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23 Avalon Waterways Vienna Cruise Reviews

I really wanted to see Vienna and go on a short river cruise. I liked visiting the small towns and enjoyed learning about saffron. I wish we stayed a little longer in Munich . That hotel was fabulous. I have recently been put on a ... Read More
I really wanted to see Vienna and go on a short river cruise. I liked visiting the small towns and enjoyed learning about saffron. I wish we stayed a little longer in Munich . That hotel was fabulous. I have recently been put on a gluten free diet and thought I might have problems with food. No way - they were very organized. On the first day, after the safety drill, they had a meeting with all passengers who had special dietary needs. Both the matri’ d and main chef were there and interviewed each one of us taking notes. In the morning I was greeted by the waiter and asked if I wanted a gf roll or bread. At the buffet, I was told which items contained wheat. One day I ordered some slices of steak without gravy and the chef looked at me and siad to wait a minute. He soon returned with a small bowl of gluten free gravy! It was delicious. The waiters were great and were there to refill coffee mugs or take away dirty plates. On another company’s river cruise, we were sent a list of all the passengers with the name of the city they came from. I thought this was a good idea. I could look for the people that lived near me and write the email next to the name of the people I wanted to keep in touch with. I asked our tour director about this and was told that Avalon does not do this. Read Less
Sail Date June 2019
My husband and myself chose to take Avalon Illumination -Danube river cruise from Budapest to Bucharest. This was our first river cruise and the first with Avalon. Two days before we traveled we got information from our agent that due to ... Read More
My husband and myself chose to take Avalon Illumination -Danube river cruise from Budapest to Bucharest. This was our first river cruise and the first with Avalon. Two days before we traveled we got information from our agent that due to the low water levels in Danube the cruise route has been changed. There were options for us to either cancel, credit to a later date or take a revised cruise schedule. We however decided to proceed with our trip. Avalon managed the changed itinerary so well and gave us the best experience. We had to travel by bus from Budapest to Vienna and then start the cruise through the little towns of Austria. They then took us by chartered flight to Bucharest from Vienna as the ship could not sail through. The dining experience was great, well presented and tasty fresh food! My husband was a vegetarian, every meal was a treat even for him. The staff were well informed about the food and wines. They were courteous and some were exceptionally great! The shore excursions were well organised most of the guides were good and the buses arranged for our transport were excellent. We would definitely like to sail on Avalon cruise again! Even though due to the last minute change of itinerary there were some uncertainties Avalon made our holiday very special! They even gave us a part refund as a compensation for the last minute change of plan once we completed the cruise!! I was impressed with their Avalon app that was available for the passengers as a ready reckoner! Read Less
Sail Date October 2018
My wife and I chose the river cruise on the Danube because we wanted a relaxed and luxurious way to see Europe. We were not disappointed. Everything was wonderful from the comfortable accommodations, the wide variety of delicious foods, ... Read More
My wife and I chose the river cruise on the Danube because we wanted a relaxed and luxurious way to see Europe. We were not disappointed. Everything was wonderful from the comfortable accommodations, the wide variety of delicious foods, the friendly and helpful staff who remembered our names and preferences, and the exciting adventures on the land excursions. We chose Avalon based on the recommendation of a friend. The AvalonGO app was helpful during our cruise. Prior to embarkation the Danube River water levels dropped causing us to have a ship change. We were notified of this. Unfortunately, another ship change occurred the night before we were to embark, and the app wasn’t updated with the ships new name. We stayed at our own hotel and did not have a ship transfer as part of our vacation, so unless the app was updated there was no way for us to know. We walked along the long Vienna embarkation dock, but didn’t find our ship. We did find the Avalon Expression and learned the story. From that moment on there wasn’t another glitch. One other thing I didn’t know that I would have liked to know is that because of all the ship traffic on the river, boats “park” two or three deep next to each other. This makes the view out the large windows less desirable, but the views when sailing still make it worthwhile. The excursions were well done. I’d recommend people bring their own headphones for the guide devices. My favorite excursions were Dürnstein, where we climbed up to some old castle ruins, but didn’t have a whole lot of free time, and Chesky Krumlov, where after the guided tour we had a full 3.5 hours to explore the town, shop, and eat. Overall, it was a wonderful experience with a classy mature crowd, and I’d recommend an Avalon river cruise to any adults looking to get away. (In fact, my parents are looking to go next year!) Read Less
Sail Date September 2018
This was a fantastic cruise! We cruised from Vienna to Passau and then were transported to Munich where we spent an additional three nights. We arrived in Vienna two days early so that we could spend a day at the Spanish Riding School, ... Read More
This was a fantastic cruise! We cruised from Vienna to Passau and then were transported to Munich where we spent an additional three nights. We arrived in Vienna two days early so that we could spend a day at the Spanish Riding School, attend morning exercise and take an afternoon tour of the stables. This was a trip highlight! Vienna is a beautiful, relaxed city with wonderful outdoor cafes. Another cruise highlight was a side trip arranged by Avalon to Dachau Concentration Camp, a highlight for us since my father was part of the U.S. Army liberation forces there. Everyone should visit this site! The cruise also offered a day trip to southern Bohemia in the Czech Republic to Cesny Kremlov, a beautiful, historic town and a UNESCO world heritage site. Another trip highlight was a shore excursion from Munich to Neuschwanstein Castle - this was a fabulous side trip and another UNESCO world heritage site. Finally, we arrived in Munich on the day Oktoberfest started which was a pleasant surprise, as the city was in festival mode and many people were dressed in traditional lederhosen and dirndls. Beer was abundant! We went on a river cruise on the Rhine about 4 years ago on another cruise line and had issues with our cabin that were never resolved. Avalon's cabin, dining and services were all excellent and much better than our previous experience on Viking. We will definitely cruise on Avalon again! We could not have been more satisfied! Read Less
