1. Home
  2. Cruise Lines
  3. Avalon Waterways
  4. Avalon Panorama Review
  5. Avalon Panorama Cruise Reviews

79 Avalon Waterways Avalon Panorama Cruise Reviews

Reputation #1. I wanted a smaller ship for more personalized trip. I have been on the big ocean liners and wanted something smaller. I saw all the daily outings with the trip, plus extra side trips that were offered, that I could do ... Read More
Reputation #1. I wanted a smaller ship for more personalized trip. I have been on the big ocean liners and wanted something smaller. I saw all the daily outings with the trip, plus extra side trips that were offered, that I could do on my own. I explored every port and was able to put a list of things I wanted to see and those of not so important interest to me at this time. The ship was perfect in every way from the cabin, availability of entertainment, and the dining experience is one that I will never forget. The staff is totally amazing with their professionalism of getting you exactly what you want and how you want it. I guess I did not explore Vienna enough, as I would have booked the Lipizzan show, as one of the guess had the forethought to do. Would I do the trip again? Yes, but now that I have seen this part of the world, I would check into other areas. Read Less
Sail Date August 2017
We chose this cruise as we knew we would see lots of castles, beautiful churches and pretty towns and villages and we are particularly keen on scenery and wanted to see Vienna and Budapest. We would have liked a little more time in Cologne ... Read More
We chose this cruise as we knew we would see lots of castles, beautiful churches and pretty towns and villages and we are particularly keen on scenery and wanted to see Vienna and Budapest. We would have liked a little more time in Cologne and Passau but realise that sometimes it is not possible for this to happen due to our sailing times. All the staff were helpful and friendly at all times. Our Tour Director Isabel was extremely competent and ensured that we all left on time for our daily activities and was always on hand to help with our queries. We thoroughly enjoyed the time on top deck when Isabel was doing her commentry and giving information about the castles and villages we were cruising past. The food was excellent and most importantly if plain food was required it was readily available. The waiters were very efficient and friendly and ensured we were happy with our meals.The entertainment was excellent and of a high quality and most suitable for a Rhine and Danube cruise. The resident pianist played a good selection of music whilst we had afternoon tea and in the evenings. The staff on Reception were pleasant and very helpful. We thoroughly enjoyed our cruise experience with Avalon Panorama and would not hesitate to recommend this cruise to our friends and to have another cruise with Avalon. 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
We liked the idea of visiting many cities over a short period of time with no hassles e.g booking in and out of hotels and transfers etc. We found the staff friendly, the food very good and the accommodation outstanding. The tours ... Read More
We liked the idea of visiting many cities over a short period of time with no hassles e.g booking in and out of hotels and transfers etc. We found the staff friendly, the food very good and the accommodation outstanding. The tours that were included with the cruise were well organised and very interesting. All the buses we went on were very modern. One of the buses even had 5G wifi available! The only negative we encountered was the wifi on the boat. It was fine to check emails, but not strong enough to send pictures etc. The food was of a good standard with just enough variety for boredom not to set in at dinnertime by the end of the cruise. Service was quick and efficient. Wine and beer were available with dinner only, it would be nice to see it served with lunch. The bathroom was excellent with a large shower and lots of space around the basin for toiletries etc. The bed was very comfortable and the room spacious. The large sliding doors which opened directly onto the railings, made sitting in the room very relaxing when travelling down the Danube. The hotel in Prague was very average. The rooms were extremely hot with no way to cool them down. The food and drinks at the hotel were easily double the price of the local restaurants we went to. We would definitely recommend the Prague to Budapest cruise on Avalon's Panorama Cruise ship. Read Less
Sail Date October 2016
Overall the river cruise was very good, it was just misleading in selling to us that all cabins are balcony, when in fact the level one was not. The several ports visited was more than what I expected. There was race discrimination ... Read More
Overall the river cruise was very good, it was just misleading in selling to us that all cabins are balcony, when in fact the level one was not. The several ports visited was more than what I expected. There was race discrimination on service especially the head of the dining or banquet including a female server. People were already seated and having their wine and were asked to leave and transfer to another table because this favored race came in. The hotel in Prague on their breakfast servers were also very rude. These people in hospitality industry should know how to treat with people of various colors of their skin!! The food was good and with just right serving amount, not too much and overwhelming. The cabin was clean all the time. The embarkation and disembarkation process were smooth. Being the first river cruise and comparing it to the regular cruises that we have experienced, it has its pluses and minuses. The broader tours are the big plus. Read Less
