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Adventures With Robin

Your Go-To Travel Source

Welcome! This space serves as a platform for travel agent Robin Norell to share her trips, experiences and expertise with you. Exceeding your customer service expectations is Robin’s primary goal. Having worked for Disney for 2.5 years, she knows how to make your vacation magic. 

Robin has visited 25 countries (Caribbean, Europe, Asia) and 31 states, and has been on 26 river and ocean cruises (so far), visited Disney World, Disneyland and Disneyland Paris multiple times, and she is happy to share her travel experiences and knowledge with you to make your vacation the best it can be.

Robin has been awarded the distinguished certifications of CLIA’s (Cruise Lines International Association) ACC (Accredited Cruise Counselor) Certification, as well as earning her CTA (Certified Travel Associate) certification, has completed the College of Disney Knowledge, and continues to learn more about the travel industry every day.

Excelling in administration and customer service, she takes care of all the details, leaving you free to relax and enjoy!

Independent Vacation Planner

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33 Days Across Europe

Background


What? I’m back in Europe again? Yes, I am, and this time I’m traveling solo (for at least part of the trip)! Over the next few weeks I will be traveling to the Netherlands, Belgium, Germany, Hungary, Austria, Czech Republic, and more. The trip is a combination of work and leisure as I will be attending several important travel conferences.

 

It all began with ASTA (American Society of Travel Advisors) announcing that their River Cruise Expo would be held in Amsterdam this year. The Expo is March 13-16, 2024. I previously attended this in 2022 when it was held in Budapest (the first time they ever offered it). This time they are offering travel advisors the option to stay on board the ships during the conference, plus 3 additional river cruise lines would be bringing their ships, and I couldn’t pass that up.



As at previous expos I have attended, they offered options to travel professionals to experience a river cruise after the expo at a reduced rate. Last time Vic (my husband) was supposed to fly over and join me for a cruise on the lower Danube on AmaWaterways after the expo, but his cardiologist said he couldn’t go (perfect example of why you should get travel insurance!), so I flew home after the expo. This time there were several different options for accommodations while attending the expo and cruises after. Since I’ve done the Rhine river twice,


I wanted a 7-night cruise to Belgium (which will be a new country for me). The only cruise offering that is Emerald, which more of a budget line. But the President of ASTA (Zane Kerby) is sailing on this one, so I figured it couldn’t be too bad. While at the expo I will be staying with AmaWaterways.



 

I told my agents about my trip, and two decided to attend – Cindy and Trish. Trish is bringing her husband, but Cindy and I decided to room together. The only problem was that she registered late, and it was already sold out. But she bought her airline ticket anyway and paid to room with me on one of the ships (plus do the post-expo cruise with me), so she was ready if the wait list cleared.

 

In November, I heard that CLIA (Cruise Lines International Association) was doing a river cruise expo, also in Amsterdam, a couple days before ASTA’s event. Since Cindy was still waitlisted for the ASTA conference, I told her if she wanted to go over a couple days earlier I would change my flights and we could do the CLIA expo, in case she couldn’t get into the ASTA, so at least she could tour many of the ships. She said yes, and the trip grew by 3 days on the front end. 



 

The next part of my trip came together because one of my friends, who is also a client, had a dilemma. She and her husband had a deposit on an Avalon river cruise that they were going to do in 2022. They moved it to a 2023 sailing, but then decided to do a private tour of the French vineyards instead. They had already given her an exception to move her deposit once, but if she moved it again it would be the last time. Her husband wasn’t ready to commit to a different river cruise. so she asked me if I wanted to go on a river cruise with her. I said “of course!” I looked at Avalon’s options, and we decided on the Danube Dreams. The earliest date they had it available was April 4-11, 2024, so we booked it and I decided I would just “hang out” in Europe in between. 

 


The Game Plan

 

In case you couldn’t keep up with all that - on March 9th I left home (Colorado) and flew to Amsterdam. From the 11th-13th I will attend the CLIA expo. From the 13th- 16th I will attend the ASTA expo. After that, I will be cruising on the Emerald Dawn through Belgium until the 24th.


I decided after the Belgium river cruise ends in Amsterdam, I would take a train to Berlin and visit some old friends for a few days. Amy (the friend who is doing the 2nd river cruise with me) and I talked about it and we decided she would fly over on April 1 and I would meet her in Prague, we’d spend a couple days, then go down to Budapest to get on the river cruise ship. I debated and researched, and finally decided I would spend 3 nights in Berlin (3/24-3/27). Then I would take the train to Dresden – it’s on the train route between Berlin and Prague, and it sounds like a nice place to visit (mostly famous for being totally destroyed in WW2). That will be my work-sleep-laundry-reenergize time – LOL! 

 



So Dresden 3/27-3/30, then to Prague 3/30. Amy arrives on April 1, the day after Easter, so I will be in Prague on Easter by myself – I’m looking forward to a very different Easter for me! Then Amy and I are in Prague until 4/3, when we take the train to Budapest. We spend one night at a hotel, and then get on the river cruise ship, which spends the first night in Budapest, so we’ll have a couple days to explore the city. Then the river cruise April 4-11, and it ends in Vilshofen, Germany and we fly out of Munich that day.


That makes 33 nights! The longest trip I have taken since I spent 7.5 weeks in Asia in college!  The hardest part of packing was the planning, especially for the cold weather. As we got closer to departure, it was forecasted to be rainy and cooler than we expected. But with almost 5 weeks, it will warm up later in the trip. So I finally decided on a pair of sneakers and a pair of boots, a fleece jacket and a really good (foldable) rain/wind jacket, hat, scarf and gloves. Also, knowing I would have a lot of train stations (which may or may not have elevators and not just stairs), I managed to keep it to my medium sized suitcase and my laptop backpack (which weighed almost as much as the suitcase!). They have stores in Europe if I forgot anything or didn’t pack enough! 

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Robin is an Independent Travel Planner who has been awarded CLIA's (Cruise Line Industry Association's) Accredited Cruise Counselor Certification and The Travel Institute's Certified Travel Associate designation. Her excellent service is yours at no cost - she's paid by the suppliers (hotel, cruise line, etc.), nor does she charge a fee for services. She may even save you money over booking it yourself, as she follows all the specials and will get you a better price after you book with her. When you are planning a family vacation or celebrating a special occasion through travel, you want the best experience possible, and Robin is ready to help you! She provides excellent customer service, and your happiness and satisfaction is her top priority. With the knowledge gained by her extensive travel experience (25 countries, 31 states, and 26 cruises so far) and customer service experience (2.5 years employed at Walt Disney World Resort), she's excited and ready to help you plan new adventures!

Location: Alexandria - VA
Email: Robin.Norell.Travel@gmail.com
Phone: (567) 307-3476
Toll-Free: (866) 779-4830

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