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1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: May 2012
We arrived in Paris early the morning of May 01....since boarding wasn't until later that after noon we were bused to the Montparnasse hotel where we could store our hand luggage. An optional trip to the Eiffel Tower was available but ... Read More
We arrived in Paris early the morning of May 01....since boarding wasn't until later that after noon we were bused to the Montparnasse hotel where we could store our hand luggage. An optional trip to the Eiffel Tower was available but since it was a holiday in France & would be crowded, we chose to walk to the nearby Gardens of Luxembourg and had a lovely time. We were later bused to the Creativity..The ship was very nice...we chose a french balcony cabin cat B as the only one below that on this ship was the water level deck..It was worth the upgrade..Even when it was too cool to open the door...the views were fantastic thru the full floor to ceiling glass door. The room was well appointed and clean..Comfy bed with a memory foam topper...small but adequate bath. First let me say that we can't say enough about how great our cruise director (Jean-Loup Domart) was..It would take up too much space in this review . Overall it was a fantastic trip ...great ports & tours....Special mention for the trip to Giverny to Monet's house..not to be missed....The food and service were very good & we enjoyed the French wines served with dinner. The passengers were a nice blend of Americans, Canadians, Australians & Brits. I think that makes Avalon more interesting than lines catering only to Americans. My husband did the Normandy beach tour & for personal reasons I chose the alternate tour of the Normandy countryside which was great. Due to high water levels we were unable to return to Paris by boat for the last day & spent it in Conflans. In the morning we were bused to either Paris or our next cruise on the Scenery ( see Scenery review for 2nd half) Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: April 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
4 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: December 2011
We had the most horrible travel experience of our lives on the Avalon Panorama Christmas cruise in December of 2011. From beginning to end, this trip was a nightmare. Avalon began by making a mess of our airline reservations. Had to pay ... Read More
We had the most horrible travel experience of our lives on the Avalon Panorama Christmas cruise in December of 2011. From beginning to end, this trip was a nightmare. Avalon began by making a mess of our airline reservations. Had to pay a penalty to cancel their airline reservations and make our own. When we finally got aboard the Panorama in Nuremberg, we were herded like cattle into the main room where we had to wait interminably to be assigned our rooms. This was after a very tiring bus ride from Prague to Nuremberg. When we were finally settled in our cabin, we found that the elevator didn't work on the ship, and we are both senior citizens and found it very difficult to get around on the ship because of this. We were promised ethnic food aboard and that never materialized. The food service was like a cattle call. It was impossible to order only one course and have it served in a timely way. After arriving at Regensburg, we were given a heads up that we might not be able to go down the river due to the water level. That is exactly what happened, and we were driven all over by bus and missed the ports we were promised and were at last driven to Bratislava, not on our itinerary, and not to Vienna where we were supposed to end our cruise. I had purchased several extra days in Vienna, and had also purchased tickets to the Spanish Riding School over 14 months before the tour. We had to leave the tour after being taken to Bratislava in order to be in Vienna for the performance we had so looked forward to. The tour director, Robert, refused to help us get an extra night in Vienna, so we had to telephone directly to the hotel and they extorted 259 euros for that extra night. Then they charged us an extra 100 euros to stay in the same room for the extra nights. Avalon knew in advance that we wouldn't be able to sail down the river. Other cruise lines informed their passengers before leaving their homes and gave them options. Avalon did not do this even though they knew we couldn't have the cruise we paid for. We had purchased travel insurance and could have recouped all of our money had we known in advance that we couldn't sail down the river. Avalon has refunded two days of our cruise, but that doesn't even begin to repay us for the terrible bus rides, loss of several ports we were promised, and their general uncaring about the passengers' needs. We spent most of the time on crowded buses and in my opinion were robbed of what was supposed to be a