1. Home
  2. Cruise Lines
  3. Avalon Waterways
  4. Avalon Creativity Review
  5. Avalon Creativity Cruise Reviews
7 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: October 2014
When you market your cruise as Paris to Normandy Beach Landings, you better be prepared to perform at the highest level of expectations on your feature land tour. In that respect Avalon Waterways was a huge disappointment to many on our ... Read More
When you market your cruise as Paris to Normandy Beach Landings, you better be prepared to perform at the highest level of expectations on your feature land tour. In that respect Avalon Waterways was a huge disappointment to many on our recent cruise. I feel compelled to comment on this because it was the topic of discussion at dinners and during a day of sailing when cruisers had the opportunity to exchange personal thoughts. I wish somebody would have shared this information on Cruise Critic before we booked with Avalon...it would have made all the difference in the world in my choice of cruise lines. I recently found similar comments on some other review sites. That's a shame, because overall, the Avalon staff goes out of their way to provide top quality, timely and personalized service. We couldn't have been more pleased with each and every staff member we encountered. (and that is nearly all of them because they keep a lean roster of employees). We had one of two suites on the ship and the room was clean, well appointed and comfortable. We are accommodating food wise and found nothing that wasn't to our liking so much that we could complain. Food isn't one of the features that we focus on as much as the tour experience. (we avoided all of the formal breakfast and lunches and did partake of a few light lunch buffets) We appreciated the always available coffee and snacks in the lounge. Great for early risers or midnight munchies. Complimentary wine with dinner that poured freely...can't beat that! On board entertainment was limited but enjoyable. ALWAYS felt welcomed by the staff. I specifically noted the "Avalon staff" earlier, because the tours on the cruise are coordinated and provided by independent contractors, that includes the Cruise Director. Many of the tours were exactly what we anticipated. Some even exceeded our expectations based on the knowledge and delivery style of the contracted guide du jour. There is so much history to Paris and the Normandy region, it is difficult to focus on any one era. In that respect, individuals have different interests and I think the bulk of the included and optional tours provided a general overview for many levels of knowledge and preferences. However, the "feature tour" of the cruise,(based on Avalon's marketing) which for most of the men and some of the women, was the single most important reason for selecting this itinerary, came across like a poorly orchestrated afterthought,which left a taste bad enough to make us think twice before booking with Avalon again. Our guide that day was basically knowledgeable, but extremely condescending to many who had limited knowledge of the event. He actually laughed out loud at them when they made inquiries. To those who had an extensive military history background, the guide didn't measure up, particularly on facts that he plucked out of war movies instead of historical records. We spent at least two hours in the village of Arromanches-les-Bains, our first stop of the day. Although the town has a very small D-Day museum and it was the perfect spot to view the remaining artificial harbor, it was clear to everybody that we were killing time to accommodate a scheduled lunch in a local restaurant that truly was unnecessary. A voucher, a boxed lunch to eat in transit, or simply a notice that you were on your own food wise could have preserved precious time to view other historic D-Day sites. The museum was crowded, and there was really not much else worth visiting in the town except for some cheesy gift shops, particularly when you had precious little time to spare in one day. Best feature was a movie produced by the Royal Imperial Navy..(the Brits always do historic propaganda films right!) At the D-Day sites of greatest interest to the group made up of 99.9% Americans that day, time was controlled and very limited. Consider that we were given only 10 MINUTES to snap pictures at Omaha Beach, the primary goal of the trip for all of us. Ten minutes for nearly ten thousand dollars..c'mon! We came to pay our respects not just take pictures. Unlike other reviews posted about this experience, we were also denied access to the Omaha Beach museums (the guide said why go in? there is nothing but military equipment in that museum...hello, that's the point! along with the archival photos, etc.) Forget about the airborne museum too. The ceremony at the American cemetery was moving but it too consumed a lot of time that prevented us from freely moving about the grounds. (hint...schedule it immediately at the beginning or the end instead of the middle of the stop to give people greater options) At Pointe du Hoc the guide barely let the group explore the prominent features because he stopped short of the viewing area to do his presentation. This could have been done while in motion to facilitate time and expand the groups view of the site. At this point we went off on our own and left him behind talking to the group. Look, I know that if you want a detailed tour, you could hire a guide and do this on your own. (compared to the cost of the cruise one heck of a good tour!) My complaint is that the time we did have that day was squandered by poor planning and what came across as a genuine lack of concern for the interests of the individuals on the tour that day, We are glad that we visited the landing beaches, as we are history buffs and respectful of the men who lost their lives, but Avalon's mismanagement of the day deserved comment and forewarning to others planning this trip. Listen up Avalon, don't blow a good thing for you and your loyal employees with services not fully under your control!!! Many of us go on vacations in Europe to experience the sites...a bad experience could cost you customers in the long run. This is worth noting. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: August 2009
