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15 Avalon Waterways Avalon Visionary River Cruise Reviews

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
Sail Date April 2018
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 2017
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
Sail Date September 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
Sail Date August 2016
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 ... 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
Sail Date August 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
Sail Date May 2015
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. Read Less
Sail Date May 2014
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, ... 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. Read Less
Sail Date October 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   Read Less
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 ... 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.   Read Less
Sail Date July 2013
My husband and I have been on 3 previous European River cruises: The Seine on Viking, The Rhine on Uniworld, and the Danube on AMA. The cruises on Uniworld and AMA were both Christmas market cruises as this one on the Visionary was.The ... Read More
My husband and I have been on 3 previous European River cruises: The Seine on Viking, The Rhine on Uniworld, and the Danube on AMA. The cruises on Uniworld and AMA were both Christmas market cruises as this one on the Visionary was.The only thing they all had in common was that they went to Christmas markets. Both AMA and Uniworld had Christmas activities scheduled on the ship with AMA going all out to keep up the Christmas atmosphere. Other than some tasteful decorations, the Visionary had no Christmas activities. Not even a cooking demonstration on how to make some Christmas yummy! There was one lecture on the formation of the EU. Sadly the water was high and we barely cruised and it was at night. The busing and the night in the hotel in Frankfurt were handled very smoothly, but it was a disappointment not to see the small towns along the Main. The ship was beautiful and our cabin gorgeous. The food and wine were good. If we had never been on other Christmas cruises maybe we would have been satisfied. As it was we were very disappointed with the lack of Christmas on the ship. The towns along the Main were all charming decked out for Christmas. Our guide, Victoria, was such fun that even the bus ride had everyone having fun! (Maybe the happy hour on the bus helped keep us happy!) Read Less
Sail Date December 2012
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
Arrived in Amsterdam on first day of cruise coming from Copenhagen where we had just completed an 11 day Baltic Sea cruise that day. With the long, expensive flights from the US, we decided to do the 2 cruises back to back. The dates ... Read More
Arrived in Amsterdam on first day of cruise coming from Copenhagen where we had just completed an 11 day Baltic Sea cruise that day. With the long, expensive flights from the US, we decided to do the 2 cruises back to back. The dates worked out for us & I booked both over the internet directly with the cruise companies with no problems. Avalon did great job getting our documents to us early and answering all my questions pre cruise. Arriving at the airport around 4:00 PM & collecting our luggage, we expected to see an Avalon representative holding a sign to transfer us to the ship. After walking around for about 10-15 minutes, we finally found the red & white object where they were standing; after the driver finished his coffee, we left for the ship, about a 20 minute ride. At the ship, we got on immediately & went to our room with no further waiting. The ship is beautiful and the room was very comfortable with plenty of space for everything. The room seemed small with only had 2 small windows; when we booked in June, no balcony rooms were available. However, with the great weather, there were plenty of public viewing places so didn't spend much time in our room. The ship ride was very smooth and our room very quiet. Beds were very comfortable. Dress was casual during the day & dining room at night most dressed up a little more but no ties or sports coats. Saw a few men in tee shirts & shorts at night. There are no activities on the ship as with large cruise ships, which didn't bother us as we do not participate in those anyway. Viewing the scenery along the river and the ports are the focus of this type of cruise and these did not disappoint. Likewise, there is no shopping on the ship and no photographers. Entertainment in the evening is primarily a piano player which we listened to a few times. One night 3 local musicians were brought in & they were excellent. By evening after dinner & sightseeing all day, we were ready for bed as most days begin with the included walking tour around 8:30 AM. Dining: The breakfast & lunch buffets offered a nice variety & food was good. Two days a bar-b-que lunch was also offered on the top deck outside but you had to signup the day before which wasn't made very clear so we missed the first; apparently they only had space for about 40 people, so if you weren't on the list, you couldn't have that. Dining: Dinner was at 7 PM in the dining room, a sit down dinner with no other option. I was disappointed in the entree options several nights as well as the desserts at lunch & dinner. The brochure information makes it sound like there is a bistro on the top deck for casual dining as an option & there wasn't. Seven nights of sitting through a long drawn out dinner was too much after sightseeing all day. The unlimited wine & beer was nice & the service was great. The self serve coffee, juice, cookies & fresh fruits in the Club Lounge all day were nice. The ports were wonderful & beautiful cities. Some of the walking tour guides gave us a little too much history but most of the included tours were good and the headsets worked well. Nice to be docked usually right in towns where we could walk around. Really enjoyed the Rhine River gorge scenery but got tired of listening to hours of history over the loud speaker on the ship; for us, an occasional break would have been nicer as we began to feel like we were in a history class. At the rear in the Club Lounge, it is quiet (no speakers) but we wanted to sit outside at the front of the ship. Rudisheim was charming & enjoyed the musical museum & included wine tasting. Really enjoyed the bus tour to the Black Forest area which also was included; very pretty & interesting. We took the optional tour to Alsace for the wine tasting, plus got to see the beautiful countryside along the way. Would recommend this tour. I would recommend this ship for this type of cruise if your primary focus is the ports & their history which they did very well. For us, the lack of evening dining options, plus the cost of a balcony room compared to the ocean cruise ships would be a factor in booking another river cruise. Also, if possible, we prefer to do our own sightseeing at the ports which gives us more options. Read Less
Sail Date August 2012
