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CarlyDawwg's Ma

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About CarlyDawwg's Ma

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    Cool Cruiser

About Me

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    Charlottesville, VA
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  1. CarlyDawwg's Ma

    Can't make a decision for Ama or Uniworld for Rhine next May!

    I can't offer any insight as to which line is better in that I've not tried either yet, however, I can say that all inclusive lines are appealing. I am responding to your post, however, because I know your love of good wines and wanted to tell you about a must see while you're in Breisach. About 10 minutes by foot uphill, is a lovely sparking wine maker/distributor call Geldermann. I ventured up there alone and tasted a couple of different sparkling wines that were lovely. Ended up buying a few bottles at ridiculously cheap prices (15 euros or so). Google them and read about it. Definitely made my visit to Breisach worth it.
  2. CarlyDawwg's Ma

    Cruisin' Green - Lets Talk Emerald Waterways!

    It's an added security measure. While in port and I believe just in the evenings, the doors that go to the top outside deck area are locked. Its a pneumatic door (I think that's the correct term) and the code needs to be utilized to get back into the ship's 3rd deck. I believe I only had to use the code once. Never was an issue in terms of inconvenience, but was a nice feature for security.
  3. CarlyDawwg's Ma

    Cruisin' Green - Lets Talk Emerald Waterways!

    Hi all: click on the link for itineraries and menus on Emerald's Amsterdam to Basel trip. https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B6aEIMeU-M3tZTAwaFozX3FmM00/view?usp=sharing Happy reading!
  4. CarlyDawwg's Ma

    Cruisin' Green - Lets Talk Emerald Waterways!

    We didn't do a drink package, but I suspect that they would require both passengers to get it...but that's a good question for when you get there. Another option might be to have your DH bring their own gin/vodka/vermouth and to have your own cocktails in your room...?? My Windows 10/laptop has real issues with cruise critics board and when I attempt to upload the PDF of the itineraries/menus via the paperclip option, it doesn't load it. I had a hell of a time getting my trip photos loaded, but unfortunately, I can't use Flickr or Shutterfly for a pdf. But, I would be happy to email you the pdf if you want to private message me and give me your email address. I promise you I'm not a weirdo (just seriously technologically inept) and won't use your email address for anything unsavory... liz
  5. CarlyDawwg's Ma

    Cruisin' Green - Lets Talk Emerald Waterways!

    Hi GB! We did Emerald's Amsterdam to Basel on the Emerald Sky last month. It was a good cruise, but was also our first so I didn't have anything to compare it to. My only real beef with the actual ship was the lack of counter space in their bathrooms for all my stuff. We met quite a few people that had done a number of cruises on other lines (Viking, AMA and Avalon) and thought the Emerald cruise was better on several fronts, one being their all inclusiveness when it comes to tips, but also critical of the small bathroom. I did a review upon return and posted it. I couldn't get the pictures to load in the beginning so scroll down through the posts and you'll find a few pictures. I didn't do much of a review on the actual stops along the way because it was such a common itinerary that all the lines do and the stops were pretty much the same and had been discussed ad nauseam. However, one excursion that was fantastic, in my opinion, was an extra excursion to a winery - "Schloss Johannesberg." I think that was when we were in Rudesheim. It cost extra, about $60, but I really enjoyed it. You have to sign up for it a couple days before as they only have room for about 20 people. Below is the link to my review. http://boards.cruisecritic.com/showthread.php?t=2403908 I do have the daily menu's/itineraries somewhere and can scan those in if you have an interest in them. Let me know.
  6. CarlyDawwg's Ma

    First Time River Cruise - Also as a solo!

    Hi Linda! That seems like quite the trip you've got planned for this spring. We just did the Rhine river cruise last month (though we did it Amsterdam to Basel) and really enjoyed it. I hope your weather is as perfect as our was, particularly for the day you sail the Rhine river gorge...the scenery is fantastic! I've yet to actually get serious about planning my next river cruise, but maybe something in 2018. I did just have dinner with a friend last night that has mentioned vacationing together next Fall (land trip) that would preclude me from doing any cruising in 2017 ($$). I'll keep you in mind as I ponder the next one...meantime, happy cruising! I hope you'll enjoy the solo experience!
  7. CarlyDawwg's Ma

    First Time River Cruise - Also as a solo!

