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Crown Cruise Vacations | September 30, 2020

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River Cruises Archives – Crown Cruise Vacations

American Cruise Lines adds personalized coaches for passenger comfort and safety

August 18, 2020 | Jackie Sheckler Finch

By Jackie Sheckler Finch

Here comes the American Cruise Lines coach rolling down the road. The road?

Yep, the popular riverboat line has added personalized private coaches for the convenience and safety of passengers. It certainly is easy for American Cruise Lines passengers to identify their special bus when it pulls up. Read more...

Cruise Trivia: Name the movie filmed at this famous Southern mansion

March 12, 2020 | Jackie Sheckler Finch

Are you a movie buff? Like scary stuff?

This trivia quiz has a two-part answer. First, what movie was filmed at this famous Southern mansion? Second, what is the name of the historic house?

Don’t look at the answer below until you’ve formulated your own sweet response. Congratulations, if you are correct. Read more...

Viking To Offer Access to Highclere Castle, Filming Location of ‘Downton Abbey’

November 21, 2019 | Jackie Sheckler Finch

Viking To Offer Access to Highclere Castle, Filming Location of ‘Downton Abbey’

“Downton Abbey” fans are going to have a chance to visit filming locations for the popular TV series and movie, courtesy of Viking cruises.

Starting in 2021, Viking cruises will be offering a new pre/post cruise extension named “Great Homes, Gardens & Gin.” The extension was designed to give cruisers an exclusive look at several country estates that have served as settings for the acclaimed PBS and Masterpiece Theatre productions. Read more...

Complimentary extras add to Viking Kara cruise

May 2, 2016 | Jackie Sheckler Finch

It seems to be an unpleasant trend. Airlines are cutting services and adding new charges. Resorts are sneaking in hidden charges. Even my cable TV service at home has found new ways to boost the price. So it is surprisingly wonderful to see all the complimentary extras on my Viking Kara cruise.

I had only been on the ship one day and already I noticed little pluses that mean so much to travelers. I’m going to list some of them below – in no particular order – just to show what no-charge bonuses are offered on the Kara.

Here goes:

  • Free ship-wide WiFi that works surprisingly well in cabins in some locations on the Rhine River. The ship also has a small business office with two computers that passengers can use free of charge. It irks me that so many hotels, airports, and cruise ships charge outrageous sums for WiFi. Good for you, Viking River Cruises.
  •

    My Favorite French Window

    April 18, 2016 | Jackie Sheckler Finch

    No two cruises and ships are ever the same. I seem to find something new each time I cruise.

    I’ve been on ships with balconies many times. That is one of my favorite things to do on a cruise – sit on my balcony and watch the ocean or the river roll.

    But my cruise on the beautiful new Amadeus Silver II had a delight I had never seen before. My cabin didn’t have a balcony. Instead, it had a French window.

    The floor-to-ceiling window in my stateroom covers almost the entire wall. I don’t have a walk-out veranda but I have an inside veranda. What I do to bring the outside in is to push a button and the upper half of the window comes down. It does feel as though I am sitting outside.

    The window wall is framed with wood, almost like the window is a work of art, which it is. The scenery outside that window is gorgeous and changing. The window does have heavy drapes which cruise director Lorelay Bosca us in our first-night briefing are very important.

    This is a Rhine River cruise, not an ocean cruise. We may go to sleep with nothing around us but the river and the shore in the distance. Then we may wake up docked near a small town or a park or even another ship.

    And, as Lorelay warned, we could be in for a rude awakening if we left our curtains open and come out of the shower or the bed au naturel and give a surprise show to unsuspecting people outside our big window. Good to know.

    Story and photo by Jackie Sheckler Finch

    Dining delights abound on Viking Kara cruise

    February 10, 2016 | Jackie Sheckler Finch

    Would I prefer roasted pork medallions wrapped in parma ham, herb crusted ahi filet with warm chanterelle arugula vinaigrette or portobello mushroom lasagna?

    But, wait, that is just the first page. Another “always available” page offers even more choices – sautéed salmon filet, roast chicken breast or seared prime ribeye steak.

    And that is only the entrees. For starters, I can choose baba ghanoush & hummus, blackened beef carpaccio, baby spinach and blue cheese or parsley root veloute. Or on the “always available” starters side of the menu, I can order a cheese plate with mango thyme chutney.

