June 5, 2011
I’m starting this entry about midway through our cruise on the Tapestry from Nuremberg to Budapest. We’re heading from Melk to Vienna right now. I was just able to get online using our Netbook. We paid 15 euro for a week’s access but it’s spotty coverage. Was good near Regensberg, less good at Melk, and better again now toward Vienna. Others who tried getting on earlier were saying it took forever to load a page.
First, let me say that everything on board is top notch–a luxury hotel, down to the memory foam mattress pads. The cleaning staff is constantly polishing or vacuuming something as you walk through the ship. Each evening they bring you a complete agenda for the next day, including the weather forecast. Communication is extremely clear and everything is very well planned. Food and service great!
Thought I’d mention some things we were unsure about before we left home. First, about electric current. I had purchased an adapter from Magellan online–about $6 for a universal one. Our netbook is plugged into that, and that is plugged into the outlet by the desk. The “brick” (box of the power cord) is a voltage converter (I guess they all are) and it’s handling the 230 v. current just fine. We’re charging a Kindle by plugging it into the netbook, too. There’s another European style outlet by one bedside table and an outlet in the bathroom that accepts a regular US plug. They say it’s only for camera chargers and shavers and that the voltage is weak, however a travel companion successfully used it with her regular curling iron. There’s a hairdryer in the stateroom that is supposed to be plugged in in the desk area only.
The other thing I wasn’t sure of was whether we would be met at the Nuremberg airport. We had booked the airline tickets through Avalon, but the material Avalon mailed us prior to the cruise said, “transfers not included.” I did call our Globus travel agent and she said transfers were included because we booked the air through Avalon. She was right. As soon as we exited the airport baggage area there was a man in a business suit holding up an Avalon sign. He’d been waiting for our flight, which had been delayed. He dropped us off at the market square (right near the cash machine and tourist info, conveniently) He told us he’d pick us up at the same spot at 3:30. He then took the bags to the ship. Hint: if you don’t have a tag on your carry-on, affix one or those paper ones before exiting the baggage area to save hassle later.
Every time you go on a tour, there is an audio box to use. The tour guides speak good English and every single guide was good. Often you take a comfortable bus somewhere and walk around. The cruise director explains all the optional trips. We decided to go on the following options: Weltenberg Abbey/Danube Gorge (fun guided bus and boat ride, great little frescoed baroque cathedral, beer and pretzel), Cesky Krumlov (2 hour bus ride, 1 hour guided tour of wonderful medieval town, free time, stop at Budevice - home of Bud beer–could have done without that part, 2 more hours on bus, but with narration), Royal Waltz Concert (a highlight), Szentendre (town was great but the group unanimously did not like the stop at Caprice jewelry center–guess no one wanted a $30,000 bracelet). Skipped the Schonbrunn palace but we thought a day off would be good. The trips were worth the extra cost because the guides explain all sorts of stuff other than what you’re driving past, and it’s just nice to get out into the countryside. It’s good to have some euro coin to tip the tour guides. If I were to suggest anything to Avalon it would be to let the passengers have another hour to walk around Passau (fortunately we finished breakfast early and went for a 20 minute walk, during which I felt I was walking inside a postcard). They could have started the Cesky Krumlov tour a little later and skipped Budovice. Those who went to Salzberg really liked their tour (we had already been there so chose the other). On ours, they wanted us to see a normal non-touristy town but on a Saturday afternoon everything was pretty much closed. Would rather have spent the time in Passau.
Anyway, we would definitely go on another Avalon cruise!