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Cruise Ratings
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: July 2014
Let me start out in the order of events during my families amazing time in Paris and northern France. I chose this vacation in celebration of my Mothers 80th birthday and to also show my appreciation to my Stepfather as well. I have been ... Read More
Let me start out in the order of events during my families amazing time in Paris and northern France. I chose this vacation in celebration of my Mothers 80th birthday and to also show my appreciation to my Stepfather as well. I have been on many Ocean cruises in the past and was always interested in what it would be like to take a river cruise. Let me tell you, i don't think i would ever go back, Avalon River cruises are amazing and top notch . We arrived in Paris four days before the cruise to get over our jet lag and take some time to explore the beautiful city. I chose a apartment in the Latin Quarter which was very nice and close to everything. On the day of the cruise we arrived at the Pullman hotel which was the pre-criuse meeting location around 10:30am. We checked our luggage with the porter there and didnt see our thing until we arrived in our staterooms later on that afternoon. Avalon offers a optional excursion to the Effel Tower which leaves from the hotel at 1pm, so we decided to go on that since i have never been up the tower and it would give us something to do since you can not board the ship until 4-5pm . The tour was a lot of fun and we got to meet some new fellow passengers. After the tour, the bus takes you directly to the ship. Arrival to the ship was so nice, you just walk on , no security scanners , or long lines , it was simple. Everyone including the cruise director(Tony Willamson), who was amazing , greated you and offered you a drink and then eventually escorted you to your state room. The entire ship was so clean and beautiful , like it was brand new and The Creativity is one of Avalons older ships , you would never know its kept up so well. The staterooms were very nice and lots of places to store your things. The bathrooms were so clean and modern, i have never seen anything like that on other cruises. The dinning room was elegant and the wait staff were friendly and very accommodating . The food was different every day for dinner and was fresh and bought in the local markets in the region. The Wine at dinner was wonderful, and your glass was never empty . Every night we would sit with different people which was fun, you actually get to know almost everyone on the ship since there is only around 130 people tops. The portions of the food were small but plenty , i was always satisfied every night . Breakfast and Lunch were great as well, more of a buffet style . Excursions: Vernon, was our first stop. you have a choice of two included guided tours , one was the Bizy Castle or Giverny, we chose Monet's gardens since i love his works and my Mother is into gardening. It was one of the high points of our trip, it was truly amazing. Rouen, was our next port. We took the morning guided tour , the cathedral was breathtaking as well as the town. We had lunch back at the ship and then took a optional tour of the town of Honfleur, it was a beautiful town located on a harbor , great place to sit at a cafe and take in the surroundings , loved it. Normandy beach Landings , was a all day tour on our second day in Rouen. It was around a hour drive to the war museum and beach area. It was so such a moving experience , i have always wanted to see this area of France. I felt so overwhelmed with emotion and proud of all those young service men and women who sacraficed there lives to protect our freedoms. Les Andelys was next. We decided to take it easy that morning and opt out of going on the guided tour of the town, instead we decided to go into town by oursellves on our own time. It was a charming little town, some really nice shops , bought a few things there. After strolling around the town i decided to run up the hill to see the castle built by Richard the lion heart , it had some wonderful views from up there. Conflans was our last stop before going into Paris, we went on the Auvers-Sur-oise , the tour was very informative about the final years of Vincent Van Gogh, the tour took us to his apartment where he lived and through the town and then to his final resting place . After we got back to the boat we were off to Paris. It was a lazy afternoon , which was nice after all the excursions we were on all week, i even relaxed in the whirl pool , very nice. That night was the Captains Farewell dinner, it was a festive night with a crew performance and five coarse dinner and baked alaskan," dellish" ;-) later we took the optional evening tour of Paris at night, it was so beautiful to see at night , especially the Eiffel tower when it strobes at 11pm. On the final day we took the optional tour of the Louvre, it was a lot to take in but we were thrilled to see most of the popular works , such as the Venus De Milo, Winged victory , and of coarse the Rock star, Mona Lisa. All in all, Avalons Creativity and staff and crew made this a vacation we will never forget. They went far and beyond to make us and everyone feel special and cared for. I rarely write reviews, but i felt i needed to for this particular event. i want people to know that this cruise was well worth the money , it was very well organized , i never had to worry about anything. We are definitely choosing Avalon again on our next adventure . Bon Voyage!!!   Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: May 2014
After forty-something ocean cruises, and a continuing disappointment of the direction our favorite lines were taking, we decided to try a river cruise with Avalon Waterways. In a word, the trip was perfection, a term not used lightly but ... Read More
