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Daisi

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  1. Not me, my Father is, so we spoke a mix of French & English at home. It's almost a requirement here, to gave some understanding and speech. My DH uses me for interpretation, but he can pick up a bit.
  2. I have really enjoyed reading about your trip. Have a little laugh about the Churches, as within 2 hour drive from where I live, there are a good 6 towns called Notre Dame de (or du) whatever. I never checked for Churches. We had fun in France with our French, as it's very different from theirs, we could get along, but I'm sure they wondered where we learned our French. Thanks for sharing your trip.
  3. For our cruise last year, we each had a carry on & small knapsack for sundry stuff. We had 3 days in Amsterdam pre cruise, and a day of sight-seeing from Basel to Amsterdam on the train post-cruise. By the time we got to Frankfort, we picked up 4 younger female travellers that each had a huge (I don't travel much other than by car, so we aren't up on luggage, but I didn't know they made suitcases *that* big) suitcase, carry on, and hand luggage. Watching them and trying to be patient while they held everyone up trying to get off the trains was rather interesting. We got off the train at the airport (free shuttle to the hotel from there), they stayed on the train to Amsterdam Centraal. Thought we had seen the last of them until we completed our check in...only to turn around and see them come through the door demanding someone help them with their luggage! Turned out, they were booked in for the next night and just wanted to store everything while they went out and partied. Never stuck around to see how successful they were, but we were so glad we had packed light!
  4. Another factor to take into count is the cobbled streets. We had a gentleman on our cruise who could walk, but not far, and used a wheelchair on land. My husband pushed him around (his wife could, but DH is that kind of guy....) most places and said that the cobbles made it very hard. I know one town they went to which we didn't know they were going to see (so we ended up in a different group), his wife had a very hard time. The walker may be very difficult to use on the cobbles.
  5. If you are going Amsterdam to Basel, it has no impact as it's on the Main Danube Canal. I can't exactly remember how many locks we went through, only know of 5 or 6, as we went through them either during the daily meeting or while we were eating. Most sailing is done at night in order to give you the most time in port, so other than the one we stayed up to see how close our boat was to the lock (we were in our room, didn't open the window but it was close!), we didn't really notice any. As to the water levels, it's a risk either way. The year before our cruise, there was really bad flooding and the boats couldn't sail. Our cruise was in May, and the water was a little high, however not much. About 6 weeks after we got home, they were starting to do ship swaps & tour cancelations because the water was to low. Spring (April) is often high, depending on the snow - this year I think the Danube had a few close calls, and Autumn is often low, depending on how much rain has fallen.
  6. To tell the truth, the only time we noticed going through the locks was when we were eating...most sailing is done at night, so unless you have a Captain that rubs the edge, you won't know you have been through one. We never felt any bumps etc (mind you, we were out touring morning & afternoon, packing in as much as we could, so could have been over tired) the whole time. We loved Avalon, we weren't really sure what to expect, but it was a perfect fit for us. The Captain & Hotel Manager were there everyday sending us off on tours, and welcoming us back, the Cruise Director we had was really good, and all the staff were wonderful. We went with the attitude that this was going to be a great adventure...if there was water problems, we knew Avalon would have something sorted and if we ended up on a bus, then we would still be seeing some beautiful country. I think the only time the bus trips took the same route was when we went to the Black Forest, and that was only because the other road was under construction, so it was easier to go the same way. Even when we took the Alsace trip out of Strasbourg, they took a different route through the town so we got to see more.
  7. Hi. Your question re: docking locations has been answered in this thread you opened earlier : As to private tours, they aren't usually recommeded, as the ships can move from one town to another while people are out on tour, and also, times in port are not usually known until the day before as timing depends on going through locks. The tours for river cruising are quite different from the Ocean ones, where you have headsets to hear the guide through and you don't have to stick overly close. Also, the tour groups are smaller, the one we had last year with Avalon was an average of 6 - 8 people on it. The guides are usually local, so really give good info for the towns.
  8. I really feel for the barges & other business ships lined up...this is their day to day living that has been put on hold. While most river cruise companies can ship swap and continue serving & working with customers, they are stuck. Would they be able to get any compensation for this? I don't know EU law to know if it's possible to file a claim. After last summer where they couldn't run, this could really hurt. I hope they get priority once the lock is opened.
