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Sail Date: October 2013
We considered a river cruise on Avalon on the recommendation of friends. We do not like ocean cruising, too many people, we like to see places and not spend days at sea. This seemed to suit our criteria. We spent 3 nights in Paris before ... Read More
We considered a river cruise on Avalon on the recommendation of friends. We do not like ocean cruising, too many people, we like to see places and not spend days at sea. This seemed to suit our criteria. We spent 3 nights in Paris before flying to Vienna and we had booked into the Intercontinental Hotel for the night preceding embarkation. The hotel was nice but I can't say too much about it because we got there late at night and checked out at noon the next day. In between, the room was very comfortable, breakfast buffet extensive, ATM available in the hotel and in a good location to head out and explore the city whilst waiting for Avalon to take us to the ship. A tour desk was manned early in the morning to provide information on tagging and leaving luggage for safe keeping etc after checking out of the hotel and a room to wait with tea, coffee and water provided for cruise passengers. Quite a few gathered in the hotel bar to wait and this was a very pleasant environment to begin our cruise. Embarkation was professional and slick after being transported through Vienna by motor coaches. The ship is clean, well maintained and comfortable. We had booked a stateroom on the Indigo deck which has a window and not sliding balcony doors. Were we sorry that we did not have a balcony, not at all. We found that we were not in our stateroom very often, we were either ashore or in the foreword or aft lounges enjoying a 180 degree view of the scenery and not just of one side. The bed was comfortable, shower pressure and temperature great, plenty of storage and it was great to kick the empty suitcase under the bed and relax. I did the optional tour to Schonbrunn Palace. Well organised, and for those who went to that in the morning they could go on the included city tour in the afternoon and didn't miss out. In Durnstein we went on the included guided tour through the picturesque town and then headed off for Melk. The included tour of the abbey in Melk was good. In Grein, which was a small place we decided to go off on our own for a brisk walk and ended up at Greinburg Castle just on opening time. For €5 each we explored the castle long enough to give us time to make it back to ship before it's departure. Delightful morning. On returning back to the ship from tours there was tea or hot chocolate waiting. Others on board had taken off on 2 optional excursions and there would possibly have been only 1/4 to a 1/3 of passengers left onboard. That is what we came for, the experience of gliding along the the river relaxing. It was exactly that with fewer people at lunch and in the lounges. Not that anyone got on top of each other when everyone was onboard, but it was nice. Next stop was Linz and we took off to explore on our own again armed with a map provided by Avalon. We saw another castle, explored churches, window shopped and generally soaked up the atmosphere of strange city. The people on the excursions met up with the ship in Linz. Onto Passau. I did the guided tour on my own and window shopped in a very charming place on my way back to the ship. We did partake of afternoon tea this day and there were sandwiches, a very nice cake plus tea and coffee. At Passau we disembarked and in lieu of going direct to Munich we took the optional excursion to go via Salzburg. This was worthwhile as Salzburg is quite charming and was an opportunity to try a cuisine of a different country. Our luggage came with us and we checked in at our hotel in Munich seamlessly. The dining on the ship was good and the kitchen did well in what I can only assume is a cramped space. It's not fine dining and it's not what we expected. But the food was good and the crew attentive. My husband doesn't drink and a couple of glasses of wine with dinner is all that I want. So we didn't have a drinks package. The stateroom was cleaned and turned down everyday/night and a chocolate left on our pillows. We didn't use the lounge very much after dinner and so can't comment on the entertainment. The fitness room was well fitted out and I did use it once, but the hours between 7am and 10pm did not suit and we grabbed every opportunity for brisk walking when ashore. The Sofitel in Munich is a wonderful modern hotel, refurbished from being a former Post Office. It is next door to the main (I think) train station in Munich. Some would possibly say not in the best location but we didn't think so and after dining on 4 course dinners for the past 5 nights opted to try some fast/street food at the station. We had Bratwurst with mustard in rolls and Doner kebabs. The Doners were very good and we waited in line with Bayern Munich supporters to purchase these. If the locals think they are worthwhile lining up for, then that's good enough recommendation for us. The breakfast at the Sofitel is one of the best that we've ever had all over the world. The room was great except we needed a few more days there to work out all the switches, being that modern. It was in a good location being only a short walk from the tourist/ shopping area. Included was a guided tour of Munich the next morning along the same lines as Vienna. The first part in a bus and then walking with a tour guide. This was good and even though we were only walking distance from the Sofitel, a bus was provided at 2 and 5pm for people to catch should they wish. I opted to tour the Residenz on my own that afternoon even though the weather was beautiful outside. After that we had a delightful late lunch at Ratskeller Restaurant in a central position of the tourist area. Next day was a long day visiting Neuschwanstein Castle, Oberammergau and Linderhof Castle. The countryside and attractions did not disappoint and we had a very, very good meal in Oberammergau when we stopped for a break. We had not booked a transfer to Munich airport prior to the cruise and the Tour/Cruise Director arranged this for us. We and our luggage were picked up at the appointed time and taken by coach with 4 others to our relevant terminals. There was an Avalon representative who came with us to ensure that there were no hiccups. All in all, would we recommend river cruising and Avalon. Yes very much so. Avalon were excellent, really couldn't fault anything. The passengers were mainly 55+ and US citizens. The younger couples onboard wouldn't have felt out of place though and mixed with the older passengers. The 2 dining nights at each of the cruise which were a bit more special, only required a collared shirt and pants other than jeans really. The only thing that we were sceptical about was whether we would like being in the company of others most of the time, but there was opportunity to be social and other opportunities for quiet time. We would do it again as it really was relaxing.   Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: June 2016
