94 Avalon Waterways Avalon Vista Cruise Reviews

Having tired of Ocean cruising we turned to River cruising and enviously viewed the large luxury ships on the river, after more than a dozen most enjoyable trips, we decided for a change that a luxury river cruise was a way to stifle our ... Read More
Having tired of Ocean cruising we turned to River cruising and enviously viewed the large luxury ships on the river, after more than a dozen most enjoyable trips, we decided for a change that a luxury river cruise was a way to stifle our envy. Flight arrangements were excellent. Airport arrival and pick up very efficient. Our Hotel in Vienna for two nights was a dream. All the tours were lovely and we had adequate time to do our own thing as well. Day three we set off by comfortable coach for Bratislava and our embarkation The arrival walk through the old town of Bratislava was very interesting but lugging a heavy bag for an hour in the rain was not a lot of fun. After a welcome drink and slick move to our exquisite cabin, and explanation of on board life and destinations, our first evening dinner was rather strange. The ship was barely half full with the result that it was difficult to find more than a small handful of passengers in any of the public areas. Total passenger list was 76 and we unfortunately lost two of those. There was none of the usual camaraderie we have encountered on other river cruises. Indeed every evening apart from two stalwart Australians we were the only people to attend the entertainment in the Lounge. Nikko tried hard but four people in a beautiful lounge built and equipped to accommodate 130 or so passengers, did not help the situation. The passengers mostly 60 plus were a mix of American, Australian, New Zealanders, a few Asiatic citizens, and a sprinkling of British. The Cruise Director did nothing to encourage guests to mingle and though efficient and correct to a point of strict school headmistress, she remained in her foyer seat and took no part in promoting on board activities. So no one used them. All the crew were extremely friendly and nothing, however small, was too much trouble. The air of politeness and welcome was apparent throughout the ship and the comfort and cleanliness first class. Every meal was a pleasure, all the excursions well chosen, informative and a delight. But we were so disappointed there was no atmosphere of a holiday at all. More a Marie Celeste situation prevailed. So it's back to the happy little ships for us in future I am afraid. I have waited a month before writing this review to allow a fair appraisal of the Cruise. If luxury, comfort, quiet relaxation are your thing the Avalon Vista is your ship, otherwise look to smaller ships with excellent entertainment, no overnight noisy travelling and port visits to rival the big boys. Read Less
Sail Date April 2015
We chose this cruise since it visited an area of Europe that is rarely visited, the Balkans. I had done all this area several times, but a long time ago. Most of it was new for my wife. Two dear friends accompanied us, all of it new to ... Read More
We chose this cruise since it visited an area of Europe that is rarely visited, the Balkans. I had done all this area several times, but a long time ago. Most of it was new for my wife. Two dear friends accompanied us, all of it new to them. They had the same fabulous experience we did! We were accommodated for 2 nights in the excellent and very well-located Intercontinental in Vienna, before a coach transfer to Bratislava. here we were given a guided walk through the city ending at the Vista, where our bags were already in our cabins. Throughout, everything ran like clockwork, with our splendidly efficient German Cruise Director Isobel always fully on top of things. She was wonderful! Our cabin was quite large( supposedly 200 sq.ft), with a small sitting area, a very comfortable bed and pillows, lots of drawer and cupboard space and room for the empty suitcases under the bed. The window wall opposite the bed was amazing, with much of it retracting , leaving a swath of open air and unimpeded views. Food in the restaurant was excellent and varied. The chef even remembered one day I liked Wiener Schnitzel and delighted me with a surprise one at lunchtime one day, personally delivered! Lots of variety at all three meals, and all top quality fresh food. The waiters were so friendly and jovial, we looked forward to each meal just on their account! The stops on the cruise were well judged ( realistically the only places of note along the way anyway!). It was great to sail up to and through the famous Iron Gates, otherwise almost inaccessible! We especially enjoyed the small boat trip into the Danube Delta, as well as our own independent exploration Of "wild east" St Georges at the mouth of the Danube. At the end, we were transferred to Bucharest for a night in the excellent Plaza Athenee Hilton, that has for half a century been the top hotel in town. We took the excursion to Ceausescu's palace extravaganza, that gives Versiailes a run for its money as a building. Amazing! All in all, as I told Isobel and the Captain, if they were to ask me how to improve on this cruise, I could not tell them how! That's how good it was and why we and our friends were so delighted with every aspect of our trip. We wholeheartedly recommend Avalon based on our experience! Read Less
Sail Date April 2015
This was our first cruise with Avalon and we were absolutely delighted with every aspect of our experience with them. The ship was tastefully decorated; the lounge was spacious; the exercise facilities were more than adequate; the dining ... Read More
This was our first cruise with Avalon and we were absolutely delighted with every aspect of our experience with them. The ship was tastefully decorated; the lounge was spacious; the exercise facilities were more than adequate; the dining room gave us plenty of space between tables and no long buffet lines. And our cabin was top notch, with a small seating area and a luxurious bathroom. Dining options were numerous and varied and the food was excellent. We generally took advantage of the "light lunch" option offered in the lounge and enjoyed the "bistro" dinner on three separate occasions. We were delighted with the quality of the wines on offer every evening at dinner and were amazed that our glasses never seemed to become empty. The entire staff was friendly and helpful, providing outstanding service. The Captain was frequently on hand and often said a few words to everyone, which we thought was a very nice touch. We particularly appreciated the Cruise Director, Robert, for his remarkable sense of humor and his masterful organization of our daily outings and on board entertainment. Most outings were included in the price of the cruise, with some optional outings available at what we thought were very reasonable rates. We couldn't have been more pleased.   Read Less
Sail Date December 2014
I lived in Germany for 3 years when I was younger and have been dying to go back to the German Christmas markets ever since. A Christmas market river cruise has been on my bucket list for years, so I was thrilled when the opportunity came ... Read More
I lived in Germany for 3 years when I was younger and have been dying to go back to the German Christmas markets ever since. A Christmas market river cruise has been on my bucket list for years, so I was thrilled when the opportunity came up for me to take this trip. I have done probably a dozen ocean cruises, but this was my first river cruise. We began with two nights in Prague at the Hilton Prague Old Town. I can't imagine a better place to stay because we were within walking distance of two Christmas market areas. There were also some great local restaurants nearby. The second night we ate in an old 10th century cellar that had been converted to a restaurant. The food was good, and the atmosphere was excellent! We were bussed to Nuremburg to board the ship. I was so excited as I stepped on board because for the first time in a long time, I had no idea what to expect from this cruise. The ship was so tiny (which of course I expected) but very welcoming. They had done a fantastic job of decorating for Christmas, and we even had a lit Christmas tree out on the bow! We were in room 231, and the room was fantastic. It has the French balcony, so the entire wall is a window. I love the ocean, but it was a really neat experience to see the constantly changing scenery outside our room -- castles and vineyards and swans -- very different than ocean scenery! My one complaint about the room was that it occasionally reeked of cigarette smoke. I don't know if it was coming from the smoking area at the aft of the ship or the crew area that was just one room down from us, but there were times that it made me feel slightly nauseous. After the third occurrence, I mentioned it to the cruise director who blamed it on the ship next to us, but since that ship hadn't been there the first or second time we had the problem, that clearly wasn't it. Oh, one random complaint about the room: the tv had 8 different fireplace channels -- 8 different options for watching a fireplace on tv! -- but no music channels more recent than the 80's. :( I did, however, enjoy the German tv stations; they gave me a great chance to practice listening to the language and see how much I could manage to understand! Speaking of the cruise director though (Jean Loup Domart), I have to say he was amazing. I left my credit card in one of the Christmas market shops & didn't realize it until we were heading out for an excursion. Long story short, he found out about it and actually went to get my credit card while I was on the other trip! I would have thought that he was absolutely fantastic even without the credit card issue, but that just proved his willingness to go way above & beyond what anyone would expect and shows how much he cares about the passengers. I'm not going to go into detail on each port because that would take forever (and because until I get a chance to look back through my pictures, they're all kind of blending together in my head). But I will say that I would highly recommend this itinerary for anyone who is sort of a kid at heart and really just wants to experience Christmas every day. I was not at all let down by the Christmas markets and thoroughly enjoyed sampling all of the local foods & drinks and browsing the market stalls. We also visited some castles & impressive churches, so there's still plenty to do when you get tired of eating, drinking, and looking at Christmas trees. If you do a Christmas market cruise through Germany, the three things you must try are the Gluhwein, bratwurst (duh!), and roasted chestnuts. Oh, and in Prague, don't miss the honey wine and the trdelnik. If you see people eating something that looks like a hollowed out loaf of bread, believe me, you want one too! Onboard Experience: The food was very good. Better than I've had on any mainstream cruise line. Maybe not quite up there with Princess, but not far off. I never ate breakfast on the ship because I knew there would be plenty to eat for lunch & dinner (and because I didn't want to wake up at 7 am just to have time to eat -- the included excursions were mostly very early in the morning). I only ate lunch on board twice because we usually ate off the ship, but everything I did eat on board was great. I especially appreciated that wine was included with dinner! There was a happy hour almost every night offering half priced drinks. We definitely took advantage of that most nights, but you can't stray too far from what's on their drink menu. I tried to order a lemon drop martini (which I thought was an extremely common drink) and they had no idea what I was talking