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Sail Date: April 2019
My wife and I,her brother and sister and brother in law, decided to take this Rhine river cruise (Basel to Amsterdam) to celebrate my wife's 70th birthday. Cruising was not high on my agenda for likes but after this experience, we ... Read More
My wife and I,her brother and sister and brother in law, decided to take this Rhine river cruise (Basel to Amsterdam) to celebrate my wife's 70th birthday. Cruising was not high on my agenda for likes but after this experience, we are both keen to do more. In early April, we flew from Australia to London and then after a few days to Basel where we joined the cruise. Everything was great - the food (excellent), the cruise director (to the point, humourous and informative), the guides (knew their stuff and added wit and humour), rooms were cleaned regularly and quickly, the bar persons knew their stuff and nothing was too much trouble. The cabin (level 3 panorama) was comfortable and being able to put our suitcases under the bed gave a plenty of room. The bed was very comfortable and having a 7ft sliding window that could be opened gave us the opportunity on occasions to lie on the bed and watch the world go by. The excursions were interesting and informative and we got good exercise by walking around the towns and cities. I certainly benefited from this. Brother and sister in law relished the walking. The boat had around 170-190 people on board with no children and this made the whole atmosphere calm and relaxed - as it should be. The age group was generally average age of around 50-55 with predominantly Americans and Canadians and a few Aussies to sweeten the pot. Dinner was in the dining room with plenty of choices of food and an endless supply of wine and beer. For lunch, you could go to the dining room for more substantial fare or in the lounge area for something light. Overall ambience on board was fantastic. The only negative that I can identify was that the WiFi was poor (and perhaps that the cruise was too short). My wife and I are now converts and are already thinking about another river cruise but perhaps a little longer in duration. We would recommend Avalon to any who are considering a river cruise. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: April 2019
Our travel agent had been suggesting a river cruise for a while. We are not cruise ship people so hesitated to book this trip. We were happy we decided to go.The river cruise was wonderful. Nothing like what I think of when thinking of a ... Read More
Our travel agent had been suggesting a river cruise for a while. We are not cruise ship people so hesitated to book this trip. We were happy we decided to go.The river cruise was wonderful. Nothing like what I think of when thinking of a cruise. The small ship size and the attentive service was wonderful. Our biggest complaint was when we arrived at the ship. We could not find any information on what time we should arrive. We had a car service drive us to Basel. We arrived at the ship and there was no one to greet us, we didn't know where to go. A man standing on the side walk with in jeans and a sweatshirt no identification that he was with Avalon came over to take our bags. We asked where we were supposed to go and he just pointed at the ship. When we entered the ship, there was a desk where 2 people sat. Neither even looked up or greeted us. We had to ask if we were allowed on the ship. Then we had to ask how things would work as we had never been on a cruise before. Once we got to our room things went much more smoothly and for the rest of the trip there was plenty of information on how each day would work. the food is hot and abundant. The food buffet can be very congested as there really isn't a clear way to use the buffet. Some people made a line, some people just went straight to the hot food or the salad bar. But overall food was good. The excursions were well explained and informative. Our cruise director Hendrik was absolutely fantastic! Fun, Funny but at the same time so very organized. If we take another Avalon cruise we for sure would look to see what cruises on which Hendrik might be the Director Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: April 2019
First I should say that I did not want to go on this trip and was dragged to the trip. Now let me say it was the best vacation ever and I can’t wait to go back. Everything was perfect, weather not perfect but it was fine as we dressed ... Read More