Sail Date September 2018
my parents recommended the cruise, and we are glad they did. We chose Avalon, to be totally honest, because it was much cheaper than Viking. We are glad we did! I can't think of anything I was unhappy about, so I'll point out ... Read More
my parents recommended the cruise, and we are glad they did. We chose Avalon, to be totally honest, because it was much cheaper than Viking. We are glad we did! I can't think of anything I was unhappy about, so I'll point out some things I extra loved - the USB charging ports in the room, the internet working across the boat (except the top deck), the generous and delicious food options. the greatest tour director in history. his name was Tony. no idea his last name, but I am sure you have it. I don't see any demographic questions below, but I have to imagine that is super important. We were younger that most. I am 46, and wifey is 44. We have no kids (hence the disposable income) and live in Denver, CO. We both have corporate office/cubicle type jobs, and our household makes about 180K annually. WAIT... small criticism. the TV options were weird. For English speaking cruises, you should have a package of English speaking TV options. Not that we watched much TV, but it was a nice option late at night as we relaxed before bed. NOTE - I am not sure of the embarkation date. We traveled so much and so fast over a few weeks, and the cruise was a small part. it was the Avalon Expression, from Prague to Bratislava to Vienna. Or... was it Budapest? Cruise director was the amazing Tony. It was an English speaking group, and about 4 to 6 days long. I hope this is helpful, and you are more than welcome to reach out to me for more details or any clarification. WAIT... one more thing. on one of the days, Tony did a narrative speech of what we were seeing as we passed it. It was beamed across the ship. LOVED IT. Wish he did one of those every day. Read Less
Sail Date May 2018
We chose this cruise because we did not want a large ship, wanted more intimate dining and off shore excursions. We have been on large cruise ships before and did not enjoy the crowds. The dining and happy hours were enjoyable . The ... Read More
We chose this cruise because we did not want a large ship, wanted more intimate dining and off shore excursions. We have been on large cruise ships before and did not enjoy the crowds. The dining and happy hours were enjoyable . The entertainment was very relaxing. Breakfast buffets were always outstanding. We liked the different wine choices every night for dinner. The service on board the ship was excellent, exceeded our expectations. Cruise director went out of his way to make everyone's experience great! Staff was always pleasant and helpful. Tour guides were the best of the best! The excursions were made for all levels of difficulty for walking. From the 1st moment on the ship it was very relaxing. Liked ghat there were lots of different excursions to chose from along the way. We loved every minute of every day, can't wait to travel on Avalon again. We hope to travel next year with Avalon down the Rhine. Read Less
Sail Date April 2018
We recently went on a river cruise, Christmas Markets, Danube, Vienna - Prague with Avalon Cruises on board the VISTA For those of you who do like gushing or glowing reports, you are excused. We stayed in Vienna for 4 ... Read More
We recently went on a river cruise, Christmas Markets, Danube, Vienna - Prague with Avalon Cruises on board the VISTA For those of you who do like gushing or glowing reports, you are excused. We stayed in Vienna for 4 - 5 days before the cruise great idea ! We have done many,many cruises before of various shapes and sizes . This was our first river cruise. Maybe it was the time of year. Maybe it was the destinations. Maybe it was the experience. But, we both would give it a spectacular rating. The crew of VISTA (Avalon Cruises) every one of them, did a wonderful job. The vessel was well appointed and very clean, our room was spacious and the bedding 1st class, toiletries were the luxury brand L'Occitane the large size. (not the teeny, tiny size) Our cruise director (Helmut) did a wonderful job, with well organized excursions, the guides exceptional and sound equipment used, was of very good quality. Everything ran with what looked like clock work precision. For those of us who love spending as much time as possible up on the deck, in all conditions, Please realize the enormous number of low bridges and locks that these vessels must navigate. We would gladly do it again, but at a different time (off season) when it is less crowded and it gives you more time to experience everything. Our only complaints, "it was'nt long enough, it ended to quickly, back to the real world." To the crew of Avalons Vista, to cruise director Helmut, to all of our guides and bus drivers. Thank you Well Done M/D Read Less
Sail Date December 2017
This well organized and thoughtfully planned cruise itinerary allowed time at the beginning to explore the culturally rich and historically important city of Vienna and thereafter offered a diverse and fascinating trip up the Danube and ... Read More
This well organized and thoughtfully planned cruise itinerary allowed time at the beginning to explore the culturally rich and historically important city of Vienna and thereafter offered a diverse and fascinating trip up the Danube and then the Rhine with dockings and tours along the way at the most important burgs and cities. The assigned tour guides were well versed in the history and current places of interest. The ship was well appointed, clean and well provisioned. The crew were there whenever needed or wanted and invisible when not, The food was spectacular. It was diverse in its offerings, delicious, and presented all as if you were in one of Europe's fine dining establishments. My special compliments go to the Chef de Cuisine, the Hotel Manager, and the Cruise Director. The on board entertainment was very good to excellent. It consisted of a crew member pianist every afternoon and into the late evening supplemented by a range of extraordinary talent brought on for occasional evenings. Read Less
Sail Date September 2017
