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franski

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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. 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!!
  2. "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
  3. 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
  4. 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
  5. 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
  6. 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.
  7. 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
  8. Most main stream lines include tours... Some will have optionals available to purchase, but not all. And, the optionals aren't necessarily "better" than the included tours. We have travelled with most lines marketed in North America (AMA, Avalon, Scenic, Emerald, Viking & Uniworld) - and have not found a huge difference in the included tours. Occasionally you will get a tour guide who is a "dud" - but, it is rare. One thing to look at is whether or not the tips to local guides are included in your price. As for drinks, again, most included wine/beer/soft drinks - free flowing!! - at dinner, and often at lunch as well. Some lines offer sparkling wine at breakfast... Mimosas anyone??? But, as gnome12 indicated - it might depend on where you are travelling. Some lines have "daily specials" for drinks - and Avalon has brought in a "Happy Hour" on their Europeans ships - where all drinks are half price for an hour or so before the evening port talk. Uniworld & Scenic have an open bar policy (except for some top shelf brands) - and Viking has the Silver Spirits package, although it may not be much of a savings depending on how much you drink outside of meal times. Fran
  9. Hi Jazzbeau - I didn't mention a TA (I know better....) Globus is the "family" that includes Avalon Waterways, Ensemble vacations and Cosmos... Globus tours are primarily land based - but you book through the group when you book an Avalon river cruise. I dealt directly with Avalon for this issue - and, given that I had "chastised" them in the 1st post for their lack of customer service, I wanted to give a "shout out" to the person at Globus who worked hard on my behalf to get me the rate advertised on their website. It was luck of the draw that she answered the phone when I called. I have a TA I work closely with - but went to Avalon directly after the website was not corrected even though they knew of the computer glitch. If you still feel that this is mentioning a TA, then remove her name. But, please restore the post. I do want people to know that Avalon did step up and honoured the posted price. Fran
  10. Hi everyone - thought I would follow up to let you know the outcome of this. Avalon has honoured the price posted on the website - and we have booked at the posted rate. I must give full credit to Donna at Globus Tours in Toronto - as she went to bat for us to get us the rate posted on the website. I wondered if the posting here had an effect on that, but looked at the e-mail she sent me and compared it to the time of the original post - and her e-mail to me (asking if I was still interested if we could get the posted rate) arrived 1 minute before my post here. So - true customer service - not prompted by any "visibility" on CC. mhb1757 - You asked why we didn't book at the posted rate on line - and Coral was correct... it would have flipped us over to the CDN site, and the price further in was the higher CDN price. BTW - the computer glitch is still in effect on the Avalon CDN site, but there is now a disclaimer at the top of the page identifying that the prices are in US dollars, and asking people to call them if they want information on tours, booking or prices. Avalon honoured the price for both cabins, so we are off to Eastern Europe & Transylvania with our friends next year. It seems a long way off, but we have something to look forward to... Fran
  11. Well, just when I think that Avalon has perhaps learned something about advertising (I had an issue with their literature related to "pre-paid gratuities" on our recent trip to Peru) - I have discovered that nothing has changed. A bit of background....We were booked on their "Danube - from the Black Sea to Budapest - with 2 nights in Transylvania" - scheduled for October 2018. As most people on this site know, the water levels resulted in many changes and cancellations. We were notified that our cruise was cancelled less than 72 hours before we were to fly to Bucharest. We did get a full refund - and it arrived quite quickly. We were NOT offered an option to transfer our booking to a sailing this year, as some people were. I had connected with someone here on CC who was on the same sailing - and moving their booking was an option. When I looked into re-booking the same cruise, the costs had jumped considerably - so that we could not book the same cruise - on ANY sailing - at the same price, even with the $600 travel credit they have given us. And, by the way, the travel credit has to be used for travel before the