We wanted a river cruise experience, but to also see places we would not be comfortable traveling in country, depending on local service and infrastructure. Our July 2017 cruise through the Balkans was exactly as we hoped. This is not a picture postcard collection of adorable towns. Most sights are a bus ride inland, often through the ruins of the communist failure in this region. We found it interesting, and the land itself is beautiful. The sites are worth the effort and Avalon's local guides were good to excellent. Cruising the Danube Gorge and double lock at the Iron Gates was very scenic and a well-time afternoon of leisure in comfortable chairs on deck. Avalon did an excellent job of organizing every detail, which in the Balkans after leaving Hungary includes extra challenges with local officials. The level of consideration of passenger comfort extends even to including a guide who took us right to our airline counter on departure,rather than just a transfer as we have experienced with other groups.The Illumination is 3 years old and very well maintained. The cabins are well designed with lots of storage and comfortable beds. The service was excellent throughout. Dining room staff were attentive and accommodating in a "smart casual' environment. Food and wine quality was very good, very well prepared and presented with sufficient variety typically including some regional options. Breakfast and lunch buffets were equally good. Hotels on land were top quality and well located. We will absolutely consider a future cruise with Avalon.
We choose a lower level cabin with window. On this part of the river you will not see much out the windows at night, and we were mostly on deck other times. #110 is in the middle of the ship, so free of mechanical noise and vibration.The windows are good size and the 32 inch TV offers a forward camera view of the river. Avalon cabins are slightly larger than some competitors. Closet space is good for 2 people and there are plenty of drawers, including a bathroom cabinet.