July 23, 2020 Blue Danube: Family Riverboat - Westbound

Hello there! We are very excited to be on our first Tauck adventure this summer. My MIL thought it would be grand to take the whole family (3 generations) on European River Cruise. My wife and I live in Massachusetts with our two kids (who will be 13 and 10 at the time of the cruise). My wife's parents will be travelling from Iowa City, IA and my brother-in-law will be hailing from Milwaukee, WI. This will not be the first time our kids have traveled the world, but it will most certainly be a first for many of us to be on a cruise, let alone a river cruise. Most of the family has never personally been to this part of Europe either so we are all very excited. We are planning to get into Budapest the afternoon before to let the kids and us get our bearings. We can't wait to meet those taking the same westbound trip!

If Tauck could give us a rough child head count/age breakdown that would be awesome. I'm sure it will be fun for some of the older kids to meet new people and maybe even experience the day excursions together.

I've dug into the forums, but if anyone wants to offer additional input on the Bridges Blue Danube tour (including the Ms. Treasures), it would be most welcome. We've just starting to plan for clothing and amenities/accessories. I'd to know how many outlets there are in the Category 7/6 rooms as it may dictate the need to by a multiport USB charger given how much of a digital/electronic age we live in.

Have a good night all...off to peruse camera lenses. I can't wait to take in some spectacular views!

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Comments

  • edited February 20

    Tauck will give you a age/sex kid count, but you must call them.

    We did a non-Bridges Blue Danube a few years ago. It is a fantastic itinerary and cruise. If I were MIL or you, I would say no phones or electronic devices for the kids- too much to see and do. If you feel they will need more than the aircraft movies, allow them on the flight, but lock them in the room safe when you get there. :D

    There are probably enough outlets in the cabins, but some of them might not be conveniently located, same goes for your pre-stay hotel. I suggest taking small multi-outlet travel power strips. Many of us always take them on tour. There are many versions (Monster, Belkin, Tripp, etc. check Amazon) with 3 or more standard outlets and USB ports. Though the Kempinski is likely to have universal outlets, to be safe take a few adapters for your pre-stay ashore (if you take power strips you'll need less adapters). The boat will have US outlets, but again maybe not enough or ideally located.

  • The ships staterooms will have several outlets - US, European, and USB, but as Alan pointed out not always where you want so adapters or power strips will expand your options. The only time I've found hotel room outlets conveniently located for charging my toys is if they have a special desk or night stand with built-in outlets ( sometimes all 3 types). Otherwise not uncommon to spend time crawling around the floor or searching behind furniture to find one.

    Fyi on the nightstand one - one of my adapters has a built in light so you knew it was plugged in. Faint during daylight but at night was way too bright. Had to unplug to sleep.

  • Claudia Sails
    8:01AM

    Fyi on the nightstand one - one of my adapters has a built in light so you knew it was plugged in. Faint during daylight but at night was way too bright. Had to unplug to sleep.

    Nothing a piece of duct tape or carefully folded and positioned card stock won't remedy. :D

  • Yes, but it was 2 am - not my best problem solving time.

    Our airstream only has a few non-12 volt outlets so years ago we bought a multi-plug outlet that had a little round light. In the middle of the night that thing shining on the aluminum interior walls was super bright. My husband taped a dime over it. It's still there years later.

  • I want to thank you both for the comments. I will certainly look into a travel power strip to increase the number of outlets and USB connections to make it more convenient for all.

    AlanS... as for the electronics with the kids. Totally! We already have hourly limits per day, but with a trip like this I expect there to be minimal usage. They were really good in Costa Rica 3 years ago. I really was asking as I plan to have a laptop, phone, accessory USB battery pack and camera battery charger at least for my photographic purposes alone. My wife/daughter will likely be using their phones as cameras only.

    I did contact Tauck and the breakdown of the kids for this Tour (as of 2/24/20) for anyone that is interested is as follows:

    On the tour there are 16 Girls and 19 Boys.
    For the girls (some ages are missing): two 7 year old, three 9 years old, two 13 year old, four 16 year old.
    For the boys: a 6 year old, a 9 year old, four 10 year old, one 11 year old, five 12 year old, one 13 year old and five 14 year old.

