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7 Avalon Waterways Avalon Panorama Cruise Reviews

We had a wonderful time with Ama Waterways for my wife's 50th. birthday going from Budapest to Nuremberg, so thought we would try a river cruise again, this time with Avalon Waterways for her 60th. from Amsterdam to Basel. The best ... Read More
We had a wonderful time with Ama Waterways for my wife's 50th. birthday going from Budapest to Nuremberg, so thought we would try a river cruise again, this time with Avalon Waterways for her 60th. from Amsterdam to Basel. The best thing about this cruise was the food - when we travelled with AMA previously, the food was somewhat bland, but, other than the last night when presumably the chef was off and the option was mainly pasta which came missing some of the ingredients and barely warm, the food on the Avalon Panorama was excellent. Having said that, there was an advert on the Avalon web-site for a tapas/tasting menu option which we had planned to take for the 60th. birthday evening - when we checked in however, we were told that this was no longer being offered - the only option being a reduced menu buffet in the lounge. TIP: On the welcome evening drinks, trays of hors d'oeuvres were offered, but we only managed to get one each, as the waiters seemed to be encouraging the larger groups to take as many as they wanted so that they could clear the trays and get down to the dining room, so if you want more than one, we suggest that you take a handful! Now on to the difference between AMA for Christmas Markets cruises and Avalon - when we travelled with AMA, the Christmas theme was everywhere, from the decorations, to an evening decorating the tree, meeting Santa, chocolates being left in your shoes if you left them outside your cabin door at night and mulled wine being available when you returned form each trip - with AMA it really felt like Christmas. With Avalon however, there was a half-hearted attempt at decoration, instead of mulled wine we had tepid herbal tea awaiting us on our return, and whereas the Cruise Director with AMA was always there helping out and offering suggestions, the Cruise Director on Avalon Panorama was rarely available - preferring instead to spend most of his time sitting looking at his lap-top and, even if you asked a question, he would answer it and then go straight back to his lap-top - we wondered if his linguistic limitations (he is French and clearly struggled with English) were the issue, although he announced later in the cruise that he was leaving for another job. The difference between the two cruise lines was made even more evident, as frequently we were moored alongside the Ama Magna which really was lit up like a Christmas Tree, whereas on some nights when coming back to the Avalon Panorama, we had difficulty seeing the way on slippery decks and stairs. Now on to other issues with the Avalon Panorama:- Check-in: For some reason the cabin which we had booked in the Summer through Avalon's U.K. company was not allocated to us and we were asked to switch to another cabin - we refused, and after some delay were advised that the cabin was now ours and without warning a bottle of Sekt awaited us in our cabin after Dinner. Excursions - all of the Dutch and German guides were excellent, providing well-informed tours which involved just the right mix of fact and humour and with plenty of time to "do our own thing" - unfortunately the same cannot be said of the French guides (Heidelberg and Colmar) - my apologies if we seem to be anti-French, but it is just the way the guides were (we have lived and worked in Paris, so there is no anti-French feeling - France is a place that we truly love and visit each Summer) - anyway, back to the French guides - the first, older, woman seemed slightly scatty, flitting from one idea to the next, so we rarely actually learnt anything. The younger woman (Colmar) seemed to think that she was handling a group of school-kids - taking us to the toilets just after we got off the bus and pushing us to use them and then insisting that we lined up two by two to make it easier for her to count us - we almost expected to get detention if we said the wrong thing - maybe she should apply for a job as a school-mistress/stewardess on British Airways! N.B.: We didn't go on the Black Forest trip, preferring the shorter trip to Colmar, but those that did go, came back complaining that not all of the promised stops were possible due to some of the guests being too slow - maybe there is a need to separate the group between those who are more mobile and those who are not and adapt the stops accordingly? As for the excursions, the best was to Rudesheim, particularly the mechanical organ museum - not normally our thing, but the guide was outstanding (a member of the family that owns the museum) and a talented singer. Entertainment - the resident musician was excellent on all of the instruments that he