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  1. We're just back from our second trip with American Cruise Lines, sailing their 'Deep South' itinerary from Jacksonville to Charleston (first was on the Mississippi), and I'm surprised not to see an ACL section among all the other cruise lines (I would have thought it warranted a section ahead of other niche lines like Bahamas Paradise and Imperial Majesty). Is there anyone else who's cruised with ACL, or might be interested in them? I've gone back through several pages (dating back to Nov 2013) and am not seeing any reference to them at all. Am I just looking in the wrong place or do people think ACL might be too 'old hat'?
  2. We're booked on the American Harmony for a Lower Mississippi River cruise. Where is the terminal that American Cruise Line uses?
  3. While waiting for a horse race to start in 1965, German president Heinrich Lübke is reputed to have turned to Queen Elizabeth and uttered, “Equal goes it loose,” a word-for-word literal translation of the German phrase “Gleich geht es los.” A better translation would have been “It’s about to start.” Anyhow, Gleich geht es los with this review of our Nicko cruising experience. German/English Cruise? We left Amsterdam at 8:08 Saturday morning headed for Saarbrücken. After a quick taxi from the train station we were checked into our room and settling in. Soon we heard the cruise director making an announcement over the intercom. No surprise that it was in German, but we waited to hear it repeated in English. After all, this was advertised on Nicko’s web site as a German/English cruise, and we’d confirmed that through calls and emails with Nicko’s home office in Germany. When no English announcement followed, I walked down to the CD and asked him about English announcements. He answered that this was a German cruise. He had not received any notice that English speakers would be on board. After some checking, he found that there were 4 Finns along with us who were primarily English speakers. For the rest of the cruise, he did a great job of repeating important announcements. For critical items he met with us privately to make sure that we understood things. His commentary while cruising scenic portions of the Saar, Moselle, and Rhine was all in German, but he printed out an English version of his script so we could follow along. I studied for a year at the University of Heidelberg almost 50 years ago, so I retain some of my German, but I probably understood 20-25% of what went on. Nicko assigns seating at all meals, and we were originally slated to sit with 2 German couples. We asked about moving to sit with the 2 Finnish couples, but apparently the 2 German ladies who were sitting at their table wanted to practice their English, so we ended up by ourselves at a table for 2 for the rest of the cruise. We were expecting the tours to be offered in both English and German, but due to Nicko’s failure to let the CD know that we were coming there were NO tours in English. We ended up only taking one tour (Ludwigsburg Castle). We walked along, and I translated what little I understood for my wife. I should mention here that there were no included tours. Nicko offered tours in every port, but they all required extra payment. Let me close this section by saying that the CD did a great job of accommodating us. He wasn’t the problem. I blame Nicko for advertising this as a German/English tour and then not notifying the CD or delivering on English tours. MS Casanova The Casanova is classified as a “Boutique” ship by Nicko. It lives up to its classification in that it has a certain elegance and classy feel. It’s an older ship, but in pretty good shape. It’s showing its age in some areas. For example, the television sets in the cabins are old ~15” picture tube sets. You can’t even buy these sets anymore. Move ahead Nicko! Our room was about 12 m2 (130 sq. ft.) and pretty crowded. There was a stool, but we never used it; if we wanted to sit, we sat on the bed. The shower also needed some work. Don’t know if this is the norm for Nicko, but cabins numbering in the 100s (ours was 114) are on the top level and 200 numbered cabins are down below. One shortcoming of the ship was the limited visibility from the lounge. Some sailing days were cold and windy, and the lounge was the place to sit if you wanted to be comfortable, but there was as much wall as glass in the lounge, and the front view was very limited with the musician setup on one side and a big wall dead center, leaving only about 1-2 meters of glass on the right side of the front. It’s also worth noting that in their documents Nicko warns you not to drink water from your sink. They say that it’s OK for brushing you teeth, but you should get bottled water for drinking. Demographics I think that this cruise had the oldest set of cruisers I’ve experienced. One solo cruiser was 100 years old! There were several people walking with crutches (no elevator). I don’t know if what we experienced was typical, but we met several people who do this same cruise EVERY YEAR. In fact, one couple had started this year in Stuttgart, cruised to Saarbrücken, stayed on the ship and were cruising back home to Stuttgart for a two-week total cruise. I should note that we really didn’t get to know too many people. Sitting alone at every meal limited our interactions. We exchanged greetings and small talk with the two ladies at the table next to us. They take the cruise every year and sit at the same table every year. Overall Impressions: The first thing to say is that we enjoyed our cruise. Our CD Ferdinand did everything he could to accommodate us and make sure that we had a good trip. We sailed the Saar and Neckar where we’d never sailed before, and we got to see beautiful sections of the Moselle and Rhine again. The food was comparable to what we’ve experienced on other lines—maybe tuned a little more to the German palate, but good. By the way, like everybody else, Nicko likes baked Alaska (Eisparade) for their gala dessert. Bottom line. I would not recommend Nicko if you don’t speak German. Maybe if I’d been more persistent before the cruise in assuring myself that English tours would be available things might have been different. Looking back at the web site and the documents I received via email, there’s absolutely nothing committing Nicko to do anything at all to accommodate English speakers on the tours that are presented as being bilingual. All that I can say for sure is that they’ve got an English web site, and they’ve translated their travel documents into English. If you do want to try some of Nicko’s unique itineraries, I would be on the phone making sure that I had a guarantee in writing of what would and wouldn’t be included. This isn’t simple. Nicko has no office in the U.S. (or U.K. I think), so you have to call them in Germany, and some of the times I called, the person who answered the phone didn’t speak English. All in all, they don’t give the impression of being serious about wanting English speaking cruisers. I’ll follow this up with a day-by-day overview of the cruise.