  • My wife and daughter are also big into horseback riding - so we started looking at what tours/shows the Spanish Riding School in Vienna will have while we are there. Sadly, the Stallions will be away on their summer vacation. What can you do? But we will still look to coordinate a guided tour of the school during a little free time. We may never get back to see it again.

  • edited February 25

    dogdoctor
    7:55PM

    My wife and daughter are also big into horseback riding - so we started looking at what tours/shows the Spanish Riding School in Vienna will have while we are there. Sadly, the Stallions will be away on their summer vacation. What can you do? But we will still look to coordinate a guided tour of the school during a little free time. We may never get back to see it again.

    This is what we did that on the regular Blue Danube cruise. The stallions were in town so we bailed out of Tauck's guided morning walking tour a few minutes early (we coordinated with TD ahead of time). The tour went right by the Winter Riding School baroque riding hall so we caught the last 30 - 45 min. of the "Morning Exercise" (no cameras allowed). We had read on TripAdvisor that the full two hours was too long for most observers. After attending it we agreed- it is only what it says, "exercise" for the stallions and riders, no jumps or show maneuvers. You can enter at any time. Since we arrived late we got a nice discount on the admission price! After lunch at the nearby and famous Cafe Central we did the full stable tour (includes access to riding hall floor) with an English speaking guide. I booked the tour online months earlier. You can get within a few inches of a few of the stallions but can't touch them. Photos are allowed. That entire area around the Hofburg Palace and Michaelerplatz is very compact and everything is close at hand. Our dinner at the Palacio Pallavicini was just a few doors away from the Winter Riding School stables. You might also want to check with Tauck, some sort of visit to the SRS might already be an option or an unannounced lagniappe. Every carriage driver will tell you his gray or gray-white horses were Lipizzaners! :)

    Depending on how serious your wife and daughter are about horses and the free time available, the Lipizzaner Training Center and Summer Stables are in Heldenberg which is only 30 min. from Vienna by the Franz-Josef-Bahn and 45 min. by car. There is a lot of stuff to do in Heldenberg. You might want to check it out. https://www.srs.at/en/about-us/lipizzaner-training-center-heldenberg/ https://www.derheldenberg.at/en/contact-and-arrival/

  • Since the stallions are at the summer stables - there is no "morning exercise" as far as SRS calendar shows. They do offer the guided tours and an architectural tour that allows you to go 170 steps to the baroque roof. Sounded cool until we read that children under 12 are not permitted on the architectural tour. We could do the Piber Meets Vienna show - but it appears to be a very limited and not a technical show of horsemanship and skill but rather - "Under the watchful eyes of their mothers, our playful Lipizzaner foals will romp to their hearts content and young horses will be shown. Elaborate historical carriages will be maneuvered across the riding school by coachmen in traditional uniforms."

    I love the idea of heading out to the Summer Stables...but I think that may be pushing it with the free time. So I've got my eye on the VIP Guided Tour

    We'll see! So much to plan for. So exciting.

  • Even with all the scares of Covid-19 in Europe, we booked our flights on Friday! My wife permitted us to fly premium economy (we're normally a coach/cheapest fare family), but as I'm getting older my legs and knees at 6'4" just can't take the cramped seats for that long. I envy those that have reached a point in their life that they can afford the higher classes of flying. I offered for the wife and kids to go coach to save a few $$$, but she says no way! :D Damn. 4 seats - oof! We'll be arriving a day early and will be staying in the Tauck preferred Kempinski Hotel Corvinus. Another checkbox checked!

  • We've flown Delta Economy Comfort for the last few years which is a decent improvement but this year moved into the Business Class (Air France not Delta). I waited too late to get the Premium Select connections I'd hoped for. Having knee issues and not sure I could take 8 hours in anything less. My husband is afraid there's no going back to the cheap seats after this. He's probably right - at least for long haul flights.

  • Claudia - Too funny, you sound just like my wife. Another example of the same thing is, years ago before we discovered Tauck, we toured with other companies. Once we tried Tauck there was no going back for my wife. I liken it to trying a color TV for the first time. There is no going back to black and white.

