The TD walked us to the theater and told us to be back at 1330 hours to pass through security for the first part of the play starting at 1430 hours. We then had about 50 minutes to walk around or get lunch. Restaurants near the theater are obviously used to short windows for playgoers, so service was quick. We stopped at the Hundesporthotel Wolf restaurant just down the street for some typical Bavarian fare, but they also had enormous hamburgers. Portions overall huge and prices not bad—around 10 euros for dishes. Security took about 10-15 minutes (check the website for what you can carry—a small bag and a small plastic (not metal or glass) bottle of water). Also lines for the restrooms (free but boxes out for donations for the attendants). Seats are narrow, with not a lot of leg room. They are normal theater seats, but only a thin pad on the seat and only wood for the back—we saw people bringing in an extra cushion. There is an open-air portion between the first row of seats and the stage, but no real issue for sun or rain for seating. Scenic did very well by us for seats—we were mostly together in the center in the 8th row, with a couple in the 6th and 7th rows. List price of the tickets was 201.60 euros. They were very good seats—good on Scenic. The Passion Play in Oberammergau is a phenomenal thing to see. (That is from the perspective of one who is not particularly religious. Of course, it has a whole other meaning to faithful Christians.) Lots you can read about on line. The first part ended at 1700 hours and the TD had told us to meet outside our entry gate and we walked as a group back to the Parkhotel Oberammergau for dinner. Other groups in the dining room there between acts, including another Scenic group. Menu was soup, salad, choice of beef, fish, or vegetarian entree, and fruit or dessert. It also included unlimited beer, wine, and nonalcoholic drinks—but who wants to fall asleep during the second act (and if you leave to go to the restroom you cannot return to the seating area.) Dinner service wrapped up by 1830, so we made the 15-minute walk back to the theater with a short shopping stop en route. Security and restroom stop again. The play resumed at exactly 2000 hours and let out at about 2230. By the time we asked back to the bus and drove to the hotel it was 2340 hours. The Parkhotel am Soiersee was not the same level as the previous two hotels used by Scenic. Call it quaint and traditional. Very small bathroom—although the room itself was of good size. But no air conditioning—during a heat wave. Opening the windows helped a little but no screens on the windows and there were flying insects. Also, mattress very soft. Most reported not having a very restful night.
  13. Back to the trip… 17 June, continued: —Passengers who went on the salt mine tour in Salzburg found it interesting. They descended using a “slide” as the miners used in the former times and took a small train back. They shared the tour with a group of schoolchildren, so the had to wait while the guide have descriptions in German and then in English. (We’re still happy we chose to skip it and visited some more of Salzburg, instead.) —Dinner that night was at the Sternbrau, across the street from the Goldener Hirsch. We had selected our entrees (Weiner schnitzel or fish) on the first day plus soup and dessert. Two drinks were also included—beer, wine, soda, and/or coffee or tea. We had a semi-private room upstairs. Food average (a subjective opinion, I know) but was served quickly and was at the correct temperature. Strangely, the beer on offer for our package was a large brand (Gosser) not the house-brewed beer, but we could order one and pay for it separately. Then back to the hotel. It really is a luxury hotel with lots of in-room amenities. Being a historic property, it was confusing getting from point A to B, but there always seemed to be a staff member in the hallways to direct you. Light switches were also different from any place we’d been, but ended up having multiple dimmer settings. Also motion-sensitive lights under the nightstands, the full-length mirror, and the bathroom vanity for those late-night trips.
  14. I had no trouble connecting with my AT&T service. It costs $10 day for phone, texting, and data. But I am going to look into a SIM card for Germany as we'll be back for a Christmas markets trip in December.
