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4 Avalon Luminary Cruise Reviews

This was an extended "girl's trip" with my best friend and her mom in honor of her mom's 80th birthday. Overall, we three women were well taken care of throughout the cruise and for two days of sightseeing in Prague ... Read More
This was an extended "girl's trip" with my best friend and her mom in honor of her mom's 80th birthday. Overall, we three women were well taken care of throughout the cruise and for two days of sightseeing in Prague beforehand. The Intercontinental Hotel in Prague was very nice. Our staterooms on board the Luminary (310 and 311) were also very nice -- roomy and comfortable. The purser, Sandra, and her assistant, were absolutely delightful, as were most of the crew and staff. My housekeeper, Tri, took very good care of me. But there were certain aspects of the itinerary and the service that could have been better, and I only point these out in hopes that Avalon will take them to heart and offer some improvement in these areas: Three times I asked for laundry service aboard ship. Only the first time was the laundry done correctly. The second time my "cleaned" laundry was returned to me wadded up in the laundry bag -- they hadn't done it at all. The third time, my clothes were returned to me wet - they had forgot to put them in the dryer! The music selections on the in-cabin TV were sorely lacking. Here we are cruising through the classical music capital of the world and only one classical music option was offered en suite. Perhaps additional albums, such as classical guitar or other instrumental music could be added to the onboard listening options. One of the walking tour guides, Ulli in Vienna, was quite rude to one of the passengers, berating the 70-year-old woman publicly (over our earspeakers) for needing to find a restroom before the allotted stopping point and then chastizing her (again publicly) for making the group wait. Most of our walking tours through various cities began with a bus ride. Only once did the tour guides chasten us to wear our seatbelts aboard the bus (European law) or remind us about seatbelts when we re-boarded. Since it is not customary to wear seatbelts on public transportation in the US, I would recommend that tour guides remind passengers every single time a bus is boarded whenever seatbelts are required. Our onboard musician, Valentin Donov, was absolutely wonderful, but except for two occasions, he was the only onboard entertainment offered in the evening. The two special offerings, singer Lindsay Hamilton while we were docked in Passau, and the Quintet Aphrodite in Vienna, were fabulous - absolutely top notch. It would have been nice to have a few more of those kinds of evenings during the cruise. I thought the food was mostly great. The breakfasts, always served buffet-style, were awesome. The dinners, during which we selected courses from a menu, were much more hit-and-miss. I liked that we were treated to regional specialties specific to the ports-of-call we visited, but the execution of most dinners just wasn't very good, and I thought three different days of Hungarian goulash at lunch or dinner was a bit much. As for drinks, it was great that alcoholic beverages were included with meals. But on at least one occasion my table was refused another glass of wine because the Maître'd arbitrarily decided that it was too close to the time we would be moving to the ship's lounge after dinner where we would be expected to pay for our drinks. Considering the price we paid for our cruise, this seemed more than a bit stingy. Personally, I found going through all those locks (24 of them) on the Danube absolutely fascinating. However, I heard several passengers complain that beginning the cruise on the canal portion of the Danube, which required summiting the continental divide, caused "lock overload" for many. We went through a lock every few hours (sometimes more often) for several days and many passengers found the slow-going tedious after awhile. After getting to the actual Danube river, we still had MANY locks to go through as we made our way to Budapest. Several passengers suggested that starting the cruise at Passau instead of Nuremberg might have been a better plan, since most of the locks could have been avoided that way. But the most glaring issue I found with this cruise was our cruise director's open hostility to passengers, including me, on several occasions. I admit a cruise director has a lot on his plate, organizing and ushering up to 138 passengers (we had 118 on our cruise) through a variety of challenging circumstances, and ours did an excellent job. But it might be time for this particular CD to retire. He was not receptive to questions when he wasn't specifically asking for them during port briefings and he certainly didn't have a gentle or generous attitude when speaking to passengers privately. Fellow passengers began to lament that they preferred to wonder in silence rather than approach the CD with questions about anything. This is not the generous, affable professionalism that should define a cruise director, in my opinion. That said, there were many excellent qualities about sailing with Avalon and I want to finish on a positive note: I found Avalon quick on its feet to adapt to circumstances. For instance, a few of our passengers required wheelchairs or canes or were otherwise mobility-challenged. Our cruise director immediately arranged to have a separate group and tour guide (and sometimes even a separate bus) on every walking tour. He dubbed this group the "gentle walkers", and made sure they still got the benefit of an excursion without being too challenged or holding up the rest of us. Also, every single onboard talk and port briefing he gave was interesting and full of important historical information. I was fascinated and in awe of his knowledge and eloquence. Our guides on every walking tour were extremely knowledgeable, funny and interesting to talk to. Although they all spoke with accents, we could understand them perfectly. I especially liked that almost all of them were older, so they had lived through the communist occupation and could give us firsthand insights into what life was like for residents of the towns we visited. The bottom line is that Avalon is a topnotch carrier and I would sail with them again. Read Less
Sail Date August 2017
I would actually rate the ship 3-1/2 stars if that were an option. I chose this cruise because we wanted to do the Moselle and Rhine Rivers in one trip. This was the only line i found that offered that combo in August. We have done ... Read More
