The boat description: We just returned from the week long river cruise onboard the Avalon Tapestry. The boat itself is beautiful. We were in Room 334 on the top deck. If you opt for the odd number cabins, there is more to see on that side (friends in 333) We had the "French Patio Doors' and they were wonderful to have. We opted for the double bed, not 2 singles. There was so much storage space which really surprised me. There was even room to store your luggage under the bed and out of the way. Lots of cupboard space to hang things up but of course I would bring extra hangers as there never is enough! Lots of shelves to put clothes on and lots of drawers in the built-in desk, dresser, mini-bar. There is a corner shower stall with a glass door, not huge but manageable. Also behind the mirror is a medicine cabinet which was really nice to be able to store all our medicinal stuff there and not out on the counter, which was really small and went just around the sink itself. Shelves under the sink also for storage. The rest of the boat was beautiful also. Large lounge area at the front of the boat so you could sit in there and watch the world go by as you were sailing. The dining room had seating for any amount of people but once you sat in 1 area and met your waiter/waitress you tended to sit at that table so you had the same waiter/waitress each meal. This was nice when it came to tipping at the end. Too cold to go up on the top deck for most of the time but it was very nice, with lots of lounge chairs. Only complaint was the heating/air conditioning wasn't working properly and the intercom system so you couldn't hear the announcements unless you opened your door.
The meals: They had lots of the usual for breakfast; you could have scrambled eggs or the egg of your choice cooked for you by the chef. Lots of fresh fruit, cheeses, cold meats and pastries. Huge choice at the buffet. For lunch there was 2 choices of soups every day and cold meats, breads and a couple of hot choices such as 1 day they had a tuna fish sandwich which they toasted on the grill and kept warm. You could make your own salad also. Lots of sliced vegetables. Very fancy lunches...no plain every day type sandwiches. For dinner there was 1 time, usually 7:00 pm. Each night they gave you the menu for dinner the next night. You filled in your choices and handed it in. I found the dinners very artsy fartsy, fancy. You never got ordinary roast beef, potatoes and gravy but I guess for the price you pay you want something more than that. Your choice would be a soup, entree, another entree, main dish and dessert. You always had a alternate choice of chicken or fish, which was very nice to have. Your wine was included with your meal but once dessert was served, you had to pay for your wine after that, which I found a bit cheap! Quite a few nights they came around with large trays with extra meat, fish from dinner that they would ask if you cared to have some more. I guess they didn't want to have to shoot it out, so they would serve you some more if you cared to have some. Just a bit too fancy every night...it is nice to have that type of meal when you got out to a nice restaurant but not every night. Excellent Presentation though!
Cruise: We have been on the Danube River cruise from Passeau, Germany to Budapest and back to Passeau and I am comparing this cruise to that one. I found that the Rhine was not as interesting as the Danube. From Basel onwards for the first couple of days there was not much to see, very industrial, whereas the Danube was beautiful with vineyard after vineyard and castles and small villages. I was really disappointed with the countryside for the most part. There was one area, the Rhine Gorge that was beautiful with lots of castles and legends and scenery but that was about it. Most of the cities were really pretty and quite a few such as Cologne, was destroyed during WWII (with only the Cathedral and the front facade of city hall being authentic) and have been rebuilt to look old. The optional Alsace tour was really very good and we enjoyed going through the countryside and sampling some good wines. The tours of the cities started very early I found, 8:15, 8:30 so there was no sleeping in if you wanted to see a place. I don't know if it was because there was alot more miles to cover compared to the Danube cruise but there was not a lot of time to explore each city on your own after you took the guided tour. I was disappointed in that area because we would have liked to have had more time to explore some of those cities on our own. All in all it was a nice cruise and is a wonderful way to travel and see alot of cities but not be rushed packing up each day and moving on...you unpacked and relaxed for a week and got to see alot of the German/Dutch countryside. Amsterdam is a wonderful city to see and I would recommend spending at least 2 days at the end of your cruise so you can really take it all in and appreciate how beautiful the city and surrounding countryside is. We spent 3 extra days and were so glad we did.