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notamermaid

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    Rhine, Germany
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  1. 3rdCoastFan, so it is still true that Viking has no gym or spa treatment room (?) available on their ships. About Viking marketing, those adverts give a good impression of what river cruising looks like and what it definitely does not look like all the time. You will never see a cruise ship on a photo docked in Nuremberg or Erlangen as both are on the Canal. In any company's advertising. From what I have gathered from past cruisers Nuremberg is the worst port to be stuck in as regards scenery anywhere between Amsterdam and Budapest. From a past cruiser it has recently come to my attention that Viking has used the industrial harbour in Cologne for docking. Not sure if that was a one-off (for about a week) due to low water and/or many Viking ships gathering in the city at the same time, if not, then the company will see quite a few disgruntled passengers this year. Which reminds me that a balcony suite may sound great to book, but rafting (double-docking) in port could ruin your view. Indeed, this is Strasbourg and the river Ill (capital I as in "I like", double ll as in "all"): I copied this from marinetraffic. The blue dots are river cruise ships. In the harbour area you find the CroisiEurope ships of 110m size, not sure if those are the blue dots exactly. When passing and staying for a half day or day many ships are far outside in Kehl in Germany. @samrothstein This is the reality of some cities. But I have mentioned Koblenz as being quite the opposite, i.e. perfect in over 90% of cruises. Even Amawaterways moving out to Lahnstein near Koblenz is not a big deal as that town is pleasant. It has been mentioned before that the sundeck could be closed. That is a big feature on the Main and the Canal, therefore I do not recommend such a cruise for those who love to be up there relaxing while cruising or even in port. I think a cruise from Frankfurt to Nuremberg or vice versa would be detrimental to your - your wife's enjoyment - of a river cruise. It sounds to me that you are an early and a late riser travelling together. I still think you could both enjoy river cruising as early riser breakfasts are available and if you head out after (normal) breakfast your wife could always stay onboard. For ideas how mornings are structured I happily refer you to past cruisers and the roll calls where people sometimes post dailies (sheets handed out with more details than you receive with your documents). notamermaid
  2. rockjock75, Mondays is often museum closure day, Sunday indeed cathedrals and churches mainly during service. It sounds as if you travelling after Easter so that big interruption to the standard seven day week will be behind you. I started a thread some time ago with some tips, also from other cruisers, perhaps this helps: notamermaid
  3. The Reichsburg in Cochem would really lend itself to some festivities, thanks for the photo, CPT Trips. However, I could not find any such info on the website. Here it is: https://reichsburg-cochem.de/?lang=en Cochem itself has a night watchman tour listed (a standard tour) for that day. Apart from a few parties, last year's news websites do not show much as regards themed events in the area. Generally speaking decorating and dressing-up is done a little and parties happen but the day is not a "thing" really. 30 to 40 years ago most people in this area had little clue what Halloween is - apart from the (film) freaks and anglophones. That has changed but historically there is no tradition whatsoever. As we are on the subject of "spooky castles", Burg Frankenstein near Darmstadt in Hesse jumped onto the bandwagon many years ago, it is really making good money out of its famous name: https://frankenstein-halloween.de/en/location/die-burg-frankenstein/ Just one of the supposedly 25,000 castles and ruins in Germany... notamermaid
  4. Thinking all river cruise ships are tied up in harbours I was a little surprised to spot the Vista Star still making her way upstream. marinetraffic.com gives her destination as Enns on the Danube, so she will still have quite a bit of a journey before she can rest. The Vista Star sails for the German company 1Avista Reisen. So where do the ships dock on the Rhine in winter? Last year I mentioned Cologne Niehl harbour which is again busy this year, of course. A cluster of Vikings is moored there, together with many others. I counted 18 Viking, some of the Amadeus, some of the Scenic fleet, the Emeralds and within the grand lot of modern ships: the elegant MS Goethe! Cologne Mülheim is also a winter home for a few ships. So where are the Avalon ships? By chance I spotted one the other day going North