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Sail Date: July 2019
The duration and locations, especially starting on the Black Sea. Very happy we went from east to west as it consistently got better all the way to Prague. Budapest and Prague were great large cities and the smaller towns like Durnstein ... Read More
The duration and locations, especially starting on the Black Sea. Very happy we went from east to west as it consistently got better all the way to Prague. Budapest and Prague were great large cities and the smaller towns like Durnstein and Pecs were great surprises. The Passion was very nice with a small spa, but the exercise room was way too small. I couldn't lift the weights up as they hit the ceiling and the max weight was 10k. Matre'd was very accommodating to my wife's pepper allergies and there were some vegetables at the breakfast buffet for me. The tours of the towns and cities were well done, although most of the guides have their speech idocincracies. The presence of the Habsburg family made it a special themed cruise and more personal (only the portion from Budapest to Regensburg). By the end, we had heard the stories repeated so many times about Sissy, that we didn't want to hear anymore. Would have liked to have been involved with more sustainable activities and performances, like our Avalon cruise on the Mekong. Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: August 2018
Recommended by friends who have been on prior AVALON cruises, including this summer on the same one we took but at an earlier time. We also chose it for size of boat, lack of children, number of stops and excursions. The ports were ... Read More
Recommended by friends who have been on prior AVALON cruises, including this summer on the same one we took but at an earlier time. We also chose it for size of boat, lack of children, number of stops and excursions. The ports were excellent, with variation of guides in ports from super to ok. Enough free time and also enough information provided. In fact, everything was timed perfectly - no mixups. The ship was lovely, well designed to encourage socialization and choices for meals. The staterooms were roomy for a cruise, with plenty of storage and it was great that all had outside windows (we never opened ours but there were Juliette balconies). Food was excellent and abundant. Our on-board director, NANCY, was fantastic. She made everything work with great spirit and enthusiasm and problem solving. And she gave precise and well-articulated "briefings" every day. Terrific. A real pro. 99% of our "problems" were of our own making in that we had a small fold-up wheel chair which does not work easily on the old town streets and hills - FYI for anyone traveling with a wheel chair or limited walking ability. Luckily we are used to me parking the chair for my husband somewhere interesting and galloping off on my own to see things beyond his range. As to Nancy and the crew, they made the wheel chair part no problem as much as humanly possible. I would recommend for entertainment that there be more organized after dinner things like scavenger hunts or bingo of some variety or other group games - we did a few but mainly it was passive entertainment and then people went to the bar or their rooms. The days were filled very well; no too long stretches of sailing. We did run out of Danube at the Budapest stop - hardly the fault of Avalon. We were impressed with everything. Met lovely people, all similar enough in age/life stage to fit together well. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: July 2018
We are delighted that we chose to take the 21 day trip on the Danube that included Transylvania and three days in Prague. The trip from East to West gave us a wonderful insight into the people and historical issues of that area. The ... Read More
We are delighted that we chose to take the 21 day trip on the Danube that included Transylvania and three days in Prague. The trip from East to West gave us a wonderful insight into the people and historical issues of that area. The entire crew did a wonderful job of making sure we had a great time. The food and accommodations were first rate! The low water level issue was handled calmly and professionally. We had a wonderful time and will continue to travel with Avalon. Great Cruise Director, Robert is a true professional. The wait staff was excellent, special thanks to Alexander and Andy for their service and friendship. Our breakfast egg chef did an amazing job. When you spend that long on a shop, they definitely get to know you and your preferences and provide service without even an order!! Madija kept our room clean and comfortable at all times. We love the Passion and it's cabin layout. Being able to enjoy our room and the water with the cabin doors open to the river was a delight! Avalon does an excellent job at providing fresh, local food that allows us to sample local specialties along the route. Outstanding selection and beautifully prepared and presented meals. Love the Ice Cream!! Read Less
7 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: October 2017
Our river cruise was really great. Hope this review does not become too much of a love fest, but we obviously enjoyed this adventure more than we even expected. The trip from Bucharest/Black Sea to Budapest was an area of the world we ... Read More
