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About soxfan1495

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  1. soxfan1495

    Viking Biking excursion in Wachau Valley

    It does sound similar. We took our cruise June 18-July 2, 2017. There are at least two differences from what we did. I don't think motorized bikes were an option for us (not that they are needed) and also your description includes time to explore Krems and a ride back to Durnstein. We arrived in Krems shortly before dinner, so really didn't have time to explore that town. Is this option in addition to seeing Melk Abbey in the morning? We were able to do both things the same day, which was perfect. If the bike ride is all day and means no Melk Abbey, it would not be as worthwhile, since Melk Abbey should not be missed.
  2. soxfan1495

    Viking Biking excursion in Wachau Valley

    This was a highlight of the cruise for us, and the fact that my son and I were briefly lost for a short while (we were on the same cruise as wheezedr) actually made the experience even more fun! The crew members who were with us promptly herded us together. I think the ride was about 25 miles over mostly easy terrain. The path was separate from traffic (which there was not much of) and felt very safe. The scenery included cycling through green vineyards, small villages, was beautiful and seeing it from a bicycle offered a nice change of pace from the ship's more distant vantage point. The quality of the 10 gear bikes used was good, but bring a bottle of water from the ship. If you want to do the bike ride, and it is not listed as an offered excursion, ask the guest services people on your ship several days in advance. If there is enough interest, they are more likely to schedule it.
  3. soxfan1495

    Basic questions for Viking Rhine river cruise.