    I'm in a similar situation as the OP. While my husband enjoyed the RC we just did last month (Amsterdam to Basel), his interest in future cruises isn't as great as mine and as such, I've been considering a solo cruise sometime in 2017. For those that have cruised solo before, is there a way to identify other solo cruisers when you get on board to help ease into getting to know people? Or, I'm curious, are there any other solo cruisers that might want to coordinate a trip. I have no interest in sharing a room with anyone as I like to have my space and so finding a cruise that waives single supplement would be ideal, but the knowledge there's another solo traveler or two onboard might be reassuring when facing a dining room full of couples! I'm 54 and I love to not only drink good wine, but am into learning about wine and love visiting vineyards and talking about the wine making process from start to finish. I enjoy good food though admit to having the palette of 10 year old in that I'm not too terribly adventurous with foods. If anyone might be interested in something like this, give me a shout and maybe we can put something together.
  8. CarlyDawwg's Ma

    Win a Balcony Suite on Scenic's Gems of the Seine!

    I am continually bewildered by people who would actually take the time to post a negative comment about someone else's post, especially if it's a post made with goodwill in mind. If you don't think it relevant or worthy of your time to read it, move on...
  9. CarlyDawwg's Ma

    Wearing ID badges on cruises...

    Emerald Waterways has name badges/pins that have just your first name on them. I'd say that on the first few days about 50% of the people wore them, but after that, it was hit or miss. It is a nice idea, but I must admit that I am one of the ones that failed to wear it after the first day..:(( Not because I opposed it, but mostly because I kept forgetting to put it on and when I'd remember, I then kept losing it.
  10. CarlyDawwg's Ma

    Viking Elbe Offer - Cancel or Take the Bus Trip?

