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4 Avalon Waterways Avalon Visionary Family Cruise Reviews

Ship was beautiful but we didn’t get to open drapes or sliding door because we were always triple docked at every port. Also would wake up at 3 a.m. because of diesel exhaust in our room. Excursions were not exactly as published. ... Read More
Ship was beautiful but we didn’t get to open drapes or sliding door because we were always triple docked at every port. Also would wake up at 3 a.m. because of diesel exhaust in our room. Excursions were not exactly as published. Cruise director was personable. Dining room was nice. Breakfast and lunch were buffets. Dinner had nice menu with wine. Wine / champagne at breakfast and lunch were scarce if non existent. My main problem was the inability to sleep at night because I had to leave room to breathe. Diesel exhaust could not be managed. If anyone had asthma they would definitely struggle to breathe. I think Avalon knows what the problem is but doesn’t have a solutions. There could be serious health issues. Glad we only had 3 nights on the ship. Hotel accommodations were ok in Vienna and very nice in Budapest. This survey requires 150 words minimum. Read Less
Sail Date September 2019
We chose this cruise because it was the most perfect one to xperience the height of Holland’s tulip season. Our research led us to Avalon because of its reputation and it would be our first river cruise. The cruise staff and outstanding ... Read More
We chose this cruise because it was the most perfect one to xperience the height of Holland’s tulip season. Our research led us to Avalon because of its reputation and it would be our first river cruise. The cruise staff and outstanding tours gave us a fine European experience, and loved the meals as well. We found our cabin to be larger than expectations, for which we were very pleased. We always had outstanding views of the shore lines and gained a great appreciation for the Netherlands’ beautiful towns and countryside. Absolutely loved the shore excursions ecause the tour leaders were local, spoke excellence English, and took great pride in their country and heritage. My family and I learned a great deal about the geography and history of each place visited. Amazing! We did not attend all entertains events but, those we did, we enjoyed. It is impossible to choose a favorite day. Everything about this trip,was outstanding. Read Less
Sail Date April 2018
This cruise was booked because mom wanted to do a Rhine River cruise. My late dad and mom took a Rhine River cruise years ago and thoroughly enjoyed it. The price was great probably because the end of the tourist season was here. The ... Read More
This cruise was booked because mom wanted to do a Rhine River cruise. My late dad and mom took a Rhine River cruise years ago and thoroughly enjoyed it. The price was great probably because the end of the tourist season was here. The cruise was sold out. The big cruise lines could learn a lot on how to treat their passengers from Avalon. My mom, sister, and I were on this cruise. We knew our experience was going to be different when we checked in with the cruise folks at the Zurich Movenpick Airport, the start point of the cruise. Mom is disabled but the folks at the hotel took her under their wing to make sure she was taken care of. Check in was a snap, they just checked our names off a list. We opted for the Mt. Pilatus and Lucerne excursion. Avalon could just skip Mt. Pilatus and offer several hours in Lucerne instead. After spending about an hour in Lucerne, it was on the bus for a short trip to Basel. (Cruise Critic add Basel to your ports of embarkation). We got off the bus and the crew helped mom to the reception deck where they gave us our cabin cards. The crew escorted us to our cabins and helped us to orient ourselves to the features of the cabin. Our luggage was in the cabin before we could catch our breath. There was a evacuation orientation followed by a description of what to expect on the cruise by Gusta, the Cruise Director. She went into great detail about the included shore excursions, an extra that we weren't expecting, but welcome. Afterwards, there was a happy hour followed by the first of many great dinners. Beer and wine were included in the evening meal, another nice touch. In fact beer and wine were included in all evening meals. Happy Hour, every day, had drinks at half price. Since it had been a long day most cruisers retired to their cabins. The first full day found us in Strasburg, I opted out of the include excursion and just wandered around town. It was Sunday morning, everything was closed, except the bakeries. I bought a couple of roll and some cheese and strolled about. In the afternoon, we boarded a bus for a trip to area wine producing region and had a delightful afternoon of sipping wine. Though rain clouds threatened, we didn't experience any rain. After about three hours it was short trip back to the boat. The tour guide gave us a lot detail but knew when to be quiet and let us enjoy the ride. Another great meal on board. There was a very unexpected surprise in store for us. Sunday was my mom's birthday and about midway through the evening meal, the lights went out in the dining room and the head waiter led a procession of the crew to where mom was sitting and presented her with a birthday cake and rousing chorus of "Happy Birthday". It seemed that everyone on board came by to wish her the best. That was something a big cruise line would never do. That made the cruise for us. A night of cruising found us in Speyer the next morning. While my sister opted for the included excursion again I opted to stroll around myself. My sister said the tour guided gave a great walking tour. We only spent about three hours in Speyer because we were expected in Heidelburg in the afternoon. A short hop and we docked and got on board for a tour of downtown Heidelburg. I need to add since my mom uses an wheelchair some optional excursions were out of the question. On the walking tour of Heidelburg the tour guide went