Returned from a river cruise on Avalon Waterways Artistry II. This ship is a little over a year old and is very well maintained.
Entertainment on this ship was sparse but it did not bother me. After a full day sightseeing we were pretty tired after dinner. One night there was a string trio with a classical guitarist that was delightful. The other passengers were lovely and conversation in the lounge and meeting new people was nice.
The food was plentiful, okay, not great except the cream soups which were fantastic. I have never eaten so many different types of cream soup in a one week period. To be fair, my husband and I are picky eaters and do not eat many things. Wine and beer are included with dinner and the crew kept the glasses full. The breakfast buffet was good as was the lunch buffet.
The most amazing thing about the ship is the crew. When we disembarked, I left a very expensive ring in the cabin and did not realize it until I was at the airport. Everyone was extremely helpful,including the bus driver and the bus dispatcher, The ring was found in the room and it was returned to me. The cruise director, Gusta (sorry about the spelling) was fantastic in organizing the return, the room steward, who I assume found it and turned it in was amazing. I will be forever grateful to these wonderful people and Avalon should be extremely proud of their employees.
While everything on board the ship was great, the touring part of the trip was not very good. In Antwerp, Ghent and Maastricht, were started touring at 8:30AM when nothing is open and finished in about an hour and a half, then given about 45 minutes on our own. I believe we should have been allowed more time in these ports. Part of this hurried touring I am sure was because the cruise line wanted to sell optional tours. In Ghent we could stay downtown, but at other locations we had to get back on board because they were moving the ship. I was a long way to travel to see nothing, especially in a city like Antwerp where there is alot to see. We spent half a day in Veere to see a dyke which I felt would be better suited to a middle school trip. It is a very impressive dyke but really not that interesting unless you are an engineer.
While most of the local guides were fine, we had a bad experience visiting the Ryksmuseum in Amsterdam. The guide took us to the wrong gate, left the vouchers on the bus and basically wasted an hour of a three hour trip. She also was the guide in the museum and I believe she was making up the commentary as she went along. She pointed out a candlestick in one of the old master paintings and told us that the artist painted it as a phallus "to be used for the same purpose that President Clinton used the cigar in the oval office." It just went on and on. If they didnt have a qualified guide available, they should have told us and let us look at the paintings at our own pace.
Would I take another Avalon cruise? Maybe. I would investigate the time in each port very thoroughly before booking.