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26 Budapest Avalon Waterways Avalon Panorama Cruise Reviews

My wife's grandparents were from Amsterdam and it was a trip she thought would be enjoyable. As it turned out it was way better than that. The cruise was perfect from the basic(fabulous) food service to trips off the boat all was well ... Read More
My wife's grandparents were from Amsterdam and it was a trip she thought would be enjoyable. As it turned out it was way better than that. The cruise was perfect from the basic(fabulous) food service to trips off the boat all was well orchestrated too perfection. I can't say enough about the wonderful and helpful staff from the cruise director to the Captain and especially the dining staff and room staff.All were friendly and courteous and helpful in any way they could. The food was exceptional along with quantity there was definite quality. The coffee and cookies on the aft deck was a particular hang out for me as well. The sky deck was great for viewing the beautiful countryside and views of the cities as we entered or departed. We also loved the grill out day on the sky deck and did I mention the food was great. The sky deck area to the aft was great for walking off some of the food as well. We would definitely take another trip with Avalon after this wonderful trip! Read Less
Sail Date April 2019
This cruise was magical on the Avalon Panorama, thanks to the wonderful, attentive crew, especially our tour director, István. Passengers were mostly Americans and Australians/New Zealanders in their 60s or later. The daily included tours ... Read More
This cruise was magical on the Avalon Panorama, thanks to the wonderful, attentive crew, especially our tour director, István. Passengers were mostly Americans and Australians/New Zealanders in their 60s or later. The daily included tours were usually morning gentle walking tours of the cities within a small radius of where the ship was docked. Optional included hikes up hill to local castles were also available. The extra tours were well priced, I thought, and were unforgettable. Avalon gave us all kinds of happy surprises, like local drinks as we sailed the Middle Rhein, local exclusive concerts, and special tours of sights along the rivers. The chef did an amazing job with local delicacies. This was the best dining I’ve experienced in 40 plus cruises. Quality local wines and beer plentiful at lunch and dinner. We sailed from Budapest after a full day there, and the night trip through the city was fantastic. In fact, the sailing schedule seemed to maximize our time seeing the best parts of the rivers. Our stops included picturesque and historical towns, including Melk, Dürnstein, Regensburg, Bamberg, Bratislava, Vienna, Nuremberg, Miltenberg, Würzburg, Rüdesheim, Cologne and Amsterdam, where we spent 2 days. István did a great job with the local guides, who were very informative and enthusiastic. If you paid attention, you’d have gotten a good course in Central European history. While my wife was on a Sound of Music tour in Austria, I took an optional tour to Cesky Krumlov in the Czech Republic and the guide gave us an extraordinary history of German/Czech relations over the centuries. I checked out their brand new cruiser bikes three times for scenic trips along the many bike paths along the river. Housekeeping was always friendly and punctual. We liked not being “nickel/dimed” into extra expenses. We were happy, however, to pay extra tips for the crew and tour leader at the end. Without describing each tour stop, I’ll just conclude that this is our best river cruise ever. Avalon has become our favorite river tour operator. István is worth his weight in gold. Read Less
Sail Date April 2019
I had never been on a river cruise, and had never been to eastern Europe, so this cruise ticked all the boxes for a new adventure. Avalon did not disappoint. The boat was meticulous, I loved that my bed faced the river and I could open ... Read More
I had never been on a river cruise, and had never been to eastern Europe, so this cruise ticked all the boxes for a new adventure. Avalon did not disappoint. The boat was meticulous, I loved that my bed faced the river and I could open my sliding glass door fully, the bathroom was surprisingly big and the marble tile was an unexpected nice feature, the staff were exceptionally friendly, attentive, engaging, and helpful, the food and wine were outstanding (the soups, I'd book another cruise just for the soups! They should seriously make a recipe book just with the soups alone.), our cruise director Tony was delightfully funny and insightful, and our captain made the best of a very low river. No rain in Europe this year did cause our cruise to be adjusted as we went farther North, but Avalon went out of its way to make the adjustments equal or better to the original itinerary, including offering free excursions. Those travelling with me all agreed that the adjustments to our itinerary were better than the original and we were very appreciative at the effort Avalon took to make sure our river cruise experience was exceptional. The guides on the excursions were all very knowledgeable and friendly. The pace of some of the excursions was a tad slow, but as I was the youngest person on the cruise (40s), I understood the pace was designed for the overall group demographic (60s-80s). Would definitely book another Avalon cruise again! Read Less
Sail Date September 2018
This was a Danube cruise, Budapest to Nuremburg. Due to low water on the river, the ship discharged passengers just beyond Regensburg, busing those who were departing from Nuremburg and to Prague for those who had signed up for it. At ... Read More
This was a Danube cruise, Budapest to Nuremburg. Due to low water on the river, the ship discharged passengers just beyond Regensburg, busing those who were departing from Nuremburg and to Prague for those who had signed up for it. At this, we considered ourselves fortunate, because we heard that some other cruise captains refused to go on past Vienna. Ours did go on, although it was disconcerting to hear the cruise director offhandedly characterize our situation as "precarious." The Wachau valley, through which the Danube flows, is beautiful, and we had practically cloudless skies to appreciate it. The several little towns visited along the way bear enough resemblance to each other that they ultimately became indistinguishable and of marginal interest. The ship is comfortable and the staff outstanding. Embarkation and dis-embarkation were a breeze as were the excursion arrangments; Avalon's approach to organization leaves nothing to be desired. That cannot be said for life on board. Like most river cruises, there is little to do except to drink and socialize. Entertainment was practically non-existent, consisting of beer and wine presentations/sales and a talented local musical duo on one night. The fitness facility boasted perhaps three machines and some free weights. Surprisingly, we found the food to be quite ordinary--perhaps a bit better than one would receive on Royal Caribbean or Princess. Then again most travelers have learned to discount the poetry most lines summon to describe their usually pedestrian fare. Perhaps a third of the cruise passengers did go on to Prague, and here unpleasantness awaited. The cruise materials had promised lodging in one of two 4-star hotels located in the city's renowned center. Some weeks before sailing, we were advised by email that we would be lodged in a third hotel, which a quick glance at a city map revealed to be across the River Vistula in a working-class neighborhood perhaps an hour's walk from anything a tourist would wish to visit, with a rack rate of about $100 per night less than the downtown accommodations. Questioned about this, and how the arrangement met the company's contractual promise to provide "comparable" accommodations in the event that a hotel change became necessary, its representative offered the standard "nothing can be done" explanation. Upon arrival, our preconceptions were borne out. The hotel itself was fine, but entirely out of the way. The hotel does run a shuttle to the downtown, but it runs infrequently and only into the early evening. We and our fellow passengers became quite irate when, after a half-hour ride downtown, the shuttle deposited us in front of one of hotels that had originally been designated as our lodging. I brought this matter to Avalon's attention in a detailed email upon returning home and the company promised a full review. Six weeks later, it delivered a perfunctory response with a vague apology that explained absolutely nothing. Be advised. Read Less
Sail Date September 2018
We had friends that had taken the same cruise on Avalon and another cruise line. We heard so many great things about it that we thought we would try it. We were not disappointed. 3 days in Budapest, 7 days on the ship with all the stops ... Read More
We had friends that had taken the same cruise on Avalon and another cruise line. We heard so many great things about it that we thought we would try it. We were not disappointed. 3 days in Budapest, 7 days on the ship with all the stops along the way and 3 days in Prague led to a fantastic experience. Tour director, Tony, was outstanding as well as the entire crew. Friendly, helpful and extremely efficient. Even though our last stop was cancelled due to low water level on the river, the alternative change in the itinerary was mare than made up for the cancellation. The excursion and side trips we took were excellent and informative. The local guides were extremely knowledgeable. I highly recommend this trip and this cruise line. We have been on several ocean cruises and have enjoyed them, but if someone gave me a choice today....it would definitely be a river cruise. We can’t wait to sail again! Read Less
Sail Date September 2018
I had traveled with two other couples who have cruised on other riverboat lines and hands down said that Avalon was a cut above the others. I have to say that the staff/crew of the Panama were so great and fun to be around. Service, ... Read More
