JANUARY 2010 - PDF

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					                                        Our travels started on December 10
                                        Departing Boston on Air France via
                                        Paris to Vienna. We have crossed
                                        the pond a number of times and with
                                        many different air carriers…we rate
                                        Virgin Atlantic as our number one
                                        followed by British Airways at this
                                        point we would place Air France
JANUARY                      2010       somewhat down the list. A two mile
VOLUME #8                   ISSUE 1     hike at DeGaulle to change planes
                                        for Vienna plus an airport bomb
DATELINE- PRAGUE                        scare might have some negative
             CZECH REPUBLIC             influence as well.

The lure of Christmas lights, holiday   The folks from Avalon met us at the
music, and the Christmas Markets of     Airport in Vienna and as it was still
several European nations led us to      early morning and the ship was not
schedule a winter trip on Avalon        ready from its last cruise they had
Waterways . A cruise labeled            thoughtfully secured an hospitality
“Christmastime on the Danube” !         room at the Hilton in downtown
                                        Vienna, Our cruise director, Isabel,
In the past we have recommended         an American citizen born in Germany
either Peter Deilmann Cruises or        who speaks 4 languages, was on
Viking River cruises, largely because   hand to start a week long
one or more of our agents had taken     relationship   of    friendship    and
a recommendable cruise on these         information. The Hilton gave us a
lines. With Deilmann having dropped     source of free coffee, water, soft
river cruises a few months ago, it      drink and some snacks plus a place
was time for us to spread our wings     to leave our luggage so that we
and explore.                            could start exploration of this classic
                                        city on the banks of the Danube.
Cold weather cruising in the winter
would not ordinarily appeal to a
Mainer as we get enough cold and
snow right here at home. The lure of
the Christmas lights and the unique
and spectacular Christmas Markets
convinced us that long underwear ,
hats , scarves and gloves would
make things work.

                                        Sausages and meats aplenty at this Vienna
                                        Christmas Market booth!


                                        At 3:30 the busses picked us all up
                                        from the Hilton and whisked us off to
                                        the AVALON AFFINITY our home
for the next week. The ship is less
than a year old and in fact Avalon
( which is owned by the famous
Globus Tour company) has the
youngest fleet in the industry.

As we set foot on the ship, the
number one Avalon quality shown
forth like a lighthouse beacon…. The
crew that greeted us was young,
smiling, friendly, and genuinely
interested in all these new 104 folks   we had a floor to ceiling and full wall
who were coming aboard. Many            sliding glass window/door ( but who
were Eastern European but all spoke     wanted to reach out and feel the
English and all had huge smiles and     snow?)
a fierce pride in the AFFINITY and
were anxious to show us their and       At the Captain’s reception & dinner
our ship.                               that first night we met more of the
                                        crew and more importantly more of
Of course it was clean and neat, of     our fellow cruisers- they were
course it was nicely decorated for      Americans, Australians, Brits, and a
Christmas, and of course the dining     couple of stray Canadians…. All
room looked good enough to eat.         English speaking and none of them
                                        pushy or obnoxious which was one
                                        of our major complaints about
                                        previous river cruises. No Avalon
                                        does not screen clients for “nice” but
                                        it does appear that “the product
                                        tends to attract the quality”.




 Our cabin was smaller than
Deilmann but larger than Viking and
more important it was beautifully
appointed and space was well
allocated. Plenty of storage space,
warm and toasty- despite 14 degree
                                        Louise and Andy pose here with German Captain
temps outside- and the bathroom         Merton who has a fine tenor voice which was
was spectacular ( much better laid      demonstrated when he sang “the Rose” at the crew
                                        show.
out than those on many big ships,       I will not bore you with a whole litany
better shower, toilet with room for     of our trip ( except for its conclusion)
your knees, and spacious storage for    but will, instead mention highlights
all the medications, hair stuff etc).   and especial events as they relate to
Yes we could live well in #215 plus     Avalon as a cruise operator.
We were disappointed in the pre-                  was through some unbelievable river
cruise information sent by the line! It           scape which we would have missed
came too late to allow us to plan ( 3             if we had gone to Salzburg.
weeks before travel) and it did not
even begin to do justice to what
Avalon provided! I remember well
the old biblical story of hiding ones
light under a bushel basket. Avalon
surely is doing this, unintentionally, I
am sure!



                                                  Indeed had we gone to Salzburg we would have
                                                  missed spectacular scenes such as this!
                                                  The included tours were incredibly
                                                  well done. We had three busses at
                                                  every stop so there were about 35
                                                  folks in each group…. Easy to
                                                  manage..able to see the guide and
                                                  we had a receiver and earpiece
The quaint narrow main street of Durnstein ! We
docked right at its heart and had a wonderful     tuned to our guide which allowed
guided tour by a native guide.                    even those of us who are hearing
Meaningful and substantial guided                 challenged to keep up with what was
tours were provided almost every                  going on. The guides were high
day and in every port but we didn’t               quality, spoke excellent English and
find out about them until the night               adjusted to the needs and interests
before in our port briefing before                of the group they were escorting. At
dinner. Isabel, our cruise director               each city/site, we were given time to
was wonderful in her descriptions                 explore on our own as well before re-
and patient and complete in her                   boarding the bus to get back to the
answers to questions. We have NO                  ship.
complaints about what was offered
but simply concerns for when we
found out about what was offered.