played, however after listening to him on the first night, on the next night it became clear that he could only play a limited range of music, as he only had backing tracks for one evening of music - we suggest that these be extended to provide a degree of variety - I'm sad to say that, whereas we would have been more than happy to spend each evening in the lounge/bar, after a couple of evenings we moved to the coffee-lounge - AMA Waterways had a disco which, in hindsight, was better, as the music changed each night (with a few regular favourites of course) and made for a more relaxing atmosphere. Check-out: When we left the AMA waterways vessel, there was a line of people helping guests with their luggage (the Captain took ours! - by the way the Captain on the Avalon Panorama was rarely seen and no Captain's Table). By contrast, there was only one person handling a coach-load of guests disembarking, so we had to carry our own bags off the boat to the waiting taxi. Summary: It was good to try a different cruise-line and the dining was truly memorable (other than that last night when standards plummeted), but if we go on a Christmas Markets cruise, we want to feel Christmassy, so next time we travel (probably the reverse of our original cruise with AMA Waterways), we will definitely use AMA waterways. Read Less
Sail Date November 2019
This was a Danube cruise, Budapest to Nuremburg. Due to low water on the river, the ship discharged passengers just beyond Regensburg, busing those who were departing from Nuremburg and to Prague for those who had signed up for it. At ... Read More
This was a Danube cruise, Budapest to Nuremburg. Due to low water on the river, the ship discharged passengers just beyond Regensburg, busing those who were departing from Nuremburg and to Prague for those who had signed up for it. At this, we considered ourselves fortunate, because we heard that some other cruise captains refused to go on past Vienna. Ours did go on, although it was disconcerting to hear the cruise director offhandedly characterize our situation as "precarious." The Wachau valley, through which the Danube flows, is beautiful, and we had practically cloudless skies to appreciate it. The several little towns visited along the way bear enough resemblance to each other that they ultimately became indistinguishable and of marginal interest. The ship is comfortable and the staff outstanding. Embarkation and dis-embarkation were a breeze as were the excursion arrangments; Avalon's approach to organization leaves nothing to be desired. That cannot be said for life on board. Like most river cruises, there is little to do except to drink and socialize. Entertainment was practically non-existent, consisting of beer and wine presentations/sales and a talented local musical duo on one night. The fitness facility boasted perhaps three machines and some free weights. Surprisingly, we found the food to be quite ordinary--perhaps a bit better than one would receive on Royal Caribbean or Princess. Then again most travelers have learned to discount the poetry most lines summon to describe their usually pedestrian fare. Perhaps a third of the cruise passengers did go on to Prague, and here unpleasantness awaited. The cruise materials had promised lodging in one of two 4-star hotels located in the city's renowned center. Some weeks before sailing, we were advised by email that we would be lodged in a third hotel, which a quick glance at a city map revealed to be across the River Vistula in a working-class neighborhood perhaps an hour's walk from anything a tourist would wish to visit, with a rack rate of about $100 per night less than the downtown accommodations. Questioned about this, and how the arrangement met the company's contractual promise to provide "comparable" accommodations in the event that a hotel change became necessary, its representative offered the standard "nothing can be done" explanation. Upon arrival, our preconceptions were borne out. The hotel itself was fine, but entirely out of the way. The hotel does run a shuttle to the downtown, but it runs infrequently and only into the early evening. We and our fellow passengers became quite irate when, after a half-hour ride downtown, the shuttle deposited us in front of one of hotels that had originally been designated as our lodging. I brought this matter to Avalon's attention in a detailed email upon returning home and the company promised a full review. Six weeks later, it delivered a perfunctory response with a vague apology that explained absolutely nothing. Be advised. Read Less
Sail Date September 2018
The Danube cruise is going to be pretty much the same, whichever line you choose. We chose Avalon, and generally, the ship’s appointments and food were quite fine. But perhaps you have a few misconceptions as you make your decision on ... Read More