THE ACTUAL TRIP AND COMMENTS: AVALON CRUISE - COTE D,AZUR TO PARIS - day 1. Monaco and the Fairmont, fine. - day 2. Monaco and transfers to Arles fine, in the late afternoon during dinner they cruised down the Rhone into the ... Read More
THE ACTUAL TRIP AND COMMENTS: AVALON CRUISE - COTE D,AZUR TO PARIS - day 1. Monaco and the Fairmont, fine. - day 2. Monaco and transfers to Arles fine, in the late afternoon during dinner they cruised down the Rhone into the Comague area for a couple of hours. - day 3. Arles fine - day 4. fine - 2 hours cruising to Avignon during dinner - day 5. Avignon fine - day 6. we are told on the evening of the 5th day that the river is to high and we cannot sail up river to Viviers, so buses are required - day 7. up very early, bags out the door and on buses to Lyon - accommodation is the Warwick Hotel Lyon - 3 nights in total. - day 8. Lyon as above. - day 9. Lyon as above. - day 10. up at 6.00am bags out 7.00am buses 7.45am to Paris - day 11. Paris trip concluded ISSUES: 1. we purchased a cruise not a bus tourer, if i had any idea that this would have turned into a bus tourer we would never had booked - i have a total dislike/distaste for bus tours. 2. in Lyon we had to be bused to the Metropole Hotel (were the balance of the party was staying) for meals, the meal in the evening for the first night was inedible, we i didn't eat a thing and after returning to the our hotel by bus we went out for dinner. The second night we didn't even bother going back to the same hotel (Metropole) as the previous night and instead went out for dinner. Food for me is a big issue. 3. we purchased a cabin on level 3. on the boat for a better view etc. with the exception of one night on the boat in Avignon and the night in Arles we has another boat parked immediately adjacent to our cabin and had to keep all the blinds pulled for the entire time. 4. the Warwick Hotel in Lyon was very average, certainly not to the standard of what i would have expected nor to the standard of the Fairmont, its location was not conducive to tourists and there was very little in the way of restaurants etc in the area, with a long walk or taxi to the "old town" area. 5. The cruise party was completely split in Lyon as Avalon could not get accommodation in the same hotel for the group travelling. 6. in all we had 2 hours cruising from Arles to Avignon and goodness knows how many hours siting in a bus!!!!!. WHAT AVALON HAVE OFFERED: at the time this all went pear shaped Avalon said we can: 1.Jump ship now and get a pro-rata refund on the days remaining. 2. they would give us a 50% discount for the three days in Lyon - on what this is calculated on we are unsure. 3. they cancelled most of the option excursions and included some in the remaining days of the tour. 4. They paid each passenger 15 Euro each per day for lunches (for 3 days whilst in Lyon) - this buys a sub-way, noticeably different to the lunches on the boat which were included in the cruise price. WHAT WE WANT GOT FROM AVALON We understand that the river levels are out of there control, we also accept that the Euro Soccer 2016 is being played in France at the same time, however at the end of the day they are still responsible for ensuring that they take all reasonable steps to ensure the best results for there clients. in this case i don't believe that they did - the accommodation was inferior, the food was very poor and busing is no alternative to cruising. What finally rubbed a number of us up the wrong way was there was quiet a contingent of Brit,s on the trip - there ticket as an equivalent of yours cost them 3500 pounds for two in total including a room upgrade. we paid the equivalent of 6400 pounds, why was this not offered to us/you by Avalon most of them booked around the same time as we did, clearly Avalon runs specials, but the poor old Aussie,s and kiwi,s get screwed again. A summary of the reply from Avalon (Globus), - "based on Avalon Waterways global compensation policy, we are unable to make any offer of compensation". ADVICE TO OTHER WOULD BE AVALON RIVER CRUISERS We have travelled with a number of other operator in Europe and Asia on river cruises - the best by far was Uniworld. If you choose Avalon BE AWARE OF THERE SHORT-COMINGS. Read Less
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
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: September 2016
A nice boat. The staff were very good. Some of the waiters are burned out. One saying they didn't have coffee cream when I had had it a few times before. I challenged him and he came up with it! Housekeeping was very good. Food 7/10. ... Read More
A nice boat. The staff were very good. Some of the waiters are burned out. One saying they didn't have coffee cream when I had had it a few times before. I challenged him and he came up with it! Housekeeping was very good. Food 7/10. Stateroom, very tight but if organized it worked. Bathroom tiny! The Avalon tours were too mnay people of a wide range in demographics and very pricey. Look to venture out and hire personal guide with tripadvisor as a suggestion. Some kick back engine odor , We had middle stateroom that was nice being at water level. Geerally an average trip, no real issues. Nice captain and management team. Very clean digs. Wait staff accomodated people with birthdays etc. with a festive parade and a cake. Entertainment was so so. Port docking was good and quite accessible to points of interest so you could walk around. Read Less
14 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: April 2016
Approximately 3 days prior to our river cruise, our group of 20+ received an e-mail from Avalon stating there were going to be big changes to our itinerary due to high water levels & train strike on day we were supposed to take TGV ... Read More
