My husband and I are in our early 60's and have enjoy traveling a lot. For the past few years we have been thinking about going on a river cruise and decided this was the year, to celebrate our 40th anniversary. We chose Avalon ... Read More
My husband and I are in our early 60's and have enjoy traveling a lot. For the past few years we have been thinking about going on a river cruise and decided this was the year, to celebrate our 40th anniversary. We chose Avalon partly because of a recommendation from someone who had traveled with Avalon and partly because of the itinerary.
We flew into Zurich a day early and stayed at Hotel Walhalla, which we booked ourselves. It was very close to the train station. We did our own thing for the day, enjoying the sights on a free walking tour we had read about online. The following afternoon we took the train back to the airport where an Avalon rep walked us to the hotel shuttle bus which took us to our meeting place. From that hotel three buses drove all the cruise passengers to Basel where our ship was docked. We were quickly shown to our room and our luggage arrived within 10 minutes.
Our stateroom was a little smaller than ones we are used to on big cruise ships but it was fine for the two of us. We had plenty of storage space for our clothes and our two big suitcases fit nicely under the bed. The bathroom had a glass door shower which was very good and the L'Occitane bath products -- well they're my favourite anyways so we really enjoyed them. Soap, shower gel, shampoo, conditioner and lotion were provided. The wifi worked great and it's free. I think the only time I had some trouble with it was when we were deep in a few of the locks on the canals.
We found the crew to be the most friendly of any ship we have ever been on. We had an excellent cruise director in Erik. He had everything under control, held excellent port talks every evening in the lounge just before dinner, and was always happy to answer any questions you might have.
I think it was the previous reviewer who said that Chef Nico would go off the ship to buy special breads. We heard he did that on our cruise too. Also, one couple told us that they were enjoying a particular drink each evening but one day they had run out, so the very next day a crew member was sent off to buy another bottle. He came back with the wrong one so he was sent out again to get the right one. Also, one day we discovered the specialty coffee machine at the back of the third deck was not working. They sent someone out to buy a new one the next day. Nothing seemed too big of a problem. We were really impressed!
We really enjoyed the food onboard. It is amazing what they can produce in that small kitchen at the bow of the ship. One of our favourites was the halibut on the second night. It was moist and delicious. I had the salmon two nights and both times it was tender and moist and came with lovely sauces. Breakfast can of course become repetitive, but really there are only so many things people eat at breakfast anyways. They always had smoked salmon so I was happy. Lunch was great. There was always a hot fresh pasta, two soups, probably 10 hot items including the vegetables, at least four or five salads, fresh fruit, cheese and crackers, and you could order dessert from the waiter. They even served ribs one day at lunch that we really enjoyed. One day they had a German lunch and it was very good too. Coffee/tea and cake was served from 4:00 - 4:45 each day in the lounge and oh my were those cakes wonderful. Don't miss it.
Each day there was an included walking tour. We enjoyed all our guides except one. Just too much information. We found most of them walked too slow for our liking but we had to realize we were younger than most of the folks on the tour. There is a slower walkers tour offered. It must be very slow. I think almost anyone could keep up with the ones we took. I must say that these towns would not be good for anyone with a walker. Most of these old cities have cobblestone roads and sidewalks and you need to wear runners and watch your step. A couple of people had canes and they were OK.
We encountered low water levels on what they called the German Danube and that day all passengers had to be off the ship for the whole day. That was our day in Regensburg. Avalon paid for all passengers to take the optional excursion thru the Danube Gorge to Weltenburg Abbey. Any who had already paid to take this excursion were reimbursed. They also gave us 15.00 euros each to cover the cost of lunch. Once again we were really impressed at the way they handled things. The afternoon carried on in Regensburg as planned. Erik came with us to be sure everything went smoothly. It was a 1 1/2 hour bus ride to catch up to our ship which had sailed through the low water without us but the scenery was lovely and we enjoyed the drive. All together we travelled through 74 locks on this cruise and one afternoon we had someone come onboard who gave a talk on the locks. It was very interesting. We even crossed the Continental Divide while on this cruise.
Disembarkation in Vienna was very well planned and was a breeze. We would definity recommend Avalon and we would travel with them again should the itinerary be what we're wanting. Read Less