Avalon Passion Review

4.5 / 5.0
66 reviews

All around fabulous experience!

Review for Europe River Cruise on Avalon Passion
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gasman489
6-10 Cruises • Age 60s

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Sail Date: Jul 2023
Cabin: Panorama Suite with French Balcony

This was our first cruise on Avalon, and it definitely won’t be our last! The Eastern European itinerary is unique, as it covers 4 countries where tourism is still in somewhat of the infancy stage (with the possible exception of Croatia, which has gotten quite built up). Our cruise covered four countries - Croatia, Serbia, Bulgaria, and Romania. Most of the passengers onboard had traveled on other river cruises before, and many had traveled with Avalon. So we were a seasoned group. We were also a small group of only 95 passengers on a ship that normally holds 167 or thereabouts, so while probably not economically ideal for the cruise line, truly a bonus for us. Plenty of room to spread out and enjoy the ship. The ship is beautiful. We had a French balcony panorama room on the third deck. The bed is placed on the wall to allow you to view everything passing by. It was glorious! The room was well appointed with very comfortable beds and the bathroom was wonderfully sized. Lovely L’Occitane toiletries. Our cruise director, Melinda, was lovely. Well spoken and elegant, she provided us with all the information we needed to enjoy the trip. She held a port talk each day at 6:45 pm. Happy hour was free from 5:45 to 6:45 pm with a great selection of cocktails (loved my Aperol spritzes!). The meals onboard were fabulous. Every single one. The chef was Bulgarian, and created many specialties from each country we traveled through. Breakfasts were wonderful with a small menu to choose from plus a great breakfast buffet. I can’t say much about the entertainment, as we were pretty tired after returning from the excursions each evening. A word about the excursions. Avalon includes a lot of excursions on this itinerary. Do not miss them. They are conducted by incredibly knowledgeable, local guides (shout out to Deanna in Zagreb, Tania in Belgrade, Sonia in Veliko Tarnovo, and Florin in Brasov - they were amazing). But there is quite a bit of walking involved - even if you choose the “easy” ones. Although most of our group was wearing sneakers, I would almost recommend lightweight hiking shoes with more support for walking on the cobblestones in many places. We had a wonderful group. Everyone pretty much kept up and they were happy to slow down a bit if needed. The hikes to the castles (Bran, which is “Dracula’s castle) and Peles Castle can be invigorating! There were several lunches included at various sites - a local farmhouse in Croatia for example. Fantastic. Avalon offers a post-cruise extension to Brasov. We did this and I also recommend it. The Carpathian Mountains (the Transylvanian Alps) are beautiful and we really enjoyed the cooler weather there, after a few very hot days. I cannot say enough good things about the crew, especially about the Captain of the ship. The crew members were wonderfully attentive and helpful. Everyone pitched in to make it a great experience. When we were disembarking on our last day, there was the Captain, helping the crew offload the luggage that was being taken to the buses. We were very impressed. It clearly sets the tone that every member of the team plays a role in delivering the best possible experience for the passengers. We have traveled all over the world to some pretty exotic and offbeat destinations. This was truly one of the best trips we have ever taken. So much so that we’ve now booked Avalon for a trip to the Peruvian Amazon and Galapagos next year! P.S. I trust that if you are reading this review, you know how things work with river boats vs cruise ships. It is a very different experience. And if you are planning one, please do your research, particularly with respect to the water levels for the river you may be planning to traverse.

Cabin Review

Panorama Suite with French Balcony

We had a French balcony panorama window suite on the third deck. Our window opened fully to allow for an expansive view as we were sailing, as beds were placed to face the window. We loved it. Well worth the extra cost.

Port Reviews

Belgrade

Belgrade is a beautiful city that still bears the scars from the Balkan wars in the 1990s. Definitely take a walking tour here to see the markets and the local sights. We had a fabulous dinner in a bohemian restaurant in the old quarter.

Zagreb

Beautiful city. Lots to do here. Great restaurants to try if you’re doing a pre or post cruise stay here. Easy to walk to and see the sights on your own.

Constanta

Beautiful seaside city. Undergoing alot of reconstruction and renovation. I wish we had more time here!

Bucharest

“Little Paris.” Beautiful city. Lively. Lots to see. Many great restaurants and shops!

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