Approximately 3 days prior to our river cruise, our group of 20+ received an e-mail from Avalon stating there were going to be big changes to our itinerary due to high water levels & train strike on day we were supposed to take TGV from Paris to Dijon. We were told that we could cancel & get our money back - but we were aleady in France. Instead of 2 hour train ride - we had a six-hour bus ride to Lyon - where the ship was docked. Not Avalon's fault - just part of river cruising. Once we embarked on the ship in Lyon, (our home for 2 1/2 days), the food was was quite good; entertainment was not so good, and the service was excellent. Unfortunately - people started getting sick with something like the stomach flu in middle of the cruise. On the last few days of this cruise, I would estimate that approximately 50% to 60% of the people (and crew) on this river cruise became sick from Norovirus...with intense diarrhea and vomiting. The largest % of people became sick on the last night of the trip; and we had a 3-hour bus ride scheduled to Nice at 9 AM. In complete candor; I felt that Avalon Waterways was very poorly prepared for an event of this type. It seemed that Avalon's top priority was to get us off the ship; and shuffle all of us "sickos" off to the Carllton Hotel in Nice. Out of sight; out of mind. Avalon Waterways has not trained their staff properly / and had no established protocols for a massive norovirus outbreak of this type. No offer to call physicians from Arles for the people who could not get out of bed / no recommendations about hydration / no medications on board. It was shabby treatment of good customers....at best. Avalon Waterways was responsible for getting us all sick; and did not know what to do with us. This failure of planning was Avalon Waterway's fault, in my opinion. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: September 2012
Pre-Cruise and Embarcation: We started our Cruise on the Avalon Affinity with an overnight in Zurich, and stayed at the Moevenpick airport hotel, which was a good choice, since the bus transfer to the ship left from the hotel. The hotel ... Read More
Pre-Cruise and Embarcation: We started our Cruise on the Avalon Affinity with an overnight in Zurich, and stayed at the Moevenpick airport hotel, which was a good choice, since the bus transfer to the ship left from the hotel. The hotel was easy to reach from airport, with a great buffet breakfast in hotel included in price of room. All hotel personnel were helpful, professional and pleasant. We enjoyed a nice lunch on their patio while waiting for tour bus to take us to Basel for departure. There was a meeting room available for waiting and luggage storage prior to boarding the transfer bus, and the hotel had carts for the luggage. The bus trip to the ship was short and comfortable, taking about an hour. Ship Comments: Once on board the Avalon Affinity, we checked out our room: We had one of the Suites, and it was very nice, with plenty of space for luggage and clothes and a great bed, but looking back we're not sure it was worth the premium over the regular room. The room safe was small and in a dark corner of closet, which made it hard to find small things and to read the instructions for passcode setup. The bath area was very good.and had adequate water pressure in the shower at all times and no shortage ever of hot water. There was plenty of storage available there, also. Our housekeeping attendant was wonderfully compulsive and the room and bath were always spotless. WiFi was available on the boat, but frustrating to use, necessitating multiple log on and password entry attempts each time for every device. It was reasonable fast for text, but horribly slow for photos. There were the usual English language European TV channels with an additional movie channel on a nicely placed flat panel TV, though we rarely watched anything. European plugs were plentiful throughout cabin making recharging of all electronic devices easy-but bring a Europe/US adapter.Food: There was a good breakfast buffet daily. Lunches were buffet style with a variety of pasta, salad, meat and dessert options, though the choices grew monotonous during the trip. Poor food placement stations for lunch resulted in gridlock amongst the diners, and long waits for the food. Dinners were always sit down and slow paced -- usually it took about 2-2.5 hours to eat. Food level we felt was barely cafeteria quality, though often artistically presented. Fish dishes and bread were extraordinary disappointments, and eventually we skipped them entirely. Regional wine was poured with dinner at no charge, and there were usually 2-3 wine choices per evening meal. There was never a charge for the house wines poured in the evening, though any wines at lunch were always extra. Beverages and pastry for early risers was available most days in the lounge and a coffee/cocoa/hot tea machine in the aft lounge was available 24h. There was no provision for room service. Itinerary: Our trip looked lovely in the brochure, but it became apparent after the first day that it was not designed for any type of independent exploration nor to offer any chances for off-boat dining in the wonderful cities where we docked. It was common practice on this trip to disembark in the morning often far from the advertised city, get on a bus, to be transported into the city, then return for lunch by bus to the ship (which had now moved further along the course of the river), then board another bus at another point and drive for optional afternoon excursions, then meet up after another bus ride to the again moved boat. With one exception, (Bamberg) it was never possible to enjoy a lunch in any of the towns visited. Only in three towns (Miltenburg, Wertheim and Durnstein) did we dock close enough to the center of the village that we could walk about and return to the ship at will. Otherwise, you were totally at the mercy of the bus schedule for transport to and from the ship, and there was always only one departure time.Added Cost Excursions: We took a wonderful optional trip to an Alsatian wine producer and then got to explore the beautiful town of Obernai.. I could also recommend the Danube Gorge excursion and the all day trip to the Salzkammergut lake region of Austria. We also chose the Vienna evening program for a concert, and though the audience was mostly other river cruisers, it was most enjoyable. I think we were lucky in our excursion choices, because our fellow travelers had varying experiences with the other tours. Please note you have no flexibility in the tour bookings-- once you sign up, you are charged, even for reasons of illness or bad weather. Annoyances: Depressing, dirge-like sail away music- every time the boat moved. Maps handed out were the worst for any shore excursions we have ever seen. Often the position of the docked boat was not included on the map, nor was the site of the return bus pick up ever marked. Major local sights were often omitted from maps, as were major areas of shopping interest. Daily activity programs were often incompletely described and frequently inaccurate. We felt the tour director was disorganized and aloof. Room safe was too small for an iPad or a laptop . Suggested gratuities at the end of the trip were in our view excessive for most of the services provided. In summary, if you want a very regimented tour with the security of all meals on the ship, the company of English speaking fellow senior travelers, and passive touring with furnished guides and busses, this is your tour. However, we grew rapidly weary of the continual early morning tour departures, and perpetual bussing to city center sights, when a different docking location would have provided easy in-town walking access. Overall,for us this trip was a huge disappointment, and a poor value. It was a much less satisfactory experience than another tour we took along a similar route in 2009 with a less expensive company. In my opinion, this tour did not deliver an upgraded experience for the significant extra cost.   Read Less