Sail Date October 2016
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
Let me preface this by saying we are not cruise people. We've only taken a couple of other cruises on small ships (Windstar - great!! and Antarctica excursion) but never a river cruise. We chose Avalon because they advertised a 3-Day ... Read More
Let me preface this by saying we are not cruise people. We've only taken a couple of other cruises on small ships (Windstar - great!! and Antarctica excursion) but never a river cruise. We chose Avalon because they advertised a 3-Day Cruise Only option that allowed us to do only the river portion with them. We looked at the cruise as Room & Board and transportation only. We weren't interested in any group tours. We booked our own hotels in Vienna and Budapest and did our own thing in every port. Being very experienced world travelers (having already traveled independently to over 100 countries) we don't like groups. All that said, this seemed pretty easy. Wrong! The entire experience was annoying. From boarding the ship to leaving, we felt harassed. The cabins they touted as a room with a view, was adequate but nothing special. Food was really designed for the typical cruise population with an average age of 70. When I asked for a piece of fish with no sauce, which seems like an easy request, the waiter acted as if I was inconveniencing him. The cruise director was the most annoying person I've ever encountered in all my travels. And, above all else, no one on the staff seemed to understand the concept of Cruise Only. They kept paging us and asking about our arrangements. They were annoyed we weren't part of their group. What happened to "it's all about the customer?!" The cruise itself: The ports were interesting — Melk, Durnstein, Bratislava and into Budapest. But river cruising is a very expensive way to see places if you are a good independent traveler. We spent three nights on the river and then three nights in Budapest at a very high-end hotel. When we added up all our expenses there, it turned out we spent half as much — and that included a huge suite, using the hotel car for touring, taking advantage of its spa, eating in some astoundingly fantastic restaurants, and being driven to the airport. And, as if our experience on the ship wasn't bad enough, when I got home and received a welcome home email from Avalon asking for my feedback, I wrote back about some of the problems we had, and was planning to post a negative review on TripAdvisor, I received a reply telling me they were very busy and would take 5 – 8 weeks to reply. Seriously? That's how you reply to a customer who is unhappy? I didn't want anything from them other than to say you did a lousy job. The upshot was I requested to have my address — email, snail mail, and any future delivery systems — removed from all their databases. I do not want to receive anything from them. I know lots of people who love river cruises. If you are one of them, be very careful before choosing Avalon. Customer service is not their strong suit. Read Less
Sail Date August 2016
We first looked at this particular cruise because it fit the time slot we had open. Once we started looking in more detail we were very impressed with the design of the rooms on the Panorama. And we liked the combination of several days ... Read More
We first looked at this particular cruise because it fit the time slot we had open. Once we started looking in more detail we were very impressed with the design of the rooms on the Panorama. And we liked the combination of several days in Vienna and Budapest along with 3 nights on the boat. As things turned out we were extremely happy with the overall package and with the boat in particular. We enjoyed the other passengers, the food, the guides, the staff, and the amazing places we got to see! We ended up doing the Schonbrun tour in Vienna as well as the evening concert. Both were really excellent. Along the way we did the bicycle tour and enjoyed that as well. Finally, in Budapest we did the lights of the city at night tour, which was gorgeous! The tours that were included were also very worthwhile. We really ended up learning a lot about the history of the region! Read Less
Sail Date August 2016
This was our 40th wedding anniversary. We were looking forward to the beautiful scenery as we looked out of our large balcony windows that we paid an extra £1'000 for. The bed was positioned to face the river,something not many other ... Read More
This was our 40th wedding anniversary. We were looking forward to the beautiful scenery as we looked out of our large balcony windows that we paid an extra £1'000 for. The bed was positioned to face the river,something not many other ships had. What a waste of money,we sailed mainly at night and in port we were tied up to other ships so our view was of someone's bedroom so we had to keep our curtains closed.there are so many ships now the ports are over crowded.we had many issues with this cruise so have tried to get the price we paid for the Windows back....we have been offered £150 ,almost a joke. Also check the weather before you go,the rivers may be too high for some of the bridges and they will only tell you when you get there.then it turns into a coach holiday. The wines served with dinner were excellent. They also had bikes onboard which we would have liked to have used, but no one told us about them until it was too late.The entertainment was awful, the best fun was the crew and their show , that had us in stitchs. The cabins were very nice they managed to do a lot in a small space. If you have lunch on board you only get soft drinks included ,any beer or wine ect have to be paid for,A little daunting to find strangers walking thro the ship as they had to walk thro to their ship moored on either side of us.We were prepared for some dressing up ie the captains dinner etc, but not a lot of that went on, in fact one night it seemed more shorts and flip flops were the dress code. Read Less