I had traveled with two other couples who have cruised on other riverboat lines and hands down said that Avalon was a cut above the others. I have to say that the staff/crew of the Panama were so great and fun to be around. Service, attention and the food was what we had expected. The guides were upbeat and so knowledgable it was a pleasure. The bed the first night was too soft and within a couple of hours the mattress was changed out. Nice response to our comfort. The staterooms were well thought out and we didn't have any space shortage to putting away our things. The bathroom was large, roomy and with nice appointments. We stayed a few days in Prague, and the attention to us was as perfect. The hotel they booked for us was the Four Seasons. This was a wonderful hotel to be in after time spent on the boat. On the front end of the trip they had us in the Intercontinental Hotel in Budapest. It was a bit worn and needed some updating, but adequate. We would certainly considering future travel with Avalon Waterways. Read Less
Sail Date August 2018
After 40 trips and cruises over seas, this 15 day Budapest to Amsterdam was our first river cruise. The record low water levels throughout Europe required us to take 3 bus trips to get around low water sections. The biggest problem is ... Read More
After 40 trips and cruises over seas, this 15 day Budapest to Amsterdam was our first river cruise. The record low water levels throughout Europe required us to take 3 bus trips to get around low water sections. The biggest problem is that we missed most of the Rhine River cruise up to Cologne and then on to Amsterdam. We each got compensated $200 and 50% off the daily cruise rate for each of the 3 days we needed to stay in hotels off the boat. A friend of ours took the identical trip 5 days later on the Viking Cruise Line and they were able to get their boat through the low water on the Rhine (they scraped bottom 4 times)! Viking only gave them a 25% off certificate for a future cruise as compensation. They food, service and entertainment were very good and the champagne flowed freely. No limit on lunch and dinner wine or beer. The ship's construction and maintenance were excellent, it looked brand new even though it is 5 - 6 years old. There were only about 3 guests under 40 years of age, and no kids. We appreciated not being steered to very many "factory" shops by our tour guides. If you take the side trip to Salzburg, be sure to watch the movie "The Sound Of Music" before the cruise. The WiFi was adequate but poor for streaming video. Avalon Cruise line doesn't advertise much in America so most of the guests are from Commonwealth English speaking countries. Read Less
Sail Date August 2018
Having arrived in Budapest from NZ, over 32 hrs in transit, we were informed that due to low water levels Avalon Panorama could not sail from Budapest to Vienna. However we saw Viking, Uniworld, Tauck and many European River Cruise lines ... Read More
Having arrived in Budapest from NZ, over 32 hrs in transit, we were informed that due to low water levels Avalon Panorama could not sail from Budapest to Vienna. However we saw Viking, Uniworld, Tauck and many European River Cruise lines sailing to Vienna. We were rather disconcerted by this! We had our first night Tuesday in hotel( lovely Hilton) then bus to Vienna. Ordinary bus not coach! We were paying Suite rates of over $1350.00 NZD per day for 2. Boarded our ship in Vienna. Second day bus back to Bratislava from Vienna.Did not sail until Early Saturday morning! On board and sailing was fantastic! Panorama Suite lovely! Food fabulous and service. Then boat change after another bus trip from Passau to Regensburg.Same standard of room and food. So far we forgave the disruptions! Nature cannot be controlled! Then again told we could not finish last 3 days from Rudesheim to Amsterdam. No Rhine Cruise at all. Put on bus and then cheap public boat cruise with dreadful lunch literally tossed at us! Taken from our boat and bused 10 hours, through Cologne to Amsterdam. Hotel was just 3.5star and we were all put in entry level rooms (even though most of us were paying Suite prices) which were dingy, smelly, hole in sheets and toilet bowl black! Buffet meal with cheap wine both nights! No more coffee, fresh baking, happy hour drinks! No more service. We were literally “dumped” by Avalon and our Director. We were ALL devastated at shocking treatment as this is NOT a cheap mode of travel! Cruised just 8 of 15 days promised. Avalon did compensate 50% hotel accommodation and 200USD for ship change for which we are grateful, but nothing for so many days bus travel, poor food and wine, no social area to meet others from ship, no coffee, tea, snacks, no service( for which we had prepaid tips! Don’t prepay tips) We will NEVER travel with Avalon again! Nor recommend. Read Less
Sail Date August 2018
I traveled with Globus to South America in 2000 and was impressed with the experience. Also I had many recommendations from friends and associates on the Avalon experience. The airfare was a bargain. Accommodations before and after the ... Read More
I traveled with Globus to South America in 2000 and was impressed with the experience. Also I had many recommendations from friends and associates on the Avalon experience. The airfare was a bargain. Accommodations before and after the cruise were excellent as were the transfers to and from the ship. Being a diabetic, I was used to eating earlier than the 7 pm sitting but managed to adjust accordingly. I found the vegetarian choices for the evening meal to be lacking in protein but appreciated the choices for the evening meal that I could rely on when nothing else appealed to me on the nightly menu. Our tour director Mark worked miracles when we were unable to get to a destination due to low water level. His efforts were much appreciated. I would definitely travel with Avalon again and am seriously looking at the Budapest to Bucharest tour in the future. Read Less
Sail Date June 2018
The Danube cruise is going to be pretty much the same, whichever line you choose. We chose Avalon, and generally, the ship’s appointments and food were quite fine. But perhaps you have a few misconceptions as you make your decision on ... Read More
The Danube cruise is going to be pretty much the same, whichever line you choose. We chose Avalon, and generally, the ship’s appointments and food were quite fine. But perhaps you have a few misconceptions as you make your decision on which river to choose, and this can help you. In our case, we chose the Danube because we had already been to some of the Rhine stops on past land tours. But we were under the impression that there would be ample time for personal exploration in cities and villages, because the ship would be docked and one could just get on and off, depending on whether you took advantage of the excursions. This was almost never the case. The ship docks mostly far from towns and the land tours take you by buses to meet a local guide. It leaves you with an hour, sometimes an hour and half, of your own time before you must catch the bus back to the ship. The sense of leisure is just not there; you are always checking your watch in trepidation. Our best free time on the trip was in Vienna, where we had a full 24 hours (the most spare time on the trip), so we skipped the shop’s dinner and took a taxi into the city on the first night and visited museums on our own the next day, skipping lunch. When signing up for optional excursions, make sure you are clear on what you will see exactly: for example, in Cesky Krumlov, the cruise literature said, “you will explore the castle,” and we did not. The guide spent most of the time showing us where we could shop and eat in the spare hour and 45 minutes we would have. Also, in port, the ships are parked closely to each other (about 6 inches apart: how do they manage?!) so that you will have no view of the town or city. You will have the view of the next ship’s stateroom. Admittedly, this can be interesting for a few minutes before they close their curtains. And THAT is another point: the beautiful panorama window/wall of the balcony rooms has a problem. We were expecting to have the beautiful night breezes blowing into our room as we watched the Danube flow by under the moon and stars. There was a quick warning in the first port talk that there may be bugs and “they couldn’t do anything about that.” We weren’t concerned: what’s a few mosquitoes compared to the joy of open air? Except it wasn’t a few mosquitoes, it was more like a scene from The Amityville Horror. The curtains came alive with hundreds of clinging small black flies, and they began their assault on the ceiling. We had to fling the curtains out over the river to let them all fly away, and then use wet towels to smother the rest. These rooms need screens! Otherwise, you really can’t have the panorama window open, so what is the point? Passengers cannot always go up to the Sky Deck for fresh air because it can be closed due to low bridges or going through locks. Also, we probably watched too many Viking commercials on PBS and were expecting a lot more of the quaint castle and hilly views than actually exist on this part of the Danube, which largely looks like a murky green river you could see anywhere in Vermont, or upstate New York. However, this may still be the trip for you if you enjoy spending a long time at meals with lots of wine and good food. The company was extremely convivial, and conversations with people from other English-speaking countries were always illuminating. We did have a lovely time, but these are some things to watch out for! Read Less
Sail Date June 2018
We wanted something special to celebrate our 50th Anniversary and wanted to visit places in Europe that we hadn't visited before. This itinerary was the perfect choice - especially ending in Prague, only 50 miles from where my ... Read More
We wanted something special to celebrate our 50th Anniversary and wanted to visit places in Europe that we hadn't visited before. This itinerary was the perfect choice - especially ending in Prague, only 50 miles from where my husband's ancestors lived! The Avalon crew went out of their way to make our trip special including an anniversary dinner with 8 new friends that included champagne and a special cake with a giant sparkler. They even sang to us. The accommodations, excursions, meals, and attention to details were first class. All of the guides on included and optional excursions were very knowledgeable and entertaining. We saw places that the casual tourist would not see. The buffet breakfasts and lunches onboard the ship offered a wonderful variety of food including specialty foods from the countries we visited. The dinners were first class with excellent service and choice of menus. I would highly recommend Avalon Waterways for river cruising anywhere in the world. Read Less