  9. We've only done the Rhine with Avalon, and only 2 towns required transport. Strasbourg was a canal cruise in, bus back to the boat, and Heidelberg was a bus ride as it's not on the Rhine. I am looking at the Blue Danube Discovery cruise, and it looks like there is really only Vienna that requires a bus, the Nuremburg tour does, but you can stay in Roth for the tour there. We are planning on going to Cesky Krumlov, so will miss Passau, and I'm not sure how that port will be handled.
  10. From the Scenic itinerary : "After a delicious breakfast, prepare to head home. Your Scenic Representative will transfer you to the airport for your onward flight. It may be the end of your cruise, but it’s the beginning of a lifetime of fond memories. Please schedule flights to depart after 10am in Basel and 11.30am in Zurich." You may want to contact Scenic to see if you could arrange for the 10:00 flight, as that's cutting it tight.
  11. Avalon ships also have an area out front where you can sit to enjoy the views. When we did our Rhine cruise, it was quite hot & sunny, so we stayed there to get the shade. We enjoyed it because we were closer to the water (especially getting some of the castles), and the bar! I think Viking also has a front seating area outdoors as well.
  12. Hi... first thing I would suggest is to look at the stickies that our host has posted... they will give you a good reference for differences between lines etc. Most lines now include beer & wine with lunch & dinner, but some have all inclusive. Just remember that if you are off boat touring all day, you may not have much of a bar bill as you will only have pre-dinner & after dinner to buy....and I know they will usually let you order another beer / wine at the end of dinner for the lounge. Cabins are a personal choice, you don't spend lots of time in them, so if you can handle the smaller window that won't open you will be fine. If you are looking at French Balconies (which I prefer as on Avalon, you can open the window almost the whole width of the room), watch out for Viking, as they offset the corridors to give the balcony rooms more space. You won't really be on the balcony much, as there are 2 sides to the river, so if you want to see it all, the top deck is the place to be. We enjoyed our room mostly early in the morning, or while waiting to go out, otherwise we were usually in the public areas. Food is everyone's guess, we liked what we had on our Avalon Rhine cruise, but some people didn't want to try all the different foods. What I really liked was if you wanted to try something new, no problem, if you didn't like it they would bring you a different meal. It gave us the courage to try a lot of foods we wouldn't normally pay out for in a restaurant. Most lines will have regional foods available, and a regular daily standard of more North American dishes...chicken, fish, steak. As for direction, I will be going Budapest to Prague, only because the tour I have chosen has 2 nights Budapest and 2 nights Prague...if I were to go the other way, I would loose one night in Budapest. As to best month to go, it's usually from what I have seen best spring / fall...summer months can get hot, and if you are doing a lot of touring, it could be uncomfortable. Be warned ahead that if there is flooding or drought, or lock problems, you may get bussed a bit, but that is part of river cruising and if you expect it, you will be ok. I would suggest signing up for the mailing lists (you will get notice of sales), for the main lines. Look carefully at pricing, as some of the all inclusive ones can work out cheaper than the non-inclusive ones due to the extra tours. We go on everything we can, as we want to see it all. You don't really have full days of sailing, most sailing is done at night, so time in port is great. Have fun, and enjoy your planning.
  13. Yes, the buddy system comes in very handy when out on tours, and it's a great way to meet your fellow travelers. With the smaller groups, we found everyone was watching to make sure we didn't loose anyone.
  14. Well said. Any type of travel comes with risks, even when you plan your own. A missed plane,, strikes, or severe weather can leave you scrambling, whereas if you are on a river cruise, at least you have someone doing it for you. You have to take the idea that it's a new experience (even for those who have several river cruises under their belts), as you may not see your ports, but you will probably get a nice scenic tour by bus that you wouldn't have if things had been fine.
  15. AF-1, last year was unusual, but I do remember when we did our research, they had massive flooding one year, and drought another. I think (like I'm doing now) I was looking for a good 2 - 3 years before we booked, as I wanted to really make sure the cruise we chose fit us. Most lines cruise the same areas, so other than one or two stops, they stop at the same places...hey, there are only so many places on the rivers that can accommodate the boats coming in - docking & being able to handle the tourists etc., so it was the line itself that we were looking at. We went the beginning of May and had great weather...just managed to miss the rain by a couple of hours most days from what we were hearing from other boats. Water was just a touch on the high side, but no problems. You have to go with the flow, (pun intended) and just hope that the timing of your cruise is ok. Don't forget, on the Rhine, you really only have 1 morning (we left Amsterdam during dinner, arrived in Köln around lunch, and then the 2 or so hours you toured the Rhine Valley with all the castles. Most of the sailing is done at night, your days are spent in port.
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