My daugh ter, Paula Froelich, is a free -lance journalist. She wrote about Avalon, and she strongly recommended it to me and my sister and brother -in-law. We have had numerous cruises with a least a half-dozen cruise lines - all ... Read More
My daugh ter, Paula Froelich, is a free -lance journalist. She wrote about Avalon, and she strongly recommended it to me and my sister and brother -in-law. We have had numerous cruises with a least a half-dozen cruise lines - all very good! Avalon surpassed our expectations (even when compared to Azimara, Princess, Norwegian, Holland America, Carnival, etc.). Remarkably fine cuisine and the composition of the plate was . . . artistic. Very attractive. I enjoyed my cigars on the back and on top of the boat. Many lines discriminate against smokers. I no longer patronize those lines, e.g. Princess. The onboard entertainment was very good. I attended all events. Ihad never been to these towns along the Danube (Vienna included) and the Rhine. There was so much to see and so little time to see them. By the way, Avalon's arranging of flight from CVG to CDG to Vienna (and return was a master stroke of arrangement. I dislike flying, but your arrangements with Delta were perfect. You folks did an exemplary job. You have my highest marks. A+ Read Less
Sail Date September 2017
I had heard this cruise line was one of the top cruising lines and they catered to a smaller group. I enjoyed everything about the cruise. The staff was very professional and when I had a problem with one of the servers at dinner, Avalon ... Read More
I had heard this cruise line was one of the top cruising lines and they catered to a smaller group. I enjoyed everything about the cruise. The staff was very professional and when I had a problem with one of the servers at dinner, Avalon took care of the problem right away. The cruise director was fantastic and the room was amazing. Every detail was taken care of. What I also liked was the fact you could include tipping the staff ahead of time and you didn't have to worry about that at the end of your cruise. I met so many nice people on this cruise and we still stay in touch. I would absolutely love to go again with this cruise line. Even after taking a 2 week cruise, I was not ready to come home. I highly recommend Avalon Waterway to anyone wanting to go with a cruise line who puts their customers satisfaction first. Read Less
Sail Date June 2017
This was our first river cruise although we have taken many ocean and a Mediterranean cruise. We choose this one because of work schedules we needed a shorter one and we had never visited Eastern Europe. This cruise included 2 land ... Read More
This was our first river cruise although we have taken many ocean and a Mediterranean cruise. We choose this one because of work schedules we needed a shorter one and we had never visited Eastern Europe. This cruise included 2 land nights on both ends and only 3 nights actually on the boat, Vienna, then Budapest. The cruise line rep met us at Vienna airport and provided transportation to the Vienna Intercontinental Hotel (great breakfast buffet included daily), Avalon provided a bus/walking tour of Vienna which was good but we bought the Vienna Pass online before we got there. We saw many sights and the hop on bus was included, Schonberg Palace, Albertina Museum, House of Music, Mozarts home, St Stephen Cathedral, to name a few. We went to Mass at a church near the palace where the music was a full orchestra playing Strauss. It seemed like there was Classical music everywhere. Sacher torte at Sacher Hotel (a line to get in but you can get it elsewhere too). Logistics were easy to follow to get on the transport to the boat. Cruise part was great. Food and wine, wonderful. Great service. We wished we had more time onboard. Enjoyed the stops. Used the bikes( reserve Early). Budapest was interesting too and we enjoyed the Hungarian foods. Read Less
Sail Date May 2017
Three years ago we took an Avalon cruise on the Rhine River and loved the experience. We decided to take the Christmas Market cruise on the Danube to celebrate our wedding anniversary. We were not disappointed. Avalon does everything so ... Read More
Three years ago we took an Avalon cruise on the Rhine River and loved the experience. We decided to take the Christmas Market cruise on the Danube to celebrate our wedding anniversary. We were not disappointed. Avalon does everything so very well. The ship was wonderful and beautifully decorated for Christmas. St. Nicholas even left us sweet treats on his feast day, December 6th. Speaking of sweet treats, we loved the traditional ginger cookies always available to enjoy. I am a cookie baker and the Executive Chef helped me with the recipe to bake at home. The staff, crew and Robert our cruise director were all exceptional. The Captain was very approachable and spent time answering passenger questions. I was fascinated by all the locks we traveled through and enjoyed the presentation on the topic. The ports were all special and unique. The food for was delicious. Evening entertainment was very enjoyable. We enjoyed the wine and beer tastings. We had perfect shore excursions and plenty of time to visit the Christmas markets. We met many nice people and will always treasure the memories made on this very special cruise. Read Less
Sail Date December 2016
We chose this cruise,, quite late,.. Having been aboard BlackWatch in June,when it caught fire and we were flown home. We found everything about the Avalon Vista exceeded our expectations , having done a fair amount of cruising We ... Read More
We chose this cruise,, quite late,.. Having been aboard BlackWatch in June,when it caught fire and we were flown home. We found everything about the Avalon Vista exceeded our expectations , having done a fair amount of cruising We feel able to judge! The Captain, crew and everyone aboard were friendly and helpful. The ship was kept immaculate and the food Very good. We enjoyed being able to open our french balcony window and watch the magnificent scenery pass by. The tours laid on along the way were informative and easy to follow with our hand held mikes and ear pieces. All the entertainment was well chosen and appreciated by the guests. It is hard to fault it with good wines every evening being included., maybe they were being subsidised by the rather expensive drinks ordered during the day??! That being our only slight complaint! Would recommend the cruise to anyone,especially when the sun shone everyday. Read Less
Sail Date August 2016
Let me preface this by saying we are not cruise people. We've only taken a couple of other cruises on small ships (Windstar - great!! and Antarctica excursion) but never a river cruise. We chose Avalon because they advertised a 3-Day ... Read More