once-in-a-lifetime cruise. My warning to future river cruisers is to book with anyone but Avalon. Viking informed their passengers ahead of time and I was told that other cruise companies did the same. Avalon did not!!!! Also, don't bother with trip insurance. I bought expensive trip insurance and tried to collect for the extra costs in Vienna due to trip interruption, and have heard nothing from the trip insurers. I feel that we were treated unfairly by Avalon and they have been giving us the runaround since we got back about what they were going to do to rectify this situation. A group of passengers on this cruise have been emailing back and forth, and the general consensus is that Avalon owes us four days worth of repayment due to the lost portions of our trip. They have told us that they need four to six weeks to "investigate" this situation. Why? They know what happened. Also, I was informed that those of us who wrote letters to Globus and Avalon would be treated differently from the rest of the passengers. Is this fair? I don't think so. My advice to any would-be river cruiser is to AVOID AVALON LIKE THE PLAGUE! Read Less
Sail Date: December 2011
As a solo traveller -- I am very careful as to the types of trips I take and places I visit. I must admit that the Christmas River Cruise with Avalon on the Panorama not only met my expectations by exceeded them. The adventure ... Read More
As a solo traveller -- I am very careful as to the types of trips I take and places I visit. I must admit that the Christmas River Cruise with Avalon on the Panorama not only met my expectations by exceeded them. The adventure started with a welcome dinner on Christmas Day at the hotel in Prague. I didn't know a should when I entered the room - there were a couple of vacant seats at a table that I asked to join and there met a couple from New Zealand (that I have since visited), and two gentlemen from the States -- that didn't know each other when they sat down at the table -- so I was very pleasantly surprised to find that I was not the only solo passenger on the trip. After a day of touring through Prague -- a 4 hour bus trip took us to Nuremberg (It went by quickly). The ship was amazing -- my room delightful and the crew helpful, kind and courteous. The food was far above average and they had something for everyone. The age range was a lot lower than I expected -- there were several families on board -- complete with teenagers (that enjoyed themselves immensely) It was such fun at night -- the lounge was the place to be and I got to know the majority of the people aboard. Thank you Avalon for providing me a delightful way to bring in the New Year -- in fact, I have already booked my trip for next Christmas -- this year it will be from Frankfurt to Vienna (I wish it was from Zurich -- but that one isn't provided this year ....) I am also looking at the Avalon Cruise through Viet Nam. Gosh -- so many river cruises -- so little time..... Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: December 2011
First of all, this was my very first river cruise experience. After studying for months different itineraries, river cruise lines, reviews, etc. I decided to go with Avalon for my first river cruise. It was better than expected. The ... Read More
First of all, this was my very first river cruise experience. After studying for months different itineraries, river cruise lines, reviews, etc. I decided to go with Avalon for my first river cruise. It was better than expected. The Avalon Panorama is a brand new river ship, it offers an interesting modern/elegant decor and ambiance. Mother nature even Embarkation process: it was easy and smooth. I spent 5 days in London, and then I flew to Basel and I did all the transfers on my own. Once I got to the ship, it seemed they were not expecting any passenger so early, but they were welcoming enough to smile and to help us with the luggage. A few seconds after, we got offered a glass of champagne. Reception Area: the lobby is simple, but elegant, the Christmas decorations were all over the ship. You were able to feel the Christmas Spirit right away, something kind of unusual to me. Stateroom: the stateroom was comfortable, quite and elegant, flowers and a water bottle on the desk, and a welcoming note laying on the bed. The size of the stateroom was appropriate, I would say bigger than expected. Bathroom: the bathroom was surprisingly comfortable and very well-designed, it reminded me to the elegant and spacious bathroom of the Azamara's Journey. I was not expecting so many nice amenities, including L'Occitane toiletries. Public Areas: the Panorama is an elegant ship, the interesting feature is that is quite modern at the same time. I've seen many pictures of different ships from various river cruise lines, but there is nothing similar to the Panorama, the carpet's colors, the curtains, the furniture and the artwork perfectly matched with the whole