As part of the dual christening ceremonies with Avalon Impression, I had the chance to spend three nights on Avalon Poetry II, cruising from Cologne, Germany to Amsterdam. Below is a selection of my first impressions of “the ship,” made before its godmother — British three-time Olympic silver medalist and gold medal rower at the London 2012 Olympics, Katherine Grainger — broke the bubbly over the bow:
The ‘Panorama Suites’ are panoramic. It’s a remarkably simple concept: Give staterooms a full-wall of window that opens up to the scenery and environment of the river. There’s no better way to connect passengers with their surroundings, and it’s a great feature on Avalon’s suite ships.
So many people are adopting a focus on the indoor/outdoor space in their homes these days. Avalon’s take has also added square footage to cabins by using what would be balcony square footage inside the cabin. To make the most of the view, Avalon has rejigged the room configuration by angling the wall between the bathroom and the bedroom at an angle. The bed faces the window and slightly forward. While the cabins are not true suites, there is a small loveseat and chair situated around a small coffee table, tucked against the floor-to-ceiling window.
The top decks of the ship feel bigger than they are. At only 361 feet, it’s certainly not the biggest ship on the Rhine, but I think the secret to Poetry II’s spacious feel lies in its split-level design. The prow section of the ship, where most of the areas for socializing are contained, is dropped slightly, creating interesting sight lines, particularly on the ship’s third deck. Looking down the stateroom corridor, even from the far end, gives one a vantage over the reception and main lounge, increasing the sense of spaciousness. And the split-level top deck has the same effect.
Conversely, the lower decks feel tucked away. With the lower set levels in the ship’s bow, the dining room (called simply “Restaurant”) is positioned midway between the bottom and middle decks, and much closer to the waterline than most of the river cruise ships I’ve been on. It has a womb-like feel, kind of low and dark, which is comforting. On the other hand, only one side of the dining room had a view when we were docked alongside a levy wall in Holland.
The bed is really, really comfortable. Like sinking into a cloud; I thought I preferred harder mattresses, but this ship is making me rethink that. The reconfigurable beds, while still two separate twin mattresses, are overlaid (as they should be!) with a plush foam mattress topper. The combination of that and a comfortable mattress gave me one of the better night’s sleeps I’ve had onboard a cruise ship in quite a while.
Be careful on the stairs! The increased number of levels on the ship, due to its split-level design, mean there are more stairs to navigate. Even though I’m a coordinated person, I’ve had no less than three near falls on various staircases around the ship. The stairs around reception are tipped with metal, creating a lip that extends just slightly beyond the stair itself. I find the metal lip sticks on the treads of my shoe.