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About pontac

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  1. Budapest, mooring in centre of city as of 5 June 2019 and two previous river cruises that started or ended there. Twice almost under the Chain Bridge, once between Elizabeth and Liberty bridges. Easy walk to Parliament, shops, restaurants and (uphill) to Fisherman's Bastion. (Location may change as a result of the recent fatal collision) Bordeaux. Vienna - although as others have pointed out, mooring in the midst of a city may still involve travel to get to the part of the city you want to go to. Each of three time moored in Vienna was only a few minutes walk from Metro station
  2. @famcruisefun Hi Louise, the recent discussion on the subject of Viking payments may have some items of interest https://boards.cruisecritic.com/topic/2660414-payment-dates/
  3. Depends. Maybe that's Viking USA policy, but it's not Viking policy in other regions. Last week single gentleman on our cruise told me he'd paid 150%, but that price was only available for cabins on the lowest deck ('aquarium class'). We know from previous discussions on this board that the different Viking countries have different policies. Maybe Viking USA don't offer any discount for single travellers or maybe they didn't have any cabins available on the lowest deck
  4. I'm English and book with Viking UK. I've been travelling with Viking since 2012 and return air fares from London have always been included in the cost. This month's trip had business class airfare included (and very nice it was too to have choice of a hot meal and a glass (or three) of Champagne.) New for trips this year 'On board Gratuities' have been included on all cruises. As I read it, 'On board Gratuities' isn't all gratuities, i.e. doesn't include guides/drivers or for any included hotel nights (none this year on Ukraine trip, but will be nights in Bucharest from next year) Each country is treated differently because Viking are competing with other companies in each market. Also national differences; from my experience America is more of a tipping culture than others. (Personally, we've had perfect service on board with which we have always been happy to tip, but some local guides in the past have been so bad I haven't tipped them anything. With the old Quietvoxes one could sometimes retune to a better guide with another group, but that's not possible with the latest model.....)
  5. Thanks for that info @pogo50. Surprised it doesn't say so in the Cruise documents which suggests the $2/$1 per day I put in my post. Did they tell you on board at the start of the cruise?
  6. Reading this in your post I thought maybe our American friends were being taken advantage of, since on the Eastern European cruise we came off last week invoiced the cabin €15 pp per day, which is considerably less. Comparing the two Cruise Document booklets, Eastern Europe cruise (Budapest-Bucharest) the default gratuities stated in the document are €15 pp per day and suggested €2 pp per day for a guide and €1pp per day for a driver. But on the Ukraine (Odessa-Kiev) cruise the default gratuities stated in the document are $25 pp per day and suggested $2 pp per day for a guide and $1pp per day for a driver. Current exchange rates from xe.com are €15 = $16.82 €2 = $2.24 €1 = $1.12 $25 = €22.30 $2 = €1.78 $1 = €0.89 So while there is similarity between driver & guide suggested gratuities, you'd pay more than $5 pp per day for onboard gratuities in Ukraine than on the tour ending in the neighbouring Romania or Hungary...…...
  7. I got back last from Budapest to Bucharest cruise with Viking. We were supposed to be on Embla boarding Budapest on 5 June but shortly before we left we had an email to say we would be in Lif. Other passengers had travelled from Amsterdam and the Embla couldn't pass under a bridge so after a days sightseeing the coaches took them to Lif and their bags were in the cabin in the new ship. I presume passengers from Lif transferred to Embla. Crew stayed with their ships except from Programme Director who also transferred
  8. pontac


    Your profile doesn't show where you are, but I am assuming somewhere in the USA... Are you a member of the American Wine Society? The annual national conference may well give that opportunity. The 2015 had a fascinating session comparing Cru Bourgeois from 4 different appellations and two vintages. (I apologise to the other readers of this thread for this off-topic diversion, but we're not allowed to use the boards Private Message function)
  9. Sorry for long delay in replying, @Horsedds. Despite the excellent advice from @Peregrina651 there are now several posts on this forum about the Sineus and this one has been pushed down. Yes, we, and the couple who encouraged us to join them, will be on the 6 July sailing from Odessa to Kiev. I don't know anything about the region and have no family ties. It's just an area we haven't been and we're running out of Viking Rivers..... We haven't booked any optional trips but the male half of our friends has booked the museum of Soviet era cars. He's a motor aficionado.
  10. Me neither -the emails about new posts in forums stopped about the same time as the countdown clocks failed
  11. Thanks. I think you posted while I was editing the above to say the answer was further down the forum, and thus I couldn't edit
  12. I wanted to PM some cruisers on about a change of ship but I got this message You are only allowed to send 0 messages per day. Please try again later. I've been a member of CC for more than 4 years. How much later do I have to wait??
  13. pontac


    🙂 This is a subject debated endlessly on the wine forums, and I think a discussion here is not appropriate for this forum (and only of interest to geeks like us) I've not been to Beaulieu since the late 70s so I don't know it,, but as it has been compared with Kirwan I looked at the Beaulieu website. They are punting their BV 2015 Georges de Latour Private Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon. On WineSearcher the cheapest California retailer listed sells that for $110 ex sales tax.
  14. pontac


    Given that both 'good' and 'expensive' are subjective, and that local taxes can make a big difference to the retail price, I beg to differ as I think there is a lot of good QPR Bordeaux wines. There's some 2,000 chateaux in Bordeaux making wine from their own grapes, plus many brands. Outside the score or more of the top named wines now sadly bought for investment there are hundreds and hundreds of wines at reasonable prices. Viking visit Ch Kirwan, a Third Growth Margaux. Last year their 2015 vintage was €49 (including VAT at 20%). Those used to Napa Valley prices will find that a bargain. If one is in Bordeaux on Sunday the farmers market on the riverside where the cruise boats moor have several stands by small wineries where good wine is to be had at <€10 and one can taste it first.
  15. Having seen, in the relatively short time I have been cruising, the huge increase in river cruise companies and the number of cruise boats on the rivers since 2007, I wonder where all the new Captains have come from and how much experience they have. This year Viking will have 69 boats on European rivers, more than double the number when I took my first cruise with them, and companies like Emerald, Riviera, Fred Olsen have started operating. What certificate and/or experience, is needed to be a river cruise ship Captain? Secondly, is there a standard language for communication along the rivers? Many cruises pass through multiple countries. The common language used for aircraft communication is English: in what language does a Ukrainian Captain on a Swiss registered boat communicate with the Captain of a Hungarian tour boat? (using the example of Thursday nights collision in Budapest)
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