After forty-something ocean cruises, and a continuing disappointment of the direction our favorite lines were taking, we decided to try a river cruise with Avalon Waterways. In a word, the trip was perfection, a term not used lightly but quite appropriate in this case. We chose the Paris to Normandy itinerary as it gave us the chance to visit Paris for a few days prior to the start of the cruise. We did our own arrangements and stayed at the Hotel 7 Eiffel for three nights (separate review on Trip Advisor). On our departure day, we taxied to the meeting place and were whisked away to the ship. Not really knowing what to expect, we were immediately enchanted with the Creativity. Gone were the hoards of people shoving to get to the first buffet, the hawking of drink packages and yards of gold chains. Instead we gathered in the comfortable main lounge, given a drink, and politely shown to our cabin. Cabins on these ships are quiet nice with plenty of storage space, a comfy bed, great bathroom, etc. No balcony of course, but the windows open allowing fresh air to circulate. Our cruise director, Tony Williamson, gathered the group to give a briefing on how things would work. Throw away your past experience with ocean cruise directors who you may see once or twice and only hear on the public address system. On a river cruise the cruise director is an integral part of the trip who guides you through your experience. Tony was not only extremely knowledgeable, his cordial personality and ability to relate to everyone was such a huge bonus. Our first dinner onboard spoiled us for life. We were a bit concerned about the open seating concept but it works like a charm. You may sit where ever you like and there is no "saving seats." Folks did gravitate towards certain waiters (as did we) but there really is no bad option. One of our major disappointments with ocean cruises is the push towards specialty restaurants with extra charges. If you go to the main dining room, we found the quality of food way down even on higher end lines (Holland America). On Avalon be prepared for 5-star food with something for everyone. It is served with a smile, it is hot (or cold if it should be), and delicious. Good wine was poured generously with each dinner. Every meal was a standout including the afternoon cake and coffee hour! The ports we visited were charming and, in each, shore excursions were included with optional extra excursions available. Or, you were able to do your own thing and Tony was more than happy to provide maps and suggestions (unlike our last European cruise on HAL). Highlights for us were Vernon (Giverny), Les Andelys, and Auvers-Sur-Oise. The only visit we did not enjoy was the Palace of Versailles due to the huge crowds pushing and shoving you through the experience. We were warned by Tony beforehand, and he was absolutely correct. We also enjoyed a few hours of just cruising the river, and sat in the hot tub on deck watching the scenery go by. Passengers were mostly American but a good showing of Brits and Aussies whose company we loved. Disembarkation was painless but getting on a plane out of CDG left us already missing the Parisian lifestyle and perfection of Avalon Waterways. We will still take ocean cruises as we do love lazy days at sea, but this trip opened our eyes to a whole new way of travel. If you're thinking about it, go before the word gets too far out. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: April 2014
We just got back from our Paris to Normandy cruise with Avalon and have nothing but positive to say. Embarkation: We arrived a few days early on our own and were able to get directions from the cruise director to give to our taxi driver. ... Read More
We just got back from our Paris to Normandy cruise with Avalon and have nothing but positive to say. Embarkation: We arrived a few days early on our own and were able to get directions from the cruise director to give to our taxi driver. We were told to be there between 4 and 5, but due to being a little neurotic arrived at 3:30. As we walked up to the ship to just hang out until 4, the crew saw us and allowed us to board. They grabbed our bags and took us to the reception desk. Within minutes we had our key and were settled in our room. The Room: We were in suite 306. This was on the Royal Deck. The room had a floor to ceiling sliding door that went just about the whole way across the wall. We had a beautiful view of La Seine. The bed was roomy and comfortable (queen size with a thick foam top). There was a fluffy, white comforter on top. The room was subtly decorated with a burgundy geometric carpeting, a large mirror over the desk across from the bed and simple picture over the bed. There was ample storage under the desk and in the entrance way for all of our clothing. On either side of the bed were nightstands with reading lights and plugs for charging your phone, ipad, kindle, etc. In addition to the storage under the desk was a stocked mini fridge. The pricing were actually quite reasonable. Under the bed was ample room for storing our suitcases out of the way. Finally, a small flat screen TV was over the corner of the desk. Our only complaint on the cruise would be the lack of US channels. We understand we were cruising, but just one or two channels of something other than news or finance would have been great. They did offer on demand shows and movies, which did provide a nice alternative. Considering we were on a tour that covered WWII history, there was a nice selection of movies related to that topic. The bathroom had tons of storage along the sink and was stocked with amenities from L'Occitane. A hairdryer was included in the cabinet. The shower was roomy with excellent water pressure. The hot water was very hot. There was ample lighting and towels were replaced daily. The food The main breakfast was a buffet with many selections. There were always