This was our first River Boat Cruise, so we really did not know what to expect. We have been "big ship" cruisers for 20 years. The staff, cruise director and captain of Visionary are exceptional. They are all very involved ... Read More
This was our first River Boat Cruise, so we really did not know what to expect. We have been "big ship" cruisers for 20 years. The staff, cruise director and captain of Visionary are exceptional. They are all very involved with you and your cruise. The captain played his trumpet as we passed the Lorelei and the crew did a talent show which was such fun! The meals onboard were very good with a nice variety. One tip, check the breakfast and lunch specials each day before going to the buffet. Dinner was great. Six of us travelled together and were able to sit together without a problem each night. Wine at dinner was wonderful and we had more than our share. The included excursions were great. I was in a walking boot due to a foot problem but was able to keep up without a problem. You will receive earphones and a receiving device on each excursion. The guide then transmits the details of the excursion as you walk. This enabled all of us to hear without a problem and was excellent for my husband who wears hearing aids. My only regret was that we didn't have more "free time" in the cities. Our guides were fun and informative. I would strongly recommend the optional trips to Alsace and Colmar. For the small cost, these excursions really gave you a flavor of the area. Also, make sure you are on deck when going through the locks (at least one). We travelled through the Panama Canal on a "big ship" and enjoyed the locks. But on this small vessel, it is really "up close and personal", a real treat. I have three minor "complaints". The bar did not stock bourbon, only CC and Jack Daniels. But since the wine was so good, it really didn't matter. Rafting is a real bummer, but necessary evil. On the third day of our trip, I awoke and opened our curtains only to be looking at the vessel we had rafted with. This occurred 4 times for us so basically rendered our French balcony worthless. Finally, it would be nice to know a basic time for the itinerary. Example, we had a flight delay to Amsterdam (7 hours!). We arrived at 4PM versus 9AM on Sunday 6/10. However, from the brochure, I thought we had all day in Amsterdam on Monday. No, the boat left at noon so I only had 4 hours in Amsterdam. I would strongly recommend adding a day (minimum) to the front of your cruise. Post cruise, we spent 3 days in Lucerne. We all had a marvelous time with Avalon and I would recommend them highly. Read Less
Sail Date June 2012
We travelled from Amsterdam to Basel on the Visionary from 6/24/ to 7/2/2012. The ship is new and we found that the upcharge for having a cabin with the highly touted panorama doors was worthwhile. The doors are actually a large slider so ... Read More
We travelled from Amsterdam to Basel on the Visionary from 6/24/ to 7/2/2012. The ship is new and we found that the upcharge for having a cabin with the highly touted panorama doors was worthwhile. The doors are actually a large slider so that 2/3 of your entire seaward wall can open to the water. This was our first river cruise, so we don't have any experience with which to compare, but we felt our expectations were very well met. We spent several days in Amsterdam before the trip, stayed at the Movenpick and were charmed by both the city and the hotel. Given the chance, go for the concierge level at the hotel; you will get a room on one of the top 2 floors, the full breakfast (otherwise about 30+ Euro) and a lovely evening beer/wine and excellent hot and cold hors d'oeuvres from 5-7pm. Great service, very attentive. We met our fellow passengers and cruise director, Sabina, at the Movenpick Hotel in Amsterdam to be shepherded to the ship, moored just next door. The staff of the ship was very well organized, all spoke English in consideration of the demographic. The passengers on our trip were all US, Canadian, UK or Australian. Without detailing every stop along the way, each city included a walking tour of about 1-1.5 hours with a local guide. An "easy walker" group was available for those with mobility issues. We had earpieces so that one could wander quite a bit away from the guide and still hear everything they said. The walking tour gave some history and gave one a feel for the lay of the land. Following the walking tour there was generally some free time to further explore, shop or sightsee, another included excursion or the opportunity for an optional excursion. We LOVED that excursions were included and enjoyed all of them. We did opt out of one included excursion to explore on our own and some more experienced travelers seemed to do more of this than we did. We only did one optional excursion; I went on the winery tour while my husband napped aboard the ship one afternoon. I heard someone complaining loudly about it as they didn't enjoy it. I'm not sure what the fellow's gripe was, but he didn't think it was worth the cost. Although I am not a big fan of German wines I thoroughly enjoyed the tour, the tasting and the ambiance of the town. Excursions that involved coach travel were well organized and the coaches clean, comfortable and equipped with a guide who narrated as we drove. Several days involved multiple stops in a single day and it means your time in one of the locations is limited. For example, the morning we were in Koblenz we had a walking tour at around 8:15am and left the town at 10am for the Rhine Gorge and Rudesheim, which didn't leave time to explore or shop. No way around this really I suppose; it just left us hungry to see more. Onboard: We travelled with a small group of friends and agreed that the coffee machine in the stern lounge was a unanimous hit; GOOD latte macchiato, cappuccino, coffee, hot chocolate available 24 hours a day. Our steward was attentive but not intrusive. Food was abundant and good with a very nice variety of entrees at dinner and buffet breakfast and lunches with great variety. If offered, do not miss the German Cookout on the Skydeck, it was wonderful. Our unanimous concern...our ONLY concern on the entire trip, was that non-alcoholic beverages in the dining room at meals were slow to arrive, if they did arrive. Wine was poured very freely and your glass never empty BUT water, iced tea or coffee were generally not offered during the meal; you had to ask for it, which meant flagging down a very busy waiter as you are all seated for a single seating at the same time. Iced tea was particularly hard to get for some reason. Coffee and tea were usually offered at the end of a meal, just not terribly promptly. Again, this was our only complaint and I hope one that is easily resolved for future travellers. Entertainment was fine but limited, though honestly, given the demographic (mostly 50-75, a couple of families with young adults and a single honeymoon young couple) this wasn't a big party crowd :) and many of us retired relatively early in order to be up and fed in time to leave for the 8:15-8:30 walking tour most mornings. So, if you are going primarily for night time entertainment, don't. I would happily travel with Avalon again. Read Less
Sail Date June 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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