Let me preface this by saying we are not cruise people. We've only taken a couple of other cruises on small ships (Windstar - great!! and Antarctica excursion) but never a river cruise. We chose Avalon because they advertised a 3-Day Cruise Only option that allowed us to do only the river portion with them. We looked at the cruise as Room & Board and transportation only. We weren't interested in any group tours. We booked our own hotels in Vienna and Budapest and did our own thing in every port. Being very experienced world travelers (having already traveled independently to over 100 countries) we don't like groups. All that said, this seemed pretty easy. Wrong! The entire experience was annoying. From boarding the ship to leaving, we felt harassed. The cabins they touted as a room with a view, was adequate but nothing special. Food was really designed for the typical cruise population with an average age of 70. When I asked for a piece of fish with no sauce, which seems like an easy request, the waiter acted as if I was inconveniencing him. The cruise director was the most annoying person I've ever encountered in all my travels. And, above all else, no one on the staff seemed to understand the concept of Cruise Only. They kept paging us and asking about our arrangements. They were annoyed we weren't part of their group. What happened to "it's all about the customer?!" The cruise itself: The ports were interesting — Melk, Durnstein, Bratislava and into Budapest. But river cruising is a very expensive way to see places if you are a good independent traveler. We spent three nights on the river and then three nights in Budapest at a very high-end hotel. When we added up all our expenses there, it turned out we spent half as much — and that included a huge suite, using the hotel car for touring, taking advantage of its spa, eating in some astoundingly fantastic restaurants, and being driven to the airport. And, as if our experience on the ship wasn't bad enough, when I got home and received a welcome home email from Avalon asking for my feedback, I wrote back about some of the problems we had, and was planning to post a negative review on TripAdvisor, I received a reply telling me they were very busy and would take 5 – 8 weeks to reply. Seriously? That's how you reply to a customer who is unhappy? I didn't want anything from them other than to say you did a lousy job. The upshot was I requested to have my address — email, snail mail, and any future delivery systems — removed from all their databases. I do not want to receive anything from them. I know lots of people who love river cruises. If you are one of them, be very careful before choosing Avalon. Customer service is not their strong suit. Read Less
Sail Date August 2016
My husband and I have been on Avalon several times already. Organization should be their middle name. They have excellent Directors, staff and accommodations. Pre and post hotels are always top of the line and their locations are in ... Read More
My husband and I have been on Avalon several times already. Organization should be their middle name. They have excellent Directors, staff and accommodations. Pre and post hotels are always top of the line and their locations are in city centers - usually walkable to most of the important attractions. All of the transfers happen without a hitch. Excursions are well planned and well escorted with very knowledgeable guides. Prices compete well with all the other lines. Food onboard is delicious and with so many choices I can't imagine anyone not being happy about the dining experience. I am very happy to see that there were many more local cuisine options this cruise. I love to speak with other travelers on other lines to compare notes. I find we are much happier than most of those on other lines. Since I don't have anything to complain about I don't have too many more words to say about perfection! Just love putting my travel plans in Avalon's hands! Read Less
Sail Date August 2016
We first looked at this particular cruise because it fit the time slot we had open. Once we started looking in more detail we were very impressed with the design of the rooms on the Panorama. And we liked the combination of several days ... Read More
We first looked at this particular cruise because it fit the time slot we had open. Once we started looking in more detail we were very impressed with the design of the rooms on the Panorama. And we liked the combination of several days in Vienna and Budapest along with 3 nights on the boat. As things turned out we were extremely happy with the overall package and with the boat in particular. We enjoyed the other passengers, the food, the guides, the staff, and the amazing places we got to see! We ended up doing the Schonbrun tour in Vienna as well as the evening concert. Both were really excellent. Along the way we did the bicycle tour and enjoyed that as well. Finally, in Budapest we did the lights of the city at night tour, which was gorgeous! The tours that were included were also very worthwhile. We really ended up learning a lot about the history of the region! Read Less
Sail Date August 2016
Our trip was a work promotion and it couldn't have been better. We'd never been on a such a vacation--ocean or river--before and couldn't be more pleased. The Visionary was terrific, the crew warm and accommodating. The ... Read More
Our trip was a work promotion and it couldn't have been better. We'd never been on a such a vacation--ocean or river--before and couldn't be more pleased. The Visionary was terrific, the crew warm and accommodating. The dinner service left us wanting for nothing, as the offerings each meal were fresh, new and creative. Our cabin was spacious, warm, modern, clean and comfortable with plenty of space. The view outside our glassed doors was magical as we got to watch Austria pass by. The shore trips arranged for us were great, allowing enough time to be with a guide AND to explore on our own. I would gladly recommend such a cruise to anyone looking for the pleasure of water travel as well as the chance to explore on dry land. Even though our vacation was technically "work", our trip down the Danube was a vacation my wife and I will never forget. Read Less
Sail Date August 2016
After two cruises on Uniworld, we decided to try Avalon. We liked their "panorama suite" design. Sadly, that was the only thing outstanding about our Avalon experience. Our "journey" started with "check-in" ... Read More
