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About franski

  • Rank
    Cool Cruiser

About Me

  • Location
    Ontario, Canada
  • Interests
    Travel (obviously....) - love the planning as well as the actualy experience!! Quilting, gardening,
  • Favorite Cruise Line(s)
    Most river cruise lines - although Avalon "fits" us these days....
  • Favorite Cruise Destination Or Port of Call
    I love any trip that takes us to Budapest....

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  1. I would suggest the same could be said of Budapest... We found Vienna - while there was lots to see for a day or two - more of "just another big city" experience.... Yes, there were some interesting things to see - with lots of "culture" - but, we found our day there (on 2 separate occasions) was enough for us. And, I didn't get a sense that this was what the OP is looking for. My vote would be Budapest - there is lots to see and do there - and much of it is walkable. We have been to Budapest (at the start or end of a river cruise) 3 times so far - and are excited about going back again next year. I think it might be cheaper than Vienna (not sure.. haven't compared prices). I can make some suggestions for things to see - and places to eat - if you are interested. There are churches, and museums - and there is an opera house as well (not my cup of tea - but I understand it is beautiful if only for a tour). Whatever you choose... enjoy!! Fran
  2. I took that to mean that it might be a few extra dollars at the end of the day to book through a TA vs booking directly with the company... The TA, I believe, gets a percentage from the cruise line if you book through them. I have a TA that I use for almost all of my cruise bookings (the last one I booked directly, as I argued for the rate posted on their website...) I don't expect her to add extra perks - she works hard for me, and provides a service that I greatly appreciate. Any extra perks would be coming directly out of her pocket - and I don't think I need to take part of her income just to reduce my vacation by a few dollars. She has saved me money over the years - and definitely saved me aggravation. For example, in March of this year, she changed our flights from Lima to Arequipa due to a missed flight in Miami - then had all the paper work ready when we returned so that we could submit to the insurance.... It could have been done by us, but - we were in a hotel in another country (granted, it was the US - but we were not at home...), and very sleep deprived by the time I contacted her --> she had all the contact numbers for the Peruvian airline and CC info in our file to make the changes.... I know many people do their own arrangements - and I do for some things - but like to have a TA on board for the big ticket items. Fran
  3. Hi there - I have done "Imperial Jewels of China" - and "Passage to Eastern Europe" - both with Viking - and can offer an opinion (realizing that opinions are worth about what you pay for them... which is nothing!! 😀) I do agree that Viking has set the bar very high for tours/cruises in China. And, I think - if you wish to do China - that Viking is a good choice. I was a bit limited in time so settled for the "Imperial Jewels" although I would have loved a longer tour that included more nights on the boat. This is a very busy itinerary, so I was glad for some "down time" by the time we started our cruise. We started in Beijing and ended in Shanghai - which was the direction I wanted to go. Although I was interested in the "Roof of the World", I couldn't swing more time off work. We did meet up with some people on the boat who had done the Tibet portion, and many were affected by the altitude. It is an abrupt rise in altitude, and so I think that you need to take that into account, and take precautions if that is the trip you choose. We went to Peru in March of this year - and I now have a healthy respect for high altitude. We prepared for the altitude by getting the meds - and planned to take them before we went to Cusco and Machu Picchu. We did not realize that doing a day trip to the Colca Canyon from Arequipa would take us to altitudes close to 15,000 feet (where MP is less than 10K) - so hadn't taken the meds before we went. And, it was not pleasant. We were the oldest people on the bus (other than the bus driver) - and the younger people didn't fare any better than we did. We had a full day in Arequipa before we went (it is 7,500 ft up) - so that did help us a bit. The trip from Xian to Lhasa goes from 400 ft to 12,000 ft - just saying... So - my thoughts are to do China... but do the "Undiscovered China" itinerary, unless you are really determined to see Tibet. But, I wonder if Tibet is now like Machu Picchu - in that it is very touristy... Not sure if that would deter you or not... Eastern Europe can wait for another time. But - Eastern Europe is wonderful as well... we are going back to sailing that part of the world again next year - but with Avalon. If you do plan to do Eastern Europe, my suggestion would be to start in Bucharest - and add on some time in Transylvania before starting on the cruise. And, spend some extra time in Budapest at the end. Not sure if this has helped. Fran
