Avalon Creativity Entertainment
Creativity's evening entertainment offerings are adequate if not exciting. There is a solo pianist who plays background music before and after dinner, and local talent was brought aboard on a couple of occasions (singers, small classical ensembles, etc.).
However, the daytime offerings delivered were superb, ranging from dynamically presented talks on history, art and culture to fun port talks. Handouts were also excellent and included hand-annotated port maps. These materials made it easy to know exactly where we were and which landmarks we were passing.
The daily, gratis, off-ship walking tours were almost universally superior. The ship issues passengers personal headsets, which plug into wireless receivers. The off-ship guides are issued microphones and transmitters so that each group of about 20 passengers gets a private tour, conducted through a discreet wireless link.
There are, in addition, a handful of optional shore excursions for which there is a charge (averaging about $45 USD). We found these inconsistent. Some -- such as the excursion from Rouen to Honfleur -- weren't anything special. Others, such as a trip to the well-touristed Giverney, which was timed first thing in the morning to give us private access for a time, were outstanding.
Avalon Creativity Public Rooms
Besides the dining room, Creativity has only two public rooms -- the forward and aft lounges. Each has ample window exposure, which is absolutely essential for any near-shore itinerary. The furniture is comfortable, and the number of tables is generous, relative to the size of the rooms. Each room has a particular focus. The larger, forward lounge has a piano for entertainment and audio/video hookups for lectures and enrichments. The aft lounge is more like a small library, serving as a venue for mini-Continental breakfast spreads. This room has a number of bookshelves and board game cabinets. Nothing is locked, so books and games are available 24/7. Each of the lounges has a small outside deck for those who want to do their sightseeing alfresco.
A small area of the reception lobby is devoted to a pair of desktop computers with Internet access. Wi-Fi is available in most places on the ship, and it's complimentary, but before you get too excited, understand this: it works sporadically. We gave up on trying to use the ship's system and, instead, made a game out of trying to log into free hot-spots ashore as we sailed by. (We succeeded in finding Starbucks stores on two occasions, as well as RV campgrounds from time to time.)
Avalon Creativity Spa & Fitness
There is not much to satisfy the fitness aficionado onboard Creativity; as with most riverboats, you get your exercise in port. There is no spa/massage facility, but there is a tiny workout room with two machines -- a treadmill and a cross-trainer. Sky Deck (the uppermost deck) has a hot tub and central sunning area with plenty of loungers, and there is ample space around the periphery for those who feel compelled to jog onboard, though there is no marked or designated track. Unusually, Avalon ships have beauty salons.
Many of the tie-up points along the riverbanks have pathways or sidewalks paralleling the river that are ideal for jogging or walking, and there is usually enough time in port to do so.
However, we did miss shipboard bicycles, which are typical for many river cruises, though the size of Creativity may make them impractical.
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