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1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: July 2017
This was our first river cruise after completing over 20 ocean cruises in the past few years and we would do another in a heart beat. We were concerned that the smaller vessel would be too confined after the space and entertainment ... Read More
This was our first river cruise after completing over 20 ocean cruises in the past few years and we would do another in a heart beat. We were concerned that the smaller vessel would be too confined after the space and entertainment facilities on the larger cruise ships but we were not disappointed. The cabins were very well appointed with facilities beyond our expectations and the the public rooms were large enough to hold all the ships guests at one sitting. The food on board was excellent and it was very pleasing to see the Chef and his assistants returning daily from the local markets with fresh produce and supplies for our enjoyment. The shore excursions were very professionally handled...departing and arriving back at the ship on time which meant everyone had time to relax before the next activity started. As expected due to space limitations the entertainment was scaled down compared to the large cruise ships however there was music recitals, dancing and lectures to keep everyone entertained. No complaints means a satisfying relaxing holiday and that's what we got from Analon. Thoroughly recommended. Read Less
7 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: October 2016
We wanted to see the Normandy Beaches. That was a high point but all the stops along the Seine had their own appeal. Actually, travelling along the Seine during the day was a relaxing experience. I did some exercises on the top deck as ... Read More
We wanted to see the Normandy Beaches. That was a high point but all the stops along the Seine had their own appeal. Actually, travelling along the Seine during the day was a relaxing experience. I did some exercises on the top deck as the boat moved along. We enjoyed climbing to Richard's fortress in little LesAndelys. Rouen was fabulous. We had an entire day there. Honfleur was delightful. One Sunday we decided not to go on an excursion and walked the little town of Conflans, which was having its local market. I find that doing something very ordinary, like visiting a street market or goong to a "pharmacie" and interacting, makes me feel much closer to a place and immediately illustrates the differences in such a positive way. All the local guides were excellent, especially Clarice, who took us through Versailles and thr Ile de la Cite. We had been there before but without such entertaining narrative. The crew was excellent. The bar crew was friendly. I found that the crew remembered you day to day in a way I had not experienced on precious cruises. They would make conversation and joke around but never in a way that was too casual. The seminars that were held when the boat sailed during the day were quite good. One seminar highlighted pastry making with a local chef. I finally learned how to use a pastry bag corrctly. The D-Day scholar was exceptional. He was a well-known British scholar. My husband attended a wine seminar. He is quite knowledgeable but said he learned a few things. One nice touch that I don't remeber from previous cruises was the free afternoon tea and cakes. It's a nice way to wind down before dinner and before th happy hour. The food was fabulous. The logistics of embarkation and disembarkation, as well as the day-to-day excursion travel were smooth. Our cruise diector was responsible for this. She held a daily meeting and was very clear about when and where. I think that was key. One other improvement from previous cruises was the new hotel. It seems every tour of any kind used that same huge hotel near the Arc de Triomphe. This time we were in the Montparnasse Pullman. We almost got off to a bad start because another perrson on a different tour at a different hotel took my husband's bag by mistake at the airport. Fortunately, his cell phone number was on the outside. It was the Pullman concierge who got the bag back to us that day. As it happenned, even the passengers were just the right mix and friendly. As always the Canadians were their wonderful selves. That is one thing I like about Avalon cruises. There is a mix of English-speaking travelers that gives you a nice international flavor but everyone speaks English. We would go again in a heartbeat. I am hoping to see a Portugal trip and a Garonne River trip, which were hinted at in one of the Avalon surveys. Read Less
6 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: September 2016
What a way to visit Normandie and get a taste of Paris! This was our first cruise of any kind. We are very happy with our choice. From beginning to end all went well. The crew were welcoming, helpful, efficient and professional. ... Read More