fruits, breads, cereals and cheeses. The chef had a specialty each day. The bagettes were delicious and addictive! The staff kept your coffee or tea filled and removed used plates quickly. There were several juice choices including champagne for mimosas. Along with the buffet items were some standing items you could get from the kitchen. You just needed to ask the waitstaff. In addition to the main breakfast (usually from 7-9), there were early riser and late riser options that were mainly breads and cereals. Lunch was also a buffet with new chef selections each day at the carving station, using including a pasta. As always, lots of breads and cheeses. There was always a salad bar and two soup choices. Beer and soda were included with the meal, if requested. There were standing items that could be ordered off the menu. If you were in the mood for something a little lighter, a smaller lunch was offered in the lounge. It was a nice alternative as it wasn't as crowded and the pianist would play. Dinner was at a standing time each evening. It usually consisted of 4 courses - salad, soup, entree and dessert. On a few nights, we had an amuse bouche to start us off and on the second to last evening was a gala - more on that in a bit. The table had bread and a choice of butter or oil/spices for you to get started. there was usually a different salad each evening in addition to the standing Caesar (which was delicious). The soups followed, which were amazing. You always had a choice of two. For the entree, the chef would prepare a choice of two or three dishes and if you weren't inclinded to those, there were standing items - Caesar salad, steak, chicken or salmon. Finally, there were several dessert choices. For the gala, we had a 7 course meal with wine pairing. The baked alaska dessert was brought out by the kitchen with the lights out and sparklers lit - a nice touch. The seating was always open so you could sit with the same folks or move around and meet new ones. We chose the latter and met so many wonderful people from all over. The nice thing about the smaller ships is you really do get to know people. You'll see them again when you're out in town or walking around the ship. It's an intimate experience. A selection of local wines and beers were included with dinner, in additon to soda. You can see how hard the waitstaff work. They're trying to keep the meals coming while refilling the glasses and clearing the plates. A big kudos to these folks. On several days, there was cake and coffee/tea served in the lounge in the afternoon. And, at any time you could get coffee/capuccino/water/juice and a snack from the aft lounge. This was quite a popular area for people to gather. There were also daily news postings and games for people to use. The ship We found the size to be perfect. Not too big, not too small. There was always seating to be found no matter where you were on board. The dining room was on the second deck and had walls of windows on either side. It was roomy and you never felt like you were right on top of anyone else. The lounge was on the 3rd deck front area of the boat and was surrounded by windows. There were comfy seating groups including couches and club chairs, with table to put your drinks and snacks. The bar was also in here and the piano player. You could reach a small outside seating area from the lounge. The snack area was on the 3rd deck in the aft area. Plenty of seating and windows with doors leading to another outside seating area and steps to the upper deck. The upper deck was immense! Tons of lounge chairs, table with chairs, covers from the sun and a hot tub. My husband and I made good use of the hot tub. Given that we were among the youngest on the ship (we're 44/50), we usually had it to ourselves for as long as we wanted. The only issue we had was that it closed at 8. After a long day of walking, it would have been nice to hop in it to relax the muscles, but dinner didn't end until around 9 each night. The itinerary After the standard safety drill, we set sail from Paris in the evening the first day. While dining, we swung by a great view of the Eiffel Tower and Statue of Liberty. Great way to take off! We sailed all evening and awoke to the small town of Vernon. We chose to go on the tour of Monet's home. We were fortunate to have wonderful weather the entire time and spring had sprung early in France so the flowers were in bloom. It was a lovely location. We did not do the afternoon bus tour but chose to walk around Vernon on our own and did some hot tub time. We arrived in Rouen the next day. We awoke to being right in the city. There was a train that woke us up and we worried about spending two nights there, but it was only an issue when we first arrived. We did our own walking tour of the city in the morning - a really great place. Along the river it looks modern, but a few blocks in and your in the old world, with a beautiful town square containing a memorial to Joan of Arc making where she was burned at the stake. There were also many, many churches to explore. Rouen is know as the spire capitol and you can see why. The afternoon trip was to Honfleur, an artsy little port town with really cool buildings and loads of side streets filled with shops and galleries. It was one of my favorite places on the trip. Our next day had us up bright and early to head to Omaha Beach. It took about an hour and a half to get to the first stop - the WWII museum where the artificial harbor was built - fascinating. Next stop was at the cliff overlooking Omaha beach. This was an amazing spot with lots of German bunkers still remaining and a gorgeous view - well worth the stop. We hit Omaha Beach next and just spent a few minutes there. I'm sure there was alot to see, but we were cramming alot into the day. Our final stop was the cemetery and there just aren't words that express what it was like there. I will