with destination Lelystad. They are docked in this harbour on the Markermeer East Northeast of Amsterdam. You can also see others docked at Arnhem. What about CroisiEurope? They are somewhat the odd ones out as they dock in their home harbour happily together in Strasbourg where the company is based, currently I count six so some are underway or elsewhere. The Danube is winter home for many more ships of course and a few are scattered around in docks along the Rhine's tributaries. I do wonder if the winter harbours are getting full? After all, this season will see yet more ships on the Rhine. First christening of the season on the Rhine I think is the MS Andrea II for Phoenix Reisen. Her big day will be the 27 March in Bonn. As that would be a day trip for me I am contemplating going to see it... Shortly after that the Vista Sky and then the nickoSpirit will be christened, both in Cologne. By the way, the next new Viking ships Viking Gersemi and Viking Hervor are already signalling in Rostock but I cannot find a date for their deployment on the Rhine. And then there is the Amadeus Imperial. And then there is... Etc. ... notamermaid
  5. I think Nicko might have changed some things on their website, seeing that they now have an exclusive agent for the UK. My guess... Here are the dates for the Elbe offered on the UK market (taken from the agent's website): 2020 - Potsdam to Prague 2020 - Prague to Potsdam 11, 25 April 04 April You can have a brochure sent to you. As I am not allowed to name the agent, look on cruisetradenews.com for ... "partners with Nicko Cruises to" My settings tell nicko I am in Germany. I find it confusing that they have a German website with a mere translation. It is not helpful for ascertaining what is a German cruise and what is not. A quick look at other routes does not give an English language cruise either. So all those that appear on the English language setting are now bilingual?? Nicko, get this sorted! Cannot help you lot with this, I am afraid. notamermaid
  6. Hello Sam, this could work for you both, yes. As long as you bear in mind a few things I am sure both of you would plenty of enjoyment out of a river cruise. That is certainly possible on a river cruise, but as Roz has already said, it depends on the time of year, the relaxing bit I mean. As for the running around - if after a day's sight-seeing you are not yet content with relaxing in the lounge, try to get an itinerary that has late sailings. Many ships start sailing during dinner time meaning the onboard entertainment is all you get. If you can make do with running along the sundeck or using the gym - not all boats have one - you will have plenty of exercise. The other most important thing to bear in mind Roz has also said: ocean and river cruising are two very different things. For other caveats or things you may ask yourself - or things you have not thought of asking yourself yet - I recommend reading the stickies at the top of this page by our host jazzbeau. As the two previous posters have pointed out it can be a bit boring being on the ship as more or less the only passenger. You have mentioned the Amsterdam to Basel itinerary, so here are some details: Amsterdam to Basel is the upstream itinerary and there I believe the longest cruising stretch occurs - Amsterdam to Cologne - with some companies, but that is done mostly overnight. Viking will stop in Kinderdijk. There are no sailing stretches that are longer than 24 hours - unless you go on a couple of "obscure" European company itineraries (if someone can prove me wrong, please do so). In Strasbourg you might well dock in Kehl on the right (German) bank of the river. If your wife stayed on board and you took the shuttle or tram to Strasbourg she would be stuck in a mildly interesting place... On the other hand, Koblenz is a very different kettle of fish where all river cruise ships dock in walking distance (between 50 and 400m) of the old town. You could head up to Ehrenbreitstein Fortress while she relaxes on the ship or strolls through the streets. Make sure to take a photo with your ship from the fortress, the view is magnificent. There are many ways to have fun on this itinerary, make sure you closely compare the different company offers and the ships' amenities. Have fun planning. notamermaid
  7. Certainly a change there with Viking, I understand. When I was up at the Marksburg a few months ago I was wondering how they get all the coaches up there and park them. Little space in the cars' car park, not sure where the coaches went. I got that. And compared to Heidelberg or Rüdesheim he is probably right. Fair point. In Rüdesheim with its population of just under 10.000 it would certainly make a difference and I am sure in Koblenz the locals would also prefer river cruisers to go on the included fortress tour a bit more. Heidelberg can also profit in reduced stress levels from fewer coaches. Back to Viking: they are diversifying on the Rhine in that they will dock in Wesel from this year. But more on that in another thread. notamermaid
