We had the most horrible travel experience of our lives on the Avalon Panorama Christmas cruise in December of 2011. From beginning to end, this trip was a nightmare. Avalon began by making a mess of our airline reservations. Had to pay a penalty to cancel their airline reservations and make our own. When we finally got aboard the Panorama in Nuremberg, we were herded like cattle into the main room where we had to wait interminably to be assigned our rooms. This was after a very tiring bus ride from Prague to Nuremberg.
When we were finally settled in our cabin, we found that the elevator didn't work on the ship, and we are both senior citizens and found it very difficult to get around on the ship because of this.
We were promised ethnic food aboard and that never materialized. The food service was like a cattle call. It was impossible to order only one course and have it served in a timely way.
After arriving at Regensburg, we were given a heads up that we might not be able to go down the river due to the water level. That is exactly what happened, and we were driven all over by bus and missed the ports we were promised and were at last driven to Bratislava, not on our itinerary, and not to Vienna where we were supposed to end our cruise. I had purchased several extra days in Vienna, and had also purchased tickets to the Spanish Riding School over 14 months before the tour. We had to leave the tour after being taken to Bratislava in order to be in Vienna for the performance we had so looked forward to. The tour director, Robert, refused to help us get an extra night in Vienna, so we had to telephone directly to the hotel and they extorted 259 euros for that extra night. Then they charged us an extra 100 euros to stay in the same room for the extra nights.
Avalon knew in advance that we wouldn't be able to sail down the river. Other cruise lines informed their passengers before leaving their homes and gave them options. Avalon did not do this even though they knew we couldn't have the cruise we paid for. We had purchased travel insurance and could have recouped all of our money had we known in advance that we couldn't sail down the river.
Avalon has refunded two days of our cruise, but that doesn't even begin to repay us for the terrible bus rides, loss of several ports we were promised, and their general uncaring about the passengers' needs. We spent most of the time on crowded buses and in my opinion were robbed of what was supposed to be a once-in-a-lifetime cruise.
My warning to future river cruisers is to book with anyone but Avalon. Viking informed their passengers ahead of time and I was told that other cruise companies did the same. Avalon did not!!!!
Also, don't bother with trip insurance. I bought expensive trip insurance and tried to collect for the extra costs in Vienna due to trip interruption, and have heard nothing from the trip insurers.
I feel that we were treated unfairly by Avalon and they have been giving us the runaround since we got back about what they were going to do to rectify this situation. A group of passengers on this cruise have been emailing back and forth, and the general consensus is that Avalon owes us four days worth of repayment due to the lost portions of our trip. They have told us that they need four to six weeks to "investigate" this situation. Why? They know what happened. Also, I was informed that those of us who wrote letters to Globus and Avalon would be treated differently from the rest of the passengers. Is this fair? I don't think so.
My advice to any would-be river cruiser is to AVOID AVALON LIKE THE PLAGUE!