to great lengths to make sure mom was comfortable with the pace. I would also like to give a shout out to our fellow passengers that were always asking if mom was doing okay. On the way back to the boat the tour guide pointed out several old US Army Kasernes that were in the process of being converted back to civilian use. Another short hop found us in Mainz. It was at Mainz were we experience several days of less than nice autumn weather. But Avalon had us covered there as well. What big cruise line would provide its passengers with umbrella before going ashore? We did the tour of Mainz and the Gutenberg Museum and had about an hour of free time in Mainz. As luck would have it, there was a farmer's market in progress. It was nice walking about an seeing all the fresh produce, cheese, and breads. There was short hop to our next destination, Rudesheim. Rudesheim is the center of Rhineland wine region. Avalon stayed in Rudesheim overnight. I went ashore a bought some fresh pastries before we shoved off. We enjoyed the pastries as we sailed down to Koblenz. The morning and early afternoon were spent sailing down the Rhine Gorge getting a running history of the castles that dot the riverside. Gusta gave a great rendition of "Die Lorilei" as we sailed past that point of the Rhine. Koblenz is where the Mosel and Rhine Rivers merge. Koblenz could be called the capital of Mosel wines. It rained the afternoon but that didn't spoil our roaming the streets of Koblenz. The huge statue of Kaiser Wilhelm sort of dominates the area, located on the Deutsche Ecke, "German Corner" on the confluence of the two rivers. We sailed in the evening headed to Cologne. Enroute to Cologne, we passed the town of Remagen, where US Forces captured the lone standing bridge across the Rhine during World War II. The captain slowed the boat down and pointed the boat's spotlight on the ruins of bridges abutments to about dozen of us veterans on the upper deck. Gusta gave an excellent recap of the battle. Again we sailed throughout the night and docked sometime that night in Cologne. We took the walking tour of of downtown Cologne and visited the rebuilt Cologne Cathedral. Despite the cobblestones, folks in Cologne went out of their way to give us tips on smoother paths as we pushed mom in her wheelchair around. We stopped at a cafe for a cup of coffee and the owner gave mom a free cup of coffee with a huge dollop of whipped cream and a pastry that must have had a gazillion calories! Another night of sailing found us in Amsterdam for the last day of the cruise. Avalon provided a canal cruise. Amsterdam canal boats are not the easiest to get in and out of, the canal boat pilot went through great effort to get mom down before we started and helped her out at the end of the tour. The tour guide presented the history of Amsterdam in a very humorous way. The only really disappointing excursion was the trip to a "traditional Dutch village". It was more of a three hour shopping tour. That evening we wound up the cruise with a last excellent meal on board. The captain introduced his crew. The cruise director went through any last minute instructions in preparation for disembarkation. Disemarkation was a snap. We said our final goodbye, several crew members gave mom hugs and wished us well. I would recommend this Avalon cruise-Basel to Amsterdam to everyone. We were extremely pleased with the service, boat, food, and cabins on the cruise.   Read Less
Sail Date October 2014
This was my first River Cruise, after about 15 ocean cruises. I went with my sister, both of us in our 50s. Usually we travel with our husbands and/or children, but this was our "practice" River Cruise, just to see if we would ... Read More
This was my first River Cruise, after about 15 ocean cruises. I went with my sister, both of us in our 50s. Usually we travel with our husbands and/or children, but this was our "practice" River Cruise, just to see if we would like it. This was also our first time in Switzerland, Germany, eastern France and the Netherlands, and our main objective was to get a good look at this part of the world. We chose the Avalon Visionary, a new 128-passenger boat, for a 7-day Rhine 500-mile cruise due northward from Switzerland to Amsterdam, 9 to 16 September 2012. We traveled directly from JFK (NY) to Zurich overnight, Delta Business Class, with tickets purchased through Avalon. I got a lower airfare from Avalon than I could get on my own. We took the hotel shuttle--very easy--to the Zurich Airport Moevenpick, also booked through Avalon. The hotel was awesome, because the room was clean, modern and spacious, we got into the room at 8:30 am, and the hotel was easy walking distance to the tram that goes into Zurich, which we saw later that afternoon on our own. I would strongly recommend getting to your embarkation city a day early, because of 3 factors: (1) you have an extra day to handle the time change; (2) you have a cushion day in case your luggage is late (happened to me before, and I was lucky for the extra day); and (3) delayed flight can mean missed vacation time--we met a wonderful couple from South Carolina who had to "catch up" with the boat on Day 2. It is colder in Northern Europe on average in early September than it is at home (I live near DC), by about 10 degrees F. After all, Zurich is at the same latitude as Quebec, and we travel north from there. We had some unusually warm weather in Switzerland and France the first 3 days, but the temperature sank to normal fall temps (55-70 degrees F) the rest of the time. The highest marks I would give for the trip are for the tours. I think Avalon did a fantastic job, providing plenty of room in the tour buses and making all of the tours easy to follow. My sister and I are physically fit, but we were impressed that Avalon offered "slower walker" groups on each included walking tour. The first tour we took was a non-included pre-boarding tour, to Mt. Pilatus and Lucerne, and it was the best. Do not miss it. We took cable cars up Mt. Pilatus, and a rail car down. At the top was the most amazing view of Alpine