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Everything posted by FuelScience

  1. I wonder if Nicko has backed off on their attempt to attract English speaking guests. I looked through several cruises on their site, and when I looked at available dates for the cruises, I didn't see any that indicated that English speakers would be accommodated (last year, a Union Jack would appear next to dates where English speakers would be welcome. Despite our disappointment, Nicko's aggressive pricing is a strong attraction. The MS Casanova is an older "boutique" ship, but the service and food were very good. FuelScience
  2. If you're an English speaker, beware of Nicko. We took a Nicko cruise last year (Saarbrucken to Stuttgart). We liked the idea of cruising the Neckar, and the cruise was advertised as being one that accommodated English speakers as well as German speakers. We spoke with Nikko before and after making our reservations and were assured that announcements would be in English as well as German and that tours for English speakers would be included. When we arrived on the ship, we kept hearing announcements only in German. When I went to speak to the CD, he informed me that it was German speaking cruise only. He had no idea that English speakers would be on the ship. There were NO English speaking tours. It turned out that there were 4 Finns along with my wife and myself who didn't speak German. The CD did his best to accommodate us. He would huddle with us to inform us of the day's activities and make brief English explanations of important announcements. He also printed out English scripts of his commentary to describe the countryside we passed during daytime sailings. Nicko has assigned seating for all meals, and my wife and I were assigned a table for two for the cruise, so we really didn't meet anyone. We had hoped to sit with the Finns, but apparently some Germans who wanted to improve their English were seated with them. Some of the passengers took pity on us and tried to make small talk in English, but overall Nicko failed to deliver what they'd promised.
  3. My bad. I rechecked and GCT did in fact issue me a refund. I was looking at the wrong credit card.
  4. I guess that this affects me. I cancelled my April cruise on February 21 due to side effects of the chemotherapy I'm receiving. I received an email the same day saying that the allowed refund would be credited to my card within 7-10 days. It's almost 2 months later, and no credit has been issued. I have travel insurance, and may need to refile to receive the entire amount from the insurance rather than Grand Circle. Calls to Grand Circle seem to result in being put on hold for what seems like an eternity. Anyone having better luck with the phone? FuelScience
  5. There is one reason to sign up early. If there's a tour you absolutely know you want to take go ahead and sign up. Unless they've changed their policy recently, if you sign up for a tour before you leave you're guaranteed that the tour will be available. If you sign up on the boat and not enough people sign up for the tour to be worthwhile, Avalon will cancel the tour due to lack of interest.
  6. They also offer some intriguing itineraries that are generally not available to North American (English-speaking) cruisers.
  7. You've picked a good line and a good itinerary. We did this a few years ago. We did the northbound version. The big change I see from our trip is that the cruise now starts in Port-Saint-Louis, whereas our cruise began in Arles. You might want to start with the reviews here on cruisecritic to get an idea of what to expect. I highly recommend the Pont du Gard excursion! I also left the Avalon tour of Lyon and took in the Roman museum on my own and walked back to the ship. https://www.cruisecritic.com/memberreviews/getreviews.cfm?action=ship&ShipID=822
  8. I think you'll be OK. When we did Avalon' Paris to Amsterdam they loaded our luggage onto a truck at the hotel before we left for the train from Paris to Luxembourg. No one really checked, and we put 3 or 4 pieces onto the truck. In fact, DW decided to put her carry-on onto the truck at the last minute and almost sent her train tickets via truck! I carried my backpack on the train.
  9. It looks like their remaining ships are: MS Bizet on the Seine (built 2002) 120 passengers River Chanson on the Rhone (built 2001) 86 passengers River Aria (built 2001) 162 passengers River Adagio (built 2003) 162 passengers River Harmony (built 1999) 140 passengers Given the age of the ships, they should be close to being fully depreciated. This plus the fact that GCT doesn't use travel agents should make them a low cost operator. Is your ship showing it's age? How well has it been maintained?