Sail Date June 2016
We have taken many ocean cruises, and felt it was time to try a river cruise since they have become so popular. While there are some similarities, this is a far different experience a large ocean liner. Some examples: Easy on/off the ship, ... Read More
We have taken many ocean cruises, and felt it was time to try a river cruise since they have become so popular. While there are some similarities, this is a far different experience a large ocean liner. Some examples: Easy on/off the ship, little in the way of activities, less walking on board, food gets repetitive after a few days, cruise directors that act like a human being rather than a stage performer, etc.Overall, this was a very enjoyable vacation and was well worth doing. Our cruise was 7 days packaged with 3 nights in Prague. We were booked into the Pargue Hilton, a very large but well run hotel that seems to cater to large groups and business travel. The staff was very friendly and helpful, and the food was excellent though expensive (breakfast was included). The hotel is not convenient to the historic area of town, about a 20 minute walk which was a problem for some in our group wiyh mobility issues. Otherwise, no complaints about the hotel. Avalaon ran a trip for a folkloric show with dinner that I felt was tourist tacky and overpriced, bit many people love that stuff. Our cruise was supposed to start in Nuremburg but high river levels caused a change to Passau. This eliminated 2 days of actual cruising where we sat in Passau. This is the hidden problem with river cruises, that high or low river levels disrupt the planned itinerary. The ship itself is immaculate and attractively designed in a minumalist modern style. (Nothing like the ornate lobby of a Tauck ship that we docked next to one day). Our mid-priced cabin was nicely designed with sliding doors that could be fully opened to create a balcony effect. The bathroom was really well designed with a large walk in shower and excellent toiletries provided. Our tour stops included Passau, Linz, Melk, Vienna and Budapest. All had many interesting sights and were well worth visiting. The free morning tours were mostly good but basically superficial. There were optional afternoon tours at additional cost that provided more depth of information, or you could wander around on your own, pr book a local tour at less cost. In Linz we took a tram car to a monastary at the top of a mountain which had a spectacular view stretching to the alps. At 6 euros each, it was the best bargain of the trip. Food was generally excellent, although dinner choices were a bit limited, and mysteriously offeredr pike several times during the week, Basically there were 2 nightly offerings and 4 anytime selections. Breakfast was a typical buffet, and lunch was either a set menu or buffet that was usually tied to local cuisine. Entertainment was a house pianist, a staff revue, a classical duo, and a British woman singer who was a veteran of West End, and who put on a very good show. Service was excellent all around from the cruise director (Isabel) to the housekeeping. While I still prefer ocean cruising, this was a very relaxing and worthwhile trip. Tip: Plugs are European type, so bring an adaptor or coverter. Read Less
Sail Date June 2016
After reviewing many of the river cruise lines we selected Avalon Waterways as being able to provide what we wanted at an acceptable price. Avalon fully met our expectations and we were very pleased we had chosen the company. This is a ... Read More
After reviewing many of the river cruise lines we selected Avalon Waterways as being able to provide what we wanted at an acceptable price. Avalon fully met our expectations and we were very pleased we had chosen the company. This is a brief review of our river cruise from Amsterdam to Budapest in late May/early June. Embarkation: Some people have complained about Avalon not allowing embarkation until late afternoon. We had no such problems. We checked out of our hotel and left our bags there. Had a great day of sightseeing in Amsterdam then picked up our bags and taxi to Avalon's meeting point. Fast registration and then bus came and took us to the boat. Champagne and introductions to crew and then off to our cabin. All very smooth. Cabin: Our cabin was what we had been led to believe and more. Good sized room and beautiful large bathroom with large shower. One wall is just windows of which 2/3 open and you can lie on the bed looking out the window as the scenery goes by.(unless at the bottom of a lock or rafted to another boat that did not happen too often) Bed was comfortable and storage space was sufficient. Cases store under the bed. Ship: We were very impressed with the immaculate condition of the ship. We asked an officer about it after watching the deck hands always cleaning something. He said they have great pride in ensuring their boat is the best looking on the river. The vessel had all the usual amenities, top sun-deck (closed for first part of cruise due to low bridges) with ample chairs, dining room, lounge, coffee lounge, hairdresser, gym, etc. There was nothing else we could have wanted or used. Dining: Breakfast was buffet style with cold meats, cheeses, hot food (that varied), omelette station, boiled eggs, breads and sweet rolls, You could also order the breakfast of the day from the waiter. All very good