What a way to visit Normandie and get a taste of Paris! This was our first cruise of any kind. We are very happy with our choice. From beginning to end all went well. The crew were welcoming, helpful, efficient and professional. They must be applying the 10/5 concept; eye contact at 10 feet and a hello at 5 feet. Whenever we would leave the ship for an excursion the Captain would bid us a good day and then a welcome back, something we were told rarely happens on other cruises. The stateroom was very well apportioned and always kept clean and tidy by our room steward. Dining in the morning, at noon,in the evening and at night was fantastic and plentiful and the wines were very good. The service on all fronts was excellent, albeit a bit slow at the bar at times; the entertainment also left something to be desired, except for the night the crew took to the stage. As for the shore excursions all of them were well guided, informative and always on schedule. Without taking anything away from other excursions the highlights for us were the D-Day landing beaches and the optional one to Honfleur, i.e., the location from where Champlain and company departed to settle the "new world". The sailing part of the cruise was not so much a sail per se as a glide along La Seine. Although there is always a current there is practically no wind to speak of, thus no waves. We delighted in watching the river banks and the towns and cities glide by, even at night with the lights of our room extinguished and curtains slightly opened, all until we gently fell asleep. This was truly a wonderful adventure. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: September 2016
What a great trip Paris to Normandy. The staff were wonderful, the food was excellent - I can't say enough about how happy we were with this trip. The ship was clean, the cabin with a French balcony was roomy enough with great views. ... Read More
What a great trip Paris to Normandy. The staff were wonderful, the food was excellent - I can't say enough about how happy we were with this trip. The ship was clean, the cabin with a French balcony was roomy enough with great views. Dining options: there was always something new to try along with old standbys, we never went hungry. The wine at dinner was plentiful. Evening entertainment (DJ most nights), and staff variety show was fun. The local history experts talk on Normandy Beach History was very informative and gave us a good refresher course before or Normandy Beach Landing Excursion. (A nice and thoughtful touch were the roses we were given to place on a grave in the cemetery.) The excursions, both included and optional were on time, and well run with excellent tour guides. Any questions or concerns were answered/addressed in a timely manner. This was our first river cruise and I would go on another with Avalon in a heartbeat! Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: August 2016
This was our first river cruise. Embarkation and disembarkation went smoothly, though the dock area was a bit funky and dirty. The excursions were very well done with local guides. That said, there were a couple of excursions that had too ... Read More
This was our first river cruise. Embarkation and disembarkation went smoothly, though the dock area was a bit funky and dirty. The excursions were very well done with local guides. That said, there were a couple of excursions that had too many people. The boat and accommodations were nice, and the room was quiet. The pricing for drinks at the bar was a bit high. There is a happy hour, though we bought drinks one evening about three minutes before happy hour and were charged full price. With regards to dining, the service was good, though the food was just average. It seemed a bit silly to have a big celebration for the kitchen staff at the end of the cruise. I would be willing to pay more for better food and all inclusive drinks. We enjoyed the lectures and would recommend more of these educational opportunities. We went with friends and had a lot of fun. I don't think we would have enjoyed it as much without our companions. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: August 2016
The cruise destinations and the wonderful group rate we got for the party of 8 influenced us to choose Avalon. Our ship Creativity was perfect for us. We had excellent service and our cruise directer Nancy was exceptional, she went above ... Read More
The cruise destinations and the wonderful group rate we got for the party of 8 influenced us to choose Avalon. Our ship Creativity was perfect for us. We had excellent service and our cruise directer Nancy was exceptional, she went above and beyond to make it a special week for us. . Loved Oana and Ivan in the dining area. Svetna did a great job of having our cabin ready and welcoming whenever we came back. We had some memorable excursions and they were all handled professionally. It was a very easy and relaxing embarkment and disembarkment. The food was also exceptional, and all the staff were helpful and accommodating!! We were happy we included our transfers from the airport to ship and ship to train station. Avalon staff helped us through the process. Monogram's extra excursion to London was also first class. Would definitely recommend and will cruise on Avalon again. Read Less
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
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: August 2014
This was our first ever cruise experience and overall we loved it. If you've never tried river cruising you really should. The ship sails along at a leisurely pace and you'd barely know you were moving. There are 3 full meals a ... Read More