Sail Date: October 2018
We chose this cruise for a more relaxed pace and scenic panorama view of the surroundings. The were some major changes made to accommodate an unforeseen natural impact. There was not enough rain in Europe to fill the river systems. The ... Read More
We chose this cruise for a more relaxed pace and scenic panorama view of the surroundings. The were some major changes made to accommodate an unforeseen natural impact. There was not enough rain in Europe to fill the river systems. The Rhine River was almost dry. As disappointing as this was the most important and reinforcing part of this company's customer service was the changes and adaptations they made to continue our trip using motor-coaches for part of the trip. Not only did they provide excellent tours but the hotels were all above the norm. Everything was fantastic. True professionalism shows through how you recover from adversity. Avalon made us lifelong friends and customers with the way they handled this unavoidable situation. The boat was comfortable and well appointed. The food was superb. The service was excellent and the staff was as good as any Michelin Star Hotel. We are looking forward to our next trip with Avalon. Frankly, I can't wait for our next trip! The boat: Just big enough for comfort but not a floating city. The appointments were perfect in the common areas. Modern but not garish. Entertainment was adequate for a small venue. Dining was very good. There was a great variety of choices and portions were perfect. Our cabin was wonderfully large with a fantastic view. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: August 2018
Wanted to cruise on a river for the first time. Small number of passengers. Day tours. Got to see a Paris before and Zürich afterwards. Loved the peacefulness. Wanted a cabin with a bed that faced the river. Crew was great. Cruise ... Read More
Wanted to cruise on a river for the first time. Small number of passengers. Day tours. Got to see a Paris before and Zürich afterwards. Loved the peacefulness. Wanted a cabin with a bed that faced the river. Crew was great. Cruise director was great. Would like to see something done about the noise in the dining room. So loud at evening meal that we could barely hear the other people at our table. Appreciated the credit for having to bus us from one ship to another because of low water. We enjoyed the day trips off the ship in Germany. The city walking tours were just the right length. We enjoyed the trip to the Black Forest and the castles on th Rhine Gorge. We were able to relax and only do the things we wanted to do. We liked the Avalon ships. Had to get transferred from one to another because of low water levels.We have already booked another Avalon cruise. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: July 2018
I chose the Rhine River cruise because I was able to have the single supplement waived and I was interested in seeing the river I read about in school. The food was tasty and tied to the locale which was nice as well. The staff was ... Read More
I chose the Rhine River cruise because I was able to have the single supplement waived and I was interested in seeing the river I read about in school. The food was tasty and tied to the locale which was nice as well. The staff was attentive to needs. It was easy to leave my belongings and explore Amsterdam on my own. This was good because I had a pre-booked visit to the Ann Frank House. A suggestion I have is to check the cabin and particularly the bedding. The only drawback was the pillows which were much softer than I am accustomed to. Would I go with Avalon again? Yes, but I will not hesitate to bring my own pillow. I enjoyed the the fact that most of the excursions were included. I received help from the cruise director and I was quite impressed with Colmar, France, only I wish I had more time there. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: June 2018
This was our second river cruise, the first being on a different cruise line. Our cruise started out with our flight being delayed causing us to “miss the boat”. We weren’t sure what we were supposed to do once we arrived in ... Read More
This was our second river cruise, the first being on a different cruise line. Our cruise started out with our flight being delayed causing us to “miss the boat”. We weren’t sure what we were supposed to do once we arrived in Zurich. Friends we were traveling with told us Avalon would have someone meet us to take us to the next port, but we did not receive communication from the boat. Once in Zurich, no one was there. After wandering around for almost an hour and almost getting on the train, someone finally showed up. Heading to our next port we discovered we were responsible for the cost of transportation, over $500. Had we known this before getting in the van, we would have taken the less costly train. Avalon did finally pay for half of the cost. Overall the cruise was nice. The food was very good, service not as good as our other cruise, and the dining room was very noisy. The excursions were nice and the local guides were very knowledgeable. Our overall experience with Avalon was good, but if I had a choice between cruise lines, I would probably go with the other. Read Less
Sail Date: August 2017
We wanted to experience a river cruise. It was lovely and we enjoyed all ports we visited. The ship was very nice, the cabin satisfactory, dining excellent. However, the entertainment was very poor. Service was great. Ports were good ... Read More