and very satisfying. Lunch was also a buffet again with cold meat, cheese, fruit, a good different hot and cold soup every day and a carvery station again changing every day. A variety of meats, fish and vegetables as well as freshly cooked pasta. Great,choice with enough variations that you did not get bored. Dinner was a four course affair except for special night when it was 5 or 6. Appetizer, soup, main course (meat, fish or vegetarian) and dessert. Everyday was different with local food being served on occasion. Wine flowed throughout and your glass was never empty. Quality was very good. You could also select the bisto night by reservation. Here they featured 10 small courses (4 appetizer, 3 main and 3 dessert) that was served in the lounge. Food was very good but service although very attentive needed a bit of fine tuning. There was coffee, juice, donuts and cookies available at all times in the lounge at the stern and a late night service that we never managed to stay up for! Drinks in the lounge were on the expensive side. Entertainment: The resident pianist was accomplished and played a wide rage of music. Local entertainers were brought on several times at night getting on at a port or lock and leaving at a later one after their performance. A great string trio, a zither player, a guitar player and a few others. One of the highlights was the crew show that was very clever and very funny. We also had talks during the day on beer making, the European Union and making local liqueurs. Many nights after a busy day you were happy to finish dinner and vanish to your room to sleep before another early morning. Service: The service we received from all the staff was superb. They were friendly and attentive and always ready to help in anyway they could. Many knew your name and always said hello and welcomed you back. At times it was a bit too attentive with plates being whipped away before you had swallowed the last mouthful. Don't know how they could have been better. Ports & Shore Excursions: Our shore excursions were extremely well organized. Buses and/or guides were always there at the scheduled time and surprise, surprise, passengers always returned at the appointed time and we never had to wait. All the guides we had were very good and extremely knowledgeable. Some talked a bit too much and provided more history and information than my overloaded brain could take in. Ports were all interesting and had sights that were unique to each of them. I would have like to have had more information on them from the CD at his nightly meeting but little was said. Used to Ocean cruises where you get a good briefing on next stop and what to see. CD did give a good presentation as we went through Rhine Gorge and approaching Budapest. Just wish he had given better information at night rather than his nightly story. Also found him a bit brusque when responding to questions but no questioning his organizational skills with excursions and entertainment. All in all a very enjoyable cruise and if I ever win the lottery I will consider another cruise with Avalon. Read Less
Sail Date May 2016
Went on 15 day cruise Amsterdam to Budapest. Ship, crew, food, cabin all excellent. You tend to travel overnight, mooring up during the day, often for just a few hours for quick tour either on foot or by coach. We would have preferred ... Read More
Went on 15 day cruise Amsterdam to Budapest. Ship, crew, food, cabin all excellent. You tend to travel overnight, mooring up during the day, often for just a few hours for quick tour either on foot or by coach. We would have preferred longer time to wander but of course it would mean less stops.When you moor up you are often stacked up against other boats and if you are unlucky there is no view from your room at all. Also since you often travel overnight you often miss the view. Having said that Avalon do try to pass through the best scenery during the day. Entertainment was excellent with speciality acts joining at a lock and leaving at a later lock. We liked mostly wandering on shore but sometimes had to coach to a city. Budapest tours were a disaster as we were often caught up in long traffic jams, so go touring on your own using the trams. Read Less
Sail Date May 2016
My wife and I are in our mid '60's. This was our first river cruise. The Panorama is a newer ship in great shape, with sliding glass doors on all of the rooms that are above the waterline. We found this to be an exceptional ... Read More
My wife and I are in our mid '60's. This was our first river cruise. The Panorama is a newer ship in great shape, with sliding glass doors on all of the rooms that are above the waterline. We found this to be an exceptional feature that added a lot to our travel experience. Because there is no "Balcony" the size of the cabin is larger than a ship with balconies. (Remember, there is a width limitation imposed on the river ships because of the width of the locks on the river.) Another feature that is really worth mentioning is the draft of the boat. I don't know how you find out the draft of a river cruise boat. Perhaps, you can find it on-line or the cruise line will tell you prior to booking. Why is this important? The Rhine and Danube rivers are experiencing low water levels this year. The Danube seems to be the more problematic of the two rivers. The Panorama drafts 3 to 4 feet less water than a lot of other cruise ships. We never had a problem and we were able to maintain our schedule. During our on shore excursions we met several different people in various ports, who were traveling on different cruise lines. (Primarily, Viking). They told us that the Viking cruise ships on the Danube were all docked in port and not