  10. I understand how local residents are upset. Personally I wish that more lines would explore some of the other river routes on the continent. Unfortunately, this might require a move to smaller ships to navigate some of the rivers. Certainly veteran river cruiser would be interested in new routes. We chose a Nicko cruise earlier this year which allowed us to see some of the Saar and the Neckar, rivers that aren't generally available on many of the North American centered lines.
  11. Have a great trip, and as the others have said, let us know how it goes. The Po cruise hasn't been described too often here.
  12. We did Avalon's Burgundy & Provence cruise a couple of years a go and enjoyed it. It goes all the way up the Saone to the little village of St. Jeane de Losne, giving you some extra sailing. Avalon is one of the few lines to offer "cruise only" options for those who want to skip the typical Paris or Nice excursions on either end.
  13. It's a 20 minute train ride, and they leave every 30 minutes. You can find scheduled trains on the bahn.de web site. The trains are a local carrier (RNN), and it looks like a ticket good for travel all day is 12 Euro.
  14. Why don't you post the dimensions of your luggage, and maybe someone who has sailed on Crystal with the same sized cases can tell you whether they fit under the bed?
  15. I was attracted to GCT for these very reasons. Their Seine cruise is a one-way, 11-night cruise instead of the typical 7-night Paris-to-Paris itinerary. Also, the ship docks in Honfleur rather than busing passengers there. We're doing a pre-cruise extension in the Loire Valley, and it's our understanding that the PD accompanying us on that extension will be our PD for the entire cruise. You mentioned the Forums on the GCT site. They don't seem to be very active. Interestingly there are only 6 reviews of our cruise on CruiseCritic, whereas there are over 500 reviews of the same cruise on GCT's web site.
  16. Thanks. I don't have questions right now, but I suspect that I'll have some as the departure date approaches.
  17. We've just scheduled our 10th river cruise and our first with Grand Circle. There doesn't seem to be a Grand Circle focused thread, so I'm starting this one. I don't see a lot of GCT cruisers on the Forum, but maybe this tread will encourage more postings and reviews.
  18. The other alternative is buying a European SIM card for your phone. For instance, here's a 14 day, 20GB card for $50 and a note from Rick Steves on the option. https://orange.simoptions.com/?gclid=EAIaIQobChMI1ajPjabs5AIVCovICh2RlAtdEAQYBCABEgLAG_D_BwE https://www.ricksteves.com/travel-tips/phones-tech/cell-phone-europe
  19. I've used a TEP hotspot in the past and been pleased with it. Each ship is different, but we've found that at peak times--like when everyone has just returned from an excursion--the internet is often unusable. I think that a lot of people send photos without bothering to reduce the size. We've found that we could turn the hotspot on--they typically connect up to 5 devices--and get good internet when the ship's internet connection was "saturated."
  20. CPT Trips, it worked! I messaged GCT on FaceBook and got the following reply. Thanks again for the suggestion! ============================ Normally we dock in Honfleur,; however there were a few departures this summer where the local authorities diverted us to Le Havre. It had to do with changes in the way the port is classified by the French government.The issue has been resolved and we’re back to docking in Honfleur. Most European river ports are controlled by a government entity, and they do have the right to make changes without prior notice. It doesn’t happen often, but it is best if travelers allow for some flexibility.
  21. We were able to upgrade American flights a few years ago even though Avalon had booked our flights.
  22. Thanks! Good idea. I've posted the question on the forums, and I've reached out to GCT via their FaceBook page. I'll let you know what I find out.
  23. YellowMini may want to clear this up, but I believe that they weren't sailing with Teeming. The Royal Emerald is leased by several companies throughout the year, and I don't think that theirs was a Teeming cruise. When we had our troubles, the Paglialongas did everything they could to accommodate us, including moving back to the noisy cabin themselves and putting us in one of the mid-ship suites.
  24. Sorry to hear that you got the "upgrade." I can't believe that they did that to you. Hope you're able to get your money back without too much trouble.
  25. One more question. In going over reviews on the Grand Circle website, I found that one or more cruises in April of 2018 and 2019 docked in Le Havre rather than Honfleur. Does anyone know why this would happen. I suspect that it has something do do with river levels, but I didn't see a specific explanation of the reason for diverting to La Havre.
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