This was our first ever cruise experience and overall we loved it. If you've never tried river cruising you really should. The ship sails along at a leisurely pace and you'd barely know you were moving. There are 3 full meals a day in the spacious dining room, and opportunities for snacking and tea in the late afternoons and evenings, all at no extra charge. Drinks at the on-board bar are extra. There are many opportunities for excursions at each port, and optional extra excursions are available at an additional charge. These may be purchased about a month before your cruise date on-line, or may be added as an on-board extra, provided there is space available. The ship is a few years old (2009), but is still in beautiful shape and is very nicely appointed. Plenty of opportunities for relaxation and/or conversation in the ship's many public areas, so you don't ever have an excuse for sitting cooped up in that tiny cabin. And the food is EXCELLENT, especially at dinnertime, where you can enjoy a 5-course meal with complimentary wine, beer or soft drinks. The ship's intimate atmosphere is one of its best selling points. With only 70 cabins (140 passengers) and 39 crew members, there are plenty of opportunities to make and cultivate new friendships. Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: August 2012
I received so much helpful information on Cruise Critic before we sailed that I want to share our recent experience on the Avalon Creativity in hope of helping others with their decisions. What follows is a general review of our very ... Read More
I received so much helpful information on Cruise Critic before we sailed that I want to share our recent experience on the Avalon Creativity in hope of helping others with their decisions. What follows is a general review of our very pleasant journey. Embarkation: We chose to fly to Paris independently so we could use flyer miles. We arrived in Paris, boarded an Air France bus to the Gare Montparnasse and took a short walk to our hotel,the Concorde Montparnasse. We chose the hotel because it was close to the Pullman Montparnasse where we would be getting the bus to the ship the next day. We dropped our bags at the Pullman around noon the next day and took the metro to the Notre Dame area. We spent the afternoon in the Ile St Louis, where we had a pleasant lunch and returned to board the bus for a short trip to the Creativity. Boarding was easy, and within a few minutes we were in our cabin where our bags were waiting. The Creativity: We loved the ship! It's 3 years old and shows absolutely no wear. The cabin is not large, but very cleverly designed with ample storage space. The front and back lounges are comfortable, and there are many areas to sit outside and watch the scenery go by. Excursions: The included excursions were all quite interesting. Our first stop was Conflans,a relatively colorless village, but we enjoyed the tour of Auvers-Sur-Oise, and the story of Vincent Van Gogh. Vernon on the other hand was a beautiful little place and Giverny and Monet's gardens a must do. We loved Rouen and the included tour there. The highlight for me, and the reason we took the trip, was the excursion to the D-Day beaches. It was a very moving experience, made even more so by a fellow passenger who was an Omaha beach D-Day veteran. On the way back to Paris we stopped at Les Andelys, another pretty village, and heard the story of Richard the Lion-Hearted. We didn't take many optional tours since we had been to Paris before, but did do the trip to Honfleur which is a beautiful spot and worth the extra money in our opinion. All in all, we were very happy with the excursions and the guides. Food and Drink: Breakfast was fine although lacking variety. One can order the special of the day, and there are made to order omelets. Everything else is the same each day. Lunch was also a buffet, with a meat and pasta selection freshly made. On 2 days, an al fresco grill lunch was offered on the skydeck. We were able to do this once, and it was very pleasant. It was unfortunate that this was not offered more, as it was very limited and everyone did not get to try it. Dinner was a very nice experience, with usually around six courses. Any one course is not large, but we were always full by the end of the meal. The food was excellent, although to a real foodie it was not gourmet quality. That being said, we loved it. The chef used local products and menus, and the wine and beer were free-flowing. We never saw the bottom of our wine glasses. The lounge was a fairly active place with nightly lounge type music, and happy hour two for ones each night at some point. A string quartet was brought in one night, we had a D-Day presentation, and there was a French pastry demonstration as well. Drink prices were fair in both the lounge and the mini-bar in our cabin. Service: This was the area where the Creativity really excelled. In every respect service was top-notch. Our room was made up while we were at breakfast each morning and turn down service was provided during dinner. The waiters were excellent both in the dining room and the lounge. When we were up on the skydeck during happy hour, our waiter even found us up there and asked if we wanted anything (of course we did!) The organization and execution of every aspect of the trip was truly fantastic. The boarding, meals, excursions, etc. were all carried off perfectly and demonstrated excellent planning and attention to detail. We loved sailing with Avalon and hope to do it again soon. If anyone has specific questions email me: massedtuck@hotmail.com Dave Tucker Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: August 2012