  15. Day three (17 June). After a wonderful breakfast in the hotel, the group took a walking tour of Salzburg starting at 0900 hours. We are a group of 19--two Aussies, four Canadians, and 13 USCs. The youngest in our group is 57 and the oldest is 75 years old, per the TD. The tour covered Mirabelle Gardens in the new city, then crossing a bridge back to the old city and seeing the Cathedral, Dom Quartier, and back to the hotel on the shopping street. It was fine, but could have included some inside visits if more time were allotted or fewer breaks were taken. The group then had about two hours on their own, including getting lunch if desired. At 1315 they were supposed to take a 15- to 20-minute walk to wherever the driver finally found a parking place for the bus--we heard him tell the TD the ones he usually used were all booked up. And, again, the bus cannot enter the Old Town during the day. The tour was to a salt mine--which, of course, was the source of Salzburg's wealth back in the day and the derivation of its name. We chose not to go on the tour, however, as we wanted to visit the fortress and see more of the town. (The fortress and Hellbrun Palace were Freechoice options in the original material from Scenic. But they were dropped leaving only the salt mine option. The TD has never been and had limited information about it. He has been an independent contractor of Scenic's since 2013. He told us that in former seasons, Scenic always held a conference with the ICs at the beginning of the season to explain changes and get them up to speed. They would hold another one at the end of the season to discuss what went well and what did not. Scenic did not do this in 2022 and it is apparent the travel industry is just getting back up to speed. We're all learning to be flexible as we go along, he said.) Tonight we are having a group dinner at Sternbrau. Will report on that and how people liked the salt mine tour later. Tomorrow we have an early start and will have a long day at the Passion Play in Oberammergau.
  16. After lots of posts in the thread "What's Going on with Scenic," and receiving little information from Scenic prior to starting our cruisetour with them in Vienna on 15 June, this thread will attempt to provide some information on our tour and cruise experiences themselves. We arrived in Vienna after a missed connection due to a delay flight and the driver promised by Scenic was not at the airport to pick us up. After conversation with Scenic's European office (have their phone number handy and use option #6) we ended up taking a taxi to the hotel used by Scenic--the Hilton Vienna Park--and a promise of reimbursement by Scenic. Since we arrived a day ahead of the official start of our cruisetour and since we had had no information from Scenic, we planned a full day including meeting a relative who owns a craft brewery in Vienna. When we did receive our final documents--in the "Summary"--we discovered that time conflicted with the meeting with the Tour Director at 1800 hours in the hotel lobby. The hotel personnel had no information about the TD nor any Scenic meeting. I called Scenic's European office and asked for them to have the TD call me. They also provided his name and telephone number. After a frustrating hour trying to reach him--because Scenic had provided the incorrect telephone number--he texted me when he reached the hotel. We were able to have a quick meeting and obtain the information needed for the following day. This consisted of a half-sheet of paper with wake-up call times, what time luggage needed to be out, and what time we needed to meet in the lobby to start the day's activities. Day two started with a tour of either the Imperial Palace or the Natural History Museum. We had been in Vienna in October on a Crystal river cruise and had visited the palace then so chose the museum. The guide gave a somewhat strange tour that focused--admittedly--more on the history of the museum than the actual exhibits inside. Then a short walking tour of Vienna to St. Stephen's square where we then had a couple of hours before we met up with the TD and then walked to where the bus was to be. (This turned out to the the same place by the canal where we met Crystal's bus. Lesson learned--ask where the bus will be at the end if you have a little knowledge of the city and let the TD know you'll meet the group there. We would have spent our time differently if we'd thought to ask.) We then drove to Salzburg. Two hours into the drive we stopped for a break--at a place that was closing in three minutes. (They did let us use the restrooms.) We had to wait there 30 minutes because the bus driver said he had to take a mandated break after working for 3.5 hours. Since he'd only been driving us the past two hours and this was our designated driver and bus for the duration of our land package with Scenic, this made no sense. (We later overheard the TD questioning this as well. Along with the information that Scenic had not arranged for a bus-parking permit in Salzburg and failed to make hotel reservations for the bus driver.) We also made a stop in Mondsee to see St. Michael's Basilica used for the wedding scene in The Sound of Music movie. We arrived in Salzburg about 1845 to pouring rain. (The earliest we could have arrived would have been 1800 hours as the hotel Scenic is using--the Goldener Hirsch--is in the Old Town and buses are not allowed between 0800-1800 hours.) The TD and bus driver--and hotel staff--were great, however, and popped open an umbrella for you as you exited the bus. Evening and dinner on our own. (As was lunch--only breakfast included at hotel.) It is a lovely, historic property--part of the Luxury Collection of Marriott.
