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8 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: April 2018
This cruise had a great variety of large cities and small towns and 4 countries to visit. The High speed train ride to Paris was what clinched it for me. The cruise went like clockwork. Avalon took care of everything. Our cruise director ... Read More
This cruise had a great variety of large cities and small towns and 4 countries to visit. The High speed train ride to Paris was what clinched it for me. The cruise went like clockwork. Avalon took care of everything. Our cruise director Mark was superb. He was extremely thorough, smart, and had great sense of humor. He is also fluent in 6 different languages. The crew was mostly young. They all worked very hard and we enjoyed getting to know them a little bit. The ship was "just right" in size and scale. We had 85 passengers and 40 crew. This created a very intimate and comfortable environment. The total opposite of the monster cruise ships with 3,000+ passengers on board. The excursions were well thought out and went like clockwork. We would highly recommend Avalon to anyone that asks me for a cruise line. A river cruise is definitely the way to see Europe. Read Less
4 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: September 2017
We love Avalon Waterways, have had great experiences with their ships! Embarking and disembarking smooth as can be, love the way you can place your suitcase at end of cruise for early morning pickup and not midnight like big ships! 2 ... Read More
We love Avalon Waterways, have had great experiences with their ships! Embarking and disembarking smooth as can be, love the way you can place your suitcase at end of cruise for early morning pickup and not midnight like big ships! 2 nights in Prague before boarding the ship was a good start. Cabins have plenty of room, love the full glass sliding doors with bed facing the doors. Dining room beautiful with terrific service, flowing wine, and many food choices at all meals! Great room with coffee/snacks available at back of ship all day. The staff and cruise director Tony on our cruise were exceptional! All ports and shore excursions were so well planned, afternoons at leisure to go off on your own, easy access on and off boat. If thinking about river cruising, don't wait any longer!! We really loved our trip and will definitely sail again with Avalon! Read Less
Sail Date: September 2016
Service was very good. Food quality and variety very good. Complimentary wine selections with dinner better then on other cruise lines. Many of the service personal an people at the front desk remembered your name after a couple of days. ... Read More
Service was very good. Food quality and variety very good. Complimentary wine selections with dinner better then on other cruise lines. Many of the service personal an people at the front desk remembered your name after a couple of days. The off the ship tour directors that did the half day and full day tours had great knowledge of the countries visited and made suggestions for shopping. Cabin size was larger then on other river cruise ships I have been on. Port talks were very informative and tour director friendly and knowledgeable. Embarkation was a quick process. A ship's representative met us at the airport and stayed with us till we arrived at the dock. Towels in the bath were soft and fluffy and bath products were of really good quality. And the gym has good equipment and more options then on other ships I have been on and there was also a Jazuzzi. This was my 5th river cruise and i would sail with them again. Read Less
4 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: August 2016
after much research, we felt that the room size was larger on the Avalon Visionary boat and more to our liking... which it was. The room was immaculately clean and kept clean and tidy every day. The crew was friendly and accommodating ... Read More
after much research, we felt that the room size was larger on the Avalon Visionary boat and more to our liking... which it was. The room was immaculately clean and kept clean and tidy every day. The crew was friendly and accommodating and the food was fabulous. Every tour had a knowledgeable and thorough guide that was very informative. We didn't expect to have entertainment nightly onboard - however we were pleasantly surprised with the local talent that jumped on board while we were docked or while we passed through a lock..... amazing!!!!! The Hum Pa Pa band was hysterical... I hadn't laughed that hard in a long time. He was fabulous. During the day we had a Zither concert - something new for me - and not to be out done by the beer tasting in the afternoon. I need to compliment the "bar - tender" and the rest of his staff.... they always went out of their way for you. I like Avalon. Read Less
13 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: August 2015
As I was about to board the plane with my friend for Prague, I received an urgent call that our Central European Experience cruise was cancelled due to a cargo ship blocking the river. They didn't have an alternate plan as they had just ... Read More
As I was about to board the plane with my friend for Prague, I received an urgent call that our Central European Experience cruise was cancelled due to a cargo ship blocking the river. They didn't have an alternate plan as they had just received the news. By the time we reached Prague, Avalon Waterways had redirected our cruise to take us down the Danube. They did an outstanding job of giving us an amazing substitute cruise including all the wonderful side excursions from Passau ,Germany to Vienna,Austria and Budapest, Hungary. When the were no longer able to take us by train to Paris because of the distance from Budapest they chartered a plane and flew us there. They went above and beyond what was expected of them. I am 100% sure the other cruise lines would have sent us on the original itinerary on a bus instead. Our cruise director Danielle and all the crew were wonderful and went out of their way to make sure we had a great cruise. I tell everyone if you have future plans to take a river cruise, Avalon Waterways is the way to go! Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: May 2015
This was our first river cruise. We started our cruise in Amsterdam on May 2 2015. We went to the Movenpick Hotel city center on Saturday to check in and take an optional "Flower time in Tulip Land" The Keukenhof Flower ... Read More
This was our first river cruise. We started our cruise in Amsterdam on May 2 2015. We went to the Movenpick Hotel city center on Saturday to check in and take an optional "Flower time in Tulip Land" The Keukenhof Flower Exhibition.The gardens are very big and beautiful. We were there just at the right time because all the Tulips were in bloom. Coach transfer to the MS AVALON VISIONARY after the Tulip trip.We boarded the Avalon Visionary and it was beautiful. Our cabin on the 3rd floor(upper deck) was more than we expected. A big queen bed facing a big French Balcony. It had a sitting area, chair, sofa, and table. The bath was better than any cabin on any cruise ship we were ever on before. We had our Mandatory SAFETY DRILL, then a welcome meeting and cocktail. 7 PM Embarkation dinner(every dinner was very good, with a good selection of food.) We really didn't leave Sunday we had an Included Canal Cruise of Amsterdam in the morning. Then lunch on board. at 1:45 we took the optional Shore Feature visiting The ANNE FRANK HOUSE. 5PM all aboard, then a port talk, 7PM Dinner, Afterwards music. The rest of the week was great with every day doing a city tour, then lunch, either a light lunch in the lounge or buffet in the main dinning room. Then Dinner at 7PM where you could sit anywhere with anyone you wanted to. The menu was very nice with meat or fish or chicken every day and wonderful soup salad and dessert. The ports were Amsterdam, Cologne, Rudesheim, and Mainz Strasbourg and Basel. We had a problem that the river was to high for ships to continue to sail down the river. We disembarked in Bingen and were driven to Strasbourg by motor coach were we were put on another Avalon ship named The Tranqulity II the same class ship as the Visionary only newer. After lunch we went to our new rooms(the same room as we had on the Avalon Visionary.) Then we did a tour of Strasbourg came back for coffee and cake then a port talk then dinner. After dinner a Black Forest Presentation then music and dancing. Overnight in Strasbourg. 8AM tour of the Black Forest by tour bus, for shopping for Cuckoo Clocks and some Black Forest Cherry Cake and Coffee. Back to the ship for a buffet lunch. After lunch a free tour to the City of Colmar France. This tour was Complimentary by Avalon. 4PM back on board coffee and cake. 6-7 Happy hour(every night) Port talk 7PM Dinner. Music and dance. We were to leave Strasbourg but due to the high water Avalon Tranquility stayed docked and we could not go Basel. Saturday we all left for Basel or Zurich by bus for our planes or trains home. The river being too high is no fault of Avalon, they gave every one $200.00 refund for the inconvenience. This was a great river trip and we are going to do another with Avalon. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: May 2014

