Avalon Expression Review

-- / 5.0
Editor Rating
91 reviews

Our 1st River Cruise

Review for Europe River Cruise on Avalon Expression
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Arizona Budgies
10+ Cruises • Age 70s

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Sail Date: Oct 2023
Cabin: Deluxe Stateroom with Window

Two seniors from Phoenix in response to a bucket list item - never taken a river cruise before. Arrived 1 night prior to boarding after a frustrating flight experience. On boarding day Tu 10-24 arrived at the dock, met by an Avalon person on the sidewalk to help with luggage, checked it in and left for the Rijksmuseum to await cabin entry at 4pm. Ship parked at Amsterdam Tuesday night. Wed. included canal tour of the city followed by a walking tour with the ship departing in the PM. We did look at Avalon vs. the big player and found Avalon to be several thousand less with very good reviews, hence our choice of the Expression. THE ROUTE: This 500+ mile stretch of the Rhine is very scenic and is probably one of the best river cruise routes one can take. Great scenery included castles, big towns, villages and never more than 50' away from the shore and always a smooth ride. Weather in Oct. was dicey - saw little sun - temps seldom above 55, windy, regular light rain so this pretty much eliminated the exposed upper deck with Jacuzzi for use, also the front exposed area on Deck 2 so that was unfortunate. At least there was no concern of low water levels and we finished the cruise on the ship. Each day we had a port stop included for free and a local guide as well as other tours available for purchase. Using the locals as guides made the tour process more enjoyable. Also drinks were included (adult and sodas tea and coffee) at meals and at the daily happy hour from 6 to 7pm. PASSENGERS: approximately 160 total of which Aussies were about 1/2 followed by US, the UK then Canadiens. Most all were 65 and up but had 1 honeymoon couple for the youngest award and no children. One of the best parts of these is meeting people from all over and talking with them about most everything. CREW: Far fewer than the big ships, Helmut was the cruise director and was sometimes hard to understand with his Austrian German accent. Crew was friendly and helpful. DINING: decent choice at all meals - overall food was better than our big ship experience. Buffet style at breakfast & lunch, waiters at night. Sometimes it was noisy at night at 7pm when all were dining at once and you could barely hear or be heard. TIPS: Did no realize they were not included - suggested was 15 Euros each/day so 240 E for our 8 day cruise. COST FOR VALUE: I would say at least 20% higher than the big ships but a comparison is hard as the drinks and daily tours are included. THE SHIP: Always kept clean, waiters were quick to clear vacated tables, only 1 public restroom onboard so generally going to your room if needed. No complaints about the ship As long as we can take a river cruise in a beautiful and interesting area I would not hesitate to use Avalon again. I don't think most river itineraries are this good, the area from Strasburg, France to Basel was the least attractive of the overall Rhine voyage. TRIP HOME: we utilized the Avalon shuttle service from Basel to Zurich for $45 USD each, left at 6am arriving at 720am - well worth it and worked well with our 1020am departure from ZRH.

Cabin Review

Deluxe Stateroom with Window

Our cabin was on the lowest level and was small, with about 24" on either side of our bed, 1 chair, a small TV with limited channels, but with many languages. All power is 220V so I borrowed a converter to use our 120V devices. Also 2 USB ports in the room for charging phones. Bath and room are modern and updated, shower is good with a glass door, good for sleeping with settings on room temp. Bed comfortable with good sheets/blankets. NOTE: all commerce ont he ship is in Euros so having a few might be good as you board. They were useful for us.

Port Reviews

Amsterdam

Amsterdam is very scenic with the canals and architecture but very very busy, many many bicycles who have right of way. Many people walking, bicycling, very different than US cities. We rode the tram to the Rikjsmuseum and it was packed mostly with young people, could hardly move. Bicycles seem to be the main transportation for many, course fuel is high and parking almost non existent. We enjoyed the museum but again very crowded. We were told the AMS airport is #2 behind Heathrow - it was like a shopping center - many stores and restaurants and very busy. Much to see there but very much a different experience than the US - but that is why we visit other countries isn't it.

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