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This was our first river cruise, though we've been on a number of ocean cruises, including the Star Clipper and Aranui. Our cruise director was very good, the ship was very good, and our stateroom was very good, though the view of the river from the bed was 50% blocked by a wall (we opted for state room 312, the Royal Suite, and found this aspect of it very disappointing). My criticisms or suggestions would be the following: 1. While the food selection and preparation was excellent, the dining room was very noisy, particularly at dinner time, and seemed understaffed (the staff including 2 trainees . . . .). Avalon should consider 2 seatings and better staffing. 2. The daily bulletin should include the weather forecast for the day ahead. 3. On the "Tastes of Hungary Dinner & Wine Pairing" the gypsy music was overwhelming loud despite our request that it be softer and the music definitely wasn't gypsy (as the gypsys didn't compose My Fair Lady or The Phantom of the Opera . . . .). However, the gentlemen doing the wine pairing did a very good job, it was nice that our group had a room to ourselves, and the food was excellent. 4. Rather than leaving the arrival afternoon in Prague "free time", the city tour ought to have been done then, so that on the final day a full-day tour to the former concentration camp would be available. 5. The Nuremberg tour to the Hitler sites ought to have allowed far more time at the Documentation Museum. 6. The Sconbrunn Palace tour in Vienna ought to have allowed much more time at the site. 7. The City tour of Prague was nothing more than an hour at the Palace and being taken to the Market Square and given free time. Rather than do that, if we did the trip over again, we'd just buy a hop on/hop off bus ticket - see the same places and many more, for much less. 8. The last event we did, which was the Czech Dinner & Folklore Show in Prague, was excellent. The meal, drinks and setting were nice, and the performers 10+. Their music was authentic music from different areas of the country as it has evolved over the years, and they had an excellent ability to get the group excited and have us participate in the fun. While this is a review of the cruise portion of the trip, we also had the pre-cruise and post-cruise experiences in Budapest and Prague. The New York Palace hotel in Budapest was excellent, while the Prague Hilton was so-so. The included and optional excursions in Budapest were good. I've already criticized the included City tour in Prague, but the optional excursion to the concentration camp site was very moving (and far too short). All in all, no serious complaints.

Very good first river cruise

Avalon Illumination Cruise Review by aidacra

3 people found this helpful
Trip Details
  • Sail Date: May 2019
  • Destination: Europe
  • Cabin Type: Royal Suite with French Balcony
This was our first river cruise, though we've been on a number of ocean cruises, including the Star Clipper and Aranui. Our cruise director was very good, the ship was very good, and our stateroom was very good, though the view of the river from the bed was 50% blocked by a wall (we opted for state room 312, the Royal Suite, and found this aspect of it very disappointing).

My criticisms or suggestions would be the following:

1. While the food selection and preparation was excellent, the dining room was very noisy, particularly at dinner time, and seemed understaffed (the staff including 2 trainees . . . .). Avalon should consider 2 seatings and better staffing.

2. The daily bulletin should include the weather forecast for the day ahead.

3. On the "Tastes of Hungary Dinner & Wine Pairing" the gypsy music was overwhelming loud despite our request that it be softer and the music definitely wasn't gypsy (as the gypsys didn't compose My Fair Lady or The Phantom of the Opera . . . .). However, the gentlemen doing the wine pairing did a very good job, it was nice that our group had a room to ourselves, and the food was excellent.

4. Rather than leaving the arrival afternoon in Prague "free time", the city tour ought to have been done then, so that on the final day a full-day tour to the former concentration camp would be available.

5. The Nuremberg tour to the Hitler sites ought to have allowed far more time at the Documentation Museum.

6. The Sconbrunn Palace tour in Vienna ought to have allowed much more time at the site.

7. The City tour of Prague was nothing more than an hour at the Palace and being taken to the Market Square and given free time. Rather than do that, if we did the trip over again, we'd just buy a hop on/hop off bus ticket - see the same places and many more, for much less.

8. The last event we did, which was the Czech Dinner & Folklore Show in Prague, was excellent. The meal, drinks and setting were nice, and the performers 10+. Their music was authentic music from different areas of the country as it has evolved over the years, and they had an excellent ability to get the group excited and have us participate in the fun.

While this is a review of the cruise portion of the trip, we also had the pre-cruise and post-cruise experiences in Budapest and Prague. The New York Palace hotel in Budapest was excellent, while the Prague Hilton was so-so. The included and optional excursions in Budapest were good. I've already criticized the included City tour in Prague, but the optional excursion to the concentration camp site was very moving (and far too short).

All in all, no serious complaints.
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Cabin Review

Royal Suite with French Balcony
Cabin RS 312
I'm not sure what a "French balcony" is, but we were in Cabin 312, a Royal Suite. The bed was very comfortable, the bathroom layout and fixtures excellent, though the shower was a bit difficult to use without spilling water out of the area, and the sitting area was satisfactory. As noted earlier, my only complaint is that while Avalon advertises that the beds are set facing floor-to-ceiling and wall-to-wall windows, my half of the bed faced a solid wall between 2 such windows.
Royal Deck Suite Cabins