  4. Obviously English started being spoken in America as a result of English settlers there and I often wonder how and why it developed so differently. Why is their spelling different ? In the UK we say bag (for hand bag) . When I first started on CC I couldn't understand why the Americans always referred to a purse. Then I realised that purse means handbag . There was a thread about pick pockets and it was really confusing at first.
  5. We’ve never flown on American Airlines before. We flying from Sacramento California...Dallas Fort Worth...Dublin, Ireland. What’s been your experience? Thanks.
  6. Will the ships travel in convoy because they sail the same route at the same time and presumably the same speed? Would be a sight to behold.
  7. New article on Cruise Critic: American Cruise Lines Continues Expansion with Modern U.S. Riverboats
  8. I am just off the MSC Armonia cruise to Montego Bay, Grand Cayman, Cozumel and Havana. This was our first cruise on MSC after cruising on Carnival, NCL, and Princess. I know there is a desire for more information on this ship/itinerary due to so many cruisers trying MSC for the first time for the Cuba stop, so I thought I would give my thoughts. Please feel free to jump in with questions. Embarkation - We were assigned a later embarkation time, which we ignored and arrived around 1. There was no line to check in, so we walked right on. Easiest embarkation ever. We then headed to lunch, which was limited to the buffet/pizza/grill area, unlike some lines which have a MDR option for embarkation lunch. I prefer to go to the MDR for embarkation lunch since we have some carry-on bags, but this was not a huge issue for us. The one issue we had related to embarkation we had is that one of our bags was not delivered to our cabin. It turns out that our luggage tag (plastic kind you buy on Amazon and put your folder paper luggage tag into) was somehow ripped off at some point. We had another tag with our contact information including name that survived, but MSC did not attempt to look our cabin number so they could deliver the bag. We found it later that night in the reception area with other lost bags or bags that had been taken due to alcohol in the bag. Muster drill - I specifically mention this because it was very different than what we have experienced on other lines. At the start of drill you have to go to your cabin to get your life jacket, then you head to your muster station (actual station outside, not a meeting location like the theater or a bar.) You have to show your card at your muster station to check in so they can make sure everyone attends. I first thought MSC must be taking the muster drill more seriously than other lines, but it rapidly deteriorated at this point. The section where we were directed to stand was taken up by one or two large groups. One of the groups turned the entire drill into a photo op. They laughed and took selfies of themselves in their life jackets the whole time. In addition the group included three pre-teen boys fighting the whole time right next to me, which resulted in me getting bumped or hit three times. At no point did the person in charge of our muster station intervene, so we heard literally none of the instructions.
  9. Was told by an American Airlines rep that they do not participate in EZ Check any longer. Called Princess and they said it's true. Has anyone heard about this?
  10. 1- Size of ship (less than 800 passengers) 2- Cabin (cabins start at suite level) 3-All inclusive (all beverages and tipping) 4-Service (impeccable-trained staff) These are the basic criteria for 6 star cruise line Regent, Seabourn, Silversea 5 1/2 star cruise lines Azamara, Crystal, Oceania, SeaDream Yachts
  11. They just sent me an email informing me that they changed our comfortable 11:47am flight out of MCO to a not-so-comfortable 10:31am flight because of the Boeing 737Max groundings. We will be coming off the Carnival Breeze on a Saturday in July, so I know what MCO will be like trying to get through security. While we have made it before in time for a 10:30 flight, I just really didn't want the stress. I'd try changing to a different flight, but the next flight is mid-afternoon and we would have to make a connection (we're currently booked nonstop). We had planned to do the bus transport, but waiting for the bus to fill up before we can leave would probably just send my blood pressure through the roof. Not exactly how I want to end my vacation. I didn't pay any attention to the cab situation the last time we were at Cape Canaveral. Are there lots of available cabs waiting at the port terminal for people to grab? If so, I'm tempted to just jump ship at the earliest possible time and throw ourselves into the first cab we find.