Our river cruise was really great. Hope this review does not become too much of a love fest, but we obviously enjoyed this adventure more than we even expected. The trip from Bucharest/Black Sea to Budapest was an area of the world we had not seen. Avalon was one of few that actually started in Bucharest, went to Black Sea and then up Danube to Budapest. The area of the Danube Delta ecosystem is fascinating/well worth seeing. Avalon Passion - simply put it is a first class ship. Quite new (2016) and it shows. All parts are really nicely laid out with plenty of room to move around/find your own space. Open air balconies are really nice for the categories. Crew - A+. Every crew member went out of their way to be friendly/accommodating from the captain to all support staff. Friendly, professional and very competent. Started with the Captain who was happy to have guests in the Bridge for morning coffee to Deen, our waiter who took such good care of us at Dinner. Even the Chef took the time to give us a personal tour of the kitchen to show us how they turn out such fine meals Food - Breakfast was good, Lunch was very good and Dinner was excellent. We were pleased with the freshness, quality and choices for the meals. Had a chance to eat regional dishes as well as familiar choices. Wine selections were quite acceptable. Seating was open so we were able to sit with different people and get to know a lot of our shipmates. Excursions - They varied from good to outstanding. The way they broke us into manageable (25-30 or smaller) groups was very helpful. The guides were very knowledgeable. Danube Delta excursion, Veliko Tarnova, and Belgrade tours were outstanding. Belgrade guide was amazing, could have spent another day with her. Only improvement would have been on the all day excursions w/lunch off the boat we would have preferred less time spent on lunch/more time on tours. This part of the world is quite interesting, not just for the scenery, but for the unusual history/recent history/communist control. Some of these countries are still very young and trying to develop. Also the region was interesting because you start with a definite Turkish influence and end with a Central Europe feel. Shipmates - Perhaps my biggest and best unexpected discovery. We really enjoyed the chance to really get so many people from different countries. So many interesting people really wanting to travel/get to know other people. Had a great number of long dinner conversations and some real friendships made. Dress was casual throughout with jeans on tours and casual business attire for meals. Even the gala dinners were nice shirts/dress slacks/dresses with only a few suits/more formal dresses. No one seemed to really mind, pay much attention. All in all a wonderful experience. River cruising is nothing like ocean cruising. So much more comfortable, civilized and interesting. No question that this will not be our last river cruise, only the first of many. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: October 2017
Friends recommended Avalon, and we liked what we found on the website. Our ship, the Avalon Passion, was beautifully appointed in every way. Our room had a huge amount of closet and storage space and more hangers than we needed. We ... Read More
Friends recommended Avalon, and we liked what we found on the website. Our ship, the Avalon Passion, was beautifully appointed in every way. Our room had a huge amount of closet and storage space and more hangers than we needed. We loved coming back at the end of the evening to find the fireplace video on the TV and lovely music playing. We also really liked being able to watch the river go by from our bed. The bathroom was elegant and roomy and had L'Occitane toiletries! . The food was on a par with a 5-star restaurant. Items were rarely repeated from day to day, and the wine flowed freely. We dined at the light lunch several times, and that was very well prepared. We marvelled that the chef could produce such excellent food day after day. The service personnel were so professional, cheerful, friendly, and trained to make our trip memorable. They exceeded our expectations. We so enjoyed the excursions and the final dinner in Budapest. It was wonderful to have two days there at the end. The trip to the aviary, lunch there, and walking tour were really fun. All our tour guides on the shore excursions were knowledgeable and very personable. Yes, we would definitely book an Avalon cruise again, and we tell our friends to choose Avalon for their trips. I believe this type of cruise would not be appropriate for families with children or even people under 35 who like the giant cruise ships with casinos and pools and non-stop entertainment. The passengers with us were engaged and interesting and fun but definitely a more sophisticated group. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: October 2017
Conversation with friends suggested Avalon as a possibility since I was already expressing an interest in touring Europe. This particular cruise would take me to the countries of my grandparents. Since my new wife had broken her leg just ... Read More