We did the Romantic Rhine Cruise, northbound (from Basel to Amsterdam), and there was nothing about this cruise we didn't love. Our Panarama Suite was roomy and well-appointed. We especially liked the sliding glass doors which made a ... Read More

We did the Romantic Rhine Cruise, northbound (from Basel to Amsterdam), and there was nothing about this cruise we didn't love. Our Panarama Suite was roomy and well-appointed. We especially liked the sliding glass doors which made a balcony of our whole room; even though the weather was, with rare exception, too cool to open the doors wide the week we cruised, the 7-feet-wide, floor-to-ceiling doors made our suite feel light and spacious even on a cloudy, overcast day. The elegant bathroom was large, with excellent lighting.

The crew must get first-class training because every single member of the crew was friendly and eager to be of service. By mid-week we felt like we were part of a big, happy family.

The food was quite good. Breakfast and lunch were served buffet-style, but one could order from a select menu if preferred. Unlimited soft drinks and wine (perhaps beer, too) were provided at evening meals. Along those same lines, there was a half-priced Happy Hour every evening for designated times as stated on the daily itinerary we found in our room each night (as part of our nightly turn-down service). We liked that the evening meals were served at a leisurely pace since this gave us an opportunity to relax, talk about that day's excursions,, and visit with the "new friends" at our table.