Sail Date June 2018
For the most part, the cruise itself was spectacular. As ever, there were a few things that could've been improved. We chose the cruise because some friends had done the same cruise the year before and raved about it. We spent ... Read More
For the most part, the cruise itself was spectacular. As ever, there were a few things that could've been improved. We chose the cruise because some friends had done the same cruise the year before and raved about it. We spent a couple of days in Budapest before we began the cruise and loved the city. Our cabin was a bit on the small side. We had a cabin on the lower deck. The meals were quite good with a couple of exceptions. We had pasta a couple of times and it wasn't very good. The breakfast buffet was outstanding. The lunch BBQs on the top deck were also very good. The entertainment was not very good -- with the exception of the one night when a local act came on board and played. There were no activities on board the ship. The service by the crew was uniformly excellent. We enjoyed all the ports and excursions. We ended our trip with a 3 day stay in Prague. Totally loved that city!!! Read Less
Sail Date June 2018
Cruise chosen for the itinerary, the ship, the cost, and the exploration opportunities offered. Everything about the ship itself was outstanding - all members of the crew were polite, helpful, and respectful. The amenities were enjoyable ... Read More
Cruise chosen for the itinerary, the ship, the cost, and the exploration opportunities offered. Everything about the ship itself was outstanding - all members of the crew were polite, helpful, and respectful. The amenities were enjoyable and the food was always good. The choices regarding meals were fantastic, and the settings were all pleasant. Everything went smoothly. It was the trip of a lifetime. It was enjoyable to spend time in the embarkation city of Budapest before the cruise and the city of Amsterdam after the cruise. We would also enjoy exploring other cities on our own as part of another cruise. That allowed us to experience these two cities in two different ways. The ship crew was helpful to suggest how to experience Amsterdam after disembarkation. It was nice to have an English speaking cruise. We would definitely choose another river cruise to explore other parts of the world. Read Less
Sail Date May 2018
This was my first river cruise and I was not disappointed! It was very relaxing to sit on-board and watch the beautiful scenery float by. The port excursions were anywhere from easy-to-walk to strenuous, but you choose which you want to ... Read More
This was my first river cruise and I was not disappointed! It was very relaxing to sit on-board and watch the beautiful scenery float by. The port excursions were anywhere from easy-to-walk to strenuous, but you choose which you want to partake in. I cannot say enough about the staff!! Everyone, from the cruise director down to the cleaning crew, were friendly, helpful, and excellent in their job! And the food!!!! In spite of all the walking that I did on the shore excursions, I still gained weight!! Breakfast and lunch were buffet, so you can control your intake there, but dinner is a 5-course meal and delicious!! I am not rating the value because I did not pay for this trip. I was the guest of someone who needed some physical help getting around. I do not recommend this cruise for families as there is really nothing to do while cruising except watching the scenery and reading. Read Less
Sail Date May 2018
We arrived in Budapest a couple of days ahead and had a great time exploring the city prior to boarding the Avalon Panorama. Embarkation was done with a minimum of fuss and our luggage was placed in our suite which although compact was ... Read More
We arrived in Budapest a couple of days ahead and had a great time exploring the city prior to boarding the Avalon Panorama. Embarkation was done with a minimum of fuss and our luggage was placed in our suite which although compact was well appointed and provided you lived in a tidy manner the suite provided enough room to move without tripping over each other, a noteworthy point is that the beds can be adjusted from firm through medium to soft. The only draw back with our suite at the stern of the second deck was that to get to lounge at the stern on the third deck you had to walk all the way forward to the Reception area, up a deck and then walk all the way to the stern, although with the crews quarters being in the aft end of the boat I don't know how this minor inconvenience can be overcome. If you have never done a river cruise you are in for a pleasant surprise when compared to ocean cruising. Most river cruise boats have a passenger capacity of 150/200 passengers compared with 2000/3000 on ocean cruises, so you soon get to know other passengers and form social groups which tend to be pretty inclusive as the cruise proceeds. I would sound a cautionary note for those with young children - there are no children's facilities, in fact I would estimate that the average passenger age was 60+ ( there very few passengers under 40). There is some evening shipboard entertainment but as it doesn't get dark till late most of the time you are usually busy dining, socialising, looking at the scenery as it passes by or on-shore doing a tour. Avalon provide a good assortment of included tours which will keep you fit as you walk around the many Medieval towns the boat stops at, however for those with mobility problems they adjust the tour so that there is minimal walking particularly where there are hills. Also there is a various optional add-on tours, which cover a range of interests and if you haven't booked prior to embarkation they can be booked during the cruise. Dinning was of a high standard, the food was varied with the evening meal usually based on dishes of the part of Europe you happened to be passing through on that day. Another point to note wine/beer/soft drinks are inclusive for lunch and dinner. The service was usually very prompt and the crew very courteous and friendly, this is not surprising with a crew to passenger ratio of about 1:3. Overall the cruise from Budapest to Amsterdam was a very good and rememberable trip especially considering in the trip the boat climbs over the Continental Dividing Range. Would I do another river cruise with Avalon? Definitely. Read Less
Sail Date May 2018
Overall the facilities, staff and food are excellent, you really can’t hope for much more. The staff are friendly and work incredibly hard to keep the boat spotless and service the guests. Friends arrived early in the morning and were ... Read More
Overall the facilities, staff and food are excellent, you really can’t hope for much more. The staff are friendly and work incredibly hard to keep the boat spotless and service the guests. Friends arrived early in the morning and were allowed to hang out in the lounge with snacks and drinks until official boarding. The food overall is first rate, with many healthy options, but thought the desserts were mediocre. We had a large group, there were 4 tables of 8 so not tough to get there early and secure one. For a region known for beer there was only one option and it was ordinary, wines were all good. You should be aware the boat is often parked alongside other boats when docked, not in Avalon’s control, don’t expect to have a view from your room when docked, and the boat mostly moves at night, it doesn’t matter which side of the boat you are on. You don’t really hear other guests from your room, nice and quiet, the beds are great and overall the rooms are a decent size. We had one of the most expensive rooms near the back on the top level and asked Avalon when booking if we would hear the engine and were told no. That’s incorrect and annoying as we had the option to get another room and were recommended there. The boat moves when you sleep and the closer you are to the rear the more you are aware of the engine and vibration. However the top floor has a nice tea room at the rear and good if you don’t have to go too far to visit it. The website is confusing, and if you have questions ahead of your trip don’t expect good service. I sent 2 emails, left 2 voicemails with the cruise director, got no replies, eventually called the 800 number and was told that I could only address my questions on arrival. Our off boat activities, hotels, tours etc were handled by Sabine. Overall I think she was fine. Activities ran on time, buses were good, guides were mostly good. Krumlov was expensive for what it was, I would not rush to do that. A person in our group had the most expensive of the 3 tiers of package for the cruise, but when we got off the boat to the hotel ended up in a poky room in the worst of 3 tiers of hotel rooms. Sabine seemed to think this was not her issue but the hotels, which seems odd to me. In general we had outstanding service on the boat (crew, food, cleaning) and mediocre staff off the boat, so some folks need more training as they dilute an otherwise outstanding experience. Overall will definitely return Read Less
Sail Date April 2018
I chose this trip because my sister, brother-in law, and I got a great Friends and Family discount that we could pass up. The ship was lovely, food excellent, smaller size of ship and total passengers (125) made for an intimate friendly ... Read More
I chose this trip because my sister, brother-in law, and I got a great Friends and Family discount that we could pass up. The ship was lovely, food excellent, smaller size of ship and total passengers (125) made for an intimate friendly experience. I especially enjoyed having time in Budapest and Prague to explore and relax before and after the cruise portion of the adventure. The shore excursions, embarkation and disembarkation all ran very smoothly. Unfortunately we experienced some flooding issues along the Danube partway into the cruise which prevented being able to travel the entire projected itinerary along the river because of high water levels combined with low bridges. The cruise director Stefano did a remarkable job arranging for alternative transport by bus to the scheduled port cities, with only one exception, an unplanned stop in an alternate town was substituted. All of the stops were interesting and the guides very informative and friendly. The castles and churches were amazing and awe inspiring. The ship provided nightly local entertainment which was great, this also required a lot of additional revising and effort on the part of the ship staff. Because of the flooding we spent more time on buses than would otherwise have been the case which limited some of our time to explore the ports on our own or shop for souvenirs but this could not be helped, and overall we saw a lot of interesting sights. I would consider another Avalon cruise in the future. Read Less
