Avalon made a name for itself with its cabin designs, which rank among the most innovative in river cruising. By dropping the balcony and focusing instead on a panoramic wall of windows that open, Avalon gained space to make the cabins larger. We've also bought in to another touch that Avalon touts in advertisements: Beds that face the window, not the wall. While it sounds gimmicky in concept, the reality is that it IS much more enjoyable to watch the world float by from your bed. It's not a surprise that other lines are now copying the concept. We also loved having the wide sliding door open to let in the breeze and observe life along the Danube. It's a concept that works beautifully, particularly during the shoulder season when it's highly unlikely you'd be spending time outside on a true balcony. You really do see more.
With no balcony to steal square footage, the cabins on Passion are comfortably sized. The Panorama Suites, which make up the majority of staterooms, are all 200 square feet, and even the cabins that only have a window are 172 square feet. All rooms come with a vanity desk with drawers and chair, a closet, and nightstands, as well as a safe, a mini-bar (for fee), robes and slippers. The "comfort collection" beds live up to their name (in all rooms, you'll find queens that convert to twins), and there's a blanket stored in the closet for those who don't like the European duvet concept. Bottled water is complimentary and refreshed daily.
One drawback is the plugs, which are all European voltage (bring your converter), although there is a plug located conveniently near the bed. Each room has a flat-screen TV with a clock underneath that's handy at night. Channels include BBC, CNN, Bloomberg, CNBC and a fireplace, as well as complimentary on-demand movies. Suitcases fit under the bed, and blackout curtains keep the early morning sun away.
A lot of thought has been put into Avalon Passion's spacious bathrooms; the wall where the beds are placed is slightly diagonal, to give more square footage to the bathroom. The space is marble, with a chic brown and white color palette, and the products are L'Occitane. Special notice needs to be paid to the shower, which is glass enclosed and tilted at the same diagonal to provide passengers more room. We also loved the under-cabinet night lights and the makeup mirror, which could either be pulled out from the wall or pushed up to get it out of the way. Hair dryers are provided.
Avalon calls all of its Panorama class of vessels "Suite Ships," but they aren't true suites with two rooms. The ship's two Royal Suites come close, however, with a clever media cabinet that partly divides the living area from the bed.
Riverview: The 16 "aquarium class" rooms on the Indigo Deck have small windows that let in light. Keep in mind that if you choose these cabins, the beds are in the traditional position (as there's no view to point them at). The cabins are 172 square feet, and do not have a sofa or coffee table.
French Balcony: The ship's 65 Panorama Suites make up the bulk of the staterooms. These cabins come with a sofa, a coffee table and chairs placed strategically in front of the sliding door, to take advantage of the views and fresh air.
Royal Suite: The 300-square-foot Royal Suites (there are two onboard) have two flat-screen TVs, a sitting area meant for six people, a full-size bathroom with double sinks, a shower with a bench and a separate toilet.
Avalon does not have cabins that can accommodate wheelchairs. While there's an elevator, it does not go all the way to the Sky Deck.