Thursday, November 29, 2018

Main River Cruise on a Queen, Not an Empress

We're leaving home soon to drive to Seattle. There we'll drop off our beloved coffee machine for some repairs and renovation before parking and checking in at SEA for our Condor Airlines flight to Frankfurt.

Condor is an Alaska Airlines partners, so we'll earn a lot of Alaska miles for flying in Condor's (very) cheap business class fares. While there are mixed reviews, to say the least, most experienced reviewers (and our next-door neighbors who just flew them) agree that Condor offers fairly good in-flight food and service. The configuration on their 767s is 2-2-2 and the seats are angle-flat rather than lie-flat, so we're not anticipating a sublime experience. Still, we're looking forward to the flight, and keeping our fingers crossed, since we've already booked a couple of more flights with them, including  a summer trip with three of our grandchildren.

We have a layover at Frankfurt that's hopefully long enough to visit a Lufthansa Senator Lounge, and then we fly Lufthansa to Munich, where we'll overnight at the MUC Hilton, a pleasant hotel we've visited in the past.

The next day we take a train to Regensburg, where we were supposed to board Gate 1's Monarch Empress for a seven-cruise along the Main River, ending in Frankfurt. It was such a bargain that we snapped it up. However, it turns out that German rivers have been suffering low water for several months, having a major impact on the river cruises. Gate 1 warned us via email a few days ago that the Monarch Empress may not be able to make it from Budapest to Regensburg, due to low water.

One of a couple of alternatives they offered was a transfer to the somewhat lesser Gate 1 Monarch Queen, where they promise to maintain the "deluxe" service on this "first class" boat. They will also refund us a couple of hundred dollars each, making the cruise almost as cheap as staying home (we exaggerate only slightly).

A number of cruise passengers have complained about spending most of their "cruise" on buses. That's an understandable feeling when people have spent several thousand dollars for the cruise experience. In our situation, even a bus ride will be a good deal. Of course, we're hoping to spend most of our time sailing over the bounding Main. Time will tell.

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