    Glad to hear the water levels are up and the cruise is back on! Must offer kudos to Viking for keeping their passengers informed in advance of the trip and laying out the options for their guests.
  11. Pics from trip: - our messy room - going through a lock - pic I took while on canal tour in Amsterdam - pics taken at my favorite excursion, Schloss Johannisberg - pics taken at the last dinner with our new friends... https://www.flickr.com/photos/137184268@N03/
  12. I've attempted to load pics twice now, but to no avail. Keep getting a message stating I'm missing a "security token." Perhaps Host Jazzbeau can offer some guidance?
  13. Review of Emerald Waterways’ Emerald Sky – Sailing from Amsterdam to Basel - Sept. 3rd. Overall: It was our first river cruise so I have nothing to compare it to other than three ocean cruises. It went smoothly and well. We had good weather every day and no issues with water levels so the actual sailing and itinerary went as planned. If inclined to river cruise again, I would have no hesitation to cruise with Emerald. In speaking with many people who had done multiple cruises on lines including AMA, Viking and Uniworld, they agreed that Emerald was right up there and in some categories, above some of the others. A common refrain was how nice it was not to be nickel and dimed for alcohol and to be expected to tip. The no tipping policy was actually what caused us to ultimately choose this line. Embarkation/Disembarkation: We arrived in Amsterdam a few days prior to the sailing to see the sights and therefore were on our own to get to the boat. I had our hotel concierge (Marriott) call the number provided to secure the location and they did so and hailed us a cab. We were met at the end of the dock by an Emerald employee who came out and assisted with our bags. Upon arriving in the reception area, we were greeted with a cocktail and promptly checked-in and shown to our room. This was at about 2:00 pm. Disembarkation was slightly more complicated, but not a big deal. Again, because we were post-cruising to Italy for a week, we had to take care of our own arrangements to get to the train station in Basel. The cruise director arranged a taxi for us. Each room was assigned a color, based on when they had to get off the boat to catch their plane, taxi, etc., and each was assigned a time in which to put our heavy luggage outside of our room to be picked up by a crew member. The assigned time was about 1 hour before we were scheduled to get off the boat. Our “off the boat time” was 9:10 and our “bag outside the door time” was 8:10. So at 8:10, we put our bag out and went and had breakfast and then went to the lounge to wait for our color to be called. Our taxi was there and off we went. Having help with the bags getting them off the boat was quite nice in that we were rafted and we had to go topside on our boat and the one next to us to get to the dock. Cabin: We had an owner’s suite, #307. While spacious enough, there are definite improvements to be made. None of the improvements are deal breakers, but for sure, the cabins could easily go from a B- to an A with minimal cost and effort. The good stuff: good balcony with the window that goes half down with the flick of a button. The balcony could be closed off with sliding glass panels to fully contain/separate the balcony from the room. The bed was very comfortable and quite adequate in size (king size). The best thing to me about the bed, which I think is ingenious, is that each person has their own duvet. Therefore, I didn’t spend every night grabbing the covers back from my husband as he has a tendency to steal them whenever he turns over. The living area had two comfortable lounge chairs and when combined with the two deck chairs, it made it possible to have 4 people total in for a glass of wine, which we did with Fran and Glen, two other cruise critic members I "met" before the cruise. There was a two level shelf below the TV that was just wide enough to hold an iPad and other stuff (the daily papers from the cruise line, binoculars, etc.) The closet was good size with 4 or 5 shelves and plenty of space and hangars for hanging clothes. It was well lit and had a full size mirror. An iPad is provided for our use but we were never provided the code to unlock it. We never needed it as we had our own, so we never bothered to ask about it. Immediately to the right as you enter the room is a cabinet where the coffee machine and bottled water are kept. We never used the coffee machine as I just went to the lounge and got my thrice daily Latte Macchiato instead. Above the cabinet was a space for storage and in the cabinet was the mini-bar, safe and 2 or 3 drawers for storage. The less good stuff and areas for improvement: There’s a small area in the bedroom with a stool that fits under a desk like ledge and has glass shelves above and the wall behind the shelves was a mirror which could allow the space to be used as a vanity. On both sides of the space are electrical outlets, including US plugs and this made it a useful space for charging electronics as well as plugging in your blow dryer and curling iron. However, the lighting in the space, which is one dimly lit overhead bulb renders the space useless in terms of being able to apply makeup and use as a proper vanity space. The easy fix: the addition of lighting, on the level of someone sitting, on the back mirrored wall would make it a great dual purpose space. The bathroom, while larger than others on the ship, was still small. The sink is a vessel sink and while I know they are the trend in bathroom design, in a tight space however, function is more important than style. It’s a large, shallow sink and it dramatically dominates the entire counter leaving very little space for all the stuff that women (and men) use on a daily basis. There were glass shelves to the left of the sink for stuff as well, but they were narrow and would not hold my make-up bag unless I unloaded everything in it, which I never do. There was only one towel rack that was narrow and held bath towels, hand towels and wash clothes. There were two hooks in the bathroom where we hung our wet towels, so that was good but they need more. The easy fix: to the right of the sink (if facing sink), at about shoulder level, add a towel rack to hold at least the hand towels and wash clothes. Above that, at head level, add a shelf that has some depth to it so a makeup bag would safely rest on it and/or, ditch the vessel sink and opt for a small one allowing for greater counter space. I know that the lack of storage