We wanted to experience a river cruise. It was lovely and we enjoyed all ports we visited. The ship was very nice, the cabin satisfactory, dining excellent. However, the entertainment was very poor. Service was great. Ports were good choices and shore excursions good too. Excursion experiences should specify exactly how much physical activity is expected i.e, so many miles of walking etc. The Monograms experience in Nice was not good. The room at the hotel was not comfortable. In all our travels have never seen a shower like this one. The breakfast room, service and food were not up to par with the cruise. This hotel(can't remember name) was not a good choice. I know this does not pertain to the ship itself but needs to be addressed. Either Avalon or Monograms should have a section about off-shore experiences. I think this survey should be sent earlier since we forget some things that were important. Thank you. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: June 2017
This was our first cruise of any kind. We chose this because it was jazz themed. We arrived Monday 6/26 at the Carlton Intercontinental Hotel, Cannes. Cannes was wonderful although it was unseasonably hot and humid. Next day (Tues) we had ... Read More
This was our first cruise of any kind. We chose this because it was jazz themed. We arrived Monday 6/26 at the Carlton Intercontinental Hotel, Cannes. Cannes was wonderful although it was unseasonably hot and humid. Next day (Tues) we had the morning to explore more of Cannes then early afternoon on to Arles by motorcoach to board the ship. Day 3 we did the city tour of Arles in the morning then Carrieres de Lumieres (highly recommend) with a stop in St. Remy (guided and free time), that afternoon. Then on to Avigion, Viviers and Vienne where the Jazz Festival was taking place. It was fantastic. We were out all night enjoying music,food, wine and new friends among the ruins. Then on to Lyon and St Jean de Losne where we disembarked. Motorcoach to Beaune for lunch then Dijon where we caught the train to Paris, Hotel du Collectionneur. Day 9 (Tues.) night and all of Wednesday, Paris. Thursday morning, homeward bound. Highlights: Cannes, Cathedral of Images (Arles), Vienne Jazz Festival, Cormatin Palace (Tournus) and Paris with an included jazz club tour. Cons: Food on ship was good but not great. Music on ship was lacking jazz. Ships furnishings were dated. The number one thing that stood out for us was the exceptional Cruise Director (Yvette). Especially being first timers. Bottom line. We had a blast. Made some great friends and came home exhausted. Can't wait to go again. Read Less
7 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: October 2016
GreatValue for such a beautiful itinerary. Great care was taken, however dinner seating was much too late for us. There wasn't much to do after dinner, so we ended up going to bed on a full stomach. Not good. The food was ... Read More
GreatValue for such a beautiful itinerary. Great care was taken, however dinner seating was much too late for us. There wasn't much to do after dinner, so we ended up going to bed on a full stomach. Not good. The food was outstanding, and wait staff were very attentive. Itinerary was good. Shore excursions were great. Our room was at water level, with a large window. It was so cool to get up in the morning and watch the port activity. There were cookies and goodies in the lounge at all times. Coffee, unfortunately tasted like instant coffee. The same can be said for the cappuccino machine. Our room was quite comfortable. Our bed was extremely comfortable. We couldn't feel any movement when we were under way. Personally I like wave action it rocks me to sleep. Friends we were traveling with said they had sailed on Viking river cruises, and Avalon was far superior in comparison. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: April 2016
Date fit prescheduled flight to France. Total cost less than other ones for similar trips. Due to high water embark e t city changed Avalon contacted us with change but gave incorrect contact information for location of dock. When we did ... Read More
Date fit prescheduled flight to France. Total cost less than other ones for similar trips. Due to high water embark e t city changed Avalon contacted us with change but gave incorrect contact information for location of dock. When we did arrive the trip director said they did not know if we were even coming although Avalon had contacted us for transportation arangments on both 3 & 4 days prior to embankment. Left very sour welcome aboard feelings. Was amazed to find that river cruises can be coach trips when water istoohigh for bridge clearance. Will propably take another cruise across Europe and Thur Holland in the spring some time in the future. Tours were very good had experience guides but we're short on free time for shopping and wandering Cabin decent but not spacious, view limited when boats were tied together at docks. Overall did enjoy river cruise and experience Read Less
4 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: August 2013
we are in our early sixties and my wife is retired and I am transitioning into retirement. This is our first river cruise and we did not know what to expect. the results? would we do a river cruise again? absolutely! there is no experience ... Read More
we are in our early sixties and my wife is retired and I am transitioning into retirement. This is our first river cruise and we did not know what to expect. the results? would we do a river cruise again? absolutely! there is no experience like the peace and solitude of sailing down a great river especially at dawn or dusk or as we experienced in the rain. would be cruise Avalon again?maybe if there was A good deal to be had. Would we go in another cruise line? absolutely. the pros: Avalon was extremely well organized and professional.Everything went like clockwork, the tour guides were probably the best we have ever had. And the service was impeccable. the cons: principally, the food fell short. While you can't do much to ruin a breakfast, which was ample with omelet stations, fresh breads,juices, etc., the lunches and dinners did not come up to what one would expect from a cruise of this cost. The entrees were tasteless affairs, portions small,thrown together. essentially, the food was good enough to satisfy ones hunger but not once during the whole week did I nor anyone else in my group have a WOW moment from anything that was served.disastrously, the ice cream was terrible, having been frozen and refrozen; most of it had ice shards in it. One waited to go ashore to buy ice cream from a street vendor that was ten times better than what was serve in board. To be fair the included wines were perfectly acceptable to us so unless you are a wine lover there is no need to buy the expensive drink package. Another con while the ship was kept spic and span clean, the furnishing were also nothing to write home about . Functional Danish moden no frills communist era issue.you do not get the understated elegant feel that you do on Celebrity.Lastly and least importantly the linens left much to be desired, the towels really threadbare and cheap. Again, a good solid experience, but I am curious to look elsewhere for my next river cruise. Read Less