The Danube cruise is going to be pretty much the same, whichever line you choose. We chose Avalon, and generally, the ship’s appointments and food were quite fine. But perhaps you have a few misconceptions as you make your decision on which river to choose, and this can help you. In our case, we chose the Danube because we had already been to some of the Rhine stops on past land tours. But we were under the impression that there would be ample time for personal exploration in cities and villages, because the ship would be docked and one could just get on and off, depending on whether you took advantage of the excursions. This was almost never the case. The ship docks mostly far from towns and the land tours take you by buses to meet a local guide. It leaves you with an hour, sometimes an hour and half, of your own time before you must catch the bus back to the ship. The sense of leisure is just not there; you are always checking your watch in trepidation. Our best free time on the trip was in Vienna, where we had a full 24 hours (the most spare time on the trip), so we skipped the shop’s dinner and took a taxi into the city on the first night and visited museums on our own the next day, skipping lunch. When signing up for optional excursions, make sure you are clear on what you will see exactly: for example, in Cesky Krumlov, the cruise literature said, “you will explore the castle,” and we did not. The guide spent most of the time showing us where we could shop and eat in the spare hour and 45 minutes we would have. Also, in port, the ships are parked closely to each other (about 6 inches apart: how do they manage?!) so that you will have no view of the town or city. You will have the view of the next ship’s stateroom. Admittedly, this can be interesting for a few minutes before they close their curtains. And THAT is another point: the beautiful panorama window/wall of the balcony rooms has a problem. We were expecting to have the beautiful night breezes blowing into our room as we watched the Danube flow by under the moon and stars. There was a quick warning in the first port talk that there may be bugs and “they couldn’t do anything about that.” We weren’t concerned: what’s a few mosquitoes compared to the joy of open air? Except it wasn’t a few mosquitoes, it was more like a scene from The Amityville Horror. The curtains came alive with hundreds of clinging small black flies, and they began their assault on the ceiling. We had to fling the curtains out over the river to let them all fly away, and then use wet towels to smother the rest. These rooms need screens! Otherwise, you really can’t have the panorama window open, so what is the point? Passengers cannot always go up to the Sky Deck for fresh air because it can be closed due to low bridges or going through locks. Also, we probably watched too many Viking commercials on PBS and were expecting a lot more of the quaint castle and hilly views than actually exist on this part of the Danube, which largely looks like a murky green river you could see anywhere in Vermont, or upstate New York. However, this may still be the trip for you if you enjoy spending a long time at meals with lots of wine and good food. The company was extremely convivial, and conversations with people from other English-speaking countries were always illuminating. We did have a lovely time, but these are some things to watch out for! Read Less
Sail Date June 2018
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
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 fourth river cruise and third on Avalon (fourth if you consider last year was a back to back). We were looking forward to celebrating Christmas and New Years in Europe as well as experiencing Avalon's newest ship. ... Read More
This was our fourth river cruise and third on Avalon (fourth if you consider last year was a back to back). We were looking forward to celebrating Christmas and New Years in Europe as well as experiencing Avalon's newest ship. Ultimately, the highlights were experiencing the wonderful city of Prague, making new friends and enjoying the view of the fireworks in Vienna from the Sun Deck. We did the pre tour in Prague and loved the city. The hotel was The Hilton, a nice convention hotel located a 20 minute from the center. We did not do the included tour and instead hired a personal guide who was wonderful. I would be happy to provide contact info if anyone is interested. Rooms at the hotel were large and modern and the staff very helpful. Breakfast was included and more than adequate. The bus ride to Nuremberg was uneventful and we arrived at the ship at five. The Panorama is a lovely ship. The design of the staterooms really maximizes space and views and the new beds are memory foam and very comfy. The new bathrooms are also lovely and we enjoyed the upgraded amenities. They have installed a very good in room entertainment system, and we enjoyed being able to listen to music or watch a late night movie in the cabin. Our cruise director, Jon Lupe, was the best we have had yet