HOLIDAYING overseas with friends in 2013 we decided to put together a small group (total 6 - 3 couples ages 50 - 61) to embark on our much discussed European River Cruise. After a deal of research we chose Avalon Waterways as our Cruise provider and the AVALON ILLUMINATION as our ship. Travelling from our home in Australia to Budapest, we spent a couple of days sightseeing before embarking on our chosen ship. Arriving on board this near new ship, we were immediately impressed with the friendliness of the crew, the cleanliness of the ship and the efficient way our luggage was slipped into our Stateroom where we received a guided tour by our Stateroom Stewardess.
OUR STATEROOM was extremely well appointed, extremely comfortable bed, 5 Star bathroom and amenities, and a full width Balcony Panorama Sliding Window. We found plenty of storage space in the wardrobes, desk drawers, bedside table drawers, numerous electrical power points and WiFi, flat screen TV, refrigerator, and very comfortable chairs, fully adjustable air conditioning. Our Stateroom number 203, on Sapphire Deck (2) was only a few short steps from the Restaurant, the Guest Relations and Cruise Director's office, and the Main Lounge.
Many activities and tours were included in our price, however, there were also numerous optional excursions which we could add, most of these we felt were very reasonably priced. Our "Port Talk" each evening with our Cruise Director painted the picture of the plans for the next day, and usually a day or too after that as well. Our "Cruise Director" was nothing short of brilliant, friendly, approachable, with many years of experience with Avalon/Globus - extremely knowledgeable and spoke 5 languages fluently. All the tours and excursions we undertook ran on time and were well worth the $$, local guides were generally very good with some of them absolutely first class, very friendly and fun to be with.
DINING.... what can we say, but high quality all the way, our table service Wait Staff were fantastic and had great memories for what types of food and drinks we preferred. The menu varied each Lunchtime and Dinnertime, with a few standard features each day. Evening dinner usually ran to 4 courses, sometimes 5, and luncheon was usually a well stocked Buffet with some special orders available. Breakfast was another well stocked Buffet meal, with special menu orders available, as well as the usual "Egg Chef" for eggs as you desire.
ENTERTAINMENT: On board general entertainment was provided by a musician in the main Lounge, with local artists coming on board from numerous ports - music, lecturers, wine tasting, beer tasting etc., generally all good fun.
DISEMBARKATION: AMSTERDAM - a very disappointing day as we were quite sad that the Cruise had come to an end and we were saying farewell to some quite good friends we had made amongst the Crew during the last 14 days. IN SUMMARY: YES we would Cruise with Avalon Waterways again in the future, YES, we would recommend Avalon Waterways to our friends & family, we found the Cruise to be value for money and given the quality of the Ship, service, food and facilities we were very pleased to have made our original choice to travel with Avalon Waterways.
Our Stateroom, 203, Category 'A' Panorama Suite - Sapphire Deck, was extremely close to all facilities, within a few steps down to the Restaurant, and a few steps up to the Guest Relations & 'Cruise Director's' office, walking through there to the Main Lounge. One of the reasons for choosing Avalon Waterways was that this type of Stateroom has the bed facing the Panorama Balcony windows, so you can sit in bed and watch the world go by. The Panorama windows open almost the full width of the Stateroom to allow brilliant access to the outside while sitting in a comfortable inside. A regulation height railing allows your Stateroom to be almost on the edge of the ship. Extremely good fully adjustable air conditioning, VERY comfortable bed, 5 star fittings and fixtures in the bathroom, with a full size shower & quality amenities. good sized desk, refrigerator, plenty of wardrobe & cupboard space, these Panorama Suites are 200 square feet according to the Cruise Brochure. Very comfortable, light and airy.