  • edited March 2

    Claudia Sails
    6:39AM
    We've flown Delta Economy Comfort for the last few years which is a decent improvement but this year moved into the Business Class (Air France not Delta). I waited too late to get the Premium Select connections I'd hoped for. Having knee issues and not sure I could take 8 hours in anything less. My husband is afraid there's no going back to the cheap seats after this. He's probably right - at least for long haul flights.

    We've never tried PS but suspect it is not too dissimilar to Domestic First Class.
    On our second Tauck trip (Ultimate Alps in 2014), though it was expensive, we decided to try Business Class, and have never gone back 9 tours later :) My flight planning starts with shortest en-route time and fewest stopovers, but along with price, also includes type of aircraft- as well as being spoiled, I'm getting really picky :D . We fly out of RDU and can get a direct flight to CDG on Delta's older, un-refurb 767-300 (it was fine back in 2014) but usually have longer layovers in CDG, so we often go to ATL or JFK first, especially if we can bypass CDG. Just to get an aircraft with better business cabin (AF 787-9) we are going to Detroit first on the way to XMAS Markets on the Rhine this December. The return flight from Zurich is on a refurb Delta 767-400 with their D-1 (almost) suites. Unless our flights or J&E tour are canceled before then, in a tad over two weeks, we will be flying in Delta's new D-1 suites on a refurb 777-200LR! :) Too bad we must fly the final leg to Amman in Euro business on an AF A320 and fly out of Cairo to CDG on a very old AF 777-300ER with angle flat seats in a 2 - 3 - 2 layout. :/

    I had a partial replacement of my right knee in Nov. It is doing well and I am in training for some extra hiking in Petra on J&E- I just did a short 4 miler this morning so I think I'll be ready. However, I really think it would literally be a pain in the knee to fly coach there and back!

  • Alan, I've been waiting to see the surgeon since Dec - finally next week. Hoping for arthroscopic vs replacement. Wanna get it done sooner rather than later but a different condition may delay so I'm not sure where it will be in Sep when we (hopefully) will be in Switzerland. Doing lots of PT getting the muscles as strong as possible.

    The Air France BS is on one of their A380 jumbo jets. Less expensive than Delta One would have been and the seats are different. Lie flat recliners but not the separate suites. Which suits me as it gives my husband the window and me an aisle next to one another. I don't think we'd enjoy the separation of the suites nor that my actually sleeping time will likely change that much. My husband cringed when I bought the tickets but I know he'll fully use the amenities on board and in the Sky Lounges.

    Yep, the AF Euro Business isn't much other than a row to yourself, but we only have short hops CDG/Geneva and Zurich/CDG so no prob. At home we fly Southwest mostly.

  • I've noticed more and more Delta flights now terminate in AMS or CDG and rely on AF for the last leg. We don't go until May 2021 but I started looking at flights to/from Athens. They used to have a non-stop flight from JFK (or ATL) direct to ATH as recent as a year or two ago, but not now, at least for the time-frame I'm using (our actual dates are too far out right now). All Delta fights seem to go through AMS or CDG with connection to KLM or AF. If I have a connection (from RDU) I would much rather it be on this side of the pond in ATL or JFK. Stopping at AMS or CDG makes the transatlantic leg a bit too short for a good sleep and then you must fly Euro 1st class on (KLM/AF) to your destination unless going to Africa. Unfortunately the flights going through AMS or CDG can be $2K+ p/p more cheaper than the rare direct flight . We used to select the center section of 1 - 2 - 1 Business Class seats, but since we don't talk much during the flight (we sleep or watch movies) my wife decided she wants to look out the window this trip! So, we are trying two window seats, one in front of the other, on the 777-200LR going over, then we'll see about the stowable barrier in the new center section suite seats on the flight home. It is nice that both of us have aisle access either way.

