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Everything posted by WisRiver

  1. We are on the Voyage of the Vikings in August. I believe (although I cannot remember the source of my information) there will be nets available on the sports court. We plan on bringing our paddles and balls, and will hope for the best. Last year we were told pickleball would be available on the Koningsdam TA. However, the netting surround the court was not suitable for pickleball.
  2. Last year we did the Viking River "Passage to Eastern Europe" as part of our Bucharest-Amsterdam trip. The Bucharest-Budapest was a totally different trip that the Budapest-Amsterdam leg. We moved from the poorest areas of Europe (Romania, Bulgaria and the Balkan countries to the most affluent. Since we started in Bucharest we arrived two days early and toured Bucharest on our own, we did no excursions. There is a lot to see aside from the one day tour offered by Viking. We enjoyed the Passage to Eastern Europe. PM if you have questions.
  3. The U-Bahn stop is about 15 to 20 minute walk from the ship depending on where you dock. Last year the when we were on the Viking Aegir we had the longest walk possible. If you are lucky enough to have a docking space close to the bridge, it can be a short walk. You will have to walk up a flight of stairs or take the bicycle ramp with no stairs.
  4. I disagree with Host statement about little use for the balcony. We did a 21 day Viking River cruise on the Danube from Bucharest to Amsterdam with a balcony cabin. We used the balcony a lot, especially when we were in Germany when they closed the top deck because of the low clearances. Rhine river cruises may be different. We checked out one of the aquarium rooms, and we were glad we paid the extra cost for the balcony. There is only one chair in the cabin, and sometimes we moved the balcony chair in the cabin. We sat on the balcony fairly frequently and watched the scenery on our side of the ship go by. Since we were traveling in late May, it was light until 9 PM.
  5. When we were on the Koningsdam last spring on a transatlantic, they did not set up the pickleball nets because the net weave enclosing the court was too big and would not hold the pickleball in the sports court. We had been told by ship services that pickleball could be played. Any reports from recent passengers on the Nieuw Amsterdam. We will be on the Zuiderdam in August, 2017 and hopefully they will have the right sized nets around the court.
  6. I do not like baked or mashed potatoes. When I see it on the menu with an entree in MDR, there has been no problem when I ask for a substitution of rice or french fries. You can also ask for a side order of fries. The HAL wait staff is very accommodating.
  7. The availabilty of the abridged New York Times depends in part with the ships location. If you are in Europe the NYT might not be available until lunch because of the six hour time difference with New York. They also offer four page news summaries for Britain, Spain, Canada, Holland and I think Australia and France. The papers are usually available at guest services. My experience is based on European and South American cruises. Asia could be totally different.
  8. We like to book a Neptune for the cabin choice. We are on the Eurodam for a family cruise to Alaska later this year. We like the aft wrap around cabins, and these are only available as a Neptune. We like some of the perks, breakfast in the Pinnacle and hors d'oeruvres in our cabin at 5. But for us, its the cabin on certain cruises.
  9. Last year we took the overnight ferry from Stockholm to Helsinki and spent several days in Helsinki. We then took the train to St. Petersburg, did several days of sightseeing in St. Petersburg and then got on the train to Moscow. Each train ride was a high speed train and took about 4 hours. It was not a cruise, but the train trips were interesting. Except for the St. Peters Line ferry between St. Petersburg and Helsinki, I do not think any cruises start or end in St. Petersburg. If you want to start in Norway, there is frequent daily high speed train service between Oslo and Stockholm.
  10. We winter in Chicxulub Puerto near Progreso. While it is an interesting place, there is almost no surface evidence of the impact crater. Evidence of the crater was found in oil explorations of the 1950's and can be seen in satellite pictures. Chicxulub Puerto has a small central square, and in past years I have met cruisers looking for directions to the impact crater. The Yucatan is wonderful place, and the meteor helped to shape the geography.
  11. Last year we did both a Holland America Cruise and Viking River Cruise. We did a transatlantic from Fort Lauderdale to Rome on the Koningsdam and then a 21 Viking River Cruise from Bucharest to Amsterdam. We were on the Longships Aegir and Baldur which had a maximum capacity of 190 persons vs. the 2800 passengers on the Koningsdam. We enjoyed all of the ships we were on, but the experiences were totally different. The Viking River food was comparable to the HAL food. We like HAL food (we are 4* Mariners), and tend to eat most meals in the Lido. Breakfast and Lunch on the Viking are buffet style. For breakfast you can have eggs cooked to order, and they have good fresh baked goods. We ate most of our breakfasts and lunches on the upper deck at the Aquavit Terrace which has a smaller menu than the dining room. However the view from the Terrace was great. The Viking menu tended to be more Scandinavian. Beer and wine were served with every meal. I do not remember seeing big slabs of meat, although there is steak on the menu almost every evening. Often there was pork and lamb. HAL food is much more varied since they have passengers from all over the world.
  12. I do know if you can change carriers, but T-Mobile works extremely well for international travel. You need a GSM compatible phone. There are no additional surcharges, data (at a reduced speed) and more importantly calls are .20 a minute. US callers call your local number and it connects you in Europe.
  13. We are on the 2019 VOV with a stop in St. Anthony. We are having a hard time finding a private tour or car rental agency in St. Anthony. For many of reasons stated in previous posts, we do not want to do the HAL tour. Any suggestions?
