TOURS: This is not for first time cruisers if you wish to see developed cities and sights. This hearkens back to Communist and WWII era and developing countries. Still our traveling mates, first time river cruisers enjoyed this immensely. We had included shore excursions in most every port which were of high quality and were gauged for leisure, normal, and rapid paced travelers. We found the leisurely paced was best, mainly because of lower ratio of passengers-guide. We were introduced to a number of very interesting monasteries, churches, prehistoric ruins, evidence of Roman, Ottoman, German, Soviet, Serbian, Croatian and Austro-Hungarian control of these areas before we got to Budapest, Bratislava, Vienna. The people (especially our included home visit for lunch) were great and quite gracious. The included book from Avalon gave much information about the highlights.
ACCOMODATIONS: fairly large for river cruise ship 172 sq. ft. cabins and 258 sq. ft. suite- if you can get one of the suites, they are highly recommended for your comfort and bathroom facilities especially if you're traveling with another couple. They were very clean and service staff very helpful with our requests.
ENTERTAINMENT: restricted to very pleasant electronic piano, somewhat interesting destination talks, but could have benefitted by an experienced lecturer on Eastern Europe, or lower Danube lecturer. Sometimes local entertainment from shore (dancing and singing group) was available.
DINING: being a fish lover, I was very pleased! I thought they must have had an aquarium aboard, because of the variety of fish, expertly prepared for dinner. For beef, pork lovers the cuts of meat were good, but could benefit by a higher grade (choice, prime) cut of meat. The breakfast and lunch buffets were excellent with many choices including an omelet station with eggs cooked to order (great poached eggs), and variety of salads and several hot dishes for lunch. Sodas were included with lunch, wine was good (not great)and beer (very good) with supper. Be sure to send one person down for the favored 6 at a table settings- they go fast at this all eat at the same time policy. The service could not have been more gracious- possibly the best on ANY cruise I have been!! The restaurant mgr. Cristina was most helpful in accommodating our dietary (lactose sensitivity) concerns. PRE &
POST HOTELS: Athenee Hilton in Bucharest excellent, ****Falkensteiner in Vienna- poor location, not within walking distance of sights and staff from Avalon did not know much about the locale. Those who stayed at***** Intercontinental probably had a much better experience WORTH IT? Absolutely, we will travel again with Avalon. We met many interesting people who are very well versed and in our age group- most were in 60-70 age range