We had high water river flooding so Avalon had to scurry and make our trip the best it could be under the circumstances. We were very impressed with their actions. They notified us via email that there was high water and things were ... Read More
We had high water river flooding so Avalon had to scurry and make our trip the best it could be under the circumstances. We were very impressed with their actions. They notified us via email that there was high water and things were going to have to change. We had planned on the newest ship in the fleet and smooth sailing but that was not to be the case for us. However, we did not get put into a hotel or taken just by bus as I had heard horror stories in the past.
They got a different ship there in Amsterdam for us so we were in good shape. They explained that Sat, Sun, Mon, and Tues we would be enjoying our cruise on that ship with their staff. They could not have been any nicer. Then on Weds we did have to pack up and be taken by bus to our excursion and from there they would take us to the new ship! For that inconvenience they even offered us a monetary reimbursement which I thought was outstanding as they were not obligated to do that. So then we were finally on our ship....it was fantastic and our super cruise director Isabel went with us so we still felt like home. That could have been an awful experience and they worked doubly hard to make sure that it was not!
The beginning of the trip we stayed in Amsterdam for three days on a houseboat which was pretty awesome too. Then went to the Movenpick Hotel for free soft drinks and meeting other travelers and then whisked off by bus to the Keukenhoff Gardens tour. It was unbelievable--the reds, oranges, pinks, yellows in the fields and then the best garden we have ever toured and we have been to Versaille, etc. It is only open 8 weeks out of the year so if you are lucky enough to be there then I heartily recommend going. We were not besieged by crowds as we had a plan of which places we wanted to see and we walked directly to them. The orchid place was one of our first to visit and it was phenomenal. After that tour then we were taken back to the ship.
The ship was easy to get around on unless you cannot do about six steps up or down. There is an elevator if you cannot. We were on the top cabin level in 323 towards the back of the ship. Perfect location for us as it was near the club lounge where there was always cookies, teas, coffees, juices, donuts, turnovers etc out day and night. Many people read there or did computers there. Wifi is great on this ship! And the views from the back of the boat were good too. You could also go right up on the top deck from there too. So we liked the location of our cabin and especially being on the third floor we had great views. We actually laid in bed and watched some castles go by!
The cabin itself was great with the panoramic wall of glass doors that open. And it was roomy with a couch, desk, fridge, the most comfortable bed and pillows that I have experienced. The bathroom is way bigger and nicer than what you get on the ocean cruises. Nice size shower and marble everywhere. A nice night light system too. And they have different color towels so you know which one is yours and which one is your roomies. Nice idea! Came from a cruisers recommendation on an evaluation they said.
There were different ages represented from many different countries. Average probably in the sixties. Australia, New Zealand, Canada, England and U.S. had the most people onboard. So interesting to meet them and get to know them.
I made us of the hand sanitizers at the reception area when you came and went and also at the restaurant entrance and I carried my own as I did not want to get a cold etc.
I loved that they had provided free water for us and they kept that going all through the trip. Nice touch. Also, loved the free wine and beer that came with dinner. They actually kept filling up my glass and I am a lightweight so they were not stingy at all!
After we left Amsterdam the most exciting thing was going through the first lock! We went up on top and watched the process as I had never experienced that before.
Food: I did not ever go to breakfast as I don't eat that usually but did go to the club lounge and had a turnover or something with my juice and pills. The lunches were great. You need to remember at the dining room to look at the menu since you can order things too besides what is on the buffet. I loved the buffet and way overate. Salads to start and many entrees, breads, veggies, and desserts. Ice cream was always offered too. Then for dinner we had six courses some nights! The best was the one with lobster of course....but always good soups, salads, entrees like salmon, steak, fish, potatoes, rice, and yummy desserts. My favorite was the lobster and the tenderloin of beef. And the best night was the night we tried the bistro dinner in the lounge. You have to sign up for it and we were so happy we did...no charge extra! And it was the best meal of little plates and we were stuffed and we had great dinner companions from Canada. Had a great night. In your regular dinners, we sometimes ate at a table for two and sometimes ate at a group table. Depends upon what time you get there what choice you have. And for lunch you also have the choice of a light lunch in the lounge. We did that a couple days when we were pressed for time with two excursions in a day. And there was soup, salad, two entrees and dessert. We were sad that on the day we were to have a grilled lunch up on top we had rain so we missed that.
Service: we cannot say enough about the service....both ships had staff that always spoke to you and wished you a good excursion or dinner or day. And the cruise director was so good--Isabel kept things running smoothly, explained everything, and even offered to have us borrow her ipad charger when mine broke mid cruise. And the hotel director Mr. D offered his laptop computer to me one night to print boarding passes....just ask. We also needed another adaptor/convertor and both ships had them to borrow free of charge since we had U.S. Ipads, and Kindles, and phones to charge up. The room was kept immaculate and clean and loved the turn down service while at dinner and came back to chocolates on the bed and a fireplace on the tv.
The tv was a flat screen and was much better on the Tranquility II than on the older ship. Newer of course. One night it was not working and reception just reset it from down there and it was back up and running. My hubby's only criticism was not much for U.S. news on it...mostly British. But you are on vacation and you have your Ipad and your Kindle so we were not without news. Plus they have a bulletin paper for all the countries in the club lounge so you could read up there.
Excursions: We did them all! We did all the free ones and did all the paid ones we could fit in so we were busy! In Amsterdam, we did the Canal Boat tour and walking tour and Keukenhoff Gardens. We would have done Anne Frank House but had already done it and the same with the Zaanse Schwans Windmills. In Strasbourg, we had the best tour guide ever, Rafaella sp? but had her for two excursions and she was so proud of her city and excellent. Loved the Alsace Loraigne wine trip too. The local family winery there was very hospitable and the wines all white were excellent and got to see the process. And even had some cake. I personally loved the Siegfrieds Mechanical Musical Museum as I knew what to expect; old instruments very unique and very loud and the house it is in is very interesting too. Then we did not have the Rudesheim coffee after as they offered us the wine tasting there instead with cheeses. Notice a wine theme going on here...it was great! I much preferred that to a coffee thing. The best thing though with the most pictures was the sailing through the gorge and a castle every five minutes. We had 87 degree weather for that day which was weird since it had been 50's and 60's so up on the top deck with our cruise director giving us a paper with the castle history and a narration as they floated by. It was fantastic with waiter service for drinks as we sailed along. Towards the end, I went down to the cabin to lay in bed and watch them gently go by. My hubby fell asleep but I saw them all! Magical!
Heidelburg printing press and Heidelburg castle was a great excursion too with free time for shopping so I got my chocolates. Also got macaroons in Strasbourg.
The only thing different I might have done the whole trip was maybe take a morning off to relax but I just did not want to miss anything....Wear comfortable shoes as there are lots of cobblestone streets and stairs. We only travel with backpacks for Europe so for packing I can tell you that you can do layers for colder, warmer etc and be very comfortable. Don't overpack! I thoroughly enjoyed this trip on my first river cruise and would do another! And would definitely recommend Avalon! Read Less