After two cruises on Uniworld, we decided to try Avalon. We liked their "panorama suite" design. Sadly, that was the only thing outstanding about our Avalon experience. Our "journey" started with "check-in" at the Hotel Intercontinental in Vienna. By this time, we had already been in Europe for 3 nights, on our own. There was a large window to check bags in, from 8am to 3:30pm, but this entire process really messed up any possibility to do anything meaningful on that day. (With Uniworld, we were actually able to present ourselves to the ship itself, at any time during the day. They also had light snacks available in the lounge.) Not the case with Avalon. There was a conference room, at the hotel, with chips, peanuts, water, and coffee. We were required to be back, at the hotel, at 3:30, so we could be bussed, as a group, to the ship. Again, having to schedule events around this time frame, was inconvenient. As we had travel cards, we could have easily traveled to and from the ship much easier on our own.....but, that wasn't an option. Moving on to orientation......there were only 50 people on our cruise. We were assembled in the lounge, where our cruise director gave us a brief overview of the ship, and upcoming cruise. We did the mandatory muster drill, and then were escorted to our rooms by a staff member. Basically, this involved......"here's how your room key works," and, "here's your room"......our luggage was then delivered, one piece at a time.....(Now, comparing to Uniworld, we got an overview of the room, outlet locations, "how-to's", and, our luggage was already in our room when we arrived). Cabin: We had a Panorama suite on the middle deck, 4 cabins from the rear of the ship. The cabin was very spacious, and we loved that the bed faced outward (though we were often rafted, and couldn't open the curtains). The bathroom was also very spacious, and well appointed. The bed was comfortable. The couch and chair, not so much. There was a minibar/fridge, which we used to keep our own water cool. Hanging closet space and shelf space was adequate, but there really weren't any drawers. The desk chair was uncomfortable, and had a solid back, which made it difficult to pull in and out. We were provided with two large bottles of water at the beginning of our trip. We had to fill the ice bucket ourselves. Comparing to Uniworld, this cabin was a clear winner with regard to space. The Uniworld beds are much more comfortable, and the staff much more attentive with Uniworld. However, factoring in rafting makes the extra $$ for the suite not worth the concept. Public space: Avalon's decor is more contemporary, and simplistic, than Uniworld. However, it is also much less comfortable. From the dining room to lounge, the furniture was very uncomfortable. The seating on the sundeck was also of inferior quality to Uniworld. By the end of our cruise, my husband said, "Give me the brothel look anytime!" Shore excursions: honestly, we really didn't participate in many of these. The first day (the hotel day mentioned above) didn't include any. The second day, we remained in Vienna. Tours included a morning city tour (we were on our 3rd day, so did the Spanish Riding School in the morning, and Schonbrunn Palace-on our own-in the afternoon). The third day, we started off with the Durnstein walking tour, but as there were 4 ships there, the one street was pretty congested, so we opted to walk to the castle ruins. We sailed to Melk that afternoon, and did do the Melk Abbey excursion, which we thoroughly enjoyed. Day 4 took us to Cesky Krumlov. After 45 minutes, we left that tour, as we hadn't even made it across the river yet, and our guide was more focused on telling us where to shop and eat, than about the city itself. The last day was a short city tour in Passau, but we opted to climb to the castle on the right side of the city, and the church on the left side. We did meet up with the tour guide afterwords, with members from our cruise, and enjoyed a beer. In general, since we are "young" river cruisers, we like to get out and do our own thing. Food: Is always subjective, but Avalon certainly was mediocre to average here. Variety, and quality, were lacking. Choices were few, and didn't really reflect the local cuisine. Thank goodness there were menu items for breakfast and lunch, because the buffet offerings were of cafeteria quality. The beer/liquor selection was equally underwhelming. Lastly, there was no "open seating" with regard to time. We were "asked" to proceed to the dining room for dinner, 15 minutes after the appointed "start" time. Entertainment: "Typical" regular piano player/singer. We had one night of special entertainment, in Melk, from a man from New Zealand, who played guitar and sang 60/70/80's music. He was very good, but sadly, only played for an our, and was gone......The on board musician wasn't good, at all, and often played, and sang, the same songs over and over. When he wasn't playing, the music choices were awful. When we asked the bartender about it, he said they had a playlist provided by corporate...... Staff: Despite there only being 50 passengers aboard, the staff seemed very unengaged. Most really didn't seem to care that much. There were a few waitstaff that went out of their way, and learned our likes/preferences, but that was it. The front desk staff wouldn't initiate conversation, and would only reply if spoken to first. Housekeeping would store their carts in the halls, and their "uniforms" looked like something they had worn to bed the night before (t-shirts and casual, pull-on style pants) General Avalon comments: As noted, we had done two Uniworld cruises previously, one pre all-inclusive, and one after they went all-inclusive. This is my observation of Avalon. They are too corporate focused, and not customer focused. There is a place for procedure, but, in the river cruise business, the customer has to be attended to, and they don't do a good job here. From their regimented check-in, to bussing to the ship.......I'm not sure how other lines handle it, but Uniworld definitely gets the nod here. The "approved" music list in the bar......Also, their headset system, not nearly as good as Uniworld's, and they kept them at the front desk, instead of in the cabins.....I can't imagine the chaos this would cause on a full ship, as it caused chaos on our less than half-full one! Also, their passenger tracking system leaves a lot to be desired. With Uniworld, we would scan our room cards in and out, with an electronic card scanner. With Avalon, they give you small laminated cards to carry offshore with you. On the Durnstein-Melk day, there was a notice to not turn in your card if you planned on doing the afternoon excursion (Melk). So, we didn't.....the cruise director had seen us come onboard, and came up to the sun deck to retrieve our cards.....he said, "You didn't turn in your cards" I said, "When we left this am, there was a sign up telling us not to!". Perhaps one of the most disappointing parts of our cruise, and one where corporate prevailed over customer, was on the last full day of the cruise. We were enjoying a beautiful morning of sailing between Linz and Passau, and the crew was assembling furniture, running wire, etc, on the sun deck, in anticipation of the next sailing, which was chartered by Goodyear. In addition, once we reached Passau, we attempted to come back to the ship, only to find them loading supplies for the next sailing. It was a chore to get to our cabin, with the staff heaving crates of water bottles down the hall. While I realize it has to be done sometime......they do kick you off no later than 10am, and don't let anyone on again until 4pm on embarkation day! And, in this case, they had an entire day between our disembarkation and the next cruise's embarkation. In closing, I didn't feel like a valued passenger......Avalon did nothing to make me feel special, and did nothing to make me want to be a repeat passenger. Read Less