  8. I am not quite sure what you mean as Marksburg castle is still in the itinerary. Koblenz appears to have more of an emphasis with Ehrenbreitstein being offered now but Marksburg is still an included excursion. At Speyer, the actual town seems indeed to be given more room, i.e. time in the itinerary now, and Heidelberg is just an optional excursion. Speyer untainted by tourism - hmm, not sure about that one, but it is not yet overrun by herds of tourists, to that I would agree. Talking of Viking, last year in Autumn a river cruiser reported of being docked in the industrial/winter harbour at Niehl outside of Cologne. The passengers were not happy... It was supposed to be due to low water levels. Many other river cruise ship were docked in the city but with the river being low it could have been that there were too few accessible docking spaces. Quite remarkable when you think that Cologne has more than eight alone for river cruise ships (and some of those are okay for double docking). But then, Viking is so omnipresent of the Rhine now that they dock in Cologne with three of their ships on some days in the season, so Cologne might reach its limits... Another reason for me not sail with Viking, the German river cruise ships dock in Deutz on the other side of the river at least - when the centre is full - which is just a short tram ride from the city centre. notamermaid
  9. Three down, the fourth one to go? Yesterday was one of the days that ended in me being rather thoughtful about town development and tourists. With annoyance still going round in my head about local politicians spending money on IMO overenthusiastic building projects, I came across this article on Deutsche Welle, yes, another city has joined in with the moaning Passau locals talking about the "bad" tourists: https://www.dw.com/en/cruising-for-a-bruising/av-48101349 So what can be done? Well, here is my advice to all politicians, marketing people and locals - be aware, tread with caution when thinking about tourism and perhaps with a twinkle in your eye but in earnest bear in mind my four command(ment)s for looking after your town. One: you shall not market your town Two: you shall not become a world heritage site Three: you shall not be a film location Four: you shall not build a (bigger) cruise or river cruise port So back to my headline: Amsterdam has stopped marketing - one down, Passau is struggling immensely and the authorities are finally reacting or being pressured to react - two down, Regensburg is now in the news and the town council has limited the number of river cruise ship moorings - three down, my fear is for Bamberg nearby. It is a river cruise port, a medieval town with narrow streets and tourist gathering hot spots and a UNESCO world heritage site! Now I can only sincerely hope a Chinese couple does not have a wedding proposal in the old town with 100 million watching live at home and Disney does not turn up... My worries are linked with what happened to Hallstatt in Austria - saddening and to make matters worse, they had a huge fire in November. Believe it or not, the tourists still keep coming. The mayor is urging people to stay away: https://www.theguardian.com/film/shortcuts/2020/jan/06/let-it-go-why-the-mayor-of-hallstatt-is-telling-frozen-fans-to-stay-away Nearby where I live there is an architectural cluster of buildings/landmark that I thought could be registered with these agencies that market film locations. I have decided not to pursue the idea. And reading about other towns' problems has redefined our petty quarrels here about how to improve our neighbourhood or not. I shall look forward to Chinese tourists being an exotic rare sight for years to come and believe the Viking coach I saw a few months ago to just having taken the wrong motorway exit. In this day and age it seems to me that there is hardly a middle way - you either have hardly any tourists and struggle to keep the community going or you are swamped with the locals driven out of their homes... But to end this on a good note - I look forward to the new season and if I ever meet a river cruise tourist I my street shall talk to him happily and ask about his ship - to run home afterwards and report about the chance meeting with great excitement. notamermaid
  10. Coming from the Main and the Main Danube Canal ships enter the Danube at Kelheim. At that point, the Danube waters have already run for about 440kms towards you. So what lies beyond, upstream to the West? A famous old town that has amused generations of children (and adults) with the tongue twister "in Ulm, um Ulm, und um Ulm herum" is Ulm. What quite literally stands out in Ulm's history and architecture is the minster with the tallest church spire in the world. Fancy running up the stairs? Some do, in an annual race: https://m.dw.com/en/europe-to-the-maxx-the-highest-steeple/av-49105659 notamermaid
