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ashvb

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About ashvb

  • Rank
    Cool Cruiser

About Me

  • Location
    Washington, DC
  • If you have a personal or hobby CRUISE or TRAVEL BLOG, include the url here:
    http://offthebeatenpathdc.wordpress.com/
  1. ashvb

    Viking Rhine Getaway

    Enjoy! I wish I could do it again!
  2. ashvb

    teens on cruises?

    We did. We loved our cruise! To my knowledge, no one seemed turned off by the fact that we were on it. We had a lot of folks join us at our dinner table and heard great stories that only come with experience. The crew and everyone else started jokingly calling is the honeymooners despite being married for nearly five years.
  3. ashvb

    teens on cruises?

    We were the youngest on our cruise, and we are in our late 20s. Everyone else seemed to be 60+.
  4. ashvb

    Viking Rhine Getaway

    Hi all! I have been back for about a week, sadly, from my Viking River Cruise from Basel to Amsterdam with a two day stay post-trip in Amsterdam. This site was such a help for me in advance, so I wanted to briefly share my experience. To preface this review, I am a bit younger than the average Viking traveler. My husband and I are both in our late twenties. First and foremost, the crew. If it weren't for the crew on the Viking Var ship, the cruise would not have been the same. They are on-point every single time, and I have yet to experience the caliber of service I received at every meal on a Var ship at one meal in DC. They also keep everything on time and organized. I am a meeting planner, so the bar is set pretty high for me in terms of being impressed by a flawless time schedule execution, and Viking did. If they're leaving at 8:30, you'll be leaving at 8:30. If your bus is set to arrive back to the boat at 1:00, it will (even with traffic...). The staff makes you feel like family in less than a week! Angelito and Mikey did a great job as our servers most nights, Jelena at the front desk was so helpful, Mishko did a fantastic job as a maitre'd, Dominique was a fabulous program director, the chefs were awesome,and Dragos and the housekeeping crew were impeccable. The rooms: I had a stateroom on the bottom floor. I expected it might be darker and noisier. This was not the case. The room was well-lit and despite the small size, they organized it very well to make it seem it bigger. The window also allowed for natural light. Excursions: We skipped the Black Forest tour, per the advice of others, and we don't regret it after talking to others. Instead, we spent this time in Breisach, and then took the Colmar excursion in the afternoon. This is the only excursion that I think I heard completely good reviews on. It's also the only excursion we did. The stop in Rudesheim was strange. Everyone on the ship seemed to want more time in Heidelberg, but we had to be back to the boat to sail to Rudesheim. When we arrived in Rudesheim, only two restaurants and one souvenir shop were open in the entire area of the "lively" Drosselgasse. I guess, because it was the week before the Christmas Markets opened, nothing was open. Those who did the dinner said they couldn't see on the train, because it was dark, but the dinner did have good entertainment. It is a pricey excursion, though. Weather: The weather was rainy almost the entire time, but it was in the 50s, thankfully. I got away with wearing a light coat and hat most days. Food: There is so much food. I am still in detox after my trip. It is all delicious. I am a vegetarian, and they were able to accommodate at every meal. Most menus feature a vegetarian option, except for the Farewell Dinner, but they still whipped me up a delicious meal. If you see a vegetarian meal with a coconut curry sauce on it, get it! The Flying Stroopwaffel or pistachio ice cream - get it! The German food station night was also fun! Additional Tips: I read this site and other reviews intensively before going, and a few things I think may be helpful for others: Strasbourg/Kehl: The boat docks in Kehl. There's a small town about five minues away that you can walk to with a shopping center. Amsterdam Post-Trip Departure from Ship: Buses will pick you up at the the boat to take you to the hotel where you'll check in before departing for your walking tour. Umbrellas: The Viking umbrellas are a very nice convenience. However, they are rather large and bulky, and they do make you stick out like a tourist with their bright red color emblazoned with the Viking logo (potential green light for a pickpocket). I'd recommend carrying a small purse size umbrella. Also, wearing a Viking sticker on you post-airport arrival on the following days is another way to stick out to potential pickpockets. Cruise misses: Some of the tour guides weren't so great, but they do ask for our reviews on them. Rudesheim (I'd recommend that Viking skip that if it's off season and spend more time in Heidelberg). Cruise loves: Crew, meals, guided tours, Strasbourg, Colmar, Amsterdam, Breisach, learning sessions (cheese and jenever tasting; Rudesheimer demo; wheelhouse tour; etc.); staterooms (they were so well-lit, organized, and clean!); the ease of having your travel planned for you with guides and also ending up a new city without having to pack and unpack your luggage. Overall: I can't wait for my next Viking trip! I am already looking at the Danube or Elbe cruises. You can view a more intensive review of my trip, along with photos, here: http://offthebeatenpathdc.wordpress.com/ If you have any questions, let me know!
  5. ashvb

