Scenic River Cruise – Jewels of Europe update

We have been following closely for the past several days, if in fact not weeks the situation on the Danube River as it has been experiencing extremely low water levels not seen in many years.  A segment between Regensburg and Passau (situated in Germany – and Bavaria to be more specific) is where the most significant problems have been, including some cargo ships running aground.  Following a number of posts on the Cruise Critic website we managed to find a few links to sites that had interesting content, including one which shows the current status and location of all navigable waterways and ships currently sailing.  In a number of instances, some of the cruise lines had to make drastic modifications to existing sailings and were doing ‘ship swaps’ while also busing passengers between ports in the areas affected.  Today, Lisa received the following confirmation from the Scenic Operations team;

26 August 2015


Agent Name: Lisa Perkins
Agency: Carlson Wagonlit Travel – Ottawa

Clients: Mr Michael Perkins & Mrs Lisa Perkins

Our Ref: 3****9

Due to earlier low water levels on the upper Danube river we were required to enact a ‘ship swap’ to minimise impacts on our cruise schedules.

Guests on our Jewels of Europe River Cruise departing Amsterdam on 2 September, will now be joining Scenic Jasper not Scenic Opal as previously advised.  As Scenic Jasper and Scenic Opal have the same facilities and levels of service, guests will not be impacted by this change.

Our Scenic team in Europe will update any early arrival guests on the change and all other details of embarkation remain the same.

Please be advised that the contact details for all ships are listed in the Trip Information Booklet.  Our Cruise Director and crew look forward to welcoming guests on board.

Kind regards

Kim Scoular
Scenic Operations

I suppose given the circumstances we should be happy at this point in time, since water levels have returned to near “normal” levels in recent days from information we have been gathering as well as following some of the websites related to this issue.  The upside to the whole ordeal is really minor in the big scheme of things because while we were initially scheduled to sail on the new Scenic Opal, we are now on the Scenic Jasper – both of which are brand new and were commissioned only a couple of months apart in the spring of 2015.  All-in-all, could have been a lot worse !

Jewels of Europe – Amsterdam to Budapest itinerary

For all those who are not familiar or whom have expressed interest in the river cruise (this will be our second one, after having done numerous ocean cruises over the years), so here is the itinerary to whet your appetite. Click on the image below to enlarge it.


Amsterdam to Budapest Itinerary

This journey provides Lisa and I with the opportunity to visit four countries that we have not yet been to, namely Austria, Czech Republic, Slovakia, and Hungary.  In fact, the only city that we have been to on this itinerary is Amsterdam, even though we have been in Germany several times, but not to any of the ports on this excursion so we are very excited at the prospect of seeing many new places, a variety of people and cultures, and the incredible culinary adventure that awaits us.

My infatuation for photographing Cathedrals and what’s upcoming

I do hope that the good lord will forgive my use of the word infatuation when I’m speaking of “his house”, but over the years and in particular as my photographic skills have drastically improved in both technique and perspective, it has never ceased to amaze me how spectacular some of the churches or cathedrals we have visited in Europe truly are.

This is another example of one, and I thought it was fitting given that we are about to depart on our next adventure through six countries on a European river cruise with Scenic.  This shot is of the Cathedral of Lyon, ironically shot on our last river cruise in Southern France in August 2013 when we sailed on the Rhone and Saone from Lyon to Arles and back.

Lyon Cathedral

Lyon Cathedral

In doing some research online about many of the ports we will be visiting on this trip, I happened to find three very interesting cathedrals that are now on the ‘must see’ list to photograph which include Regensburg Cathedral (Regensburg), St. Stephen’s Cathedral (Passau), and likely what will be the highlight of the trip for this activity the Melk Abbey (Melk, Austria).  I’m also hoping the Melk Abbey will include an opportunity to see the library which from all accounts is the proverbial “picture is worth a thousand words” snapshot.  Anxious to begin this new adventure and excited about what the journey has in store.

The silence is deafening…

You were born on Valentine’s Day, which is so appropriate as you were so full of affection and unconditional love. Now our home is eerily silent, and our hearts are empty as we have let you go gracefully to be with your brothers Maverick and Monty.



It’s been only 6 weeks since we lost your best buddy Monty, and we were so unprepared for you to go this soon. While we mourn your loss and grieve with so much sorrow, know that you filled our lives with so much happiness and we celebrate that with you today as you run forever in paradise now.