Sail Date August 2017
The Blue Danube cruise on Avalon from Budapest to Nuremburg and on to Prague, was even better than we expected. We chose this trip based on previous reviews of the room, the boat, and the excursions, and it did not disappoint in the least. ... Read More
The Blue Danube cruise on Avalon from Budapest to Nuremburg and on to Prague, was even better than we expected. We chose this trip based on previous reviews of the room, the boat, and the excursions, and it did not disappoint in the least. We loved sitting in our room with the wide sliding door open, listening to the water lapping against the ship, watching vineyards, quaint towns, and churches going by. The room was very comfortable, and the food fabulous. we loved the great variety and attention to local favorites, as well as reasonably sized portions, and of course loved the free wine and beer with the meals, plus very reasonable prices otherwise, especially at the happy hours. Just as enjoyable was the free coffee/cappuccino/latte machine in the rear coffee lounge. The excursions required walking, climbing, and cobblestones, but our 68 year old bodies handled them all. Adding in more walking on our own every day made for some tired legs and feet, but we wouldn't have changed a thing. I would totally recommend adding the days in Budapest and Prague as they were probably the highlights of our tour. Also the extra day in Budapest made up for the day we lost when United Airlines made us miss our connection to Europe, costing us a 26 hour delay. Read Less
Sail Date May 2017
Destinations, timing, price, dates that fit with other travel plans all were factors in our decision to select this sailing and itinerary. My previous cruises - even on small ships - offered places to get a snack at any time, whereas ... Read More
Destinations, timing, price, dates that fit with other travel plans all were factors in our decision to select this sailing and itinerary. My previous cruises - even on small ships - offered places to get a snack at any time, whereas this one only had muffins and cookies in the lounge at the back of the boat. That is, however, a minor issue when the food that was offered was so well-prepared, regionally appropriate, and elegantly presented. We spent a great deal of time on shore excursions, which were well thought out and priced. Excursion pacing was fine, and the quality of the local guides was almost flawless. I would have loved more time in Vienna, but I understand the logistical challenges that would create. The boat's staff were very friendly and accommodating. Within 24 hours the dining staff knew us personally, and our housekeeper was perfectly attentive. I was a bit dismayed to see how many other similar boats were on the river, and in places where we were tied up alongside another river cruiser, (three abreast in Vienna) there was no way to leave the picture window open for the scenery. Read Less
Sail Date October 2016
The trip was even better than we hoped. It was relaxing yet stimulating. The crew was wonderful; the cruise director was fabulous; the food was outstanding. Every aspect was well thought out. The cabin was modern and very comfortable. ... Read More
The trip was even better than we hoped. It was relaxing yet stimulating. The crew was wonderful; the cruise director was fabulous; the food was outstanding. Every aspect was well thought out. The cabin was modern and very comfortable. The freedom to stay on the ship or take an excursion was refreshing. All was well organized and easy. From the moment we stepped on the ship until the moment we said farewell, we had a smile on our faces. We met a lot of interesting people from all over the United States, Canada, and Asia. People were very open and friendly. The staff was incredibly polite and extremely hospitable. The excursions were so easy and the guides were so knowledgeable. We would never have been able to see so much without the river cruise. We would certainly take another Avalon River Cruise and have recommended Avalon Waterways to several friends. Read Less
Sail Date October 2016
We thoroughly enjoyed this cruise. The staff, cabin, dining and excursions were all excellent. What we really liked is that in most cases we were able to disembark in or close to the town or city we were to visit. If an unexpected problem ... Read More
We thoroughly enjoyed this cruise. The staff, cabin, dining and excursions were all excellent. What we really liked is that in most cases we were able to disembark in or close to the town or city we were to visit. If an unexpected problem arose with an excursion or port, the staff worked quickly to rectify or reorganize so we would not miss our visit. The staff in the dining room was friendly, helpful and very efficient.. The food was delicious, and a good variety was offered over the 2 weeks, including many regional dishes. The cabin crew made sure that our cabin was cleaned in a timely manner every day. The excursions for the most part were interesting and well organized. The tour guides were knowledgeable and some better than others in the way they presented their town or city to us. The on board entertainment was very good, presenting a wide variety of acts, meeting a variety of interests and tastes. Read Less
Sail Date September 2016
My sister and I chose to travel on Avalon Waterways Magnificent Europe tour starting from Budapest on 24 July 2013 and finishing at Amsterdam two weeks later on 7 August 2013. It was quite a change for me to be on an organised tour after ... Read More
My sister and I chose to travel on Avalon Waterways Magnificent Europe tour starting from Budapest on 24 July 2013 and finishing at Amsterdam two weeks later on 7 August 2013. It was quite a change for me to be on an organised tour after always traveling independently over the years. We started our journey in Budapest and enjoyed our explorations of that very beautiful city. My sister had a brief city tour in the eighties while it was still behind the Iron Curtain, conducted from the airport to fill in a 10 hour stopover. The city has greatly changed since then from all accounts. We arrived in the city a day early and were taken by a private driver to Intercontinental hotel to spend our first night before joining our cruise. Our hotel rooms were very comfortable and of a high standard, while the service we experienced was excellent. During our stay we enjoyed a light meal and wine in the bar on our first evening, and a beautiful buffet breakfast the following morning before checkout. The front desk advised that our luggage would be transferred to our ship over the course of the day. Prior to joining our cruise, our first day and a half was spent ambling around the local streets, checking out the architecture and local sights, trying not to double up on activities included in our city tour with Avalon the following day. Our hotel was beside the Danube so well placed for our explorations. We particularly enjoyed discovering a number of Art Nouveau styled buildings and some quirky bronze statues along the way. One perched on a fence near our hotel, 'the little Princess' was very endearing, the artist inspired by his young daughter playing princess dress-ups. Another of Ronald Reagan was a surprise encounter, I guess a tribute to his presidential role around the time of the move towards democracy in these parts. The most poignant monument was a collection of 60 iron shoes beside the river near the Parliament building. A tribute to a group of jewish people who were murdered there by Arrow Cross Militiamen in WW2. Ordered to remove their shoes, they were shot and their bodies were carried away by the river. Sadly the shoes were seen to have a secondhand and greater value than the wearers in the eyes of the fascists. It is one of the most moving street sculptures I have ever seen. Not far from the hotel we discovered a monument highlighting the city's roman past and also an area of archaeological excavation showing roman remains below a thick clear perspex window set in the paved square above. Unfortunately we didn't have time to visit Aquincum Museum and roman ruins during our stay, no doubt a fascinating outing. We did however delve into more recent history, visiting the House of Terror, the building that once housed the Arrow Cross fascists and Nazis, then later was taken over for by the Communist Secret Police as a torture centre. It is now a monument and museum as a reminder of this tragic past. How wonderful it must be for the population to now experience freedom. We joined our cruise on MS Panorama in the afternoon of our second day. We were given a glass of champagne, some canapes and a very warm welcome from Cruise Director Hendrik who introduced the senior crew. Instructions were provided for joining tours each day, collecting boarding passes which would indicate we were onboard on our return to the ship and obtaining headsets for our tour commentaries. This was all done with great precision along with much humour from Hendrik, and providing we all complied with instructions about our return to the ship was assured of running smoothly. We were then shown to our suites to settle onboard before dinner. My sister and I each had our own Panorama Suite so had the luxury of space without having to dodge around another inhabitant. The rooms are beautifully appointed and well maintained each day. I knew from the moment I entered my suite that I would feel at home there, and began nesting immediately. In fact the environment on the whole ship is of a very high standard, with plenty of space for passengers throughout. The ship holds a maximum of around 160 passengers, with a large crew to take care of passengers. The restaurant is very roomy so there is plenty of space for people who choose to sit in smaller groups. Our welcome dinner gave us a preview of the quality of dining that we would come to expect