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knoxclone

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About knoxclone

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    Knoxville, TN

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  1. Did the Homelands this past summer late June. I was lucky enough to spent 3 wks in STP back in mid 90's, so had seen all of the "must do's and many of the "if you get the chance, ya gotta go see" bucket list items. My DH, however, had never been so... we took all the included tours (Panoramic) and then optionals ( Canals, St. Isaacs and Chirch of the Spilt Blood and the Peterhof). Really disappointed with the Viking tours - on paper the tour is a great plan... but we were on large motor coaches and traffic was a simply a nightmare. The guides we had were very good, informative and helpful, but it was clear they were incredibly frustrated as well. We spent more time on the bus circling St. Isaacs than actually on the ground on front and inside of it. Likewise, we did a forced march/run from 4 blocks away to the Church of the Spilt blood and back to the bus in less than 30 minutes. And, sadly for us, we were watching all the small vans zipping in and out (dropping off faces we recognized from the ship) as we made our circuit yet again looking for a parking/ drop-off sites for the large coach. For the canal cruise portion, the bus finally had to let us off on the other side of the canal, and we hustled up a couple blocks, crossed the bridge and then sprint back down the other embankment to the impatiently waiting cruise boat staff (who then shortened the excursion because of the tardiness of our arrival.) That evening at dinner, we sat with several couples who had taken either the Alla or and Dancing Bear tours, and were gushing on what a fabulous day they had enjoyed, while we spent most of ours on a bus. 😞 I would strongly urge anyone who wants more than a bus ride through STP and the opportunity to explore this beautiful city to seriously consider a private tour - at least during the busy summer months.
  2. Continental breakfast for early risers, buffet breakfast ( along with made to order options including salmon Eggs Benedict ( my favorite!), pancakes, omelets etc. Lunch in the restaurant was both a buffet - or you could order from the menu. The Aquavit terrace was open most days for lunch where they had a grill serving hamburgers/fries, sausages etc along with light salads. And you always had the option of Chairman's salmon, steak or chicken available if you did not care for the entree selection for that evening. And of course, they are quite happy to swap out any sides/salads etc if requested... or give you an additional portion... or dessert 🙂
  3. your bags should be checked all the way to Venice
  4. Viking is very generous with wine and beer at meals, and are happy to "top you off" before leaving the dining room. Like wise, you are welcome to bring your own beverages on board, and they will be happy to provide glasses and ice. Pay as you go drinks are very reasonable - prices were very similar to what we would pay at a hometown restaurant/bar. Unless you prefer higher end spirits or wine you, would most likely would need to consume 3 drinks on average a day - and both cabin guests must purchase the package.
  5. When we were on the Sun earlier this summer, the nordic rituals package was displayed for sale (products, scrub brush in cute little wooden pail), but they still offered the events several times during our cruise. They also offered several other "spa" specials that would be listed in the daily.
  6. yes, definitely you can spend less than the $800. Budapest is very visitor friendly - even for those who are less than comfortable "striking out on their own". Unless you absolutely prefer to not have to deal with any arrangements, I would suggest making your own arrangements. There are many recommendations on this board for wonderful hotels, transport and restaurants. Just ask away 🙂
  7. We also used Alajos Pulai when we were in Budapest last year. Good communication via email and text - with preset fare - I think it was flat 30 euro. Driver was one of his colleagues, who spoke pretty good english. He was very proud of his city and gave us a lovely running commentary on Budapest and Hungarian history and during the drive into the city from the airport.
  8. While I am not gluten free, my daughter is. We were on Windmills and Tulips cruise this past March. They were very accommodating on the ship - and the only real problem was off the boat during the day, but she had brought snack bars and was prepared. When we boarded the first day, we met with the restaurant manager and went over our dietary restrictions ( I am on a cardiac low salt regime and the Viking restaurant manager /chef has been very cooperative and helpful on my past three river cruises). Each morning at breakfast, the manager found us and provided several selections to chose from for lunch and dinner. Sorry that your friend was not happy - hopefully that was just a one off experience.
  9. During our recent Homelands, we needed coins for 2 separate toilets in St. Petersburg. We also also were in Stockholm and several public restrooms required payment, ( although one happily accepted cards).
  10. We stayed at at Thon Opera in June after VH cruise - great location, especially if traveling to/from airport or train, wonderful breakfast. Rooms were average size for Europe, very clean and staff was very attentive. Easy walk to harbor and to Hop on Hop off bus. Would recommend and will stay there again on next trip to Oslo.
  11. Just FYI - we did not have power outlets (European or or otherwise) at our seats during our recent train trip from Bergen to Oslo. We were traveling in Komfort Klass.... May have just been unlucky to have been in an older carriage, but don't automatically assume you will be able recharge your devices at your seats.
  12. Again, I agree. First time breakfast in Restaurant service was very slow. tried next morning and finally left Main Restaurant after waiting more than 40 minutes for breakfast to be delivered to our table. As we got up to leave, the server frantically waved us down saying "its coming out soon". We took the elevator to the the WC grabbed some fruit and a bagel and headed out to our excursion. As much as I enjoy a leisurely sit-down breakfast, it should not take more than 15 minutes to serve a basic eggs Benedict and pancakes w bacon. 😒
  13. I agree, I would be much more amenable to departing after immediately after the cruise with a a nonstop home... from anywhere! 🙂
  14. We flew into Stockholm a day early. Agree the late afternoon sail away from Stockholm was a a wonderful way to start the cruise. After cruise, we took train from Bergen to Oslo stayed 2 days and and flew home from Oslo. Train ride was relaxing and beautiful scenery, and it eliminated a O' Dark thirty departure from the ship! Was a much less stressful way to conclude a wonderful trip - I hate to fly home directly from cruise, because I end spending the last day or so having to think about packing etc.instead of enjoying my vacation.
  15. Just returned from Viking Homelands in June - there were stage productions with music of ABBA, Beatles, a magician and several nights of "local music", along with nightly performances with the band in Torshaven. The classical music was normally in the lounge areas during afternoon and early evening.
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