Avalon Visionary Cruise Review by MSGran
- Sail Date: October 2019
- Destination: Europe River
- Cabin Type: Outside Stateroom with French Balcony
We booked airline arrangements through Avalon and planned for an extra day in case of airline problems - a good decision. We arrived in Zurich at 8:30pm and walked to the hotel at the airport where arrangements had been made. Raddisson Blu is a great place to stay. We were picked up the next morning by an Avalon representative and taken to the ship to check in and start our first excursion.
The Visionary was spotless and there was a nice lunch buffet ready for us when we arrived. For every excursion there were receivers (we were given headsets and a lavaliere for the receiver at check in) that were color-coded for each excursion so that you could hear the guide. Avalon also had bottles of water available (at no extra charge). Upon return from the excursion they took the receivers in exchange for a warm, damp washcloth and a glass of juice or flavored water.
Our cabin, which had the floor to ceiling glass sliding doors, was wonderful. There was so much storage space - cabinets, closet - and twenty clothes hangers in the closet! It was easy to unpack and settle in. The bathrooms had color coded towels - brown and white - so you didn't have to worry about who used which towel. (Even the room keys were color coded - blue and white.) Our room also had a potted orchid! A really nice touch, as well as two large bottles of water with glasses and the water was replenished as often as necessary (again, no extra charge).
The dining room was nice and well laid out. Fresh flowers were on each table. There was wine and beer available for lunch and dinner - again, no charge, unless you desired a mixed drink or beer or wine that was not on the menu for the meal. Breakfast and lunch were buffet style with a variety of foods available. Always two soups to choose from, various greens and salads, assorted breads, and a wide variety of main dishes/meats. Special note regarding the meals: The first day on board the chef met with anybody who had special dietary needs (such as gluten-free, whatever) and they insured that you were served what was on your diet on the cruise. There were options for less formal dining in the main lounge for lunch and dinner - same menu but less options. We did not partake of that except on the first day at lunch, since that was all that was available. There was also a tea every afternoon at 4 with tea, of course, coffee, and cookies and pastries.
Every morning there was a stretching/exercising class and I participated in most of them. Very few passengers did, however. Of the 138 passengers less than 10 showed up on any day. There was also a small gym on the lower level with weights, mats, a treadmill, two exercise bikes, available for use. Towels and bottles of water were also available there.
My husband and I did not go to any of the entertainment or shows as we are early to bed types and the shows generally started about 9pm or later. There was a pianist in the main lounge that played during lunch and happy hour. He was quite good with a range from classical to modern.
Service on board was excellent. The community rooms were always clean and the lounge on the third deck had a coffee maker with 8 or 9 choices and hot water with assorted teas as well as a stash of pastries and cookies to munch on when you were hungry (three good meals a day - how could you be hungry?).
Most of the shore excursions were included in the cost of the cruise. We paid for three that were reasonably priced. The excursions had good English-speaking guides who were quite knowledgeable about their tour. The guides were personable and gave more than just a cursory explanation or description. The ports were ports! Some were "downtown" and some were a little out of the way but transportation was provided. Some of the excursions were biking trips (with a sack lunch included) and hiking trips. Bikes and Nordic trekking poles were provided.
We are already planning our next cruise in 2021 or 2022. Again we will do Avalon. The ships are smaller (we parked next to a Viking Cruise ship and it was quite bigger), and with smaller ships you get to know the staff on a more personal level. We had our favorite servers in the dining room and tried to make sure we sat where they served.
On a side note: The Visionary has an elevator for those who have limited mobility. They also make arrangements for those who are slow walkers to have a special tour that goes at a slower pace. There were no passengers in wheelchairs on the cruise, but there were several who used walkers or who were slower in walking than the majority. Age range for this cruise I would guess would be mid-fifties and up. There may have been a couple that were younger, but not many. Most seemed to be retirement age, or at least near retirement age.
Overall, we were exceedingly pleased with our Avalon cruise, and are looking forward to our next one!
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