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subtchr

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  1. 5 minutes ago, s35flyer said:

    Suptcr, nice pics, I know most of them!  That was a great cruise wasn’t it?  I can’t wait to go back, and explore some more.

     

    Thanks, it was marvelous!


    Interesting that our cruise had the Maginot Line as the afternoon tour after the morning tour of Strasbourg, and the Black Forest tour (with the cuckoo clock shop) as a choice from Breisach, not Strasbourg. We were very happy to have been able to experience both!

  2. @seashell, I am not @s35flyer, but we (myself, hubby, sister -- all in our 60s - and our daughter, 27) just cruised Amsterdam to Basel on Avalon Vista, July 13-20, and adored the experience. A few observations that might help you:

    - We arrived a day early to Amsterdam and stayed one night at the Banks Mansion. Impeccable experience, so welcoming and lovely. More of a "boutique" hotel, with a full service concept. That meant a full complimentary open bar in the lobby, complimentary minibars in the rooms, a marvelous cheese and wine reception late afternoon, and expansive complimentary full breakfast. The location is great for exploring, near the flower market and steps from the #12 tram line stop.

    - We purchased a 3-day transit pass at the airport that gave us full access to the train from the airport, plus all trams, Metro, and buses. We used it extensively our first two days, and once for the Metro on the last day. It was €22 per person. We found navigating the public transit system easy, even with luggage for the train from the airport to our hotel, and the tram from our hotel to the ship. We each had one large roller bag and a backpack. We try to make it a point to use public transport when we travel, as it not only saves money, but also adds to the cultural experience of the city we are visiting.

    - We did not get tickets for the Anne Frank House, so we visited the Resistance Museum, which we found riveting. We also visited the Nemo Science Center when it rained in the afternoon, and enjoyed that as well. There is a lovely spot on the roof with a cafe and bar, and expansive city view, which you can access from exterior stairs if you do not want to experience the museum itself. 

    - The only paid excursions we did were the bike tour through the countryside near Amsterdam (wonderful), and the Maginot Line tour that @s35flyer mentioned. We also found that fascinating, a highlight. We are also history buffs. Our guide said that Avalon is the only line to still offer the tour.

    - Upon arrival in Basel, we took a cab to the train station and the train to Zurich, where we spent two nights at Hotel St. Josef, another great choice. Easy walk into the shopping/dining areas of the city, very large rooms, very nice included breakfast. We just explored Zurich the day we arrived, and the next day we took a tour through Viator to Lucerne and Mount Pilatus. Another highlight! The next morning we walked to the train station for the train to Zurich airport for our flight home.

    Here's a link to my photos, if you are interested: AVALON RHINE CRUISE 2019

    Let me know if you have any questions for me!

    • Like 1
  3. 11 hours ago, ak1004 said:

     

    Yes, I looked at Avalon. Their pricing is similar to Viking. My TA says that Ama is considered better. I'm sure I would enjoy Avalon as well. 

     

    But Ama also has better extension option (Lucerne and Zurich).

     

    What made you to select Avalon and this particular itinerary?

    To be honest, it was just that the timing worked out well for us, and we liked what Avalon offered. 

    Again, I have exactly ONE river cruise under my belt right now, so I cannot fairly compare lines, but reading @Host Jazzbeau's list for Ama, there are a few differences:

    - Avalon does not include ALL excursions -- some are an additional cost -- but they do offer a "gentle walking" option for all included excursions, and active and other specialty ones at some ports. One of our favorites turned out to be the extra cost tour of a Maginot Line bunker from Strasbourg, which our guide told us only Avalon offers now. It was fascinating.

     

    - Avalon does not offer anything like a Chef's Table, but we found the food excellent in the dining room. The grill lunch offered on the top deck one day was outstanding.

