We wanted to see France and the Sienne River and experience it on a small boat. Didn’t like big cruise boats. Too crowded and too regimented. On a river cruise you can have dinner with other guests or by yourselves. It was nice ... Read More
We wanted to see France and the Sienne River and experience it on a small boat. Didn’t like big cruise boats. Too crowded and too regimented. On a river cruise you can have dinner with other guests or by yourselves. It was nice having that choice. We got to seat with different people at each meal from all over the world. We enjoyed that very much and got to meet wonderful people. The included excursions were excellent and so were the tour guides. They were all very informative and spoke English very well. It was great being able to book the excursions ahead of time. Every evening, before dinner, we had a discussion with the cruise director and some of the crew about the next day’s excursions. They also gave us the option of changing what we booked the next day if we wanted. This way of cruising is the way to go. We had a great time. Would definitely do a River cruise again. Read Less
I chose this cruise because I wanted to go to Normandy. All the stops were great and our guides were all so interesting. I learned so much about the area. We were so lucky to also have a beautiful weather week. Everyone on the ship was so ... Read More
I chose this cruise because I wanted to go to Normandy. All the stops were great and our guides were all so interesting. I learned so much about the area. We were so lucky to also have a beautiful weather week. Everyone on the ship was so helpful and friendly. This was my first trip alone and it more than met all my expectations. We were very lucky in Normandy because not only was the weather terrific, but it was not crowded. We were able to see the German bunkers, the bomb craters, the American cemetery and were able to walk on Omaha Beach. Everything was so powerful especially for me, since my dad came ashore there in 1944. Another stop and tour was at the home and gardens of Monet. His gardens were magnificent, and you felt like you were part of one of his paintings. Yes, this was a wonderful cruise! Read Less
First time cruiser, got talked into it by friends and was skeptic. Was surprised at the size of the cabin. Easy to move around, well laid out, good use of space, lots of storage space. Well above the water line, sliding door, no balcony. ... Read More
First time cruiser, got talked into it by friends and was skeptic. Was surprised at the size of the cabin. Easy to move around, well laid out, good use of space, lots of storage space. Well above the water line, sliding door, no balcony. The toilet was well ventilated and again well laid out. We are not large people which probably helps. The storage space for toiletries was sufficient. The beds were normal size, the mattresses were fine (for our taste), and we slept well.
Food was simply great. The choices for breakfast and lunch were myriad, served buffet style and, perhaps due to the fact that seating was informal, not all guests arrived at the same time, so it was easy to get around the buffet. Dinner was served by waiters and usually had at least two choices of appetizers, main course and desserts. Wine flowed freely and was included in the price. Seating was again informal, starting at 7:00PM, lasting until 9:00PM.
There was a lounge, serving afternoon tea with cookies and some entertainment in the evening. There was a bar attached to the lounge serving cocktails and drinks, for which you had to pay.
One thing I appreciated particularly were activities offered by the company. There were walks offered, both easy and strenuous, trips to monasteries and wineries by bus, bicycle tours through the Wachau Valley and the city of Vienna, wine tasting, beer tasting, canoeing on the Danube, (although that got rained out this trip), and even a cooking class in Vienna. There were activities for just about every taste and ability. Guides were always local people who knew the local customs and history. We had a very good tour coordinator in Barbara, a lady who can juggle many things at one time.
If you so chose, you could also lounge on the upper deck with many deck chairs but it got mainly rained out on this trip. There is a small exercise room with about 3 machines.
The service was truly superb, both in the dining room and in the cabin. We were so impressed that (although we had pre-paid gratuities), we tipped our waitress and maid again, separately.
It is true that I had not cruised before and, perhaps, have no great frame of reference, but the wife and I were really pleased and can recommend this company and ship highly.
We both believe in value and we think we found it in the price we paid and the product we received. Read Less
We're new to river-cruising; this cruise was our very first one. We those this cruise both because of its itinerary (down the Danube from Linz to Budapest, with two nights in Vienna), and its activities (e.g. guided hikes, guided bike ... Read More
We're new to river-cruising; this cruise was our very first one. We those this cruise both because of its itinerary (down the Danube from Linz to Budapest, with two nights in Vienna), and its activities (e.g. guided hikes, guided bike tours, canoeing on the river). We LOVED it! Some specifics:
* the ship: The Luminary is small; there were only about 140 passengers on our cruise. So by the third day, we were recognizing and chatting with people on and off the ship. The atmosphere was casual and friendly.
