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Posts posted by FotoPeg

  1. Good advice! We've only sailed on Viking but the few times they've sailed and picked the tour group in a different location they warned us the night before and made many announcements besides it being listed in the itinerary. So, except for a major emergency, you'll know in plenty of time if there's a change in port.


    We've often wandered from the tour group - but, of course, let the guide know when you're leaving. On Viking they use "boxes" with earphones so you don't have to stay on top of the guide to hear what's being said - and I'm sure Avalon will also. That's gives you the opportunity to wander a bit - for me its to take photos - but still be part of the tour IF you decide to go with the group.


    We also have been very independent on Ocean Cruises usually finding like-minded travelers on CC and often going on small - 8 people - tours. The one thing I miss about RCs is the preplanning with others on CC. But we've actually gotten to enjoy the RC tours - maybe because we're older and slower! Many of the tours are "designed" as a walking tour of a town plus free time to explore. Especially if you dock in the center of a town.


    My one suggestion - really read carefully the itinerary - especially if there's a detailed one available - Viking has most posted on their web site and they go into more detail than the "overview" ones.


    Also keep in mind that often they'll be a morning tour scheduled to get back for the ship's lunch and then another tour/free time/optional tour/activity in the afternoon. If you're staying in port that day, having lunch in town - with or without the morning tour - is always an option. And we've found the desk or tour guide can be a big help with restaurant suggestions.


    Hope this helps a little - enjoy your cruise!!!

  2. ganski ~ Took this cruise last October and loved, Loved, LOVED it!!


    Your itinerary is slight different but happy to hear you're enjoying it!


    If Michael Stamm is the Hotel Director - or anything on board - please say "Hello" from FotoPeg!!


    And please come back with updates - brings back great memories!!


    Hope your trip continues to be wonderful!!

  3. notamermaid ~ actually in NYC we do have Christmas Makets. Many churches have ones for one or two weekends with a combination of ornaments, hand-made items, raffles, home-foods, Santa-photos, flea-markets and some even sell trees, wreaths & plants. There's a great Santa Lucia one at the Swedish Church in mid-town where they even have a dinner.


    And, being "politically correct", we also have Holiday Markets! The largest are the HM at Union Square (14th Street) and the Winter Village, Bryant Park (34th Street) which also has many food kiosks and an ice skating rink - reminds me SO much of Koln!!!


    But NYC, because of local laws, lacks an important element of the European Christmas Markets - we have NO Gluhwein (mulled wine)! No collectable yearly mug! The Winter Village does have a restaurant/lounge/bar but it just isn't the same!! Great memory of the Basel CM and sitting around an open wood fire being warmed inside by sipping some hot mulled wine! Ahhh a fabulous memory!!!

  4. B & C ~ we did "your" trip - also with 2 pre-cruise days in Basel - early December 1912 and the only falling snow we encountered was landing at home at JFK! We saw snow on the ground in the Black Forest but that was it!!


    So, needless to say, every year is different!! We went ready for snow falls and much colder weather than we had - and we appreciated out boots and warm socks since the weather was damp!


    We loved the cruise and I would actually take it any time of year!! One note ~ if you see something you like buy it! Everything won't always be the same at every market. Likewise, if you want the big German cookies - be patient, you won't find them until Heidleberg & Cologne!!


    Any questions I'll be more than ahppy to answer!! Here's my photos - enjoy!!!


    Rhine River Christmas Markets Slideshow TripAdvisor™

  5. Pontiac offers excellent advice! The dinner at Chateau Kirwin was an excellent experience and an included tour - I didn't care for the timing of the pre-Kirwin part and let Viking know here on these threads and also on their comment cards.


    I would think a perfect match to this cruise itinerary - time permitting - would be a few days in Bordeaux with some private/small tours to additional vineyards.


    We took the Rhone River cruise in 2012 mainly because of the wine regions it went through. In Avignon Viking offered 2 optional tours and we wanted to do both - Pont-du-Gard and Chateauneuf-du-Pape. So we decided to see Pont on the cruise and remained in Avignon 2 nights so we could take a small private tour through Chateauneuf-du-Pape - worked beautifully!!! Our guide - he only does the Rhone Valley - was excellent and we had a wine-tasting lunch that was fantastic!!