end of this year... not used to book this year and travel in 2020. I have been watching that itinerary - hoping for a sale. Imagine my delight when - late last evening - there was an abrupt drop in their posted price for this itinerary. It must be a mistake, I figured, so went to bed. I checked again this morning (around 11 am....) - price still the same. So, I called my TA. After a number of phone calls (they insisted I was on the US website, or looking at a different, less expensive cruise) they informed our TA it was a computer glitch, and that the US cost was being pulled across to the CDN website. They told her the glitch was fixed - and that the price was what I had been watching ($5800, not $4400). She called Globus twice - and both times was told it was a computer issue - and had been fixed. I revisited the site again after lunch - prices still the same ($4400). I was on the CDN website. So, I phoned Avalon myself, and asked for the posted price. I was booking 2 cabins - one for myself (and DH) and another for my friends that we travelled with to Peru. They want an upgraded cabin, so wanted the posted price for the Cat B. The woman at Globus/Avalon found the webpage - confirmed it was their advertised price on the Canadian website - and agreed that they should honour the price. She took the bookings - gave me booking numbers - but did say she would have to confirm with the marketing department. Fair enough. But - SURPRISE!! - the marketing department denied the booking, saying it was a computer glitch - which was now fixed - and that they would not honour the booking at the price posted on their website. They insisted the issue was fixed. The rep at Globus had to call me back with the news. She was wonderful... I felt bad that they left her to give me the bad news. And - here we are. Almost 17 hours after I noticed the price drop - and 4 1/2 hours after my TA called to inquire about the price - and was told the glitch was fixed. It is over 2 hours since I last spoke with the woman at Avalon - who relayed the message to me that the glitch was fixed. Prices remain unchanged on the website. So --> AVALON (I know you read these blogs) - another epic fail. If you knew there was a computer glitch, your should have pulled down your website and put up a notice indicating that there is an issue and the site would be back up when the issue was fixed. You know the website is wrong - and yet you do nothing about it. If customer service is important to you - and you really felt that your bottom line depends on getting full price for 2 cabins on 1 boat in October 2020 - you should have called me to talk about the issue... to see if we could have come to an agreement on the price (more than the $4400, less than the $5800). We had a great trip in Peru. And would still like to do Eastern Europe + Transylvania - but, I must say that I am rethinking these plans after this most recent interaction...😞 Fran
  12. Day 10 continued - There was an option to kayak (2 person) later than morning, but opted to sit and look at the scenery. Had a coffee... relaxed in the upper outdoor lounge. We took another rain forest walk in the afternoon. Again, not a lot of wildlife. We were there as the wet season was ending - so many animals moved further inland to dryer land. But - I loved spending time on the skiff and sailing in areas that wouldn't be available by boat later in the season. And, I loved being out on the boat. After dinner, there was an optional trip to meet a local Shaman. One of the naturalists went with us to translate. We met her in a local thatched hut area... lots of bugs out - but there were smudge pots around the periphery, so I didn't get any bites. It is suggested to have a bug repellant with DEET. I went to our local Sail store, and found a product that is a lotion. No smell, not greasy. I was able to make sure all open areas were covered when we were in the rainforest. Our friends had a spray - Muskol… Not only was it greasy (when they sprayed it, they left a film behind...) - it didn't work as well as our lotion. They eventually switched and started using our repellent, but they already had some bites. I managed to come away from the Amazon bite-free.... We had gone to a travel doctor before we left for Peru. He prescribed anti-malarials for us to take while on the Amazon. After the issue I had with the GI upset, I re-read the information sheet for the anti-malarials. GI upset is a common side effect. I discussed the risk of malaria with Victor - and had reviewed the information on the Delfin III website that indicated the risk of malaria in the area where we would be travelling was low - and decided not to take the meds. Figured if I caught malaria, I would have the meds to treat it (same to treat as to prevent!!). We were in bed early that night... a busy day --> with an early wake-up call planned for the next morning!! Fran
