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12 Avalon Waterways Avalon Panorama Cruise Reviews

Our Avalon Rhine River cruise from Basel to Amsterdam was taken in late October 2019. The cruise was pleasant with no real negatives, but also without any exceptional experiences or excursions. The cruise is marketed as an 8 day ... Read More
Our Avalon Rhine River cruise from Basel to Amsterdam was taken in late October 2019. The cruise was pleasant with no real negatives, but also without any exceptional experiences or excursions. The cruise is marketed as an 8 day cruise, but there are 7 breakfasts, 6 lunches, and 7 dinners included, so its a 7 day cruise at best. The last 24 hours are spent docked in Amsterdam, so you are effectively paying $1000 for one night in a small Amsterdam hotel room with a meal plan for two people. By comparison, we spent $250 a night for an entire floor of a canal house in a 9.8 out of 10 rated location for our other four nights in Amsterdam, and that includes a large breakfast We didn't spend close to $750 a day on meals or canal cruises on any of the other 4 days. We probably spent that collectively for the entire 4 days, and that includes $230 for two I Am City Cards for "free" admission to the most popular Amsterdam museums (except Anne Frank House bought two months in advance) and "free" public transportation and canal cruises. Our Category A cabin was excellent and is reviewed separately. We went with Avalon instead of Viking because the meals were supposedly better. The meals were good, but definitely not a culinary experience, so don't expect to be wowed. Across the entire staff, the onboard service was excellent. Embarkation was also a breeze. I would recommend going downstream from Basel to Amsterdam as you get between points quicker (17 hours Cologne to Amsterdam vs. 24 hours the other direction) and with less engine noise. On ship entertainment was limited to the same lounge singer every night, plus one night with three classical musicians (very enjoyable), and another night with a local band (average). Included excursions with local guides were informative, sometimes humorous, but not exceptional in any way. My expectation is that the Avalon river cruise experience is on par with cruises provided by other comparably priced cruise lines. But I think they are all expensive relative to a land tour option covering comparable sites. Read Less
Sail Date October 2019
The active cruise interested us as we are both avid walkers and enjoy biking and hiking. We were disappointed in the Avalon service compared to our experience on a Uniworld River Cruise on the Danube River. We enjoyed the option of the ... Read More
The active cruise interested us as we are both avid walkers and enjoy biking and hiking. We were disappointed in the Avalon service compared to our experience on a Uniworld River Cruise on the Danube River. We enjoyed the option of the flexible dining that Avalon Cruise provided, but found the food being removed an hour earlier than advertised e.g. 8:00 PM instead of 9 PM. Then when we tried to go to the main dining room because the lounge/bistro dining had been removed an hour early, we were scolded for arriving late and discouraged by the head waiter from getting the full menu in order to catch up with the rest of the dining room. We loved the panoramic room and the cabin steward was friendly and did a great job. The cruise director and the main receptionist were not as friendly as we would have expected. The cruise director was knowledgeable but seemed a little aloof and disconnected. The concert with the band that come on the ship and castle tour were great and would have liked more of that type of entertainment. The onboard entertainment would have been better with more variety such as DJ, second musician, etc. Read Less
Sail Date August 2019
We chose a river cruise as it would be a first for us and I had gotten seasick on the one and only time we went on an ocean cruise. We chose the Rhine river cruise due to the start/end cities and length of cruise. I looked at several ... Read More
We chose a river cruise as it would be a first for us and I had gotten seasick on the one and only time we went on an ocean cruise. We chose the Rhine river cruise due to the start/end cities and length of cruise. I looked at several cruise lines until it came down to two- Avalon and AmaWaterways. Chose Avalon due to schedule/direction. With the intimacy of small boats and smooth sailing on rivers, I'll never go on an ocean cruise again. Fellow passengers were very nice, no one was disruptive onboard. Staff was for the most part excellent. I'd give our cruise 8 out of 10 stars. I subtracted points for lack of varied night time entertainment, communication issue with a cook, staff not being overly attentive in refilling wine and coffee during meals, and one optional excursion that we took that was unsatisfactory. Due to my rating the next time I go on a river cruise I'll look at other cruise lines. If I had rated it 9 or 10 stars I would definitely repeat with Avalon. Kudos to the excellent breakfasts, lunches, and dinners onboard, cabin/service, and the tours that were included with no charge. It would have been great if they had a karaoke night or maybe hire a dance instructor for one night. As a fitness buff I would've liked the fitness center to have dumbells weighing more than 10kg, but I liked that I was mostly to myself whenever I went (5 out of 7 days). Read Less
Sail Date July 2019
After 40 trips and cruises over seas, this 15 day Budapest to Amsterdam was our first river cruise. The record low water levels throughout Europe required us to take 3 bus trips to get around low water sections. The biggest problem is ... Read More
After 40 trips and cruises over seas, this 15 day Budapest to Amsterdam was our first river cruise. The record low water levels throughout Europe required us to take 3 bus trips to get around low water sections. The biggest problem is that we missed most of the Rhine River cruise up to Cologne and then on to Amsterdam. We each got compensated $200 and 50% off the daily cruise rate for each of the 3 days we needed to stay in hotels off the boat. A friend of ours took the identical trip 5 days later on the Viking Cruise Line and they were able to get their boat through the low water on the Rhine (they scraped bottom 4 times)! Viking only gave them a 25% off certificate for a future cruise as compensation. They food, service and entertainment were very good and the champagne flowed freely. No limit on lunch and dinner wine or beer. The ship's construction and maintenance were excellent, it looked brand new even though it is 5 - 6 years old. There were only about 3 guests under 40 years of age, and no kids. We appreciated not being steered to very many "factory" shops by our tour guides. If you take the side trip to Salzburg, be sure to watch the movie "The Sound Of Music" before the cruise. The WiFi was adequate but poor for streaming video. Avalon Cruise line doesn't advertise much in America so most of the guests are from Commonwealth English speaking countries. Read Less
