This was our first river cruise. We've been all over the Caribbean & have sailed transatlantic, but this was on our bucket list & we were fortunate to find a deal! We flew in 5 days early to enjoy Amsterdam. We stayed at the ... Read More
This was our first river cruise. We've been all over the Caribbean & have sailed transatlantic, but this was on our bucket list & we were fortunate to find a deal! We flew in 5 days early to enjoy Amsterdam. We stayed at the IBIS next to the central train station, and it was a great location. The hotel wasn't fancy, but it was comfortable, affordable & safe. We were within a few blocks of everything. Amsterdam was incredible & I will definitely go back.
We checked in with Avalon on the 22nd, the day before departure, and everything ran smoothly. I can't remember the name of the hotel meeting point, but it was by the Movenpik hotel. They took our bags and then transported us to the Affinity. We had a balcony cabin on the 3rd level, and it was terrific. There was plenty of storage space in the room and the restroom. I loved the shower stall and bath/body products offered. We had 2 twin beds and each had a nightstand. The floor to ceiling window opened up so that our room was basically the balcony. The only down-side was there was nowhere to sit & enjoy the view. My bed ran along the windows, so I could sit on my bed and look out. It would be better to be on 1 of the new refurbished boats, where it's all suites, and the beds face the windows for a terrific view, or if there was a sitting area in front of the windows. But it was still lovely, and there are plenty of sitting areas around the boat to enjoy the stunning views.
The staff greeted us and made us feel welcome. They assigned us a steward to take us to our room, and our luggage showed up pretty much immediately.
Each day we had an all-inclusive excursion. That day, even though we were spending the night on the boat in Amsterdam, there was an excursion, which was a canal boat tour. That was fun.
Dinner was nightly at 7pm, and it's open seating. There's a happy hour with 1/2 priced cocktails each evening before dinner, and then wine is included with dinner. The food was delicious. Entertainment in the evenings was relaxed with a musician onboard in the bar/lounge area. With such a small group onboard, it was easy to meet our fellow passengers and start up conversations and friendships, or you could relax, read and keep to yourself if you like. It was very casual and stress-free. The cruise was being enjoyed by mostly Americans and Canadians & we met a lot of friendly people.
We took off the next day for Dusseldorf. The scenery was absolutely incredible. It was a little too chilly to sit outside most days, but the lounges offered beautiful views.
Once we arrived in Dusseldorf, We had an early buffet and menu-ordered breakfast & then walked off the boat into town. Since it was Sunday, the only things open there were cafes and churches, so I just took in the sights. Then we were taken on beautiful, new Mercedes buses to tour a castle/mansion. Our guide spoke perfect English & was very friendly and helpful.
In Ruddesheim, our excursion was to a musical instrument museum, we opted out & spent time walking around the historic town. Then we met up with the excursion at a very authentic German style restaurant, where they gave us a traditional flaming coffee liqueur drink.
By the time we arrived in Koblenz, it was night time & everything was closed. I wished we had stayed longer in Ruddesheim, but I guess we had to backtrack to head down the Moselle river the next day.
Cochem was 1 of my favorite places. We toured Reichsburg castle, which was gorgeous. The excursions were very easy to do, even if you have a tough time walking and climbing. You could join the "gentle walkers", and at this site, the bus took us all the way up the hill to the castle, or the other groups could walk up the hill if they desired. I bought some peach liqueur that they're known for - yummy.
Bernkastel was my favorite town. It was just what you want it to be with cobblestone streets and structures from the 1300s. Our excursion was a guided walking tour, which went on a little too long, so we ducked out after a while so we'd have time to shop. Later in the evening, they provided us with a complimentary wine tasting, which was so much fun. For 2 hours, they turned us loose in the wine cellar & we were able to try everything we wanted to. We loved it. But remember, you have to walk back to the boat! ;)
Trier was very interesting. Our excursion was a bus tour of the city, and then guided walking tour in town. We saw the excavated Roman baths & Amphitheater & then were dropped off at the Porta Nigra Roman city wall from 180AD. We could either stick with the tour guide or take off to do some shopping on our own.
The next day we arrived in Remich. We were sad to leave our boat, but we still had 2 days ahead of us in Paris. We truly felt appreciated on the Avalon Affinity and loved everything about our river cruise. I would return to Avalon in a second! It was so wonderful to be on such a small cruise. It was so relaxed, and the staff really gave everyone special attention.
It was first class all the way.
We were taken to the train station by a wonderful guide who stayed with us to ensure we knew exactly where to go. The ride took approximately 2 hours. Once we arrived in Paris, we were met and taken to the Hotel du Collectionneur Arc de Triomphe, which was about 4-5 blocks from the Arc de Triomphe. There was a table in the lobby for Avalon passengers. We were lucky that our room was available the minute we arrived. Others had to wait a few hours. Our bags were delivered. For a 789Euro/night hotel, it seemed just OK. I guess it's the location. It was close to the train & there were hotels and grocery stores nearby, so that was good. It's not far from the Arc de Triomphe and Eiffel tower, etc. The hotel only provided breakfast, and that's really the only complaint I had. They treated us cruise passengers kind of like 2nd class citizens. We didn't get to enjoy the hot, fresh breakfast in the main dining room. We were in a banquet room with a limited, luke warm offering. But, oh well. That's on the hotel, not Avalon. The cruise director, Peter, had warned us that the hotel keeps changing thing on them, so he wasn't sure what we'd be offered.
Overall, this was the trip of a lifetime! Avalon was incredible, and I highly recommend them in every way! I can't wait to do another river cruise ASAP. It was so incredibly gorgeous and relaxing, interesting, and we were so pampered and well taken care of!
(I put 5 stars for "Value for Money", because we got a discounted deal. I would not pay full-price for any cruise, especially not the kind of prices some of these river cruises charge) This was the most expensive cruise I've ever taken though, but considering everything that was included, I felt like they were paying ME to take the cruise! Read Less