This was our first river boat cruise. We chose Avalon because they were recommended by friends and we were not disappointed. Not having been on any other river boat, I do not have any comparison but I will say the Vista was a wonderful ship.
We sailed from Budapest to Amsterdam August 4 - August 18. This trip far exceeded our expectations.
The rooms were much smaller than in a cruise ship, but very comfortable and the bathroom is gorgeous. The bed faced the huge sliding glass door which made it nice for view in scenery if we were in our room relaxing.
The cruise director, Helmet, did an excellent job each night detailing the excursions (both included and optional) and sharing bit of interesting information about the ports for the next day. We took every included excursion and a few of the optional excursions. Helmet was always around during the excursions to answer questions and give directions. We thoroughly enjoyed every one of the excursion, we found them fun and with enough variety to be interesting. Yes, there were a lot of churches and castles.
All of the crew members were very friendly, professional and helpful. Our waiters Ginda and Micheal were attentive and made us feel special (isn't' that why we take cruise so that for a few days we can feel very special - Ginda did an exceptional job of doing just that).
Food was very good! Breakfast buffet was similar each morning, but enough variety that it did not get boring. Sparkling wine and a variety of juices were available each morning, which meant you could have a mimosa. The lunch buffet was different every day offering both some delicious and different hot and cold soups. The carving station offered excellent selections of meats and although I did not eat any pasta, the offerings all looked delicious. If you are not a buffet person, you can choose items from the menu that will be served to you by your waiter. If you are a light eater, there was a lunch served at the back of the lounge, usually consisted of soup, small sandwiches and salads and of course a desert. The dinner menu each night was different and again the food was excellent and included a choice of white and red wine. Did I mention the deserts - YUM!!!
Each evening we had some sort of entertainment. Although the entertainment cannot be as expansive or as elaborate as the entertainment on the cruise ships, we found entertainment varied and very enjoyable; a nice way to end the day.
Would we take another river boat cruise, yes if we liked the itinerary? Would we sail with Avalon again - definitely!!