  14. Last year after finishing a transatlantic to Copenhagen on HAL, we rented a car for a two week road trip including Norway and Sweden. The Norwegian toll roads are all automated. Hertz told us that since we did not a transponder that most Norwegian cars have, they take a picture of the license plate and the registered owner will be billed. Hertz said there will be an additional charge tacked on to our rental bill. About a month later Hertz billed us $40 US for Norwegian tolls. I never saw a toll booth in Norway. Norwegian highways, bridges, tunnels and ferries all have a toll of some sort. Great system.
  15. Several years ago we were supposed to arrive the evening before departure. Our plan was to stay at a beachfront hotel and take the cab to our ship. Our flight was delayed by 12 hours due to weather in departing and arriving airport, so we made it to FLL at 6 AM. On a previous trip we had breakfasted at Joe's Cafe off 17th Street in the same shopping mall as Total Wines and the Publix grocery store. We took a cab to Joe's (which opens at 6:30 AM), and had a slow relaxing breakfast. We had coffee and read the papers. The wait staff was accommodating. There were several other cruisers in the cafe, and one person volunteered to watch the luggage. We walked to Total Wines and Publix for carry on wine and emergency rations for the cruise (chips, nuts and chocolate). We took a cab to the port at about 10:30. I do not think the FLL airport is a comfortable place to wait. If in similar circumstances I would find a place outside the airport (17th Street has plenty of options) to wait in the morning.
  16. We are arriving in Rotterdam in mid-August on HAL's Voyage of the Vikings. We will have 9 hours in Rotterdam (7 AM to 5 PM). We have done a lot of touring in Amsterdam, and want to see The Hague (specifically the Maurishuis Museum in The Hague) and the Vermeer Museum in Delft. I think these places are easily accessible by train from the Rotterdam Centraal Station. Is there a day pass we can buy or do we have to buy individual tickets? Any other thoughts or advice on a day in Rotterdam.
  17. I am not aware of any hotels near the port that offer free transport to the ship. We have stayed at the HI Express on 17th Street and used their free transport from the airport. We like to use Lyft to go the ship. Last year the cost was about $15 including tip for four persons. We do not like the hotel shuttle because of the cost for four people, the wait and the crowded van. With Lyft the van was there within five minutes of the call.
  18. Saltshell: Travel to Norway in April and May is worth it. It is not as crowded as the summer months (July and August). If you have poor weather it will be rain, but not every day. Several years ago we ended our Hurtigruten cruise on May 12. The temperatures were in the mid 80's and they were in the middle of a five day warm spell. If you want to go into the mountains, the high passes such as the Trollsteigen near Geiranger may not be open in May. Last year when we were in Bergen in late April, it was cool and misty on Day 1, and then cool and clear for the next three days as we traveled down to Stavanger, and Kristiansund in Norway.
  19. You will probably need water resistant outerwear, since you will likely have to deal with cool rainy, weather. We use Lands End Gore Tex rain gear with fleece jackets. We also had water resistant hiking shoes. A down jacket is useless if it gets wet. We have done Hurtigruten cruises as well as DIY trips to Bergan, Alesund, and Stavanger in late April and May. Rain was the major weather issue.
  20. Our experience with Amsterdam hotels is to skip the hotel breakfast buffet. The breakfast buffet tends to be pricey and way too much food. We like a lighter breakfast, coffee, yogurt, pastry, etc. Depending on your hotel, there may be a hotel coffee shop or restaurant that serves a lighter a la carte breakfast. Explore your hotel's neighborhood for local coffee shops.
  21. We like to stay at the Nordic C (or it may be called the Stockholm C now). It is a modern hotel adjacent to Central Station. There are interior rooms with no windows, and small rooms with a window for less than $200 US on weekends. You can walk to Gamla Stan and the city center. You can walk out the front door and you are 50 meters from the Arlanda Express train to the airport. We have stayed at the Nordic three times in the past six years, and have had a positive experience. We have never stayed in one of the windowless rooms.
  22. DaveOKC: Did Hertz offer a shuttle to the cruise port? Hertz is quoting me a price of over $400 for five days with airport pickup. Enterprise is quoting $180 for five days if I pick up car at downtown location. Seems to me that taking an Uber from airport to downtown Enterprise may be cheapest, since Enterprise offers a shuttle from downtown location to cruise terminal.
  23. We are going on an Alaska cruise in late June, 2019 on Holland America. Our plan is to pick up a rental car at the airport and visit friends in the Seattle area. All of them live in the suburbs underserved by public transportation (North Bend and Lake Tapps). Is there a rental car company that has a drop off location near the HAL cruise terminal? Several years ago we used Enterprise, but there was a drop charge for an airport pickup and a drop in downtown Seattle.
  24. I would look at the Strand Palace Hotel near Covent Garden. Their non refundable rates without breakfast may be within your price point. I am not sure they would have a triple room. The rooms are small, but the location is excellent.
  25. We are departing from Boston on the July 30 Voyage of the Vikings. Our departure time is listed at 11:00 PM. We want to drop our luggage at about noon, get our room keys, not board the ship and then go back into Boston for the afternoon and evening. Since our next port stop is in the US (Bar Harbor) there should be no immigration and customs issues. Any problems with this plan?
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