The launch of the ships marks a prosperous run for river cruising -- an antidote for those who choose to avoid the mega-ships plying the oceans of the world. It is one of the fastest-growing segments in cruise travel (according to a company statement, more than 90 percent of the Avalon Imagery's staterooms and 85 percent of the Avalon Tranquility's staterooms have already sold out for the 2007 season).
Imagery and Tranquility join sister ship Avalon Tapestry, which debuted just last year; the three are among the most modern, well-equipped riverboats in Europe. Each of the two new ships boasts all-outside cabins that accommodate a maximum of 170 guests. In addition, each also has a fitness center, a forward observation deck, in-cabin satellite television, individual climate control, hair dryers and mini-bar.
All three Tapestry-class boats incorporate a new "silent drive system," which puts the wheelhouse at the rear, allowing for quieter navigation -- and a much more spacious and useable outside top deck. The voyages are marketed to North Americans and feature all English-speaking staff and crew, Internet access, and wine with all (open-seating) dinners.
Avalon Tranquility's 2007 voyage calendar includes 8- to 17-day cruises to Prague, Vienna, Budapest, Amsterdam and Paris, while Imagery's schedule offers 15-day roundtrips between Amsterdam and Budapest.
Avalon, part of the Globus family of brands, also operates two other ships: Avalon Artistry and Avalon Poetry.
--by Jana Jones, Cruise Critic Contributor