My Wife and I took Avalon Waterways Romantic Rhine cruise to celebrate our 40th wedding anniversery, cruising down the Rhine from Amsterdam to Basel this August. It was not only our first cruise it was the ships first cruise too. Well it ... Read More
My Wife and I took Avalon Waterways Romantic Rhine cruise to celebrate our 40th wedding anniversery, cruising down the Rhine from Amsterdam to Basel this August. It was not only our first cruise it was the ships first cruise too. Well it was my first cruise if you don't count the trip across Lake Erie from Cleveland to Detroit that I took with my family in 1955 on the SS Aquarama. I had visited the Rhine before form the land side and wanted to share that experience with my wife during our river cruise. We were a little apprehensive about the maiden voyage but it turned out not to be a problem at all. The only thing that went wrong was our room safe did not have its battery installed so we could not lock up our valuables. That was quickly remedied by the ship's engineer. The first night's dinner service was a little slow but that just gave us more time to spend getting to know our dinner companions. It is a small ship with only 138 passengers and with open seating at every meal it is possible to get to know more than half the people on board if you don't dine with the same folks twice. With free wine at dinner and great companions it was tempting to linger over a meal. Meal service improved each night as the Maitre d' whipped his staff into shape. The wait staff was from Easern Europe, Indonesia, and China. Some of them started out clueless and managed to stay that way throughout the cruise despite Attila (his real name) the Hungarian's best direction. Just like on my sailboat, you have some crew that works out and some that doesn't. The food was very good and matched the region we were in. The only thing I got hungry for was simpler fare which we had the opportunity to sample when off the ship. Portions were not overly large like in the USA but you were well fed. The highlight of the meals were the salad dressings which were very light and always interesting. The only thing I would change is to lose the cake at 4:00 routine in favor of some extra time at happy hour or bigger glasses for the iced tea served when returing from a shore excursion. Iced Tea is the official (non alcoholic) drink of my home state of Texas and I have to commend the ship for doing a credible job with their brew, although not quite robust enough to stand up to a good piece of smoked brisket. The ship itself was very comfortable. We had a room on the bottom floor near the back. You would think it would be noisy but this ship has very little engine noise. The first day we pulled away from the dock and were moving before I realized it. Several passages are made at night and it was no trouble at all to sleep while underway. I found the top deck layout awkward. They had a hot tub in the forward section in front of the bridge. This meant anyone using that had to walk throught he lobby and past nearly everyone to get to it. This could have been better relocated aft with a seperate stairway near the back of the ship. I would also move the smoking section to aft of the bridge. I don't smoke. If you put the smokers at the front of the ship then the non smokers are downwind from them all the time. We ended going to the foremast part of the ship to try to get fresh air. We had the smallest stateroom on the ship and it had pleanty of space. We had more than enough room for our clothes, our empty suitcases slid easily under the bed. I loved being able to unpack only once during the trip. Beds were very comfortable. The room air conditioninig worked quietly. Our flat screen TV was good and offered a view from a foreward facing camera as well as a GPS display of the ships position and speed. Quite handy if you want to keep an eye on the helmsman's activiites. Our cruise was populated by many travel writers who were invited aboard to review the ship on its maiden voyage. I talked to many of them and they seemed to be enjoying their trip. I had a slightly different perspective from them because I paid to take this trip and I had no prior cruise experience. I have to say it was one of the best vacations I ever had. The pace was liesurley yet not boring. The people were interesting, the sites were lovely the service was good but not intrusive and I felt this Avalon cruise offered a great value for the money. Strasbourg - How the Germans would build a French town. Eat lots of pastry, have a french eclair for one hand and a pretzel for the other. Go to the cathedral and ask what time it is. Beware of beggars. Koln - Big Cathedral, interesting shops. Good place to take a stroll and find a sidewalk cafe to sit down and drink beer or wine. Koblens - Charming town. Take a walk down to the German corner to see big William  Heidleburg - Monster castle, great town to walk around. Only eat in restaurants with flags, sign of simple fare and low prices. Take the Philosopher's walk up the hill on the other side of the river. Rudesheim - Go to the Drosselgasse and dance the polka with the locals. Seigfreid's museum is unique. Try not to buy a cuckoo clock here. Get a hat instead. Read Less
Avalon Creativity Ratings
Category Editor Member
Cabins 5.0 4.7
Dining 5.0 4.7
Entertainment 4.0 3.9
Public Rooms 4.0 4.7
Fitness Recreation 4.0 3.5
Family 1.0 3.5
Shore Excursion 4.0 4.6
Enrichment 5.0 4.4
Service 4.0 4.9
Value For Money 5.0 4.6
Rates 4.0 4.5

Find a Cruise

Easily compare prices from multiple sites with one click
Compare and book excursions for your next cruise