Our first cruise of any type was on the Avalon Vista's Amsterdam - Budapest June 23 - July 7 sailing. In a word - wow! Far exceeded our expectations. We were in one of their suites, mid-level near the stern of the ship. Our first night because we were in port with no engines running and we were so tired after being up for 30 hours we slept like a log. First time we've experienced sleeping in a bed with no sheets, just the two twins pushed together with about a 2 inch foam mattress pad over the top to make a queen and two duvet covers, one for each person. Wife said it was great having her own cover and me not taking it all night. lol Early up next morning for an 8:30 am canal cruise in the rain. The only thing we weren't happy with was having to get up so early every morning, 6:30 - 7:00, to have breakfast and then get ready to go on their morning excursions. Obviously we're late risers.
The cruise, cruise director Andrzej (Andre) Sanakiewicz, and all the waiters especially Ilie, Michael and Ginda and our maid Cinthia were fantastic and calling us by our first names within 2 days. Captain Hank you could talk to anytime he was out of his pilot house and you could also visit him in there. Our first night of cruising we became very used to the engine noise and would only wake up when they shut them down for a lock or sped up. Then of course we'd have to look out the HUGE door/windows to see where we were and what we were doing. The way the bed is layed out so you could lay there watching the world go by is fantastic.
Food was awesome and menus for lunch and dinner were posted on the tv daily. Breakfast buffet was always the same, lots to choose from and to vary your choices daily. Lunch buffet was different every day or you could order something from your waiter. Dinners ranged from 4 - 7 courses and we found them to be excellent. I had a seared butter fish one night that has to have been the best fish dish I've ever eaten.
Most of our included excursions were well run by local tour guides, 2 not so great, and we only did 2 of the "pay for" one to Zaanse Schans in Amsterdam and the Vienna Concert both of which we're glad we took in. The one day when most of the passengers were off on 10 hour excursions from Passau we stayed on board and sailed down the Danube, best decision we made sitting on top deck seeing all the villages, etc. as we past by.
Free wine and beer with dinner, wish they also included it for lunch, and sparkling wine with breakfast. Drinks in the lounge weren't cheap but they have a 2 for 1 happy hour before dinner and a special cocktail every day.
Unfortunately our first night at dinner we heard someone do the big cough and we both said oh bleep and by the end of the cruise most passengers were experiencing some symtoms of a nasty cold. Wife missed the Farewell dinner and excursions in Bratislave and Budapest. There were hand sanitizers at the entrance to the restaurant and as well as you came on board and were well used. Met lots of people, tables ofr 2, 4, 6 and 8. Most were from Australia and New Zealand, 4 from Canada, 16 from USA and a few from UK.
Would we do it again? Maybe. River cruises are expensive and flights from Western Canada to Europe also very expensive. We feel we got good value for our buck and saw history that we never thought we ever would. Visiting about 13 or so churches and cathedrals became a bit much by the end of the trip but the cathedrals are really awesome to visit. And most allowed you to take pictures, even with flash.
If we were to do it again we'd definitley go over a couple days early and stay an extra day or two at the end.