Avalon Passion Entertainment & Activities
Avalon Passion offers a choice of included shore excursions in each port. The excursions, usually a coach or walking tour, may be a half day or full day, depending on where the ship is. Avalon uses wireless headsets on its tours, so you can wander a bit from the guide and still hear; there is, however, still a "follow the lollipop" feel about things. Excursion groups are divided into three pace categories: a fast-paced option that gives people more free time; a leisure option and one for people with limited mobility. Avalon uses local guides for its tours, often relying on the same ones sister company Globus hires for its land trips. On our Danube trip, we found these to be good quality, with a good sense of humor and knowledge.
Avalon also offers optional excursions in ports, with fees ranging from 29 to 64 euros. In Vienna, for example, choices include a visit to Schonbrunn Imperial Palace (47 euros), a Royal Waltz concert (58 euros) or a trip outside the city to the Vienna Woods (55 euros). Reservations for these can be made ahead of time or on the ship.
Daytime and Evening Entertainment
With daily shore excursions included in the fare, Avalon Passion doesn't have too many extra activities during the day; those that it does have fall under the Enrichment category (see below).
At night, there's a musician in the lounge; the ship also has capability for karaoke and a dance floor, although how happening the ship is depends completely on your fellow passengers. At least once a cruise, the ship holds a movie night on a drop-down screen in the Panorama Lounge.
Besides the nightly port talks and activities such as wine tastings, each sailing has between two to three opportunities for passengers to get more involved with the region. This could be a visit to the ship by local artisans and entertainers, or a lecture by a visiting expert on the region. For example, on the Legendary Danube sailing, there's a sausage, sauerkraut and beer tasting. On our sailing, we went to the well-attended wine tasting where we sampled varietals from Austria's Wachau Valley, a region noted for crisp Gruner Veltliner and dry Riesling. The line says that these activities are often "surprises" for passengers, meaning they will be in the daily bulletin but not on the website for the itinerary.
In addition to these activities, handouts about the region are available at the cruise director's desk in the lobby.
Avalon Passion Bars and Lounges
One nice feature about Avalon Passion is that it doesn't feel crowded. Public spaces are airy, with chairs, sofas and tables arranged far enough apart that things seem intimate without being squashed or noisy. Everyone is able to get a seat during the port talks, and even on a rainy day, there are enough indoor places to hang out that passengers aren't on top of each other.
Panorama Lounge (Sapphire Deck): Passion's main bar is where all the action happens. This is where you'll go for port talks, wine tastings, movie nights, welcome and farewell cocktail parties and other group activities. The space is an attractive and modern brown and cream, with comfy chairs, sofas and tables arranged for conversational groups, and floor-to-ceiling windows. Peanuts are served when the bar is open. Drinks are priced in euros; sample costs are 3.70 for a glass of house sparkling wine, 5.30 for wines by the glass, 6.80 for alcoholic and nonalcoholic cocktails, 4.10 for draft beer, 5.90 for bottled beer, 3.10 for soda and 2.90 for bottled water (it's silly to buy in the bar; just go out to the lobby and get a shore excursion water, or bring it from your room where it's complimentary). A first-rate coffee maker makes free specialty drinks. A musician plays here nightly, and there's also a karaoke machine and dance floor, if the passengers are amenable.
Observation Lounge (Sapphire Deck, forward): Forward of the Panorama Lounge toward the front of the ship, the Observation Lounge is an outdoor seating area that's covered by an overhang. It's a nice spot on warmer days; there are no heat lamps.
Club Lounge (Sapphire Deck, aft): This completely glass-enclosed room at the back of the ship is a winner. With comfy chairs and sofas, views on every side, plus snacks and a coffee maker that makes specialty drinks, the space proved to be one of the most popular with passengers on our cruise. There's a door where you can step out to a small outdoor seating area (only a few chairs), or take stairs up to the Sky Deck.
Avalon Passion Outside Recreation
Passion's top deck has plenty of lounge chairs, both covered for shade and open. There's also a small whirlpool. The Sky Deck is where you'll also find an oversized chess set and a walking track.
Avalon Passion Services
Most of Passion's services are arranged near the atrium where passengers board. Here you'll find a front desk, where cruisers are required to pick up a card before heading out on land. Opposite is a desk for the cruise director; you'll also find brochures and informational leaflets here too.
Within the main lounge, there's a corner with a small library. A video screen displays pictures from the trip, which you can buy on a USB for 20 euro at the end of your cruise.
WiFi on Passion is complimentary and works throughout the ship. Expect some outages while going through locks. If you don't have your own computer or mobile device, there's a computer that's free to use at the cruise director's desk.