This was my fourth river cruise but first on Avalon - the itinerary and sailing dates were what we wanted. We went to Bucharest three days early to explore and are very glad that we did. There is a lot to see in Bucharest and very good food.
Our accommodations on the escorted, managed part of the tour were very nice and the Cruise Director was very helpful as were the staff on the ship. The staff that made the cruise - they were efficient, competent, friendly with great senses of humor. Embarkation and disembarkation went smoothly - a well oiled machine. My cabin was spacious and well appointed. A few things that could have been better:
Dinners took between 2 - 2.5 hours. For people like me who normally eat early that was an issue. The food came out fairly fast to begin with but by the time we got to the main course, it was usually 1.75 hours later. I rarely stayed for dessert which often was served after 9 PM - most of the offerings were not worth the calories for me. Occasionally they would have a bistro dinner in the lounge, but not all menu choices were available. Menus for both venues were clearly posted so one could decide whether to go to the dining room ahead of time.
Breakfast and lunch buffets were better and they also had a bistro lunch in the lounge which we took advantage of frequently - for both portion control and to save time.
I love salt, but in several cases, the food was extremely salty - several of the soups in particular. The food was presented very nicely but in some cases had little flavor. They will not give you any rare meat. They serve meat at medium or well done, but in most cases the fish mains were nicely cooked and tasty.
There wasn't a lot of on board entertainment like I had seen on other river cruises where there would live entertainment from the local area almost every night. So that made going to bed early very attractive and supported the 8 AM starts.
Also the sights, excursions etc, were not as interesting as other river cruises (castles, wineries etc) further up the Danube etc, but what there was, the Cruise Director pointed out and gave us some history about the area which was quite interesting and informative. Most of our local guides were good, a few meriting extra tips. Some people underestimated the strenuousness of the excursions. It took almost a week before a "gentle walking" group was formed. And then several people who might have enjoyed the "gentle walking" better than climbing 275 uneven rock steps did not join the "gentle walking group" I am not sure what can be done about this, but people who have to use the lift on the ship and who have difficulty on the gang plank might thing whether 275 uneven rock steps at a regular walking pace is a good idea. The good news is that the ship waited for us and despite the low water level was able to keep to our schedule. Kudos to the Captain.
I killed a fly on my cabin mirror which stayed there smashed on the mirror for 6 days. I told the front desk staff during disembarkation in the hopes that it would be removed before the next guest occupied the room. Other than that my room was straightened every day and I got fresh towels every 5 days. I really liked the lighting in the bathroom as it also served as a great night light and the storage space in my cabin was more than adequate with plenty of hangers, shelves and drawers.
We had a variety of nationalities on board so that made for interesting conversations and perspectives. I plan on keeping in touch with a few of my fellow passengers and will consider going with Avalon again on a different ship.
Spacious and well appointed. Plenty of storage space and everything worked. Bathroom was nice and large with a built in night light. I killed a fly in my room that was not cleaned up during my stay. I hope they eventually got it off the mirror.