on Avalon and was both efficient and gracious. We saw some familiar faces aboard including Dan, the Hotel Manager, Johny in the dining room, Radu behind the bar and Peter, the dining room manager. Where the cruises really disappointed was the food. There was a noticeable cheapening in the quality and variety of food offered on this cruise compared to one year ago when we were very pleased with the food and wine served. Gone from the menu were rack of lamb, roast duck and the wonderful and flavorful fish dishes and soups. Instead we were served mostly bland and very small portions, much of which went uneaten. We were not the only unhappy customers when it came to the food served but everyone has different tastes and food is always subjective Wine was also cut off at the entrée, which was new from previous cruises. We were not sure if this was server related or a new policy. This was also a departure from previous cruises, as was the overall decrease in variety and quality of wine offered. I am also a big fan of cheese after dinner and looked forward to some of the excellent cheeses served previously. Both quantity and quality were noticeably less than in the past. We were aboard for New Years eve and the entertainment was quite a let down. Instead of music for dancing, the CD presented an hour long audience participation story telling. A group of us wandered across to the Vantage boat docked next door and watched as their guests enjoyed a live six piece dance bank and a table full of hot snacks. Vienna came to the rescue and many of us headed topside and enjoyed the truly spectacular fireworks display that lasted for forty five minutes. Another high point was Vasco, the houses musician, who grabbed a guitar and was joined by Dan one night for a rousing set of music. They were joined by two guests, one a pianist and the other a harmonica player and we all enjoyed a truly terrific impromptu jam session that was the best entertainment of the cruise. We all commented that we wished they had saved that for NYE. All in all, we found the ship beautiful with great appointments but were let down by the overall experience of the Panorama and hope it was just a random off cruise and not representative of fleet wide changes. Read Less
Sail Date December 2011
The ship was everything it was advertised to be. We had a 300 sq ft Royal suite and it was very well designed. Breakfast and lunch was very good, but the dinners were so-so. The quality of the wine and beer with dinner was of good ... Read More
The ship was everything it was advertised to be. We had a 300 sq ft Royal suite and it was very well designed. Breakfast and lunch was very good, but the dinners were so-so. The quality of the wine and beer with dinner was of good quality. Personnel at the customer service desk were outstanding, as was the housekeeping lady. The waiters in the dining room were pleasant and helpful, except for a couple who acted like they were doing you a favor waiting on you. The Cruise Director (CD) was at times rude and arrogant. During the cruise we met some delightful gentlemen from California, and we were appalled when we told by them that the ship's Captain referred to them as queers. After 10 days into the cruise , the ship had engine problems, and we told at our daily 6:45 briefing to pack our bags and board buses in the morning. From a Royal suite to a bus and substandard accommodations, we felt like we were being herded around like a bunch of cattle. A good example of our Royal treatment was the Hotel in Amsterdam. There were no robes, no safe, an empty mini- bar, and the rugs were worn and stained. After one night we moved on our own to the Intercontinental Amstel Hotel. At least then we had some time in pleasant surroundings to erase the miserable times since we left the ship. Another unpleasant event was the baggage arrangement at the hotel in Cologne. When we arrived all the bags were placed in a room off the main lobby.We had to rummage through all the bags, find ours, and then get them to our room as best we could. After we found our bags we then were all jammed in the main lobby trying to hear if our name was being for our room assignment. This was an episode we will always remember. When we were getting ready to leave the ship we were told that our accommodations we be equivalent to what we had on the ship. Obviously, they weren't.After we left the ship, the Cruise Director acted like everything he did to accommodate the passengers was a big deal. It is interesting to note that the Cruise Director didn't seem to know much about anything until his daily 6:45 briefing in the cocktail lounge. So you were forced to go to the briefing to keep up on what's happening. I am sure the extra income Avalon made during the briefings was not a consideration in setting up the briefings. Read Less
Sail Date August 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

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