     

    - Avalon also offers complimentary sparkling wine at breakfast (and at the welcome and farewell receptions), and beer and wine at lunch or dinner. There is a happy hour each day, but the drinks are not complimentary. Our servers were also happy to top off our glasses at the end of dinner or lunch, to bring our drinks elsewhere.

     

    - We enjoyed our cabin very much. My sister and daughter shared an inside stateroom (they did have windows), and it was fine at 172 sf. We had what they call a panorama suite, which we felt was quite roomy at 200 sf. We loved the way the floor to ceiling window opened 7 feet wide, to create what they call an "open air balcony". No wasted space!

     

    - There were about 150 passengers on board, and it never felt crowded. I don't know how that number compares to other lines. There were bicycles, walking sticks, and binoculars to use. 

     

     

     

    • Thanks 1
  4. On 7/18/2019 at 8:54 PM, gailellen12 said:

    We leave for our Rhine Cruise next Friday July 17th.  Keeping our fingers crossed for good water levels.  I would appreciate it if anyone who has information about Rhine levels next week could post in the meantime.  We will be on Avalon Basel to Amsterdam.  thanks in advance


    We just did the opposite with Avalon -- From Amsterdam to Basel on the Vista, July 13-20. Marvelous experience, one of our best vacations ever! Here's a link to my photos, if you are interested: AVALON RHINE CRUISE 2019

    No issues with water levels at all, of course. Just a lovely cruise with wonderful staff and guests.

    • Like 2
  5. Popping back in, as we are checking out of Banks Mansion now to head to our ship. Amazing stay, wish it was longer. The hospitality and service are second to none. As @Needzavacation noted, the wine and cheese reception at 5 is just lovely. Easy access to the tram, and good location for exploring. 

     

    For those interested, we bought 3-day transit passes at the airport (€28 each), and used the train to Centraal, then the tram to Banks. Then used the trams all day, went to the Nemo Museum, and tonight to the Latin District area, and stumbled on a wonderful place for Mediterranean food for dinner, Bazar. We topped off the night with some shopping at that European marvel, Primark.

    Checking out this morning and heading to the Avalon Vista, so glad to have another couple days to explore this amazing city!

  6. Although we haven’t experienced it yet, we have Banks Mansion booked for our pre-cruise night next week. We are very excited, the hospitality sounds amazing in all reviews. Complimentary snacks and drinks in the lounge and rooms, and full breakfast. Seems to be a very convenient location, too.

  7. Just to confirm the convenience of staying at the Newark Penn Station Hilton when you are flying into EWR and want to tour in Manhattan, we did just that in 2010 and again the end of August this year.

     

    Our flight was supposed to land at 10:30, so we had called and scheduled the Hilton shuttle for 11:00. Our flight was delayed a couple hours, so I called while still at the airport and rescheduled it for 1:00. The shuttle was there waiting for us at P4 when we got there right at 1.

     

    We dropped off our stuff in the room and walked through the skyway to the Station. Stopped at a kiosk and purchased a $22 metrocard (2 people x $2.75 x 4, for the round trip on PATH and a round trip on the subway between WTC and Times Square.)

     

    We had a wonderful afternoon and evening on Manhattan. I had pre-purchased tickets for the 9/11 Museum (as an AF retiree, my husband was free, and as a veteran, I was half price) and the One World Observatory. Amazing! Then we took a subway to Times Square, had dinner at Junior’s, and saw “Come from Away”, which is now one of our very favorite musicals ever. Then we took the subway back to the WTC and then the PATH back to Newark.

     

    The next morning I requested an Uber to the port at 9:30. The driver was right out front, and the Fare was less than $19 plus tip.

     

    We also took an Uber from the port to EWR after the cruise. Also quick and inexpensive.

     

     

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  8. How did I miss this thread? I'll have to post my other question here....

     

    My husband and I had planned on using Uber from the cruise terminal to EWR for our flight home. How realistic is this? We've never used Uber before and am not sure how successful this will be.

