We took the cruise from Arles to Chalon Sur Saone on the Scenery after having been met at the Nice Airport by an Avalon-contracted shuttle service, as Avalon also booked our flights and arranged all airport transfers. Basically the land ... Read More
We took the cruise from Arles to Chalon Sur Saone on the Scenery after having been met at the Nice Airport by an Avalon-contracted shuttle service, as Avalon also booked our flights and arranged all airport transfers. Basically the land transfer services were spot-on. Our driver from Nice to Monaco (where we stayed the first night) was originally from Brazil and he was great. Knew a great deal about the locale and people. Very enjoyable. I am not a big fan of Monaco, as it is ridiculously expensive, without great attractions. In fact Avalon had a tour the next AM from Monaco to Nice. Ironically Nice is about 45 minutes closer to the Arles embarkation point than Nice. So, Avalon why not make your first night stay in Nice instead of Monaco ?
Our bag transfers went very smoothly the whole trip. On arriving at the ship, our bags were waiting for us in our assigned cabins. They were also delivered to our assigned rooms in Paris and when we changed rooms, they sent the remaining bag to the new room promptly. They also picked up bags at the Paris hotel rooms for our airport transfers.
The cruise director, Danielle, was fantastic. She attended to everything, had a great sense of humor, and helped make the cruise very enjoyable. The rest of the staff was equally terrific, including the waiters, housekeeping, crew and the piano player who entertained every night after dinner. Can't say enough about them. Hard working, very friendly and really attentive.
Offshore excursions were very good for the most part. Avalon has selected some very good local guides who were entertaining and informative. They usually also allotted enough time for free roaming at most stops. My only disappointment was the excursion to Tournus which was all free time. Three hours in that small town with no local guide to explain things was a waste of time. It was accentuated by the fact that it was raining, the shops were closed on a Monday and the local restaurants were rather sparse. Wouldn't recommend that particular excursion. Paris excursions were good for the most part. On the optional tour of the Louvre, we had an exceptional guide, Samantha. She also was the guide for the walking tour in the AM. Don't know about Versailles or Moulin Rouge tours as we didn't take them.
I thought the cabins were well appointed, of adequate size and they were promptly cleaned up every AM. Can't ask for anything more. The lounge was adequate. Maybe a bit outdated, but it had comfortable seating.
Food and beverage was just OK. I thought the chef, while a very personable guy, was average at best in terms of his quality. Presentation of all dishes was great, but nearly all the fish selections were poor - either the fish wasn't fresh or it was overcooked and fishy tasting. There was one veal dish that was excellent but that was at lunch. Beef and lamb dishes were generally well prepared as were dinner soups and salads. Breakfasts and lunches were pretty much the same fare every day. Would have liked more variety and in particular more local type dishes prepared. Wasn't overly impressed with the wine selection either. They did have a nice French Chablis and the Bordeaux was decent. But there was little variety. They did not have a Burgundy red which was disappointing. It was also disappointing that the bar did not stock a greater variety and higher quality of wines. Sure, the happy hour prices for a glass of wine were great - 3 Euros. But I gladly would have paid 6-7 Euros for a better quality of wine with more to choose from.
Finally the "fitness center" was pathetic. It was so small as to be unusable with a treadmill, bicycle and two small free weights. Maybe the newer ships will have a bigger area that have several weight machines along with more free weights.
My summary though was that this cruise was very good, well done and the many hits drowned out the few misses. Read Less