every meal while onboard for two weeks. I have to admit that it was a bit intimidating that first time we entered the dining room, not knowing anyone else onboard. We introduced ourselves to a lovely pair of ladies from the UK, and remained firm friends and dinner companions throughout the voyage; sitting elsewhere for other meals in order to meet other people. The food was fresh, superbly presented and very tasty, a credit to chef Orlando and his fellow chefs and helpers. A varied selection of wines were offered with our evening meal each day. We were able to select less courses from the menu each time as the four of us all preferred a lighter diet than what was on offer. But for those who prefer more generous serves and multiple courses this restaurant would not disappoint. Try as we might to be self disciplined, the pastry chef made desserts so tempting that this was a course not to be missed at meals. Any attempt to request smaller serves was subverted by him with that extra dollop, slice or scoop! Our empty plates and bowls were testament to his skill! The following day we headed out for a city tour, taking in the sights of both the Buda and Pest sides of the river. Our guide was very informative giving us a history lesson at the same time as pointing out the many and varied highlights along the way. Most of the tour was experienced from the bus, with a brief stop at Heroes Square, then an hour and a half to wander around Fishermens Bastion on the Buda side where we were able to enjoy some stunning views across the city. Much more time than a couple of days is needed to really appreciate this fine city. We also went on an afternoon excursion to a nearby town called Szentendre, a quaint little spot heavily reliant on selling souvenirs. The commentary on the way was detailed and interesting but did we really need a second telling of all these same points of interest on the return journey from our guide! I was thrilled to see Aquincum and some of the roman ruins from our bus, a small consolation for not being able to visit. We were all very excited when the ship finally set sail to the strains of the music 'Conquest of Paradise' by Vangelis, which is very dramatic. (I know some of the words, the ones that go mm mm mm mm mm etc) As the tour progresses we will discover that this is played each time we set sail and we never tire of hearing it, it quickly becomes part of our routine. Our first stop was Bratislava in Slovakia where we visited the Castle which is located at a high point with excellent views of the river and city. We were then taken on a walking tour of the old town to appreciate the very attractive old-world streetscapes. I had read about the quirky street sculptures featured here and had my eyes peeled. Eventually we were able to meet 'Cumil' (pronounced Choo-mill) who has his head and upper body protruding through a manhole on the side of the road. He is in such a precarious spot he has lost his head a number of times after being collected by cars and has undergone regular repairs. We also saw 'Schone Nazi', a strange name for a representation of a local well dressed character from the early 20th century who used to hang around the spot where the sculpture is located, greeting people and paying particular attention to any ladies passing by, sometimes even handing out flowers. In those days he was considered to be an oddball but in our times he would probably be on YouTube and famous around the world for his antics, much like the guy who was offering free hugs to people in public places. Sadly Paparazzi no longer exists, a sculpture of a man peeking around a corner with his camera. I had been eagerly anticipating meeting him. Next day and we were in another country! Aaahhh Wien! My husband and I visited this city many years ago, so we had experienced a visit to Schonbrunn Palace and other local sights. We started our day with a bus tour around the city locale. I had forgotten how amazing the architecture is here, truly stunning! Unfortunately this mode of travel doesn't allow us to explore in depth, you just whizz by in a bus taking photos with reflections, cars, poles etc. It is a taster but you can't expect to do any scratching below the surface of each location as I would normally do. We also went on a walking tour with our very eccentric and lovely guide Cordelia, who was able to point out some aspects of interest that were a little more unusual and gave insights into the Austrian sense of humour which is apparently distinct from Germans despite the shared language. We had a little spare time to check out some of the shops where I was able to pick up a lovely temporary souvenir from a baker - a berry torte. A work of art, it was well appreciated later, but not much later! It was great just walking around checking out the distinctive streetscapes and architecture. We returned to the ship for dinner. Later I boarded another bus to attend a concert of classical music, dance and opera. These concerts are prolific in Vienna and there are young people dressed up in period costume selling tickets all over the city each day. The hall was pretty but not particularly special however I enjoyed the concert very much. The orchestra and other performers were really good. Many of the musicians are apparently music students who are honing their skills in the final years of their degrees. I was a bit unsure about booking this optional tour but decided to give it a try and I am glad that I did. Our guide talked about the fact that many tourists now think that there are kangaroos in Austria, confusing them with Australia. How funny! When Phil and I visited Europe in 1984 many people thought we were Austrians when they asked where we were from because they didn't understand our accents. I guess it sounded like we were saying 'Austrayia' or the like. Haha! Now there are Tshirts and plastic bags with the slogan 'No Kangaroos in Austria', featuring a picture of a roadsign showing a kangaroo with a cross through it. I am pleased to see that our country is finally on the map. Of course when we clarified in 1984 that we were really from Australia the usual response was 'Ohhh Kangarooooo!' with a suitable mimicking of a kangaroo accompanying that phrase. Later when we visited the US and Canada in 2001, the population was more interested in Crocodiles than kangaroos thanks to Steve Irwin and also Paul Hogan's Crocodile Dundee. Our next stop was Durnstein, a pretty riverside village with steep vineyards surrounding it and a ruined castle on a rocky outcrop above, which is famous for holding Richard the Lionheart for ransom back in the time of the crusades. Coincidentally at home my other half had been watching Errol Flynn's Robin Hood which refers to having to raise gold and silver to pay a ransom for Richard who is a prisoner in Vienna. What strange timing! We were assured that Richard actually was living the life of Reilly while there, with servants, luxurious rooms and a fair degree of freedom within the castle; not chained up in some dark, damp dungeon as we might imagine. We really loved exploring the quaint streets here, admiring the pretty buildings and walking through laneways past the vineyards. It was very hot though so great to get back to the airconditioned comfort of the ship for lunch. We continued on to Melk, another town in the Wachau Valley of Austria. Again we were herded on to buses to tour Melk Abbey which we were assured was an amazing place to visit. This is certainly a fact but it was so hot that afternoon I found it hard to appreciate the visit and wished I had stayed on the ship for a quiet afternoon. I should point out that I had been struggling with sinusitis and a sore throat which was interrupting my sleep, so the heat was really draining. The abbey has beautiful terraced gardens but it was way too hot for any of us to spend much time exploring. The weather was much hotter than the locals are used to for several days in a row. Once returned to the ship we set off towards Linz for our final Austrian destination the next day. Linz required an early start as there were several optional tours on offer, We had opted to visit Salzkammergut Austrian lakes area. I was feeling like death warmed up so decided to give the tour a miss and stayed onboard, while my sister enjoyed a long day out traveling around 'romantic Austria'. It was the best decision under the circumstances as it was a much cooler day after some very hot days, so it was refreshing to sit outside and enjoy a cool breeze. With most of the passengers away on outings, I was one of a very small contingent still onboard. I found it relaxing to watch picturesque countryside and pretty villages pass by. Apart from the naturalist aspect, we thought we may even get to see more naturists' views as we did the previous day. It seems that the River Danube is a popular spot for getting the gear off for an all over tan. We were even bemused by the sight of men cooking barbecues in the all-together, an activity that seemed fraught with danger of burning the snags! Additionally we were able to observe the workings of some enormous locks along the way. We crossed the border of Austria and Germany through a very wide lock so two ships were able to go through beside one another, but with the narrowest gap between the side of the ship and and concrete wall. I was amused to see that the neighbouring boat was named Hendrika, because our Cruise Director is Hendrik. Another discovery on this journey was that it was a bit weird walking along the Skydeck in the opposite direction to the boat, as it had the effect of a treadmill, with the landscape beside me keeping up. > Our first stop in Germany was the extremely beautiful town of Passau, which sits where three rivers meet, the Danube, Inn and Ilz. Each is a different colour so it is very strange to see the three colours of water merging at the point where they all converge. After such high temperatures over several days, we had a huge downpour on arrival here which was quite refreshing. I enjoyed strolling around the streets checking out the architecture, the wonderful baroque cathedral and even had time to browse in some shops that were not stuffed to the gills with souvenirs. I strolled back to the ship beside the river in time to see the daytrippers returning from their outings. My sister shared photos of her day's outing with me and seemed very happy with her experiences. She did however feel that too much time had been