Conversation with friends suggested Avalon as a possibility since I was already expressing an interest in touring Europe. This particular cruise would take me to the countries of my grandparents. Since my new wife had broken her leg just two weeks prior to our departure I was concerned we'd have to cancel . I need not have worried, the crew, staff and guides were most accommodating and we never felt that we missed or were left out of any of the experiences. The serving staff were absolutely amazing and very friendly. This enhanced the gift of hospitality through this experience. We were constantly impressed by the quality of the meals and believed the chef and his staff were magicians in being able to provide everyone with such wonderful meals in such a small space, (we were given a tour of the kitchen). We very much enjoyed the "port talks,' given each evening to prepare us for the next day. Read Less
10 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: June 2017
Went on Avalon cruise, Amsterdam to Budapest in 2015 . Excellent trip all round. Booked trip from Bucharest to Budapest not of same standard. Comfort, Food , service all excellent, up to Avalon standard, but content of trip very poor and ... Read More
Went on Avalon cruise, Amsterdam to Budapest in 2015 . Excellent trip all round. Booked trip from Bucharest to Budapest not of same standard. Comfort, Food , service all excellent, up to Avalon standard, but content of trip very poor and badly planned. Started in Bucharest. quite good tour of city. First day on boat. only interesting day, tour of delta in small boats very good. After that not much of interest. Problem was. most places on included tours involved long bus trips to not very interesting destinations(exception church in Velico Tournavo). Some were very badly planned e g Belgrade Tour included not very interesting park 15 minutes in a street full of cafes, and 30 mins in a traffic jam. Surely there are more interesting things to see.Daily news sheet said old town cntre and Cathedral, St Sava , not allowed for Tour of Budapest very poor and rushed, Three hour tour included 10 mins at Hero Square and a rushed 25 mins at the Fishermans Bastion,guide seemed more interested in getting us back to hotel, even though we had to wait two hours to check in, very poor. It was not made clear until the final itinerary was received, that the days in Bucharest and Budapest were on a breakfast only basis, the tour was sold on an all inclusive basis, everybody leaving the boat at Budapest felt unhappy and abandoned. The Avalon staff in the hotel were not very helpful. Other complaints were the exorbitant costs of the optional tours, most people who went on them considered that they were very poor value.also the ridiculous price of almost £10.00 for an after dinner cocktail! I certainly would advise avoiding this trip Read Less
9 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: October 2016
We had serious limitations as to the dates and the amount of time for traveling this year; we have always been intrigued by some of the former communist countries with a great past and their way back to democracy. While we were told that ... Read More
We had serious limitations as to the dates and the amount of time for traveling this year; we have always been intrigued by some of the former communist countries with a great past and their way back to democracy. While we were told that this trip went to places that were not that interesting, we found that, on the contrary, they were very different from other places and enjoyable in their own way. The cruise might not be at par with some of our previous cruises that went to Praga, Budapest, Amsterdam, etc., but the ship made for it. Brand new, the cabins were bigger and more comfortable that all the others in Avalon and Viking. There were 2 dinners that were spectacular with 5 course meals; all the others were very good. Tours were interesting and the price unbeatable. Highly recommended. The only negative was the lack of entertainment at night. Even the hiring of local artist in the different ports or a good DJ would had made a difference Read Less
8 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: September 2016
Hi All, Excellent vacation. We flew into Bucharest from ATL. All went like an advert for Delta/KLM. Stayed a few nights at http://scalaboutiquehotel.ro/ Highly recommended - excellent service, royal breakfast, good ... Read More
Hi All, Excellent vacation. We flew into Bucharest from ATL. All went like an advert for Delta/KLM. Stayed a few nights at http://scalaboutiquehotel.ro/ Highly recommended - excellent service, royal breakfast, good location. Enjoyed the sights and sounds of Bucharest. Cabs are verrrry cheap. Arrived at the meeting place at noon, as ordered. Hung around until 2:30. Transfer by bus to the boat went very well. Our stay on the Avalon Passion was very, very nice. Room 217 on Sapphire deck. Little noise. Little vibration. Crew was superb. Entertainment was as expected. Food ranged from "very good" to "excellent". Our CD - Ms Adrienne - did a great job. Included excursions ranged from "OK" to "Quite Good". I think that this is a matter of taste. Some people like to tour ruined castles perched high on a hill, others don't. At one point, there was a medical emergency. It was handled most efficiently and professionally. The captain expressed sympathy and concern for the family and friends in a short ceremony. A counselor was sent by Avalon for those who might need the help. We did not go on to Vienna, but left the ship in Bratislava. Stayed at the Radisson Blu Carleton. - Quite a nice stay. Interesting city. Well worth a visit. Took https://www.blacklane.com/en/limousine-service-bratislava to VIE, and flew home via AMS. Did not go as well as expected. Plane to AMS was late. Distance between disembark and reembark was long. KLM agents were about as helpful as AirFrance. Anyway, we got home. River cruising is an excellent alternative to ocean cruising, and Can be much better than a motor trip. Ira Read Less