Sail Date: July 2013
We know the French go on strike as a sort of national pastime, or when they get bored; but no one was prepared for a strike by the German Lock Masters. Since this trip up the Rhine and across on the Main River, the Main-Danube Canal and ... Read More
We know the French go on strike as a sort of national pastime, or when they get bored; but no one was prepared for a strike by the German Lock Masters. Since this trip up the Rhine and across on the Main River, the Main-Danube Canal and the Danube River involved over 50 locks, this problem severly disrupted our itinerary. Of course Avalon cannot be blamed for this, and they responded as well as they could, but the final days were mostly river cruising without stops, and this disappointed everyone. However, to proceed with the review. We started with a five day sojourn in Paris, a city we had never visited. We will leave our comments on this part of our trip to the end, since this is a cruise review. We do note that we went to Basel, Switzerland, our embarkation port by French train, a TGV Lyria Premier "Piccolo", that made it in slightly over three hours, hitting 320 kph on some stretches. This was far better and more comfortable, as well as cheaper, than struggling out to CDG to fly. We have some advice on using the rail system. First, if you are hauling cruise luggage, take the lower deck so you won't have to haul your bags up to the top level. Next, when you go on line to get tickets, and they ask for your country of origin DO NOT put in the USA - choose someplace like Australia. It will be cheaper. I don't know why, but it works that way. We were required by Avalon to telephone them after 8:00 A.M. on the embarkation day to find out where in Basel Affinity was docked. The directions from the first person to answer the phone were incomprehensible, so my wife took the phone and asked in German. Someone else, I believe Helmut the Cruise Director, gave her the correct and simple address. The cab to the pier from the Basel train station was very expensive compared to Paris taxis. When we arrived it was at a semi-industrial area on the Rhine. We had been told that we could not board until 4:00 P.M., and it was then about 1:30. We explained that by no means were we going to take a 45 euro cab ride back to Basel and pay the same amount to get back to the boat, and that we were not going to sit in the sun on the pier. After some heated negotiation, we were allowed to sit "no moving permitted" in the lounge adjacent to the front desk. Avalon could have showed better initial flexibility and customer relations. We were later joined by two other passengers, Karen and Penny, who were also early arrivals and sent to join us. Eventually other passengers started to show up so the four of us were released from detention and paroled to our staterooms. When we arrived there, our luggage was waiting, and, overcoming the less than welcoming embarkation, we started to settle in. We believed then and believe now that Avalon should have displayed more sensitivity and discretion in dealing with its paying customers; but we were resolved not to let that color the entire experience. The Boat Despite the Cruise Director's claim, Affinity is of course a boat, not a ship. The locks limit the width of all boats and barges to approximately 36 feet. The low bridges limit the height to three decks, with the lower deck being partially below the water line. Several river cruises earlier this year were stopped en route because heavy rains raised the water level to a point where the boats could not pass under some of the old bridges on some European rivers. (There are boats cruising exclusively on the central prtions of the Rhine that are not so limited.) In any event Affinity is quite attractive and well designed even though it is 4 years old, almost ancient among the rapidly growing body of River Cruise boats. Basically it has two decks forward (about 45% on the length) and 3 decks aft, all in addition to the almost entirely open sky deck. The lower forward deck consists of the main dining room and the kitchen. The second forward deck holds the lobby, front desk, Cruise Directors desk, an internet station with two computers, the bar and main lounge, and an open forward deck area with a few tables and chairs for forward viewing. The lower aft deck has eleven passenger cabins, all with windows rather than the open balcony doors found on the upper decks. The remainder of the space is occupied by the crews' quarters and ship equipment. The second aft deck is almost entirely staterooms, all identical. The far aft portion is used for the laundry and perhaps other housekeeping supplies. The third aft deck has more staterooms, including the four suites. In addition there is another small lounge area aft, with the library, a 24 hour coffee station, about 30 or so chairs with tables and a small open view deck overlooking the stern with eight or so chairs. There is also a hairdressers' room, which we did not investigate or use. The sky deck is reached by several outside stairways, aft, midships and forward. It houses the pilot deck/navigation bridge, which can be lowered a few feet if needed to get under bridges. This occured many times during the trip. There are deck coverings which can be raised, and a small hot tub. Staterooms There are 69 staterooms; 65 of them identical in layout except that the 11 on Deck 1 have windows. All the remaining 58 staterooms, including the 4 suites, have sliding glass doors opening to the water, with railings, for what is called a "French Balcony". The standard cabin is not large, 172 square feet, but this is a size more typical of a riverboat; and is quite adequate. The walls are a nicely finished white surface. There is a queen sized bed, which can be split into two single beds for those wishing it. Night stands are on either side and there is a convenient bullet lamp on each side which can be focused on a book for in bed reading. Opposite the bed is the desk set up, with one chair, a vanity mirror, several shelves and a mini bar, and over them all at one side, a flat screen TV. Next to this table arrangement is the closet, also with shelves and a wall safe. The bathroom has a corner