Sail Date August 2018
Overall the facilities, staff and food are excellent, you really can’t hope for much more. The staff are friendly and work incredibly hard to keep the boat spotless and service the guests. Friends arrived early in the morning and were ... Read More
Overall the facilities, staff and food are excellent, you really can’t hope for much more. The staff are friendly and work incredibly hard to keep the boat spotless and service the guests. Friends arrived early in the morning and were allowed to hang out in the lounge with snacks and drinks until official boarding. The food overall is first rate, with many healthy options, but thought the desserts were mediocre. We had a large group, there were 4 tables of 8 so not tough to get there early and secure one. For a region known for beer there was only one option and it was ordinary, wines were all good. You should be aware the boat is often parked alongside other boats when docked, not in Avalon’s control, don’t expect to have a view from your room when docked, and the boat mostly moves at night, it doesn’t matter which side of the boat you are on. You don’t really hear other guests from your room, nice and quiet, the beds are great and overall the rooms are a decent size. We had one of the most expensive rooms near the back on the top level and asked Avalon when booking if we would hear the engine and were told no. That’s incorrect and annoying as we had the option to get another room and were recommended there. The boat moves when you sleep and the closer you are to the rear the more you are aware of the engine and vibration. However the top floor has a nice tea room at the rear and good if you don’t have to go too far to visit it. The website is confusing, and if you have questions ahead of your trip don’t expect good service. I sent 2 emails, left 2 voicemails with the cruise director, got no replies, eventually called the 800 number and was told that I could only address my questions on arrival. Our off boat activities, hotels, tours etc were handled by Sabine. Overall I think she was fine. Activities ran on time, buses were good, guides were mostly good. Krumlov was expensive for what it was, I would not rush to do that. A person in our group had the most expensive of the 3 tiers of package for the cruise, but when we got off the boat to the hotel ended up in a poky room in the worst of 3 tiers of hotel rooms. Sabine seemed to think this was not her issue but the hotels, which seems odd to me. In general we had outstanding service on the boat (crew, food, cleaning) and mediocre staff off the boat, so some folks need more training as they dilute an otherwise outstanding experience. Overall will definitely return Read Less
Sail Date April 2018
I was with my siblings and mom, five of us total. We spent the three extra days in Prague and had a great time exploring. Each day we found new area and less touristy areas to explore. Our cruise director, Hendrick, was very ... Read More
I was with my siblings and mom, five of us total. We spent the three extra days in Prague and had a great time exploring. Each day we found new area and less touristy areas to explore. Our cruise director, Hendrick, was very informative. Due to last minute river rising, our cruise itinerary changed. We could not board in Nuremberg. However, Avalon was very accommodating in that we were comped "optional excursion" and our cruise was still a full 7 nights. As with any tour guide, it is hit or miss which one you get. Some were exception, but all were good. We loved the housekeepers and reception staff. The servers were also a joy. We had great conversation and learned much about the life of cruise staffer. The food was great and often we chose to eat on board instead of in town. We had plenty of wine with lunch and dinner. In fact, we had to cover our glass to refuse another pour. Prior to leaving, there was a change in our included airfare. One member in our party was unable to attend due to this change. The member that did not travel has a very bitter taste towards Avalon. However, as the main contact for our group, I have no complaints. Avalon only did what was written in the terms of our booking. And in the end, they even refunded money they did not have to. So for that, I applaud the customer service and management. I hope to travel again in two years and will most likely use Avalon again. Read Less
Sail Date September 2017
I chose this trip because my sister, brother-in law, and I got a great Friends and Family discount that we could pass up. The ship was lovely, food excellent, smaller size of ship and total passengers (125) made for an intimate friendly ... Read More
I chose this trip because my sister, brother-in law, and I got a great Friends and Family discount that we could pass up. The ship was lovely, food excellent, smaller size of ship and total passengers (125) made for an intimate friendly experience. I especially enjoyed having time in Budapest and Prague to explore and relax before and after the cruise portion of the adventure. The shore excursions, embarkation and disembarkation all ran very smoothly. Unfortunately we experienced some flooding issues along the Danube partway into the cruise which prevented being able to travel the entire projected itinerary along the river because of high water levels combined with low bridges. The cruise director Stefano did a remarkable job arranging for alternative transport by bus to the scheduled port cities, with only one exception, an unplanned stop in an alternate town was substituted. All of the stops were interesting and the guides very informative and friendly. The castles and churches were amazing and awe inspiring. The ship provided nightly local entertainment which was great, this also required a lot of additional revising and effort on the part of the ship staff. Because of the flooding we spent more time on buses than would otherwise have been the case which limited some of our time to explore the ports on our own or shop for souvenirs but this could not be helped, and overall we saw a lot of interesting sights. I would consider another Avalon cruise in the future. 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
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
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
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
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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