* our cabin: We chose a cabin on the middle deck with a French veranda (floor to ceiling sliding glass door). That made the cabin feel open and airy, even though we kept the door closed most of the time because of cool and rainy weather. Our cabin was the size of a medium hotel room, and had good storage. We felt comfortable and not crowded. In other reviews, I've read about people who were disappointed that in some ports, ships tied up next to one another and blocked their view. That did happen to us several times, usually overnight. We didn't plan to spend much time in our cabin anyway, so it wasn't a problem for us.
* dining: The food was good (not gourmet, but good) and PLENTIFUL! On the second night, the head chef came around to every table during dinner, introduced himself, and inquired about our dietary preferences. He wanted to make sure the cuisine was to our liking. Later during the cruise, I saw him make or adapt certain dishes for particular passengers, to fit their preferences. He also gave a tour of the kitchen one afternoon, and that was really interesting. It's amazing how they manage to produce all those meals in such a small space! Our only difficulty was the noise in the dining room on evenings when everyone had dinner on the ship. There was only one seating at dinnertime, and because of the "hard-surfaces" decor in the dining room, it was pretty noisy.
* activities/excursions: We chose this specific cruise because of the onshore activities, and they were GREAT! We took two guided bike tours (one down the Wachau Valley, the other in Vienna), two guided hikes (one up above the Schlogen Oxbow, the other in the Danube-Ipoly National Forest above Visegrad), and an early-morning walking tour in Vienna. We were signed up for the canoeing on the Danube as well, but the weather that morning was bad so the vendor cancelled the activity. Our cruise director, Barbara, did an EXCELLENT job of coming up with alternate activities based on weather. She also made accommodations for people who'd over-estimated their physical abilities. (For example, she set up less strenuous "gentle walks" for people who weren't able to handle the regular walks.)
* service: The crew were REALLY friendly and helpful -- most of them seemed genuinely caring. We'd signed up for pre-paid gratuities, but gave our dining-room server an extra tip because she was so great.
* would we go again? DEFINITELY! In fact, on the fourth day my husband started talking about where he wants to go next! Read Less
My wife and I first met the Cruise Director when we went to the hospitality desk and asked for assistance in locating my wife’s delayed check bag and hopefully redirection of it to our room onboard. My wife and I booked our own air ... Read More
My wife and I first met the Cruise Director when we went to the hospitality desk and asked for assistance in locating my wife’s delayed check bag and hopefully redirection of it to our room onboard. My wife and I booked our own air transportation to Europe with the airline we historically fly from Dallas to Europe. Our flight to Europe could not have been more eventful. As a result, we had in a tight connection in London and a bag was missing when we arrived in Austria. The Cruise Director was personally responsible for working with airline personnel and rerouting the bag to a very small town near the border of Austria and Germany that was our first stop after the cruise began. Without Barbara’s (Cruise Director) efforts the bag would have never been reunited with my wife until our return to Dallas.
Our cruise was considered an Active cruise. We enjoyed each and every stop and felt that the excursions offered were very appealing to us. We didn’t want a cruise where the excursions were city tours by bus. We wanted to bike and hike during our tours. The weather could have been better but to enjoy the cruise in spite of the weather goes a long way in showing how appealing the excursions were and how enjoyable the other cruisers were to be around. The active nature of the cruise attracted cruisers that were approaching retirement instead of 20 years past retirement. Read Less
We have wanted to cruise the Danube for years. We liked that we would have extended in both Budapest and Prague. We wanted to do the Sound of Music tour. We didn't do much studying of our trip until close to when we left. The lectures ... Read More
We have wanted to cruise the Danube for years. We liked that we would have extended in both Budapest and Prague. We wanted to do the Sound of Music tour. We didn't do much studying of our trip until close to when we left. The lectures enriched our experience. The wine tasting evening was so much fun. We had several GREAT tour guides. The highlight tour was in Vennia when we went to the concert. When I left something on the bus, everything was done to get it back and they were successful. The social director was super. The food was great. The size of servings were small enough that we could have desserts. We ate upstairs for breakfast and dinner because it was quieter. It is always nice to eat in the towns. The hotel in Budapest was in a great location, but the hotel in Prague was not, but the shuttles were convienent. Read Less
Our Parents have done this cruise and recommended it. Adrienne the cruise director was delightful and well educated.The ship was clean and staff was nice.All of the excursions were nice, and were as described.Easy to book excursions, and ... Read More
Our Parents have done this cruise and recommended it. Adrienne the cruise director was delightful and well educated.The ship was clean and staff was nice.All of the excursions were nice, and were as described.Easy to book excursions, and the buses used to transport us were very clean and on time, and made the trips very pleasant. Guides were very informative, and qualified. We appreciated the system used to disembark, with earbuds to hear the guides.
