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18 hours ago, Lisa B. said:

We are doing our first river cruise leaving October 22 for 15 days. Budapest to Amsterdam.  Anyone ever cruised during this time of year who could tell me about weather? Trying to decide how to pack.....Lightly, which I am NOT good at. Very excited and great reading everything on this thread. We are coming to Budapest a few days before departure. I can go straight to the boat on my own or do we have to meet the group at a specific location?

thanks for any help or advice!

 

We leave for Europe soon after you, but are reversing our travels by starting in Germany at a timeshare for a week, heading to the Alsace region of France and on to Lucerne before boarding our Avalon cruise in Nuremberg which ends in Budapest.

 

Layers are the recommendation for travel at this time of year. Perhaps bring a pair of pants that can roll or zip off into Capris, in case it is warmer than expected. I will bring a pair of those plus light gloves, a head band, a down jacket that rolls up and fits into its own bag, a 5x10 in bag from Cabela's with a rain jacket inside, several jeans, black travel pants that will work for times I want to "dress up" a bit, many tops, just 2 pair of shoes- waterproof walking/hiking Columbia's and flats.Oh and undies and a nightgown. I roll my clothes. 

 

Hoping to fit everything into a carryon and backpack! have had success traveling to Europe like this in warmer months but not sure about this time of year- after our cruise ends in Budapest DH & I take the train for 3 nights in Munich before flying home on the 17th. We will have access to laundry at the timeshare and will use a laundry service in Lucerne.

 

We plan on going to the Illumination on our own after dropping our rental car in Nuremberg city- about 3 miles from the docking location. Our TA says that is fine, so don't worry about meeting a group to head to the boat.

 

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19 hours ago, Lisa B. said:

We are doing our first river cruise leaving October 22 for 15 days. Budapest to Amsterdam.  Anyone ever cruised during this time of year who could tell me about weather? Trying to decide how to pack.....Lightly, which I am NOT good at. Very excited and great reading everything on this thread. We are coming to Budapest a few days before departure. I can go straight to the boat on my own or do we have to meet the group at a specific location?

thanks for any help or advice!

A couple of suggestions. First, just google what to wear on a river cruise, and you'll get lots of hits. Also, check out the blog at the link below. It's hard to navigate since the relevant posts are now archived (hint: do it by months). This cruiser posted a really comprehensive blog on what she packed for her Amsterdam to Budapest cruise. Also after the cruise she listed the items she wished she'd left at home. She also posted a lot on this site, but apparently the search function only goes back a year or so. 

 

https://rivercruisenewbie.wordpress.com/2014/07/  

Edited by FuelScience
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  • 2 weeks later...

We did Amsterdam to Basel this year 4/12/19.  It was our first river cruise and frankly I was dragged kicking and screaming on the cruise and had no interest in anything about cruising after a terrible ocean cruise experience.  Long story short, I was booking our next one before we got home!  I dislike being bombarded with advertisements so we said no to Viking and did Avalon after our travel agent recommended.  We arrived In Amsterdam two days early and stayed at the Movenpick besides the docks.  It’s an excellent hotel with an excellent breakfast.  Avalon didn’t meet us In Amsterdam, not their fault or problem, but our travel agent booked us a limo to the hotel as a cruise gift.  We checked in and proceeded to explore Amsterdam walking 10 miles.  The next day we visited the resistance museum instead of Frank house and glad we did, much more history, stories, and displays at the museum plus we walked from the hotel (about a mile).  We then ended up walking another 12 miles, I feel like we saw a lot of Amsterdam.  So it was weird to board the ship, Expression, and then take a tour of Amsterdam, hmm no...I’ve seen it.  But we did take the tour keukenhof tulip gardens, wow and I am not a flower guy, but if it’s open and you can, you must visit.  The other thing we didn’t do but had rave reviews on board was the early morning trip to the “flower auction” which is supposed to be just nuts, I won’t miss it again.

 

There are plenty of reviews about the Rhine so I won’t go day to day, but I will say the ship, food, service, tours, and the wine (ahh, the wine) were all top notch.  Slept great, ate like a king, and just relaxed.  A word on that, maybe it’s just me, but it took a few days before I could relax as I kept waiting for the yeah but moment of the cruise.  Never happened and can’t wait to go again, in fact we already booked Amsterdam to Budapest (disclosure: we booked Tauck for this because part of the trip is on the Rhine and they do different things than we already did on Avalon, but yes we are a little worried because Avalon was so good)   If anything, I felt like 7 days was not long enough.  My favorite tour was to one of the forts of the Maginot line.  It was not at all what I expected.  Out tour guides grandfather served in this fort and the stories were great.  My wife loved it and she isn’t a ww2 history person either.  Hospital, dental office, kitchen, barracks, et. All underground it was very interesting.  Do it if you can, I can almost guarantee you’ll like it.