concept of the ship. The Library is nice, the lounge bar is bigger than expected. The elevator was not in service, it was decorated instead with Christmas presents and dolls. I guess that some people complained about it, as most fellow passengers were seniors. Food: the food was better than expected as well. Especially dinner, where you have a fair variety of main entrees, the food was quite good and they offer complimentary wine. Breakfast was abundant, different hot and cold choices, also you had complimentary champagne. Excursions: the excursions were excellent, the tour guides were knowledgeable and fun. The bust were brand new, very clean and in excellent conditions. The included excursions are one of the most attractive features of river cruising. The Christmas Markets are just magical and perfect. Service: I believe this is one of the strongest areas of the Avalon Panorama, even though the crew were very busy, they were friendly and most of the times had a smile on their faces. The Cruise Manager was very entertaining, he was not just friendly, but quite efficient at the time of recommending things to do, and when you needed to book an optional excursion at the last minute. Disembarkation: same process as the embarkation, very easy and smooth. I would definitely recommend the Avalon Panorama to my family and friends. River cruising is different from ocean cruising, it is a lot more low paced, enjoyable and you have the chance to meet nice people more in depth as most river ships have a capacity of 180 passengers or less. I definitely prefer river cruising to ocean/sea cruising. I would rate my overall experience as 9/10. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: December 2011
This was our fourth river cruise and third on Avalon (fourth if you consider last year was a back to back). We were looking forward to celebrating Christmas and New Years in Europe as well as experiencing Avalon's newest ship. ... Read More
This was our fourth river cruise and third on Avalon (fourth if you consider last year was a back to back). We were looking forward to celebrating Christmas and New Years in Europe as well as experiencing Avalon's newest ship. Ultimately, the highlights were experiencing the wonderful city of Prague, making new friends and enjoying the view of the fireworks in Vienna from the Sun Deck. We did the pre tour in Prague and loved the city. The hotel was The Hilton, a nice convention hotel located a 20 minute from the center. We did not do the included tour and instead hired a personal guide who was wonderful. I would be happy to provide contact info if anyone is interested. Rooms at the hotel were large and modern and the staff very helpful. Breakfast was included and more than adequate. The bus ride to Nuremberg was uneventful and we arrived at the ship at five. The Panorama is a lovely ship. The design of the staterooms really maximizes space and views and the new beds are memory foam and very comfy. The new bathrooms are also lovely and we enjoyed the upgraded amenities. They have installed a very good in room entertainment system, and we enjoyed being able to listen to music or watch a late night movie in the cabin. Our cruise director, Jon Lupe, was the best we have had yet on Avalon and was both efficient and gracious. We saw some familiar faces aboard including Dan, the Hotel Manager, Johny in the dining room, Radu behind the bar and Peter, the dining room manager. Where the cruises really disappointed was the food. There was a noticeable cheapening in the quality and variety of food offered on this cruise compared to one year ago when we were very pleased with the food and wine served. Gone from the menu were rack of lamb, roast duck and the wonderful and flavorful fish dishes and soups. Instead we were served mostly bland and very small portions, much of which went uneaten. We were not the only unhappy customers when it came to the food served but everyone has different tastes and food is always subjective Wine was also cut off at the entrée, which was new from previous cruises. We were not sure if this was server related or a new policy. This was also a departure from previous cruises, as was the overall decrease in variety and quality of wine offered. I am also a big fan of cheese after dinner and looked forward to some of the excellent cheeses served previously. Both quantity and quality were noticeably less than in the past. We were aboard for New Years eve and the entertainment was quite a let down. Instead of music for dancing, the CD presented an hour long audience participation story telling. A group of us wandered across to the Vantage boat docked next door and watched as their guests enjoyed a live six piece dance bank and a table full of hot snacks. Vienna came to the rescue and many of us headed topside and enjoyed the truly spectacular fireworks display that lasted for forty five minutes. Another high point was Vasco, the houses musician, who grabbed a guitar and was joined by Dan one night for a rousing set of music. They were joined by two guests, one a pianist and the other a harmonica player and we all enjoyed a truly terrific impromptu jam session that was the best entertainment of the cruise. We all commented that we wished they had saved that for NYE. All in all, we found the ship beautiful with great appointments but were let down by the overall experience of the Panorama and hope it was just a random off cruise and not representative of fleet wide changes. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: August 2011