    On the knee- if replacement is needed, and a partial is an option, take that route. My ortho said I would be at 80% within 3 weeks! He was right! No 100 yd dashes or marathons yet, but I could walk fairly well and even do stairs at that point. The last 20% has not gone as fast! I think it just takes quite a bit longer for the soft tissue damage (from the surgery) to heal and grow around the new parts. My biggest discomfort has been in bed with one leg/knee on top of the other (I'm a side sleeper.) I'm almost to the point where my right knee is better than the left knee which has its own issues and might need repair someday. For normal touring, I'd say I'm ready for anything. I just want to be a bit better than that because I have plans for Petra. During the Yellowstone trip last month, I stood on a single runner of the dogsled for a total of about 4 hours + . My right knee and leg were a bit sore after that (of course so was my left side) :)

  • Alan,
    Lufthansa has a daily non-stop from CLT to Munich that now has three-class service on an A340-600 that might work for you. I know many frown on their 2-2-2 seating in Business Class, but we think it's more couples friendly.

    I've looked at First Class, which of course is significantly more, and Tauck doesn't have First in their contract with Lufthansa I'm told. We booked our list flight with Tauck on Lufthansa and they beat the socks of the retail price Lufthansa offered, so I was thinking if they did as well with First I might go for that, but no dice.

  • edited March 3

    LOL. I didn't mean to start a whole discussion on planes and classes and...knee replacements! 4 years ago I blew out my right knee - there was little left holding it together. Let's just say that the ACL combined with some cartilaginous defects that the MRI found and my ortho specialist said if I wasn't planning on a knee placement, I just fast-tracked myself. But I've got many years to go before that can happen and until then the repaired knee acts up from time to time. I had problems with economy seats long before this (literally had to request people not recline as it would impinge on the knees), but the injury and age has now pushed me to press for the more legroom seats. I just can't do it.

    We'll be checking out Austrian Air's new BOS to VIE flight on 767-300 Premium Economy (only 18 seats in 2-2-2 formation) on the way to Budapest. On the way home we're taking Lufthansa's MUC to BOS A380-800 Premium Economy (52 seats in 2-4-2 formation). I'm excited just to have the legroom!

  • Well the whole knee thing was Alan and my fault. The plane seat classes is an interesting topic since there are so many differences between the airlines these days. Makes it hard to tell what you're getting. In researching ours I used sites like seatguru as well as watching YouTube videos. I could Google the airline, aircraft model and seat class to find video reviews of what the seats and service were like. Some better than others but more useful than just the airlines description.

  • We fairly often have found that the original plane that we think we are booking gets changed to another plane and our seats change.

  • As far as Delta- they must have a surplus of 777-200's with suites in business class, after cancelling China flights :D

    It can be hard to figure out the seating. Air France among others have many different models and versions of the same plane. You are rarely provided the precise model during booking which makes it difficult to use SeatGuru. Delta doesn't always show the seating plan on their website for legs flown by AF, especially when booking early. When the flight I'm planning to book with Delta has an AF leg, I am sometimes forced to go to the AF website first and do a phantom booking to see seat arrangement and availability then, after booking with Delta, I go back to the AF website and use my Delta booking number to select the AF seats.

    For our flight from Cairo to CDG, instead of a new A350-900 that was supposed to take over this route this winter, we ended up on an old A340 -300 with 2 - 2 - 2 lay-flat seats. Now, however, we are on an even older 777-300ER with 2 - 3 - 2 angle-flat seating. I was hoping to sleep on the way to CDG since our flight leaves Cairo at 1:50 am . :'(

  • Since the thread sort of ran off the rails.....So I had a career traveling and when I retired said if I ever see the inside of an airport again I will scream, so I didn’t for 5 years. Funny thing happened wife said ok we fly 1st class and see if that’s ok. I agreed begrudgingly and decided I would do it for her and not ruin the trip by complaining (it was an anniversary trip she really wanted). Flight was fine, but we got to Amsterdam and it was really weird for me, after the first day I realized I wasn’t going to work! That day changed the rest of my life. I guess 35 years of living on airplanes and hotels had really screwed my head up. Now we are going as much as we can but only 1st or whatever they call the pods next week (AF grrr). Yes it costs as much as some tours, but I don’t care. If I had to sit crunched up in coach I’ll gladly stay home. I too use seatguru, we like 1-2-1 seating and always grab the 2.