Our blinds were closed more often than not while docked , do to other boats being docked next to us, and tied to our boat.This was not a surprise as we were told this may happen.
Our only frustration, and it was a BIG one was Dining. My wife and I have a Gluten allergy, and we made that clear to our travel agent, as well as Avalon. Although certain attempts were made on the menu to provide options, they were not always accurate, and the servers as well as their superior were not very helpful, or properly educated on this topic. We have been on other cruises where this was clearly a priority,and we had no food issues whatsoever.
We sent an Email directly to Avalon Operations, on the last day of our cruise, due to our frustration and as of today,(26 days later), we have not heard a thing. Read Less
We had a wonderful experience.
The hotel in Budapest was very nice. The food was great.
The ship was great. The staff was very pleasant. The food on the ship was great.
The shore excursions were informative and the tour guides ... Read More
We had a wonderful experience.
The hotel in Budapest was very nice. The food was great.
The ship was great. The staff was very pleasant. The food on the ship was great.
The shore excursions were informative and the tour guides were very knowledgeable and had down home humor and incite to the specifics of the town we were in.
We would go on another cruse through Avalon again.
The on board wine tasting/beer tasting/information on how the locks work were very nice additions to the river experience.
The daily briefing for the next days events were timely and informative.
The only negative was the hotel in Prague.
It was NOT the hotel stated in the brochure when we signed up.
The food was below par.
we had to use public transportation to get to the river area where the original hotel is located.
Over all we were very pleased with our experience. Read Less
Crew is efficient (Hungarian upbringing = not much warmth). Ship is new, clean and comfortable. Food is very good. "George" the piano player was unusually versatile and entertaining. It was odd we didn't meet our room steward ... Read More
Crew is efficient (Hungarian upbringing = not much warmth). Ship is new, clean and comfortable. Food is very good. "George" the piano player was unusually versatile and entertaining. It was odd we didn't meet our room steward until the last day on the ship.
1. The cruise director (Tibor) was efficient and friendly, but it turned our he was a "contract employee" not an employee of Avalon. We had to pay Tibor separately for the optional tours (paying his own company rather than adding to cost to our Avalon bill). This seems very odd, and as the cruise continued we could see a small "division" between the cruise director and the rest of the Avalon crew.
2. In Zurich we were told our luggage would be handled by a portage company, who would take the luggage from the Zurich hotel, to the train, and to the hotel in Como. This almost happened...but it turns our the train doesn't have a luggage compartment and our luggage was "tossed" onto the passenger cars where the conductor was adamant we find our luggage and "store it some place". The train was full, with no extra space to store luggage. It was a fiasco and when we asked about it in Como, the Monograms representative said, "yes, this happens on every trip". We should have been forewarned about this glitch (the Monograms rep. in Zurich should have told us about this issue). Read Less
Traveled with two other couples; found the trip fascinating, from the bullet train ride to the daily small group tours through Central and Southern French cities and towns. The river trip itself was fun and relaxing. Our cabin gave us ... Read More
Traveled with two other couples; found the trip fascinating, from the bullet train ride to the daily small group tours through Central and Southern French cities and towns. The river trip itself was fun and relaxing. Our cabin gave us plenty of space, and being able to open our door to the outside made it feel even more expansive. Plenty of room to store everything, and attention from the crew when we needed anything.
The crew was tremendous; wait staff were excellent and the food was very good. Wine served with the lunch/dinners was very good, as well. Our cruise director was energetic and knowledgeable; she painted an excellent picture of the 'next day's' adventures. There was plenty to do, and enough room to enjoy one's privacy, at the same time. We enjoyed everything about the trip. One of the wine tours gave us 'free time' in an extremely small town; very crowded, the bus could not even come to pick us up. This excursion needs some serious re-planning. Read Less
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