     

    We also plan on using it from the hotel to the cruise terminal. I'm hopeful everything will go smoothly. Do you think a car service would be a better idea?

     

    We sailed on Anthem August 31.

     

    Uber from Newark Penn Station Hilton to Cape Liberty at 9:30 am for two of us with luggage cost $18.80 plus tip. When I requested the ride, he was right out front.

     

    Upon arrival back at Cape Liberty on September 9, we did self-disembark at 7:30, were through customs and on the curb by 7:40 or a bit after. Requested an Uber, and it was there in 8 minutes. The ride to EWR cost $26.91. I don't think it was surge pricing, but I think there is a fee they have to pay for the airport. Still much cheaper for two of us than a regular taxi or shuttle. Our flight wasn't until noon, and we were at our gate by 8:45.

     

    We would use Uber for Cape Liberty again!

  9. Going on my bucket list trip to NYC and then on the Anthem. What side of the ship would sail past the statue of Liberty? I have a balcony and would love to sail past her!

     

    Anthem does not sail "past" the Statue of Liberty. You can see it from the ship, but it doesn't get any closer than when you are in port. When we sailed a few weeks ago, the ship pointed docked with the bow pointing out toward the Verrazano, so Manhattan and Liberty Island could be seen from the port side. I'm not positive it always docks that way, but obviously, even if she backs out, she will be turned around shortly thereafter, with the port side facing toward NYC.

  10. Have you attempted the Solarium Bistro for breakfast? The selection may be lesser than the WJ but it is way quieter. I prefer to have my breakfast there.

     

     

     

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    Solarium doesn't open early enough for us, but our alternative to the WJ was Cafe Two70. Great selection, and never crowded. Amazing space to enjoy a nice morning meal!

     

     

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  11. is there a fee for flowrider?

     

     

     

    Did you use the app for reservations for Ifly or North Star?

     

     

     

    No fee for Flowrider.

     

    I made our reservations for iFly and Northstar precruise, but you can make them in the app. In fact, Northstar was broken at our prebooked time, and I tried to book another time using the app. It let me go through the process but then said I couldn't book it twice during the cruise. I had to go to guest services to explain the situation and have them override it to book another time.

     

     

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  12. Who was the Cruise Director.

    Also can you share what you learned from Rock the Boat behind the scenes

     

    Cruise director was Marc Walker, but he is leaving this week. I believe it will be Dru Pavlov, according to the CD thread here on CC.

     

    How difficult was it to get on the bumper cars, skating, Flowrider, etc...?

     

    We did the bumper cars one day with about a 20 minute wait. Great fun! We didn't try to do skating, but the couple times I walked through it didn't seem to be full, so I'd bet you could do that almost anytime it's open. Flowrider had some longish lines for standup surfing some days, but we did boogie boarding with only about 5 other people one afternoon. The staff was wonderful with this old lady -- so much fun! On our previous cruises, the boogie boarding had longer lines than standup. I think there were so few kids on our cruise that it was the opposite, with the "diehard" Flowrider fans on board preferring the standup.

     

    How does the new sea pass protocol work. We are on Harmony in Nov and are told we get our sea pass in our rooms. How do we buy drinks while waiting to go to our rooms.

     

    As Bob wrote, you just use the SetSail pass until you get in your cabin. When you checkin at an iPad or desk in the terminal, they stamp your SetSail pass. Keep it in your hand, it is checked at least a half dozen times as you go to the waiting area (if you are there before boarding starts) and then as you board!

     

    I got off on 9/9, self assisted walk off was available as soon as they were able to let people off.

    ifly was broken and they needed a part. not sure if they've fixed it in the interim.

     

    We did iFly the first sea day -- it was a rush! I was sorry to see it was broken later in the cruise, for those who did not get the chance.

     

    We were among the first group off with self-assist, right at 7:30. We were at our gate at EWR (using Uber) by 8:30!