    Dessert options include mascarpone & sour cherry cake, hot chocolate cake, traditional Paris-Brest, almond cake, warm apple hazelnut crumble, fruit plate, sorbet or several different kinds of ice cream and sauces.

    I had been told that food on Viking River Cruises is excellent and it certainly is. On a small ship, I figured the chef and cooking staff might not have much room to stretch their imaginations and cooking skills. But each meal has been wonderful with creative dishes and plenty of choices from executive chef Dimitar Yordanov and staff.

    The Viking Kara has two places to dine, either the main restaurant on Deck Two where a regular meal is served or the Aquavit Lounge on Deck Three where lighter fare is available. Breakfast is usually from 7 to 9:30 a.m., lunch is around 1 p.m. and dinner is about 7 p.m. Times are sometimes adjusted according to shore excursions.

    Two coffee, hot chocolate and tea stations in the upper atrium are also open 24/7 and have self-service machines that can produce lattes and cappuccinos, with mini-pastries offered in the morning and cookies in the afternoon.

    Both the Aquavit and the restaurant offer great views during meal time so you don’t have to worry about sacrificing river scenes when you dine. The restaurant has floor-to-ceiling windows with a large circular buffet area in the center of the room. Seating is open so passengers can eat different meals at different tables if they want.

    I am a breakfast eater so I go to the restaurant each morning to get fueled for our busy day. The breakfast buffet is heaped with a wide choice of food – cheese, meat, yogurt, grilled tomatoes, hash brown potatoes, yogurt, bunches of bread and pastries, oatmeal with toppings and much more. There’s also an omelet station where eggs can be cooked to order. Or you can choose from the printed menu and be served at the table. I have had the Eggs Benedict on the menu twice so far which means they are very good.

    Lunch includes a soup and salad bar with plenty of meats and cheeses or you can order from the menu – usually a featured entrée, pastas or sandwiches. Dinner, of course is the fanciest meal of the day. My favorite so far as been the special A Taste of Germany dinner with more German dishes than I could spell or sample. The buffet was packed with specialties, plus ordering from the menu was also offered. Each table had a wooden rack of pretzels and sausages, along with a plate of cheese, meat and spreads as appetizers.

    An accordionist and a hurdy gurdy player added to the German ambiance and a server delivered German beers and schnapps. Soft drinks, wine and beer are always complimentary at lunch and dinner. Just a welcome extra touch from Viking River Cruises.

    Story and

    Viking Kara dining

    Viking Kara dining

    Photo by Jackie Sheckler Finch


    Dining in AmaCerto’s no-charge specialty restaurant is a taste treat

    January 13, 2016 | Jackie Sheckler Finch

    Today I learned a new word. And had a marvelous dining adventure. I also discovered why AmaWaterways is the only river cruise line inducted into La Chaîne des Rôtisseurs, the world’s oldest international gastronomic society.

    The reason? They deserve it.

    Shore Excursion: Black Forest, plus recipe for Black Forest Cake

    July 2, 2015 | Jackie Sheckler Finch

    A young boy on my Black Forest tour said he was a bit afraid of what might lurk in the dark woods. His sister expected to see fairy tale princesses. His father hoped to buy a handmade cuckoo clock. And his mother was seeking a recipe for the famed Black Forest Cake. Read more...

    AmaCerto cruise newsletter has valuable uses

    June 15, 2015 | Jackie Sheckler Finch

    On any cruise, I always look forward to reading the ship’s newsletter that magically appears on my stateroom bed every night.  The newsletters are filled with interesting information about where we are going, what we will be doing, the weather forecast and much more. Read more...

    AmaCerto river cruiser has top deck pool with swim-up bar

    May 25, 2015 | Jackie Sheckler Finch

    The AmaCerto cruise ship certainly has a great deal to offer – beautiful staterooms, delicious cuisine, professional staff, wonderful shore excursions and a pool.

    That’s right. A pool. I’ve never been on a river vessel with a pool this big. Some river cruisers have tiny plunge pools and plenty of hot tubs. But the AmaCerto has a teardrop-shaped heated pool with some depth to it. At the deep end is a swim-up bar with barstools  and a bartender serving wine, beer and cocktails – in warm weather. Read more...