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About 3rdCoastFan

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  1. If it's any value to the OP, I posted dailies for my Rhine Getaway last April. While itineraries are always subject to change, this may give you a good idea of what to expect while on board a Viking ship.
  2. @texasstar, we also stayed at the Kimpton and agree with your comments. Great location and great staff - we would absolutely stay there again. On our April 2019 Rhine cruise with Viking, we, too, got the dock outside the city center at the Westerhoofd location. It was fairly easy to get there in an Uber and Viking ran shuttles back and forth from the dock to Centraal up until the early evening. I think we were told about a week or two ahead of time that the boat would be there. The Port of Amsterdam lists this as a 'turnaround' location - perhaps for boats that do not overnight in Amsterdam, there's more of a chance you may get sent there. Viking's Rhine Getaway does not include an overnight stay
  3. I was on Viking's Rhine itinerary last spring. It was my first cruise (on any type of water). The soon-to-be-DW and I both found it very relaxing. Very different than our usual trips where we pick 2-3 cities in Europe, find airbnb's and then travel by train between them all. We really liked it when we could sit on the Aquavit Terrace while the ship was sailing and just read and watch the world go by. The wifi was pretty bad so it made it easy to unplug. We got into the habit pretty quickly of waking up early, doing the morning tour and then getting back to the ship for lunch. Our afternoons were usually onboard - having a drink or two and just relaxing. I felt that we still saw a great deal and would absolutely do another river cruise but maybe not on Viking. We would rather find a line with more flexible dining options - maybe a ship with onboard spa facilities, too. To Viking's credit, they were willing to arrange spa trips for us. While in Cologne, for example, they were ready to arrange a horse-driven carriage to bring us to a posh hotel for spa treatments - if there's anything they can do to make the trip better, they will. One area where the advertising definitely got us was the idea of sailing into the middle of every town we would see. That was not the case and I think @sharkster77 phrased it very nicely. We spent more times on buses than I thought we would and while the buses are nice and the rides generally don't run more than 30ish minutes, it's not exactly what we had in mind. Granted, I could have checked a map myself to see that Strasbourg is not on a river that can accommodate cruise ships but now I know for next time!
  4. Also, you may luck out with your hotel room being ready early. It happened to us on our cruise last April. It was nice to take a shower and change before heading out into the city. It's also very tempting to immediately nap if you get into the room early, though. You know best how you respond to jet lag but powering through that first day and avoiding naps usually works best for me!
  5. Fair enough! Always a trade-off between booking flights through the cruise, a third-party or directly with the airline. As long as you're comfortable with the flight itself and how you get the tickets, flying up front is definitely the best way to start off a vacation!
  6. I used Viking Air and shelled out for Air Plus and the diversion fee. I think you're right that the business upgrade was where the value potentially evaporated. I had enough miles with United to upgrade ourselves to business on the way over and Lufthansa quoted me a decent cash price to upgrade on the way back, as well. I'm wary of any third-party consolidator, too, that buys and sells other people's miles - I don't know if the one you use does this, either, but it's a topic that comes up from time to time on the cruise air boards. If the airline catches wind that you're on a ticket booked with miles that were sold, you may wind up completely SOL.
  7. You may find that many of the tours last longer than just the morning. There may be an included walking/bus tour but then you get dropped off in the center of town with free time. Viking will run a shuttle or two - just make sure you meet up again at the designated pick-up point on time! You're also given the exact dock location any time you leave the ship so if you have to cab it over, at least you won't worry about where the boat is, exactly (provided your cab driver knows where the address is; remember, too, that Uber doesn't work in most parts of Germany). If a port stop includes any type of dinner excursion - like the pub crawl in Cologne - that's a good indication that you'll be in port for a long time. You can take the bus into Cologne that morning and then ditch the group tour (just tell your guide). That gives you practically an entire day for Cologne. Granted, schedules can change and perhaps the boat will have to leave the dock earlier than expected. It may be tough to meet up again if you strike out on your own. Likewise, given that this tour overnights in Vienna, you can reasonably expect to have more time in that port than in others. I was on the Rhine Getaway last spring (my first cruise of any sort) and really liked letting go of all the planning that I normally do. The included tours were good, generally, and we settled quickly into a relaxing routine of breakfast, excursion, lunch, reading on the terrace, dinner and then a nightcap or two. One thing to look for in past roll calls are copies of the dailies. If nothing else, those can tell you where the shipped docked. On my Rhine cruise, for example, the boat docked in a small town called Breisach while excursions went off to Colmar and the Black Forest. Those that chose to skip those tours said that was a perfectly lovely little town, well worth walking around in. Ports aren't always industrial wastelands, even if the main attraction for that stop is a bus ride away (if that makes sense.
