Viking River Cruises Floating Hotel

Friday January 9, 2015 at 6:06 AM | 2 Comments

Are you curious about a river cruise? Wondering what the differences are between a river cruise and a hotel stay? I recently had the opportunity to join Viking River Cruises on the Romantic Danube; exploring the Christmas Markets of Europe from Nuremberg to Budapest . Viking River Cruises are offered year round, so if you prefer traveling to Europe in the spring, summer or fall, this river cruise is for you!

Viking Delling, Melk, Austria, Danube river

Viking Delling in Melk, Austria. Photo © 2014 Nancy D. Brown


Viking River Cruises Martijn Kamphuis (MK) shares how he came to be a hotel manager on the Viking Delling Longship.

MK: I started in the restaurant business when I was 14 and had the goal to be a hotel manager. I was lucky to make a career out of it. I have a degree in Hotel Management from the Netherlands. It has always been my hobby and I was able to make a job out of my hobby.

Viking River Cruises, Viking Delling, restaurant

Dining options aboard Viking Delling longship. Photo © 2014 Nancy D. Brown

What’s the difference between a bricks and mortar hotel & river boat cruising?

MK: The differences are of course that no moments are the same.  On a Viking Longship, the scenery is always changing. And furthermore, the contact with the guests is totally different than a land- based hotel. With a hotel, the contact with the guests is limited to check in, check out, breakfast and dinner.

As for a floating hotel, you are with the guests almost 24 hours a day, and then for the entire cruise. On the other side, of course you have different logistic issues such as deliveries of goods. These details really need to be planned in advance.

Martijn Kamphuis, hotel manager, Viking River Cruises

Hotel Manager Martijn Kamphuis welcomes guests on Viking Delling. Photo © 2014 Nancy D. Brown


What are the similarities of river boat cruising and a hotel?

MK: There are similarities; in general the whole process of service is the same.

Besides only having to unpack once during your travels, what makes river cruising unique compared to a hotel stay?

MK: One very important thing is the possibility of visiting cities and sailing through countries without any worries; everything is taken care of.

To elaborate on Martijn’s above statement on sailing without worries, it should be noted that Viking sends each guest travel documents pre-trip, as well as providing daily itineraries in room. Trip documents include:
itinerary-specific information booklet
travel companion destination book
leather luggage tag
self-stick luggage tags
transfer stickers
keepsake travel wallet

Esterhazy cake, Viking longship, Viking River Cruises

Regional cuisine, like this Esterhazy Cake from Hungary, is featured on board Viking Longships. Photo © 2014 Nancy D. Brown


What are some of the misconceptions with regard to river cruising?

MK: The biggest misconception is that people think river cruising is only for older people. River cruising is for everyone! We see multi-generations and when we have complete families on board, we see that they are all enjoying it.

Viking Delling crew, Viking River Cruises, restaurant

Some of the Viking Delling crew. Photo © 2014 Nancy D. Brown


Tell us about the amenities of Viking River Cruises (VRC)

MK: I think one of the great amenities is the fact that we take care of everything. In addition we have Viking house brands. Our biggest amenity is the type of ships we offer; you always have the same onboard experience – feel the same confident atmosphere.

Is there a hot tub on board a longship?

MK: Viking Longships deliver the comfort, the view and the service. We don’t have space for hot tubs or fitness areas on board. We are specialized in providing the services for it locally through our concierge.

Viking Delling, suite, Viking River Cruises

French Balcony Stateroom 335 aboard Viking Delling. Photo © 2014 Nancy D. Brown


What are the difference in room categories?

MK: We have the comfort stateroom, veranda room with balcony, veranda suites with separate living room and Explorer Suites.

When is the best time of year to book for value cruising?

MK: Viking always offers the itineraries that are fitting for the seasons. There’s always beauty and the cities are always wonderfully changing throughout the seasons.


When is your favorite time of year to cruise?

MK: I don’t have a favorite time of year. Each season offers different opportunities; in springtime the tulip and windmills in the Netherlands and Belgium and in summer, the European cruises and in winter during the holiday season the Christmas Market cruises.

life ring, Viking Delling, Viking River Cruises

Cruising the Romantic Danube on Viking Delling. Photo © 2014 Nancy D. Brown


Insider Tip
Do you love sharing your vacation photos with family and friends as they unfold or are you worried about staying connected with work while you travel? Viking River Cruises offers complimentary internet access and two computer stations on board all longships. For additional insider tips follow Luxury Travel Writer Nancy D. Brown on Twitter @Nancydbrown and follow @VikingRiver on Twitter.

If You Go:

Viking River Cruises
More information may be found on the Viking River Cruises website,

Article written by, video and photos courtesy of Travel Writer Nancy D. Brown of What a Trip, Travels from Northern California. Disclosure: thanks to the folks at Viking River Cruises for making this trip possible. This was my first time on a river cruise and I loved it! All opinions are my own.

Review: OtterBox Defender Case iPhone 6

Wednesday January 7, 2015 at 6:06 AM | 0 Comments

Otterbox, iPhone 6, travel gear

Otterbox iPhone 6 Defender Case travel gear review.