We clung to you so tightly after you slipped peacefully into a deep sleep and letting you go was the hardest thing we ever had to do.  Rest assured that we will see you again one day and we will not forget you until that day comes. We miss you so much already Quincy, the pain is unbearable :-(

Catching a glimpse of an Airbus A380

IH_201407-9932I had a chance to see an Airbus A380 last year when we were transiting through Frankfurt but unfortunately (and for whatever unknown reason I still can’t understand) I did not manage to grab any photos.

The immense size of the aircraft boggles the mind, and all I can think of as I’m sure most people do, is wonder how such a massive piece of engineering marvel can actually get airborne.  Yet it taxis into position and hurdles down the runway lifting off with such grace, its sheer size and weight seem to defy all logic. My only regret is not being able to board one and have a look around.  I have seen an episode on Discovery Channel that highlights the construction and delivery of an A380 to a prospective client, and it’s interesting to note that each one can be configured to the specifications of the airline, but then again, for just slightly under $500 million per unit, would you expect anything less !

IH_201407-9931This year once again we found ourselves back in Frankfurt with a six-hour layover – fortunately in the Maple Leaf lounge, and while enjoying the fruits of their offering, I happened to not one, but two A380′s up close and personal.  As luck would have it, both of them were very close to the lounge we were seated in, and they were at the gate (not at the same time mind you), so I grabbed my 5D3 and snapped these two images along with a  few others.

Remembering Monty

Today is a very difficult day in our little household as Lisa and I had to make the heart-wrenching and extremely painful decision to let one of our babies go.  You filled our lives with wonderful memories and experiences for almost 15 years, and we will never forget you for the unconditional love you gave us.




From the moment we got you at the breeder, you had a mind of your own, and from what we were told about Ragdolls being generally quiet and passive, you certainly defied the stereotype.  You were incredibly strong-willed and everything was on your own terms, but at the end of each day, we knew that you would be close to us with a gentle reminder that your need for attention was real. We miss you tremendously already Monty and the hurt is unbearable. RIP little man.

The difference between Canada and the U.S.

Happy Canada Day everyone, glad I was able to find the difference between our two great nations, this seems to sum it all up :-)

Scenic River Cruises – Jewels of Europe

A few months ago we attended a presentation from Scenic Cruises which was presenting an overview of river cruising and itineraries for 2015.  It was an impressive array of possible sailings, on a cruise line that we had seen in Europe when we did our first river cruise in Southern France last year, and we decided to book Scenic Opal and the Jewels of Europe 15-day sailing for September 2015 from Amsterdam to Budapest.

Why?  Well, have a look at this, I think it pretty much sums up the choice :-)

Around the World in 360 Degrees

This is absolutely the coolest thing I’ve seen in a long time, and I only wish I had thought of this myself but what a fabulous way to capture the moments in your life and the things that matter.  I know one thing for sure…I’ll be doing this with my GoPro 3 Hero from now on !!

Enjoy, and hats off to Alex Chacon and the Modern Motorcycle Diaries for this incredible adventure and experience.

Baltic Rendezvous Voyage

Having just recently returned from a quick getaway to the Pacific coast of Mexico where we vacationed at Secrets Huatulco Resort & Spa, Lisa and I (along with Janice & Steve) somehow just didn’t think we could survive the few months away from our safari adventure in South Africa, and so totally out of the blue an opportunity came up this week that was just to good for us to pass up.

Here is a map showing the various ports that we will be visiting.

Baltic Rendezvous Itinerary

Baltic Rendezvous Itinerary

So with that in mind, we were confirmed earlier this week on the Azamara Journey, a cruise line we have not yet sailed with but are very much looking forward to.  This is a 10-day voyage on the Baltic Sea through some Scandinavian countries, Western Russia and specifically St. Petersburg which just happened to be the primary driver for our decision to do this sailing, and then two ports in northern Germany.  What was really intriguing is that our stop in St. Petersburg is actually for 3 days, which we have never seen before on any cruise we have taken to date but it speaks to the significance of this city and the vast number of things for us to see and do.

Now comes the difficult part, locking down on some tours for each port which will no doubt prove to be a challenge given the late stage we are at before we sail.  But that’s part of the excitement, doing the research and finding the right opportunities.  I know this, we are both visiting places we have never been to and that alone is well worth the planning effort it will take in the short window of time we have to get everything done.

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