peaks, along with people hang-gliding and hiking. We had a crystal clear day, so we were lucky to get such a great view. Lucerne is a postcard resort city, with cobbled streets and picture-perfect buildings. We then traveled to the boat. Visionary was very clean, crew was great, decor was simple and streamlined. Tour Director, Robert, was a hoot, explaining each night the planned activities for the next day with a rare mixture of insight and sarcasm. My sister and I had a Royal Suite, which was the last suite available when we booked for that sailing. I would not recommend this larger room; unlike large suites on an ocean-going cruise, there are no perks, just more square footage, which is basically not needed. Getting on and off the boat was so easy--you just pick up your laminated room card in the lobby and walk in and out. Zero hassle. The cruisers were 100 percent English-speaking. There was not one person under 40, I think, and most of the group was a least late 50s and beyond. This is a very easy-going and comfortable way to travel if you are "getting up there." Because there are so few passengers, you get to know a lot of them right away. By the end, you can recite first names for about a third of them. That's not at all like an ocean cruise, right? We met sisters from NC, sisters from MD, couples from all over--everyone very nice, and very relaxed. The food I thought was typically good cruise quality, with an understandably smaller selection for our small river boat than on a big cruise ship, with healthy alternative choices every night. There is no assigned seating, and we sat with many different traveling groups. Breakfast and lunch are buffet style. Good news for wine drinkers--the included wine at dinner flowed, and a different specialty wine offered every night--nothing stingy about Avalon how did this on our cruise. Entertainment--well, it was basically a piano-player every night and the crew talent show one night. The best was the Captain of the ship singing "New York, New York," with a heavy Dutch accent. I have no complaints about the entertainment, because a river cruise will not have a Broadway-style musical, right? The first portion of the Rhine was straight, calm and maybe a ½-mile wide, and descending from the higher elevation in Switzerland to the lower elevations in France and Germany by many locks. The first night, we must have gone through a half-dozen locks. There are very few large towns directly on the Rhine, because this river until a century ago was untamed and flood-prone. There is a lot of cargo and river cruise ship traffic on the river, all shallow-draft, flat-bottomed boats, nothing too big. Our first included tour was Strasbourg, France, which we saw by canal boat. This is another beautiful town, but with a sad history, as it changed hands back and forth between Germany and France over the years. Heidelberg was next, and is obviously very wealthy town, with a wonderful medieval castle. Heidelberg was our second-favorite stop. Mainz and Rudesheim (2 separate stops) were a nondescript industrial-modern town, and a quaint storybook town, respectively. We did the optional German dinner in Rudesheim, which was held at a regular restaurant, for a change of pace. It was good, but not amazing. After Rudesheim, the Rhine itself gets interesting, around the 30 mile or so (just guessing) section around the Rhine River Gorge. Our boat Visionary traveled mostly at night, but of course traversed the Gorge in the daylight, so that the cruisers could take it in. The river is wider, there are a lot more bends and rocks, and there are so many castles, every mile or so, I think. We had a cold and misty morning, but this part of the cruise was awesome. It is also famously dangerous, and one bend in the Rhine has a huge rock hill and the statue of the legendary Loreley, the maiden who distracts sailors and causes them to crash. Next was Koblenz, at the intersection of the Rhine and 2 other rivers. We had a walking tour here that started right at the boat, and it was our only boring tour, so my sister and I ditched it. There is a new cable car strung high above the Rhine at Koblenz, crossing the river to an old, very large and very high-up fort. We did the cable car ride and toured the fort on our own instead, and that was a great decision. The next day we saw Cologne, large, commercial, cold, windy, and, well you can tell, not my favorite. But, it does have an immense and impressive cathedral, and the best shopping strip on the whole tour. Finally, there was Amsterdam, which I love/hate, very strongly, both feelings. We did a long included canal tour, and saw the gorgeous homes and mix of both nice and decrepit houseboats lining the canals. We even floated past Anne Frank's house. Avalon does not offer an Anne Frank house tour, and tickets have to be ordered well in advance. I regret not getting my own tickets before the trip. We took 2 of the optional tours offered in Amsterdam, Van Gogh museum during the day and the Red Light tour at night. The first was just okay--even though I love Van Gogh, there is only so much one can see there. The Red Light tour was depressing and demoralizing, as we should have known. Sorry we took that tour. And sorrier still it was the last tour of the vacation! The next morning we took a pre-purchased bus transfer to the airport, which was another hassle-free trip about an hour from the boat. Upon reflection, this was a very relaxing vacation, and I think I want to do this again, but maybe after I have finished the more challenging stuff on my bucket list. If I were 5 to 15 years older, I think it would be right in my wheel house. I think Avalon is a good, straight-shooting company, and I will seek them out next time! Read Less
Sail Date September 2012
Avalon Visionary Ratings
Category Editor Member
Cabins 5.0 4.7
Dining 4.0 4.5
Entertainment 3.5 3.9
Public Rooms 4.0 4.7
Fitness Recreation 3.0 3.7
Family N/A 3.7
Shore Excursion 4.0 4.6
Enrichment 4.0 4.4
Service 4.0 4.9
Value For Money 4.0 4.4
Rates 3.0 3.6

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