about. The server thought I wanted a regular martini (yuck!) with a lemon slice. So I reverted to a cosmo (which was on the menu) instead. Nightlife on board is pretty much non-existent. There was a guy from Bulgaria (I think) named Sergio who played a keyboard and sang 70s & 80's songs (with a heavy accent). That was, until a drunk woman kicked him off his station so that she could play while she & her friends belted out "Bohemian Rhapsody." When my husband decided to join in, I became thoroughly embarrassed and decided it was time to retreat to the room! (It was pretty funny, though.) Aside from a cuckoo-clock demonstration one night (which I didn't attend, but my husband won a beer stein there), that was it for nightly entertainment. On the one hand, it was sort of sad that there was nothing to do after dinner, but on the other hand, I really didn't mind too much because I knew we were in for another early start the next morning. To me, this is the type of cruise you do primarily for the itinerary rather than the on board experience. We spent as much time as possible out in the towns and mostly considered the ship a nice easy way to get from place to place, not the primary destination like it sometimes is with ocean ships. As for the excursions, I highly recommend the added excursion to Rothenburg. It's a very charming town that I remembered visiting when I had lived in Germany before, and I was so glad to have the opportunity for another visit. Most of the included excursions were great. The Bishop's Residence in Wurtzburg was amazing! But there was one that I felt was a waste of time (unless you're seriously into cuckoo clocks). I guess the ship has a deal worked out with this cuckoo clock store owner. He's the same one that came on board for the demonstration that one night. The excursion involved at least two hours on a bus (round-trip) to his store where we were given a free piece of black forest cake. Then we stayed at the store for an hour with nothing to do but look around this guy's shop. Yes, the clocks were impressive, but I had no desire to buy one or to spend my vacation time waiting in this guys crowded store. The cake was okay, I guess. I'm not one to turn down a free dessert. After the cruise, we had two nights at the Movenpick Zurich Airport. I wasn't quite as impressed here as I was with our hotel in Prague. There was nothing within walking distance, so you have to take the train in to town. Once you get into the main part of the city, there really wasn't much to do. There's an indoor Christmas market that could've been nice if it hadn't been so claustrophobia-inducingly crowded. So we left there to find a place for dinner as soon as we could wrestle our way back outside, but Zurich is so expensive that it took forever to find a reasonable place to eat. We had booked an independent excursion for the next day to visit the Lindt chocolate store, a cheese factory, and ride a cable car up a mountain. That trip was one of the highlights of our entire vacation. From up on the mountain, we could see Switzerland, Austria, Germany, Lichtenstein, and the mountains that border Italy. There was this light shining down into the valley, and it was one of the most breathtaking things I've ever seen in my life -- right up there with the view from atop Capri. Anyway, in conclusion, I'm not in a hurry to rush out and book another river cruise. I do prefer the ocean cruise experience overall and probably could never afford to do another river cruise anyway. However, if I were planning a trip through Europe, I would definitely prefer a river cruise to just driving around. I love being able to see multiple places in one trip, and a river cruise is a great way to get to places that can be hard to navigate on your own. I would not hesitate to book with Avalon again, although I am still very curious about AMA and Viking and would love the chance to see how they compare. Read Less
Sail Date December 2014
Cabin 213, husband & wife sharing Bottom line for me– the cruise was great but I’m not a river cruiser. River cruises are more expensive than ocean cruises in general because they are small (numbers of passengers) and they include ... Read More
Cabin 213, husband & wife sharing Bottom line for me– the cruise was great but I’m not a river cruiser. River cruises are more expensive than ocean cruises in general because they are small (numbers of passengers) and they include most of the tours/shore excursions, sodas with lunch and sodas/wine/beer with dinner (varies by company). However – I prefer a more independent travel where I can pick and choose what I want to do, and most of the time I just want to explore on my own. But since I paid for the included tours of the river cruise, I hated to skip them (though we did a couple of times). Because of the where boats are told to dock, it’s not always possible to walk into town in each port – many would require a taxi if we wanted to go independent, or relying on the bus schedule of the ship. We opted for a Christmas Market from Nuremberg to Basel river cruise because my husband wanted a river cruise with German ports (he’s an avid homebrewer and wanted to sample many different German beers) and I love Christmas Markets in Europe but have not been to Germany. We flew to Nuremberg from the United States on Wednesday Dec 3, arriving Dec 4. We stayed at the Holiday Inn downtown, in a nice upgraded room that had a kitchenette. The hotel is within walking distance of the train station (that is how my stepfather arrived) or a short taxi ride from the airport. There were three of us who flew together (mom, husband, me) and we did have to get a minivan taxi at the airport because of my mom’s luggage. Well, ok, just because the three of us had too much for a small Mercedes taxi. Thursday afternoon and Friday morning, we shopped in Nuremberg – we made sure we went to the Christmas Market Thursday evening so we could see the lights as we knew we wouldn't have a chance to do that during the cruise (not in ports late enough). We also went to the train museum. On Friday afternoon, we took a taxi (ordered a large one for the 4 of us with luggage) and drove to the port. We arrived at 3:30 (Embarkation at 4pm) and were given our keys and shown to our rooms, while we gave the front desk our passports to process. Just after 4pm, the bus of through passengers (who started in Vienna) arrived from their day trip to Prague, and a little later, the rest of the passengers (who had opted for Avalon’s pre-cruise 2 day trip in Prague) arrived – including my in-laws. So we were a group of 6 traveling together on the cruise. My in-laws have done 5 river cruises on Uniworld but never a winter/Christmas Market cruise, and the rest of us had never done a river cruise. That evening we had our welcome reception and safety briefing. On Saturday, we did a bus/walking tour (included from Avalon) in Nuremberg. The Market was so very crowded – we were happy we’d had a chance to see it with fewer people. We were back on board later in the day and sailed for Bamberg before dinner. Bamberg was a Sunday so not much was open in the morning – the Christmas Market opened around 11, right as we were boarding the bus to leave town (after an included walking tour and a look at the nativity scenes in the Museum). I did have a chance to run through the market on the way to the bus and get my daily local wurst as well as a gluhbier. Husband had wanted to spend some time in a pub and was upset that the walking tour took up most of our time in Bamberg. After lunch on board we sat up on the top deck for a while during sailing. I’m sure it would be more fun (and there would be more people up there) during a summer cruise, but we had appropriate clothing and didn’t mind. On Monday, we were in Würzburg, where we had a tour of the Bishop’s Residenz (included from Avalon). The tour guide brought us down to the old town and the Christmas Market after the Residenz tour and we explored on our own until later in the day. We did not do the optional tour (extra $) to Rothenberg in the afternoon but had some beer, explored town, went to a grocery store for more local beer, and walked back to the boat along the river. Tuesday, Dec 9 in Miltenberg – the Christmas Market was not open on weekdays, so we had a tour of the town and then we went to a brewery (Faust) and pub for a couple of beers. We did eat our daily wurst – from a butcher shop instead of the Christmas Market, still delicious. We found a mini-mart near the river for a couple of beers and walked back to the boat along the river, outside the flood control walls. On Wednesday, we arrived in Frankfurt. 120 people were leaving the ship and everyone who was remaining (40 of us) were bussed off to Rüdesheim. Took about 40 minutes (terrible weather and no visibility leaving Frankfurt but it did improve). We had a tour of Siegfried’s Mechanical Musical Instrument Museum (included from Avalon) and then a Rudesheim Coffee (also included from Avalon) For the next couple of hours we explored the Christmas Markets and had our beers and wurst before getting back on our buses and heading back to Avalon Vista. Around 5 that day, 100 new passengers boarded for the rest of the cruise. (so, you could take this cruise in various length itineraries – Vienna to Nuremberg, Vienna to Frankfurt, Vienna to Basel, Nuremberg to Frankfurt, Nuremberg to Basel, or Frankfurt to Basel – not to mention pre- or post-cruise trips ;-) On Thursday, we were unable to dock where we were supposed to but instead were in Mannheim. So our option was to do a full day excursion to Heidelberg, or do a morning excursion to Speyer and an afternoon excursion to Heidelberg. We actually opted to stay on the boat in the morning and take the afternoon excursion to Heidelberg because we didn’t want to have so much time on buses. In Heidelberg, there was an included tour of the Castle but we skipped that. We took the bus with the tour group but told the guide we would be leaving before the tour started. We walked down the stairs from the bus drop-off at the Castle (the tour took the bus from the Castle down to the Old Town so you didn’t have to walk if you didn’t want to, but since we were skipping the tour, we did our own thing). We explored on our own for a few hours – this town is gorgeous and the Market was fun – before meeting the tour group & guide back at the bus to head back to the boat. On Friday we docked at Strasbourg, France. We did a walking tour (included) then had lunch back on the boat, then took the Avalon bus back to town and spent the afternoon walking/exploring on our own. Saturday we were in Breisach, Germany. The included excursion was a bus trip into the Black Forest and we didn’t want to get on a bus, so we walked into Breisach, up to the cathedral on the hill for the view. We spent the rest of the day relaxing on the boat (and taking photos of our rafted neighboring boats). On Sunday, we disembarked in Basel, Switzerland. We spent the night in a hotel in Basel so we spent the afternoon exploring the Christmas markets and doing a couple of their walking tours (the town of Basel created 5 walking tours and has a brochure explaining them and signs around town to guide you in the right direction). Basel had our favorite Christmas Market of the trip – it was for children and had many huts of artisans plying their trade where kids could join in – blacksmithing, woodworking, baking lebkuchen, making natural decorations etc. Just lovely & the kids looked like they were having a great time. On Monday (very very early) we started our trip back to the US. As for the cruise experience and the boat, we loved Avalon and its suite ship, Vista. Our cabin (213) was a great size, well laid out with excellent storage. The way Avalon has its