We have cruised several times, but this was our first river cruise (sort of). A friend had highly recommended taking a river cruise and when we saw the dates and itinerary for this cruise, we booked within 30 minutes (which is how we ended ... Read More
We have cruised several times, but this was our first river cruise (sort of). A friend had highly recommended taking a river cruise and when we saw the dates and itinerary for this cruise, we booked within 30 minutes (which is how we ended up with Cabin P319). My ancestry is 94% European so a trip to Holland, Germany, Austria, Slovakia, and Hungary was exciting. We flew out on Monday, July 30, and landed in Amsterdam on Tuesday, July 31. We were warned 3 days prior that we would not be able to board the Vista in Amsterdam as planned due to low river conditions but they would motor coach us to Cologne, the second stop on our trip, and we would embark at that point. It was a little disappointing at first, but it gave us an extra night in Amsterdam and we enjoyed our time there.
Tony, our cruise director, was fantastic and kept us well-informed all along the way.
Wednesday night at dinner, he let us know that we would not be boarding the Vista in Cologne, but would be motor coaching all day on Thursday between our next two stops (Amsterdam to Cologne to Rudesheim) and we would now be boarding in Rudesheim. It ended up being a VERY LONG day on buses and we finally boarded our ship just before dinner on Thursday evening. The staff greeted us as we boarded the ship. Our cabins were in perfect condition, complete with a welcoming towel animal on the bed.
We were afraid that we would now be missing our tour of the Rhine Gorge but Tony made sure that we were chartered for Friday on a public tour boat that took us up the Rhine Gorge and our buses met us at the stopping point to take us back to the Vista awaiting us in Rudesheim. That evening, we sailed to Miltenberg.
Monday night we were told that there was a big possibility that we would not be able to cruise the entire way to Budapest. In fact, we would probably not be able to sail past Passau at all.
We were informed at Tuesday night's Port Talk that unfortunately, we would be having our Captain's Farewell Message and Gala Dinner on Wednesday night and getting off the ship on Thursday morning in Regensberg. Tony had to break the news that we would be motor coaching across Europe for the remaining 4 travel days. We ended up getting two nights at the Intercontinental Hotel in Budapest (just across from the Chain Bridge), which was a great way to end the trip.
Out of our 15-day "cruise", we actually got to spend 7 nights on the ship, but only cruised for 5 days due to low river conditions. As a first-time experience, it was very disappointing to say the least. We didn't complain and tried our best to "go with the flow" (pun intended). After all, the weather is not controlled by Avalon. I want to make sure everyone understands that Avalon went out of their way to make this trip as nice as possible considering the conditions. They made sure we not only were able to make all of our planned stops and excursions, but they even added a few along the way to break up the bus trips. All hotels and meals were included, and Avalon (and Tony) exceptionally handled the trip interruptions.
With all that being said, the biggest disappointment to me was my Cabin Steward. She was very nice and polite and did a great job at making sure the bed was made and the towels were folded. After the first night's towel animal, and not getting one on the second or third nights, I asked her to make me animals each day. I know it's not an ocean cruise but I like putting the pictures in my scrapbook, and she told me that wouldn't be a problem. My husband gave me $50 euros to put on the bed as a tip for the two weeks of towel animals. I received TWO towel animals for the $50 euros. Since we were having to disembark early, I was expecting one on the last night of my cruise, but when I went to my cabin that night, there was no animal. I asked Katy about it the next morning as we were disembarking and all she had to say was, "So sorry, Darling, I was busy." WHAT??? $50 euros and you were too "busy" to provide one more animal??? I know that may seem like such a small thing, but I felt like she was paid very well for three nights, but she knew I couldn't do anything about it.
The biggest disappointment to my husband was that the crew only opened up the top deck on the last day when we were docked in Regensberg. That was one of the things my friend had raved about was cruising on the top deck and being able to see the 360 degree view. We were never allowed that opportunity.
All-in-all, Avalon took care of us and I was glad we had chosen them over another cruise line. IF (and that's a big "IF") I ever choose to do another river cruise, I would either book a spring trip or one of the famous "Christmas Market" itineraries that we kept hearing about along the way. I do NOT recommend a summer river cruise! Read Less