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About 3rdCoastFan

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  1. @Ine, how does this work when using a credit card? When I was just in Amsterdam - and this is something @TiogaCruiser asked above - there was no option to add a gratuity when I used a card. In your example above, can the server run the card for €20 even if the bill is only €18?
  2. We stayed at the Kimpton DeWitt before starting our cruise. If you're planning on taking the train from Centraal to Schipol, I would definitely recommend it. It barely took us 5 minutes to walk to the hotel from the train station (despite dragging our luggage along). We were able to check-in early but we were assured that we could have left our luggage otherwise. The downside is that it's not necessarily close to the dock. If you were planning on using a taxi or Uber, though, to go from the boat to the hotel, I'd still suggest the Kimpton. I left a more complete review here:
  3. We just got back from our Rhine Getaway and enjoyed the Kinderdijk stop very much. We went with the included tour and felt that we were able to see everything. Our guide walked us along the canal to a restored windmill that you could go into - the rest are not available for such up-close inspections. After 20 minutes or so, we went to a workshop and learned more about how windmills work and how they're made. If you wanted more time with the windmills, there's nothing to stop you from skipping this last bit and just walking around. Make sure to tell your guide you're going AWOL and be sure to be back on the ship before it leaves. Option 2 leaves the boat much earlier than the others (our boat stopped in Rotterdam just long enough for those going on the tour to disembark). Should have allowed plenty of time for cheese and windmills. This was also Amsterdam -> Basel and if you're doing the reverse direction, maybe the timing is different. Both options 3 and 4 made their way to the Blokweer polder windmill - which is generally like the other windmills except... well, I don't exactly know how it's different, other than its shape, since I forgot to ask our guide. I don't know if you get to see the interior of the other restored windmill that you would visit on option 1. It seemed a bit farther away - probably not walkable within the time available before the boat leaves the dock.
  4. I just came back from a 3-night stay at the Kimpton DeWitt before a river cruise. I would definitely recommend it to anyone looking for a comfortable hotel that's about 5 minutes walk from Centraal. Rooms were compact but the AC worked well (as did the elevators!). It would have been hard for two of us to unpack our suitcases due to the lack of storage but it was a short stay for us and it didn't really make a difference. Not much room to hang things up, even. Our room overlooked the interior courtyard so noise wasn't an issue - the hotel is otherwise off a busy street and I could see noise being an issue for someone staying in a room overlooking the front street. Breakfast was being offered through the on-site restaurant, Wyers, and while the buffet seemed price (maybe €24/person), a la carte options were reasonable (and, more importantly, the food was good). Trams were easy to catch, too. Our cruise port ended up being on the northwest corner of the city so it didn't matter to us that we weren't close to the cruise terminal. We would absolutely stay there again.
  5. I believe Viking extended their prohibition on those under 18 from their ocean cruises to the river cruises, as well, last summer. Depending on your daughter's birthday, that's one option to remove from your list.
  6. At the risk of generalizing, I think most PE seats these days are similar. Air France and JAL are exceptions (they have fixed shells and the seats 'scoot' forward rather than recline; AF seats are not well regarded but I haven't read much on JAL) and I would expect other airlines use the same seats but I can't think of any offhand. Unless you are set on a specific airline or alliance, I would prioritize routes and connections first. Some PE fares include lounge access (or maybe just a discounted price for a one-time pass) and that could be a deal-breaker if you wind up with a long layover in Tokyo. It's a shame (and a surprise) that United isn't putting its PE seats on the SFO-SIN route since that otherwise seems pretty appealing.
  7. Uber is an option, too, and it may be cheaper than taxis. It's still obnoxious, though, and I totally get your frustration. The De Pijp area has lots of good dining options, though. It's a farther walk or tram ride to the big sights but at least you can eat nearby! For brunch/breakfast, there's Little Collins, Scandinavian Embassy, Coffee & Coconuts or Omlegg (though the last two may be a bit far). Arles is supposed to be great for dinner - it's on my list of a place to consider in addition to Cafe Caron and Auberge Jean & Marie. Again, though, those last two places may be a little far for a walk.
