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About Kenster

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    Bellville, Texas

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  1. My advice would be to take the longer drive to Zurich in order to get a nonstop back to the states. DC, Newark, Chicago, etc. That's assuming you're flying directly home after leaving the ship. Be prepared for a very early disembarkation. The cruise lines like to get you to the airport three hours before departure even if you have priority check in and security. In our four cruises, we've never departed the ship on the final day in daylight. Flights to the US depart around mid morning, for the most part so you have to depart the ship early. We just came home from Budapest and had to leave the hotel at 3:15 AM to make a 6:10 flight to Frankfurt.
  2. We also just returned from our fourth Avalon. We love the Suite Ships. They've had the large state rooms in most ships for several years now. 200 square feet is huge compared to many other cruise lines! Glad you had a great time!
  3. Highly unlikely anyone would ever know, or care. To the security screeners, it'll look just like another tube of cream or ointment. And security screeners are very unlikely to care about possible illicit drugs. Not their job.
  4. We were coming home from BUD early Wednesday morning and a couple in the Biz lounge were reading that news. They were connecting to KLM in AMS. They had already checked their bags at the counter The lady very positively said "At least we're on the way home."
  5. It's tucked into a corner under the "grand staircase." Easy to overlook. I just wanted to clarify that there is one- not chastise you! 🙂 Best as I recall, it does not go up to the 3rd deck or sun deck so there will still be some steps to climb.
  6. I would advise to stick to a family/children theme cruise only. There is nothing whatsoever for children on most cruises. And even if the line has an 18 year old minimum, most teens/young adults would be bored stiff on a river cruise.
  7. Every cruise is a bit different. Some originate in Prague and some terminate in Prague, so they could have different timings for their excursions.
  8. FRA to LNZ was an Embraer 190. 2 x 2 seating and quite large overhead bins. Plenty of room to place our carry on suitcase and backpacks in the overhead. No one had to gate check their bags. We had no issues with carrying on our bags on all four legs. No one even questioned or looked at it. Previous two trips, both Austria and Lufthansa made my wife check her carry on. It was legal size but a few pounds over.
  9. We were onboard for seven nights. One night in a hotel in Budapest at the end, but it was part of the cruise, not an extension. Larger cities like Vienna, Amsterdam, etc, may get a day and a half or two days, depending on the cruise. Smaller ports may get a few hours, or dock in the afternoon and not leave until morning, giving you a free evening in "town." Personally, my bride and I prefer the cruising days over the port stops. Nothing like sitting on the sundeck and watching the world go by as you cruise down the river. It really doesn't matter too much where the ship docks and we do not necessarily choose a cruise by it's ports of call.
  10. Bob, here are some of the "active" excursions. All included at no additional cost. 1. Guided bike tour to farm region. Visit a local farm 2. Paddle a canoe along the Danube 3. Guided bike tour from Spits to Krems. 4. Guided bike tour. Highlights of Vienna. 5. Guided jogging tour. Highlights of Vienna 6. Hike up steep hill to a castle 1000 feet above the river. 7. Canoe excursion along Danube near Visegrad. 8. Guided bike tour of Budapest We have not sailed with any line except for Avalon. We were so pleased with our first one that we just keep booking them. They don't advertise nearly as much as Viking, at least in North America. They are very well known in New Zealand and Australia, though. A big selling point, for us, is that Avalon rarely has been affected by low water conditions that keep other ships from sailing. Three of our four cruises have been in times where the low rivers had forced most other cruise lines to bus passengers between ships because the ships were unable to travel up or down the river. Last year, we met Viking pax in ports who were on their third ship, as well as others whose ship had not moved in several days and were bused for hours each day to and from the sites they were suppose to visit, coming back to the ship every night in the same spot. Our ships just sailed on through without incident. This is not to say that Avalon ships have never been affected by low water, just that it is much rarer due to the shallow draft of their ships. Give them a good look before you decide.
  11. Well, true. Let's just say, then, that Avalon made a much wiser choice as evidenced by the huge numbers of Viking ships maroon by last year's low water levels vs the number of Avalon ships that were affected.
  12. We just got home from Avalon's Active and Discovery on the Danube: Linz to Budapest. This was our fourth Avalon in five years and, though it was the shortest one at nine days, it was a great trip. Avalon's unique "Active and Discovery" cruises offer a variety of physical activities to meet all levels of interest. Biking, hiking, canoeing, kayaking, etc, as well as classic excursions such as walking tours of towns, wine tastings, etc. Something for everyone. We were on the Avalon Impression "Suite Ship" in one of the standard size cabins with a French Balcony. On Avalon, even the standard size cabins are 200 square feet. The deck one "aquarium class" cabins are 180 square feet so even those are quite a bit larger than many other cruise lines. The food was outstanding, as were the wine choices. Unlimited wine and beer are included at lunch and dinner. Service was great in the dining room and the lounge. Weather was unseasonably warm- mid to upper 80s during the day, but that was 10 degrees cooler than at home in southeast Texas so it wasn't too bad. HINT: always check the long range forecasts for all stops of the cruise BEFORE you pack. We had a lot of people on board who went by the generic "average temperatures" they found on Google. And they packed for cool weather. We packed shorts and lightweight shirts for daytime activities. In fact, we were able to pack light enough to do the trip with only carry on size bags. Even with the heat we had no issues with water levels and there was never a mention of it by the captain or cruise director. I wasn't too worried about it. Avalon has some of the youngest ships in the fleet with a very shallow draft that allows them to get up and down the river while other cruise lines are busing passengers between ships. It was a great cruise and we're looking forward to number five in the near future.
  13. Depends on the cruise line and ship. We've done three Avalon cruises and the cabins are MUCH bigger than standard "big" ships. The majority of Avalon's standard cabins are 200 square feet. Even their "aquarium" class (bottom level) is 185 square feet. Both are quite a bit larger than most other river cruise lines, actually they're about 30% larger than the industry standard. Viking, for example, indicates their cabins are 150 square feet.
  14. We leave tomorrow for Linz with a connection in Frankfurt. Lufthansa is infamous for weighing carry on bags and making you check them if they are over 20 pounds. It's happened to us on two previous cruises. One going TO the cruise and one coming back. United never weighs carry on bags. Lufthansa is just weird. If you're four pounds over, for example, on your roll-aboard, you either have to check it or removed four pounds and put it in your "personal item." (backpack, etc.) So, the total carry on weight remains the same and both bags are most likely going into the same overhead bin. So why, hassle the customer? On this trip, we've packed very carefully and, because it's shorter than our three previous river cruises, we are able to keep our two carry on size roll-aboards right at twenty pounds. My backpack is 12. Her tote bag is about ten, so we should be good. If we are confronted by Helga, the former East German Olympic wrestler and shot putter, we will remove a pair of shoes or something and transfer to our other bag. And because we are in business class, we are allowed the roll-aboard and two personal items. We're use to going up to two weeks with a carry on bag, so a nine day cruise is no biggie. So, my question is... How many of you have ever had your bag not make your flight, thereby missing the boat? Was it very difficult catching up to you as you made your way down river? If we weren't worried about a lost bag, we'd just check the suitcase and be done with it. But it would be a nightmare, it seems, for the airline baggage delivery guy to chase you down river from port to port.
  15. My contacts have indicated that Budapest is a rather small airport. Arriving there two hours before your flight is plenty of time. They say that 90 minutes is fine for an early morning departure. No check in lines and security should be fairly short. Our departure at the end of our upcoming tour is at 0610! Avalon will normally try to get us to the airport three hours early but that's not necessary this time. That would mean leaving the ship at 0230!! We have a transfer through Avalon.
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