This 166-passenger ship, which launched in April 2022, has extra roomy suites, an interior open-air balcony, and beds that face the window so you can view the ever-changing scenery. Most amenities, such as ship-wide Wi-Fi and tips for tour guides and drivers, are included in the cruise fare. What’s not included: crew gratuities, some special event excursions, drinks outside of mealtimes, and beverages in the mini-fridge.
With Avalon View, Avalon Waterways now has 14 of its signature Panorama Suite ships on Europe’s rivers. There’s a lot of buzz around Avalon at the moment, in part due to its innovations in the shore excursion space. The line has also put together a successful series of theme cruises with renown authors.
The aptly named Avalon View delivers big when it comes to its "view with a room." The 200-square-foot Panorama suites on the Royal and Sapphire decks have open-air balconies – essentially a floor-to-ceiling, wall-to-wall window that opens 11 feet wide. Best yet, the bed – with four firmness choices – faces the window.
Notably, Avalon View’s 65 Panorama suites are 30 percent larger than the industry standard. Even bigger are the two 300-square-foot Royal suites, which amp things up with a sizable seating area, a pair of open-air windows, twin sinks in the bathroom, and a separate toilet for visitors. The ship’s 16 staterooms, on the Indigo deck, are 172 square feet and have two windows that don’t open.
All cabins have stocked mini-fridges, safes, bath robes, L’Occitane toiletries, and TVs with premium movies. Note: The cabins have plenty of USB ports, but the plugs are European-style with two prongs and require an adapter.
There are also unexpected flourishes that surprise and delight like the color-coded bathroom towels (brown for me, white for you) so that suite mates don’t get theirs mixed up and an utterly paperless environment onboard.
For such a small ship, the 443-foot Avalon View has plenty of dining options. Breakfast and lunch are buffet-style and are served in the elegant glass-walled Dining Room, as is dinner, a leisurely four-course affair featuring regional cuisine along with classics like braised short ribs, maple-syrup glazed fillet of salmon, slow roasted beef tenderloin and New Zealand rack of lamb. Vegetarian options are offered at every meal as well as vegan and allergy-free selections.
Most nights, a small plates menu is served in the Panorama Lounge and, weather permitting, there’s usually at least one al fresco lunch on the top deck with salads, burgers, grilled salmon and ice cream. Wine, beer and soda are complimentary at meals. There’s a continental breakfast room service menu. New this year across the Avalon fleet: a limited room service dinner menu.
Inspired by Dutch interior designer Liane van Leeuwen, Avalon View has a definite design sense – contemporary and elegant, anchored by a warm mix of light and dark woods and accented by rich taupe, brown, blue and cream decor. Original art in the public areas is by Dutch artist Eelco Maan and cabin paintings were created by another Dutch artist, Sofie Fisher.
The primary gathering places onboard: the spacious Panorama Lounge, which has bar service and hosts local entertainers each night; a cozy Club Lounge with a 24-hour self-serve beverage station offering complimentary cappuccinos, lattes, hot chocolate, tea, and premium coffees; and the Sky Deck with its hot tub, shade awnings and comfortable chaise lounges. There’s a small fitness room on the Indigo deck.
Avalon View was scheduled to sail its first itinerary in April of 2020 but, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, its christening cruise on the Danube from Vienna to Budapest didn’t take place until April 12, 2022. Godmother Meredith Viera, broadcast journalist, game show host and original moderator of TV’s The View, officiated.
Folks who were on the inaugural cruise are still talking about the surprise orchestral concert that awaited them in the St. Ladislaus chapel on an “off-the-beaten path” shore excursion of the Slovakian capital of Bratislava. It’s not exactly where one would expect to hear John Lennon’s “Imagine.”
During 2022’s April-December cruising season, Avalon View will sail the Lower Danube in Germany, Austria, Slovakia and Hungary. Cruises range from 3 to 21 nights with options for one- and two- night stays in cities like Vienna, Budapest and Munich. One notable highlight of the 2022 sailing season is a 7-night cruise from Budapest to Deggendorf, Germany in September hosted by Gone Girl author Gillian Flynn. It’s part of Avalon’s Storyteller series and will feature two exclusive on-ship events with the novelist.
In 2023, the ship will expand into the Upper Danube with itineraries that include Croatia, Serbia, Bulgaria and Romania. A couple of itineraries on the Rhine and Main are also in the works, which will bring in Switzerland and France.
In addition to the Storyteller cruise, Avalon View is also sailing on a plethora of special interest itineraries including Christmas markets, culinary and wine cruises, and “Active & Discovery” departures. The latter features physically active shore excursions involving activities like kayaking, biking, hiking, canoeing and e-bicycling. Next year, Active & Discovery itineraries, launched in 2017, will account for one-fourth of the fleet’s departures from May through October. The ship’s Adventure Host assists with active excursions and activities.
Excursions on every itinerary include classic, discovery and active options, as many as four a day and all of them complimentary. “Classic” involves a guided tour of iconic and historic sites, “discovery” explores local culture through cooking classes and painting workshops, and “active” offers an energetic way to experience the destination.
With 166 passengers at full capacity and 47 crew members, there’s a 3.5:1 passenger-to-crew ratio. The passenger demographic depends on the itinerary but many passengers are in their 60s – most of them from North America, the United Kingdom, Australia and New Zealand. The Active & Discovery cruises skew younger.
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