balconies on the suite ships are basically just huge sliding windows- so if you want a balcony experience, you open the window and sit in your cabin. But when the windows are shut (as they were for most but not all of our December trip!) you don’t lose any cabin space. We thought this design worked well and would likely choose this cabin layout over a true balcony. The bathroom is angled and the bed faces the windows directly, which is lovely. The bathroom is also well laid out, and since the shower has glass walls & a door, you don’t feel claustrophobic at all. Avalon Vista can carry 160 passengers. We were full for the first part of the trip but not the last segment – we never felt crowded when it was full but did notice a difference when it wasn’t full, especially in terms of dining room table space. We found the crew to be cheerful and helpful at all times (though many of the crew as well as passengers got sick with a respiratory illness so they were short-staffed on occasion). We were some of the only people (non-smokers) who spent time out on the top deck because of the weather, but also because we didn’t have very much daytime sailing where it would have been fun to sit and watch the landscape roll by. The other public areas were the Lounge (forward, with outdoor seating at the very front, as well as door & stair access to the upper deck), the aft lounge/coffee & pastry bar area, and the dining room. Breakfast and lunch were buffets (though there were some items you could order off the menu as well) and dinner was a la carte. The breakfast buffet had a good selection, but it was mostly the same things every morning and became a little repetitious (dinner and lunch varied more over the length of the cruise). There was an early and a late “continental” breakfast, and a light lunch, all served in the Lounge. There is a fitness center and a hair salon (not sure the hours) and the reception area/cruise director’s desk and internet computer area in the center of the ship where you enter/exit. We were rafted with other river cruises a couple of times and it’s not a hassle (do remember to close your curtains before bed because you don’t know what will be next to you when you wake up!) It is fun to walk through other ships to see their decorations, and everyone is friendly when you walk through. The upper deck on our ship has a hot tub, giant chess set, lots of chairs, tables & umbrellas (though none were up during our cruise, they – and the shade cover – would be very nice on a summer cruise!) We found the food to be quite good. Nothing was overly spicy (some things were somewhat bland) but if you are a picky eater, there are always “basic” options to choose from – steak, Caesar salad, salmon filet etc. I tried to pick local foods when they were offered (I travel to eat new things!). Avalon includes sparkling wine at breakfast (along with coffee, teas & juices), soda or juice at lunch, and then wine and beer at dinner (as well as soda, coffee & tea). The Lounge has a happy hour (usually 5-7, before dinner and during the port talks) and all drinks are half price – they had a very nice couple of local beers, and for ~2 euro, a great deal. There was music in the Lounge after dinner, but we usually didn’t stay up very long (very long, active days of touring!) We did have coffee in the Aft Lounge a couple of nights. There were usually some people playing cards in the Aft Lounge as well – they looked like welcoming groups, though we just chatted or read when we were there. I would not hesitate to recommend Avalon but I’m not sure I will be doing a river cruise again in the near future because I prefer to do my own thing.   Read Less
Sail Date December 2014
Avalon Vista River Cruise “Magnificent Europe” (East Bound) Amsterdam to Budapest Aug 20 - Sep 3, 2014 Although my wife and I have been on five ocean cruises, this was our first river cruise. Based upon the price of river cruises ... Read More
Avalon Vista River Cruise “Magnificent Europe” (East Bound) Amsterdam to Budapest Aug 20 - Sep 3, 2014 Although my wife and I have been on five ocean cruises, this was our first river cruise. Based upon the price of river cruises and the way they are marketed using words like incredible, elegant, perfection, high standards, well-appointed, “luxury touch-points”, “crafted to entice all five senses” (all from the Avalon website, BTW) we came on board, fully expecting to be “wowed” by our first river cruise. When comparing cruising styles (ocean vs river), river cruises wins hands down for us. River cruising is just so much more relaxed, civilized and peaceful way to travel. Unlike large ocean cruise ships, there is no waiting in line to enter dining areas, no raucous areas such as swimming pools and outdoor “movies under the stars”, no bratty unsupervised children, well, you get the idea. There are plenty of reviews on the Internet comparing ocean cruising to river cruising so I won’t get into that here. This review will concentrate mainly on the ship and it's crew but not so much on ports-of-call. DINING • Overall, the food on the Vista was good but pedestrian, by our standards. We weren’t “wowed”. We have adventurous palates that were rarely satisfied on this cruise. Perhaps the Avalon menu was meant to reflect the part of Europe we were visiting. We did enjoy the special Bavarian lunch buffet and the Hungarian lunch buffet spotlighting local cuisine. Using our experiences on previous ocean cruises (4X on Princess, 1X on Norwegian) we would rate our food experience with Avalon at best to be on par with a Princess ocean cruise. • We enjoyed the tea, coffee and delicious cake served every afternoon at 4:00 PM, but it was the SAME three selections of cake EVERY DAY for the entire cruise! • Food quality was spotty at times. For example, the Croque Monsieur we ordered for lunch one day contained only one pitifully thin slice of ham and Swiss cheese. It was mostly bread. One of the sides at dinner one evening was a hash brown patty. Of course, it had a more posh sounding name at dinner but there it was the next morning at the breakfast buffet, in the hash brown warming tray! The Late Night Fare at 10:30 every evening was a sparse affair, usually with paper-thin triangle sandwiches and the same cakes from the afternoon’s 4 PM cake and coffee. At one particular Late NIght Fare that we attended, coffee, tea or juices were not available. Bread served at dinner was always the same bread that was part of the lunch buffet earlier in the day. It wasn’t soft and it wasn’t warm. On more than one occasion, some buffet and dinner items were overcooked. And yet, the Beef Tenderloin from the standing order menu was always outstanding as was the daily fish entree. • Dinner at 7 PM every evening was something to be endured, unfortunately, and it wasn’t because of the food. We looked forward to meeting fellow passengers from around the globe every day over dinner but virtually before the first course was served, the din from everyone conversing was unbearable. We mostly sat at tables of four and found ourselves practically shouting at our table mates to be heard. This is not elegant dining! Apparently, this situation is not restricted to Avalon vessels but is a problem on many river cruise ships. Breakfast and lunch brunches were come and go kind of affairs and therefore, more civilized when it came to conversing with fellow passengers. At dinner, the entire passenger list was in the dining room at the same time which accounted for the noise. It doesn’t help that some diners were already "happy" from the pre-dinner Happy Hour and certain dining room servers are much too eager to keep refilling your wine glass at dinner. As the wine went down, the noise level went up! • Dinner menus had plenty of variety for us. There were three or four Chef’s Specials that were different from night to night as well as a number of other items that were available every evening listed in the menu under Standing Orders. Portions were also just right. • Servers attend your table at dinner carrying two bottles of wine, one red, one white. Before having a chance to select your main course, you are asked which wine you would like. Any restaurant claiming to be an elegant dining experience would offer wine selection after the diner has selected the main course. • Further on wine at dinner: as mentioned above the servers carry two bottles of wine to your table but you are not told you may also choose from local wines that are listed in the menu. S • Breakfast and lunch brunches had plenty of variety. • Friendly serving staff were quick and efficient. • The ship had a special wine pairing tapas kind-of-dinner called the Panorama Bistro which was offered on a number of occasions. Seating was limited so one was required to sign up in order to attend. We took in a Panorama Bistro dinner and thoroughly enjoyed the multiple courses which were different from what was being served in the dining room. The wine pairing aspect was not what we consider wine pairing though. Wine pairing is having a different wine with each food course offered. At the Panorama Bistro dinner, diners chose from two wines, red and white, which were served throughout the dinner. The wines did not change with each course. Sorry, but this is NOT wine pairing. • The first few days of our cruise we found the hot meals to be less than piping hot. This situation extended to the food at the breakfast and lunch buffets. Whatever the cause it appeared to have been resolved because after the fourth day the meals were delivered hot to our table. • We enjoy cream with our coffee but had endless difficulty in getting it. Whenever we ordered coffee it always came accompanied by a small metal pitcher of milk. Asking for cream early in the cruise always brought a response from the server such as “We have no cream in the kitchen.” or “We will be getting cream at the next port”. Halfway through the cruise we were told cream was placed only at tables of six not tables of four. Whatever! INCLUDED EXCURSIONS • Most included excursions were interesting and “worth the money”. The guides we experienced all had a good command of the English language and were enthusiastic about their culture and town. • Of all the included excursions we enjoyed the Amsterdam Canal Cruise the most. • The included walking tour of Regensberg came with a complimentary coupon for a meal and beer at the Old Sausage Kitchen which is not to be missed! • Some of the ports we felt were just “filler” ports with very little to hold our interest. Rüdesheim and Dürnstein were essentially just stops to disgorge passengers into the tourist shopping areas. If you are a shopper this may not be an issue for you. We would rather have had an extra evening in Vienna than time in Dürnstein. OPTIONAL EXCURSIONS • In Amsterdam, my wife and I booked the optional tour: Biking Through the Dutch Countryside. The tour was everything we expected. The countryside was lovely, stereotypical Dutch landscape. The tour guide was informative and very competent. An unexpected stop for complimentary refreshments in a small Dutch village was a pleasant surprise. • In Vienna, we booked the Royal Waltz Concert. The musicians, singers and dancers were all very talented and professional. It was an enjoyable evening after which a complimentary CD of the concert was given to every one! ENTERTAINMENT • On six occasions local entertainers came on board to entertain in the ship’s lounge, generally before dinner. Live entertainment was of good quality and very professional except for three instances: 1. “Hum-pa-pa Hansi”: Immature performer with a juvenile sense of humour who laughed at his own jokes. Apparently he’s a multi-instrumentalist but his “comic” antics were such that we didn’t stay long enough to hear him play. We preferred to retire to our room for the evening. 