  8. Last April, my fiancé and I stayed at the Kimpton DeWitt and generally loved it. They were renovating parts of the hotel so some of the public spaces were blocked off. The attached coffee stand with beignets was also closed while we were there. Rooms were well appointed, though there wasn't a lot of available storage. If you're someone that wants to unpack the suitcase, there aren't a lot of drawers available. There is limited space to hang things up. We didn't mind it for a couple of nights. Bathroom was great. They offer a free happy hour with complimentary wine every night - it wasn't the best wine, but it was a nice touch. The on-site restaurant was very good, too. Best of all, for us, was the location. Not much more than a 5 minutes walk from the main train station. Plenty of trams nearby to take you where you need to go. We didn't have any issues with noise from the street or other guests.
  9. Exactly what @Twickenham says above - the products aren't necessarily comparable at all. I really enjoyed my flights in SAS Plus before. As far as PE products go, I think theirs is one of the better ones. Lounge access and free wifi are uncommon benefits to PE that SAS offers. SAS also lets you bid on upgrades - if your fare class allows it, you may be able to get a business seat for a relative bargain.
  10. Broadly speaking, and I'm just agreeing here with everyone else, business will likely always be the better value - but that doesn't necessarily make it affordable for everyone. It really does come down to the specific airline. I wouldn't necessarily bother with PE on United, for example, whereas I have found PE on SAS to be a great value (it even includes lounge access).
  11. Something else to consider is business on the way over and then premium economy on the way back. Granted, when taking a daytime flight in business, you get more time to enjoy the perks rather than on a red-eye when you're ostensibly enjoying that flat bed. Not every business product is worthy of the 'once in a lifetime' feeling, though. Last spring, we did Polaris from Chicago to Amsterdam and business in Lufthansa from Munich to Chicago. Sadly, it wasn't real Polaris on United and I really wasn't thrilled with the Lufthansa flight. I would have been just as happy in PE for the return flight. Flying out of Denver, it looks like Star Alliance gives you the most choices - which means you're likely going to be on Lufthansa and/or United. Your experience may vary, of course. My LH flight was an older A346. Maybe an A350 would have been better? Not sure that would have helped much with the infrequent service and uncomfortable seat. Similarly, maybe the new Polaris seat would have allowed me to get a few more hours of decent sleep on the way over with United. The Polaris lounge also really helped get the experience off to a great start - but you don't have that in Denver.
  12. I did the reverse trip a few years back (Paris to Amsterdam; nearly missed the train, too, because we entered Paris Nord through the wrong entrance - whoopsies) and don't have any decent tips for you. I also found the website to be difficult to navigate. I recall being able to select the type of seats (club duo or whatever) but then the seats I got on the tickets did not look right when I checked against the seating map. I was able to change seats once for free via email but it was still unclear where we would be sitting. I called and, as you note, had a long hold time and a high bill. I had no issues with a credit card when I booked in advance from the US. If I'm reading this chart right, all face-to-face seats include a table, whether it's a row of 1 or 2: https://www.thalys.com/sites/thalys.com/files/2018-11/Memento_Rames_EN.pdf It sounds like you want seats next to one another but with no table. There are a bunch of those but, correct, it's unclear what the correct Thalys term is for that type of seating. Anyway, if nothing else, your challenges are hardly unique. Maybe that helps you feel better, even if it's not helping you pick seats.
  13. As @Peregrina651 notes above, the current practice is to hand out a plastic card to each guest as they leave the boat. When you come back, you return the card. That is one way for the staff to know who may not be on board when it comes time to depart. I'm not saying the ship would wait for you - but at least they will know you're missing. I went on my first river cruise last spring - it was Viking's Rhine Getaway. If you're worried about water levels because of the time of year you're likely to take a cruise, it is my understanding that the Rhine tends to maintain water levels better than the Danube. You may want to review some of the 2019 roll call threads for different cruises - lots of comments there. I uploaded a few pictures after my cruise in the Rhine Getaway thread - the menu from one night (I meant to take pictures of the menu more often but oh well), the wine list and our dailies. That can give you a sense of how long you may have in a given port. My pictures can be found here: .
  14. An idea if you're Amsterdam proper with a few hours to spare - Hungry Birds. We loved our Hungry Birds food and walking tour last spring. They reply quickly over email - you could ask for a sample itinerary to see if the tours would cover places you haven't visited yet. We really appreciated the curated guide to all of the food influences - we had a fun group and a great guide, too, so that made it even more enjoyable. https://www.hungrybirds.nl/
  15. Worth noting, too, that the included beer is limited to Bitburger -- which is very decent but it's something you may tire of before the week is out. Similarly, there was one red and one white available (a blend and a dry Riesling, if I recall) that did not change during the trip. I was glad to try different wines most nights. I received multiple answers from the Viking customer service reps prior to my trip about what was included in the beverage package (all wines? all spirits?). Once I was on board, I found that certain bottles of wine were not included but every spirit (including the high end single-malt whiskies) was included.
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