6 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: August 2016
To learn about the Balkan discovery and country's of the area very good river cruises from the first day we arrive all was perfect and the beautiful smile from every body ,to the housekeeping was perfect and so good every day and ... Read More
To learn about the Balkan discovery and country's of the area very good river cruises from the first day we arrive all was perfect and the beautiful smile from every body ,to the housekeeping was perfect and so good every day and looking 3times a day , the dining area from breakfast , lunch and all beautiful dinners was more the 5stars all the food with Michael chef commando , and all the team working so hard was good to remember and the customer service so happy to found every solution to us , all the tours we take was good , but the only thing they need to review is the job of Sara tour manager , we need more professional point in this job , more communication and better preparicion many peoples was taking about her , but for us was okey this was my second river cruises and already planned the next one thanks Avalon to make my days so beautiful for my and my wife mr Martinez sciutto , Read Less
16 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: June 2016
This was our third river cruise with Avalon Waterways. We wanted to see the lower part of the Danube and explore countries that we had not visited before. Thankfully we were not disappointed with our choice of company or destinations. ... Read More
This was our third river cruise with Avalon Waterways. We wanted to see the lower part of the Danube and explore countries that we had not visited before. Thankfully we were not disappointed with our choice of company or destinations. We arrived in Bucharest 2 days before the cruise and had booked a private guide for an all day tour the day before the cruise began. Our choice of hotel was the Royal Europa Hotel in the Old Town which allowed for us to do some exploring on our own and to be near wonderful restaurants. On the first day of the cruise we were bused about 1 hour to a very small docking area on the Danube and boarded the Passion, which was a brand new ship. It was beautiful, tastefully decorated, cabin was spacious and bathroom very comfortable. We had no problem storing all of our belongings. Throught the cruise the staff was very efficient,pleasant and helpful. We enjoyed the food and wine and especially liked the fact we did not have to dress up for dinner. Our shipmates were mostly over 60 and seemed very well traveled. As for entertainment, there was of course the nightly piano music and staff variety show. During one shore stop we had a very interesting presentation about the Orthodox Church given by a priest who came on board. In that we toured several such churches this was a very nice added touch to help us understand what we were seeing. This cruise was on the lower Danube and the highlight was going through the Iron Gate Locks. Very interesting and the scenery was beautiful. We visted areas of Bulgaria, Serbia and Hungary that not many tourists see. At most towns or sites we were the only tour buses there. English was widely spoken and the people were very friendly. Avalon offered lots of options for shore excusions in that you could opt to stay on the ship and cruise to the point where the sight seeing buses would end their tour. You could chose to do half day or whole day sight seeing on one particular day. Many of the sites were churches, but there was also a stop at a winery and of course beautiful scenery. One aspect of this cruise was to learn about communism in Eastern Europe and how those countries are transitioning to democracy and capitalism. We have been on the Rhine and the upper Danube, but this may very well be our favorite cruise. Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: April 2016
Avalon did a good job on this cruise. The only real letdown was the food. I would have expected better food particularly at breakfast. I fully understand that the chef could not prepare a wide range of breakfasts for 99 people like one ... Read More
Avalon did a good job on this cruise. The only real letdown was the food. I would have expected better food particularly at breakfast. I fully understand that the chef could not prepare a wide range of breakfasts for 99 people like one would see on a Carnival cruise with 3000 people. The cabin was fine. Avalon makes a point of saying they do not have balconies. They are not useful on a river cruise. We were docked beside an Ama ship in Budapest and we had a chance to see another cruiser's room and she saw ours. We both agreed that balconies on river cruises just reduce the space in the room. The best "balcony" is on the sky deck so you can see both sides of the river. The entertainment varied at each port and was fine. There was crew show that was pretty good. Again, do not expect a fancy theatrical show on a river cruise. The Cruise Director was