2. Klaus Niederhuber: Touted by the cruise director as the “Bavarian Frank Sinatra”, we found him to be just a very cheesy lounge singer. Basically, his schtick is karaoke, singing along to tunes he brings up on his iPod which is connected to the lounge’s sound system. 3. Avalon Vista Crew Show: Except for two crew members who delighted us with their wonderful singing voices, the rest of the show consisted of sophomoric, lowbrow, bathroom humour. Not at all the quality of entertainment that should be offered on a river cruise. • The other entertainers, though, were excellent! La Strada (string trio); Tomy Temerson (zither performer); Gunzenheimer Swing Band (elderly trio who rocked out on ‘40s swing music); and Aphrodites (Slovakian “saloon orchestra” as they call themselves). Except for the swing band the performers were classically trained musicians who played a variety of classical and not-so-classical music. • On another occasion a local expert came on board to give an extremely informative and interesting presentation on the river lock system. On this cruise, the Vista goes through sixty-eight locks, some of which are incredibly high! • Another pre-dinner “info-tainment” event was the Bavarian Beer Tasting event. Two local beer experts explained the similarities and differences between various German beers and reinforced our newfound knowledge with complimentary samples of beer. A good time was had by all! • Despite the fact the ship does not have endless sources of activities like an ocean cruise ship, the days go by all too quickly. • Excellent commentary was given by Cruise Director Nynke as the Vista was cruising the “Romantic” (read: castles) section of the Rhine River. Amazing stretch of river populated by castles everywhere! DESIGN • Our room was the “entry level” category, which means it was at the bottom level of the ship. It was one of the smaller rooms on the ship but we didn’t feel cramped at all although other people might. We travel light with only one carry-on bag each regardless of the duration of our trip so we don’t have a lot of “stuff”. • With our stateroom being very near the water line, we occasionally would hear the sound of water lapping against the side of the ship which was fairly soothing when it was time to drift (pun intended) off to sleep at night. • The stateroom furnishings were top quality and everything worked like it should. • We liked our stateroom’s more modern décor which was carried throughout the ship. • Closet space was adequate for us but unlike everyone else on the ship, we travel light: no check-in bags, only one carry-on each. • Closet needed interior lighting. The dark recesses of the closet made it difficult to use the safe and locate items on shelving at times. • Our stateroom was two rooms away from the fitness room. During the day we could hear the “thump-thump-thump” in our room of someone working out on the treadmill in the fitness room. This was somewhat annoying but happened only during the day when we didn’t spend much time in the room anyway. • The room had five easily accessible electrical sockets. Great for all the chargers travellers carry these days! • Two bottles of water were left in our room every evening. Before every excursion, bottled water was available for those who wished to take some on their excursion. • We contacted housekeeping for additional clothes hangers, which were delivered practically before I hung up the phone. • Pant hangers were not provided. :~( COMFORT • According to the Avalon website they have invested in the finest bathroom appointments such as quality robes and slippers. Robe quality was good but the slippers were typical hotel quality. Near the end of our voyage, the toes of our slippers had pretty well worn through. • We had use of our robes for only thirteen of our fourteen night voyage: Robes were removed from our room by the steward on our last evening. Very tacky on Avalon’s part, indeed! • The bathroom shower was excellent! Great water pressure and plenty of hot water. • The bed, pillows and duvet were very comfortable. AMENITIES • Unfortunately, the Sky Deck with shade awnings was closed for most of the cruise due to all the low bridges the ship needed to pass under. • The complimentary (really now, NOTHING is complimentary, it’s in the price somewhere!) WiFi Internet access worked well. It was up for the entire cruise except for Bratislava, where it was kind of spotty, just as Avalon warned us it might be. • The self-serve beverage station with complimentary (there’s that word again) tea, coffee, hot chocolate, juices and water is a great idea that was very popular with the passengers. The Nespresso coffee machine serving espresso, lattes, cappucinos, and premium coffees was very popular at times with a line of passengers waiting to use it. (Okay, so there was one lineup on the ship.) For coffee aficionados, such as my wife and myself, we found the coffee coming out of that machine to taste pretty much the same, no matter what style of coffee was selected. Very little coffee flavour, mostly steamed milky flavour. We didn’t see any premium coffees as was advertised. Also at the beverage station was a selection of store-bought cookies and at times, pastry. The pastries disappeared quickly whenever they were put out but there were always cookies. Maybe it’s because the cookies were the SAME flavour for the entire fourteen day cruise. Every day it was hazelnut-chocolate chip cookies! • The ship’s interior was totally non-smoking but smokers had their designated outdoor spaces on two levels at the stern. At times a few smokers took it upon themselves to smoke wherever they pleased on the Sky Deck level if they figured other passengers would not raise a fuss. • Cruise Director Nynke is a wealth of information with a sharp wit and sense of humour. She took care of us all like a shepherd looks after her flock! • The ship is well designed for watching the scenery go by. All areas of the ship had plenty of window space. • A mandatory lifejacket drill for all passengers was scheduled the first evening in Amsterdam. For those familiar with these drills on ocean cruises, this five minute drill was laughable. It was very haphazard with the onus on each passenger to figure out how to put on the lifejacket. If you had any questions, crew members were standing by to answer them. At the end of the drill, the lifejackets were taken away to be stored somewhere else on the ship and not in your room! • Remembering Avalon’s use of descriptors such as “well-appointed” and “luxury touch-points” it’s odd one would find the stateroom bathroom stocked with upscale L’Occitane skin care products but find a one-bite, lowly, candy store Snickers bar placed upon one’s pillow in the evening by the room steward! Snickers? Really? Since we were cruising through Germany, German chocolate would have been nice. • We booked our flights through Avalon (whose parent company is Globus) and were met promptly by Avalon reps when we arrived at Schiphol airport in Amsterdam. Avalon had a hospitality room with refreshments and snacks in a local posh hotel for early arrivals. Disembarkation was relaxed and efficient. To summarize, we were “wowed” by the concept of river cruising but less than wowed by Avalon Vista’s execution of the concept. We give Avalon Vista a B+. We give river cruising an A+.   Read Less
Sail Date August 2014
I recently completed a 12 day vacation with Avalon, consisting of two nights in Budapest at the Intercontinental Hotel, one week on the Avalon Vista cruising up the Danube and the Main-Danube Canal, and three nights in Prague. Quite ... Read More
I recently completed a 12 day vacation with Avalon, consisting of two nights in Budapest at the Intercontinental Hotel, one week on the Avalon Vista cruising up the Danube and the Main-Danube Canal, and three nights in Prague. Quite simply, it was wonderful. The service on the ship was second to none and the entire trip was under the careful supervision of a wonderful Cruise Director, Hans Beckert. The included tours were all excellent, as were the optional tours. On board entertainment included superb classical musicians from the Bratislava symphony orchestra, a fascinating presentation about locks, wine and beer tasting demonstrations, and a hilarious Crew Night. Staterooms on Decks 2 and 3 have wall to wall windows that open all the way, a glorious way to watch the river go by (Deck 1 has small windows). The hotels in Budapest and Prague were excellent and the extra time allowed for an appreciation of all that they had to offer. In contrast, a day and a half in Vienna felt rushed. But river cruising is a great way to explore the smaller centres such as Durnstein, Melk and Regensburg. This is an adults only cruise and I highly recommend it for culture vultures. Read Less
Sail Date April 2014
Overall • Very nice trip with few negatives. • Many interesting sites and photo ops • Avalon cruise was very good – excellent facilities and very good service, several very good tours, but fair (relatively bland) food. • The ... Read More
Overall • Very nice trip with few negatives. • Many interesting sites and photo ops • Avalon cruise was very good – excellent facilities and very good service, several very good tours, but fair (relatively bland) food. • The rooms on board were as nice as expected – very nice bathrooms, very good bed, well equipped and nicely decorated. Avalon had the largest rooms of any of the river cruise lines during the April and May periods. We also liked the large sliding (French balcony) door. • The big 3 cities (Prague, Vienna and Budapest) are indeed must see places. Regensberg was also extra nice. • Vienna and Budapest are a minimum of 2 days. Should have stayed another day in Budapest, • Most of the included and optional tours were quite helpful in getting an overview of area and enabled us to go to many of the further away places. There was limited time inside several of the more important attractions. Other Comments • Cruising along Danube and Main was very enjoyable. There was plenty of exceptional scenery and interesting engineering sites such as the extensive lock system and dams. Cruising is likely the best way to view so many historic areas and well as more relaxing method of travel. • Water levels in parts of the Main were quite low and just barely passable. Several other ships cancelled travels north of Passau. Our Captain said there was less than a foot of clearance on the bottom. • Prague and Budapest airport where easy to navigate, with little hassle in processing and little unnecessary delays. Both airports were quite far away from the cities. • Prague was not bombed during the 20th-century wars, while Budapest and Vienna had much reconstruction of their older buildings. • Public transportation in Prague and Budapest was easy to use and quite good. The Metro however was buried quite deep and some escalators where extremely steep and long.   Read Less
Sail Date April 2014
Just got back from an autumn cruise along the Danube from Budapest to Passau - what an unforgettable experience! As a solo traveler, I wasn't sure what to expect, but I loved every minute of it. The Avalon Vista's decor is classy ... Read More