Edited by s35flyer
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S35Flyer

I have booked this cruise for next may with lots of my family (my cousins, spouses, sister and b in law).  I am excited.  Thanks for the words on the Movenpik hotel.  i have been looking at hotels for a while to find one that will work for all of us that come early.  I have a few questions.

did you book a transfer to the ship or was it easy to get there on your own?  (nice TA to get you a limo to the hotel)

I am debating a seperate tour to Keukenhof.  How much did the ship charge?  was it a big group?  I want to go to Alsmeer too.  

Is it hard to get around Amsterdam on foot?  I like to walk but did not know how the streets were from Movenpik to the sites?  i have looked at hotels closer to the Rijksmuseum.

Did you do anything in Basel or go straight to the airport?  I am debating a night in Zurich before i leave.  

I will check the tour for the Fort.  Which port was that?  i have several history buffs in the group who would enjoy that.  

I am so glad i found your post.  The family has been looking to me for direction and this will be my first river cruise.  any help answering my questions would be wonderful.

 

Michelle

 

 

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Hi Michelle,

 

We were on the tulip time river cruise this March & the Keukenhof tour was an inclusive excursion. We had a choice of a full day at Keukenhof or 1/2 day in Gouda in the morning & 1/2 day in Keukenhof in the afternoon.

 

Enjoy.

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Michelle,  

 

my best answers are, the Movenpick was the hotel that Avalon had us check into.  You can literally see the ships from the hotel, it’s about a 5 minute walk to where our ship was.  But the morning of boarding Avalon was at the Movenpick, organized, gathered up everyone’s luggage and put us on a bus for a 2 minute ride to the ship, so yes if you stay at the precruise hotel, they will be there.  Jumping to another question, Basel, we did nothing there as they put us on a transfer to zurich.  Many left Zurich right away, but some (us) stayed a night to catch flights the next day.  We opted for the Movenpick near the Zurich airport since we enjoyed the Amsterdam one, mistake.  We were very disappointed due to the price, 350 if I recall, and did not include breakfast, that was another 40 euros each and the hotel was not as nice as Amsterdam. But be aware everything and I mean everything in Zurich is expensive.  The hotel told us how to get downtown on the train, easy, and we spent the rest of the day touring Zurich which is sort of interesting.

 

if you have ww2 history buffs, then do the maginot line if at all possible.  The port was Strasbourg.  However that day was also the Black Forest, so some went to that decisions decisions.  However, unless your looking to buy a cuckoo clock, hmm well you’ll have decide which to choose.  I talked to the Black Forest tourist and I didn’t get the sense they were thrilled, satisfied but not thrilled.

 

Kuekenhoft (I cant spell it) tulip gardens was an Avalon excursion while in Amsterdam, about 50 of us went, it was very cool and pretty amazing.  Other question on Movenpick and walking.  The parts of Amsterdam you want to see are literally across the street, under a bridge and your right in the middle of everything.  I see no way you won’t enjoy the Movenpick.

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@seashell, I am not @s35flyer, but we (myself, hubby, sister -- all in our 60s - and our daughter, 27) just cruised Amsterdam to Basel on Avalon Vista, July 13-20, and adored the experience. A few observations that might help you:

- We arrived a day early to Amsterdam and stayed one night at the Banks Mansion. Impeccable experience, so welcoming and lovely. More of a "boutique" hotel, with a full service concept. That meant a full complimentary open bar in the lobby, complimentary minibars in the rooms, a marvelous cheese and wine reception late afternoon, and expansive complimentary full breakfast. The location is great for exploring, near the flower market and steps from the #12 tram line stop.

- We purchased a 3-day transit pass at the airport that gave us full access to the train from the airport, plus all trams, Metro, and buses. We used it extensively our first two days, and once for the Metro on the last day. It was €22 per person. We found navigating the public transit system easy, even with luggage for the train from the airport to our hotel, and the tram from our hotel to the ship. We each had one large roller bag and a backpack. We try to make it a point to use public transport when we travel, as it not only saves money, but also adds to the cultural experience of the city we are visiting.

- We did not get tickets for the Anne Frank House, so we visited the Resistance Museum, which we found riveting. We also visited the Nemo Science Center when it rained in the afternoon, and enjoyed that as well. There is a lovely spot on the roof with a cafe and bar, and expansive city view, which you can access from exterior stairs if you do not want to experience the museum itself. 

- The only paid excursions we did were the bike tour through the countryside near Amsterdam (wonderful), and the Maginot Line tour that @s35flyer mentioned. We also found that fascinating, a highlight. We are also history buffs. Our guide said that Avalon is the only line to still offer the tour.