in the bathroom is a common refrain in that on the first day, the head of housekeeping mentioned it at the opening briefing about the ship. The other rooms had a medicine cabinet behind the mirror. I didn’t see one so I can’t comment on its functional ability. The shower was fine and it had two different types of shower heads. The basic normal European kind and the rain shower type. Personally, I hate rain shower heads as you can’t keep the water/soap of your eyes, especially in a small space shower where you can’t get away from the shower head. Other little niggles about the room: there were two heavy curtains – one in the living room and one in the bedroom – that were great for keeping light out, but because they were so thick, retracting them only revealed about 2/3rds of the window. A nice and easy idea, would be tie backs to hold the curtains back. At one point, my husband used his belt. Another niggle is there is only one trash can in the whole room and it’s in the bathroom. Please, one more bin. Good things about a Suite: We were allowed 4 free articles of clothing a day to be cleaned and we availed ourselves of this option on a daily basis. We washed more the day before we left in that we had another 8 days of travel after leaving the boat. The laundry was returned very quickly and always neatly ironed on hangers. Well done. We also had free access to the mini-bar that was refilled on a daily basis. Most days we drank the wine and nibbled on the chips and chocolate. It was refilled whenever the housekeeper noticed something was missing. Also, well done though the wine wouldn’t exactly be rated well by Robert Parker. Common Areas of Ship: No complaints about the rest of the ship, though I did tire of looking at myself all the time in the mirrors and glass everywhere, but that’s my issue and not the boat. It was a lovely boat and was constantly being cleaned and shined. The pool area in the aft of the boat was also lovely. It was a relaxing space and I think it was a bit under-utilized. Food: I found the dinner choices to be a bit fancier than my palate can appreciate but others with a more mature palate commented that it was good, though under seasoned. (I understand this is common on ships to under season the food.) Salt and Pepper were always available and I opted to use it quite a bit. I did avail myself on a couple of occasions of the always available choices, chicken, steak, fish and vegetarian. Though there were several course to each dinner, I have to admit that both my husband and I often walked away from dinner still a bit hungry. They did offer a 10:00 pm late night snack which my husband checked out one night, but whatever it was, didn’t appeal to him. Breakfast and lunch were buffet style and the choices were abundant and tasted good. Another cruise critic member commented that Berlitz dinged Emerald because they used place mats at breakfast and lunch. Berlitz was indeed correct, they did use placemats, though they were lovely placemat and in fact, I’ve owned a set of the exact same kind for several years now. Wine: The wine in the dining room at dinner changed on a daily basis. Some was quite good and other’s not so much, I believe this to be subjective, so I won’t waste much time. The "standard" wines were always an option if you didn't like the daily wine choice. My glass never emptied. Service/Crew: Dining room service was almost always perfect. The servers really made an effort to know you by name and address you frequently, which was lovely and appreciated. The only niggle on the service is that some people enjoyed coffee with their desserts and the European way is to serve coffee after dessert. No big deal. The housekeeping, reception, bar, cruise director and all the other department personnel were also very kind and always willing to help. No complaints. We had dinner at the Captains table on the second night and the Captain was enjoyable. We learned he was from Bulgaria and had been in maritime for over 25 yrs and loved it. Excursions: They’re the typical excursions of this itinerary that most lines offer. Emerald’s were well done and were efficiently run. I can’t complain about any of the guides, though in Koblenz, I did get with a guide who was a little too verbose for my tastes, but again, that’s my issue, not Emerald’s as other cruises appreciated the detail. There was one additional excursion, at additional cost, offered and that was a tour of and wine tasting at “Schloss Johannisburg” winery. I did this excursion and absolutely loved it. We had a tour of a stunning winery overlooking the Rhine and then descended into a cellar that was centuries old where we were served 3 different wines and 1 sparkling wine. All pours were truly generous and the ambiance of drinking these lovely wines in this ancient cellar while learning about the history of the place was truly memorable. Highly suggest it to anyone offered. Other Passengers: Another thing that appealed to me about Emerald Waterways prior to cruising was that they're an Australian company and the passenger make-up was usually a nice mix of Brits, Aussies and Canadians. As an American that diversity appealed to me as that when I'm traveling abroad, I like traveling with foreigners...enhances my feel of the overall vacation. However, there was a very large tour group from Ohio on board (84 passengers...half the boat), so there was considerably less diversity than I had hoped for. The other American's were all kind, don't get me wrong, it's just that I was hoping for less American's and more foreigners. In summary, as mentioned in my opening, I wouldn’t hesitate to cruise with Emerald again were I to do another river cruise. I will attempt to post some of my poorly shot photos of the cabin and the winery tour with this review. Should anyone have any specific questions, give me a holler!
  14. CarlyDawwg's Ma

    Getting Ready to Go -- AMA Rhone

    Enjoy your trip Jane! We're leaving in 2 weeks... We'll waive at you from the Rhine and Northern Italy! Liz (from Charlottesville)
  15. CarlyDawwg's Ma

    Cashless cruising and tips

    I've just given their website a looksee and I have found a mention of an "automated onboard tipping system." My best guess is that the amount of tips are determined automatically by them and added to an onboard account (your credit card on file) in which you'd close out at the end of your trip. You may want to clarify the meaning of "automated onboard tipping system." in particular, what amounts they deem appropriate. Better than an unpleasant surprise at the end of the cruise.