sailing because the water level wasn't deep enough. They had to pack all of their belongings and be taken to the next port by bus, where they would board another cruise ship for the night. This process was repeated from port to port. One of the news bulletins I read on Cruise Critic at the time, mentioned that Viking had a real advantage over other cruise lines because it had so many ships on the river, it could dock them and use them like hotels in this manner. I know many of the cruise ships can accommodate about 195 people. The Panorama accommodated about 166 people. This is probably one of the reasons that we could keep sailing when other ships were docked. This is a MAJOR benefit, because one of the primary benefits of a river cruise is avoiding the inconvenience of packing and unpacking every time you move to a new city. There are only three things worth mentioning that we would like to see improved. 1. The quality of the on shore guides for excursions was inconsistent. Some were good and some were bad. It was the luck of the draw, because you never knew anything about the guides before hand. 2. We would like to see better entertainment on ship. 3. We would like to have had more on board lectures from experts about the areas we were visiting. (They could probably solve this issue by creating videos and posting them on-line or broadcast them on one of the cable tv channels.) Our cabin was on the first deck in mid ship. The internet access was excellent. Finally, I need to mention that the service was OUTSTANDING. We had only one minor issue with the crew. The crew was well trained and service oriented! Read Less
Sail Date August 2015
Our family had a fantastic cruise down the Danube in late June / early July. The entire staff of the Avalon Panorama was great. We have highly recommend Avalon to many of our friends who are thinking of maybe taking a cruise. Enjoyed ... Read More
Our family had a fantastic cruise down the Danube in late June / early July. The entire staff of the Avalon Panorama was great. We have highly recommend Avalon to many of our friends who are thinking of maybe taking a cruise. Enjoyed meeting other people from all over the world on the cruise. The staff was very helpful as the service was outstanding. The staff show on the last night was fantastic. Janos Horvath, our cruise director was excellent as he took the time with all the passengers to make them comfortable. Started in Nuremberg, then Regensburg, on to Passau, took side trip to Cesky Krumlov in the Czech Republic, then re-joined the boat at Linz, stopped at the Melk Abbey, viewed the fantastic Wachau Valley, into Vienna, toured downtown Vienna at night, took the side trip to the Schonbrunn Imperial Palace. Enjoyed the Farewell Gala Dinner on the last night on the Panorama with the staff show. Enjoyed walking in downtown Budapest and seeing Castle Buda. My wife's grandparents emigrated from Hungary before WW I, so the trip had family history implications. Enjoyed the great Hungarian meals in Budapest. All of the on-shore excursions had great guides to explain the local history of the cities and sites that we visited. Read Less
Sail Date June 2015
Having been only on the larger cruise lines this was my first time on a smaller River Cruise trip. I wanted the smaller more intimate ship and was looking forward to sailing into smaller ports which the larger ships cannot necessarily ... Read More
Having been only on the larger cruise lines this was my first time on a smaller River Cruise trip. I wanted the smaller more intimate ship and was looking forward to sailing into smaller ports which the larger ships cannot necessarily visit. While I have no other River Cruise line to compare to, Avalon left me with the overall impression that it provides a comfortable journey (beds were good and nice shower), however I find myself having difficulty raving about any aspects that might be outstanding. The meals were good but not great. I have difficulty remembering a single meal, I think I expected more gourmet cooking, though presentation was always lovely. Breakfast became a bore as it was the same items every day. Definitely no evening activities to entertain. We had one classical trio concert in the middle of an afternoon, which I would have preferred in the evening for some lively entertainment and socializing after. After dinner, and certainly by 9:30 pm the ship was a ghost town. Only the one lounge, and another smaller coffee lounge, but most people were in their cabins as there was nothing organized, cultural or social. The on board movie options in your cabin was a welcome option once I realized there was no effort to make the journey memorable. As a solo traveler there was no effort by Avalon to make me feel comfortable or to introduce me to other solo or independent travelers. With an open seating arrangement for meals you had to be assertive and go up to diners to see if it was okay to join their table. Avalon staff were more functional than social. If you had a question they attempted to answer it, otherwise they merely stood at attention. I thought there would be more personality to the smaller passenger size ship, but no. If I look at Avalon as merely transport that got me from place to place then they succeeded. However, would I recommend this particular cruise line? Hard to say....as there was nothing overly wonderful and memorable that would make me choose them again. My motivation at this time would be to focus on the ports I want to visit. The local our guides were good and I think Avalon relies alot on the local knowledge of the tour guides to make the trip worthwhile. Every morning we were in one port with sailing resuming as we ate lunch very