First I should say that I did not want to go on this trip and was dragged to the trip. Now let me say it was the best vacation ever and I can’t wait to go back. Everything was perfect, weather not perfect but it was fine as we dressed for it and had planned for it. We went early spring to insure the water levels as the last thing we wanted on our cruise was to be bussed. Liked - food was very good, and my wine glass was never empty even at the two hour dinners. Cruise director was excellent, this person is likely the most important part of a cruise. Ours was clear, direct, and made no excuses...”walking will be hard today”, “food at xx is excellent”, he was really good. Our room was made up twice a day and I don’t think we ever went back after breakfast when it wasn’t done. The excursions were very good as were the guides. No kids and that’s a great thing. It’s so hard to have an adult trip these days, it was very appreciated that they were not here, truth be told imho kids would hate river cruising. No goofy, no slides to the pool, no .........before jumping on my case, I raised two so I know what I speak of. I know your kids act perfectly, mine did ,but honestly they would not like river cruising. Aside from the excursions around the towns, two and three hour 5 course dinners are the evenings entertainment. Dislike- internet is slow, not much on tv. Funny we watched Casablanca every night falling asleep, picking back up where we left the prior evening. we were so tired every night we never did finish the show! My wife did not care for the exercise room, said too small, why bother? We’re walking miles every day. This is not like ocean cruising, no entertainment, except locals came on board a few nights and they were good. But honestly after walking all day, drinking wine and enjoying everyone’s company at dinner, who cares..time for bed! It was a great trip, everything was fine including the first class air tickets, nice way to travel. Read Less
6 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: December 2018
Embarkation was easy, and our room was lovely. The shore excursions were more scripted than I usually care for, but for travelers who want to spend less time figuring it out on their own it would be perfect. The service onboard was ... Read More
Embarkation was easy, and our room was lovely. The shore excursions were more scripted than I usually care for, but for travelers who want to spend less time figuring it out on their own it would be perfect. The service onboard was great. The crew were hilarious, and made you feel like you were with friends even though they were new. They were friendly and helpful. The food onboard was amazing. I tried everything from snails to oxtail, and each was amazing. And if you're not into trying unusual foods, there were still plenty of wonderful things to choose from. We (late 30s) were some of the youngest on the cruise, but by no means the most energetic. We made many friends, and really enjoyed the trip. Don't let the assumption that river cruises are only for old people keep you back. It's not true and you'll have a great time with the other passengers. Loved the cruise and look forward to many more in the future. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: December 2018
We wanted to experience the Christmas Markets in various cities. Except for the tragedy in Strasbourg, we got our wish. The bus tour to the Black Forest was interesting , but rather long. That was modified from the original due to the ... Read More
We wanted to experience the Christmas Markets in various cities. Except for the tragedy in Strasbourg, we got our wish. The bus tour to the Black Forest was interesting , but rather long. That was modified from the original due to the changes needed not visit Strasbourg. Meals were excellent with very attentive service. The room was quite nice - we enjoyed the bed facing the river, and the bathroom was good-size with a very nice tiled shower. We just wish it had been warmer so we could have gone up on the top deck, but we will do that on our next trip. Room storage was adequate, but we would like more drawers. The entertainment was good, especially La Strada. We had more than ample time to experience the Christmas markets, and enjoyed the walking tour of Basel very much, despite the cold. Overall we would do another Avalon cruise in a heartbeat! Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: November 2018
Our cruise was a themed cruise, Beer Enthusiast, and started in Budapest ending in Prague. Our flights, to / from, were arranged through Avalon on Lufthansa. The connections worked out great without a lot of layover time. The transfer to ... Read More
Our cruise was a themed cruise, Beer Enthusiast, and started in Budapest ending in Prague. Our flights, to / from, were arranged through Avalon on Lufthansa. The connections worked out great without a lot of layover time. The transfer to the ship from the airport was very easy. The registration kiosk at the airport provided us with essential information and could not have been any nicer. Upon arriving at our ship, Expression, the staff ensured we were registered and situated into our room. The ship, only a few years old, was very well maintained and clean. The cabin we were given had a wonderful view. Traveling at night you could see the small towns as you passed through them. Yes the landscape is beautiful even at night. You pass through some locks on your excursion on the Danube. Waking up in the middle of the night to see the lock wall and rising in the lock was amazing. The food, Breakfast, lunch, dinner and late night snacks, was excellent. They had a great selection to satisfy any