shower, single sink and toilet. My wife and I found it all quite pleasing and perfectly satisfactory. As usual, we had no trouble storing all our clothes and other supplies. We did wonder how some of our substantially overweight fellow passengers would be able to maneuver in the shower. The only time we were on a cruise where we did not have adequate space for either sleeping or storage was on Viking's Clara Schumann for our initial river experience. We were able to explore one of the suites after almost everyone except for us had debarked. There is more furniture and a larger bathroom in the 258 square feet provided, and they are quite nice. Dining Everyone wants to hear or read about the food on cruises. It is not totally fair to compare river boats to ocean ships. The size constraints of these boats are fixed by the heights of the bridges, the depth of the various rivers, and the size of the locks which might have to be negotiated. Therefore the number of food items offered, and even their preparation, is quite limited. We were provided with a tour of the galley, and all were astonished that the meals we were served could be prepared in such small quarters. Only dinner was served by the waiters; breakfast and lunch being buffet style. The principal difference between this boat and a cruise ship for breakfast and lunch was the number of items being made available on the limited sized buffet station. There was less fresh fruit at breakfast, and while egg preparation was provided, side dishes were fewer. The same thing was true for the lunches, several hot offerings and a hot meat carving station was available, but fewer items were provided, and the desserts were limited; although, like all the pastries on the ship, they were quite good. Also at lunch, precisely one-half hour after the meal started, an assistant chef appeared carrying the ice cream choices of the day, which he served with grand flourishes. Generally speaking we both found the breakfasts and lunches well prepared and satisfactory. We were less enthusiastic about the dinners. My wife found very little to enjoy in the daily vegetarian offering. We might have put this down to a European lack of familiarity with this type of meal, except that there were at least two restaurants in Vienna (one closed for vacation, one other that we ate at) which had a number of vegetarian options). There were at least two major entrEe offerings that simply should not have been on the menu, because the kitchen was not capable of the preparation involved. One was a sauerbraten and the other a goulash; both traditional German/ Austrian dishes. Both however require special preparation. My wife marinates the meat for her delicious sauerbraten for at least a week. And goulash requires extensive slow simmering. Neither were applied here, and the Austrian Chef admitted to my wife, in German of course, that the sauerbraten was not close to the real thing. We also felt that Avalon should have provided additional wait staff, because the waiters had too many tables and passengers to attend and service was rushed and had occasional lapses. All the waiters were cheerful and friendly, and they poured the complimentary (at dinner) wine freely, but the service was somewhat erratic and very slow at times. By way of comparison, on a scale of 1-100; I would rate Crystal at 98, Oceania Marina at 97, Oceania Insignia and Celebrity at 94, Princess at 91, HAL at 90, Royal Caribbean at 87, NCL at 80 and Avalon and Carnival at 85. As a kind of post script, we should note that twice, when we would be ashore for lunch with no way to return to the ship, Avalon handed each shore bound passenger 15 Euros to buy lunch locally. We found the amount more than enough, but perhaps this was because neither of us have large hot meal lunches. But it did meet Avalon's claim that it provides all meals. No cruise ship does this. The Crew First and foremost, the Captain was amazing. He seemed quite young for his position, and obviously was in great physical shape. He was everywhere, seemingly at all times, doing everything, from manhandling the gangplank to hauling passengers' luggage, to guiding the boat through many difficult locks and past other river boats and barges on the various rivers. At one point he, and the captain of another Avalon Boat going in the opposite direction pulled up together so we were almost touching and could exchange handshakes and greetings with the passengers on the other boat, while our captain climbed across to greet the other captain. He was always cheerful and upbeat despite the concerns raised by the lock masters' strike and doubts as to when we could move and where we could go. We were told that the captains, and presumable all, the "sailing" crew, did not actually work for Avalon, but for a separate company that contracts out their services. Apparently only Helmut, the Cruise Director was an Avalon employee. When we were docked in Vienna for the last night, and most of the passengers had gone to a concert ashore, I saw the Captain wheel out a bike and take it along the Vienna pier side area for a well-deserved bit of relaxation. The Cruise Director, Helmut, from Vienna, had an extremely difficult cruise to manage, due to the strike. He was required to be in frequent contact with Avalon's home office in Switzerland, relating to them the information about the delays we would face (obtained from the Captain, I imagine), finding out what remedies Avalon could come up with and transmitting that unhappy information to the passengers. He tried to be as positive as possible in presenting the information and the options, but it was a thankless task. Some passengers complained about him, but I do not see how else he could have handled situations over which neither he nor Avalon had any control. He did seem to enjoy chatting in German with Edith, since apparently no other passengers spoke German. Of course the Austrian chef and perhaps some other crew members did also. Some of the more difficult problems arose from the fact that after he was able to send the passengers off to visit a town, there were often upsets to the plans, again caused by the strike, concerning where they would meet the boat to re-embark. This involved Helmut communicating with the bus drivers and making sure they could find our boat. One time the drivers almost got lost, and then had to drive the huge buses down very narrow small town streets to a pier which had never seen a river boat dock there before. The townspeople were delighted with this new show! All in all, I am sure Helmut and the Captain both breathed huge sighs of relief when we docked in Vienna. I have no idea how long the strike