  11. Kiel in Northern Germany is a busy port for cruise ships but river cruise ships are also seen there occasionally. A regional newspaper article was wondering if 2020 might top the already very succesful 2019. Just before New Year's Eve the Junker Jörg was to be the 176th ship of the season to arrive at the harbour. She nearly did not make it. The passengers on the New Year's Eve sailing itinerary got a bit of a shock when the ship ran aground on a sandbank near the small town of Penkefitz. She was stuck for ten hours then freed by two local authority work ships and was able to continue her jorney. Last year I mentioned the "Junker Jörg" and her itineraries that ran till the end of the year, over Christmas and even into the New Year. Her 2020 itineraries again will bring her to Kiel through the Nord-Ostsee-Kanal - the Kiel Canal in english. This is the map if you would like to look up where it is: https://boards.cruisecritic.com/topic/2426483-rivers-in-europe-a-map/ The Junker Jörg has retired for the winter to Tangermünde, a harbour area there on the Tanger river off the Elbe. The Viking Astrild and the Viking Beyla are nearby. This is the furthest North the two ships will be on the Elbe this year unless the company changes its mind - see post above. notamermaid
  12. Travelling upstream on the Main, river cruise ships eventually reach Bischberg, a small town just before Bamberg. This is where your journey on the Main ends and the river diverts to the left fork. The right fork is the entrance to the Main Danube Canal. The Canal is an amazing feat of engineering and deserves looking at in more detail. For that, I link you the wikivoyage page with an interactive map: https://en.wikivoyage.org/wiki/Main-Danube_Canal While the river is not navigable beyond the fork near Bamberg, it has much appeal that could be tapped into by river cruise companies. Yet, the alluring - deservedly so - Bamberg is the main attraction for companies and their passengers. What lies beyond along the Upper Main we will have a look soon. notamermaid
  13. Here is another article on the Swiss Tiara: https://www.cruisetradenews.com/viva-cruises-first-owned-river-ship/ She is currently in a shipyard in Boven-Hardinxveld in the Netherlands and due to sail under her new name for the first time on 15 March. notamermaid
  14. Yes, the roof of the city hall is the Advent Calendar, thank you for reminding me. Although crowded, that part of the market which is Jesuitenplatz square is the nicest I find. Here is the photo bottom right: https://www.koblenz-touristik.de/events/koblenzer-weihnachtsmarkt/impressionen.html Bottom left photo is just on the left when you have passed underneath the arches, if I remember correctly into the entrance of the building on the right, where the round pillars are on the right in this photo: https://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rathaus_(Koblenz)#/media/Datei:Koblenz_im_Buga-Jahr_2011_-_Rathaus_01.jpg At the leftmost arch is the famous spitting fountain. In Trier, yes, the coliseum is also interesting. Just do not expect it to be as big or preserved as the one in Rome: http://zentrum-der-antike.de/en/monuments/the-amphitheater/the-amphitheater.html notamermaid
  15. Hello BAYA, As far as I know all those ports have Christmas markets that run through Advent, both during the week and at weekends. Closer to the date I would have a look here: http://www.germany-christmas-market.org.uk/christmasmarkets_germany.htm or on the town's websites. Strasbourg Cathedral is a must- see, no doubt, but others can help you there better. Speyer - the cathedral. If you like technical stuff I recommend the transport museum. Mainz - the cathedral, or if you like the colour blue St. Stephan's Church. Or the Gutenberg Museum for the old printing press and Bible. In Koblenz the Christmas markets are good but not as atmospheric as in other places in my opinion. If you have enough daylight try and get to Ehrenbreitstein fortress, by shuttle or taxi if the cable car is not running. Not sure if Viking offers Marksburg castle in winter. If so, it is great to see but could be uncomfortable in wintry conditions. Cochem has the rebuilt castle which is supposed to be good. Bernkastel-Kues is a lovely small town with lots of half-timbered houses. Trier- the Porta Nigra and if you have a couple of hours spare either the Roman baths or the Landesmuseum with the Roman artifacts. The Christmas market is very nice. notamermaid
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