pallet. The lunch and dinner menus included specialty dishes from the country we were currently in. There was a snack station in the back of the boat offering coffee, tea, hot chocolate and juices, this was always well stocked and selection of cookies, pastries and muffins was excellent. The service at all meals was impeccable. A good selection of excursions were offered. The cities and towns we visited were deep in history and architecture. Many going back to the 11th and 12th century. The tour guides provided great information and were very personable. We started in Budapest, then went onto Bratislava, Vienna, Durnstein, Melk, Linz, Passau, Regensburg and then onto Prague via coach. Now onto the Beer Enthusiast portion of the cruise. The Austrian "Beer Pope" Conrad Seidel was our guide. Conrad conducted an introductory tasting on board, two brewery tours (Vienna & Passau) and a dinner paring. When we were in various towns Conrad conducted pub tours. These were not scheduled excursions through Avalon so the travel (mostly walking) and pub cost were on you. This was a hidden gem in the cruise. Conrad provided additional insight to the various towns not just with his knowledge of the pubs but the local history and architecture. I ended up with a personal tour in Vienna and the added sites he showed me were only that a local could provide. Conrad offered a personal touch to his tours and offered great insight to the local history as well. There were two excursions by Avalon one in Vienna and one in Linz. Both conducted with Conrad. This was a great adventure as well taking us to various parts of Linz and Vienna we would not have seen otherwise. The group taking the tours all enjoyed themselves as well. A great time was had by all. The service, accommodations and experiences exceeded our expectations. We would not hesitate to go on another cruise with Avalon. Read Less
4 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: October 2018
We booked this trip over a year ago and then suddenly it was time to go. We were notified that the water on the Danube was low and it could adversley effect our itinerary but we decided to go ahead either way. We had added an extra night ... Read More
We booked this trip over a year ago and then suddenly it was time to go. We were notified that the water on the Danube was low and it could adversley effect our itinerary but we decided to go ahead either way. We had added an extra night in Prague before the cruise so we arrived on Monday morning at the Prague Hilton. The hotel is very large and extremely efficient, although the staff is far from warm and welcoming, with the exception of Tomas at the front desk. Having Eric, our Avalon tour director arrive on Tuesday gave us a connection and he was available most all day long to offer ideas and suggestions and helpful information about Prague. We had a quick welcome meeting on Tuesday night and our optional excursions began Wednesday night. We enjoyed our time in Prague and walked about 20,000 steps a day on our own, exploring so many wonderful areas, great food, and beautiful scenery. On Friday we boarded buses to Regensberg bypassing Nuremberg due to low water there. We were told that the decision would be made by the next Monday whether we would sail through to Budapest or be bused and stay in a hotel the last night. The ride was maybe 2-3 hours on coach buses through beautiful scenery in the Black Forest so no complaints. When we arrived at the ship, the staff was lined up to welcome us on board! They led us into the lounge where we were welcomed and then directed to our cabins assisted by staff to find our way and make us feel at home. Our cabin steward was Flory. Sweet and efficient and very professional. I have previously only been on ocean cruises and it is very hard to compare one to the other. There were about 150 guests on board and maybe 40 or so staff. The lounge and the dining room are both big enough to fit every guest at the same time, so no worries finding a table or a seat. Our cabin was on the 3rd floor. We had panorama doors that were floor to ceiling and could slide open to give an unobstructed view. The cabin was not huge, but was more than comfortable for 2. The bathroom was better than most hotels, with plenty of amenities and towels. As soon as we would leave for breakfast Flory would clean and restock our room. When we went to dinner she would do it all over again, we never once returned to an "unmade room"...she was amazing. Breakfast in the dining room was open seating, a delicious buffet with menu offerings also available. Lunch was regional depending where we were, with beer and wine readily available. Each evening we would all meet in the lounge for about 15 minutes for Eric to give us updates on the entertainment for the evening, weather reports, water level reports, and then he would send us off to dinner. Dinner was enjoyable as guests could sit where ever. Friendships were beginning and people were gravitating toward the same table area each night, which meant you tended to have the same wait staff. This became very beneficial