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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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The Journey Begins. March 10-11

Sunday March 10, 2024 



My plane landed on time at a little after 8am. That’s 8am Amsterdam time, of course – Mountain time was technically 12am, but in the US we were setting our clocks ahead an hour for daylight savings time this morning, so after 2am Mountain time, there is only a 7 hour difference. At least until March 20, when Europe changes their clocks, and then we’ll be back to being 8 hours difference from Colorado (but only 6 from the east coast). Got that? LOL! I came through passport control, my bag was right there, and I went out and got in my Uber.


At my hotel at a little after 9am! I am staying at the Renaissance Amsterdam Hotel. I debated taking a nap, but I actually felt pretty awake (despite only sleeping for a couple hours at the most on the plane). I had reserved our hotel room for last night too to guarantee an early check in, so I went up to the room and did a little work, then went downstairs for breakfast. Cindy’s flight was drastically delayed – her 10am arrival became a 2:30pm arrival at the airport, 3:40pm at the hotel.


We stayed at the hotel for a while, and then we went down and asked the Concierge for a recommendation for dinner – healthy food options, walking distance. He recommended “Sla,” which is Dutch for Salad. It was about a 10 minute walk there – nice salad bar kind of place! A bit chillier on the walk back because we were walking into the wind. 





If you don’t know, in Amsterdam, beware the bikes! There are many, many more bikes than cars – so much easier to get around on the little bridges that are too small for cars. But you have to watch for them like you do any moving vehicle because they are fast and they have the right of way!  

To adjust to the time change (8 hours for me,  6 for Cindy), we stayed up until 9 and then went to sleep


Monday  March 11 


Today is the first day of the CLIA (Cruise Lines International Association) Europe RiverView conference.  They will have 11 ships here – we will eat lunch on one,  and have dinner and sleep on 2. These were assigned by CLIA, and we found out our assignments less than a week ago.  Our lunch ship is Riverside Debussey, and we are sleeping on Emerald Dawn and Nicko Spirit.  I already had a dinner planned on the Riverside ship (spring the next conference, the ASTA River Cruise Expo). And we are already on the Emerald Dawn for a week starting Sunday (our post expo cruise). And Nicko is a European brand I never heard of.  But it is a chance to experience different cruise lines,  and Cindy (whose registration at the ASTA expo was only confirmed last week) didn't get a choice of her meals,  so this will be her only chance to dine on Riverside. 


We had breakfast at our hotel, and then took an Uber to the Muziegebouw, located on the water right next to the Mövenpick hotel and the Passenger terminal for larger ships.  This is where the registration for the conference is, and Cindy signed up for the New to Selling River Cruises session (11am-1pm).  



After we got our badges,  we checked our suitcases and sat down.  I struck up a conversation with a woman seated nearby – she is from England and had never been to this conference before either.  At around 11am, they announced the session was starting, so Cindy went up to the session and I sat down to work.  I didn't work for long – a group of two women and one man asked if they could sit with me.  They too are from England and we sat and talked until they brought out lunch.  


Cindy finally came down around 1pm (we thought it ended at 12pm), and had lunch.  Then around 1:45pm, they opened the doors and we went into the first general session.



There are 540 registered, and based on the presentations (and overhearing nearby conversations), most are from England. 50% of the travel advisors registered have never been on a river cruise ship, and a large portion have never sold one. 70% are attending this conference for the first time.  


Key Takeaways

 

  • A big theme being talked about is how unique river cruising is because it allows you to visit more countries and cultures in a shorter time than other forms of cruising.

  • One panel had reps from two river cruise lines, and one man who just recently traveled on his first river cruise. The first timer remarked he was surprised by the various ages of the passengers (he thought he’d be the youngest and he definitely wasn't), good choice of food options, and  it's a really good value for the money (even though they are often not cheap).

  • On the flexibility, one cruise line exec said that on any given day, an average of 10% of the passengers don't participate in the excursions (despite being included on many lines). A couple of the cruise lines said they have a device they give their passengers who want to explore on their own – guided by GPS, it is an audio walking tour of the town or city.  

  • The River Cruise lines are also extending their seasons – some go through the holidays and have New Year’s cruises (picture the castles on the Rhine covered in snow!), and some are starting as early as February.  


Time to Board


After the session ended,  we claimed our luggage and walked to the Emerald Dawn,  the ship on which we had been assigned for dinner and sleeping for tonight.  

We boarded around 6:30pm and dinner was at 7:30pm. The room was fine, and it was nice to have a sneak preview of where we'll be sleeping next week on our cruise to Belgium.  



Dinner was good – the server was very helpful with our dietary restrictions. I had sesame crusted catfish and Cindy had the beef – very tender.  We told him we were coming back on Sunday for a week,  and he said he would let the chef know so they would be prepared. 

I ordered a salad and asked about the dressing options.  He asked what kind I wanted and I said my favorite is raspberry vinaigrette.  He said they didn't have that,  and then went to confirm what they did have. He came back and said the chef would make the dressing for me when we come back this weekend!  

We finished dinner around 9:15pm and went to our room.  After a couple phone calls home,  we went to bed.  



 



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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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