Avalon Panorama Entertainment
You won't find any large-scale or lavish productions onboard Panorama, but live music is presented in the main lounge each night. A piano player is most common, but full dance bands are also offered. Accessible classical music performances are not to be missed.
A happy hour is typically held at the bar before dinner each night, with two-for-one and drink-of-the-day specials. Drinks, especially beer and wine, are reasonably priced: A glass of beer at the bar typically costs about $4.50, while wine is about $5.70, and a martini about $10.80.
Daily educational seminars, led by the cruise director on topics like the history of the surrounding countryside or details about the next port, are held in the lounge or on the sky deck. Well-done handouts, such as a map of all the castles visible from the ship between Koblenz and Rudesheim, are available.
A daily guided shore excursion is included. Walking tours, which are usually about two hours long, are informative and interesting. Tours of specific sites, such as Siegfried's Mechanical Musical Instrument Museum in Rudesheim and the Benedictine Abbey in Melk, are also included. Optional tours are offered, too, and range in price from about $40 per person for a guided tour of Amsterdam's Rijksmuseum to about $103 per person for a full-day tour of Salzburg with lunch.
Avalon Panorama Public Rooms
Fans of clean-cut, contemporary design will feel comfortable in Panorama's boutique-hotel-style decor. The dark woods, creamy whites and beiges and rich reds and burnt oranges create a swanky, elegant vibe.
From the understated yet stylish lobby, a curved, split staircase leads up to the third deck (watch your step -- these stairs can be tricky), and a five-step split staircase leads down to the second deck, giving the illusion of an extra deck and a larger, airier space. The lobby includes two computer terminals and a printer, but free Wi-Fi throughout the ship also supports personal laptops. Warning: Don't plan on working or even keeping in constant touch via e-mail on this cruise, as the Wi-Fi often cuts out in the more rural areas of the itinerary.
In the ship's forward is a large lounge that's comfortably furnished with cushioned rattan-inspired chairs and sofas, and a horseshoe-shaped bar, all surrounded by windows. The lounge serves as a gathering place for entertainment, lectures and happy hours. Two sets of screens and projectors, which drop from the ceiling, can be used for presentations.
At the bow of the ship is the smaller club lounge, where continental breakfast is served and the cappuccino machine, available 24/7, is situated. The room also includes a wide-screen 55-inch television that swings out for presentations and is equipped with a Wii video game system; a small but adequate library of books, running the gamut from "The Da Vinci Code" to "Lord of the Flies"; and board games like Monopoly, Yahtzee and Deal or No Deal.
Smoking is allowed only in outdoor areas of the ship where ashtrays have been placed. An elevator is available for those with limited mobility.
Avalon Panorama Spa & Fitness
By river-ship standards, the fitness area, which includes a treadmill, two stationary bikes and a set of free weights, is rather large. Free refrigerated bottled water is a nice touch.
The ship usually docks somewhere that offers a riverfront path, convenient for outdoor walking or running. Bikes are not available onboard ship, but optional bike excursions are offered in Amsterdam and Durnstein, Austria.
The ship's sky deck has lounge chairs, tables and chairs, a whirlpool, a small golf putting area and oversize chess and backgammon games. Four separate, shaded areas are provided.
A small salon with hair and nail services is also available.
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