helpful. The only real problem was Customs. We had to enter Schegen in Hungary and the entire morning was taken up with the border patrol. The Captain took us up and down the river at Budapest to compensate us for the time wasted with the border crossing. We would go on another cruise with Avalon. It was billed as a cultural and history tour. I also wanted to see birds in the Black Sea. I went from Bucharest to Vienna. Bucharest was not that interested. I went on a separate tour to Dracula's Castle and a communist tour. Both were very interesting. The next stop was Bulgaria. The church I visited rivalled the Cistene Chapel for art and charm. I was surprised that Bulgarians and Romanians have no interest in visiting each other's countries. The stop at Cetate to see the artist's colony was not that interesting. The bread was the best part. Iron Gates was wonderful. Belgrade was disappointing. The city has not recovered from the 1995 bombing and no-one wanted to talk about the war. This was the case for both Serbia and Croatia. Budapest was the highlight of the cruise. We cruised into the cities on a sunny day and passed under all the bridges. River cruising is the only way to see this city. Bratislava was uninteresting. Vienna was worthwhile. You need to allow time at the end of the cruise to see some of the city's 220 museums. Read Less
7 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: April 2016
We sailed from the black sea (Romania) to Bratislava (Slovakia) and travelled from there by bus to Vienna and had the most superb experience.The ship is brand new, in beautiful shape and is very nicely appointed. There is plenty of ... Read More
We sailed from the black sea (Romania) to Bratislava (Slovakia) and travelled from there by bus to Vienna and had the most superb experience.The ship is brand new, in beautiful shape and is very nicely appointed. There is plenty of opportunities for relaxation and/or conversation in the boat's many public areas. The ship's intimate atmosphere, with only 150 passengers, is one of its best selling points. The crew was knowledgable, well trained and very helpful. They clearly enjoyed their jobs as they were always friendly and professional. As for the onboard programs/activities, there was a variety to inform and amuse anyone. The food was delicious, the state room was very clean and well equiped.The shore excursions were well planned and timed, local guides were well informed and very friendly. The whole trip was so wonderful and so easy to travel through so many countries in a few days, I would highly recommend it to everyone! Read Less
18 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: July 2015
We booked this about 18 months ago to celebrate a milestone birthday. We had been told at that time that Avalon did a drinks package like most of the other lines, but when they eventually replied to my many calls and emails, they said they ... Read More
We booked this about 18 months ago to celebrate a milestone birthday. We had been told at that time that Avalon did a drinks package like most of the other lines, but when they eventually replied to my many calls and emails, they said they were no longer doing this. This was disappointing, as they only include wines, beer and soft drinks with dinner. 24 hours before we were due to leave we had a call to say that due to low water levels in the Danube delta, we would have to spend two nights in Bucharest instead of one and meet the ship somewhere else. They offered what we thought at the time was a reasonable amount of compensation, and in any case we were staying (we thought) at the Athenée Palace Hilton so how bad could it be? When we arrived at Bucharest my husband's luggage was missing. The airline said it would come on the next flight and they would deliver it. Then Avalon took us to the Ramada Plaza, half an hour out of the city in an area with no shops or restaurants. It was a dump. There was no power when we got there and it took over two hours to fix the problem. During this time the power was going on and off and an elderly lady in our group got stuck between floors in the lift. We refused to use the lift to our 7th floor room until they could assure us that the power was fixed. No refreshment was offered apart from a small bottle of water and some of our group had been travelling for over 24 hours. When we complained they eventually produced some tiny sandwiches and to glasses of tap water (which we had been warned not to drink) - but only for us. I felt sorry for the poor lady from the lift, who was very traumatised. Their attitude to this was poor. They tried to fob us off with a tale of the power outage being citywide and due to the high temperatures, but the people in the Pullman two minutes away said they hadn't had a problem. Our no smoking room stank of smoke. They did change the room but in the second one the safe didn't work and the lights blew with an almighty bang and the bedside light bulbs were not replaced. Breakfast was horrible and we had to be bussed for dinner to the Pullman down the road where the rest of our group were staying ( a MUCH nicer option, but even there the food was only average.) When my husband's luggage arrived early on the second day they refused to bring it up to the room. this was not by any means the 5* luxury we had paid for. Then they informed us that it would be a 315km (about 200 