    Euros

    Thank you for all of the advice! I appreciate it!
  6. ashvb

    Amsterdam Restaurants & Cafes

    Thanks, everyone. The suggestions have been very helpful, and I am very appreciative! Just some feedback from a new user on the debate about searching: 1) I didn't know that searching first was a guideline. I didn't see it posted anywhere upon adding the thread, but perhaps I overlooked it. 2) The Search Forum button is hard to find. 3) I find posting something the best way to get the most up to date information, as popular places may have changed. 4) In addition, there may be someone who will post to this thread who has not posted to another older thread, who has recently taken the trip. 5) And, under "River Cruise Ports," there didn't seem to be any thread titles that seemed relevant to this at my time of posting, but perhaps I didn't go far enough back or perhaps some titles were too vague with just "Amsterdam." If that's the case, my apologies. I just wanted to share this feedback, so hopefully it's helpful going forward with the site. Thanks again, everyone! I'm looking forward to my trip!
  7. ashvb

    Amsterdam Restaurants & Cafes

    Thanks for your recommendations! Actually, I read that a brown cafe is just a bar with wood interiors. It's not a place for marijuana - those places are typically referred to as coffee houses by the Dutch. I'm looking for a brown cafe! :)
  8. Hi all, Does anyone have any must visit places in Amsterdam for food, drinks, or brown cafes? We're based at the Moevenpick. I am hoping to try a brown cafe, genever, stroopwaffels, poffertjes, etc. Thanks! Ashley
  9. ashvb

    Euros

    Any recommendations on how many Euros to get in advance of heading over to Europe for a Rhine Getaway Viking River Cruise?
  10. Thanks, all. We're landing in Basel and then we have a transfer to the ship. Good to know on the traveler's checks. In terms of getting Euros in advance, is there an exchange company that is best in these circumstances - such as my local bank vs. your run of the mill currency exchange company?
  11. Hi all, Does anyone know any convenient banks in Basel to the Viking docking location? I am thinking I'll just withdraw at an ATM when I arrive in Basel. Also, is it still a good idea to bring along some traveler checks? Thanks!
  12. It seems you are a vegetarian from your latest entries? Did you let them know in advance of arriving on the boat, did you tell them upon arriving, or meal-by-meal? For example, I do eat some meat, but no poultry or fish. I am trying to determine whether or not it makes most sense to say I'm a vegetarian at the beginning or assume that there will likely be something vegetarian or a meat I'll eat. Thanks! Your journal of events and answers to all of my many questions have been so very helpful!
  13. Please do keep me updated. I am going in mid-November, and being from Michigan, I was thinking winter coats and sweaters. I suppose it is milder there, though.
  14. I think I am most excited for Kinderdijk - being Dutch. I love seeing all of your pictures! For Cologne, are the breweries fairly close to the boat's dock?
  15. Great review. I love the photos! Is it possible to go out in Cologne at night on your own, and do your own "beer tour?"
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