About the excursions: the excursions (both included and optional) were very good and certainly enhanced by very good local guides with a great communication system: Avalon issued each of us earpieces the first day of our cruise and provided each of the local guides with a transmitter. This was, hands-down, the best of these audio systems we've ever experienced (with the exception of our guide in Heidelberg who couldn't seem to understand he had to speak INTO his transmitter).

All of our other European trips had been land tours, which we'd always enjoyed, but we decided we were ready for the unpack-just-once experience of a river cruise. After much research we liked what we saw and read about Avalon Waterways, and we weren't disappointed! The experience was so positive that we left the Visionary wondering what other river cruises Avalon offers that we could work into our travel plans.

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9 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: October 2013

First, let me say that the crew of the Avalon Visionary were wonderful. They did everything in their power to make the trip a pleasure, but couldn't overcome the shortcomings of stateroom 202. The continuous sound of running, splashing, ... Read More

First, let me say that the crew of the Avalon Visionary were wonderful. They did everything in their power to make the trip a pleasure, but couldn't overcome the shortcomings of stateroom 202. The continuous sound of running, splashing, gurgling water beneath our cabin floor caused us endless sleepless nights. We would emerge in the morning for breakfast looking like zombies. When exhaustion did bring on sleep, we were frequently awakened green and gasping as diesel exhaust fumes wafted through our cabin courtesy of the air conditioning system. There was no fear of motion sickness on board, but carbon monoxide poisoning was a real possibility. The on-board entertainment system was nice, but only worked sporadically. Then there was the day when our room inexplicably locked us out. This was surely an omen. Only a crew member with a master key could let us in that day until the entire lock system was replaced.

On the final evening of the trip we had a silent tour of Budapest at night when our local guide was given a dead audio transmitter.

Note to beer lovers: The complimentary on-board beer served with dinner is awful. It looks and tastes like....well....you know. After the first night nobody touched the beer. We all switched to wine, which was quite good. Small (0.3L) bottles of German beer were available at the bar but cost 3.5 Euros (about $5). Slake your beer thirst in Prague, where delicious Czech beer cost less than $2 for a half liter. Wish we had brought a case on board.

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7 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: July 2013

The Avalon Visionary is a lovely ship boat. Our 200-level portside cabin was excellent. The "French Balcony" is fantastic.

Staff and crew are extremely friendly and accommodating.

When there was too much sun at dinner, I ... Read More

The Avalon Visionary is a lovely ship boat. Our 200-level portside cabin was excellent. The "French Balcony" is fantastic.

Staff and crew are extremely friendly and accommodating.

When there was too much sun at dinner, I started to pull down the blinds.

A waitress came running up to pull them down.

She said, "We're supposed to do everything for our guests."

Don't worry," I said, smiling, "I took a course in blind pulling."

It's neat. They have mini-newspapers for Canadians.

The buffets are never crowded and there's always plenty of table space available. (That's quite unlike our experiences on over a dozen ocean cruises.)

Anyone complaining about the quality of food needs cerebral assessment.

The breakfast and lunch buffets are elaborate and the dinners are excellent.

(A brochure explains that, because of the limited space, the buffets can have no more than 80 or 90 items!)

At dinner, the red and white wines flow freely ... with multiple refills (all for no extra charge).

When they say dinner begins at 7 pm, you gotta be there at 7 pm. You select everything at the start, from a multiple-choice menu.

Then the meal is served like clockwork; starters/appetizers/salads, soup, main course, dessert, coffee, tea.

Every guest gets the same component at the same time. That's efficiency, eh?

You come a half hour later, you miss your goose liver pate or caesar salad and begin your dinner with the cream of white bean soup.

A neat thing? As we move from Germany thru Bavaria to Vienna to Hungary, the food changes to reflect the locale.

Bavarian sausages, Wienerschnitzel, Hungarian goulash ... very nice!

The maid came by twice a day to fix our room, leaving bottled water in the mornings and chocolate on our pillow at night.

(Unlike ocean cruises, the bottles of water are free.)

WiFi is free (unlike 75 cents / minute on ocean cruises) ... and we even got CNN on TV.

There are free tours / excursions at many stops ... with guides and earphones.

Although there is no elaborate evening entertainment (as there is on ocean cruises), we had musical entertainers, chocolate and beer testing sessions, talks and videos on local history and other things of interest.

In addition to lots of information and a daily schedule (delivered each day to your cabin), the cruise director explains everything over the PA system.