Sail Date April 2016
Sunday, November 29, 2015 Vienna - Had arrived days earlier in Vienna to tour town on our own. Took our luggage to the Intercontinental Hotel (where is was securely stored) until several buses took us to the ship. Embarkation was a ... Read More
Sunday, November 29, 2015 Vienna - Had arrived days earlier in Vienna to tour town on our own. Took our luggage to the Intercontinental Hotel (where is was securely stored) until several buses took us to the ship. Embarkation was a breeze! Luggage already in our room - simply unpack (and store luggage under bed). Required emergency drill that everyone had to attend, then welcome by Captain and Cruise Director (Tony Campailla) and our first meal (nice selection) on the ship. Monday, November 30, 2015 Vienna – Since we had already toured Vienna, we took the tour bus into town in the morning for the “guided tour” and ditched the tour – some Christmas Markets shut down due to high winds. Had Sacher Torte and visited Museum. We then took the bus back to ship for lunch. After lunch, we took the bus to Schonbrunn Palace for the paid Excursion. It started raining on the way there and then the rain increased steadily in intensity. Christmas Market was shut down due to the extremely high winds (big disappointment as blogs stated this was one of the best Christmas Markets to attend). Since we had seen this palace twice before, we probably should not have pre-signed up and paid for this excursion and done it at the last minute. The inclement weather (heavy rain) ruined the experience. Lesson learned. Tuesday, December 1, 2015 Dürnstein – Unbelievably high winds. Had a walking tour through the small town with time to shop at the local stores. No Christmas Market. Saw the Blue Church. Melk – Since we had toured Abbey before, we walked the small town. Christmas Market shut down – only open for locals on weekends and evenings. Heard people from the Viking ship complain about this fact as they walked past us. Wednesday, December 2, 2015 Salzburg Excursion (Paid) - We took the bus ride to Salzburg. Had the chocolate pretzel and local sausages. Great Christmas Market and lots of great shopping (probably second best). Continued on with our growing Gluhwein mug collection. Lunch on own as bus took us to Oberndorf that afternoon to see Silent Night church. Then another short bus ride to a very small village, where two gentlemen sang Silent Night in the local church. Stollen and Gluhwein served up after the music in a courtyard. Bus ride back to the ship docked in Passau. Thursday, December 3, 2015 Regensburg – Another place we did not take the walking tour. Left before the tour groups and quickly found the Christmas Market. At 11 am, before tour groups arrived, we stopped at the Historische Wurstkuche (Old Sausage Kitchen) and put in our order (utilizing the free meal coupon provided by Avalon). Similar the Seinfeld “Soup Nazi” we had the waiter repeatedly say: “Not all inclusive!!” We each received 6 small sausages with sauerkraut plus a beer. There was a large bread basket with a couple dozen rolls. As we were leaving after the meal, the waiter ran after us. “How many rolls?” We had 3 total. Not all Inclusive meant 1 roll per person. We had to pay .90 euro for third roll. We reported this to Tony back at the ship who was saddened since Avalon paid the Old Sausage Kitchen for this experience. In the afternoon a bus took us to the Taxis and Thurn Palace for their Christmas Market. (Looking back it was the BEST Christmas Market!) Great shopping and outdoor firewood heat everywhere. (Tony personally took the group there and back.) Friday, December 4, 2015 Nuremberg – It was becoming quickly evident that the Christmas Markets were providing way too many opportunities for shopping. Tony let us know of 2 stores in Nuremburg that carried quality luggage. When we arrived that afternoon we took the tour bus into town and were dropped off near the train station. (As with these tours, we always asked the tour guide where the bus would be picking us up and at what time.) We found a very nice carry-on piece to make sure we could bring back all the goodies we found. The Christmas Market was incredible (would rate this third best of the markets). We walked and did some shopping. We were told to meet for the tour bus ride back at the “Golden Fountain” in the Market Square. Unfortunately, the “Golden Fountain” was completely covered with construction materials, so we made the assumption that it was the Fountain based on where we were at looking at the maps that Avalon had provided. (NOTE: Avalon provides very detailed and easy to understand maps of the cities we visited. Because of this, we could find many things on our own utilizing the map. Always took a second map along for reference and kept one for our memory book.) Saturday, December 5, 2015 Munich – Bus ride to Munich. Did the walking tour, then time on our own. Since lunch was not included we did the local Rathaus (basement) for a meal. Spent the short time we had in Munich mostly at this place. Markets were far too crowded due to it being a Saturday to do shopping. The walking tour included the Hofbrauhaus and the Glockenspiel (at noon). Again, not enough time on these excursions. This was also the large “turn-over” day on the ship – the first of two. In all we experienced 3 Welcome Dinners, 3 Farewell Dinners, and 3 “last suppers”. These large change-overs are very stressful. You just get to start knowing people and then you have to start over again with a new group. This second group was very loud compared to the first. Those we talked to whom had just arrived loved Prague and their Christmas market (we missed out on that experience). Sunday, December 6, 2015 Nuremberg – Attended the morning service at a local church. Everything in German. Were able to figure out hymnal and tried sing along in some places. Church was cold – somehow heat was being pumped under the seats to help warm us up though. Did some more