Avalon Tranquility II Cruise Review by jpswimmer
- Sail Date: September 2018
- Destination: Europe River
- Cabin Type: Outside Stateroom with Window
This was our first river cruise. It was great! We had been to European cities several times in the past, always on our own (driving or taking trains, etc.) with few pre-planned tours, so we were a little anxious about a totally pre-planned, boat-based itinerary. We arrived 2 full days early to enjoy Amsterdam before cruise departure, and we recommend this to everyone, if just to adjust to the time zone. A single day in such a city is not enough. But even though before we boarded in Amsterdam we had to swap boats from the Tranquility II to the virtually identical Imagery II (due to low water on the river preventing our assigned craft to meet us in Amsterdam), this all turned out great. We pre-chose their smallest cabin, which though cozy was adequate in size and amenities for us with excellent storage and bathroom space. Since we were rarely in the room except at night to sleep, we did not need the luxury of the panorama windows of the upper decks at perhaps double the price. I'm sure they are a bonus for elbow room and amenities, but if we wanted a daytime or evening view of our passage, especially when going through one of the many locks, we just went up to the top deck or one of the two lounges with great views, which were always open. Our boat (the Imagery II) was like new (2 years old, I believe), pristine and beautifully maintained. Every crew member—apparently all from Eastern Europe with excellent English speaking skills—was clearly proud of their work and delightfully friendly, regardless of position and duties (and I mean from the Captain to the waitstaff and our room attendant—all really quite impressive). Dining on board was not a religious experience for us, but we must say every meal was an overall excellent experience with very, very good food and superb, personable service. Our only negative dining critique was for the fish courses, which regardless of declared type of fish, seemed to be prepared in the same way and thus had similar taste and were of average/good restaurant quality. All other dining options we chose, which varied delightfully every day including the wine selections, were really very fine to excellent quality. Our talented resident keyboard artist in the main lounge provided a soothing and professional variety of tunes, clearly targeted to our mostly "senior" age group, but that was really nice for easy listening. We had a couple evenings with added in-port guest artists that were wonderful, too. The "La Strada" trio was particularly delightful. This itinerary is packed with daily excursion options (some included, some for extra fees), and we took advantage of nearly all of them. Perhaps that was too many for us, as we never seemed to have day or afternoon to just chill out and read a book. Nevertheless, as we are easily mobile, no excursions were stressful and the logistics were smoothly arranged by the Tour Director. The local tour guides were always excellent and made the descriptions personal and entertaining. (Those passengers who were less mobile always had an option for shorter excursions, too.) We did realize that you can only get a "taste" of the place on a quick guided tour, and a couple times we abandoned the guide after a while to run off on our own for a bit and meet them later to get back to the boat. This was alway an option on the walking tours. But now we have some more cities for which we know a return visit at length is needed, and a couple not. After the cruise ended, we also added a couple days on our own in Switzerland. That was fun, too. Overall: Loved Avalon; their planning, the personnel, service, value and the boat. It was easy to meet other passengers daily and generate some new friends. When we disembarked, one could not help but notice that along with all the other staff and crew members helping unload the luggage to the waiting buses, the Captain was pitching in and carrying some luggage too! That's the kind of dedication to service that reflects so well on Avalon and perhaps the Imagery II boat crew in particular. We think we'll do another Avalon voyage soon, but a longer one to ensure we have some more time to just relax.
jpswimmer’s Full Rating Summary
Compact and well-organized, with a surprising amount of storage. We did not expect a lot of elbow room for this class, but everything was perfectly clean and well maintained. Very pleased.
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