  13. We're on the Anthem tomorrow. Did you use the Royal IQ app on the ship.

     

    We did, and many times it was helpful. But there were also some frustrations, because it could be glitchy at times, and it did not include all activities or other info. My biggest gripe is that it does not include dining times for the different venues. You'd think that would be a relatively simple addition.

  14. Considering the fact that, I don't know, you don't KNOW ME don't tell me I'm cutting off my nose to spite my face. I don't like scenery, I don't like "cool weather" and I don't have any interest in Canada, if I did I would book a cruise there. The cruise line would have to do what it needs to do and I know that, I rather stay on the ship and hang out then go to Canada. If there isn't sun and a beach I have no interest. I think that's my choice and that's ok.

     

    I agree with you :) No interest whatsoever if there is no beach involved. If I wanted cool weather I would stay home lol. Its all about the blue waters of the Caribbean for me. Hoping the islands can recover and they get the help they so desperately need.

     

    Sorry, it's just an expression. For us, travel is all about experiencing something different than what we are used to, and being flexible when things don't go as planned. We would take such a situation as an opportunity to see and do something we hadn't chosen. Who knows, we might end up liking it! But I do hope you get the tropical vacation you are hoping for!

  15. I also agree about the congestion in the Esplanade because of merchandise tables. We were walking through it during the day we were in Saint John, and commented that it was so nice to not have to dodge tables since they couldn't sell things when we were in port!

     

    Maybe it's because we tend to eat at off times (generally early for all three meals), but we never had a problem finding seating in the Windjammer for meals we ate there. We also found the staff friendly and helpful. Not discounting others' experiences at all, just relaying ours for those who might be worried.

     

    As for excursions, we avoid cruise line excursions whenever possible. Although independent excursions and tours are usually cheaper, the primary motivation for us is smaller groups. In Boston we toured on our own, with a Charlie Card (transit pass). In Portland we had a kayak tour with 4 other couples, none of them from the ship. Bar Harbor was a private van tour with 2 other couples, Saint John a kayak trip with one other couple, and Halifax a private van tour with 8 other people. I can highly recommend everything we did this trip, so if anyone wants details, I will be happy to share!

  16. What transportation did you use to get to EWR ?...Details if you please.

    Thanks so much for your experience.

     

    Different poster here, but we just disembarked on Saturday.

     

    We signed up for self-carry at 7:30 (you can do it in the Royal IQ, under shore excursions for Cape Liberty).

     

    We were at Cafe Two70 for breakfast when it opened at 6:30. There were already people lined up for disembarkation, but that is not necessary. We had a relaxed breakfast and joined the line (which at this point was almost to Two70) about 7:15. The line started moving right before 7:30 and went very quickly (constantly moving). We were off the ship and lined up to go through customs/passport control by 7:35 or a few minutes after.

     

    We were out on the curb by 7:44, requested an Uber on the app, texted him which Zone we were standing by (numbers on the poles in the pickup area), and he was there at 7:53. Price for two of us was $26.91 plus tip. I believe that is either surge pricing or an airport surcharge, because our Uber to the port from our hotel was less than $20. But it's still much cheaper than a taxi.

     

    We were at EWR by 8:12. Checked bags, TSA Precheck (but the security line at Terminal A was literally empty in any case) and at our gate by just after 8:30. Our flight was 12:30, so we had time to kill!

  17. My prayers go out to the family of the people of all the islands who lost family and homes. Our cruise is outta of Ft Lauderdale in December islands to be visit are San Juan,St Kitt,Labadee and St Marteen Flights paid for cruise tours, dining pkgs and drinks and voom pkg. all paid for have insurance on cruise not on flights hmmmmmm wondering how this scenario going to work out

     

     

     

    No worries. The only change would be to tours, if your cruise is rescheduled for different destinations. Your currently booked excursions would be refunded, and new ones made available. The rest should stay exactly the same.

     

     

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