We chose this ship for its itinerary as we wanted to visit the Netherlands to see the tulips, in particular Keukenhof Gardens. This was our first river cruise so we splurged on an upper cabin, Cabin 314. Great room with a very comfortable bed that faced huge windows overlooking the passing scenery. Plenty of storage but could have had a few more drawers. Ports were good but traffic traveling to and from the Keukenhof, Brussels and Bruges became an issue. They may have been better served to find closer ports, if possible. Ship has a large lounge where they hold light lunches and dinner, entertainment in the evening, yoga and other exercise classes during the day and a very nice bar. There is a smaller lounge at the rear of the ship that had games, books, drinks and cookies & muffins. They could have changed their snacks more frequently as they served the same type daily. Evening entertainment was usually a piano player and select nights they invited a trio who played 50s and 60s and another who played classical music. Evening entertainment was not a draw for us or in general the type of passengers on the ship. They did have a happy hour usually from 5:45 to 6:45 where drinks are half price and then the cruise director gave a brief overview of the next day’s port of call. The ship was immaculate at all times.
The main dining room served all three meals as it was too chilly for the upper deck to be open. Breakfast was a buffet with an egg station where you can order omelets or eggs any way. They usually had items that could be ordered directly from the kitchen, such as waffles, pancakes, etc. Lunch was a buffet and was very tasty with a nice selection every day and usually a carving station. Dinner was not as consistent. Portions were unusually small. I ordered a shrimp cocktail which had one shrimp and a few teeny tiny ones. I had a puff pastry ragout but got no puff pastry. The cream soups were very good. Entrees were a total mixed bag. I ordered fish and it was over cooked, another time is was undercooked, the rack of lamb was over seasoned and some days the pasta dish was delicious and another it was watery. Such a shame. Wine and beer were free flowing during dinner which is a nice change from regular cruises. Service was inconsistent as well. It is open seating and dinner is served from 7 to 9. If you sat closer to the kitchen, service was generally quicker and more attentive than sitting towards the entrance. They could use a few more service staff. Dining was very casual and you could wear the same clothes you wore during the day. No one dressed for dinner. I wish I knew in advance and I would have not packed some of my clothes.
Staff was great. The captain was very visible and frequently was at the gangway when we were leaving or coming back from excursions. The cruise director, Bram, was all over and did a wonderful job keeping us informed and dealing with questions and resolving issue. The wait staff, housekeeping, front desk could not have been nicer.
The fitness center is extremely small - one treadmill, one bike and one weight table. They did have exercise classes early in the morning and throughout the day but we were mostly out on excursions. The weather was chilly so you need to dress in layers and good walking shoes. we frequently did over 10 miles per day but we like to wander.
At embarkation, they greeted you and you stayed comfortably in the lounge with piano music, light lunch and an available bar until the rooms were ready. At disembarkation, we were staying an extra day. You requested the day before for a taxi and while you had to be out of your room by 9 AM, you waited comfortably in the lounge until it arrived. All very civilized and you did not have to leave your luggage out the day before, just 1/2 hour before you had to leave or by 9AM.
I would recommend this tulip cruise but be aware of dining issues. I would definitely go on another Avalon cruise if they were going to areas of interest.
Great cabin, with a very comfortable bed facing huge windows. Great way to watch the world go by. Plenty of storage but could have had a few more drawers. Bathroom was well appointed. They provided bottles of water and had a stocked refrigerator of soda, beer, wine, etc for a fee. Housekeeping kept it immaculate.
We had a gorgeous day and the tour guide walked us through the village and gave us the history of the area. We visited a working windmill where you can climb to the top up some steep stairs. We then saw a demonstration of how they make wooden shoes, very interesting. The guide then let us wander around village for about 1 hour. I recommend the chocolate shop and bakery. Very nice day.View All 61 Zaanse Schans Windmills Reviews
So beautiful! This was the reason we took this trip. Pictures do not do it justice. We had the option of a full day or half day and we are glad we did the full day. It is amazing how much work goes into the gardens for 8 weeks of blooming season. Every path you took, you had another beautiful bed of flowers or water feature. They theme the gardens different every year and this year was Flower Power and they had plenty memorabilia from the 60s and 70s including VW beetles and vans with flowers growing out of them. Food is not great at the garden and I saw plenty of people bring a packed lunch. They do have carts selling food and I particularly liked the waffle cart. It is very crowded since it only runs for 8 weeks and it is packed even on a weekday but worth the trip.View All 19 Keukenhof Tulip Festival Reviews
This was a morning walking tour and it was very chilly. The guide was very good and provided a good overview of the city and lots of opportunities to go inside to get warmed up before we moved on. Antwerp is an industrial city so not very pretty but one of the largest ports in Europe and played a role in the emigration in the late 1880s to 1910s as well as WWII. Walking back we went through the red light district which was established to legitimize this profession with security and protection. Wish we had a nicer day but glad we wentView All undefined undefined Reviews
Bruges was about an hour bus ride from Ghent and known as the Venice of the North. It is a quaint village that is stuck in time back in the 1600s. The village has a moat all around it and canals running through the village. It was extremely crowded. The tour took us on a canal boat ride and walking tour through the village. We then had about 2+ hours of free time to go into the shops and grab some lunch.View All undefined undefined Reviews