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This wasn't our first river cruise. We did the Rhine last year. Both vacations were amazing, but the Rhine wasn't as popular/crowded (fewer ships). The Danube was high due to recent rainfall and bridge clearance was an issue. Avalon did a great job of working around difficult conditions. The quality of the shore excursions depend, in large part, on the local guides. Many of the guides were entertaining and knowledgeable but not all of them. 1. The food selection and preparation was excellent, but the dining room is noisy, particularly at dinner time. It's much easier to hear conversations from the center (bench) side of the tables. 2. We really enjoyed having time to explore Prague on our own. I think we over scheduled our time with guided tours throughout the trip. Some time to explore on your own ought to be welcomed. I think bus tours (e.g. Vienna) are worthless. A video on the TV would give you the same information and sense of the place. 3. Our guides for Prague were wonderful. Anna (classic) and Christian(Secrets of Prague) were outstanding. 4. The excursion to Terezin was outstanding. Don't miss it! 5. Our guide to Nuremberg was not wonderful (I'm being very kind). I regret wasting the time on the old city and missing the rally ground. On our last excursion of the cruise, I found evaluation/feedback forms for the guides. Be advised they exist and use them! 6. Regensburg is a delight. It wasn't bombed during WWII and it's old and beautiful... dating back to Roman times. Our guide was excellent and the city is beautiful. Enjoy! 7. We mostly missed Passau because of the high water (delays for bridge clearance issues). We had only an hour or so at Passau before we had to sail on. Most of the day was spent in Salzburg which was strikingly beautiful as was all of Austria. 8. The Melk Abbey and gardens are beautiful. Be forewarned that no photographs are allowed in the abbey. The Wachau Valley is spectacular. Bring a serious zoom (400mm) lens to photograph the vineyards, castles and churches. 9. Vienna is beautiful. The Royal Waltz Concert is not to be missed. It was amazing. However, the guided city tour is pretty weak. Too much of the tour is bussed. We did the food tour which was fun. 10. Budapest. Almost all of the city tour is bussed- covering both Buda and Pest. Only a few minutes are free for walking. It's the worst of the lot. (Traffic is heavy and the journey was slow.) The view from the castle is the best part of the city tour. We took the "Bites of Budapest" food tour in the afternoon. It was a significantly better exposure to the city. We traveled with friends and between the four of us we experienced eleven faulty receivers which meant we missed much of several tours. The guides ran out of spare receivers for walkers a few times. This was an ongoing and persistent problem with many passengers. All in all, it was a great (if not perfect) tour! I would do it again, but the rain and high water created a high density of tourists in the cities. I had the feeling the +90% of the pedestrians were riverboat tourists....

Prague to Budapest

Avalon Illumination Cruise Review by TimmJ

Trip Details
  • Sail Date: May 2019
  • Destination: Europe River
  • Cabin Type: Deluxe Stateroom with Window
This wasn't our first river cruise. We did the Rhine last year. Both vacations were amazing, but the Rhine wasn't as popular/crowded (fewer ships).

The Danube was high due to recent rainfall and bridge clearance was an issue. Avalon did a great job of working around difficult conditions.

The quality of the shore excursions depend, in large part, on the local guides. Many of the guides were entertaining and knowledgeable but not all of them.

1. The food selection and preparation was excellent, but the dining room is noisy, particularly at dinner time. It's much easier to hear conversations from the center (bench) side of the tables.

2. We really enjoyed having time to explore Prague on our own. I think we over scheduled our time with guided tours throughout the trip. Some time to explore on your own ought to be welcomed. I think bus tours (e.g. Vienna) are worthless. A video on the TV would give you the same information and sense of the place.

3. Our guides for Prague were wonderful. Anna (classic) and Christian(Secrets of Prague) were outstanding.

4. The excursion to Terezin was outstanding. Don't miss it!

5. Our guide to Nuremberg was not wonderful (I'm being very kind). I regret wasting the time on the old city and missing the rally ground. On our last excursion of the cruise, I found evaluation/feedback forms for the guides. Be advised they exist and use them!

6. Regensburg is a delight. It wasn't bombed during WWII and it's old and beautiful... dating back to Roman times. Our guide was excellent and the city is beautiful. Enjoy!

7. We mostly missed Passau because of the high water (delays for bridge clearance issues). We had only an hour or so at Passau before we had to sail on. Most of the day was spent in Salzburg which was strikingly beautiful as was all of Austria.

8. The Melk Abbey and gardens are beautiful. Be forewarned that no photographs are allowed in the abbey. The Wachau Valley is spectacular. Bring a serious zoom (400mm) lens to photograph the vineyards, castles and churches.

9. Vienna is beautiful. The Royal Waltz Concert is not to be missed. It was amazing. However, the guided city tour is pretty weak. Too much of the tour is bussed. We did the food tour which was fun.

10. Budapest. Almost all of the city tour is bussed- covering both Buda and Pest. Only a few minutes are free for walking. It's the worst of the lot. (Traffic is heavy and the journey was slow.) The view from the castle is the best part of the city tour. We took the "Bites of Budapest" food tour in the afternoon. It was a significantly better exposure to the city.

We traveled with friends and between the four of us we experienced eleven faulty receivers which meant we missed much of several tours. The guides ran out of spare receivers for walkers a few times. This was an ongoing and persistent problem with many passengers.

All in all, it was a great (if not perfect) tour!

I would do it again, but the rain and high water created a high density of tourists in the cities. I had the feeling the +90% of the pedestrians were riverboat tourists....
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Cabin Review

Deluxe Stateroom with Window
Cabin D 333
Cabin was great. Plenty of room and very clean.
Indigo Deck Outside Cabins