  8. 1. We asked a customer service rep to send us a copy of the current excursions for a given cruise. We knew that it may not match what we would eventually be able to pick but I found the document to be more detailed than what is on the website. 2. There was a recent discussion in the Rhine Getaway roll call about the beverage package. Link is below. Note that several users got different answers from Viking so I'm not entirely sure what to expect regarding exclusions. But, we enjoy cocktails and would prefer to not get charged for soft drinks outside of meals so we purchased the beverage package.
  9. While I can't argue against the convenience of letting Viking arrange a pre-cruise stay for you, Amsterdam is very easy to navigate on your own. If the hotel's location is really important for you, I would strongly investigate making arrangements on your own. It is very easy to get from the airport to the central train station (and from there to your hotel via taxi or Uber if you don't want to navigate the tram system so soon after arriving). The airport/hotel and hotel/ship transfers are helpful, sure, but you're paying a hefty premium while still carrying the risk that Viking will transfer you at the last minute. I would consider using Viking for pre-cruise stays in other cities but, again, Amsterdam is generally compact, English-friendly and easy enough to DIY it. That said, there was a recent report of someone getting moved to the Hotel Okura - that's the business hotel you mentioned. Others seem to stay at the Movenpick (which is even more convenient to the ship's dock).
  10. I can only speak to United but upgrade space is not necessarily static. United has a fare code of "PZ" (formerly "R") that corresponds to upgrade availability. Any time PZ > 0, it should be possible to instantly upgrade seats (via miles, copay, certificate, etc). After my tickets were issued, I could only get on a waitlist to be upgraded from economy to business since PZ was at 0. If I never made it off the waitlist, my miles and copay would be refunded. However, diligent monitoring for award space on my flight paid off when I saw that PZ jumped to 4. I immediately called United and lucked out with an agent who was willing to push my waitlisted upgrade through while on the phone (apparently, agents shouldn't do this and you instead have to ask to get taken off the waitlist and then manually re-apply your miles/copay/certificate before someone else swoops in; the system will not automatically pluck people off the waitlist as space opens up). The next day, PZ was back at 0. United lets you see this level of detail by enabling "expert mode" on their website - but it does mean setting up dummy searches for that flight over and over again. For example, I looked at a random flight next fall from ORD to AMS. I am positive that business is not sold out yet - however, PZ space is 0 and so I cannot instantly upgrade. I can check on this daily (if not more frequently) to see if that changes. I'm sure someone who makes a lot of money came up with the appropriate algorithm that opens up upgrade space and then removes it again but I doubt the rationale will ever be clear to me. Point being, and depending entirely on the airline you're flying, it may pay off to keep calling and asking about upgrades.
  11. Some additional anecdotes here from Frontier staff: https://thepointsguy.com/news/flight-attendants-respond-frontier-tipping-policy/ Salient point for me is that some FA's are under older contracts with Frontier - back before Frontier went no-frills. FA's hired since that business change have are subject to a different compensation structure. For the more recent hires, tips can make an appreciable difference to their bottom line.
  12. These are from 2016 but should still give you an idea of what to expect: There may be more recent posts but these things change so often anyway that I don't think they would add much. As already noted above, river traffic isn't too predictable so port times will likely fluctuate up until the boat is getting tied up.
  13. Fair question - and I can't say for certain. In this case, I imagine that the benefit to early ticketing is more control over your seat. But as any airline will quickly tell you, no specific seat is ever guaranteed. I think early ticketing is more important when you're trying to upgrade on your own rather than pay Viking (or a TA) directly. No extra fee for early ticketing. You must have paid for your cruise in full and pay for Air Plus but no other restrictions as far as I'm aware.
  14. You may want to request early ticketing. At 90 days out, there may not be any upgrades left. Downside to early ticketing is that you're on the hook if you want to change flights later on and Viking will try to dissuade you from early ticketing.
  15. Something to consider is asking the airline about the possibility of an upfare. Odds you would have to pay the fare difference plus a fee but if it gets you into a fare class that allows for mileage upgrades, you may come out ahead than if you purchased the better seats in the first place.
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