The ship was everything it was advertised to be. We had a 300 sq ft Royal suite and it was very well designed. Breakfast and lunch was very good, but the dinners were so-so. The quality of the wine and beer with dinner was of good ... Read More
The ship was everything it was advertised to be. We had a 300 sq ft Royal suite and it was very well designed. Breakfast and lunch was very good, but the dinners were so-so. The quality of the wine and beer with dinner was of good quality. Personnel at the customer service desk were outstanding, as was the housekeeping lady. The waiters in the dining room were pleasant and helpful, except for a couple who acted like they were doing you a favor waiting on you. The Cruise Director (CD) was at times rude and arrogant. During the cruise we met some delightful gentlemen from California, and we were appalled when we told by them that the ship's Captain referred to them as queers. After 10 days into the cruise , the ship had engine problems, and we told at our daily 6:45 briefing to pack our bags and board buses in the morning. From a Royal suite to a bus and substandard accommodations, we felt like we were being herded around like a bunch of cattle. A good example of our Royal treatment was the Hotel in Amsterdam. There were no robes, no safe, an empty mini- bar, and the rugs were worn and stained. After one night we moved on our own to the Intercontinental Amstel Hotel. At least then we had some time in pleasant surroundings to erase the miserable times since we left the ship. Another unpleasant event was the baggage arrangement at the hotel in Cologne. When we arrived all the bags were placed in a room off the main lobby.We had to rummage through all the bags, find ours, and then get them to our room as best we could. After we found our bags we then were all jammed in the main lobby trying to hear if our name was being for our room assignment. This was an episode we will always remember. When we were getting ready to leave the ship we were told that our accommodations we be equivalent to what we had on the ship. Obviously, they weren't.After we left the ship, the Cruise Director acted like everything he did to accommodate the passengers was a big deal. It is interesting to note that the Cruise Director didn't seem to know much about anything until his daily 6:45 briefing in the cocktail lounge. So you were forced to go to the briefing to keep up on what's happening. I am sure the extra income Avalon made during the briefings was not a consideration in setting up the briefings. Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: May 2011
Recently sailed on Avalon Panorama on its maiden voyage. Beautiful ship, well fitted out. The crew were fantastic. The food was simply delicious, plenty of choices and beautifully served. The cabins - or suites as the are called ... Read More
Recently sailed on Avalon Panorama on its maiden voyage. Beautiful ship, well fitted out. The crew were fantastic. The food was simply delicious, plenty of choices and beautifully served. The cabins - or suites as the are called - are roomy and stylishly decorated. The wide sliding doors are a great innovation - it is very relaxing sitting on the comfortable sofa and listening to the ship gliding through the water and watching the beautiful scenery on the banks of the river. Would highly recommend this ship to anyone - especially the Amsterdam to Budapest cruise which we were on - beautiful scenery and interesting ports of call. Couldn't fault any part of the cruise. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: April 2010
Just wanted to make a comment before starting on the review. Avalon includes bottled water in the cabin each day on most ships. The soaps, shampoo, etc., were very nice and definitely an upgrade from our Magnificent Europe of two years ... Read More