    Yes, there are restroom facilities on Viking buses, but it is a good idea to also bring 50 cent euro coins with you on excursions, since many public restrooms in Europe require payment. Guides on our recent Amsterdam-Budapest cruise excursions always pointed out where the public restrooms were, and waited for passengers who wanted to use them.
  4. Our dietary issues related primarily to allergies, but one of our group is mostly vegetarian. There were vegetarian items on the menu, but sometimes they presented allergy issues. As needed, the maitre d' substituted different vegetarian entrees for what was on the menu. The substitutions were almost always very satisfactory and as good as anything on the menu. The maitre d' and servers on each ship were helpful (especially the maitre d' on the Magni). We spoke with the maitre d' at breakfast each day and went over the menu for the upcoming lunch and dinner, and he worked with the chef to make sure we would be OK. Prior to the cruise, we had notified Viking of our dietary restrictions, but that did not really work. Instead, communicating with the maitre d' once on board was the key. We noticed that there were vegetarians on board who, after speaking with the maitre d', were able to also get the substituted items. By the way, the included wine was always good.:)
  5. We just finished a memorable Grand European cruise that started on the Viking Baldur in Amsterdam on June 18. We enjoyed sunny weather throughout the trip, but the down side of this was low water between Nuremburg and Passau, which resulted in a ship swap half way through our itinerary, involving a bus ride bypassing Regensburg. The ship swap from Baldur to Magni was, however, seamless and afterwards, Viking provided a free excursion back to Regensburg from Passau for those who were interested. Ultimately, we felt fortunate actually that we had a chance to experience two ships. Since it was helpful to us in planning our trip to read reviews, we thought we should provide some highlights to help others. A few general observations: (1) Cabin choice. we had two cabins, one of which had a balcony with two chairs and a small table, the other a french balcony. The balcony was definitely worth it to us, even though we were often rafted next to another ship so unable to use it. When underway, there is nothing better than sitting on the balcony to watch the scenery. I will always remember waking up and sitting on the balcony to hear birds in the trees on the nearby riverbank, and swans swimming below. The Rhine, Main and Danube each have a remarkably different character, which is wonderful to experience from a balcony. Cruising past cattle as they cooled themselves nearby in the river in the Netherlands, seeing castles south of Cologne, the peaceful Main River, and the forested Danube... wonderful. We never got tired of seeing the barge traffic going past. (2) The dining experience was better than expected. Given its small size, it is amazing what the chefs in both ships were able to do. We had dietary restrictions to deal with, and we were impressed by the efforts made by the maitre d' in both ships, but particularly Alvin on the Magni. Dining was always a leisurely experience, and very enjoyable in that we were able to get to know our fellow cruisers. All meals were well prepared and delicious, but maybe what we miss the most now that the cruise is over is the tasty pancakes that were available each day at breakfast. (3) Almost uniformly good excursions. The included excursions were informative, and set up nicely, to allow an introduction to a place, but also to allow plenty of time for independent sightseeing and shopping. The "quietvox" earphone systems worked well (at least almost always). We particularly liked the following included tours: Kinderdijk Windmills Excursion, Marksburg Castle Tour from Koblenz, and the Melk Abbey Visit. In addition, the optional Rothenburg tour from Wurzburg and the WW II Nuremburg tour were absolute highlights of the trip. The guides were amazing for these two tours. One of the things we most appreciated was that the Guest Services staff on the Magni set up a bike ride from Melk to Krems and arranged for the rental of good-quality bikes, so that we could see the countryside in a different way. About 30 of us went on this very memorable excursion, which was definitely a great memory. Alexandra and Nick went the extra mile (literally) to make this happen. On the other hand, the optional Salzburg excursion was a disappointment... just not enough time in the town to justify the tedious long bus ride. In Budapest, we enjoyed the ship's excursion to the Szechenyi thermal baths (using the ship's guide made this easy, but we probably could have done the visit on our own). Although it is difficult to plan independent excursions while on a river cruise, it is not impossible in the larger cities where the ship spent more time. In Amsterdam we went on a small, private canal cruise which was a highlight. In Vienna, we went to a Salzburg Strauss/Mozart concert at the Kursalon, which was different than the concert that the ship arranged, and we visited Schonnbrun on our own, using a pass purchased before the cruise, which allowed more flexibility in visiting sites in Vienna. Both the concert and Schonnbrun were fantastic. In Cologne, we visited the Chocolate Museum on our own, which we would recommend. In Budapest, we enjoyed walking all around the city to see some of the many worthwhile attractions. (4) Viking's capable handling of logistics. We were impressed by how quickly a Viking representative met us at the airport and how easy it was to get to the ship. In addition, the cruise director, Rob, kept everyone informed and entertained... and even though we were not surprised to have a ship swap due to the dry conditions, we were surprised to find that we had to leave Vienna early because of an air race in Budapest that caused the stoppage of river traffic on the day we were scheduled to arrive there. We managed, due to adjustments in our second day in Vienna (a bus was arranged to bring those of us who were interested in spending the expected time in Vienna to Bratislava, to join the ship which left early), to get there in time. In addition, once we were in Budapest and after the day's air race, the captain brought us on an evening cruise past the Parliament building so that we could enjoy the beautifully lit building. (5) Comfort. Viking does a really good job at making cabins and other facilities comfortable. Although a bit on the small size, the cabins are attractive and well designed. On our cruise, the cabin attendants (Nelson on Baldur, and Nick on Magni) were both outstanding and kept the cabins spotless and comfortable. (6) Suitability for mature teens and young adults. We were aware before the cruise that river cruise demographics are tilted to a more mature clientele. Our kids were the youngest on board, although there were a few others who were in their twenties or early thirties. Since we were visiting ports each day, however, there was no need for the kind of activities, like shows or pools, that are popular among younger family members and found on ocean cruises. Our family enjoyed the experience but it did seem at times that some crew members and other passengers were surprised to see a 16 and 20 year old on board. We were taken aback on the second day of the cruise when someone asked our kids if they were "having any fun on the cruise," since there was no one their age on the ship. :confused: I guess this just suggests that you have to be ready for a few similar comments if you bring teens or 20-ish family members on a river cruise. If you are, you will enjoy the cruise. In sum, we had a great time, and would recommend the itinerary and Viking to others. We are also happy to answer any questions about our experience.
  6. soxfan1495

    Budapest to Nuremberg OR reverse route?

    We just got off a Viking cruise from AMS to BUD and had to do a ship swap due to low water right after Nuremberg - which meant bypassing Regensburg. I understand that where there is low water, the ship swap happens generally at the same place (between Nuremberg and Passau). You might want to consider whether you want that possibility be towards the end of the itinerary rather than at the beginning.
  7. soxfan1495

    Budapest baths

    We just returned from a Viking river cruise. We opted to do the visit to the Szechenyi baths through Viking, and enjoyed the excursion. We were told that they used Szechenyi rather than Gellert since Gellert has more steps. A guide provided helpful info on how to use the locker and entry system, which was helpful. It was also nice to not have to think about finding transportation to and from the baths, so we appreciated the convenience. Viking provides a bag with a towel, bathrobe, slippers and bathing cap. You will need the bathing cap if you want to do laps in the (very nice) lap pool. If I was to do it again, I would do it on my own, bring my own sandals or flip flops, since the slippers Viking provides are worse than useless, and the bathrobe is not necessary. I would also bring my own swimming cap so I could fully enjoy the lap pool. Even though the Viking arranged excursion is convenient, it is not necessary to do this through the ship, and you probably you will save money by taking a taxi and doing it on your own.
  8. soxfan1495