spent at St Wolfgang, while another superb location with a Schloss reached by cable car did not have enough time for a visit. As days wore on I found myself struggling to catch up with my first email to family and friends. Wifi access was understandably sporadic along the river and canals so communication with home became difficult. The best time was when we docked somewhere and of course that meant being out and about on tour. Once back onboard the ship sailed off and again there was no wifi. I was also guilty of dozing off in between activities at times when my intention was to catch up on facebook, sorting photos and emailing. When I finally found the time I could hardly remember where I had been since Vienna! Fortunately we were given daily itineraries which made an excellent resource for jogging the memory. Next stop was Regensburg, Bavaria, which is an amazing city of UNESCO World Heritage status due to more than 1300 buildings of historic interest. After a short walking tour we were given a couple of hours free time to explore. It was great to retrace our footsteps and see the sights without a crowd of people around us. There is a lovely old stone bridge which dates back to mid 1100s, the oldest of its kind in Germany. It seems the biggest claim to fame is the Wurstkuchl which we were told is considered to be the world's oldest 'fried sausage kitchen'. Who would want to argue with that? Actually we were more interested in visiting one of the newest department stores in town than eating sausage and sauerkraut. Haha! I must agree the city is a fantastic place to stroll around. Those who did make it to the Wurstkuchl were full of praise for the sausage and beer consumed there. On return to the ship many of us took advantage of a chocolate tasting session. We enjoyed trying three different, delicious chocolate treats while our speaker shared some chocolate facts with us. Yum! After dinner our night was rounded off with a corny show by Hans, a One Man German Band, who had a massive moustache that looked like a broom under his nose. He had fun selecting 'volunteers' to play a variety of instruments he had hauled onboard. It was pretty silly but the crowd thoroughly enjoyed it nonetheless. We made sure we were seated near an exit to make a quick getaway if he headed our way at any point. While traveling to our next destination the following morning, an interesting presentation was held on the Main Danube Canal, with particular focus on the engineering of this waterway and the operation of locks. It is a fascinating aspect of this particular cruise as there are many locks to negotiate along the way. The fascinating city of Nuremberg was our next point of call, with so much to see but of course we were not able to explore in depth due to lack of time. It has a long proud history yet will always have the legacy of reluctantly hosting the annual party rally for Hitler's Nazis over a six year period. As a result of this association the city had more than 75% of its historic buildings destroyed. Clearly much of the Old City has been restored as the town walls, towers and beautiful half-timbered houses look in great shape. We made a brief stop at the Nazi Party Rally grounds and found that the building and interior is in disrepair, a crumbling monument to their failure in WW2. We also checked out the massive Zeppelin Field nearby, a site larger than twelve football grounds put together, which was used for huge Nazi parades associated with the party rallies. We were given an hour of free time away from this sad political history. We decided to visit the Toy Museum, a fantastic display specialising in German made toys which must be one of the biggest collection of its kind. The quality of the toys was brilliant and many still had their original packaging. We returned to the ship for a very popular beer tasting session, not my thing but well received by most passengers. As the cruise progressed, the food continued to be wonderful. The crew are so professional and attentive, chef Orlando is highly skilled and his army of helpers do an excellent job. They try and include local specialties at every lunch and dinner along with beautiful wines and a selection of other beverages. Bamberg was the next stop on our itinerary and what a beautiful town. Our dutch guide was great, very knowledgeable as she has lived in this town for many years and presented our walking tour with a sense of humour. She pointed out various places of interest including a fountain featuring Neptune which is known locally as the "Man with the Fork'. It is surrounded by stone seating referred to as the Ape Rocks, in deference to the usual zoo settings for Apes where they watch us watching them. I like that nickname, so apt. The Town Hall is an unusual tall half timbered structure which is perched precariously halfway along on a stone bridge, with water rushing under it. Local legend is that the bishop of Bamberg refused to grant land for the building of the town hall so the citizens rammed stakes into the river to create an artificial island for locating this landmark. Whatever the truth is, it is an incredible sight. Most of our guides have mentioned that there is an old German (Austrian) saying that a wealthy person is Stone Rich or Rolling in Stones, a nod to the great value placed on Stone in medieval times. The half timbered buildings were a way to build relatively grand homes without the extra cost of stones for upper levels. I guess that is where our saying 'Rolling in it' comes from when we talk about people with pots of money. Interesting. (Well I thought so anyway.) The afternoon schedule included a talk on the European Union so I decided to have a nap as I was feeling very weary. I had been battling hayfever for days which was progressing to a sore throat and it was all catching up on me. However I did book to go on the 3.15pm galley tour on the ship so set my watch to wake me at 2.30. I woke with a start at 3.21 pm to find that I had set my alarm for 2.30am! So much for my plans, oh well, back to sleep! I drifted in and out of sleep, waking occasionally to lie there watching the world go by through the huge windows in my room. My dinner companions later reported that the galley tour was great, highly organised and they were impressed with the cooking achievements in such a small space. We woke the next morning to a beautiful view of a hillside palace in Wurzburg, complete with the most perfect reflections on the river. I was able to capture some stunning images of this view on my camera much to my delight. We started our explorations with the obligatory walking tour which I almost passed on, but ended up being glad that I went. Our guide Valerie is British but has lived in Wurzburg for over 20 years. She proved to be an extremely effective speaker, very conversational and funny with a droll sense of humour. We visited the Wurzburg Palace located in town (as opposed to the one on the hill overlooking the river) and she took us on a journey back in time as she explained all of the features of the palace and the habits of occupants and visitors. We were introduced to the Prince Bishop who ruled the town in the early 1700s, by all accounts a humble fellow given that he commissioned a ceiling mural above the Grand Staircase that may as well be entitled 'The World Pays Homage to the Prince Bishop'. Even the gods appeared to be praising his image in this mural. The World only had 4 continents at that time, all featured in different displays. America was shown to be the least important or civilised, while Europe was advanced well ahead of all others. On the origins of words, she mentioned that the men who came to the palace in the 1700s were expected to wear wigs. If a man had a very long wig this indicated he was very important, hence the term 'Bigwigs'. We had a little free time to wander around town, taking in more splendid views with a leisurely stroll back to the ship along the river, just in time for more food. (In the unlikely event that anyone on board may starve...) Once that was done, we boarded buses for Rothenburg, a fantastic medieval walled town with narrow lanes and many half timbered houses. How lucky we were to have the same tour guide, Valerie, who entertained us on the bus to and from our destination. She gave us a bit of an orientation on arrival then we were cut loose to enjoy exploring for a couple of hours. It was a very hot day so nothing too energetic was on the agenda. Jill and I checked out some of the shops around the central marketplatz (naturally), including a huge christmas shop and surprisingly emerged with no packages between us. We decided to head to the town walls for a trek above the houses which was a great way to see a different view of the town. We also had an ulterior motive, to find the horse and carriages so we could take a ride. No luck, so we did the female thing and asked for directions and next thing you know we were taking a leisurely ride around the outer streets, under a shady canopy. The ride took 25 minutes with two stops; one a toilet stop but for the horses, not for us, and the other at a huge water trough for a drink, again for the horses not us! On the return journey Valerie entertained us all with personal stories about her adjustment to living in Germany, her children's bilingual issues and other funny tales. This lady could easily do stand up comedy or after dinner speaking. (Take note Avalon, she would be great onboard as a speaker, especially on the cross cultural issues she has encountered.) Our trip to Miltenberg was very leisurely as we were still sailing for half of the next day before we docked. Once again we were taken on a walking tour of the town, which is famed for its beer and franconian red wines. It is yet another medieval town, with many enormous half timbered houses lining the streets of the old town. The day we visited it was hosting a stopover of a very large contingent of cyclists who were following the way of a pilgrimage from town to town. They departed mid afternoon and the streets were very quiet in comparison. Back on board we had a local lady visit the ship to present a Vanilla Gipfel cookie baking demonstration. She managed to coerce a couple of the guys into helping her with this, and I noticed a few not so brave men quickly depart from the lounge once she announced she needed volunteers. Brigitte was very funny and lively so it was much more than a baking demonstration and