This was my second cruise with Avalon. I loved the first one (Rhine River) so much I booked this one just a few weeks after getting back! I was interested in the Active Discovery concept, because I wanted a little more than just the ... Read More
This was my second cruise with Avalon. I loved the first one (Rhine River) so much I booked this one just a few weeks after getting back! I was interested in the Active Discovery concept, because I wanted a little more than just the standard walking city tour at each stop. I was definitely not disappointed! I absolutely loved the variety of unique excursions (both included and optional) available on this cruise. I took full advantage of the excursions and tried to choose things that were a bit off the beaten path. I did several tastings (beer, wine, and absinthe), took two different cooking classes (one was part of the 'insiders tour' and the second was its own excursion), canoed in the Danube Bend, toured old WWII tunnels, experienced a concentration camp, among many, many other awesome adventures! Each excursion included a friendly and knowledgeable local guide.
I did the three-day add on in Prague before the ship embarkation in Linz. I always enjoy a day or two prior to the sailing to get acclimated with the environment and reset my internal clock. This add-on was great - several different choices of things to do in Prague and a day in Cesky Krumlov. The hotel was great - right in the heart of Old Town Prague so it was very convenient to just about everything, very clean, comfortable, and a very helpful staff.
The time onboard the ship was good as well. Unfortunately the Luminary is one of the oldest ships in Avalon's fleet, and it does not have the newer staterooms that are a bit larger and laid out a bit better. My first cruise was on one of their newer ships and I definitely prefer the newer ones! However, even though it didn't have a small seating area, the French balcony windows were smaller, and the bed did not face the windows, the stateroom on the Luminary was very clean, comfortable, and well laid out. There is plenty of storage space, and the bed is super comfortable! But the best part about being onboard is always the staff. Everyone from the front desk team to the hotel staff to the kitchen staff was very friendly and helpful. Everyone always greeted me with a smile. My stateroom attendant was very helpful - she ensured my bed was set at the best firmness for me, and she got me a different duvet when I requested it.
The cruise director, Stefano, was superb. He was friendly and knowledgeable and helpful. He went above and beyond to ensure everything was perfect. Our last two days had to be rearranged a bit (due to low water levels in and around Budapest), but he worked tirelessly to ensure that most excursions could still happen (we only had one afternoon where scheduled excursions had to be cancelled) and arranged all additional transportation and meals as needed.
The highlight of Avalon service on this trip, though, was one afternoon in Vienna. I was the only person to sign up for one of the optional excursions (the absinthe tasting). To my utter surprise and delight, they did not cancel due to low participation. On the contrary - they arranged for a guide and a driver for me. The car was a Tesla, no less! My guide was wonderful - since I did not do the city tour that morning, she offered to give me a private city tour and had the driver drive around so I could see all the key spots in the city. He even stopped at a couple so I could get out and take pictures. My guide and I were the only ones at the tasting and museum visit, so we had the place to ourselves and got a private tour there as well (and all of the schnapps, absinthe, and other liqueurs I wanted to taste!). It truly speaks to Avalon's customer service that they went ahead with that excursion just for me. Definitely the highlight of my trip!
Dining onboard the Luminary was top-notch. There are a variety of options at every meal, and all were delicious. I also enjoyed having the 'Avalon Fresh' options, which were lighter and more healthy than the standard fare. Breakfast and lunch were both buffets with an endless variety of hot and cold choices. Dinner was a 4- or 5-course sit down meal with delicious local wines and beers available. Throughout the day, snacks and fresh fruit are always available.
I prefer to travel solo, and this was my second sailing as a solo traveler on Avalon. They make it easy for solo travelers by offering reduced/waived single supplements. I never felt alone or lonely at any time - I made tons of new friends of all ages, backgrounds, and nationalities on the trip.
I absolutely recommend Avalon. Their service is superb, the cabins are comfortable, and their excursions are excellent! Read Less