I have read some not so complimentary member reviews about Avalon Affinity so I was concerned that I may not have selected the right river cruise. However, I soon discovered that my fears were unfounded.
Our cruise began in Vienna, a wonderful city to explore. Avalon provided a transfer from the Intercontinental Hotel and check-in for the ship could not have been easier. No lines, not hassles.
We had a reception in the main lounge on embarkation day where the cruise director, the captain and hotel manager all introduced themselves and told us what to expect during our cruise.
Our stateroom was very comfortable... about the same size as those on ocean-going ships with a very modern pleasing decor. We especially enjoyed the french balcony and free wifi. While the wifi connection was complementary, the connection to the satellite wasn't always very robust. The memory foam mattress toppers made the beds extremely comfortable. We appreciated the L'Occitane bathroom products provided. Nice touch.
The ship was spotless, with modern European style. Our ship accommodated about 134 passengers with a crew of about 35. So everyone got to know everyone else. We met some wonderful people from various parts of the world.
Dining was open seating with buffet for breakfast and lunch. There are freshly prepared eggs/omelets for breakfast and a carving station at lunchtime in addition to the other buffet items. Dinners were served open seating with a 5-course meal each evening. Main courses usually varied from beef, fish and a pasta or vegetarian offering along with 3 always available items - salmon, steak and chicken. I found the meals to be very good with very nice presentation. The wait staff varied in its efficiency depending upon who served a specific table. But I've found that on large ships as well. Alternatively a "light" breakfast and lunch are also served in the main lounge.
The cruise director held nightly port talks about the towns and cities we were going to visit the following day. While there is no show lounge like on large cruise ships, we did have some light local entertainment on board several nights. The itinerary was very busy with a port (sometimes two) every day. We visited Melk, Grein, Passau, Regensberg, Nuremberg, Bamberg, Wurtzburg, Miltenberg, Rudesheim, Cologne and concluding in Amsterdam. We were on the Danube, Main and Rhine rivers.
Overall, the crew was wonderful and very attentive. The atmosphere on board is very relaxed. We did not find anything to complain about... on the contrary, the entire experience was just wonderful. We would not hesitate to sail on Avalon again. It truly exceeded our expectations.
A word of caution... If you like large, busy ocean-going cruise ships you may not like a river barge. It is very different from a cruise ship experience. This is not a cruise for children. There are no triple/quad cabins. But I can tell you that after having sailed on 40+ ocean cruises, we are hooked on river cruising.