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3rdCoastFan

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  1. My experience with Viking Air was pretty easy a few years back. We booked a river cruise and the airfare offer was $250 for economy (ORD>AMS and BSL>MUC>ORD). As soon as I made our final payment, I was able to request early ticketing. Viking tried to dissuade me but, as mentioned already, you are otherwise left only with a 'reservation'. I planned on using miles to upgrade our seats to business and United wouldn't do anything until the flights were actually ticketed. Everything worked out nicely, mostly. When we got to Basel, the gate agent was unable to issue a boarding pass for MUC>ORD. Viking's representative stayed with us and helped translate so we knew what was happening. To your concerns, @OnTheJourney, if you want to upgrade your seats on your own (and outside of Viking), you'll need to request early ticketing. However, once the tickets are issued, and if things go pear-shaped, you may have to work directly with the airlines to handle refunds/cancelations/etc.
  2. It sure can - the fare will be charged in local currency so it may trigger an additional foreign transaction fee depending on the credit card linked to your account. Otherwise, the app works just like it does in the US. One difference, though, are the cars themselves. Most cars are small and have limited trunk space. While there may be the same 'XL' option, there may not be many 'XL' cars when you need one. Just something to consider if you will be traveling with lots of luggage.
  3. Prior to my cruise last spring, I had terrible experiences with Viking's customer service agents. Simple questions would result in wildly inconsistent answers depending on what agent happened to pick up the phone or respond to my email. I was worried how that would carry over once I was on the boat but everything was great -- once I was on board. If nothing else, rest assured that once you get to Paris and start your cruise, Viking's staff should be much more accommodating and helpful than what you're experiencing now. Specifically with Air Plus, I had very specific flights in mind and called in to request them as soon as I could. Within a couple of days, the itinerary completed changed (for no reason that I could discern). Air Plus was able to get my original itinerary back and I requested that Viking ticket the flights immediately. That also allowed me to secure upgrades directly with the airline rather than continue to work through Viking. Did Viking request that the airlines ticket your flights? That is, do you have the 13-digit ticket numbers? I think that paying for Air Plus is a no-brainer but Viking seems to only make a reservation when you arrange flights. The tickets are not issued until much closer to your departure date. You can request early ticketing though Viking will try and talk you out of it - there is a fee to change flights later on but if you're set on travel dates, I think it's worth the trade-off. Plus, once you have the tickets, airlines are able to (if not obligated to) help out.
  4. I've been to Dublin only once but loved it - it may not be necessary to spend more than a couple of days there but I think it would be a missed opportunity to treat it only as a pick-up/drop-off site for a rental car. As suggested above, consider fitting in a couple of days to stay in Dublin and otherwise limit the amount of driving on your trip. For me, and I'm also in Chicago, I spend enough time in cars in a normal work week - if I can avoid cars while on vacation, I'm happier for it! 😁
  5. We did the Rhine Getaway in April 2019 and really enjoyed the flexibility of the drinks package. I didn't care for the included beer (Bitburger) and the red and white selections each night were a little dull. I made my way through the high-end single malt collection over the 7 nights - always ordered a double (those pours are smaller by default) and never got charged. Certain bottles in the wine list were not included but everything else was covered by the package.
  6. If it's any value to the OP, I posted dailies for my Rhine Getaway last April. While itineraries are always subject to change, this may give you a good idea of what to expect while on board a Viking ship.
  7. @texasstar, we also stayed at the Kimpton and agree with your comments. Great location and great staff - we would absolutely stay there again. On our April 2019 Rhine cruise with Viking, we, too, got the dock outside the city center at the Westerhoofd location. It was fairly easy to get there in an Uber and Viking ran shuttles back and forth from the dock to Centraal up until the early evening. I think we were told about a week or two ahead of time that the boat would be there. The Port of Amsterdam lists this as a 'turnaround' location - perhaps for boats that do not overnight in Amsterdam, there's more of a chance you may get sent there. Viking's Rhine Getaway does not include an overnight stay
  8. I was on Viking's Rhine itinerary last spring. It was my first cruise (on any type of water). The soon-to-be-DW and I both found it very relaxing. Very different than our usual trips where we pick 2-3 cities in Europe, find airbnb's and then travel by train between them all. We really liked it when we could sit on the Aquavit Terrace while the ship was sailing and just read and watch the world go by. The wifi was pretty bad so it made it easy to unplug. We got into the habit pretty quickly of waking up early, doing the morning tour and then getting back to the ship for lunch. Our afternoons were usually onboard - having a drink or two and just relaxing. I felt that we still saw a great deal and would absolutely do another river cruise but maybe not on Viking. We would rather find a line with more flexible dining options - maybe a ship with onboard spa facilities, too. To Viking's credit, they were willing to arrange spa trips for us. While in Cologne, for example, they were ready to arrange a horse-driven carriage to bring us to a posh hotel for spa treatments - if there's anything they can do to make the trip better, they will. One area where the advertising definitely got us was the idea of sailing into the middle of every town we would see. That was not the case and I think @sharkster77 phrased it very nicely. We spent more times on buses than I thought we would and while the buses are nice and the rides generally don't run more than 30ish minutes, it's not exactly what we had in mind. Granted, I could have checked a map myself to see that Strasbourg is not on a river that can accommodate cruise ships but now I know for next time!
