This was our first river cruise on any line. Before deciding, we researched many options and since we were a fairly large group (six couples), chose Avalon for the destination (wanted multiple countries), price, and generally good reviews. We were not disappointed, but as I said it was our first river cruise, so we did not have much to compare it to.
The itinerary was wonderful, with 3 small towns and 3 cities we got a good mix of experiences. I would highly recommend the side trip to Chesky Krumlof, which was extra, but other than that, each stop included informative local tours, with listening devices for each person. Our guides were local, and spoke excellent English. We took the wine tasting option in Grein, and it was a tour as good as any in Napa or elsewhere.
The food was great, buffet service for breakfast and lunch, with options to order off the menu for lunch. Dinner was 4 courses of delicousness wrapped up with plenty of wine. All the passengers could be seated in the dining room, and so just one seating. This allowed for much getting acquainted with others. Everyone was friendly and happy, folks from England, New Zealand, Austrailia and Canada as well as the U.S.
They also offered cookies, donuts, and muffins with 24 hour coffee in the back of the ship, and sandwiches, sweets and tea in the afternoon. Happy hour started an hour before dinner and drinks were half price.
We had a variety of different staterooms from inside to suites. All were quite nice and surprisingly spacious. The staff was fabulous, from helping us celebrate birthdays and anniversaries, to remembering our preferences for wine. Always a smile and lots of helpful tips.
Would love to do it again someday, maybe the Duoro River in Portugal. Would definitely travel with Avalon again. Loved the small ship experience!