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  1. They almost always offered two hikes on each stop - one for gentle walkers (usually shorter too), and one for those who wanted more strenuous hiking. They show you a video at the evening briefing of each path so you can decide if you can do it. We did the more strenuous hikes and yes they were difficult at times. In parts you were hiking over boulders and other times climbing in steep areas. I sometimes had to use your hands. The gentle walks were almost always flat and often times on or near the beach.
  2. We did the North Central itinerary in January 2017. We snorkeled almost everyday. We also did the two kayak trips offered. You did have to sign up, but there wasn't a huge demand and I believe everyone who wanted to go got too. They just put in the number of kayaks requested. They could not have everyone on the cruise (100) all kayak at once not only for the logistics, but because they didn't carry that many kayaks. Also, remember the stops are for the most part just half days so just three or four hours. I suppose they could have insisted you just kayak for one hour, but everyone went together following a guide with the current. There were maybe 8 to 10 kayaks on each trip. Some were singles and some doubles. We considered the kayaking trips to be some of the best excursions of the trip.
  3. Count me as one who enjoyed the time on the river during our Viking River Cruise. Moscow and St. Petersburg were fascinating, but it was wonderful to escape the traffic and sail through the beautiful countryside. The small towns/cities we stopped in were very interesting and the lunch we had in a family's home was so memorable.
  4. We have sailed with Silverseas, Seabourn, Regent, Oceania, Royal Caribbean, Princess and National Geographic. This past May we sailed on Viking Ocean and loved it. (We had booked two years in advance.) Viking Ocean may not be defined as "luxury", but is was for us. We added the premium spirits beverage package (all alcohol) and paid our tips in advance of the cruise, so there was nothing to pay for on board except when we took "extra" excursion. (One is included at every port.) The "no children" policy was one of the main reason we booked with them. We also loved the no formal nights, no casino, and the focus on educational lectures. That's "luxury" to us. I'm still reading this board because we are interested in Silverseas for Antartica. I can't imagine they would allow anyone under the age of six or so on those cruise, but maybe. It would definitely influence our decision.
  5. I agree you chose the wrong cruise line for a river cruise. We did two Viking River cruises - China and Russia, but those are different animals than the longship cruises in Europe. For our two European river cruises - Tulip Time and the Danube we chose AMA Waterways and Avalon. The main reason were the fitness rooms on those lines, as well as bikes and biking excursions. Granted the fitness rooms were small, but they served the purpose. I have asked Viking about why they did not include a fitness room or have bike tours and their answer was "that is not the demographic we are marketing too". So Viking tends to trend upwards in the age demographic. This was also a personal observation on our cruises. We just completed a Viking Ocean cruise and the Nordic spa and fitness center is the most impressive we've ever seen - on sea or land. We have already booked a second ocean cruise with Viking!
  6. I cannot help you with Celebrity, but we took an Oceania cruise in January of this year and a Viking Ocean one in April. It was our first Viking cruise and our second on Oceania. (We have also cruised on Regent, National Geographic, and Princess.) 1. We remembered how wonderful the food was on Oceania from our previous cruise, but we were disappointed on our return cruise in January. Oceania's speciality restaurants were excellent, but the MDR, Waves grill and buffet were not what we remembered. Viking was excellent in all venus, with the Chef's Table as simply outstanding. We enjoy wine with our meals and Oceania packages were expense and cumbersome. Viking's included wine and beer made the atmosphere much more relaxing. 2. Our cabin on the Oceania Sirena was in great need of refurbishment. (I believe this was to happen soon.) Our Viking cabin was the best we have ever had at sea. We especially liked the larger bathroom and the roomy shower. I'm a smaller person and I still "clung" to the shower curtain on Oceania. The Viking shower has a glass door. 3. Shore excursions were about the same. It all depends on the quality of the guide. 4. Enrichment is what really sold us on Viking. The lectures on Oceania were just okay, but on the Viking they were the best we have had at sea. There were four lecturers on our Viking cruise and we attended almost all of their talks. 5. Customer service was about the same on both ships. Hope this helps you.