  9. Also, you may luck out with your hotel room being ready early. It happened to us on our cruise last April. It was nice to take a shower and change before heading out into the city. It's also very tempting to immediately nap if you get into the room early, though. You know best how you respond to jet lag but powering through that first day and avoiding naps usually works best for me!
  10. Fair enough! Always a trade-off between booking flights through the cruise, a third-party or directly with the airline. As long as you're comfortable with the flight itself and how you get the tickets, flying up front is definitely the best way to start off a vacation!
  11. I used Viking Air and shelled out for Air Plus and the diversion fee. I think you're right that the business upgrade was where the value potentially evaporated. I had enough miles with United to upgrade ourselves to business on the way over and Lufthansa quoted me a decent cash price to upgrade on the way back, as well. I'm wary of any third-party consolidator, too, that buys and sells other people's miles - I don't know if the one you use does this, either, but it's a topic that comes up from time to time on the cruise air boards. If the airline catches wind that you're on a ticket booked with miles that were sold, you may wind up completely SOL.
  12. You may find that many of the tours last longer than just the morning. There may be an included walking/bus tour but then you get dropped off in the center of town with free time. Viking will run a shuttle or two - just make sure you meet up again at the designated pick-up point on time! You're also given the exact dock location any time you leave the ship so if you have to cab it over, at least you won't worry about where the boat is, exactly (provided your cab driver knows where the address is; remember, too, that Uber doesn't work in most parts of Germany). If a port stop includes any type of dinner excursion - like the pub crawl in Cologne - that's a good indication that you'll be in port for a long time. You can take the bus into Cologne that morning and then ditch the group tour (just tell your guide). That gives you practically an entire day for Cologne. Granted, schedules can change and perhaps the boat will have to leave the dock earlier than expected. It may be tough to meet up again if you strike out on your own. Likewise, given that this tour overnights in Vienna, you can reasonably expect to have more time in that port than in others. I was on the Rhine Getaway last spring (my first cruise of any sort) and really liked letting go of all the planning that I normally do. The included tours were good, generally, and we settled quickly into a relaxing routine of breakfast, excursion, lunch, reading on the terrace, dinner and then a nightcap or two. One thing to look for in past roll calls are copies of the dailies. If nothing else, those can tell you where the shipped docked. On my Rhine cruise, for example, the boat docked in a small town called Breisach while excursions went off to Colmar and the Black Forest. Those that chose to skip those tours said that was a perfectly lovely little town, well worth walking around in. Ports aren't always industrial wastelands, even if the main attraction for that stop is a bus ride away (if that makes sense.
  13. Last April, my fiancé and I stayed at the Kimpton DeWitt and generally loved it. They were renovating parts of the hotel so some of the public spaces were blocked off. The attached coffee stand with beignets was also closed while we were there. Rooms were well appointed, though there wasn't a lot of available storage. If you're someone that wants to unpack the suitcase, there aren't a lot of drawers available. There is limited space to hang things up. We didn't mind it for a couple of nights. Bathroom was great. They offer a free happy hour with complimentary wine every night - it wasn't the best wine, but it was a nice touch. The on-site restaurant was very good, too. Best of all, for us, was the location. Not much more than a 5 minutes walk from the main train station. Plenty of trams nearby to take you where you need to go. We didn't have any issues with noise from the street or other guests.
  14. Exactly what @Twickenham says above - the products aren't necessarily comparable at all. I really enjoyed my flights in SAS Plus before. As far as PE products go, I think theirs is one of the better ones. Lounge access and free wifi are uncommon benefits to PE that SAS offers. SAS also lets you bid on upgrades - if your fare class allows it, you may be able to get a business seat for a relative bargain.
  15. Broadly speaking, and I'm just agreeing here with everyone else, business will likely always be the better value - but that doesn't necessarily make it affordable for everyone. It really does come down to the specific airline. I wouldn't necessarily bother with PE on United, for example, whereas I have found PE on SAS to be a great value (it even includes lounge access).
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