For example, I had planned a to do
some things in LINZ , which was an
advertised stop but the night before
we found out that the only reason we
were stopping there was for a five
minute drop off of folks traveling by
bus from Linz to Salzburg who were
                                                  Entertainment aboard ship included a resident
the meeting us in Passau                          piano and guitar player plus visiting artists such as
( Incidentally                                    “Hm pah pah Hanzi “who put on a spectacular
                                                  show . We also had native wine experts who told us
It turned out spectacularly in the end            about their product and gave us ample samples!
as the all daytime river journey North
The food served aboard ship was                          The bar was open at all appropriate
both plentiful and tasty. It was served                  times, the prices were very fair and
beautifully and the selections were                      the selection ample. By the way wine
numerous and thoughtfully prod                           of the area being visited was served
uced. The head Chef was a long and                       at every dinner and bottomless
lanky Slovokian aptly named Stefan                       glasses were included in the cruise
who personally was present in the                        fare. Unlike many other European
dining room at almost every meal.                        cruise and hotel venues ice was
                                                         readily available and there were
                                                         even two ice machines available for
                                                         filling your in-room bucket!

                                                         The gym was small but well
                                                         equipped but who needed it with all
                                                         the walking in these lovely Austrian
                                                         and German towns. A very nice
                                                         touch was a selection of warm
                                                         beverages and a steaming hot face
This is our Chef Stefan who dressed up to imitate a
                                                         cloth served by the crew in the
folklore river maiden with a large chest all in fun at   entrance lobby as we returned from
the hilarious Crew Show.                                 our cold travels ashore. (no extra
 He oozed charm and smiles and                           charge) Wireless internet was
one couldn’t dislike the meal if not                     available in our cabin for 15Euros for
only for his engaging personality.                       the week – high speed and reliable,
Breakfast and lunch were served                          a real plus for us.. there is also a
buffet style from a well designed                        small internet cafe in the lobby..
buffet with two lines including a huge
salad and cold meats/cheeses bar                         Avalon does not “skimp”..Our hotel
plus the entrees. Diabetics beware,                      accommodations in Prague were first
the ice cream is made onboard and                        class and there were a number of
is sinfully excellent.. new flavors                      small but appreciated touches
every day and new toppings as well.                      including a box breakfast on
                                                         departure day for those of us who
                                                         had a 2AM wake up call and a
                                                         3:30AM bus to the airport. Our cruise
                                                         director Isabel accompanied us to
                                                         Prague and was there every step of
                                                         the way to assist in our enjoyment of
                                                         the city. She has been with the
                                                         company for over 15 years and is a
                                                         most capable support person.

                                                         In summary, we can recommend,
Andy and Walt from Colorado Springs enjoy some           with enthusiasm and honesty, the
Chat sitting at the beautiful waterside table in the
main dining room!
                                                         product    offered  by   Avalon
                                                         Waterways. In an industry that
seems to be sorting itself out, Avalon
is destined to continue to be one of
the top players because of quality,
honesty, and obvious concern for the
interest and satisfaction of its
customers.

Post-scriptum……Our            journey
home should have been easy. Czech
air to Brussels, Delta to JFK and
then home to Maine but , enter the
blizzard of 2009. We arrived in
NY/JFK just as the first flakes were
falling and to find that our flight to
northern     New     England      was
cancelled. Quick calls and travel
agent experience got us tickets on
the 5PM Amtrak from Penn Station
to Boston and then a bus to
                                         Louise and I watched this digital clock tick away the
Portland.                                long minutes which go even slower in the wee
                                         hours of the morning on a hard wooden bench
A shuttle bus from JFK through now
a raging snowstorm landed us in           Still snowing and blowing incredibly
what could only be described a           hard our driver somehow got us
bedlam- Penn Station NY. Trains          safely to Portland and only about 20
cancelled and delayed to and from        minutes behind schedule . by now
everywhere. When I got in line to        the snow was behind us and our
pick up my ticket I discovered that      Dodge pickup easily carried us
the 2PM train to Boston had not          home. I am sure that as this is being
arrived and was 6 plus hours late- I     written on Monday evening, there
was able to rewrite for the 3PM train    are many who were in the lines at
which was also 6 hours late but at       JFK and Penn Station who are still
9PM thanks to a redcap we were on        not home and who may not get there
the train before the hordes and even     by Christmas .
got seats together.. slow going
through     the blizzard got us to
Boston at 2:30AM where we slogged        On the next two pages we have
our way through the snow to the bus      shown some very few of the photo
station and a hard bench seat while      memories we created on our
waiting for the 5:45 AM Concord          journey Up the Danube.
Coach to Portland.
                                                   This is the busy Wenceslaus Square also in Prague
The famous Astronomical Clock in the city square
                                                   We looked for the good King but couldn’t find him!
at Prague Czech republic. It was bitter cold and
snowing during our visit