miles) trip to the ship. This is how I spent my birthday- 6 hours on a bus. It turned out that the ship was at Calafat, some 795km farther up the Danube than where we were supposed to start. Avalon had carefully forgotten to mention this! We had not been told that this was actually two cruises back to back so we had to get off the ship on the transfer day. We didn't mind too much because we went with those transferring to Vienna and had an extra afternoon there. It did mean that we had to suffer the lengthy life jacket drill again though. The public rooms on the ship are noisy. I get up early and had to suffer loud muzak in the lounge with my early morning coffee. They turned it down a little when I asked, but not off (and I was the only person in there at the time). During the day there were particular groups who insisted on having loud conversations and there was nowhere quiet to read or enjoy the scenery other than our cabin ( where you only get half of the view.) The "entertainer" - a rather average pianist, played at various intervals during the day which just added to the noise. There were several other entertainers, including a rather poor classical group on the first leg and a good one after Vienna. We had a singer who sang show songs and a zither player, who we had seen previously with Viking. The guided tours were mostly fairly good, but there were a few times when the guides were so boring we left the group and did our own thing, On one occasion the guide in Bratislava refused to tell us where the meeting point for the bus was and insisted that we stay with her. This meant that we lost about two hours' free time seeing things we were not interested in as we had seen Bratislava before. The Amsterdam guide was equally poor but fortunately we already knew our way round and went off on our own as we were not relying on a bus. Avalon included some extra trips which you would normally pay for to make up for missing so much of the start of the cruise, but my husband isn't very mobile and in the 38 degree heat, climbing steps and slopes didn't appeal so we were quite happy to remain on board and see bits of the river we had missed previously. There was an excursion to the Danube gorge and Weltenberg Abbey which we enjoyed. Moorings were not always in the centre of things and at one point we found ourselves by a large scrap metal facility! I have known worse, however (with Scenic last year, when we were frequently in such places and miles out of town.) They sailed past Wertheim and bussed us 40 minutes back to visit the town - not sure why. Due to very low water in the Linz / Passau area, we had to keep sailing solidly for two days, often at walking speed with only 30cm of water under the ship, as levels were forecast to drop still further and they didn't want to get stuck (as a freighter did the following day). This meaant that we missed Durnstein and Linz, the only two stops we had not previously visited. Avalon did stop to drop people off for a visit, but then they spent 4 hours in the heat on a ferry with no air-con travelling through the Wachau valley, then visiting Grein. People who did this wished they had stayed on board like we did because they didn't enjoy such a long day. Food on board Illumination was disappointing. It was hardly ever hot and the breakfast buffet never changed. When we complained they said there were 64 items on it but I don't enjoy pickles, raw peppers, salads, soured cream and boiled rice for breakfast and got very fed up with the few hot items which were always the same. Lunch was a buffet. Salads were poor - mostly just lettuce, tomatoes and cucumber with the odd mixed or dressed thing. They often served the same meat or fish for lunch and dinner and we had perch at least 10 times during the trip. The gala dinners were both the same. At dinner there was a meat choice, a fish choice (mostly perch or cod) and a vegetarian one. They seemed to buy in job lots of vegetables - first eggplant, which appeared at every meal except breakfast for the first 10 days or so, then carrots, then green beans. One of the starters was always Caesar salad (which everyone hated) and it was also available as a main course. Steak, chicken and salmon were available each day too. There were usually two desserts and cheese. Cheeses were largely of the rather rubbery tasteless sort but there were a few good ones like Roquefort. We grew very bored by the lack of variety after 3 weeks. Wines were average. On board drinks prices were steep, but there was usually a half-price happy hour before the port talk each evening, when they were more reasonable but still not cheap. A gin and tonic was over 4 Euros even at half price! On the whole, I wouldn't recommend Avalon. Their admin is poor and they don't seem to understand what British people want from what is a pretty expensive trip, especially compared to ocean cruising. They cater far too much for American tastes. I know they had to find hotel accommodation at short notice when the water levels were low, but they had been low for a while ) and I think they had left it until the last minute instead of having a Plan B for such events, which happen pretty regularly. In view of this, I don't think much of the compensation they offered. Had I known all this would happen at the Black Sea end, which was the main reason for doing the cruise in the first place, I would have cancelled. I wish I had! Read Less