- Upon arrival in Basel, we took a cab to the train station and the train to Zurich, where we spent two nights at Hotel St. Josef, another great choice. Easy walk into the shopping/dining areas of the city, very large rooms, very nice included breakfast. We just explored Zurich the day we arrived, and the next day we took a tour through Viator to Lucerne and Mount Pilatus. Another highlight! The next morning we walked to the train station for the train to Zurich airport for our flight home.

Here's a link to my photos, if you are interested: AVALON RHINE CRUISE 2019

Let me know if you have any questions for me!

Edited by subtchr
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5 minutes ago, s35flyer said:

Suptcr, nice pics, I know most of them!  That was a great cruise wasn’t it?  I can’t wait to go back, and explore some more.

 

Thanks, it was marvelous!


Interesting that our cruise had the Maginot Line as the afternoon tour after the morning tour of Strasbourg, and the Black Forest tour (with the cuckoo clock shop) as a choice from Breisach, not Strasbourg. We were very happy to have been able to experience both!

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subtchr and s35flyer,  

thank you so much for the answers.  this helps alot.  I have looked at the Banks.  I appreciate all the hotel information.  Several are already booked for next May.  i'm guessing group blocks but I really want to plan ahead.  My family was from the Alsace region.  A family home was in Ribeauville near Colmar and Strasbourg.  If my cousins were still there I would go visit.  I have a doll my aunt sent me from the Black Forest for Christmas in the 1960's.  They were stationed in Paris and Belgium.

As you can guess with a family group of 12 we will be arriving and departing at different times.  As we get older we appreciate the time we have together.  3 of us have tried to get a trip planned for a few years so I am happy we are finally going.  I am thinking now I really want to go for 2 days ahead in Amsterdam.  Thanks for the tip on the transit pass.

I know that there are included tours but did they charge for Keukenhof?  I have already done the canal cruise (celebrity cruise last year ended in Amsterdam).  

Is it far from the ship in Basel to Zurich.  i did not know how hard it would be to take the train.  I really want to see a little of Zurich (chocolate shops) before i head home.

michelle

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I agree with the two days early, we enjoyed the time and getting over jet lag.  Plus you never know about the airlines, just sayin.  Yes the Keukenhopf (I still can’t spell) was extra, I don’t know how much.  They took us there on the afternoon of ship departure and then we met the ship just outside of Amsterdam.  Yes the hotels are likely blocks, I would think Avalon would tell you where to book or where they have rooms reserved anyway.  As I said they sent us to the movenpick.   I think Zurich was an hour away by Avalon bus where we docked.  Many went to the train station and Avalon had them all taxis lined up at the dock. They dropped us where all the hotel buses pick people up at the airport, Zurich. The train is very easy in Zurich from our hotel, we took the shuttle back to the airport bought round trip to downtown Zurich, which is where you want to go, the ride was like 10 minutes easy.

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Not relevant to current conversation, but YAY Avalon for our 172 sq. ft. Aquarium Deck cabins vs. 150 sq. ft. for Viking!  Just got yet another Viking brochure in the mail and was even more shocked to see that their French balconies are even smaller at 135 sq. ft.!!

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1 hour ago, TMLAalum said:

Not relevant to current conversation, but YAY Avalon for our 172 sq. ft. Aquarium Deck cabins vs. 150 sq. ft. for Viking!  Just got yet another Viking brochure in the mail and was even more shocked to see that their French balconies are even smaller at 135 sq. ft.!!

 

That's because Viking shifted the aisle off center, in order to make the Balcony cabins bigger.  Those French balconies are really small :classic_ohmy:

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21 hours ago, s35flyer said:

Your right.  We skipped the Black Forest for Colmar.  Hey you were just there, I was 2.5 months ago senior moment, lol.

 

They changed the cruise from when we took it last year.  We were able to do the Vogtsbauernhof Open Air Museum and Colmar

the day we were in Briesach.  We also to the optional trip to Keukenhof, if you have the chance, I would definitely recommend it, my husband wasn't really looking forward to it, but he really enjoyed it.  The gardens were beautiful.  We had been thinking of doing Zaanse Schans, but decided to go by train up to Zuiderzee, which we really liked.  If you like historical villages, I would recommend it.

 

Seashell, if you can, take the tour out to the Alsace region, you may not get near where your family was from, but the country side is beautiful, and Obernai (the town we went to) is quite pretty.

 

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Does Avalon offer excursions to Riquewihr? Friends who were on an AMA Rhine cruise toured there and loved it! 

