What can I say that "Lorri1962" hasn't already said? We had a wonderful time and met many really great people. Rather than repeat what she said, go read Lorri1962's review, I agree 100% with it.
It was very peaceful and quite on the top deck, late in the evening, while sailing through the canals waving to the campers on shore with their bon fires blazing. No noise from the engines or exhaust fumes either, and because of our speed and the calm waters the Affinity made no noise to speak of. One could have a very quite conversation in the very warm air. Daytime temps in some places were about 36 degrees C. It was almost like cruising down the river on a cloud, with bar service.
I think the cruise line did a fantastic job considering the issues presented to them. The water in the Danube was low enough that when we went through the Danube Gorge (on a tourist, tour boat, not the Affinity) I could see the bottom of the river. In fact we were told that the water was so low , the previous day, the gorge tours had been cancelled. The captain also mentioned that in some spots the water under the keel of Affinity was about 12 inches. At one point the Affinity had to off load fuel, to lighten its load (while we were on a shore tour) to pass a particularly low spot (high spot on the river bottom?).
The other major challenge for Captain Van der Lea, was the bridge under construction at Frankfurt, which further delayed us, as we couldn't pass. Ships were lined up at various locks waiting for passage, which also added to the delays. Even after passing Frankfurt, there were delays as a result of all the ships backed up at the locks. The Captain, actually turned the ship around, in the middle of the narrow canal, and headed back to Frankfurt (about 20 minutes) so we could board motor coaches to take us to the Rhine gorge. Reported waits were up to three hours.
Sylvia, the cruise director was wonderful at dealing with unexpected situations and coming up with work arounds that made it seem as if nothing was amiss. In fact we got to see the Rhine gorge twice. Once during the day, from a local tour boat, which also included an unscheduled stop to tour Rheinfels castle, and then, after rejoining the Affinity, a sail past at night, where we could see the castles lit up by lights. The initial tour sheet indicated only a sale past of the gorge in the morning, with an on board narration.
We used motor coaches to speed ahead of Affinity, do the tours, and then return back to Affinity which had been sailing towards us, as we toured. While Affinity was forced to follow the waterways, the buses could take short cuts.
Because of all the time we lost with the Frankfurt bridge, we had to bypass Cologne, which was an included stop/tour. The goal was to get everybody to Amsterdam, in time to make their connections.
As it was Sylvia made arrangements for motor coaches to take us from Dusseldorf to Volendam (242km), and then to Amsterdam (for the included canal cruise) because at our current speed we would not make Amsterdam by river, until almost midnight.
With the included canal cruise, free time in Amsterdam was 45 minutes, before we had to return to the ship. It was supposed to be the better part of a day.
We rejoined Affinity at the last set of locks, for the final sail into Amsterdam a few hours later. We made Amsterdam about 20:00hrs. The original program had us in Amsterdam in the morning for breakfast.
Every evening we had three main entrees to choose from, one veggie, one fish, and one red meat. The wine and beer was gratis and made for very enjoyable conversations with many people from all over the world. Monika waited on us well in the dinning room and was always smiling and attentive.
Victoria did an excellent job of caring for our guest room. She seemed to have magical powers to appear, do the work, then disappear, without us knowing she had ever been there. We did love the towel art, it was better than we normally see. Petya at the front desk was spectacular, remembering our names, and room number after only a few days, so that every time we went to get a shore pass, she automatically new what to give us. Not to mention that she seemed to have a 6th sense for reading our minds when we were asking for other information. She always seemed to have the answers before we completed the request.
Some locks can be claustrophobic, with the ship having only 24cm clearance on each side of the vessel, and at the bottom of a lock with an 80 foot displacement, it does look overwhelming sometimes.
From me, nothing. Others complained about trivial things, like only one chair in a guest room, not two, or the size of the hooks on the back of the doors, two duvets, instead of one. All the rooms, except for the suites are around 172 sq ft, not a lot of room for a second chair. The little hooks work really well with coat hangers. Personally, I like two duvets, there's no fighting for the covers.
Some people on the upper decks complained about the AC not being effective, when the sun shone on their side of the ship. Please note that this is a feature that you pay extra for. Those of us in the basement, (partially below the waterline), had no such problem. LOL
Rooms (ours anyway) are wired for 220 volts 50Hz, European style receptacles. I did not see anything in the room, for 115 VAC.
Hair dryer supplied.
Mini Bar fridge has room for your own beer (well two .5 liter bottles anyway, tested and proven). The white wine chilled nicely on the horizontal AC duct, grills
Bath robes and slippers supplied.
Forward facing camera, available for viewing, on in room TV
Only ever saw two people in the fitness room.
The included room safe is small, Playbook fit fine, maybe even a iPad, but probably not a laptop.
Two for one happy hour most days.
Keep your head down when passing under bridges on the canal, in some cases I could reach up and touch the underside of the bridge as we passed under it, and that, from a seated position.
Average age was 55 plus.
If you get left behind while on a tour, (yes you "Frank") the tour director will hunt you down like a Aussie Blueheeler, sheep dog, and get you back to the flock on board the ship.LOL
Most memorable on board moment, was passing under, within inches, a bridge, and turning around to see the captain steering the vessel, in the now retracted wheel house, standing in the skylight, and ducking to avoid hitting the bridge with his head, while wearing a sombrero.
Embarkation and disembarkation went remarkably easy, no security checks, no passport checks, no immigration, nothing, just drop your luggage at the pickup point, board and go (well they did check your name off a list).
Oh and by the way, there are no lifeboats on a river cruise boat, from any cruise line we saw on the river.
There is one small motor boat, which made me think of the Costa Concordia, perhaps only for the........
Well I asked about that and was told that the canals are only 4 meters deep, that's just over 12 feet. In other words, there isn't enough water to sink in. The small motor boat was used to wash the windows on the lowest deck, and probably to pick up guest that fall over board.
We have been on many ocean cruises, and this was our first river cruise. We had pushed ocean cruises to the bottom of our vacation to do list, and generally lumped all cruises together, down at the bottom. But after this river cruise, we have now placed river cruising at the top of our vacation list, while leaving ocean cruising still at the bottom.
Certainly the entertainment is not that of a major cruise liner, but we were here to see Europe, not dancers in fancy costumes.
We most likely will be sailing with Avalon again, but to be honest, we haven't tried any other river cruise lines.
Bring lots of memory sticks for your camera. Between the wife and myself we snapped 2700 pixs and videos this trip.
Sorry for the long delay in posting this report, but I had to do my personal trip report and slide show first, of which this is a small subset.