Just got back from an autumn cruise along the Danube from Budapest to Passau - what an unforgettable experience! As a solo traveler, I wasn't sure what to expect, but I loved every minute of it. The Avalon Vista's decor is classy and welcoming...I felt completely comfortable in every area of the ship. It has huge picture windows everywhere, so you never miss the outstanding views along the river. The common areas are spacious and don't feel cramped or noisy, regardless of how many people are there at one time. If I could have crammed my Panorama Suite into my suitcase and taken it home, I would have. The wall of floor-to-ceiling windows was amazing. The bathroom was spacious and beautiful, with a full granite countertop and lots of storage underneath. The L'Occitane bath products were restocked every day. The shower had fantastic water pressure and plenty of VERY HOT water (which is a high priority for me).The bed...well, there are no words. The fact that it faces out so that you have views out the window is incredible. And the bed itself is soooooooo comfortable. I don't know what type of mattress topper they use, but I slept like the dead every single night. You have both soft and firm pillows on the bed, and if you're not a duvet kind of person, there are regular blankets in the closet.The cabin steward kept the room spotless, turned down the bedding each night, and even left a chocolate on the pillow - the perfect ending to each perfect day! I liked the various breakfast times, which accommodate passengers, whether they like to eat early, at a regular time, or prefer to sleep in. The daily chances to try the delicious local dishes (or to choose more familiar items) is wonderful, and the (included) local wines and beers really enhance every dinner. The staff is attentive without hovering, and they go out of their way to please. The Cruise Director, Isabel, is a total pro who keeps the day-to-day program running like a well-oiled machine. I loved her dry German wit, and her narration as we cruised through the Wachau Valley was incredible. There is included sightseeing in almost every port, which gives a nice overview of the town so you know what you want to see more of during the free time that follows. From start to finish, Avalon does an outstanding job, and I recommend both Avalon AND the Avalon Vista wholeheartedly. Read Less
Sail Date October 2013
We didn't know what to expect for October 19-27 on the Danube but we lucked out and the fall colors were at their peak and absolutely stunning! The weather was in the 60s all week, too. I know no one has control of the weather but the ... Read More
We didn't know what to expect for October 19-27 on the Danube but we lucked out and the fall colors were at their peak and absolutely stunning! The weather was in the 60s all week, too. I know no one has control of the weather but the good weather sure added to the enjoyment. The Vista is just a year old and very nice. The staff was always cheerful and helpful. There were only 145 out of a possible 165 passengers and I'm sure that also helped. Our tour director was Mark and he was the Dutch epitome of Alistair in As Life Goes On, a PBS TV show. He seemed to be able to solve any problem. One elderly couple had an accident in Prague and the lady had to be hospitalized for a day or two. Mark arranged transportation, etc., for them to resume the trip. They could not say enough good things about Mark. Embarking and disembarking were effortless and went off without a hitch. The excursions were good. There was a daily one included at each stop and the guides, especially our guides in Bratislava and Budapest, were excellent. The exception being our guide in Vienna, who was just average. The two extra excursions we paid for were night ones - concert in Vienna and the night tour of the lights of Budapest. Both were well worth going on. The food was good - not spectacular. We found that the "healthy choice" of entrée at dinner made an excellent side dish for us (4) to share. No one batted an eye when we would ask for the extra entrée. Our cabin was on the bottom of the ship - without a full wall of windows. Our windows were neck level so we could see out a bit. The cabin was adequate. Could have used a bit more lighting as finding things in the cabinets was by touch only. Our cleaning girl was very sweet and a hard worker. Although they asked not to have your towels changed every day she would change them twice a day if we used them, Nice. the robe and toiletries were also a nice touch. Read Less
Sail Date October 2013
Our first cruise of any type was on the Avalon Vista's Amsterdam - Budapest June 23 - July 7 sailing. In a word - wow! Far exceeded our expectations. We were in one of their suites, mid-level near the stern of the ship. Our first ... Read More
Our first cruise of any type was on the Avalon Vista's Amsterdam - Budapest June 23 - July 7 sailing. In a word - wow! Far exceeded our expectations. We were in one of their suites, mid-level near the stern of the ship. Our first night because we were in port with no engines running and we were so tired after being up for 30 hours we slept like a log. First time we've experienced sleeping in a bed with no sheets, just the two twins pushed together with about a 2 inch foam mattress pad over the top to make a queen and two duvet covers, one for each person. Wife said it was great having her own cover and me not taking it all night. lol Early up next morning for an 8:30 am canal cruise in the rain. The only thing we weren't happy with was having to get up so early every morning, 6:30 - 7:00, to have breakfast and then get ready to go on their morning excursions. Obviously we're late risers. The cruise, cruise director Andrzej (Andre) Sanakiewicz, and all the waiters especially Ilie, Michael and Ginda and our maid Cinthia were fantastic and calling us by our first names within 2 days. Captain Hank you could talk to anytime he was out of his pilot house and you could also visit him in there. Our first night of cruising we became very used to the engine noise and would only wake up when they shut them down for a lock or sped up. Then of course we'd have to look out the HUGE door/windows to see where we were and what we were doing. The way the bed is layed out so you could lay there watching the world go by is fantastic. Food was awesome and menus for lunch and dinner were posted on the tv daily. Breakfast buffet was always the same, lots to choose from and to vary your choices daily. Lunch buffet was different every day or you could order something from your waiter. Dinners ranged from 4 - 7 courses and we found them to be excellent. I had a seared butter fish one night that has to have been the best fish dish I've ever eaten. Most of our included excursions were well run by local tour guides, 2 not so great, and we only did 2 of the "pay for" one to Zaanse Schans in Amsterdam and the Vienna Concert both of which we're glad we took in. The one day when most of the passengers were off on 10 hour excursions from Passau we stayed on board and sailed down the Danube, best decision we made sitting on top deck seeing all the villages, etc. as we past by. Free wine and beer with dinner, wish they also included it for lunch, and sparkling wine with breakfast. Drinks in the lounge weren't cheap but they have a 2 for 1 happy hour before dinner and a special cocktail every day. Unfortunately our first night at dinner we heard someone do the big cough and we both said oh bleep and by the end of the cruise most passengers were experiencing some symtoms of a nasty cold. Wife missed the Farewell dinner and excursions in Bratislave and Budapest. There were hand sanitizers at the entrance to the restaurant and as well as you came on board and were well used. Met lots of people, tables ofr 2, 4, 6 and 8. Most were from Australia and New Zealand, 4 from Canada, 16 from USA and a few from UK. Would we do it again? Maybe. River cruises are expensive and flights from Western Canada to Europe also very expensive. We feel we got good value for our buck and saw history that we never thought we ever would. Visiting about 13 or so churches and cathedrals became a bit much by the end of the trip but the cathedrals are really awesome to visit. And most allowed you to take pictures, even with flash. If we were to do it again we'd definitley go over a couple days early and stay an extra day or two at the end. Read Less
Sail Date June 2013
Last spring, my wife and I took a 15 day River Cruise from Amsterdam to Budapest to celebrate our 40th wedding anniversary. We booked the cruise through our travel agent  choosing Avalon based on their strong recommendation. We paid ... Read More
Last spring, my wife and I took a 15 day River Cruise from Amsterdam to Budapest to celebrate our 40th wedding anniversary. We booked the cruise through our travel agent  choosing Avalon based on their strong recommendation. We paid dearly for this trip and had high expectations for a peaceful high quality cruise down the Rhine/Danube. Well if you have read any of the other reviews for river cruises in Europe during June of 2013, you will quickly learn what happens when there are river water level problems. I'm not complaining about the fact that the flooding in Europe was beyond anyone's control. My disappointment is in the way that Avalon dealt with the situation. After an initial 4-5 days of river cruising as we had imagined, it became apparent that the river was very high and there would be problems ahead. Instead of telling the passengers the situation, Avalon chose to mislead us by promising a move to another ship further up stream where we could complete our cruise in style. In the meantime we began being bussed to the destination on the itinerary. In fact the alternative ship ended up being just a hotel along the route. Ultimately we were bussed from city to city, ship to hotel, hotel to ship until we hit most but not all of the requisite destinations (sum under water). Avalon never offered any other option to the passengers. Constant bussing spread a cold among the passengers to the point where most were sick a good portion of the trip. Avalon clearly had one agenda. Hit the destination promised no mater how poor the quality of the experience just to protect their revenue. In the end they offered a token refund falling far short of the quality lost. Since this experience, I have done some research about the river cruising industry and can offer the following cautions for those contemplating a trip like this. 1. The cruise lines have been building bigger and bigger ships to maximize revenue. 2. These big ships can only fit through locks, canals, under bridges, and shallow water under the best average conditions. 3. If water gets higher that average or lower that average at any point along the route, the ship will have to stop and wait for conditions to improve. 4. Once the ship stops, the cruise line will begin bussing you to reach the promised destinations so they can say they completed the trip as advertised. 5. In the end, the cruise line cares only about their revenue stream and will sacrifice your comfort and the quality of the experience. So if an expensive bus trip is your cup of tea, you should enjoy a river cruise. Just don't expect transparency or options should things go sour. Read Less
Sail Date May 2013
First river cruise so instead of being careful and picking a short one, we went straight in with a 2 week one, from Amsterdam to Budapest. We were very very lucky to be in one of the 2 royal suites on this boat. Was it worth the extra ... Read More