Because there are only about one hundred guests, you often bump into the same people. After a few days, it's like a "family gathering".

Although there are elevators, the ship is cleverly designed so that the restaurant is between the 1st and 2nd floor and the lounge is between the 2nd and 3rd floors

... so there are just a few steps to negotiate.

What is so neat is to see the villages, farms, vineyards, castles going by ... and the locks are fun.

Our daily diary with comments, pictures and videos is here:

http://www.gummy-stuff.org/Danube-diary.htm

 

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24 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: July 2013

Been on about 50 total cruises but only 2 Riverboat sailings. The first riverboat was 2 1/2 years ago on Viking's Pride, a 10 night Tulip Time sailing Amsterdam to Amsterdam. It was really only a 7 night sailing as three nights we were ... Read More

Been on about 50 total cruises but only 2 Riverboat sailings. The first riverboat was 2 1/2 years ago on Viking's Pride, a 10 night Tulip Time sailing Amsterdam to Amsterdam. It was really only a 7 night sailing as three nights we were docked in Amsterdam using the ship like a hotel. The latest was an 11 night Avalon Waterways cruise tour on their Visionary. The tour included 2 nights in Prague at the Old Town Marriott, then a 7 night sailing from Nuremberg to Budapest ending with 2 night at the Inter-Continental in Budapest. Our Avalon Sailing was a charter but pretty much everything is what anyone booking with Avalon Waterways would receive.

Let start with the ships themselves. I liked the Avalon Visionary better than the Viking Pride. It was smaller holding 128 vs. 178 and had a better decor. Lacking though were drawers in the cabins. Lots of shelves and cabinet storage but no drawers. Bathrooms goes to the Visionary as well. Bigger and nice layout. Beds were set up as a Queen on both ship but the Visionary had a thick topper, so no center crack like on the Pride. On the Visionary we had a Cat. E, minimum rate, which was much nicer than the minimum rate cabins we saw on the Viking Pride. We upgraded to a Cat. D on Viking's Pride because of no hotel beds in minimum. I understand Vikings new ships have comparable minimum rate cabins to the Visionary. Keep in mind that riverboat cabins are much smaller than those on large cruise ships. You spend very little time in your cabin other than sleeping. When going through locks you are requested to have your sliding doors closed in the cabins with them. Also when docked you might be right against another ship as they often dock two or three abreast. You have to walk through one or two other ships to get to the pier. Personally I would not pay for more than a minimum rate cabin as long as it had "hotel style" beds. Most cabins are about the same size in all categories except the suites which are still not that large. Save your money and book minimum rate cabin. They are always the first to go.

Food goes to Viking hands down. Viking did 4 course table service lunches equal to those in a fine hotel, the same for dinner. Avalon did buffet lunches with one item that could be ordered from the kitchen. Most passengers didn't even know that unless asked for a menu. I felt the food on Avalon reminded me of large cruise ship buffets and pretty much the same everyday. Dinner, while offering table service were not as elegant as Viking. Wines and beer were freely poured on both at dinner. I am not sure now that Viking has added 24 new ships in just two years if their food and service is up to par with that offered in the Spring of 2011. The Visionary offered coffees, teas and other beverages 24/7 as did Viking but Avalon always had lots of fruit and homemade cookies set out as well. It was hit or miss with Viking for snacks.

Both lines offer included tours in port as well as optional tours. I felt Avalon offered a lot more optional tours. I am not sure if this was because of a different itinerary or not. Both did a great job with their tours.

All in all I would go on either line again. While pricey as compared to Ocean Liner Cruises I really enjoyed both riverboat sailings. It is a totally different experience and one that I am liking more and more. It is a great way to see Europe. I just wish they would offer more 10 or 11 day sailings. Most sailings tend to be either 7 or 14 nights on the riverboat itself. I have always felt 7 nights is too short and 14 nights a bit too long on board a ship or riverboat.

Giving riverboat cruising a try. I think you'll enjoy them as much as I do.

 

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Avalon Visionary Ratings
Category Editor Member
Cabins 5.0 4.6
Dining 4.0 4.5
Entertainment 3.5 3.9
Public Rooms 4.0 4.6
Fitness Recreation 3.0 3.6
Family N/A 3.6
Shore Excursion 4.0 4.6
Enrichment 4.0 4.4
Service 4.0 4.8
Value For Money 4.0 4.3
Rates 3.0 3.6

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