    I think it would be hard to combine private tours during the cruise but if you carefully study the itinerary it might be possible. Just be aware that Viking could make last minute itinerary changes due to weather or tides - but with Today's cell phones that might still be workable!!

  6. pontac and beanpittsburg are both very correct! This IS a cruise for wine lovers and will cover very little distance - we loved it but also understood its limitations when we booked it.


    We began drinking wine in the late 60s - then, even in NYC, it was mainly French or California! As the wine market expanded so did our tastes but the "old standards", i.e. Bordeaux, still hold a special place in our hearts. So when this itinerary was first announced we jumped at the opportunity to tour this special area.


    If you'd like a visual preview - here's a slide show from our cruise - should give you a little idea of the scope of the cruise - sorry you can't taste the wine!!! Chateaux, Rivers, And Wine Slideshow TripAdvisor™

  7. We took this cruise in 2014 sailing on October 4th - and it was fabulous! That was the first year Viking offered this itinerary and we booked it November 2012! I think it was a "sell-out" on most of its sailings!


    The itinerary is heavily concentrated on wine - only Viking cruise to have a Sommelier on board! And the daily wine choices were definitely a step above the usual Viking offerings! As for reduced rate special, I think the uniqueness of the cruise keeps the rooms filled!


    DH choose the timing since he wanted to see the vineyards in the fall - and that out perfectly since we actually got to walk among the pickers at Chateau Siaurac! (I highly advise that optional tour - highlight of the trip - owner Paul Goldsmith was fantastic!!)


    I don't know your cruising experience, but for rooms/cabins - be aware that the French Balcony is very tight! Good storage but not much room to walk around. (We had one on a Christmas cruise in 2012) You do have the ability to open the door for fresh air but there's no balcony to stand on. But that being said - on the Bordeaux cruise we had a balcony room and never had time to sit on the balcony!!! Next cruise I'm not sure what type room we'll decide on!!!


    Don't know your time schedule but we found Bordeaux a lovely city and wish we had planned time there per/post cruise. We actually spent a week in Paris (fabulous!!) and I wanted to plan a few days in Bordeaux but was voted down - we were traveling with 2 other friends.


    Any questions - general or specific - just ask away - I'll be more than happy to try and answer! (I'm really jealous of you - would love to plan a repeat of this cruise - it was really our favorite!!)

  8. A Rijsttafels - Indonesian Rice Table is lots of fun - at least we've enjoyed it at Indrapura Restaurants which is centrally located at Rembrandtplein - a plaza of restaurants and pubs. It might be a long walk from your hotel but that part of Amsterdam is filled with trams that travel very frequently.


    First time in Ams, DH and I ate there and the following year we organized a dinner of about 20 people who had all "met" on CC for the night before we sailed. Everyone really enjoyed the food - about 20 small plates which are shared - sort of like an oriental tapas!


    Check out the web site: Indrapura RijsttafelsRice tables » Indrapura - it lists 4 different Rice Tables - mainly different dishes. Before we went the first time I was totally confused even after reading about a Rice Table on the web site. But basically you get a small serving of each dish to share - in all, plenty of food for dinner!


    I know we passed other restaurants that offered a Rice Tabe but I really don't rmember where. I'm sure if you ask the hotel they can help out with suggestions.


    Have a fabulous trip - we just loved Amsterdam!!!

  9. We've only sailed on Viking RCs so I can't speak for all lines. But Viking usually has a pad of maps - or fold-out for larger cities - at their reception desk. Also I've always found them very helpful about directions or suggestions for cafes, stores, etc.


    But if you find a good map, then bring it!!! You'll never know if your ship might run out of their supply! Plus bringing it means you'll probably looked at it beforehand and will be a little familiar - fabulous for any "new" city!!


    Have a great trip!!