whiled away an hour very easily. Soon after we set sail for Rudesheim to the strains of Vangelis and the view outside my window was perfect; a white swan was floating by, the light reflected on all of the buildings giving a glowing effect, the green of the countryside looked even greener than usual and I spied canoeists on the river. Lovely! That night the crew put on a show for us all in the lounge after dinner. They did a variety of funny skits as well as some musical moments. I guess all of these cruises do something similar as part of their entertainment. We got to see another side to the people who have been providing us with such professional service this past two weeks. They are a great bunch of people, very hard working. Many of them are married with children but barely see their families during the summer holiday season, They work long hours every day and most do a multitude of jobs, yet no task seems to be too much trouble for these easy going crew members. We also had a piano player each night, Nick, from Bulgaria. He has quite the repertoire, has a great voice and is a good musician so we enjoyed dancing along to his music most nights. We particularly appreciated our next destination, Rudesheim, which was another leisurely day spent on the boat until lunch time. We boarded our Petit Train on leaving the ship and trundled into town, saving a long walk uphill. It was greatly amusing to see how close the train got to the chairs in the outside dining areas of cafes. Luckily noone was sitting in them as we passed. We had visions of sitting there, then moving backwards to stand up only to be cleaned up by a colourful little train. We have seen news reports of all manner of tourist tragedies over the years, but never by this method. Oh the embarrassment to be killed by le petit train! On arrival at our destination, we waited to see which way our guide was going then headed in the opposite direction away from Siegfried's Mechanical Music Museum, before anyone spotted us making our escape. No reflection on this popular tourist activity but we had alternative plans! In my research I had found out there was a cable car that would take us to a lookout at a highly placed monument, which appealed to us more than an hour of antique musical instruments followed by coffee laced with brandy at the local Schloss. While I am sure that everyone enjoyed their music and coffee interlude, our journey above the terraced grape vines, with magnificent views of the town, the Rhine and beyond, was a perfect way to while away our time on such a warm summer's day. The Niederwald monument, commemorating the reunification of Germany in the late 1800s, was pretty impressive too. After our return journey we meandered through the streets back to the ship. We set sail to Cologne through the most picturesque stretch of the Rhine River, with commentary on the Skydeck from Hendrik, pointing out the many castles and other places of interest along the way. The weather was perfect for viewing these sights; cameras and iPads were kept busy capturing the images of steeply perched fortresses and charming riverside towns. Time was slipping by fast and before we knew it we were disembarking for our visit to Cologne. We chose to wander around the city centre rather than follow the guide as we have both been to this city in the past. We walked back to the ship through the old town, admiring the well maintained historic buildings and the river views. We had an early sailing that afternoon so headed back in good time to enjoy some people watching from the Skydeck. One couple was late getting back; Jill spotted them strolling slowly along the pathway before having to make an undignified dash for the boat with only minutes to spare after our Cruise Director Hendrik yelled out loudly to them. We had been warned previously that the ship would not wait for us if we were late so they were lucky to just make it. Once we set sail we had our final Port talk from Hendrik with special emphasis on disembarkation protocols. Hendrik's pre dinner Port talks were a fixture each day of the cruise along with Happy Hour in the Lounge, briefing us on the schedule for the next day and and what we could expect to see and experience. We had our farewell dinner one night early given that many of the passengers would be out and about on tour in Amsterdam the following night. It was a very special dinner, featuring a parade of all the people who had carefully prepared and served our meals during the cruise and also to pay tribute to all of the other crew who work tirelessly behind the scenes. Three cheers for you all, you are a credit to your ship and to Avalon. Our final destination of Amsterdam was reached overnight. We had a long day planned, starting with a canal cruise around this very lively and historic city. We have both been to Amsterdam previously so chose a country outing in the afternoon rather than further exploring the city sights. It was interesting to see the way that the land has been reclaimed from waterways for farming and housing. The farms had raised grazing lands punctuated by channels of water and I saw quite a few swans in the fields, a very strange sight. The farmhouses were square and the orange tiled rooftops were shaped like pyramids. We visited the town of Edam and wandered around checking out the pretty streetscapes of well tended houses. We then went on to Volendam, a nearby fishing village, with more neat little homes reflecting house proud locals. There were many sailboats on the water, a great sight as we walked along the dyke. It is a very touristy area with numerous souvenir shops, cafes and pubs. Our guide mentioned it is a busy place no matter what the season. Fortunately the charming backstreets were quieter so we escaped the crowds. There were channels of water covered in a type of duck weed, giving the impression it was a grassy pathway. Our guide was at pains to remind us of this, paranoid that one of us might mistakenly take a dip. We did spot a bicycle lying beside a pond covered in this greenery, and some orange and white tape had been stretched around the perimeter, serving as a warning to walkers to watch out. We returned to the ship for our last dinner onboard, then away we went again, this time for an evening excursion to check out the historic city centre, most notably the red light district Amsterdam is famed for. I enjoyed the canal cruise more this time as the light was much better for taking photos. Our guide was adept at discussing the issues of prostitution and legal use of marijuana in Amsterdam. Even though the two are legalised, it appears that there is still a criminal element causing social problems. For me, walking around this area is uncomfortable, not because of what the ladies are doing, rather because there is a feeling of treating them like they are creatures in a zoo by observing them. Any uncomfortable feelings are quickly wafted away by the strong smell of marijuana in these streets; we relax. Haha! There are cafes with special licences to allow legal smoking of dope, but clearly it is openly smoked everywhere else. This is all part of Amsterdam's culture and ways, so is something for visitors to be aware of, and hopefully show some level of respect as we move amongst the locals. After our tour we gather with some fellow passengers for a last night of dancing to Nick's music, chatting and debriefing about our experiences over the previous two weeks. It is a credit to the Cruise Director that proceedings run like clockwork and it all appears so seamless and trouble-free. I would like to make special mention of the lovely people who tended to our cabins behind the scenes. They work extremely hard over long hours and try to incorporate individual touches to make passengers feel special. I had brought along a tiny jointed cat toy on my trip as a piece of home to add to my room. Every night when I returned to my cabin after dinner, my bed was turned down by Anto, who also left a chocolate on the pillow and the little cat tucked up in bed. One day we were all thrilled to find that our towels had been expertly folded on our beds into animals, in my case a dog wearing my reading glasses and cuddling my little cat. These special touches along the way never failed to make me smile! The next morning we rose early to ensure our cases were outside our room at 6 am. It is hard to sleep when you worry you may not wake on time. I had some last minute packing to sort out and pressed down on my case to close it, hearing a noise that I thought must have been a wake up call. Hang on, I didn't order a wake up call! I realised it was a toy yodelling Marmot that I had bought as a souvenir gift, serenading me from my luggage! I quickly rescued it and put it in my hand luggage, thinking it might alarm a baggage handler if it went off during transit. Wearily we headed to the lounge for a quick continental brekky before boarding the airport bus to catch a flight to our next destination. We were both so tired that we dozed off on the plane, however I woke up when someone close by snored very loudly! Oh dear, was that me? Haha! I forced myself to remain awake after that mortifying experience! I hope this journal of my cruise experience highlights how wonderful the Magnificent Europe tour with Avalon Waterways is! Although I still favour traveling independently, I did enjoy the refreshing change of letting someone else take care of the detail, carrying me along on their journey. Read Less
Sail Date July 2013
Embarking on the Panorama at Budapest we had only cruised to Vienna when unprecedented floods made further progress on the river impossible. Along with another eight cruise ships from other cruise lines we were stuck there. Avalon ... Read More