Just wanted to make a comment before starting on the review. Avalon includes bottled water in the cabin each day on most ships. The soaps, shampoo, etc., were very nice and definitely an upgrade from our Magnificent Europe of two years ago. Coffee, tea, juice and water along with fruit and cookies are available 24 hours a day in the back lounge. Each afternoon there is a coffee/tea and cake offering in the main lounge. There is a beauty shop on board. They added head massages to their list of offerings. I had mentioned on last year's survey that it would be nice to have someone who could give manicures on board. This year on the Creativity, Sandra was able to shape my nails and cuticles and then give a hand massage. Again, I mentioned on the survey that further nail service would be nice. We did not use the onboard fitness room as we were walking quite a few miles each day on the tour. The hot tub was on the top deck and was used by quite a few people. We boarded the Creativity after taking an optional trip to the Eifel Tower. It was so nice to see one of our bartenders from last year, Radu. Always nice to have a familiar face to greet us ... This trip had 123 passengers as I recall. The Creativity is a fairly new ship and its layout was familiar to us as we were on the Affinity's maiden voyage last year. I have been asked by several Cruise Critic members to talk about the included and optional tours. On the Paris to Normandy portion of Grand France there were two included tours most every day. You were given the choice of one or the other. Sometimes we made a good choice and sometimes we didn't ... here are the choices that we had for tours and optionals: Paris: There was an included sightseeing tour of Paris. In the afternoon there were two optional tours: Louvre and Versailles. Last year we took the Versailles tour and really enjoyed it. Those who took the Louvre tour said it was good but not much time to just stand and enjoy the artwork. In the evening there was an optional trip to the Moulin Rouge. We didn't go either this year or last year but those who went had a great time. Conflans: The included tours were a trip to the village where Van Gogh spent his last three months or St. Germain to visit the home of Josephine Bonaparte. We did the St. Germain trip and it was OK but wish we had done the other one as we heard good things from those who took it. Vernon: The included tours were a trip to Claude Monet's home and gardens or Chateau de Bizy which is a 'small Versailles' ... we did Monet and loved it. That evening there was onboard entertainment by Valerie and Alexis, which was OK but not a group that I would want to hear again. Rouen: There was a walking tour of the city in the morning and then two optionals in the afternoon: Homfleur and Calvados Distillery or visiting several Abbey's, which is the one we did (I graduated from a Benedictine University and wanted to visit a Benedictine Abbey) and we had a great time. Those who went to Honfleur said it was nice and that they enjoyed the distillery. We stayed in Honfleur while we did our own Normandy trip so I wasn't interested in going there That evening we had onboard entertainment from La Strada, which is a trio of violins and keyboard synthesizer who performed classical music. This was our third time seeing these performers and they just get better each time. We did purchase their CDs so that I can enjoy then here at home. Rouen: This day there were three included trips: Landing Beaches for the American Landing Beaches for UK and a Taste or Normandy which included the Bayeux tapestries. My husband did the American landing beaches while I stayed on the ship and relaxed. Everyone enjoyed their tours. Normally there would just be a trip to the American Landing Beaches but there were 20+ folks from the UK who were there especially to see the UK beaches as many of them had served in the military in World War 2. Les Andelys: The included tours were basically the same. One did a tour of the city and then went up the hill to the ruins of Richard the LionHeart's castle and then walk back to the ship or take the bus up and back from the castle and then tour the city. That afternoon we had a tasting of several French cheeses. We arrived back in Paris and those who only took the Paris/Normandy trip leave to go home and the others of us went on to the start of the second cruise. NOTE: This trip was affected by the Iceland volcano and a little over 100 of the folks had to find alternative ways to get home. Some of them decided to go along on the Burgundy and Provence portion of the trip and then leave the ship to get back to Paris for their flights back to the US. Just a quick word on the Creativity. It was a great ship with good staff. The food wasn't as good as what we have had on our two previous cruises and we were sure that the CD knew about it and also put it on our survey forms. We had a limited number of people on this cruise as the volcano prevented many folks from getting to Paris. I believe that we had just 51 of us on this portion of the trip. Then those who were continuing on the Burgundy and Provence trip were put in a small van and began our journey to Chalon. On our way there we went to Beaune to either do Burgundy Wine Tasting or tour the Hospices of Beaune (we did the wine tasting). There we met the others group who would be joining us on the cruise. Lunch was on our own. We arrived