  7. We stayed on board on our Avalon cruise because we had already been to Salzburg and Cesky Krumlov day seemed like a lot of time on the bus. There was an included walking tour of Passau in the morning and then a relaxing sail to Linz. We did walk around in Linz after arrival and it was pleasant.
  8. Your comment is so interesting because we thought we had the BEST lecturer ever on our recent cruise on the Orion - Dr. John Freedman! His lectures were standing room only, not to be missed. We were on the Hong Kong to Tokyo cruise. I'm glad to know Viking has excellent speakers on all of their cruises. This is one thing that sold us on Viking Oceans.
  9. We were just on the Hong Kong to Tokyo leg and for one of the days it listed on the app and on the TV that we would be in Kiel, Germany. This never changed and we eventually just started joking about what a long excursion that would be! The wifi worked fine for us, although we thought it was slightly better in the public areas than our cabin. It was certainly strong enough to look up the weather on our phones. I jokingly mentioned the Kiel, Germany stop to costumer service desk and they said they had notified headquarters, but they couldn't seem to fix it.
  10. We used Blackberry from Heathrow to London and vice versa last year and they were excellent. I'd certainly use them again.
  11. I don't know what the cost would be, but I would not miss a chance to visit the falls. They are one of the top natural wonders of the world. Not to be missed.
  12. We were in Egypt last January and the temperatures were in the 60's. I almost always wore a sweater (female), but then I am often colder than most folks. The only day I was down to a t-shirt during the day was sailing on the southern part of the Nile. We did enroll in the STEP program and the advisory we received was similar to the one posted above. The usual tourist areas are generally safe, although several Vietnamese tourist were recently killed by a roadside bomb in Giza. Security is high. We took an optional tour to Coptic Cairo on our last day and felt safe despite recent attacks on Coptic Christians. During the ten days we were in Egypt two people were murdered in the small city where we live in the midwestern US. It all depends on your own feelings towards safety.
  13. There is a lot of info on Cuba shore excursions in the destinations section of Cruise Critic. We just returned from an Oceania cruise which made the same stops as you will. In Havana we booked with Fertours for a private guide for ourselves and two friends. The six hour tour cost $25 each. We paid for our own lunch at a great restaurant recommended by our guide. This was a walking tour of the Havana which left only a few blocks from the cruise port, as well as an hour long ride in a 1956 convertible to sites outside of the old City. Well worth it for us. All of our other excursions were thru the cruise line. For our evening in Havana we chose the Parisian Cabaret at the National Hotel. We chose this over the Tropicana because it was significantly cheaper, indoors and the hotel is famous. It is a show about the history of dance and music in Cuba. It is very crowded and somewhat stuffy in the theater, but interesting. In Cienfuegos, we did a tour to the National Park to hike to the falls and have lunch. It was an hour and half bus ride, but interesting to see the countryside on the way. Wish we had more time to hike, but our guide wanted to get us to the lunch and back to town to shop. Could have just been our guide, but others mentioned the emphasis on shopping on other excursions. In Santiago de Cuba we did a tour about the Revolution. We toured the old town briefly, went to an arts academy, visited the military barracks, San Juan hill, and the Martyrs cemetery, including Castro's grave. We found it interesting, but be prepared for listening to a lot of Cuba propaganda and a little anti-US sentiment. Hope this helps.
  14. We went with A&K last January and really enjoyed it. Their limit is 18 per group, although there were others on the sailing portion. Our Egyptologist was outstanding and was with us the entire trip. Abu Simbel was included, which was a highlight for us. (Not an optional). The only option sold was a private tour with our guide (and a security guard) to see Coptic Cairo on the last day. We did this extra tour and found it fascinating. A&K started our tour with two nights at the Mena House hotel, which was wonderful. It was only a few minutes on the bus to the pyramids. Also, the view from our room of the Great Pyramid was amazing! The last three nights were at the Four Seasons in Cairo. The ship was somewhat older, but fine. Food was great.
  15. Alexandra cruiser, was the tour to the falls and hike outside of town called "Cienfuegos and its Nature"? We have booked that excursion and hope ours is not cancelled.
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