I can't say enough about the service on the Avalon Creativity. Every member of the crew had a "can do" attitude; went above and beyond to ensure an exceptional guest experience. I do not believe that the word "no" ... Read More
I can't say enough about the service on the Avalon Creativity. Every member of the crew had a "can do" attitude; went above and beyond to ensure an exceptional guest experience. I do not believe that the word "no" was in any one's vocabulary, I have experienced good service on other cruises, but this exceptional service came from everyone, everyday, consistently. It was amazing. The Captain and Cruise Director wished us a nice day every time we left for an excursion, and welcomed us back every time; the cabin crew wished us a good day each and every morning; the waiters were all funny and efficient; the front desk staff never stopped smiling; the bartender was friendly and went out of his way to get us what we needed; the entertainment was excellent; the food superb, even the buffets were excellent. The desserts were great and the free flowing wine at dinner was a nice touch. This crew loves what they do and it shows. They are obviously led by an outstanding leadership team. The ship itself was comfortable, clean and up-to-date. The amenities were very nice. The only drawback - we are used to mini-suites on big cruise ships and this room was small in comparison. We were in the P category which is a pretty good upgraded cabin. We could open our sliding glass door which is floor to ceiling. There aren't balconies on these ships, but the top deck makes up for that. I think that Avalon cabins are actually bigger than other river cruise ships, so can't imagine what those are like! The excursions were led by knowledgeable, easy to understand guides. Every bus we got on was spotless and appeared brand new. The only excursion that I could have skipped was Malmaison, as it had been refurbished and there was little that was authentic. Normandy was amazing. The other ports interesting and worthwhile. The big drawback - we arrived in Paris around 8am. The representative from the line met us and was very nice and helpful. The chartered bus took us to a hotel, because you can't board the ship until 3:30p, and we hung out in a hospitality suite at the hotel. The suite had water, coffee and tea. No food was offered. We ventured out on our own to get food and to visit a fantastic, ancient cemetery in the neighborhood. Be sure to get the map and go to see this. It made for a long day considering we flew all night and had to hang out until the bus took us to the ship at 3:45p. People were sleeping on the sofas in the lobby of the hotel. Some chose to take an excursion to the Eiffel Tower for an additional $30pp fee. My suggestion is that they offer food to their guests and include a free mini tour around Paris. Hanging out that long to get on the ship, after such a long flight from the States was not a good first impression. Overall, I would recommend this ship and Avalon to anyone. We will sail with them again. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: May 2012
We arrived in Paris early the morning of May 01....since boarding wasn't until later that after noon we were bused to the Montparnasse hotel where we could store our hand luggage. An optional trip to the Eiffel Tower was available but ... Read More
We arrived in Paris early the morning of May 01....since boarding wasn't until later that after noon we were bused to the Montparnasse hotel where we could store our hand luggage. An optional trip to the Eiffel Tower was available but since it was a holiday in France & would be crowded, we chose to walk to the nearby Gardens of Luxembourg and had a lovely time. We were later bused to the Creativity..The ship was very nice...we chose a french balcony cabin cat B as the only one below that on this ship was the water level deck..It was worth the upgrade..Even when it was too cool to open the door...the views were fantastic thru the full floor to ceiling glass door. The room was well appointed and clean..Comfy bed with a memory foam topper...small but adequate bath. First let me say that we can't say enough about how great our cruise director (Jean-Loup Domart) was..It would take up too much space in this review . Overall it was a fantastic trip ...great ports & tours....Special mention for the trip to Giverny to Monet's house..not to be missed....The food and service were very good & we enjoyed the French wines served with dinner. The passengers were a nice blend of Americans, Canadians, Australians & Brits. I think that makes Avalon more interesting than lines catering only to Americans. My husband did the Normandy beach tour & for personal reasons I chose the alternate tour of the Normandy countryside which was great. Due to high water levels we were unable to return to Paris by boat for the last day & spent it in Conflans. In the morning we were bused to either Paris or our next cruise on the Scenery ( see Scenery review for 2nd half) 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

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