First river cruise so instead of being careful and picking a short one, we went straight in with a 2 week one, from Amsterdam to Budapest. We were very very lucky to be in one of the 2 royal suites on this boat. Was it worth the extra money. Yes, not sure about the amount extra, but the space was worth it. We had 2 TV's, a sleeping area, a sitting area, a lovely shower room, separate toilet , and acres of storage space. what did we like/love about the cruise. the size of our cabin. the sliding wall of windows, had 2 sets , a 2 door and a 3 door. When it was chilly at the beginning of the cruise ,we just kept the doors shut, still having full cabin space. When the sun shone, we rolled open the doors, and that was wonderful.When we saw boats with proper balconies we decided that the space you lose with them, was not worth it. as the cabins themselves would be smaller. the L'occitaine toiletries. the cruise route Robert the cruise director, who was fantastic. The other cruisers. There was ourselves, one other British couple, with everyone else from either USA, Canada, Australia, New Zealand. It was wonderful talking to them all. Food I guess. what did we not like when you sat down for the evening meal, everyone sits down together. The ceiling height in the restaurant is not high, so it tended to be very noisy in there. I found it hard trying to listen to someone across the table from me. The length of time you were sat down for the evening meal could easily stretch to 3 hours on the gala nights (7 courses) ,as they were trying to serve everyone at the same time, from a very small kitchen. The separate courses were not huge, but at the end you were full, but not uncomfortably so. The excursions...We only did 1 paid extra and felt it was not as was suggested. It was a cruise up a gorge to an Abbey. The boat you are on sits 600+ and our coach was the last on. Those who went on the all day Austrian ones all felt they were worth it. At each stop there is an included excursion. We went on a few of these (with the fantastic whisper boxes), but in the end decided we were much happier getting off and wandering around on our own.Final day, you do not put your cases out the previous night, so you can get up, do the final pack, and then put your cases out. We left the boat at 10am, and were taken to Budapest airport. Now I know it is not Avalon's' fault, but after getting to the airport approx. 10.30am, the check in desk did not open until 12 midday. There are very few seats land side at this airport, so we ended up standing for nearly 2 hours.....No fun at all. Read Less
Sail Date April 2013
This was our first river boat cruise. We chose Avalon because they were recommended by friends and we were not disappointed. Not having been on any other river boat, I do not have any comparison but I will say the Vista was a wonderful ... Read More
This was our first river boat cruise. We chose Avalon because they were recommended by friends and we were not disappointed. Not having been on any other river boat, I do not have any comparison but I will say the Vista was a wonderful ship. We sailed from Budapest to Amsterdam August 4 - August 18. This trip far exceeded our expectations. The rooms were much smaller than in a cruise ship, but very comfortable and the bathroom is gorgeous. The bed faced the huge sliding glass door which made it nice for view in scenery if we were in our room relaxing. The cruise director, Helmet, did an excellent job each night detailing the excursions (both included and optional) and sharing bit of interesting information about the ports for the next day. We took every included excursion and a few of the optional excursions. Helmet was always around during the excursions to answer questions and give directions. We thoroughly enjoyed every one of the excursion, we found them fun and with enough variety to be interesting. Yes, there were a lot of churches and castles. All of the crew members were very friendly, professional and helpful. Our waiters Ginda and Micheal were attentive and made us feel special (isn't' that why we take cruise so that for a few days we can feel very special - Ginda did an exceptional job of doing just that). Food was very good! Breakfast buffet was similar each morning, but enough variety that it did not get boring. Sparkling wine and a variety of juices were available each morning, which meant you could have a mimosa. The lunch buffet was different every day offering both some delicious and different hot and cold soups. The carving station offered excellent selections of meats and although I did not eat any pasta, the offerings all looked delicious. If you are not a buffet person, you can choose items from the menu that will be served to you by your waiter. If you are a light eater, there was a lunch served at the back of the lounge, usually consisted of soup, small sandwiches and salads and of course a desert. The dinner menu each night was different and again the food was excellent and included a choice of white and red wine. Did I mention the deserts - YUM!!! Each evening we had some sort of entertainment. Although the entertainment cannot be as expansive or as elaborate as the entertainment on the cruise ships, we found entertainment varied and very enjoyable; a nice way to end the day. Would we take another river boat cruise, yes if we liked the itinerary? Would we sail with Avalon again - definitely!! Read Less
Sail Date March 2013
My wife and I had Cabin 220 on the Avalon Vista.This cruise is expensive & we were disappointed that our cabin noise was never rectified.We did not sleep well. The noise sounded like it came from the timber fittings installed ... Read More
My wife and I had Cabin 220 on the Avalon Vista.This cruise is expensive & we were disappointed that our cabin noise was never rectified.We did not sleep well. The noise sounded like it came from the timber fittings installed (wardrobe,bedhead,drawers etc.) but I may be wrong.I reported it twice to reception but was never told what was done about it.After the first time I complained I asked the cruise director what was done about my complaint & he said the person responsible has looked at it & I will send him again to look at it. The noise continued & we gave up. The noise sounds like timber rubbing & stretching against other timber it sounds like a creaking & screeching & on 3 nights a drumming noise.Our friends had 2 cabins nearby & they said they had similar noises but they did not complain.Maybe we are lighter sleepers. There are 68 locks on the river but the noise from the cabin bothered us much more than the noise of using the locks.Perhaps Avalon should check if further complaints are made about cabin 220.Apart from this noise the cabin is big enough,modern,clean,comfortable bed & pillows.Flatscreen TV with a range of good movies.Bathroom was lovely & big enough. On the positive side this is a beautiful ship on a beautiful river.The large lounge room with big glass windows was a delight.The dance floor at night was always used and our one-man band musician played lovely dance music.The ship sails smoothly & there is no noticeable movement.There is also a small lounge area at the back of the ship seating perhaps 30 people,with a coffee machine,biscuits,fruit,fruit juices etc. Ship's entertainment was mostly good. The 4 girl string quartet from Bratislava,the Oomp-Pah-Pah man,the zither music we really enjoyed. The embarkation procedure was faultless. We met at the Intercontinental Hotel at Budapest & mixed with other passengers in the lounge.After one or two hours we were bussed to the ship. As we entered the ship we were welcomed by the Captain & his senior crew. Avalon excelled with it's choice of tour guides;they were all excellent, informative & amusing. Durnstein was a pretty village & we enjoyed walking around it.This is what we enjoyed most about this cruise walking around lovely villages with our friends. In Melk the abbey was amazing but after seeing 5 or 6 rooms in the building I had had enough. Passau we walked & shopped after our included walking tour. Regensburg we had a lovely German sausage & sauerkraut lunch in a restaurant with one of the friendly local residents. In Wurzburg the Palace was absolutely magnificent.We did not expect this.It's done in a Palace of Versailles style but on a smaller scale.We bought some nice clothes for my wife in Wurzburg. Miltenberg was another nice village to walk around. In Rudeseheim we visited Siegfried's Mechanical Musical Instrument Museum.This was a highlight and is a "must see". My wife & I walked & shopped but our friends who went to a coffee making session that the ship arranged said it was very good. Back on the ship in the afternoon we went on a cruise down the Rhine Gorge.This was spectacular with many castles. Cologne we felt was a more commercial type city rather than the type of lovely village we grew to love.However it was the best for shopping & the prices seemed very good. We arrived in Amsterdam to complete our cruise & were given a tour of the inner city and a boat trip of the canals. Both tours were excellent.We stayed a few more nights in Amsterdam ( at our own expense)& went to a diamond cutting exhibition,red-light district & shopped. The food on board was good although a little too salty for our taste.But the wine served at dinner was not very good & not much was supplied anyway.You could buy a bottle of wine but it was about 38 Euros.However the lovely French wine in the cabin's mini-bar was only about 2 or 3 Euros for a small bottle & we used that a few times. Breakfast was pretty good & had everything you wanted with eggs cooked to your liking. The Happy Hour preceded dinner & cocktails were cheap & good.This was a lovely meeting lounge. Overall a lovely cruise,with friendly staff on one of the world's magnificent rivers. Read Less
Sail Date October 2012
Just back from a Danube River Cruise on the new Avalon Vista, we are disappointed by the poor overall experience that Avalon Waterways delivers. Budapest-Nuremberg. August 2012: We boarded the ship in Budapest and were very impressed ... Read More
Just back from a Danube River Cruise on the new Avalon Vista, we are disappointed by the poor overall experience that Avalon Waterways delivers. Budapest-Nuremberg. August 2012: We boarded the ship in Budapest and were very impressed by this new ship, having cruised a lot all around the world , and on many river cruises. The ship was docked next to the famous Chain Bridge, in the heart of Budapest, a short taxi ride from our hotel. It couldn't have been a better location. The ship itself is impressive for a river ship, beautifully designed, with sleek lines and a tasteful, modern decor. The main lounge is stunning, with panoramic floor to ceiling windows all around, and even better, there is an open deck lounge forward from where you can see everything. The Club Lounge located aft is also extremely nice and cosy, with drinks available at all times, but bad cookies. Our Stateroom, #208 was just fabulous, with the famous floor to ceiling sliding windows (really great), lots of space, great closets and drawers all around; better than on many large cruise ships, good lighting and large beds. The bathroom was especially great: Large, lovely decor with marble, good lighting, great L'Occitane amenities nicely replenished all along the cruise; and an extra large shower with a glass door and good water pressure. The best showers I have had in a long time. The Welcome couldn't have been nicer, with crew and staff extending a warm welcome and committed to make you feel welcome. Everything seemed perfect, ready for a great experience, but problems were lurking: Bedding: It turned out that the bedding looked much better than it was comfortable: If the sheets are made of nice cotton as advertised by Avalon: The pillows are made on 100% cheap synthetic fiber, hard like a rock, just like in the cheapest roadside motels along some remote highway. We asked for soft, feather pillows (or pillows made of natural fiber) only to be told by both the housekeeping manager and the front desk manager that none were available, and that there was nothing they could or would do about this. That was the first big disappointment. Giving it a try that first night; we developed quickly a pain in the neck and ended up the first night sleeping on folded bath towels! On a luxury ship! Fortunately, we have friends living in Vienna, the next stop on the cruise, and we called