  13. Day 10 - the Amazon!! First off , although it is listed as a 3 night/4 day tour, you are really only on the river 2 full days. We got on board (day 1) just before dinner - and left (day 4) just after breakfast. If someone was choosing to do this tour on their own, I would suggest booking the 5 day tour. But - the trip was awesome. The 1st night - after dinner - we did an evening walk in the rain forest. We wore rubber boots (provided) and rain ponchos (also provided..). We didn't see a lot - but it was amazing to stop - turn off our flashlights and just be surrounded by the sounds of the rain forest. We did see a cane toad - and some very busy leaf-carrying ants. But, other than that - it was just an experience to trek in the forest. We were up early on our 1st full day. We had a skiff ride at 6 am --> things were just waking up. We saw a sloth hanging from a branch, and a number of monkeys running and jumping - and ++ birds. We also saw some pink dolphins breaching along the shore. Sun was shining - just beautiful!! Back to the boat for breakfast at 7:30. We went back out at 8:30... and got to swim in the river. Just awesome!! A dolphin breached about 20 feet ahead of me!! We could use pool noodles - and I was glad I had one. There is a current there (we were swimming where 2 rivers meet) so it was nice to be able to swim lazily and not worry about the current. They finally made me get out of the water about 40 minutes later... They provided towels to dry off - and, on the way back, brought out a cooler so we could have something to drink. There was the usual water, and pop - but, they also offered Cusquenas (local beer) --> opted for the beer... It may only have been 10:30 am in Peru, but it was 5 o'clock somewhere! Sun, rainforest and beer - while cruising the Amazon on the skiff. Life is good!! 🙂 Fran
  14. Day 9 - mostly a travel day... We flew from Cusco to Lima and then on to Iquitos. There are (apparently) some direct flights from Cusco to Iquitos - but we didn't get one of those. It may be because they weren't offered that day - or because the timing didn't work with the Delfin group. We arrived in Iquitos just after lunch. We were met at the airport by reps from the cruise line. They counted and tagged all the luggage before we left the airport. We had our own small bus (the rest of the guests were on another bus) - and were given a bag lunch plus water when we boarded. We had a tour of Iquitos - went to the downtown area - before heading to Nantes to board the boat. It is about 90 minutes from the airport to the boarding spot - but had another 25 minutes or so added as our tour to the downtown area was away from the boat. We had one of the naturalists from the boat (Jorge) with us on the bus - and he explained what we were seeing, and was able to answer questions. Nantes is a small town - but does have some amenities. I am guessing that tourism here (like much of Peru) is the biggest source of income. There is a little hut on the side of the river - you have to fill out your paperwork before boarding the skiff to travel to the boat (about 50 yards away...). Our boat (the Delfin III)had 22 cabins - 11 on each passenger deck. I have included the link to the website - it has picture of the boat. https://www.rainforestcruises.com/delfin-iii-amazon-cruise We had a cabin on the lower level - the bed faces the large window. As with all the hotel rooms in Peru , there was bottled water in the bathroom - but, on the boat, it was in a carafe that was filled as needed. You are given a metal re-usable water bottle when you board the bus - filled with cold water. That is yours to keep. They have filling stations on the lower and middle deck - and you are encouraged to fill and use this bottle. They try very hard to reduce their use of plastic - as it is a huge concern with the local wildlife. Breakfast is a buffet - lunch and dinner are set menus. If you have any food restrictions, it is noted - and your meal is prepared and served separately. My DH has an issues with red & yellow peppers, so his meals were slightly different. As we were travelling as a group of 17 (16 plus Victor) there were 3 tables for 6 reserved - so we all ate as a group. Also, any time we went out on the skiff, we went as one group. There is a fairly open bar on board --> local beer, Pisco sours, pop, coffee (including cappuccinos and/or lattes) were available and free at all times. I did want a G&T (a bit of a tradition with our travel friends) and bought two... NOT cheap. But, the tradition has been kept alive.... Fran
  15. We stayed at the Palacio del Inka in Cusco... very impressive. And, yes - we did eat at the MAP Café in the Museum of PreColumbian Art. I will post more about the Amazon shortly. Pictures are just posted on my Facebook page. I am one of those "old" people (according to my kids) who just takes pics with my "old" cellphone. Take a lot of ribbing about my Blackberry - but the pictures are pretty good. If you e-mail me I can give you my full name and you can ask to be my friend 🙂 and see the pics there. (franski@rogers.com) Don't want to mention the entire name here - not sure if giving you that and directing you to Facebook is against the rules!! Fran
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