  10. On both OCs and Viking RCs I use "fun tack" - a blue re-usable substance that's used in many, many schools. You break of a small piece, roll it in your hands and it attaches to most backgrounds and then comes of easily without leaving a mark. I always make a personalized calendar of what we'll be doing filled with phone#s, addresses, hours, etc and put it on the wall so DH can check without asking when I'm in the shower!! Also came in very handy when the train in France broke down while we were on our way to the ship - while traveling I carry it in my tote bag.


    But back to Fun Tack - Staples usually has it - especially early summer before back-to-shopping! They also make their own brand in white but that isn't as good. I've used it to hang papers and also Christmas decorations - just use more for something heavy. Keep it in a small plastic baggie after using.

  11. Not sure what RC line scans cards - like OCs - but Viking RCs uses the system of passengers handing in their room card when they leave the ship. At the reception desk you're given a different card until you return - unless that has changed since last October.


    So - as has been said - the main way of seeing other ship is if you're rafted together. However, if you're in port and another ship is docked near yours, you could always try and find some staff member of that ship and express interest and see if you could be offered a tour. We were rafted a few years ago and a fellow passenger didn't feel like taking our excursion so she stayed back on our ship but wander over to the rafted ship to do some shopping in their larger gift store and their CD bought her a drink at their bar! We've found that fewer people on the ship makes for a friendly world than Ocean Cruising!

  12. Becki ~ Thanks SO much for jumping in here to help the OP!!! Actually the link that didn't work was to your 2014 site!! I was on my tablet then and apparently the complete link address didn't copy! So thanks for the info!!


    While it's understandable the ship has to dock further out because of size, it's a shame the passengers lose the being "right in town" feature!


    Having taken this cruise in 2012, I thought Becki's CC review thread was great - here's the link again - hope it works this time (now I'm on my lap top!!!) Enjoy!!!



  13. Just search the board and found this thread from 2014 - great info! Don't know about changes for 2015 or 2016 but does give a clue about docking location.



    Its possible the exact location is no longer listed in Viking's site since it might not be permanent yet but depends on what's available. The 2012 location was great - going n-s, we sent a full day + morning in Lyon. A few of us women walked over to a silk shop in the morning and we returned to find the guys playing the French version of Back Ball with the CD in a nice little area next to the ship - the bank there was lovely - nice path for jogging or walking. But larger newer ships mean changes all over!


    Keep asking your question and you should hear from someone!! Also try looking on the Viking site for the on-line version of the booklet that's sent to passengers before the cried - think its somewhere in "my cruise" - that should list where to find the ship.

  14. I'm sure in 2012 I found the port location listed somewhere - but that year we sailed on the lovely "older" Neptune. Perhaps since then the newer ship's are too large to dock where the Neptune did - don't know for sure - just a thought since no docking location is listed.


    Check for any threads from 2014 about Viking on the Rhone River- maybe someone from last year, or earlier this year, can give more up-dated info!

  15. I can't speak for 2015, but in October 2012 we took the Portraits of Southern France and the Viking Neptune docked in the Rhone River by Quai Claude Bernard near the Pont de l'Universite. Great location!

  16. Rinda is one of Viking's new longships and, my guess, is she's too big to dock actually in Paris. Our first RC in 2012 was on the Rhone River with the Neptune - a lovely, older ship and smaller than the Rinda. I also believe the Spirit & Pride are smaller ship's.


    But that doesn't excuse Viking for not making the dock location much clearer!! And good to know for planning purposes. I'm not familiar with this cruise's itinerary, but if the ship is docked overnight in "Paris" and you're actually 10 miles out - that's a big difference!!


    As for the Rinda herself - we sailed on her Dec. 2013 on the Rhine Getaway and her sister ship the Forseti, Oct 2014 on the Chateaux, River & Wine cruise from Bordeaux. We enjoyed all our Viking cruises and fine the new longships wonderful! French Balcony is very tight as to room but survivable! And there's an amazing amount of storage space in the room, closet and bathroom.