say that I'm proud of how they've taken such care to give our boys such a beautiful resting place. A little after we arrived, they had a short ceremony which included the playing of the national anthem. I don't think there was a dry eye to be found. Just a beautiful, meaningful experience that I will never forget. Our itinerary had us waking up in a new location in a tiny town with one small street and Richard the Lionhearted's castle on top of a hill. When we first started out, it was foggy and you couldn't even tell there was a castle up there. But, we did the hike up the hill (about 20-25 min) and after waiting about half an hour were rewarded with the fog lifting and the most amazing view ever. We explored the castle, made our way into town and walked around a bit, then headed back to the ship. This was the only tour that day as we headed out at lunchtime onto our next stop. It was fantastic because we were exhausted from the first few days of going non stop. The weather was gorgeous so we headed to the hot tub - of course!! With the sun shining and the boat crusing along, we spent a glorious afternoon recouperating. It was perfect timing. We pulled into Conflans that late that evening and docked for the night. The next morning, we chose to do a self walking tour of the town. There was a great market going on that we went to then just explored. A really interesting place to check out. We chose not to go to Van Gogh's or Napoleon's summer home. We just preferred to take it easy. The next day we sailed back to Paris. It was another great day of sailing with beautiful weather. In the afternoon a group headed off to Versailles that we would pick up along the river closer into the city. That night was our gala followed by a bus tour of the city at night. It was a great evening and nice to get out and see Paris lit up. Our last full day was in Paris with loads of options for excursions. We chose to take the metro to Montmartre. After all that walking, guess where we spent our afternoon? Yes! The hot tub. I know we spent more time in there than anyone else, but hey, it was our vacation and with returning to work the day after we got back home, we needed some relaxation in addition to the exploration. Just sitting up on that top deck in the hot tub with the Eiffel Tower in the back ground was a surreal experience. I highly recommend it if you go on the cruise. Disembarkation The night before a poster was put up telling everyone what time they would be leaving. In addition, they gave colored ribbons to be attached to your suitcases. We were told when to have our suitcases outside our stateroom and when we would be getting on the bus. Jean Loup was checking all the flights and making sure if there were delays, he worked with the folks impacted. The morning of departure we had time to get breakfast and relax a few minutes before heading into Paris traffic and the nightmare that is CDG airport. A few things of note Our cruise director, Jean Loup, was simply fantastic. He answered every question, kept people informed and managed to get everyone where they needed to be. He would leave a sheet on our bed each evening while we were at dinner with the next day's itinerary, a map of the area and a weather report. He was a large part of this cruise being so good. My husband and I are low key so we didn't spend a lot of time in the lounge, be we did go to the staff show that was really entertaining and Jean Loup arranged for a string trio to play one evening while we were sailing. It was so lovely to listen to them and watch the scenery go by. The boat was smooth. You could hardly tell you were moving unless you looked out the window. The captain was very good, squeezing us into several locks and was always smiling. When we would set sail, he would play the music from 'Columbus' - very cool. One final note - I should disclose that we won this cruise through an Avalon Facebook contest. I do feel that if we had paid for this we would have gotten our money's worth. Avalon did not require/ask that we give this review. We are not receiving any compensation for writing this review.   Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: September 2013
Given the fact that this was on the lower price end of the other cruise ships for a similar itinerary, it was TOP NOTCH. 5 star * * * * * The onboard experience reminds me of how "it used to be" in the USA. And for a reasonable ... Read More
Given the fact that this was on the lower price end of the other cruise ships for a similar itinerary, it was TOP NOTCH. 5 star * * * * * The onboard experience reminds me of how "it used to be" in the USA. And for a reasonable price. The boat was amazingly well maintained and CLEAN. The crew was always at work cleaning, painting, or fixing something. We were in steerage due to late booking but liked it because of less foot traffic outside our cabin and being close to the dining room. There was one sitting for all meals (lite breakfast and lunch in the lounge). Nice selection and excellent quality of foods. Very well prepared and tasty. Staff was superb---efficient, kind, and funny. Guests with special dietary needs were looked after as well as anyone with limited mobility. Yvette our cruise director was awesome----she had a down-to-earth sophistication, was on top of everything, had infinite patience with the "difficult" passengers, and had a good sense of humor. The included tours were excellent---the guides knew their stuff and were SO funny and clever. My husband and I are fit 61 year olds and were on the young side of the 130 passengers. There was one 52 year old who was the "baby." We figure the age range was from late 60's to mid 80's. Mostly American and a lively, fun group. Fly in at least a day early to get acclimated-----we are SO glad we did. 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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