Avalon Expression Cruise Review by jbeuks
- Sail Date: September 2018
- Destination: Europe River
- Cabin Type: Panorama Suite with French Balcony
Because of the low water situation on the Danube, our intended 14-day cruise from Amsterdam to Budapest became four nights in hotels, three days on buses, and 10 nights on the beautiful Avalon Expression. But I'm pleased to report that Avalon took very good care of us. The price adjustment that they gave because of the changes was more than fair, the hotels that they substituted in for the first four nights (Jakarta in Amsterdam, Hilton in Bonn, and Marriott in Frankfurt) were very comfortable (although the Jakarta was inconveniently located), and we were well fed on the bus portion. Cruise Director Jerome did a marvelous job of keeping things moving with a minimum of inconvenience; he really was excellent all along the way. The Rhine Gorge cruise was every bit as enjoyably on a local day cruiser as it would have been on the Expression. To make up for the cruising days missed along the Main River, once we reached the Expression at Vilshofen on the Danube, several days were added to the itinerary, enabling us to see places such as Mauthausen and Linz that weren't on the original schedule.
The experience on the Expression was excellent. Our french-balcony room was spacious and very comfortable (see below). I have to say that the food on board, while usually quite good, was not spectacular (although the treats that were served in the lounge at tea time most afternoons were excellent). The dining room servers were always personable and accommodating, the onboard entertainers were enjoyable, and our party appreciated the daily pre-dinner happy hour, when drinks were half price. We also found the included wines that were offered with dinner to be very good.
The daily shore excursions were also generally excellent, as were the local guides. My wife is "looking forward" to a knee replacement in a few months, so she appreciated the "slow walkers" group that was offered with each excursion, which seemed to take shorter routes, with fewer stairs, while hitting most everything that the "normal" groups saw.
We've done a lot of ocean cruising, but this was our first river cruise. Based on our experience, I doubt it will be our last. And if we are able to do another, it will definitely be with Avalon.
jbeuks’s Full Rating Summary
Spacious and comfortable. The delightful experience of being able to lie on the bed and look straight out the window as we sailed the Danube was everything we hoped it would be when we chose Avalon; it confirmed our expectation that Avalon's configuration would be a significant improvement over the usual arrangement of the bed facing the wall of the cabin.