    I'd be happy to answer any specific questions about the ship but, as stated, I don't know this itinerary. Tomorrow, when home, I'll try and find an excellent thread about the longships someone posted - although he was on the Rhine, his photos of the ship are the best ever - gives you a real sense of what to expect aboard!

  17. All of the advice you've received is, as usual, excellent! Here's just something else to add to your list of thoughts.


    On Viking's Rhine Getaway, the itinerary is just slightly different going NtoS and StoN - mainly because the castles in the Middle Rhine are "not to be missed" so scheduling that part of the cruise is important. So read the itineraries very carefully and even look into the on-line cruise booklets - use the link below and go to the Rhine Getaway for the on-line version of the booklet Viking sends as part of your Cruise Package - check detail for each way and maybe might also help with your decision.




    We did this cruise in December 2012 - Basel to Ams - mainly for the Christmas Markets but I'd recommend it any time of year! As a matte of fact, in October you'll have later sunsets which would be great! We docked in Rudesheim very late afternoon - great to see lit up for the CM but I'd love to see it in the daylight!


    We usually try to add a few days on each end of a trip - especially when different cities are involved - but can completely understand your working situation! With that in mind - I'd suggest some days before the cruise both in case of a transportation "problem" and also to get adjusted to the time difference. We spent 2 days pre-cruise in Basel - lovely city - but now wish we'd seen more of the area! We flew home directly from Ams since we had been there before - three times - and the approaching holidays made time precious!


    Whatever you decide - have a great trip!

  18. The Kinderdijk stop is a very short one and, even on Viking, the ship docks a very short walk from the UNESCO site.


    We took thius cruise from Basel to Amsterdam in December 2012. If I remember correctly, we were scheduled to arrived at Kinderdijk about 2pm and leave about 4:30pm/5pm - have to find my Viking cruise papers to be sure! A speaker came on board and gave a short talk on the history of windmills and dikes, then we left for a walking tour that included going inside one of the windmills.


    We actually arrived a little early and I got off to take a few photos of the ship. There was a little store directly across from the small dock - snacks, a few souvenirs, etc. They also rented bikes. As I boarded, a fellow was at the reception desk all excited, he was getting a map and info about riding and then said he was going to talk his wife into doing that. I saw them later that night and he said they had indeed rented the bikes and gone for a ride and he felt it was the best day of the cruise!


    Kinderdijk gets very mixed reviews on CC. Since I enjoy taking photos I just loved it! Especially in the dusk of early sunsets at that time of year! If I lived nearby I'd be there every month!! But I could also see how others could find it boring and almost a waste of time. Plus there is very little to buy if that's important. On our ship I think some stayed on board and used the time to pack since it was our last cruise day.


    One suggestion - even with October weather, the area is very flat & open so, if you do take a walk or tour, plan on dressing warmly. And if you do go on your own, be aware of the sailing time - we weren't there long!!


    Have a GREAT cruise - we had a wonderful time and I'd take this cruise any time of year not just for the Christmas Markets!!

  19. ABQcruiser ~ have a great time on the Rhone River - that was our first RC and we just loved it!!!


    Lubs ~ glad you're enjoying the Bordeaux cruise - we took it last October and had a fantastic time!! if Michael Stamm, our Hotel Director, is still on board please say "hello" to him from FotoPeg. Thanks much!!

  20. WOW! never thought I'd be reading a question about Thornbury Castle! The name fills me with wonderful memories of our first trip to England in 1993! I wanted to stay in a castle and more than got my wish with Thornbury - it was a lovely place and dinner an experience! I'm SO happy to hear its still open 22 years later!!


    Since we were on a driving trip, Thornbury was our stop between Bath and the Cotswolds - just checked my scrap book! I remember we arrived mid-afternoon and spent some time just roaming around the castle grounds.


    Dinner was a very special experience - can't remember what we wore but DH wasn't in a tux!!! I do remember dinner didn't begin in the dining room but a "parlor" where we had cocktails, looked over the menu and ordered. When dinner was ready we were shown into the DR - a true "dining experience"! In the past 22 years we have been fortunate to travel to some amazing places and we conside Thornbury to be up there with the best experiences we've had!


