We had travelled with Avalon previously in 2015 and spent a lot of time convincing my sister and her husband to join us for the Budapest to Amsterdam cruise. This was to be the trip of a lifetime for my sister. As you read on you will feel our disappointment with the trip but please read to the end of my comments.
On arrival in Budapest we met people who had travelled up from Amsterdam and were told that their cruise had been impacted by low water levels. Later we were told that a large group of Americans had cancelled for our trip leaving just 88 people out of a possible 140 guests. The cruise started well and soon reinforced our decision to convince our family members to join us. By the time we reached Passau we were informed that low water would prevent our on travel and we would be bused for a few days and that the boat might catch us later down river. Our options were to leave the tour then with a refund of the remaining sailing component of the fees. The other option was to stay with the group and Avalon has promised, in writing, to refund 50% of the cruise component for the bus trip days. This is a fair option but at the time of offer we had a glimmer of hope that we would be reunited with the boat soon. Almost all on board took the option to stay with the group. Aussies and Kiwis are pretty resilient so despite some grumbles they were up for the challenge. Unfortunately reuniting with the boat did not eventuate and in the final analysis we had a tiring experience busing through busy Europe to complete our planned excursion visits and ongoing passage towards Amsterdam. It was hot, many of the coaches were cramped and poorly airconditioned. Early morning departures lessened the trip experience further and in my opinion it became more like a "going to work" experience. The hot conditions took their toll and many were exhausted by the daily grind. There were no opportunities for people to opt out and take a day off as was possible on the boat. This was a problem that could have been managed by the bus options to include a day off option or bypass to the next destination.
Nevertheless there are some good points to stress. First the standard of the boat and crew was exceptional. Friendly and helpful at all times. The cruise director Andre and later with assistance from Hans were very experienced people and quite sensitive to needs however there were some gaps in the itinerary that appeared to meet the needs of the company rather than the guests.....bad business practice ! We saw quite a bit of the country side but from a bus view it was restricted and I think many guests just slept their way through the excursions...missing a lot along the way. These guys were also very entertaining and provided an essential buffer to reduce possible ill feelings amongst the guests towards Avalon.
Met all of our expectations but unfortunately we did not stay on the boat for the full journey.
Interesting place, worth a visit on its own.
An amazing place. Great guide too.
On of the best tours we have ever had. Guide was great.
Lots to see in Cologne both medieval and 20th century history. The Cathedral is awesome. (Sissy for using this word but it is awesome...)