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Sail Date: July 2018
I chose this May, 2018 river cruise for the itinerary because Switzerland was on my bucket list, specifically Lucerne. I looked forward to the pre cruise two night stay at The Palace but was very disappointed when that hotel was ... Read More
I chose this May, 2018 river cruise for the itinerary because Switzerland was on my bucket list, specifically Lucerne. I looked forward to the pre cruise two night stay at The Palace but was very disappointed when that hotel was substituted due to renovation. The boutique Marriott property - The Hotel - is dark and dreary, with the ceiling murals of the supposedly renowned architect's favorite movie scenes quite creepy at best. Cold and modern interiors instead of warm traditional was not what I had looked forward to here in this charming, quaint city. The bar and restaurant are independent entities and charges were pay as you go, with Marriott points not allowed, an additional surprising negative with this hotel. Our Tour Director Katie was extremely knowledgeable, with a great personality, present and professional at all times. With Katie along, our tour of Lucerne was comprehensive, led by a local lady who was a joy to be with. The tour to Mt. Pilatus was amazing and Katie led it beautifully. Each of the shore excursions were led by well qualified guides with the exception of Koblenz. That gentleman was way too wordy and spoke solely to one couple in particular, while ignoring the rest of our group. I chose two optional excursions - Colmar for the wine country scenery and tasting and to the Black Forest with a serving of that marvelous cake at a clock shop/cafe. Each excursion was well worth the added cost, both immensely enjoyable. Once on board, as on other River cruises I have experienced, I was very much looking forward to the seven days of dining but this proved to be a disappointment as well. Breakfast and lunch were the usual buffet offerings, just average, with dinner entrees skimpy and for the most part tasteless, desserts - most nights icecream - uninspired. One evening the size of the fish entree while tasty, had our table giggling, it was so tiny. I tasted whatever of the local wines were offered each night at dinner and must say they were quite good. One day I chose to stay back from the Regenstein excursion and spent a marvelous day up on the sun deck reading while cruising leisurely along and glancing up now and then at the picturesque country side. This was a much needed respite and a lovely memory. Katie emphasized that it was not necessary to go on every excursion but to take a step back when needed and enjoy the ship and that is exactly what I did. I'm not a night life person but understood the very pleasant after dinner piano music in the Lounge was attended well by those partaking of a night cap. The servers in the Lounge were exceptional and went out of their way to make a special drink for me one night before dinner even though it was not on the drinks menu. In retrospect, I feel Avalon did not deliver a well rounded quality product that reflected the cost of the $6,000.00 price tag and I would not choose this company again in future. Unfortunately, I feel Avalon does not compare favorably with the three other well known River cruise companies I have traveled with. Read Less
7 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: April 2012
Since I am a well traveled person and research my trips before I go this was certainly a big disappointment. My travel agent touted this as a good cruise. However, the food was mediocre and the specials at breakfast were not ... Read More
Since I am a well traveled person and research my trips before I go this was certainly a big disappointment. My travel agent touted this as a good cruise. However, the food was mediocre and the specials at breakfast were not "special". The service at meals was awful. I had to ask for a Sprite 4 times before I got it. At one meal I and two other ladies were the last to be served even though we ordered with everyone else. During the first night and subsequent nights where there were cocktail parties. I, as a non-drinker, was not able to get an alternative such as a soft drink or juice to toast with everyone else. I feel I paid for this. I also thought I should be able to get cappuccino in the dining room. When I appeared in the dining room for lunch and dinner there was no one to greet me or help me find a seat. As a SINGLE TRAVELR I had to go from table to table to see if there was a vacancy. I found this to be very humiliating. They advertised free Internet. This I count on to conduct business while I am gone. I even brought my own computer. There was no service during more than half the trip. One of the passengers said they thought there was no service contract in Belgium. When disembarking they called a taxi for me. It cost $25 for a shorter trip than my arrival which was $8.00. The trip was to be special with a tour of Keukenhof. These are the gardens and fields that one sees in photo brochures with stripes of many colors of tulips EXCEPT we arrived a little too late and portions of the fields were cleared away and just dirt was left. My main objective for the cruise was not achieved. Another tour stop, "Floriade" was an exhibition that occurred once a every ten years. The guide dumped us at the gate and disappeared without much of a clue as to what the highlights were. This was also disappointing as it was mainly commercial displays most of which were not very interesting. Personnel who cleaned the room did a good job. Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: September 2011
This is the second small ship we have cruised, with the first one being on the Yangtze River in China. That was wonderful, and I believe it was the same cruise line, but different ship. Let me begin with the positive...the room/bath was ... Read More
This is the second small ship we have cruised, with the first one being on the Yangtze River in China. That was wonderful, and I believe it was the same cruise line, but different ship. Let me begin with the positive...the room/bath was the best we've had on a ship...mostly because of the roomy, full-sized bath. The ship was modern and nice, although a bit sterile feeling. Having said that, the food was lousy and repetitive (had risotto at least four times at different meals during the first two days!), and the staff were rude and unfriendly, with few exceptions. The only friendly staff on board was the cabin stewardess, two bar servers, the chef, and the piano player. Everyone else, including the cruise director, were unfriendly to different degrees. You could tell that most crew members were tired of working and wanted to go home. I won't said that cruise line again, although perhaps other ships would be OK. This was certainly not! Read Less
Sail Date: September 2011
The Avalon trip from Amsterdam to Basil which departed on September 10 started out with the welcome cocktail party of cheap sparkling wine ( one glass per person) and this set the tone for the cruise. Anytime Avalon could cut corners they ... Read More