Embarking on the Panorama at Budapest we had only cruised to Vienna when unprecedented floods made further progress on the river impossible. Along with another eight cruise ships from other cruise lines we were stuck there. Avalon immediately sent letters informing us of the need to use buses and offering compensation. We were really disappointed since we loved our suite with lovely comfy bed and spacious bathroom and had grown to like the crew. The food was great and plenty of wine with dinner.   As it turned out we used the Panorama as a base for a couple of days with buses taking us to places we would have cruised to then we were taken to a top hotel in Saltzberg for a night before busing to Bamberg where we embarked on the Expression. We then toured from there for a couple more days before going to Mainz and the Hilton. Here we joined the Vista and cruised to Amsterdam. I can't speak highly enough of Nico our tour director who, along with Avalon had to change arrangements, get buses, restaurants and hotels for about 150 people almost by the hour. They ensured we were accompanied by experienced bus guides who were very good and along with the planned tours we were able to see much of what had been advertised without the comfort of relaxed cruising. All the passengers I spoke to were disappointed about not cruising for much of the time but were impressed by the efforts Avalon and Nico in particular made to give us a good tour. All said we would all use Avalon again. Read Less
Sail Date May 2013
14 Day River Cruise: Hungary-Holland PREAMBLE: After many a sea cruise, we finally did our first major River Cruise. We are two very seasoned travelers, both work paid and "on our own dime". In our late mid 60's, we have ... Read More
14 Day River Cruise: Hungary-Holland PREAMBLE: After many a sea cruise, we finally did our first major River Cruise. We are two very seasoned travelers, both work paid and "on our own dime". In our late mid 60's, we have been retired for over a decade (on average). Leslie does the photo work and I do the write-ups. We try to provide great detail of our trips and lots of pictures of the places we go. You will not find many pictures of us in the lot. This write-up is meant to share with our friends and family, help others who may consider a similar trip, to "payback" in some way the help we get from Flyertalk members to plan our trips and in some lesser way to entertain and inform those that for any number of reasons will not take such a trip. We have changed our format at bit this Report. Rather than do the trip chronologically, sneaking in various details of sideline issues, this Trip Report is in 5 sections. The content and extent of the coverage will vary based on my notes, time and both my interest and my perceived interest of the various readers. The sections will be clearly marked, so feel free to skip those that might not interest you. The pictures can be found by the link at the end of Report. The pictures were taken from buses (seat, window, wires, wrong side, weather, and etc. being factors). Others were taken as we walked in groups on tour, or from the boat as we cruised down the 3 rivers and one canal. The Sections include: 1) Ground Transport; 2) Flights; 3) Avalon Panorama River Boat; 4) Our Trip, from boarding to disembarkation; and 5) Pictures. We have tried to minimize the overlap and repetition. A note to those afraid of sea cruises or the "water", the river cruise described had no waves, feeling of boat movement nor should anyone feel "sea" sick. Further, the depth of much of the river was such that you could stand on the top deck and have water no higher than your waist IF the boat sank!!! Great alternative to sea cruises for those with such problems. GROUND TRANSPORTATION: We live in Escondido and flew out of San Diego Airport (SAN). Our flight departure was scheduled just past 6AM, so we were concerned about taking a regular shuttle to SAN. For a bit more ($200 total, RT with tip) we took ExecuCar. This assured us of a non-stop drive to the airport in comfort, with perhaps an upgraded driver (it was!). The driver had our schedule, was on time and did not break the speed limit (much). He handled the luggage and offered us water. We were questioned as to our temperature comfort a couple times along the route. Our pickup on the return was a worry for us. We do not carry a cell phone, so we could only hope the driver made the adjustments for picking us up on July 4. Our plane out of Washington, DC was late about an hour. We should have been back before the fireworks started, but because San Diego had the 18 second embarrassment show, we arrived as people were leaving and traffic was a mess. We were grateful our driver was well versed in the street options and we did not have to make stops for other riders! We usually do not pay the extra for this service. FLIGHTS: We booked our cruise with air included. During the 9 months between booking and the actual flight, the airline group (DL) we were originally booked with and the final flights (UA/LH) were changed. The time also changed from a comfortable departure from SAN of almost 9AM to just after 6AM. Our seat assignments on UA, I had made online, had been changed. The three hour "rule" for arrival would put us there before the door to the AP would even open? Even 2 hours was well before the UA counter was open. A couple of days before the flight, UA sent us an e-mail inviting us to check-in on line. I tried this several times, but to no avail. The system said there was a problem. We called UA with that information. They assured us that there was no problem, but we would have to check in with an agent and show our passports. Upon arrival (3:45AM) at the airport we went to the roped line and became first in line. Others joined us for the wait, as employees arrived and went into the back room. There was a separate area labeled for those who were going to check-in on the machines. At 4:20AM, someone came out and told us that we should move to the other line if we wanted to check in by machine, that the agents would not be out for a while. We did not move, all the others in line did. The employee asked us why, and we told him our story. He told us that the agents would not be out in time for our flight, and therefore we should now move to the other line as guest number 80 or so!!! From first!!! We stayed. The people in the other line started to go to the machines to check in. There was a lady helping those people, so I talked to her. She took our paperwork and handled everything. One bag each was free, as this was part of an international flight. TSA went easy. Got machine scanned and never touched. Our first leg was to Chicago (ORD). We had modest advanced boarding with my UA Explorer Card. The flight was 100% full and therefore left a little late. Those in the boarding area with "BIG" carry-ons were offered free checking at the gate! (that saved a lot of people $50 per bag). Many standbys were denied boarding. There was no food serviced on this leg, except for what you wanted to pay for. We brought sweet rolls to eat and used our 1-k drink tickets (from the past) to have some wine. Our layover in ORD was long. We took the time to handle our eye drops (glaucoma), and I switched from my contacts to my glasses. We also took the time to have some lunch," just in case". Our next leg was from ORD to Frankford (FRA), Germany. We were in aisle 41 (no recline). The woman in row 40, with three kids managed to make our space even smaller by reclining all their seats. We had two aisle seats in the center section assigned for us by Lufthansa. The two girls between us were part of a larger group and were up and down like yoyos, but pleasant otherwise. Two babies in our area took turns screaming thru most of the 10 hour flight. It was a miserable 10+ hours (oh, for the days of first class and business class seats!). Our FF points have been whittled down and the Read Less
Sail Date June 2012
We have arrived home after six weeks in Europe the first 2 weeks were cruising from Budapest to Amsterdam aboard the Avalon Panorama. Leaving Budapest April 25th 2012: We had arranged our own transfers from the Airport in Budapest due ... Read More
We have arrived home after six weeks in Europe the first 2 weeks were cruising from Budapest to Amsterdam aboard the Avalon Panorama. Leaving Budapest April 25th 2012: We had arranged our own transfers from the Airport in Budapest due to arriving 2 days prior to boarding. We stayed at the La Prima Fashion Hotel and were delighted with all aspects of this establishment we highly recommend it. We had a fabulous 14 days with the boat exceeding our expectations. Our cabin on the top deck was luxurious.The bathroom in our opinion is five star. The french balcony is some thing we would insist on in any future cruises it affords more room in the cabin and we were able to have the huge sliding door open most days. There has been some discussion about food and drink on the forum this led us to doubt our decision to book with Avalon, but we found the food and free flowing drinks at dinner were exceptional. We enjoyed the breakfasts and lunches equally along with the coffee bar in the rear lounge. We also enjoyed two BBQ Lunches on the top deck as sunny weather prevailed for almost the full trip. The crew did their utmost to make our holiday enjoyable with only a short time before they knew all our names. The Captain was always approachable when he wasn't busy skilfully guiding the ship into the many locks. Our cruise director "Andrew" was attentive and informative and on one occasion when the boat had been delayed during the night due to an electrical failure at one of the locks he organised buses to take us to Rudesheim, arranged lunch there for 150 guests all at short notice. This turned out to be one of the best days of the trip. The whole group joined in singing and at one stage a conga line was formed behind an impromptu band made up of passengers. There was entertainment on in the lounge bar almost every night it ranged from gypsy dancers to a one man band a string quartet and a solo Pianist while we didn't attend all of these those that we did were enjoyed immensely. The crew presented a show one evening this displayed yet more talent. Thanks to "AYU". for her Bali Dance !!!! but Cornel should stick to his day job. The cruise went far too quickly and we would recommend Avalon as a cruise company in particular Panorama as a fantastic Boat The small town and villages along the way were delightful and we took over 3000 photos.We won't go into too much detail, go and discover it for yourselves, but just a hint the beer in each place needs to be tried. A totally enjoyable experience. Was it worth the money? We feel that it was. . Where to next???? Start planning.!! Cheers Lyn & Pieter Read Less
Sail Date April 2012
Avalon Panorama Ratings
Category Editor Member
Cabins 5.0 4.7
Dining 5.0 4.3
Entertainment 4.0 3.8
Public Rooms 5.0 4.5
Fitness Recreation 4.0 3.7
Family 2.0 3.7
Shore Excursion 4.0 4.3
Enrichment 4.0 4.0
Service 4.0 4.6
Value For Money 4.0 4.1
Rates 3.0 4.1

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