  17. Our emailed final documents from Scenic--received two weeks before our trip because we asked to have them "expedited"--included a transfer voucher and a fairly vague description to look for the driver outside customs. We've arranged for drivers before and always found them in the appointed place holding a sign with our names on it and expected the same from Scenic upon arrival in Vienna on 14 June. Lufthansa had, however, decided we wanted to spend an additional four hours in Frankfurt airport. (Our arriving flight was an hour late and by the time we cleared immigration, the additional security you need to pass through despite being a transfer, and made it to our gate we had the joy of watching our aircraft pulling away from the gate. (Lessons learned: plan on three hours between flights in Frankfurt. Also, if your gate is a long distance from where you exit security stop at the first gate and ask them to call your gate and tell them you are coming a quickly as you can. We saw someone else do that when we were waiting to board our flight.) Immediately called the number Scenic provides for contact in Europe. Spoke to an agent and gave her our new flight information. She said she would call the local service provider and have the driver waiting. When we arrived in Vienna, however, there was no driver. Called Scenic again and this agent told us she did not see anything in our record about a delayed/new arrival flight. She checked again with the local transit company, then called us back and told us to take a taxi to the hotel and Scenic would reimburse us. When we met the Tour Director the next day, he asked for our receipt and promised to reimburse us. To be continued in a separate thread on our full cruisetour experience.
  18. Well, not in all cases. Scenic failed to meet us at the airport in Vienna yesterday despite having transfers. Now I've been trying to track down the Tour Director at the hotel--the one used by Scenic--for an hour. I'd hope things would improve once we arrived, but so far not.
  19. Yes, we downloaded the City Guides several months ago using the first four letters of the city’s name in English as the code; I.e., Amsterdam is 2678. But the guide book for our Rhine Cruise has defeated all attempts to work out the code. As one who does do research and planning for our travel, it’s another missing piece of information from Scenic. Maybe someone who’s onboard or traveled with Scenic recently will be able to solve the mystery for us—just as someone posted the trick for the city guides.
  20. Thanks, English Tim, for starting this thread. You'll be starting your cruise one day before we start our cruisetour with Scenic. We actually step onboard a Scenic ship (scheduled to be the Jade) on 22 June, so will be looking forward to hearing insights from one who has cruised with Scenic before the pandemic and now as your time permits. Hope you have a wonderful cruise!
  21. Emerald has been advertising on the Orlando NBC affiliate, WESH 2, for the past month. First time I've seen any river cruise line advertising on that station.
  22. Yep, same thing I said!! Our health insurance did fully reimburse us for the ones we purchased, at least. We've been testing before and after travel even if not required and will likely continue to do so--at least until we run out of tests!
  23. There was no physical book in the things Scenic mailed to us (received yesterday: backpacks, document wallet, luggage tags (two round plastic ones and four paper tags), plus two set of health forms to be filled out.) Not sure if there is still such a book in the cabin--will report after we board in a couple of weeks. There is a "Guide Book" section under the "My Cruise" area on the Scenic app, but they cannot be accessed as they require a download code. (The City Guides also require an access code to download, but that is simply the first four letters of the city's name in English.) If anyone with recent experience on Scenic knows the code to download the Guide Books, please advise.
  24. Cancellation Fee Schedule Effective for Cruise Tours (other than Grand & World Cruise Voyage) booked on and after August 1, 2018: Written Notice received Days Prior to Departure Date -- Cancellation fee Per Passenger 120 or more $100.00 119 to 90 20% of Full Fare 89 to 70 35% of Full Fare 69 to 50 50% of Full Fare 49 to 30 75% of Full Fare 29 or fewer 100% of Full Fare
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