  • We all have our monetary priorities. We're tacking on 3 days in Zurich to the end of our tour. Found a reasonably priced hotel leaving behind the 4/5 star elegance that Tauck opts for and scoping out cheap meals - grocery and department stores in Switzerland actually have some great options. By the end of the tour I'll be ready for smaller meals.

  • F! Our flights to Budapest (via Austrian Air) were cancelled this morning while I was at work. I don't have full details as 1) I can't get a person to speak to and 2) I don't understand why as Austrian suspended operations until May 3rd. We were due to fly July 21. Grrr.

  • edited April 11

    We know one of our flights won’t go too because it flies via Gatwick, London and that airport has closed. If Tauck booked the flights for you, I would think it best to call them. Unfortunately, I m still thinking most tours will continue to be cancelled way into the summer. Maybe I am just being a pessimist, but I think we are all going to have to enjoy summer in our own back yards, let’s hope it’s a nice one.

  • Dog doctor, I feel your pain. We lost our trip to Italy and now a best friends daughters wedding is cancelled and it was in late June. Plus we are being told not to return to our summer home, this thing is beyond a mess. I will say I’m surprised your flights in late July are cancelled. I’d call Tauck and see if they can help book new ones. Good luck to us all!

  • Call the airline. This wouldn't be the first time someone entered the wrong date for cancellations, etc. into a computer. I believe Delta put out a press announcement back in the early stages of this mess, but someone must have hit the wrong key for the wrong month. A few days later they published a retraction/correction.

  • A word of caution. As countries open their borders again they may require 14 day quarantine for travelers. This could influence many travel plans

  • Tauck wouldn't go to those countries again, until the quarantines were gone. I doubt their 'Gift of Time' would be extended for 14 days to cover quarantines.

  • I doubt any countries will want Americans visiting for a long time. I think we will all have to carry ‘Covid 19’ cards, showing either proof of antibodies or vaccine. A vaccine is about two years away at least if they can even find one to start trials with. It is still not known whether having had the virus makes you immune for life.
    I can’t see the government allowing people from other countries into the US either for a long time.

  • edited April 12

    British
    11:48AM

    I doubt any countries will want Americans visiting for a long time. I think we will all have to carry ‘Covid 19’ cards, showing either proof of antibodies or vaccine. A vaccine is about two years away at least if they can even find one to start trials with. It is still not known whether having had the virus makes you immune for life.
    I can’t see the government allowing people from other countries into the US either for a long time.

    ooooh, British, are we a bit of a pessimist today?

    Yes, but they still want US tourist $$.

    I agree about the COVID cards, but like you said, if it can't be definitively shown that those who have been inoculated or recovered and have the antibodies can't be passive carriers, then the card will be of no use. I can see proliferation of fast testing for both active infections and the antibodies. I've seen a few on the news. Some of the machines are supposedly able to have results in less than 15 min. You might find testing stations at the entrance to airports, etc.

    There are a number of vaccines that have started initial trials, both in the US and abroad. At least one company is so sure of their vaccine and trial success, they are already heavily investing in and building the infrastructure for immediate mass production. So, the questions as I see them are, (a) despite what the experts and regulatory agencies have said- 1 year to 18 months for trial and vaccine approval- what are the chances the trials will be significantly abbreviated and the vaccine is distributed more quickly, (b) will approval and distribution be standard around the world, (c) how will each country handle the situation- will those who have been inoculated or have the antibodies be allowed to travel to and from countries that may still have small pockets of people infected with COVID-19?

    I'm guessing (a) yes, unprecedented rapid approval; (b) unfortunately not; and (c) anyone's guess.

  • I think International commerce will resume, but we will probably see a lot of those infrared thermometers used to screen people entering airports, theaters, restaurants, bars, etc. The entire world has covid-19 so I’m not sure I would understand why our citizens would be more dangerous than their own. Plus, as said, they are going to need those dollars more than ever. They need to get the economies cranked up soon. When people start going hungry it could get pretty ugly. There have already been huge lines at food banks.

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