at the ship to find out that one of the waiters was also on the Affinity last year (Lazlo). Chalon: Walking tour of the town and then sail to Tournus where you could walk to St. Philibert Abbey (beautiful place). There was an optional tour to Chateau Cormatin which we did not do. Macon: No tour just cruising on the Saone. The weather was beautiful so we enjoyed Lyon: City tour which includes the painted walls and the Basilica ... can't miss the Basilica ... Lyon is a wonderful place to tour. Lyon: There were two optional tours scheduled but they wound up being put together which is going to the silk mills and then to the market. Afternoon there was an optional to the Beaujolais vineyards ... we didn't take either one but heard great reviews on both of them. Tournon: Walking Tour and then a little free time before going to Viviers where we took a walking tour through the city and then went up the hill to the Church/Convent area and had an organ concert at the church ... for those with problems walking, transportation was provided up and down the hills. My husband took the transportation but I walked. Avignon: Included tour of the town and the Pope's Palace. In the afternoon there was an optional trip to Pone du Gard and Uzes which we again did not take. Arles: City walking tour and then optional to St. Remy, Van Gogh and Nostradamus ... again we did not take the optional. We took the extension and wound up in Nice where we did take the optional trip to Monaco ... which was great!!! The Scenery is a little older than the Creativity and has had some updating. Rooms, service, etc., were great. The food was better than on the Creativity but as with most ships, there was too much salt in the prepared food. This was a fantastic trip. We were so fortunate to have Yvette Laurent as our CD. She is so pleasant, organized, and nothing seems to 'rattle' her. She did such a great job in helping those who were stranded in Paris, both those who booked their air, etc, through Avalon and those who didn't. Read Less
Sail Date: September 2009
We cruised on the Avalon Creativity in late September. We got really lucky and had fantastic weather. I absolutely fell in love with river cruising. It was awesome that any time you looked out the window or over the rail, there was ... Read More
We cruised on the Avalon Creativity in late September. We got really lucky and had fantastic weather. I absolutely fell in love with river cruising. It was awesome that any time you looked out the window or over the rail, there was something to see. You were always within yards of the nearest shore. All of the rooms on the ship were large compared with most of the ocean going ships. The bathrooms even had a decent size shower. We were a group of 4, so we had two rooms. We had a Jr. Suite, but the other couple had a standard room. The food was absolutely fantastic. One person in our group had some allergy considerations, and the kitchen always made sure that they had appropriate food that was just as good. One thing we really appreciated, was that the price of the drinks on board was reasonable. They also had happy hour each evening, where drinks were two for one. With all dinners, wine beer and soda were included. They only had one sitting for dinner, and it tended to take 2 hours... or longer if you liked. During this time the wine and beer were flowing freely. They were almost insulted if you declined a refill. Since we ultimately did not spend all that much money on drinks, and all the excursions are included in the price of the cruise, this is actually a pretty affordable vacation. Do be warned though, if you are into partying all night, and then sleeping till noon the next day, stick to the big ocean ships. They don't offer much in the way of entertainment, and by 11:00 it is pretty much down to sitting in the lounge for drinks. Most of the excursions are also quite early in the morning, and you do need to be at breakfast by 7:00 most days, if you were planning to participate. Due to the small size of the ship, however, by about day 3, people begin to know each other, and the evenings in the lounge and the happy hours start to turn into parties. I loved the intimacy of being in this environment. I do have to say though, that being in our early 40's, we did get labeled as the young people. That being said, the so called "older" crowd were no couch potatoes. Just try and keep up! I definitely did not feel out of place, and would go sailing with this group again in a heart beat. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: August 2009
My Wife and I took Avalon Waterways Romantic Rhine cruise to celebrate our 40th wedding anniversery, cruising down the Rhine from Amsterdam to Basel this August. It was not only our first cruise it was the ships first cruise too. Well it ... Read More