shopping after the service and returned to the ship late afternoon. Monday, December 7, 2015 Bamberg – Took the guided walking tour, since we had a free beer gift certificate and didn't know the location. This was a mistake. Tour guide took us to a museum and offered people a chance to use the bathrooms. Over ½ hour (almost 40 minutes) was lost due this convenience for others. Tour guide quickly walked us to brewery to get gift bag. It contained beer and glasses; however, it did not contain the smoked beer. Just a regular lager. The whole point of Bamberg is their smoked beer. In hindsight, would have skipped the walking tour, forgone the free beer gift, and spent time at the Christmas Market (we only had less than ½ hour to visit it after the lost bathroom time). Tuesday, December 8, 2015 Wurzburg – Did not do the walking tour in the Residenz. Took the tour bus there, then walked on our own. Watched the Market’s slowing opening while at a local coffee shop. Then shopped that Christmas Market. Listened to a street musician play wonderful music. Later waited for the ship to arrive at the dock. We had learned the night before that the Danube had been running high and the Captain was racing ahead of the rising waters to get under bridges. If it had been one day later, we would have been put on a bus (and off the ship). To make Wurzburg excursion, they stopped at a small town and bussed us ahead of the ship. We were also delayed 4 hours due to a lock being broken just as we were leaving the Canal and entering the Main River. This put the trip behind for awhile. Waiting for the ship to arrive in Wurzburg (it was 45 minutes late) got us a little worried that we would miss out on the paid excursion to Rothenburg. Rothenburg Excursion (Paid) – Took the bus. Left the tour group once we got inside the wall (because again the Guide stopped first at a public bathroom for the group to use). Utilized the Avalon map to navigate our way around the place. Visited the Käthe Wohlfahrt Christmas Museum (Avalon had provided everyone with a free entrance coupon). Store was extremely crowded and very long lines to check out if purchasing an item. We were able to walk part of the rampart wall above the city – that was a great experience! Needed more time to spend exploring this wonderful place! Near the church, we had a cherry flavored Gluhwein that was exceptional. Wednesday, December 9, 2015 Miltenberg – Wonderful town! Ship had to dock a long ways away (the ship was docked at the far end of the town well past the normal docking locations) and we had to walk through muddy construction area (work was being done to build up the shore to prevent flooding damage). Again, left before the tour groups and did our own thing. The town is very narrow and long – basically two streets running parallel to the river. If you stopped in one of three stores with an Avalon poster in the window, you received a free treat (like a piece of candy). Christmas Market here was also shut down. Another place where it is open at night and weekends for the locals. Many old buildings and simply a quaint beautiful little town! Half-timbered houses and cobblestone lanes made it very picturesque! Thursday, December 10, 2015 Rudesheim – Bus ride, then mini-train ride to the Musical Museum. The mini-train is a tractor pulling covered carts that hold a dozen people each. We again did our own thing and walked the Christmas Market rather than visit the Musical Museum. Wonderful little town! Had a full lunch with everyone from the tour group at the Rudesheimer Schloss with the “special coffee” for dessert. Great local band playing during the meal. This was the second turn-over of guests on the ship. We again had people suddenly leave that we were getting to know. Friday, December 11, 2015 Heidelberg – Since we’d been there before we decided to rest a bit and started packing items we had purchased. The ship left after people got on the bus to Heidelburg and we used the time to get organized. We did not stop in Speyer – instead we stopped in Mannheim and were able to walk to the old town (a bit of a maze even with the map provided by Avalon) that included walking under the train tracks through a tunnel. Another great Market! Another great shopping mecca. More great Gluhwein and sausages. Unexpected stop – but a very pleasant surprise. Glad we bought that second carry-on luggage! Saturday, December 12, 2015 Strasbourg – We docked on German side of Rhine (most likely Avalon did not want security issues being docked in France since the attacks earlier in the month in Paris). We quickly found out that crossing the Rhine on a tour bus was a lengthy experience due to border control being tightened in France. One lane traffic vs. three lane traffic. Delays in and out of Strasbourg put a crimp on time to do anything. In Strasbourg, pairs of Policemen every block. The Market place was simply overcrowded (again probably because it was a Saturday - just like Munich). If you tried to talk to some of the vendors in English, they would ignore you (some even rude). On the perimeter, pairs of French Army with submachine guns. We got back to the ship 30 minutes late due to border delays. Alsace Excursion (Paid) – Stopped at Winery owned by a local family. Sampled 4 wines. This excursion also included a stop to the very quaint village of Obernai. Again not enough time to explore due to short time provided during this stop (would have had less time available if we took the walk with the tour guide). Sunday, December 13, 2015 Breisach – Spent morning walking the town which sits on a high hill. Long walk up to the high point to get to the church and old town. Nothing open in town (Sunday). Great views of the Vosges Mountains in France and the Black Forest in Germany though. Colmar Excursion (Paid) – Bus trip. Took the guided walking tour. Beautiful town with not enough time to explore Christmas Markets. Would have loved more time at this place. Stopped at the Hansi Shop and had a small bite to eat and drink, then shopped for Hansi specialty items. Waited for the tour guide to walk us back to the bus. She walked too fast and many people in our group struggled to keep up. The walk itself was at least 12 blocks crossing busy traffic. The ride back was a bit better until we got to the bridge crossing the Rhine. Again, the lanes went from 3 down to 1 for the border inspection between France and Germany – delayed arrival to ship. Monday, December 14, 2015 Basel – 4:30 am wake up call. Bus left at 6:00 am and took 90 minutes to get to Zurich. We were on first group to depart ship (8 of us) since our flights were that morning. Provided with a cold boxed breakfast to eat on bus ride. Disembarkation was very efficient with colored ribbons to mark our luggage. PLUSES and MINUSES: - Tony