  12. I just saw on a Facebook group for the Star Trek The Cruise Facebook page that somebody posted a photo of an announcement for the 2020 cruise. I cannot vouch for its credibility, but it was added by a member of the group, most likely a Trekkie, so was probably seen at a convention. If it's true, looks like the ship will be Royal Caribbean, not Norwegian like the 2019 cruise, and March instead of January like the 2019 cruise. Click on the attachment below to see the pic. (Sorry, I couldn't figure out how to show it in-message.)
  13. We just returned from a 22 day cruise and 9 nights pre and post cruise visit to South America . The cruise was on the HAL Zaandam from San Antonio , Chile to Buenos Aires Argentina . We took over 10,000 photos on this trip so it will take a while to cull , download , edit and upload to Photo Bucket before writing , so please be patient . It will be mostly in chronological order and will use some photos from our previous cruises to South America . So , bags packed and ready to go ? Boarding passes ? OK , lets go .
  14. Which trip would be best to start our travels in middle America? We've already been to Nashville and Louisville and New Orleans. We enjoy walking around pretty towns. Is there a Presidential library in any of the stops? What time is early and late dinner? What type of entertainment is on board and how often? The website says "Broadway style." What is the average age group? 60-70? 70-80? Are the ships well kept? Someone mentioned that when it rained, the stateroom carpets were wet. Anyone else experience this? Are the staffs on board terrific? That's enough for now. I appreciate all of your responses to see if this is a cruise for us.
  15. Hello! We are Carol & Frank from Massachusetts and will be on this cruise. Anyone else? ~Carol
  16. This will be our first river cruise for my wife and I.We have been on a number of ocean cruises. We found it fun to chat with people prior to the cruise and then meet them on the boat/ So here goes. We are from Missouri and plan to fly out to Portland on the day before and maybe rent a car and drive up to Mt St. Helen and see the volanco:):):)
  17. I am on the 27th of april star to spain. on the day of embarkation I am taking the highlights tour. This tour end at the airport in BCN. I am taking a taxi is there anybody else who would like to share? My name is Gail and I am in room 5618. Thanks gail
  18. New article on Cruise Critic: American Queen Steamboat Company to Cruise Mexico, Central America and Alaska
  19. My wife and I recently were on the Star for its Around the Horn cruise. We had a very good cruise. Weather kept us from seeing the Falkland Islands and caused problems in Puerto Arenas, otherwise it would have been a great cruise. We had Cabin E710, an obstructed oceanview. Excellent location, near rear elevators, 1 deck up from Promenade deck, low enough that the rough seas we encountered over a couple of days did not bother our sleep, adequate room, and quiet. We had signed up for late Traditional Dining time when P changed dining times. It was advertised as 7:15 pm but turned out to be 7:45 pm, too late for us. After the 1st night, we switched to AnyTime. That worked well. We often could get a table for 2 without a wait between 5:30 and 6:30 pm. Sometimes we were sent upstairs to the TD dining room as many people did not show for their assigned time. It may have been the passenger demographics (many passengers from SA and Europe who eat late; about half of passengers were from the US) but the dining rooms were routinely less than half full when we ate (regardless whether TD or AT). The menu was the old one. Food was good. We had breakfast in the Horizon Court. I always got an omelette. Usually had lunch in the HC or got a cheeseburger. (We had 1 lunch in the MDR to get the pistachio ice cream.) There seemed to be fewer waiters and the white shirts (managers?) were doing the same work. They were pretty good about clearing the dirty dishes but weren't big on table wiping. The buffet would routinely be busy but seats were always available. We ate at Sabatini's one night. We enjoyed it but way too much food. Very good service. I did not attend any of the port lectures or production shows. I did catch one of the magician's shows in the theater and one of the comedian's shows in the Vista Lounge. I enjoyed both. A tango group was brought in when we had the overnight in Buenos Aires. That was very good. We also had a gaucho show later in the cruise and I enjoyed it.
  20. are there any cruise topics for this cruise company?
  21. Does anyone know what happened to the Ship "Regent Star"? At least I believe that was the name. I sailed back in the 90's and the ship was beautiful with real wood in the cabins (old bathtubs).....please correct me if I am wrong about the name of this beautiful ship.
  22. How is the price for the drink on PoA compared to other cruise. As it is Hawaii, is it more expensive comparing to Caribbean cruise. I've never been to Hawaii and heard that it is really expensive there. Thank you.
  23. Hi everyone - Tomorrow, I'll be heading down to New Orleans, where I'll be boarding AQSC's newest ship, American Duchess, on Friday. It's a short preview cruise before the christening on Monday. Let me know if you have any questions!
  24. Does anyone know what kind of prices balcony cabins sold for when at their cheapest, on this years adventure?
  25. Food is poor and service is worse because of high turnover of personnel.
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