                                                   The top of an 80’ lock which would lower us from
                                                   the continental divide on the Danube-Main canal.
The stately Weinachtsbaum presiding over the
Christmas market at Prague




A beautiful display of Christmas decorations       From my cabin I am touching the Lock wall !
Christmas market scene at Passsau Germany            A beautiful young German/American lady re-enacts
                                                     the visit of the Kristkindle at our last night aboard
                                                     ship. She related the history of the Kristkindle and
                                                     true to tradition handed out gifts to all of the
                                                     passengers.




A young German saleslady has no respite from the
cold as she displays Christmas ornaments for sale.


                                                     How could we ever forget the spectacular wine
                                                     terraces along the Wachau Valley in Austria along
                                                     the Danube, many of them 400 years old or more.




                                                     JANUARY GREAT TIME TO
                                                     TAKE A CRUISE VACATION
                                                     January is often overlooked as a
                                                     month for taking a vacation as
                                                     people resolve to reduce spending,
                                                     families return to school-related
There is a Sausage war between Regensberg and        schedules and many are worn out
Nurnberg to determine which is getter. Here a
young Regensberg lady prepares sausages for
                                                     from the holidays. However, it can
Lousie to sample.                                    also be a great time to take a
                                                     vacation, as many travel suppliers
                                                     offer deals to counter the drop in
                                                     demand. "You could call it vacation
                                                     fatigue,"    said     Evan   Eggers,
                                                     president      of    SureCruise.com.
                                                     January is an ideal time to travel
                                                     "since you're escaping the cold and
                                                     getting a killer deal."
                                           207-882-5525 email cruises@gwi.net
                                           fax 207-882-6922 cell 207-841-4483
AZAMARA CHANGES ITS                         Andy Holmes MCC Owner/Manager
NAME AND CONCEPTS..                         Louise Holmes ACC – Agent

                                          Lynnville, TN- 14055 Columbia Hwy
Azamara Cruises changed its name           38472 “e” we_cruise@bellsouth.net
to Azamara Club Cruises and will           931-527-3333 toll free 866-593-2027
offer more inclusive amenities along               Fax 931-527-3767
with higher prices beginning in April.        Phillip Budd ACC- Agent
                                              Charlene Budd ACC- Agent
Azamara CEO Larry Pimentel and
Vice President of Sales and               Cambria, CA 2515 Madison St. 93428
Marketing Edie Bornstein revealed         805-927-9677 “e” johnarg@att.net
the changes during a press                   John Argonti ACC – Agent
conference focusing on the line's            Donna Argonti ACC- Agent
new strategy                         .
                                          Green Valley, CA
The executives said that Azamara           1771 Green Valley Oaks Drive 94534
cruise tickets would include gratuities     707-864-6857 “e” tttaj@msn.com
for      the     restaurants       and         Fax 707-864-2477
                                              Tina Armstrong Agent
housekeeping staff, house wine with           Tom Armstrong Agent
lunch and dinner, specialty coffees,
soda, and bottled water, and shuttle      Brunswick, ME
buses in ports, beginning in April on     207-837-9599 cruisedebbie@hotmail.com
Azamara's two ships, the Quest and               Debra Washburn- Agent
                                                   Cell 207-319-7408
the                           journey.
                                          Detroit , Michigan area
Azamara's new tagline will be "You'll       15090 White Ave., Allen Park MI 48101
love where we take you," and the          313-294-2107 Cruiselynn@gmail.com
itineraries will    include     more              Lynn Polgar, Agent
overnights.                               E. Northport, NY
                                          631-261-0261
"We talked to clients and determined           1042 Pulaski Rd.
that they loved staying longer,"          East Northport, LI, NY 11731
Pimentel said. "We will be slowing        JCEstevez@verizon.net
                                                   Carmen Estevez, Agent
down the ships significantly to offer     Puerto Plata, DR
more overnights and longer stays."        809-571-3393
                                                   Carmen Estevez, Agent
Among the locations where the ships
                                          MCC- Master Cruise Counselor
will overnight are Istanbul; Sorrento,    ACC- Accredited Cruise Counselor
Italy; two nights in St. Petersburg,      As certified by the Cruise Lines International
                                          Association
Russia; Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam;
Bangkok; Singapore; and Hong
Kong.

Worldwide Cruise Headquarters
   Home Office- 36 Cod Cove Farm Rd.      Worldwide Cruise Headquarters is proud to be a
                                          member of ASTA, the American Society of Travel
      Edgecomb, Maine 04556               Agents. Your symbol of honesty and quality

				
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