them immediately, asking them to lend us two good soft feather pillows (filled with 100% natural fiber) for the remainder of the cruise. Believe me, this was not a luxury or an indulgence. But we had to ship the pillows back at the end of the cruise at our own expense and disturb our friends. The duvet: Again Avalon touts its duvets. Unfortunately they are also made of synthetic of the cheapest kind. We had to take out the duvets out of the sheet and replace them by the blankets provided, which were also of a cheap quality (76% synthetic) but we had to make do with that. However this was not pleasant. Overall, the bedding was just not comfortable, and only our friends' pillows saved the day. Food: Overall the food was from mediocre to just plain bad, and this all along the cruise. If a good selection of breads was always available at breakfast, including all the famous german breads, and the small good individual rolls; they were never available at lunch or dinner where only puny, mediocre little slices of plain bread were available. The cookies were a complete disgrace: some were hard like a rock. I nearly broke a tooth on one, no kidding. They were especially bad and cheap in the Club Lounge. All this while we were crossing countries famous for their cookies, breads and good food! In fact, the food and the breads were so mediocre that we ended up looking for a bakery at each stop during the cruise, always finding one easily, and buying breads, cookies and cakes for dessert. Never done that before on any cruise! We also ate lunch or dinner ashore when we could, in order to have some good meals. Never done that before in my life! Only one lunch, touted as a "German Lunch" was decent and interesting with some local specialties; otherwise the food was so plain, so mediocre, so disconnected from what was all around us that it was shocking and meals became a real bore when they could have been a great experience as the service and the design of the restaurant itself were extremely nice. The salads and buffets were especially mediocre. This is a real shame, as Avalon could easily deliver a luxury experience as: -The layout and design of the ship is innovative, impressive, luxurious and even stunning. -The staff was extremely nice and helpful, always trying to make you welcome and comfortable (with what they had). Their training was impeccable, and they were providing great service at all times. -The Cruise Director was extremely good and nice, doing a great job at all times without fail. -The excursions were well organized, with interesting guides. However, considering Avalon prices, the food and the bedding are not acceptable. Overall, Avalon fails to deliver a good experience, and we are very disappointed. It was a relief to find a good bed and good food in Munich where we stayed after the cruise. Read Less
Sail Date August 2012
Avalon Vista Cruise Report July 22 -Aug 5, 2012 Budapest to Amsterdam by Ken Montgomery - Irvine, California The purpose of this review is to give details about this particular cruise (Avalon Vista - Budapest to Amsterdam) that are ... Read More
Avalon Vista Cruise Report July 22 -Aug 5, 2012 Budapest to Amsterdam by Ken Montgomery - Irvine, California The purpose of this review is to give details about this particular cruise (Avalon Vista - Budapest to Amsterdam) that are not available from Avalon or anywhere else. Half the fun of a cruise is the preparation & anticipation. The times that the Vista arrives and departs various river ports depends on the times the boat can get into various locks. Also, the various cruise boats coordinate their land visits with each other so they don't all arrive at the main feature of the port at the same time, so access to Tourist sites will also dictate schedule. Sunday - Day 1- Embarkation In Budapest We dropped the bags at Intercontinental Hotel between 2 & 3pm. There was a ballroom for our use until the buses were to take us to the boat at 3:45. There were no announcements or briefings prior to boarding the bus for the 5 minute ride to board the boat. You need to check-in at the Avalon desk in the lobby, but you could skip the ballroom experience and just visit the town and meet at the buses on the steeet at 3:45. All 140 passengers are welcomed with a short glass of iced tea and shown into the lounge. Once everyone is in the lounge they take groups of people 4 or 6 at a time to Reception for registration. You give them your passport and they give you the cabin cards and a porter shows you to your state room. Thats it! The luggage arrives in about 30 minutes. You can get your passport back the next day. You give them your credit card later in the cruise. At 6pm the safety drill is conducted followed by a introduction of the officers and a briefing by the Cruise Director. One not so great thing about River Cruising is "rafting". There are not enough dock spaces for all the cruise ships in most river ports. So, you'll often find another boat rafted to you and this, of course, wipes out your view for as long as you are rafted. In Budapest we had a "rafter" next to us the whole time we were in port. So half the staterooms on the Vista, had a great view of the stateroom on the other ship! Oh well, you can always go to the Sun Deck to see the view. All River Cruise boats on the Rhine & Danube do this. Monday - Day 2 - Budapest - Vista provided a free motor coach tour of the City which included a small amount of walking. It included drive-bys of many famous buildings, squares and monuments. We had 2 stops, one at Freedom Square and one at Castle Hill. The buses were first class and included an audio system do you could hear the tour guide even if you were a few hundred feet away, a great system. We returned to the dock at 11:30. In the afternoon, Vista offered two excursions for an extra fee. We took the Jewish History in Hungary tour. The tour lasted 3hr 45 minutes, which was 3 hours too long. Skip this tour, it's depressing and boring, lots of walking around the Jewish quarter and looking at old crummy buildings. The Great Synagogue was impressive, the museum was boring and the walk was a waste of time. At 6:15, we had 30 minutes of Hungarian Folk Music & Dance. The Vista left Budapest at 7pm on its way to noon docking in Bratislova. Tuesday Day 3. Woke up to cruising on the Danube. The river banks were mostly forest with an occasional house. Went through 1 lock in the morning during breakfast. 10 am briefing on optional tours for the rest of the cruise. You have to decide by 1:00pm today about the optional tours you want to take, which is difficult to do without more information. I will write reviews of these optional tours to help you decide ahead of time. One of the tougher decisions is the Linz-Passau optional tours. There are 3 tours that leave at 7:30 am from Linz. After discharging the passengers taking the optional tours, the Vista takes off on a 7 hour sail to Passau with 10-20% of the passengers remaining on board. Those passengers get a 1 hour guided tour of Passau at 4pm. The buses from the 3 optional tours arrive at the boat at 5 pm and the ship takes off. We have decided to stay on the ship and skip the optional tours. I'll let you know how that works out. 1:30pm - Tour of Bratislava Bus/walking. 2.5 hour tour. City highlights including the Castle. Easy Walking your of old town. The rest of the afternoon is on your own. A very good local entertainment program was provided after dinner in the lounge. The Vista left Bratislava at 11:45pm. Wednesday Day 4 Vienna We docked at 7:30am, some distance from the tourist areas. Our included City tour left at 8:15, returning at 11:45. The guide takes the group through St Stephens Cathedral, then they walk you around pointing out things and then you have about an hour of free time. After lunch we took the optional Schonbrunn Palace tour, leaving at 1:15, returning at 5:00pm. Photography is allowed on the grounds but not inside the palace. The 45 minute palace tour has very ventilation, thus it really gets warm inside, people were sweating profusely. Check your jacket at the coat check. There is also a 30 minute Strudel making demonstration where you get a cup of coffee and a slice of strudel. It rained in the morning, but cleared up in the afternoon. The Vista provides golf umbrellas at reception which are way better than the small ones we packed. After an early dinner (6pm vs the normal 7pm), we took the optional concert trip arranged for the various Avalon boats in Vienna. This place also lacks ventilation and it was very warm and stuffy even though the weather outside was cool & wet. (Guys, don't wear a sport coat and long sleeves, a nice golf shirt and slacks is fine). The concert was very good, featuring the music of Straus & Mozart. The performance was conducted by a 13 piece orchestra with 4 additional dancers & singers for various pieces. The boat departed for Durnsten at 11:45pm. Thursday Day 5 Durnstein & Melk Ship arrived in Durnstein at 7:30am, guided walking your of this small ancient village left at 8:30 lasting an hour. That left us an hour to further explore the town on our own. The boat left the dock at 11:00am for Melk. This is a beautiful stretch of the Danube. Melk - (day 5 afternoon) 2:45 pm - A very good tour of the Abbey including the most amazing Melk Church. Buses took us up the hill to the Abbey. Most people chose the 20 minute downhill walk thru the town back to the boat. At 6pm there was a Wauchau Valley wine tasting program with several generous wine samples. The boat left the dock at 7:30pm. Day 6. Friday Linz to Passau We arrived in Linz about 7:30am and the 110 people taking the 3 optional tours left the dock at 8:15 and the boat took off as soon as they were gone. About 30 of us stayed on the boat and had a very relaxed day looking at the ever changing scenery of the Danube. We went thru 3 locks. It was a great day to read, work out and answer your emails. The boat had to skip Passau as the water was too low for docking. We went further up the Danube and picked up the optional tour passengers at 5:30pm. The people pn the 3 optional coach tours all had a great day also We left right away for Regensburg, Germany. Day 7 Saturday Regensburg, GR Entered the Main Danube canal Arrived at 7:30. Took the optional tour of the Danube Gorge, a 4 hour coach and site seeing boat with a visit to the Weltonburg Benedictine, another beautiful church. The coach ride was 45 minutes each way. The Vista provided free guided walking tours of Regansburg in the morning and afternoon. The walking tour you to the City's near-by highlights and left free time for going back to the impressive cathedral vista gave each passenger a voucher for a snack of sausages, sauerkraut $ beer at a restaurant along the Danube. Its too much food for a snack, so sharing a plate works better. The boat left the dock @ 5:30 pm on the way to Nuremburg. Day 8. Sunday Nuremburg Spent last night and the first half of today cruising the Main-Danube Canal, going up locks until this morning when we started going down locks on the way to a 2pm docking in Nuremburg. In the morning we had an interesting presentation on the Canal, a project completed in 1992 that connects the Danube with the Rhine via series of locks and a man made trench connecting them. Boat docked at 1pm, not close to town. Included coach tour left at 2:00pm showed us the sights and left 30 minutes free time. Most stores closed on Sunday. Lots of community action to watch. Back to boat at 5:00pm, ship left at 5:30pm. At 6:00pm there was a free Bavarian beer tasting event on board. Went through lots of locks on the trip to Bamburg. Day 9 Monday Bamburg Arrived about 7am, the included your left at 8:45. Mostly a walking tour with 1 hour free time for shopping. The old town is a