 

Though we are on an Avalon Danube cruise, we will be in the Alsace region prior. Colmar was going to be a couple nights stop until I decided to look along the Wine Road for other lodging choices. We are staying at Clos de Froehn in Zellenberg, within walking distance of Riquewihr, Hunawihr and Ribeauville and will visit Colmar enroute to Lucerne.

 

We spend a night in Metz, my paternal grandmother's birthplace, and while there meet a recently discovered, very distant cousin and his wife who are driving there from outside Paris.

 

We are so looking forward to our land itinerary and our very first river cruise aboard the Illumination!

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I don't see any tours to Riquewhir, I guess because it's not really far from Colmar, they figure tehy would just go to Colmar.  It's a really pretty area, and we loved the old towns.  Driving on the bus was interesting....so close to the homes, and even got stuck in a traffic jam when two cars were parked directly across from each other.  Totally not like our roads!

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I will just put a plug in for the optional excursion to the Aalsmeer flower auction. It was totally amazing. Something like 60% of the worlds retail flowers pass through there. It was an early morning excursion from Amsterdam but so worth the cost and the early departure. We did it as a part of the Tulips of Northern Holland cruise at the end of April. Keukenhoff is only open for 6-8 weeks out of the year so if you aren’t there in the spring it will be closed but Alsmeer is open year round.  

Other highlights were Keukenhoff, Gouda and the planetarium at Franecker. Actually the entire cruise was delightful. Got to see a lot of places that were off the usual tourist track.  

We have had 2 really excellent Avalon cruises now. Can’t wait for a third!

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mhb,

I am looking at a tour by locals tour that goes to both the flower auction and keukenhof.  I have heard great things about Alsmeer.  I so want to see the auction but i know it is only open on certain days of the week and you have to go early.  My cruise is in early May so Keukenhof is still open.  

Sub, 

not sure i can swing a trip to Pilatus.  Only so many days i can be gone from work.  Pictures were great.  Thanks for sharing.

Right now my main goal is to get hotel choices narrowed down for Amsterdam and Zurich.  I also want to book air in August before prices go up.  I'll total the damage and see how many days i can spend pre and post cruise.  i have a feeling i'll be on another river cruise in the next couple years.  So many places I want to visit.  Thanks for all the suggestions.

Michelle

  

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22 hours ago, mhb1757 said:

I will just put a plug in for the optional excursion to the Aalsmeer flower auction. It was totally amazing. Something like 60% of the worlds retail flowers pass through there. It was an early morning excursion from Amsterdam but so worth the cost and the early departure. We did it as a part of the Tulips of Northern Holland cruise at the end of April. Keukenhoff is only open for 6-8 weeks out of the year so if you aren’t there in the spring it will be closed but Alsmeer is open year round.  

 

This is one you can do on your own if you're a little adventurous. You can catch the 357 bus in front of Centraal Station. The bus takes about 50-55 minutes and drops you off right at the auction. Our bus driver was eager to help us and make sure that we got off at the right stop. We took a 7:00 a.m. bus, but if I had it to do over, I would take an earlier bus in case the auction runs short (normal run is 7:00 a.m. until 11:00 a.m.).  You can also take a train to the airport and get a bus from there. The auction is definitely worth seeing!

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22 hours ago, seashell said:

mhb,

I am looking at a tour by locals tour that goes to both the flower auction and keukenhof.  I have heard great things about Alsmeer.  I so want to see the auction but i know it is only open on certain days of the week and you have to go early.  My cruise is in early May so Keukenhof is still open.  

 

  

You could easily do both in a single day (with an early start). The tulip fields around Keukenhoff will likely be gone by May but the gardens will still be spectacular.  A local tour would be perfect!  I’d suggest doing it on a weekday vs weekend if possible since so many locals head to the gardens on weekends. Crowds are less during the week. 

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Not to confuse the topic,  but on our Avalon cruise last April we were offered both of these in one day, and some did it and loved it.  We just did the gardens and it was great but I heard good stories about the auction that morning.

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I saw a review and it mentioned plug ins being for european.  Will i be able to use my hairdryer or phone charger or will i need a European converter?   Anyone know?  I will be on Vista i think.

 

michelle

 

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2 minutes ago, seashell said:

I saw a review and it mentioned plug ins being for european.  Will i be able to use my hairdryer or phone charger or will i need a European converter?   Anyone know?  I will be on Vista i think.

 

michelle

 

You shouldn't bring your own hairdryer. There will be one on board that works with the correct voltage. As for your phone charger, unless the phone is ancient it is dual voltage. You do not need a converter (which converts voltage), you need a plug adapter which just changes your 2 pin North American plug to a 2 round pin European. (Somewhere on the charger it will say something like Input AC110-240V...)

 

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