often. Certainly no real opportunity to stay on and explore on your own instead of having lunch on the ship. Even the day when a bus was taking passengers to Brussels for the optional tour, the morning excursion still had to come back to the ship as the ship was sailing at lunch. And when we landed on a Sunday, be prepared for most places to be closed. Why Avalon doesn't adjust the ports to make sure you are not in a place where things are closed on a Sunday baffles me. An overnight stay in one place would have been nice and I would definitely look for that if I took another River Cruise. The only place we had that was in Amsterdam the day before we left which wasn't much of a bonus as I had that option available to me since I booked my own airfare. Based on what I paid for the River Cruise, especially since I had to pay the additional single supplement, I would not do another River Cruise without the single supplement waived, at least one overnight stay in a place of interest, and I would probably encourage a friend to travel at the same time as the cruise line did nothing to make a solo traveler feel welcome and included. So for this reason I can't give Avalon a higher than average rating. Even though all the activities a bigger cruise offers is too much for me - the nonexistent options of the evening were too little with Avalon. If it hadn't been for the few people I met to make the trip interesting this travel experience would have been one of my least favorite European trips. Read Less
Sail Date April 2015
This was our first river cruise on any line. Before deciding, we researched many options and since we were a fairly large group (six couples), chose Avalon for the destination (wanted multiple countries), price, and generally good reviews. ... Read More
This was our first river cruise on any line. Before deciding, we researched many options and since we were a fairly large group (six couples), chose Avalon for the destination (wanted multiple countries), price, and generally good reviews. We were not disappointed, but as I said it was our first river cruise, so we did not have much to compare it to. The itinerary was wonderful, with 3 small towns and 3 cities we got a good mix of experiences. I would highly recommend the side trip to Chesky Krumlof, which was extra, but other than that, each stop included informative local tours, with listening devices for each person. Our guides were local, and spoke excellent English. We took the wine tasting option in Grein, and it was a tour as good as any in Napa or elsewhere. The food was great, buffet service for breakfast and lunch, with options to order off the menu for lunch. Dinner was 4 courses of delicousness wrapped up with plenty of wine. All the passengers could be seated in the dining room, and so just one seating. This allowed for much getting acquainted with others. Everyone was friendly and happy, folks from England, New Zealand, Austrailia and Canada as well as the U.S. They also offered cookies, donuts, and muffins with 24 hour coffee in the back of the ship, and sandwiches, sweets and tea in the afternoon. Happy hour started an hour before dinner and drinks were half price. We had a variety of different staterooms from inside to suites. All were quite nice and surprisingly spacious. The staff was fabulous, from helping us celebrate birthdays and anniversaries, to remembering our preferences for wine. Always a smile and lots of helpful tips. Would love to do it again someday, maybe the Duoro River in Portugal. Would definitely travel with Avalon again. Loved the small ship experience!   Read Less
Sail Date April 2014
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
I am motivated to write this review since the cruise was so outstanding. We were a group of 5 couples who are old friends.From the time we stepped off the plane in Prague and were met by the Avalon representative everything thing and every ... Read More
I am motivated to write this review since the cruise was so outstanding. We were a group of 5 couples who are old friends.From the time we stepped off the plane in Prague and were met by the Avalon representative everything thing and every day was like a well oiled machine. Management must be doing something right.Avalon transferred us to the Intercontinental Hotel in Prague. The hotel was in a perfect location for visiting this beautiful city. Two nights in Prague. We then transferred to the beautiful Panorama ship. Stateroom were well designed with plenty of storage space. The Bathroom with granite counter tops and a walk in shower was also designed with plenty of storage space. Our cruise director Mr. Akos Szalay was ever present and attentive to the guests. The crew members were friendly, professional and very attentive. The restaurant manager, Agos,did a fabulous job with the restaurant staff. I do not know how they can serve over 160 meals 3 x a day. Obviously, the staff works very hard. Our compliments to the chef "Orlando" for the quality and presentation of the the food. It was like eating in a 5 star restaurant. The ship is kept pristine clean from the staterooms to the decks. The included tour guides were excellent. This was our First River Cruise and it will not be our last.We will sail again on one of Avalon's Suite Ships. Our experience was so positive that I would never sail on a large cruise ship again. River Cruising is the best. Read Less
Sail Date April 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
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
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
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

Find an Avalon Panorama Cruise

Easily compare prices from multiple sites with one click