  4. Thanks, Kenster… We are looking forward to it. Where are you going in August? The cruise next year will be our 5th with Avalon. We have booked Hurtigruten for this fall.... sailing into the Arctic circle is one of my bucket list items. We have traveled with most companies, but have decided that Avalon fits our travel style quite nicely. We are happy with the more relaxed atmosphere (although, we would travel with any company if the price was right, or has an itinerary that interests us...) Fran
  5. It often depends on where the boat is... and where you are on the boat. Connectivity can drop off when you are in a lock - and at "busy" times when there is a lot of internet traffic. You can often get better connection in the lounge... Where your cabin is may also affect your WiFi. We usually book Aquarium class - so have found that moving up to the lounge may help. Generally, have not had problems with e-mail, news etc. Fran
  6. As would I... We used them and were very pleased. We found the price quite reasonable. Fran
  7. Most of the river boats - with the exception of Viking - moor next to Parc Citroen. We had done Paris to Normandy as our 1st river cruise with Uniworld over 10 years ago - and then again with Avalon in 2017. As we had been to Paris a few times before, we did not do their included tour of Paris. Instead, we walked up to the Eiffel Tower (a reasonable walk from the boat) - where we had pre-booked a tour "Beneath the Eiffel Tower". We got to see the hydraulic lifts working under the tower - and then, on the 1st level, climbed the stairs to the roof of the restaurant for some pretty amazing views. When we arrived in Paris before the cruise, we had quite a few hours before we could board the boat - so Avalon had a reception room booked in a room close to the Eiffel Tower. They have snacks and beverages there for us. It was so close to the Tower that we could have easily walked over and gone up... but we already had the other tour booked. Fran
  8. At risk of setting off a firestorm here, I am going to offer another opinion on the issue of carefully planning your wardrobe so that that you can fit it into your carry on - and therefore not check luggage... I am ok with that - as long as you are not one of those people who feels entitled to take the maximum carry on allowed (or stretching it a bit, because, after all - it is only a few more inches, or a few more pounds...) and then fighting to cram it into the overhead bins. That is one of my biggest "pet peeves" with the airlines today... they set standards for carry on, and then don't enforce it. I don't accept the "everyone else does it, so why can't I" defense... I find it rude, and inconsiderate to the rest of us who try to be respectful of the limited cabin space. And don't get me going on the people that decide to "drop" their (often oversized) carry on into an overhead bin a few dozen rows ahead of their seat. I don't like paying for checked bags anymore that anyone else does... And, have been frustrated when a bag has been delayed (or "misplaced") when I am just starting my vacation. But, do not feel that I should be expected to voluntarily relinquish space in the overhead bin by my seat in order for another person to claim "extra" space so that they can bypass the luggage carousel. Fran
  9. Great choice, and great choice. We have travelled with almost all of the major lines - and have not been disappointed with Scenic. We did Budapest to Nuremberg with them (stayed longer in Nuremberg instead of going to Prague as we had been there before....) - and had a great trip. I think it is good to do Prague with the cruise line - as it can be a bit of a challenge to get from Prague to the Danube. Budapest is very easy to do on your own - but Scenic will probably have some great options for tours there. If you are looking for a dining option, I would suggest Café Kor. One of our favourite restaurants... But - you need reservations (popular with the locals as well as tourists), they aren't open Sundays and only accept cash. But, good, reasonably priced Hungarian food. Enjoy!!