as they started to know your likes and needs. Wine and beer were refilled often so pay attention to how much you drink! There was entertainment after dinner so people would wander back to the lounge to enjoy whatever was offered each night. We had pre booked our excursions and we also took advantage of the daily included walking tours to familiarize ourselves with the area before venturing off on our own. The tour guides employed by Avalon for these walking tours were local, and knew the areas well. Due to missing the Nuremberg embarkation, we were in Regensburg a day before our schedule. Some pre booked tours had to be changed or cancelled. Avalon really showed their professionalism in this area. I can say all of the rescheduling went as smoothly as if nothing had changed. We were barely aware that anything was disrupted as Avalon went WAY out of their way to compensate us. Cancelled rebooked excursions were quickly credited back to my credit card. A concert in Vienna that we had booked was now offered for free and our money was refunded. A walking tour of Regensburg was concluded with a certificate for lunch at the oldest sausage kitchen dating back to the 1100's. Then Avalon also gave each of us 15 Euros each to spend as a compensation (although we didn't feel we needed to be further compensated). Monday night came and it was time to hear the decision about our sailing future. Eric had good news and bad news. Bad news! Our hotel reservations in Budapest were cancelled....Good News...We would sail the entire way! The water had risen just enough so we could enjoy our entire week on the ship! YAY! Without going into details about each and every port I can just say we enjoyed every stop, although they started to blend together after 4 countries in 1 week. ABC... Another Beautiful Castle was a phrase we heard from our tour guides and they were correct. Take lots of pictures and save the daily itineraries that Avalon leaves in your stateroom by putting them into those complimentary folders they give you on your first day. You will need all the help you can to put your memories into order when you get home. We booked a few extra nights in Budapest after the cruise ended. We stayed at the Hilton Budapest on the Buda side. I cannot say enough nice things about the friendly, professional, and welcoming staff at this hotel. And the view........unbelievable! My overall opinion about river cruising...the small passenger numbers were great. Staff to guest ratio was very impressive. The ship was well appointed, extremely comfortable and well maintained. It was completely comfortable in every way ( the coffee tea and cookies in the rear lounge 24/7 were a delightful treat). Fellow passengers were fun and friendly and easy to talk to. We had an age spread of about 30-75. There were approximately 10 singles on board not traveling together who appeared to get along with every one and thoroughly enjoy themselves. There were 4 or 5 "30 somethings" traveling with their parents. They all seemed to be along to assist and enjoy their parents company. There were many couples in the 50-70 age range from many walks of life. Food was good, drinks were free at dinner and lunch and extremely low priced at happy hour. Tours were professional and informative. Scenery was gorgeous and plentiful. Would I recommend it? A most definite YES! A easy way to travel to 4 countries in a week and feel pretty spoiled by a wonderful staff along the way. Hats off to the Captain and his crew for safely navigating a very low Danube river! A big THANK YOU to Eric for being so good to all of us while maintaining his smile and professionalism as he went with the flow of a constanalty changing itinerary . " I will see you when I look at you" Bon Voyage! Read Less
Sail Date: October 2018
Avalon delivered a top notch vacation and attended to every detail to give us a most memorable and stress free vacation. The hotels in Budapest and Prague were superior. The cruise director, Sabine, worked tirelessly to ensure ... Read More
Avalon delivered a top notch vacation and attended to every detail to give us a most memorable and stress free vacation. The hotels in Budapest and Prague were superior. The cruise director, Sabine, worked tirelessly to ensure everyone's concerns were properly addressed. Despite historically low water levels on the Danube, Avalon did everything they could to make our vacation pleasurable. Everything was well thought out to provide the best possible experience for all passengers. From the hotels, to the guided tours, to the ship staff, to the food and entertainment, to the cabins, all met our highest expectations. Our only disappointment would be at port as we were usually double docked along side another ship. We never got to enjoy the views of the port cities and had to keep our curtains closed most of the time. We have traveled on other cruise lines in the past and would definitely recommend Avalon to anyone considering a river cruise. Read Less
Sail Date: October 2018