    Viking River Cruises - Fitness

    We are going on the Grand European Cruise itinerary with Viking this Summer and have a question for people who might have taken this itinerary or otherwise cruised with Viking River Cruises in Europe. On Viking's FAQ page, the cruise line states that "In many major cities, you may access nearby First-Class hotels and use their Fitness Center and Spa facilities as part of Viking’s relationship with those hotels. See your onboard Concierge for details." Has anyone taken advantage of this opportunity or heard from others about it? I am curious to know which cities this might be available in.
  9. soxfan1495

    How to get to Portofino/Santa Margarita from Genoa Port

    Thanks Flygirl, you really helped with your answer! Do you think, if we leave Genoa by about 8:30 AM for Santa Margherita and Portofino, that we might be able to also stop by at Camogli on the way back in the afternoon from Santa Margherita to Genoa? It seems we could stop by for an hour at Camogli, but I'm not sure that would be advisable with the ship's relatively early 6:00 pm departure from Genoa, and maybe if we have visited both Santa Margherita and Portofino, it would have been a full day already.
  10. soxfan1495

    Recommendations for hotel in Venice

    We stayed for several nights after our cruise at the Hotel Antche Figure. It was located right on the Grand Canal opposite the main train station, and was also close to the port. It was very nicely appointed, and the staff was very friendly and helpful (for example, they offered to pick up our luggage for us, but since it was so close to the port we took care of the luggage ourselves). It was easy to use it as a base for exploring the city. The hotel was also more affordable than many hotels in Venice.
  11. soxfan1495

    How to get to Portofino/Santa Margarita from Genoa Port

    We are planning on the same excursion on our own, but want to make sure that our reading of the Trenitalia timetable is accurate. The Equinox is arriving on Monday July 6th in Genoa at 7:00 AM and departing at 6:00 PM. The Trenitalia website indicates that there is a 9:47 AM departure from Genoa Piazza Principe that arrives in Santa Margherita at 10:20. The return would be 3:39 PM from Santa Margherita, arriving in Genoa Piazza Principe at 4:15 PM. Am I missing an earlier departure from Genoa that we could take? :confused: Should we be comfortable with the 4:15 return? Also, while we are at it... any recommendations for a good place to get lunch in Portofino or Santa Margherita? Thanks!
  12. soxfan1495

    P&O for American customers?

    I think we would! But is there any secret to getting the most from the comedians and British humor?... That is one thing which will be substantially different, I think, from what we are used to. :D
  13. soxfan1495

    P&O for American customers?

    The cruise sounds perfect. Since Britannia is new, and obviously there are no reviews on cruisecritic yet, your comments are especially helpful. We have enjoyed reading all of them. We have a couple additional questions, though, about entertainment. Can anyone describe the entertainment typical for P&O? On our recent Princess cruise a highlight was a string quartet. Would there likely be a variety of music? Also, what are the shows like (are they similar to the Broadway/West End type productions typical on Princess or RCL?). Thanks again.
  14. soxfan1495

    P&O for American customers?

    Would anyone have a link to menus used on P&O? Our kids are vegetarian, so I wonder if the breakfast buffet would include items like pancakes or waffles? Also, are pizza and pasta likely to be available for lunch or dinner? I understand that the ship would have an Indian restaurant, which sounds wonderful. Thanks for your responses - this is very helpful to us.
  15. soxfan1495

    P&O for American customers?

    We are considering a cruise on the Britannia in 2015, as we are interested in the itinerary for the 14-day Iberia cruise departing on July 25, 2015. We are also interested in other Europe itineraries offered by P&O for the Summer of 2015. We are a family with two teenagers from the USA, and we have enjoyed 12-day and other cruises on Princess and other cruise lines that are more geared for the USA market. We are wondering what the differences are between P&O and Princess, Royal Caribbean or Norwegian Cruise Lines. How would the dining and on-board activities be different? Also, would we likely find a fair number of other teenagers on the Britannia during the July-August cruise (our kids would like to meet British teens while on vacation :), so it would not be a problem at all if we are in the minority in that respect!)