It’s that time of year – time for a new iPhone upgrade – which means a new Otterbox to protect my smartphone investment. I have been reviewing and a fan of the Otterbox Defender Case series since 2009.

As a freelance writer specializing in equestrian travel, I have come to rely on Otterbox triple-layer of protection for my iPhone. Not only does the Defender Case protect my smartphone against drops from the back of a horse, it keeps the dust away from my phone and protects my screen from scratches during my active travel adventures.

Otterbox color

Like my luggage and travel apparel, I shy away from basic black. I typically opt for shades of blue in my luggage, clothing and swimwear. It makes perfect sense to go with the Moroccan Sky shade of blue offered in the Otterbox graphics collection. I’ve always preferred a horse of a different color! In honor of my husband and son, the hunters, my OtterBox from 2013 featured Realtree camo patterns in pink. For those of you who prefer your phone to stand out in a crowd, the Colorado-based company offers the option to build your own Otterbox case, as well as NFL football team options.

iPhone 6, Otterbox

Apple’s lightning to 30-pin adapter for iPhone 6 doesn’t work with Otterbox defender case.


Insider Tip

While I am happy with my Otterbox case, I am not happy with how the case works with my Mini Cooper vehicle. I purchased the iPhone Lightning 30-pin Adapter to accommodate the iPhone 6 for battery charging purposes and was disappointed to learn that the adapter isn’t long enough to fit with the defender case. I have two options, uses the iPhone (and my Bluetooth option) without plugging in or I have to remove my smartphone case to make the connection. First world problems, I know, but still a bit frustrating. Do you have a solution for my dilemma?
For additional insider tips follow Luxury Travel Writer Nancy D. Brown on Twitter @Nancydbrown and follow @Otterbox on Twitter.

iPhone 6, smartphone

iPhone 6 charging without Otterbox case.

Otterbox Defender Case

Suggested retail price: $59.95

Otterbox, otterbox case

Love my Otterbox case


Otterbox provided me with the iPhone 6 Defender case for review purposes. All opinions are my own. Travel gear review and Defender case photos courtesy of Travel Writer Nancy D. Brown. Top photo courtesy of Otterbox.

Review: Hotel La Ferme

Friday January 2, 2015 at 7:07 AM | 4 Comments

It’s called “The Farm” but this upscale four star hotel, tucked in the charming village of Baie-Saint-Paul, is anything but rustic. With clean, straight lines and five ultra modern pavilions situated within the hotel grounds, Hotel La Ferme is a time traveler’s delight while still rooted in old world charm.

You won’t find farm animals wondering about, but, depending on the time of year you visit, you will see cows grazing in pastures, surrounded by tall sunflower stalks waving in the breeze. That’s the vision I have etched in my mind when I reflect back to my two hour scenic train ride from Québec City on Le Train du Massif. The train actually pulls right up next to the hotel to let passengers disembark – a fabulous and deceptively convenient way to capture hotel guests and welcome them to the upscale property.

"Hotel La Ferme" Quebec, Canada

Hotel La Ferme. Photo © 2014 Nancy D. Brown


Even if you are not staying at the 147 room resort, you’ll want to come inside to admire the architecture, with its sliding barn doors, or pull up a stool and have a slice of pizza from the wood fired oven of Les Labours restaurant.

pizza, Les Labours, Le Massif, Canada

Mushroom pizza at Les Labours restaurant. Photo © 2014 Nancy D. Brown



My superior room with queen bed #120, rented for $229 Canadian during an early October weekend, check the website for current pricing. I loved the back-to-nature farm theme that appeared throughout the hotel and on the wall above my bed. Better yet, the heated tile flooring in the bathroom reminded me that I was in for a luxurious and relaxing overnight.

Spa du Verger

Make sure to save time for a visit to Spa du Verger with its Nordic baths of hot and cold plunge pools, Finnish sauna and eucalyptus steam room. Remember to pack your swimsuit and flip flops to wear during this thermal experience or the spa will sell you a pair of rubber sandals. Spa experience, $20 Canadian for hotel guests or $35 Canadian for visitors to the hotel. Check website for current prices.


"Spa Du Verger", "Baie-Saint-Paul", Canada

Spa Du Verger. Photo © 2014 Nancy D. Brown

Insider Tips
I took the 2 hour Le Train de Massif de Charelvoix ride from Quebec City to Baie-Saint-Paul in the Charlevoix region of Quebec – a scenic and relaxing way to travel. If you happen to be visiting the area on a Sunday, be sure and stop by the farmers’ market.

"Hotel La Ferme", hotel room

Superior queen room. Photo © 2014 Nancy D. Brown

For additional insider tips follow Luxury Travel Writer Nancy D. Brown on Twitter @Nancydbrown and follow @leMassif on Twitter.

Check-In Time: 4:00pm

Check-Out Time: 12:00pm

If You Go:

Hôtel La Ferme – Le Massif de Charlevoix +1 418-240-4100
50 Rue de la Ferme,
Baie-Saint-Paul, Québec G3Z 0G2, Canada

Article written by, video and photos courtesy of Travel Writer Nancy D. Brown of What a Trip, Travels from Northern California. I was a guest of Tourism Quebec. All opinions are my own.