Campailla is an exceptional Director! - Suppers at least two hours long - length of meal can get tiresome after a while. Some meal selections became repetitive during a two week trip. - Breakfast and Lunch selections all wonderful. Soups fantastic! Lack of local cheeses - could have had more selections made available. - Congestion at the serving area. Badly designed. People getting soup and bread coming from two directions to also get served hot food creates a constant traffic jam at lunch. - Tour Guides for off ship excursions were not the best at time management. - Room was had lots of light from full windows. Bathroom was very roomy. Beds comfortable. Small frig in room to store occasional food items bought in excursions. Never felt cramped - even watched 3 movies while we were underway. - Service was exceptional. From the front desk staff, to the bar, to the room attendant, to the wait staff - everyone. They made you feel very welcomed and cared for. - Excursions need about 2 more hours added to them to make them worth your while. - As stated, maps provided at front desk are excellent! Daily newsletter was also very well done. Nightly talk from Tony about the next day's events was entertaining. - Selection at bar was very good with half-priced happy hour almost every night. - No snow. Both a plus and minus. Would have made markets look more magical; however, walking was nice and easy without walking in slush. - St. Nicholas Day - they had everyone put shoes outside their cabin door and in the morning a special gift from St. Nick was in the shoes. - Passenger Turn-Over. Watch for trips where passenger turn-overs can take place. Usually Nuremberg and Frankfurt are two locations where this can happen in the trip. - Coffee machine in back lounge area with good selection of cookies. - Were told at the end of the cruise that Avalon was testing out new dinner service, new linens, new towels, etc. on this specific cruise. The silverware rolled too easily on the plate; however, the linens and especially the towels were were very soft. - Would we do this trip again and with Avalon? Absolutely! Read Less
Sail Date November 2015
This was our first river cruise and we found the size of the ship perfect. We made great new friends and enjoyed the staff immensely. Sitting in the lounge after dinner listening to the piano music was relaxing and fun. Tours included ... Read More
This was our first river cruise and we found the size of the ship perfect. We made great new friends and enjoyed the staff immensely. Sitting in the lounge after dinner listening to the piano music was relaxing and fun. Tours included an overview of each town/village/city we visited and were well done. The headsets were a great improvement to what we had experienced on an ocean cruise. Our cruise included 5 days aboard the Artistry II cruising through Austria and a land package in Munich at the Westin. The only thing missing was more time aboard the ship. Read Less
Sail Date May 2015
We chose this cruise since it visited an area of Europe that is rarely visited, the Balkans. I had done all this area several times, but a long time ago. Most of it was new for my wife. Two dear friends accompanied us, all of it new to ... Read More
We chose this cruise since it visited an area of Europe that is rarely visited, the Balkans. I had done all this area several times, but a long time ago. Most of it was new for my wife. Two dear friends accompanied us, all of it new to them. They had the same fabulous experience we did! We were accommodated for 2 nights in the excellent and very well-located Intercontinental in Vienna, before a coach transfer to Bratislava. here we were given a guided walk through the city ending at the Vista, where our bags were already in our cabins. Throughout, everything ran like clockwork, with our splendidly efficient German Cruise Director Isobel always fully on top of things. She was wonderful! Our cabin was quite large( supposedly 200 sq.ft), with a small sitting area, a very comfortable bed and pillows, lots of drawer and cupboard space and room for the empty suitcases under the bed. The window wall opposite the bed was amazing, with much of it retracting , leaving a swath of open air and unimpeded views. Food in the restaurant was excellent and varied. The chef even remembered one day I liked Wiener Schnitzel and delighted me with a surprise one at lunchtime one day, personally delivered! Lots of variety at all three meals, and all top quality fresh food. The waiters were so friendly and jovial, we looked forward to each meal just on their account! The stops on the cruise were well judged ( realistically the only places of note along the way anyway!). It was great to sail up to and through the famous Iron Gates, otherwise almost inaccessible! We especially enjoyed the small boat trip into the Danube Delta, as well as our own independent exploration Of "wild east" St Georges at the mouth of the Danube. At the end, we were transferred to Bucharest for a night in the excellent Plaza Athenee Hilton, that has for half a century been the top hotel in town. We took the excursion to Ceausescu's palace extravaganza, that gives Versiailes a run for its money as a building. Amazing! All in all, as I told Isobel and the Captain, if they were to ask me how to improve on this cruise, I could not tell them how! That's how good it was and why we and our friends were so delighted with every aspect of our trip. We wholeheartedly recommend Avalon based on our experience! Read Less
Sail Date April 2015
We were on the sapphire deck and the views were wonderful from our room it was also nice to hear the river. Our room had a very comfortable love seat and chair that allowed us to watch the scenery go by. Lots of storage in closet and ... Read More
We were on the sapphire deck and the views were wonderful from our room it was also nice to hear the river. Our room had a very comfortable love seat and chair that allowed us to watch the scenery go by. Lots of storage in closet and bathroom. It was nice to have drawers by bed and in bathroom to store personal items in often not found in hotels or large cruise ships! Bed very comfortable and liked the fact that you could face view from it. Loved the coffee station on board, had juice, ice water,great coffee maker, cookies and sometimes pastries along with comfortable seating. The food was fairly good only a few disappointments but the excellent service made up for that. The service was beyond expectations. It seemed "no worries" was their motto. I had spilled coffee on the next to last day on my slacks I wanted to wear for departing and they rushed them in the laundry for me so I would have them the same day. Read Less
Sail Date August 2014
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