I would actually rate the ship 3-1/2 stars if that were an option. I chose this cruise because we wanted to do the Moselle and Rhine Rivers in one trip. This was the only line i found that offered that combo in August. We have done approx. 15 ocean cruises and one River Cruise (danube) 2 years ago on another cruise line which we liked better overall. We loved the overall itinerary--so glad we included the Moselle, which contained some of our favorite stops (Luxembourg City,& Bernkastel, Germany) The ship was pretty "average"--the cabin was smallish, we couldnt both sit by the sliders to watch--there was only one chair in the cabin. Our bed faced Aft, so it was not enjoyable to watch out the window going backwards. The bed itself was very comfortable, but only super soft pillows were available so i had to sleep in my horseshoe "airplane pillow". The ship should offer at least one firm pillow option. This is a very pricey trip and sleep accommodations are critical. The dining room was too warm on several evenings...the lounge furniture was not very comfortable. Food ranged from good to fair. Dinner options needed to be expanded. Breakfast and lunch options were very good. Service in the dining room was quite slow at times. Some crew members, including our favorite maitre'd left during the cruise (without us knowing) and new servers replaced them. This was disappointing. Why not have staff go on holiday at end of a cruise rather than in the middle? Would like to be able to listen to lectures etc from our cabin. According to the info in the cabin, this was supposed to be doable, but it wasn't. We had to go to the lounge or outside deck. Since we couldn't comfortably watch our progress from the sliders (as previously explained), we tried to watch the" front camera" on our TV. Unfortunately, the "front camera" was never viewable from the TV. (We asked at front desk, but the 2nd method didnt work either). Lastly, we took advantage of morning and afternoon tours whenever offered, but timing was very rushed getting back for lunch between the tours--often only 45 minutes to come in, drop off stuff, go to lunch, bathroom, get gear for afternoon tour...would be nice to have at least an hour or hour & 15 minutes betweem end of one tour and start of next. We would recommend the Moselle -Rhine trip to anyone, but would recommend a different cruise line. Read Less
Sail Date August 2016
First of all, Avalon does a fabulous job of catering to everyone. I just had seen the ads and was mentally prepared to float down the Danube, gazing romantically at the beautiful scenery along the way. Unfortunately, the Danube was too ... Read More
First of all, Avalon does a fabulous job of catering to everyone. I just had seen the ads and was mentally prepared to float down the Danube, gazing romantically at the beautiful scenery along the way. Unfortunately, the Danube was too low to do much sailing, so we only were able to dock in 3 planned ports and a couple of unintended ports, used for bussing us places. So this fantasy didn't come true and not Avalon's fault at all. If you are planning a trip like this, make sure there has been enough rain for the trip to actually pass through the river. If not, you will spend hours on busses going to the places that way. You may have many more tours than you wanted and hear much more history than you can ever remember. If you are someone who will enjoy this, then no worries. We discovered it wasn't comfortable for us. They feed you well on the ship- I would say not quite the tastiness of the big ocean cruises, but certainly enough to satisfy you. The people are so nice and we made lots of friends. The age group on the ships is approx. 70-80 average, I'd say. If you are handicapped and use a cane, they make provisions with the tours for you, but the countries may not be compliant with this. Lots of cobblestones, so come prepared to strengthen your ankles on those with good shoes. Read Less
Sail Date August 2015
We joined the ship in Amsterdam and stayed there the night. passengers that had got into Amsterdam earlier than we did were able to partake in a city tour and a visit to the Rijksmuseum which unfortunately we were not in time for on the ... Read More
We joined the ship in Amsterdam and stayed there the night. passengers that had got into Amsterdam earlier than we did were able to partake in a city tour and a visit to the Rijksmuseum which unfortunately we were not in time for on the day. Day two started with a canal cruise around the Amsterdam canals which was enjoyable. Following the canal cruise we sailed for Cologne. On arrival in Cologne there was a good included city tour which was good. Though we must say having just done an Avalon cruise in France and other European tours if another tour guide tells me the history of ionic columns and windows being followed by romanesque windows followed by Gothic windows followed by new gothic windows there may be another homicide in the world. All these tours seam to include a church or cathedral which is the oldest, best example unique in some way. Whichever city or town you are in theirs is the best in some way. On both cruises there were optional tours that you paid for where you went to olive plantations or did wine tastings etc. In all cases these were to us the best tours but were rarely included. At the port of Breisach there was an include tour to the Black Forrest. Allowing for the return trip this tour spent 3.5 hours on country roads then winding country roads that made some passengers feel a little travel uneasy. With only one stop to take photographs. The highlighted stop was a commercial cuckoo clock company in the Black forest that there were a number of Globus buses visiting at the same time. In the afternoon there was an optional tour to the City of Colmar the passengers paid for and we would highly recommend. A beautiful Alsace city with an area known as little Venice with canals. Other highlights would include the included tour to Heidelberg and the cruise through the Rhine Gorge. The crew ere generally very helpful. There was free Wifi which was patchy but far superior to our earlier ship the Scenery. The cabins were very well kept with plenty of storage. The bathrooms were also good for the size of the ship. The food was of good quality but not much variation. Towards the end of the cruise some items seemed to run short of supply. There is a fair amount of time regimentation on these cruises which is something those people thinking of cruising should take into account in their deliberations. In summary we did enjoy both our cruises but are unlikely to do another as we like to be more active than these are fairly sedentary holidays. Roll calls for river cruises don't appear to be very successful due to the small passenger numbers. We were very fortunate to have contact before hand with Bill and Jane from Long Island New York and had a very enjoyable time in their company. Read Less
Sail Date September 2012
Avalon Luminary Ratings
Category Editor Member

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