We thoroughly enjoyed our cruise with Avalon. There were about 130 passengers - American/Canadian/UK/Australians and New Zealanders. The size of the boat and flexible dining, made it more personal and we enjoyed meeting a very wide range of people.
The hard working crew and our outstanding cruise director made the best of some difficult circumstances when low water levels and a complete closure of the river near Frankfurt (due to the construction of a new bridge) for more than 24 hrs resulted in some major changes to the schedule and a delayed arrival in Amsterdam.
Not all of the contingencies worked but most guests seemed to understand and appreciate the huge effort made to try to offer alternatives to the schedule and ensure everyone got to see what they wanted to see.
Most days had an included walking tour of the port of call and a good range of optional tours (varied in cost). Guides ranged from good to excellent. Reasonable free time was allocated although the nature of group touring limits flexibility. We now have a long list of beautiful villages and cities in Germany that we would like to visit again.
The ship is very well maintained by a diligent multi-national crew. Our room was compact but well appointed and housekeeping were very attentive. The bathroom was small but adequate. We found our beds and bedding quite comfortable. Storage was not a problem given that we could slide our suitcases under the bed once unpacked.
The in-room TV had a good range of channels as well as an impressive range of movies (some selected for their connection to the areas we were travelling through)
Public areas on the ship were very comfortable although we did find the back lounge stuffy on very hot days. (It was unseasonally warm in Europe during our visit - so this wasnt the ships fault)
Self-serve tea/coffee and biscuits were available 24/7 from the back lounge as well as a good range of books and board games.
Meals on board were very generous and consistently of a very good standard given the challenges of preparing 500 meals a day in what was a extremely tight kitchen (guests were given a tour of the kitchen by the head chef and it certainly made me appreciate the challenges they face).
Breakfasts included a regular range of continental and American style items with a cook who did eggs to order and (most days) there was a "special" dish available on request. Most days, champagne was available free of charge to those who wanted it.
Lunches included a good range of items although we did find the buffet arrangement and layout a little cramped and chaotic in busy times. Alcohol could be purchased but softdrinks were complimentary.
Dinners were a 4 or 5 course "restaurant" style with choices available for starter, main (I think the Americans called this their "Entree") and dessert. Wines and Beers were included with dinner and a wide range of cocktails/beer/wine and spirits were available in the bar lounge at other times.
I am genuinely surprised by other reviewers who have been so negative about the food on the Avalon Affinity. It certainly wasnt our experience - we were very well fed and thought the kitchen and wait staff did a terrific job.
Entertainment was limited but fine. (Anyone expecting those glitsy caberet/Las Vegas style performances should book a mega cruise line in the Caribbean).
There were two computers and a printer available for guests in the foyer with internet access and although free wifi is available, being satellite, it was patchy and at times unreliable. But - we were on holiday for goodness sake - so if it wasnt working we tried again later!
We were very impressed with the skill of the crew in navigating more than 60 locks and at times, quite heavy river traffic. The occasional bump in the night when going through those tricky locks is to be expected.
Vessels navigating the European river systems are limited in size to fit under low bridges, into tight locks and through stretches of river that are quite shallow at times. Therefore you wont find an olympic size swimming pool, a casino or a 500seat theatre on the Affinity
Guests should not expect the same range of facilities provided by the mega cruise boats - this is a different type of cruise - more intimate and relaxed - and we were very satisfied with our experience on the Avalon Affinity.