We left Budapest on October 5th and after a relaxing day of cruising, we arrived in Vienna around dinner time on the 6th. We were very fortunate to be able to navigate this stretch of the river; I believe that some cruisers had to be ... Read More
We left Budapest on October 5th and after a relaxing day of cruising, we arrived in Vienna around dinner time on the 6th. We were very fortunate to be able to navigate this stretch of the river; I believe that some cruisers had to be bussed to Vienna the next week. We enjoyed a day and a half in Vienna and when we boarded the Expression around 8:00pm on the second night, we found a letter outlining modifications to our itinerary that were being made due to low water concerns. In a nutshell, the changes (for the majority of passengers continuing on to Prague) were 1). Linz, Austria was substituted for Nuremberg 2). We were bused from Passau to Regensburg rather than cruising to Regensburg 3). We were bused to Prague from Passau not Nuremberg (same distance) Passengers were free to disembark and would be given a pro rats refund based on the number of days left in the cruise; I do not believe anyone took this option. We were given 30 Euros cash for our lunch in Regensburg since we could not return to the boat. Also, when docked in Linz, we were given the option of complimentary full day excursions to either Salzburg or Cesky Kremlov. Any one who had already booked these excursions was given a full refund. We felt that we were treated very fairly by Avalon for relatively minor changes in our itinerary and would recommend Avalon to others. We had taken a 3 day Avalon cruise two years ago, so we skipped the included tours in Budapest, Vienna and Melk but heard good reviews from fellow passengers. We were very pleased with our docking locations - right in town. In Vienna, Linz, and Passau we could stroll back to town after dinner since we were either overnighting or sailing late at night. Highlights of our trip were the Szenchenyi baths in Budapest, the Faust Cellars wine tasting in Budapest, a visit to a wine garden on the outskirts of the Vienna Woods, a Monet exhibit at the Albertina Museum in Vienna, high Mass at the Augustiner church in Vienna, sausage and beer at the Old Sausage Kitchen in Regensburg, and a tram to Postlingberg in Linz for spectacular views. Our particular tour included 2 nights pre-cruise in Budapest and 3 nights post-cruise in Prague. The Sofitel Hotel in Budapest was great, located right at the Chain Bridge with beautiful views and an easy walk to Parliament, St Stephen's Basilica, the Central Market, etc. The included breakfast was very good. In Prague, we stayed at the Prague Hilton which I would not recommend, Location was poor; it was separated from main part of city by a major highway. The neighborhood was a bit "iffy" - we would not have been comfortable walking around at night. Fortunately taxis and Uber's were plentiful and quite reasonable. Also, when we arrived (about 2 hours before. check in) our luggage was unloaded from the bus and just sat outside the hotel for 2+ hours. When we finally were able to check in, we went outside and retrieved our luggage, but there was no security and anyone could have walked away with it. Overall, it was an excellent trip. Food on the Expression was excellent; service was very attentive and the cruise director did a great job despite the challenges of last minute changes. Read Less
Sail Date: September 2018
Imagine our disappointment when we learned that our much anticipated cruise from Amsterdam to Budapest could not be offered as promised due to record low, drought- induced river water levels. However, the amazing staff at Avalon, ... Read More
Imagine our disappointment when we learned that our much anticipated cruise from Amsterdam to Budapest could not be offered as promised due to record low, drought- induced river water levels. However, the amazing staff at Avalon, especially our cruise director Jerome, managed to provide us with an lovely trip despite Mother Nature's non-cooperation. Our ship was stuck in Passau, and the Avalon team sprang into action, arranging accommodation at excellent hotels, transportation on very comfortable motor coaches, delicious meals, knowledgeable guides, and even a mini-cruise through the Rhine Gorge as we made our way south to the Danube. Their professionalism and experience made the very best experience out of what could easily have been a traveler's nightmare. Meeting up with the ship was a joyous occasion, and we were greeted by the crew like long-lost family. The 10 days we spent on board the Expression left nothing to be desired: comfortable cabin, excellent meals, helpful staff, well-organized excursions, friendly fellow passengers, and even an evening of fireworks. (OK, the fireworks were not arranged by Avalon, but were a nice touch anyway.) Excellent service in the face of adversity says more about a company than an uneventful trip would. We would travel with Avalon again knowing that our comfort and enjoyment were paramount, even under trying circumstances. Bravo Expression staff and crew, and bravo Jerome! Read Less
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