    Please come back and tell us about your expereince at Thornbury!!!

  21. We spent an enjoyable day in Baden Baden while on a car trip to Germany in 2008. Lovely park, nice stores, didn't go into the baths but saw them, out-door lunch and fun visit to the Casino - we're not real gamblers but wanted the dress-up experience!


    We were in Strasbourg in 2012 during a Viking Rhine River Christmas Market cruise. We took the ship's bus/walking tour and, similar to Host Jazzbeau, stayed in town for lunch - also flammkuchen - and visited more Christmas Markets - would have enjoyed walking the city and seeing more stores!!


    CPT Trips mentioned an hour bus ride - I presume to Baden Baden. If that indeed is the case, then I'd definitely stay in Strasbourg! I'd rather have a nice lunch (while the ship's food was great its also nice to try something diffferent!) and see more of the city. But that's just my feelings! And remember you have to decide what's best for you!!

  22. I guess we had a different experience as we took the Viking Getaway in December from Basel to Amsterdam for the Christmas Markets. But much of the trip consisted of tours that take place all year long. It was a wonderful trip and one thing that impressed me was the variety of experiences in just one 7 day trip! Picking a favorite would be almost impossible!!


    Basel ~ lovely city and we had a great cheese fondue dinner!

    Breisach ~ we liked the Black Forest tour and DH really enjoyed the optional WWII excursion.

    Strasbourg ~ fabulous city expecially the walking tour to the medieval section, beautiful Cathedral and lots of interesting little places for lunch.

    Heidelberg ~ interesting castle overlooking the city and wonderful places for pasteries.

    Rhine River ~ how fantastic sailing by the castles and little towns!

    Marksburg Castle ~ fantastic experience (be warned, much difficult walking!)

    Rudesheim ~ arrived in the evening - fun optional dinner in town; would love to see the town during the day!

    Ciologne ~ wonderful city (best of the CMs!!), great Cathedral, wish we had had time for the Roman Museum. Would love to visit again!

    Kinderdijk ~ many report this stop as a "throw-away" but if you're into photography it's a gem!!! We were there on a winter afternoon - I'd like to visit any time!!!


    I really think this cruise would be wonderful any time of year - each season would produce its own beauty!!


    While my silde show is heavy on CMs you might also get an idea of the overall trip: RhineRiver TripWow Build Your Own Trip Slideshow

  23. Viking Chateaux, Rivers and Wine ~ 2015

    Aug. 22, 2015 ~ ganski

    Aug, 29, 2015 ~ cablvr

    Sept. 26, 2015 ~ Adoremus



    cablvr - sorry, I just got to checking this thread and reading your post!! I'm flattered that you asked to be added!! Should you - or someone - start a new thread for 2015?? There's SO much in the old thread pertaining to the rocky beginning of the cruise in general and I'm sure that won't be the situation this year. Just wondering!


    We loved this cruise and would do it again in a heartbeat - IF there weren't SO many other places to see!!!


    Have a Fabulous time!!!!!

  24. As has been said - there's NO one-size fits all answer! What's right for you is what you should do no matter what someone else thinks is right!


    We usually never take HOHO off buses but did in 2012 for our first Paris visit we did buy (at the airport) the Paris museum package that included the HOHO. Right after checking-in at the hotel (Latin Quarter area) we walked to see Notre Dame and then jumped on the HOHO for a fabulous overvew of the city! And the ride was perfect since it was raining!! The rest of the 4 days we used our Museum Pass and metro pass to really see the city.


    Now the main question - was the money we spent on the pass worth it for us - NO - but I'm happy that we did buy it for that trip - yes, sometimes convenienve over-rides the expense. We spent a week in Paris last September with only a metro pass - again not worth it - and one carnet of tickets - I would go with that in the future!


    But that's us - our way of traveling. My only suggestion is read, read, read and think about what you are really going to do/see and then decide what will be the best for you! And then don't look back except to evaluate for your next trip!!!

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