The Avalon trip from Amsterdam to Basil which departed on September 10 started out with the welcome cocktail party of cheap sparkling wine ( one glass per person) and this set the tone for the cruise. Anytime Avalon could cut corners they did from the old canal boats they used for the Amsterdam canal cruise with windows that were so cloudy you could not see out of half of them to the worst free wine with the worst dinners. The facilities on Affinity were OK but the large cupboards in the top deck rooms were half taken up with the air heating/air conditioning system, the mini bar, the safe and the extra blankets. The crew work hard trying to make the passengers as comfortable as possible and trying to meet their needs with what they have to work with, specially the bar staff. The dinningroom service is about average for a medium priced restaurant but not for a top cruise line. The waiters/waitresses were looking after to many tables which caused some long delays. Now to the "Five Star" dining: breakfast was buffet and not bad, good selection but selection of fruit lacked, lunch was also buffet with a reasonable selection to choose from for the most part, dinners lacked any sign of quality with the standing dinners being the same chicken and fish from the daily menu with a different sauce and the daily menu was completely devoid of real meat with the only beef being "rump roast" one evening. Lobster night was a piece of lobster the size of your thumb cut in half lenght wise so it served two people and the sauce had been on it so long there was a skin on it. For what people pay for this cruise they should have the best of steaks, which we never say, and the best local wine available not the worst. To say the least I was disappointed in Avalon as I have gone on other European cruise with another cruise line(Viking)and they have much superior food and wine. Even the chief commented "I did not think that you people would want so much meat" The evenings in the bar were great with the same 10 to 20 people there every night enjoying them selves and the company of people from Australia, USA and Canada. The Captain needs to take ship handling 101 again as he hit both sides of every lock at least 10 time and bent one of the props when he hit the rock near a lock entry. This caused noise and vibration through out the ship. The Engineer even had divers go down to check the damage but said"Everything is OK" ? I wrote to Avalon expressing my dissatisfaction and they did not even give me the courtesy of a reply. I tell everyone that asks about the trip "Don't go with Avalon" the dinner will turn you off to the whole experience. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: May 2009
My husband and I recently returned from a two week Rhine and Moselle River Cruise on the Affinity from Amsterdam to Basel. While most of the ports were good or excellent, the ship and services were disappointing and need much improvement, ... Read More
My husband and I recently returned from a two week Rhine and Moselle River Cruise on the Affinity from Amsterdam to Basel. While most of the ports were good or excellent, the ship and services were disappointing and need much improvement, especially for a cruise that "targets upscale North American passengers". I preface this review with the fact that we are experienced travelers and have taken other river boats before, being very pleased with the experience.             THE SHIP- Room size. At 172 square feet, the impression is that the room is larger than the regular room on other river boats. While we did not measure the room, it did not appear to be any larger than other boats. You should not have any illusions of spaciousness.             Beds- What a disappointment. While the ship(and beds) were new, the mattresses were soft and the bedding (quilts and pillows) so small, making sleeping uncomfortable. Be aware that there is a split in the middle of the two beds and could be somewhat improved if full size bedding and mattress covers were used.              Computers - There were only two computers located in the lobby for up to 138 passengers. This is way too low considering that in many ports internet cafes are not available and there are few activities and entertainment on board, increasing the demand and frustration of passengers.                  Coffee and tea service all day - Yes, but it is located in a remote area of the top of the third deck, which is not easily accessible.             FOOD AND DINING - Breakfast buffet was good, however often food or drinks were not replaced on a timely basis. Cooked-to-order omelets available and good. Lunch buffet had better selections than dinner, however very often the touring schedule was such that getting back to the ship in order to eat lunch was not only inconvenient, but also wasted valuable touring time. In several ports, we chose to stay in town and eat lunch. The ship finally provided tour buses to shuttle guests back to town after lunch as well, but it took two weeks to get that service provided! Dinner - several things. Most distressing was open seating as it made it difficult to get a large table for a group of six or eight. Food - limited selection. Boring -little food of high quality. Everything was very salty. Difficult to get coffee or tea during or after meal (procedure was no coffee until after dessert) and no sweetener on table. Waiters very nice but "busboy" quality with no personality and little common sense. Did not seem to understand North American preferences as per "upscale" tours.. Very interested in constantly filling wine glasses.             ENTERTAINMENT - Only two nights of outside entertainment for two weeks, one of which was very poor. Keyboard player available every night for dancing.             CRUISE DIRECTOR AND TOURS - For the most part, our local guides were very good or excellent. The Cruise Director on board did not give adequate information. There were several errors and miscommunication made prior to docking. She did not seem to know about local holidays and closings until too late to make alternate arrangements. Her information on local ports very limited.  Insufficient information concerning levels of difficulty for limited mobility guests. There were many incidents where the Cruise Director's poor information or lack of communication was detrimental. She was also very defensive when approached with recommendations for improvement.             TIPPING POLICY - The printed guidelines of Avalon suggest a gratuity of $18 per person per day for the cruise staff plus $4.50 per person per day for the Cruise Director (which would be over $7,000 in tips for two weeks!). This is outrageous and almost double the tipping guidelines of both big ship cruises and other river cruises. Obviously, with our dissatisfaction, we tipped accordingly. Unfortunately, many others may have been scammed in to believing Avalon's policy is the norm. This was an indication of Avalon's attitude towards its guests, where form over substance was important.             In summary, we enjoyed the cruise because of the great ports and our ability to independently tour them when necessary, as well as meeting some lovely and congenial people, who shared our feelings. Given the cost of the cruise at more than $700 per couple per day (without airfare), next time we will think about using five star hotels and land based tours so that we can have more control over our travel experience. Read Less
Avalon Affinity Ratings
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