Peeking behind the former Iron Curtain – River cruise opens doors in Eastern Europe

By Katherine Rodeghier  Ten of us sat around a kitchen table in a tidy home in eastern Croatia. Over cake and coffee, our hostess answered questions about life in villages still reeling from the effects of a war that ended on paper more than two decades ago. Fields still laced with land mines. Rampant unemployment. Young people fleeing to bigger cities to find a better life. Suzi Petrijevcanin wasn’t complaining, just telling it like it is to …

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Cruising the Lower Danube River, incongruities from Bucharest to Budapest on Emerald Waterways’ Emerald Dawn

Despite the familiar credit card labels pasted on shop doors and ATMs, none of my American cards worked in modern Bucharest, Romania. Across the Danube River, in Bulgaria, crumbling factories and houses remain eerily empty more than 25 years after the fall of the Iron Curtain. Up the river toward Hungary, Serbia’s capital city of Belgrade is bustling with thriving businesses that sit next door to jagged metal and concrete hulks of bombed out buildings from war …

Read moreCruising the Lower Danube River, incongruities from Bucharest to Budapest on Emerald Waterways’ Emerald Dawn

Best cruising experiences require pre-trip plan-From $100 lunch in Italy to advice from a Headhunter in Borneo

Travelers booking a cruise typically spend lots of time deciding on a ship, cabin and itinerary, but often wait until boarding day to consider what they will do in various ports along the voyage. Yet planning ahead for port stops may yield one of the highlights of your cruise. Here are some of my favorite cruise moments during 2015. Most were off the ship, involved eating, and were the result of significant planning using the Internet. Nearly …

Read moreBest cruising experiences require pre-trip plan-From $100 lunch in Italy to advice from a Headhunter in Borneo

AmaCerto Cruise: Visiting the home of Eau de Cologne in Germany

COLOGNE, Germany – Napoleon Bonaparte loved Eau de Cologne so much that he ordered 50 bottles a month. The famous emperor used the fragrant water extravagantly and supposedly had special boots designed where he could stash an emergency bottle of cologne. “Back then, they didn’t take baths as often as we do today so they used perfume to mask their body odor,” tour guide Marion said. However, some of the perfumes smelled so heavy that they weren’t …

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Scenic Jade, Day 6: Let’s talk about the cabin amenities on this river cruise

ABOARD THE SCENIC JADE – Today was our second day in Vienna. It is really nice that Scenic spends twos day in this beautiful and exciting city. Yesterday almost everyone did the city tour that was offered and today we were offered three different options. Two busloads headed off to explore Bratislava, the capital of nearby Slovakia, another visited the Schoenbrunn imperial summer palace and the last group visited the famed Spanish Riding School in the city …

Read moreScenic Jade, Day 6: Let’s talk about the cabin amenities on this river cruise

Scenic Jade, Day 5: Tours on Scenic Cruises definitely are superior

ABOARD THE SCENIC JADE – Today we are in the lovely city of Vienna, Austria, and pretty much everyone on the ship took a general city tour this morning. I did a similar tour two years ago off another river ship, but what a difference. On that tour we drove around the Ringstrasse (Ring Road) by bus, seeing all of the major sights like the Opera House and Parliament, and then everyone disembarked and walked down a …

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Scenic Jade, Days 3 and 4: Tour of picture-perfect village

  ABOARD THE SCENIC JADE – A day and a half have passed and this is the first chance I have had to write. Yesterday was consumed with full day tours and this morning with a half day tour. All tours are included on Scenic Cruises so participation is high. First we docked in Passau, Germany, where passengers were offloaded for their tours and at the end of the day we returned to the ship in Linz, …

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Scenic Jade, Day 2: The pace was slow and the touring do-it-yourself

ABOARD THE SCENIC JADE – It is only 3 p.m. and already we have had a perfect river cruising day. That is because we could pretty much do what we wanted with it. Our day began with what I call a “morning at sea” – that is, we cruised along the Main-Danube Canal all morning. This is what we all visualize of when we think of river cruising … lazy hours spent gazing at fishermen on the …

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Scenic Jade, Day 1: Our trip on Scenic’s “Space Ship” begins in Nuremberg

ABOARD THE SCENIC JADE – It wasn’t exactly easy to get here…three flights, beginning in Traverse City, Mich., and ending in Nuremburg, Germany. In Detroit, we connected up with our good friend and my fellow writer Bob Jenkins and the three of us traveled together. However, the overseas flight was delayed so Chet, Bob and I ended up spending four extra hours in Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport and arrived last night at about 6 p.m. Overall, a trip …

Read moreScenic Jade, Day 1: Our trip on Scenic’s “Space Ship” begins in Nuremberg

Preparing to depart the U.S. for a river cruise on the Scenic Jade

Once again I am rushing around preparing to leave on a cruise. Of course, this is a wonderful reason for rushing, but nonetheless, it makes me kind of crazy. For example, I have to line up someone to water my vegetable patch in the community garden. And I have to clean out as much of my email as possible. And I have to remember to check in tomorrow afternoon for our Monday flight. I need to change …

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