My Wife and I took Avalon Waterways Romantic Rhine cruise to celebrate our 40th wedding anniversery, cruising down the Rhine from Amsterdam to Basel this August. It was not only our first cruise it was the ships first cruise too. Well it was my first cruise if you don't count the trip across Lake Erie from Cleveland to Detroit that I took with my family in 1955 on the SS Aquarama. I had visited the Rhine before form the land side and wanted to share that experience with my wife during our river cruise. We were a little apprehensive about the maiden voyage but it turned out not to be a problem at all. The only thing that went wrong was our room safe did not have its battery installed so we could not lock up our valuables. That was quickly remedied by the ship's engineer. The first night's dinner service was a little slow but that just gave us more time to spend getting to know our dinner companions. It is a small ship with only 138 passengers and with open seating at every meal it is possible to get to know more than half the people on board if you don't dine with the same folks twice. With free wine at dinner and great companions it was tempting to linger over a meal. Meal service improved each night as the Maitre d' whipped his staff into shape. The wait staff was from Easern Europe, Indonesia, and China. Some of them started out clueless and managed to stay that way throughout the cruise despite Attila (his real name) the Hungarian's best direction. Just like on my sailboat, you have some crew that works out and some that doesn't. The food was very good and matched the region we were in. The only thing I got hungry for was simpler fare which we had the opportunity to sample when off the ship. Portions were not overly large like in the USA but you were well fed. The highlight of the meals were the salad dressings which were very light and always interesting. The only thing I would change is to lose the cake at 4:00 routine in favor of some extra time at happy hour or bigger glasses for the iced tea served when returing from a shore excursion. Iced Tea is the official (non alcoholic) drink of my home state of Texas and I have to commend the ship for doing a credible job with their brew, although not quite robust enough to stand up to a good piece of smoked brisket. The ship itself was very comfortable. We had a room on the bottom floor near the back. You would think it would be noisy but this ship has very little engine noise. The first day we pulled away from the dock and were moving before I realized it. Several passages are made at night and it was no trouble at all to sleep while underway. I found the top deck layout awkward. They had a hot tub in the forward section in front of the bridge. This meant anyone using that had to walk throught he lobby and past nearly everyone to get to it. This could have been better relocated aft with a seperate stairway near the back of the ship. I would also move the smoking section to aft of the bridge. I don't smoke. If you put the smokers at the front of the ship then the non smokers are downwind from them all the time. We ended going to the foremast part of the ship to try to get fresh air. We had the smallest stateroom on the ship and it had pleanty of space. We had more than enough room for our clothes, our empty suitcases slid easily under the bed. I loved being able to unpack only once during the trip. Beds were very comfortable. The room air conditioninig worked quietly. Our flat screen TV was good and offered a view from a foreward facing camera as well as a GPS display of the ships position and speed. Quite handy if you want to keep an eye on the helmsman's activiites. Our cruise was populated by many travel writers who were invited aboard to review the ship on its maiden voyage. I talked to many of them and they seemed to be enjoying their trip. I had a slightly different perspective from them because I paid to take this trip and I had no prior cruise experience. I have to say it was one of the best vacations I ever had. The pace was liesurley yet not boring. The people were interesting, the sites were lovely the service was good but not intrusive and I felt this Avalon cruise offered a great value for the money. Strasbourg - How the Germans would build a French town. Eat lots of pastry, have a french eclair for one hand and a pretzel for the other. Go to the cathedral and ask what time it is. Beware of beggars. Koln - Big Cathedral, interesting shops. Good place to take a stroll and find a sidewalk cafe to sit down and drink beer or wine. Koblens - Charming town. Take a walk down to the German corner to see big William  Heidleburg - Monster castle, great town to walk around. Only eat in restaurants with flags, sign of simple fare and low prices. Take the Philosopher's walk up the hill on the other side of the river. Rudesheim - Go to the Drosselgasse and dance the polka with the locals. Seigfreid's museum is unique. Try not to buy a cuckoo clock here. Get a hat instead. Read Less
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