5 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: July 2015
Our trip began with an email while we were in transit to Romania. The email informed us that the two days to the Black Sea (the highlight if the cruise) had been cancelled due to low water. At 11:00pm, we received a note under our door ... Read More
Our trip began with an email while we were in transit to Romania. The email informed us that the two days to the Black Sea (the highlight if the cruise) had been cancelled due to low water. At 11:00pm, we received a note under our door advising us that we would be leaving the hotel (Palace Hilton) we had two nights at we had paid for to relocate to a cheaper hotel (the Pullman). We had an extra day before the cruise began and had scheduled a private tour to Dracula's Castle. Our cruise director advised us that we could not leave our luggage, because he would not accept responsibility for it. We almost had to cancel our private tour, because of their "decision" to move us from a room we had paid for for two nights. Fortunately our private tour guide (not affiliated with Avalon) allowed us to take all of our luggage with us. We were given a choice to cancel the tour with a full refund, but would still have to pay for the airfare to and from Bucharest as well as having to make our own air travel arrangements. I would suggest you take the extra day in Bucharest and travel to Brasau and Bran Castle which is so etching not covered (even as an option by Avalon). We spent an extra day in Bucharest due to the low water and the city tour was OK. The next days drive was 8 hours on a bus to a port in Romania on the Danube that was substandard. We got into our stateroom (Category B) and it was OK. The brochure led us to believe we had a balcony with our room that could seat up to 6 people...NOT TRUE! The "balcony" was a rail outside of sliding glass door and we were advised "not to open the sliding glass door" after doing it once which led to the air conditioning not working and a open door would fill up the cabin with bugs. I will credit the engineer with a fast response to repairing the AC. The Danube where we boarded was not pleasant, since we observed a lot of raw sewage in the river. The first two ports on our cruise were poor (they replaced the ones we couldn't go to because of low water). Parts of the cruising were OK. We liked going through the "Iron Gates" and we had one good local tour guide (in Belgrade) that made the city interesting. The cities of Belgrade, Budapest, Bratislava and Vienna were nice visits. We would have liked to explore Bratislava more and the guide we had talked too much, while it would have been better if she told us where to meet after a brief tour and allowed us to go off on our own. The entertainment on the boat was subpar. It reminded me of a Holiday Inn on a business trip at 11:00 on a weeknight. The food was OK, but not up to the quality you would expect. One night our entire table ordered optional items (the steak) since the suggested entrees were not appealing. Some nights we ordered to double the entree since the portions were not that sizable. One night when we did this, the wait staff walked away grumbling. The BBQ up top during lunch was nothing special and a majority of the food was not prepared on deck. They served bratwurst and sausage, but no hot-dog buns? The also had a tasting menu for a dinner option, but other guests said it wasn't a lot of food and not worth it. The midnight snack was poor and there isn't any midnight buffet. The farewell dinner was nothing special..we got a 1/2 of a small lobster tail and a very small slice of baked Alaska. We ate off the boat twice for dinner and those meals were reasonable and wonderful! I recommend you take the dinner excursion in Belgrade, it is a nice evening. Make sure you visit the food markets in Budapest, they have all sorts of wonderful aromas, food and reasonable souvenirs. The extra day at the end of the cruise in Vienna is also a good idea, but beware, the Intercontinental Hotel in Charges 5 Euros per hour per device! If you are under 50, please realize that the majority of passengers are 65+ and the lounge is dead after 9:30. We did make friends with other couples our age and probably the most enjoyable part of the cruise was exploring with them. Buy booze in Serbia, it is very inexpensive in the stores and decent quality. You would be amazed at how inexpensive scotch is! Also there is a nice room in the front of the boat that always had juices, coffee, cookies and pastry that most people never find. The boat overall is clean and presentable. The room cleaning crew does a good job. The bar staff is pleasant and attentive. The dining room staff is OK depending on who you get. I will give Avalon credit for waiving fees on two of the excursions (Romanian Parliament and Putza Horse Farm visit). We visited the Romanian Parliament and found it interesting. We had done the Horse Farm on a previous tour, so didn't take it (did not want to ride on a bus for five hours). The folk dance in Belgrade option was a good choice if you like to watch local dance. The restaurant in Belgrade is highly recommended. The night light tour of Budapest is recommended, but is does require a lot of walking. The Schonnbrun Palace in Vienna was a good optional tour. Read Less
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