  10. "No hats at the table" is one of my dinner rules at home... (The other major one being you have to have a shirt on....) DH & I tend to dress business casual on our cruises - but it is a personal choice. As stated above, it is our vacation, and we will do what we want. I have worn black jeans with a nice top - and don't think I have upset anyone. If I have, that is their issue... The beauty of a river cruise is that there is no assigned seating. You can usually figure out pretty quickly who would be the "hat at the dinner table" person (if there is one on board...). If hats at the table bother you (and they do bother me) then I would choose alternate dining arrangements for future meals. If my black jeans are considered offensive, I assume the offended person can find somewhere else to sit... Although they wouldn't have to see my legs, as they would be below the table cloth!! Fran
  11. We have noticed that Avalon is shaking things up a bit and offering some itineraries that are a bit out of the usual. We are pleased with that, as we are now repeating some rivers, and enjoy the fact that the same river doesn't mean the exact same trip. We have cruised from Bucharest to Budapest (with Viking) - and have done Budapest to Nuremberg twice (AMA and Scenic). We did look at a version of the one you are looking at - but starting in Bucharest and going to Transylvania for 2 nights before boarding the boat. In the end, we just booked Bucharest to Budapest with Transylvania (having already sailed the Budapest to Passau leg of the river twice)- only to have the trip cancelled 72 hours before due to low water levels. Although we had already sailed this route, we were disappointed. We have rebooked with Avalon - for October 2020. We have booked starting in Bucharest - going to Transylvania before boarding the boat in Fetesti instead of Rousse. We get to the Black Sea - and Km 0 on the Danube --> we did not do that with our 1st cruise. Other than the Iron Gates, it isn't the most scenic of cruises. But, we are OK with that. We have chosen to start again in Bucharest - as you cruise from an area of "have not" towards areas that have recovered more fully from the previous communist regime. If you have the time (and the financial resources) I would suggest adding Transylvania to your cruise. That was my one regret on our 1st cruise - and so wanted to make sure we made it on this cruise. Also, am looking forward to seeing the start of the Danube river. One thing you don't get on the cruise you are considering is much time in Budapest. Budapest is one of our favourite cities in Europe - and would always opt to spend an extra few days there if possible. If you cruise right up to Passau, you only get a day in Budapest. I would do Budapest on my own - as the city is easy to navigate (and probably cheaper than booking it through the cruise line). One of the other options is going to Munich - and then going to Fussen to see Neuschwanstein Castle. Now, the castle is awesome - and I am so glad I have seen it.... BUT, we did it on our own, driving through Germany with friends. It would make for a very long day if you were seeing it as a day trip from Munich... Just my 2 cents worth here... Hope this helps... Please post again if you have anything further I may be able to help with. Fran
  12. Thanks!! Here's hoping it will be offered... How cool (no pun intended) would it be to have been "swimming" (albeit is just a plunge) while up in the Arctic Circle. Was swimming in the Amazon River this year - so this would be another awesome experience to check off my bucket list... Fran
  13. We are booked on an RT sailing on the Kong Harald in early October this year. In the brochure on Day 7, it mentions "weather permitting, we may invite you to experience ice bathing in the Arctic Ocean". Has anyone done this? Or, perhaps witnessed others who did? Am anticipating this is almost like the "Polar Bear Plunge" that is common on New Year's Day in many areas, and that this "bathing" would be accessed from the shore (not jumping from the boat....) Just wondering what the conditions must be like for this to be offered. BTW - my DH has said "No way" to this... but we are travelling with cousins, and one of them has said she is game to try!! Fran
  14. We did this cruise (Bucharest to Budapest) with Viking a number of years ago... We are interested in history as much as geography - so a good choice for us. We really enjoyed it. Starting in Bucharest, you travel towards the areas that have recovered more (so, from the "have nots" towards the "haves"... if that makes sense...). We were scheduled to do the trip again last fall with Avalon - but the cruise was cancelled due to the water levels. VERY disappointed. But, we managed to rebook for October 2020. We start in Bucharest - then go to Brasov for 2 nights before joining the boat in Fetesti. We start at KM 0 - and do get to see the Black Sea before heading towards Budapest. This itinerary has 9 nights on board - and we see parts of the Danube we have not seen before. The stops are slightly different, and there are "options" in some places so are repeating the river (and getting to Transylvania) but not the itinerary.
  15. It was a sad day... Notre Dame was a beautiful cathedral, and I was very lucky to have been able to see more than once. However, it is not the only beautiful cathedral in Paris. While Notre Dame is certainly what most people associate with Paris, I love Sacre Coeur... Fran
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