little hilly and the pavement is most cobblestones. Busses returned to the boat at 11:15. Their is good shopping in Bamburg and enough time for it. The boat left Bamburg at noon and entered the Main River heading downstream towards Wurzburg. We had a lecture in the afternoon about the European Union by a "lock Hoping Professor of History", from Regansburg, who gets on and off river boats at various locks and uses a portable bicycle to move between locks and to get back to his car. The afternoon cruise on the Main was beautiful. Day 10 Tuesday Wurzburg Boat arrived at 7:30. The included tour left at 8:30 am. The first stop was the Wurzburg Palace, called the Residenz. It has the most spectacular rooms. No photography is allowed inside the palace. A sort guided walk around the old town and then 45 min free time and you walk 15 min easy back to the boat. Day 11. Wednesday. Miltenberg Boat docked at 11am, 5 minute walk to tourist area. At 1:30 the included walking tour took place. The tour was 90 minutes, then you had plenty of time to climb up to the Castle and explore the town. Good shopping for a small town. Back to the boat by 5:45, the boat left the dock at 6:00pm. Beautiful sail down the Main. Day 12. Thursday Rudesheim am Rhein Arrived at noon- the included tour left at 12:45, back to the boat by 4:15, boat left the dock at 4:30. The included tour was a short bus ride to the Museum of Mechanical Music. From there you could take the chair lift ip the mountain to a gigantic monument celebrating the 1871 German Unification. The view from the monument is spectacular. The afternoon sail down the Rhine, is loaded with castles. This is the most interesting section of river so far. This is the time for your 200mm telephoto lens. The cruise director narrates this section of river. Day 13 Friday Cologne Arrived in the early morning. Included motorcoach tour left at 9:00 am. A short bus ride to theCologne Cathedral was followed by a 90 min walking tour ending at the Cathedral. You had free time to tour the cathedral and other parts of downtown and a 20 min walk back to the boat. The boat left Cologne at 1 pm, headed for Amsterdam. Day 14 Saturday Amsterdam Arrived 7:00 an, included canal tour left at 8:15am. This tour was followed by a Diamond Cutting Tour, concluding at about 11:00am. We walked an interesting 20 minutes back to the boat. After lunch we rented bicycles right across from where the boat docked (there are several possible docking locations in Amsterdam. The City is designed for bicycles, but it is easy to get lost. Just follow the signs back to "Central Station". They charged €5 for 3 hours, a good deal. Day 15 Sunday - Disembarkation You had to be out of your room by 9:00am and off the boat by 10:00am. Half of the boat used a transfer from Avalon and the other half took cabs to the airport. Reception will line up a cab for you at a time certain. You wait in the lobby with your bags and the cab driver comes onto the boat and helps you with the luggage. It cost about €50 plus tip to get to the airport and takes about 20 minutes. Vista Notes 1. There are several 220 outlets in the cabins, so bring your converter and a northern or southern Europe adaptor. 2. Ship & tour departure times are amazingly on time. Timing is dicated by their reservation is the various locks the boat went through. If you miss your lock reservation, you might have to wait 2 or 3 hours for your next chance. 3. The Vista uses audio receivers and ear pieces when you are on a tour organized by Vista, so you can wander away from the tour guide and still here their comments. It seems like all River Boats use this system. All passengers on this trip were from English speaking countries. On board announcements were made only in English. There were no children on board even though this cruise was in July & August. A child would be really bored. The passengers ranged from 50 to 80, with 65 being the likely median age. More than half the passengers were from Australia & New Zealand and were the nicest people. Crew - The crew was great and they all worked 16 hour days or more. Even the Captain and 1st officer carried bags and did manial work as well as their own jobs, which they performed very well. 6. The Cruise Director Hendrick Jan Dadema (Netherlands) was outstanding, very organized, he is not trying to sell you things or direct you to a certain jewelry store. He works very hard and is never flustered. He has many funny stories about his 30 years as a tour guide. He has time for everyone and his desk is in the lobby, so you can always find him working on details of the cruise. 7. Laundry - no dry cleaning is available, but 24 hour laundry service is. The costs are typical cruise prices, underwear & t-shirts €1,5; shirts €2,50, socks €1,0. 8. Dress - during the day - shorts and casual shirts - dinner- pants and a quality golf shirt or other respectable shirt. Some guys wore sport coats for the Captain's Welcome Dinner, but not many. With laundry service, you can get by with 4 shirts for evening wear and 2 pair of pants. For day wear, bring several quick dry t- shirts and cargo shorts. Wash the t- shirts in the shower and let them dry. You will sweat thru these shirts daily as most of the old palaces have no ventilation and can be warm and there are big crowds of people. Wear a good pair of walking shoes as the cobblestones are tough on sandals. Leave the sport coat at home. One long sleeve dressy shirt is good to have. A jacket is needed at night while on the deck. Use the umbrellas provided by Vista while on your daily tours. 9. Food - the food is very good and it's very well presented. There is free wine with dinner. Breakfast & lunch are buffets, whereas dinner is served and is usually 5 courses. I didn't hear any complaints about the food. 10. Fitness Center - 4 cardio machines and a rack of dumbbell weights. There is a weight bench. The room has a TV & water bottles & towels. 11. Photography - this is great trip for photos, especially inside churches, which are quite ornate & often spectacular Some churches have good lighting, but most need shutter speeds that are below 1/20th unless you really push the ISO. I used a portable 5.5' high tripod where it wasn't too crowded and I had enough time to set up. Usually there was enough of both if you looked for it. A good time for these shots was during the lecture from the tour guide inside the church. 100 mm was about as long a lens as you'll need. You'll need a polarizer filter for bright outdoor shots. and for shooting inside the bus. Don't forget your remote shutter release for use with a tripod. The palaces generally had enough lighting for handheld shooting. 12. Coughing- many people got a cough on thus trip Many wound up going to a doctor for anti-biotics or even hospital stays. The Cruise Director seemed used to handling these cases. If you missed the ship you just took a cab to the next port or lock (which could be costly). 13. Port or starboard cabin? We had a port side cabin and since we traveled mostly northbound, we had afternoon sun shining into the cabin, which really heated up the room. Quite often we had to close the block - out curtains to keep the heat out of the room, which eliminated the beautiful view you paid for. If I had my choice, I would take a starboard side cabin on the Budapest to Amsterdam cruise and visa versa. Boat comfort - this was our first river cruise after 9 ocean cruises. It was amazing how comfortable being on the river was. You hardly ever felt any motion, only when you nudged into a lock on dock. Overall impression - a wonderful experience in all ways, 5 stars. I'm glad we did a 2 week cruise, as the first 7 days went by so fast. The ports are amazing, a great mixture of European capitals with their palaces and splendor and big city action. The small ports offered a great glimpse into the Europe of 1000 years ago. Its amazing how well the old buildings have been preserved and restored. If you have any questions, email me at kentennis@cox.net Ken Montgomery Irvine, CA, USA Read Less
Sail Date July 2012
In the event it doesn't really matter what our expectations really were before setting out - whatever they may have been, they were well exceeded. A pre-embarkation night at a Budepest hotel was really useful to recover from a long ... Read More
In the event it doesn't really matter what our expectations really were before setting out - whatever they may have been, they were well exceeded. A pre-embarkation night at a Budepest hotel was really useful to recover from a long air trip and the one recommended (Intercontinental) was 5-star in all respects. Embarkation from there was straightforward and the vessel itself (Vista)- the newest in the fleet - has an entirely modern and functional style with a good degree of comfort throughout. The cabin was airy with a good balcony view, excellent bathroom and surprisingly useful storage space. Dining was a highlight with an excellent quality and variety of food - certainly expect to put on a kilo or two. Laundry service was very efficient but needed a watch on high costs - the bathroom became the norm for smalls. Onboard entertainment was generally mediocre but with the occasional outstanding exception. Shore excursions met the charter advertised and with plenty of walking to offset the food intake. The range [extensive] and cost [high] of optional additional excursions was a surprise but clearly designed to satisfy all tastes. This is a balancing act between increased prices for total inclusivity and letting passengers pick & choose. The Cruise Director did his best to satisfy all wishes all of the time [clearly mission impossible]. With only minor "niggles" [don't expect 100% web coverage], this cruise rated a worthy 5 stars! Read Less
Sail Date July 2012
We cruised from Amsterdam to Budapest on Avalon's Vista in July 2012 . We are new to cruising and were a bit underwhelmed by this cruise . The boat was very nice and our room was great The crew generally wonderful , especially our ... Read More
We cruised from Amsterdam to Budapest on Avalon's Vista in July 2012 . We are new to cruising and were a bit underwhelmed by this cruise . The boat was very nice and our room was great The crew generally wonderful , especially our waiters Thomas and Constantine . The cruise director , Dragan , was very obnoxious ,though many seemed to like him . The food was pretty good though , inevitably seemed repetitive . There were far too many "surprise" expenses for a cruise that implied that it was "all inclusive " . The included tours were uneven and the extra ones were overpriced and should not have been "extra" . The entertainment that was provided was very good with the exception of one talentless electric violinist . Although it may be conventional , I found the gratuities policy ( giving us envelopes and telling us exacly how much to tip everone including the cruise director ) offensive and we ignored it . We tipped those that provided us good service ( NOT the cruise director ) . We spent the same amount of money ( a bit more actually ) but giving it ,in cash , directly to those who deserved it . Our fellow passengers were suprising old . We expected that to some degree but at age 65 I didn't expect to be one of the youngest onboard . River cruising is nice but it is not a good way to see a place . You spend too little time on shore and you seem cutoff from local people and experiences . Avalon seemed too interested in getting extra money out of us at every opportunity given we were sold this cruise as "all inclusive " . We will probably do it again but I doubt if we will use Avalon Read Less
Sail Date July 2012
Avalon Vista Ratings
Category Editor Member

Find an Avalon Vista Cruise

Easily compare prices from multiple sites with one click