continued, but at least Affinity's next stop was down the Danube, not back to Germany. Our cabin steward, Petor, was excellent, working very quickly, and getting our laundry back the same day, a very big help with the clothing we had worn in Paris. The Dining Room waiters were friendly and pretty good, but I believe that even just one more would have allowed a much less hectic pace of food delivery for everyone. The front desk staff was cordial and helpful, although not particularly outgoing. And as noted, they were extremely inflexible when we arrived. A course in customer relations would not be wasted. The Hotel Manager was cheerful once the trip started, and we had gotten past our arrival issue. The Voyage We had a slightly delayed start since apparently there had been a small transportation problem for some of the passengers coming from Zurich. In addition, we were told that 21 passengers had missed a flight connection at JFK, and would be joining us the next day in Strasbourg. Fortunately, they made it, and their number included a family group of 13! Strasbourg Our first stop was Strasbourg, France, in what was once known as the Alsace-Lorraine. It originally was French, was taken over by Germany as the result of the Franco-Prussian War in 1871, restored to France in 1918 after WW1, retaken by Germany in 1940, and returned to France in 1945. It has some mixed architecture and language as a result. During WW1 the British, in an excess of patriotic zeal, decided to change the name of the German Shepherd breed to "Alsatian". We first visited by an open river tour barge, since part of the city is actually an island. This gave us a unique view. We then returned to Affinity for lunch and went back to town for a guided walking tour in the afternoon as well as some free time. We used the system now followed by all river boats. We were divided into groups of less than twenty and given headset earphones and a control box. Each guide had his or her own frequency for their group. The control boxes had different colors so we could get together with our guide, and the white colored group was always for "gentle walkers". This worked out quite well. We had used it on our Viking Elbe River cruise, so we knew how it functioned. There were three optional tours at this stop, all requiring additional fees; unlike the mormal tours which were included in the cruise price. These were to the Black Forest, The Alsace countryside with wine tasting and the Maginot Line. I know there were some Black Forest takers, but I am not sure about the other offerings. When we re-assembled around 6:30 for the port talk for the next day, we were advised of the strike problem, without too many specifics about how we would be affected; except that we had to leave Strasbourg immediately and would not have the local on-board entertainment as planned. We also had the mandatory safety lecture which, as on Viking consisted of mostly saying that if the boat started to sink, go on the sky deck and you will still be dry as the boat rested on the river bottom. Heidelberg The next day was spent entirely on a Heidelberg visit. This involved a bus trip of about an hour or so each way. We first visited the castle above the town, and then were pretty much on our own. This was one of the stops where we were provided with 15 euros apiece to supply our own lunch. We did pretty well with that. Heidelberg is a town of about 150,000 and had been untouched by WW2. It still is a university town, with the historical legend of having students duel in order to get "fashionable" dueling scars. None were evident on our visit. Nor did we see any "Student Prince" singing in a local tavern. How neglectful of tradition is the present generation! It is a very attractive city nonetheless, with lots of older buildings and churches. Wertheim This is a comparatively small river-side town, and we enjoyed an easy stroll. It was apparently untouched by any major war damage, and still has a great many medieval structures. We returned to the boat for lunch, and the galley tour. This was a quiet day. Wurzburg- Rothenburg Wurzburg is noted for its extremely ornate and large Bishop's Palace. It is also a very pleasant town, and our guide, who actually was born in South America, was amusing and informative. In the afternoon we went to Rothenburg, a small and beautiful city, somewhat inland. It still has its medieval wall. We walked through a tower gate in the wall out to a beautiful grassy area with a view of a lovely valley. We then took our guide's advice and walked a section of the wall by ourselves. We were rewarded by another beautiful view of the grass lawn outside the tower gate where we had been. We also saw a nice cat in front of her home. This was the only cat we saw on our entire trip, although Paris, Germany and Vienna have plenty of dogs. This visit would have been one of the tours for which there was a charge, but Avalon made in complimentary because of our loss of other stops. Kitzingen-Bamberg Kitzingen is a small, attractive river-side town where we strolled for short time in the morning. It was not listed as a stop, but we were glad we had the chance to see it. We then went to Bamberg which truly has many amazing buildings dating back to the 12th century. Bamberg is definitely a city to see. Once again we had an excellent guide. The only drawback was that the bus trip was about an hour and a half each way. That night we were treated to a "show" by the crew, which even involved the captain. Pretty corny as one might expect, but fun nonetheless. One of the acts was a juggler, and he was pretty good for an amateur. Nuremberg This also involved a bus ride and an all day visit. Nuremberg is noted for the War Crimes trials, but one cannot actually see the courtroom, only the building and the attached jail. We disembarked the buses for another 15 euro lunch, which turned out well since we found a place with their specialty -excellent small sausages; (well excellent for me anyway). Back on board we were told that the strike would prevent our stops at Passau and Regensberg. We were offered the option of remaining on board to sail to Vienna, with possible stops at Melk or Salzburg; but no promises in that regard - or disembark the next morning with luggage to travel by bus to Munich, spend one day there and the following day go by bus to Vienna, an all day trip. We then had a lecture on beer, followed by beer tasting of four different types. The balance of the trip. While a number of people originally thought they would go to Munich, most felt that, since one of the main pleasures of cruising is not packing and unpacking, they would remain on board. So, the next morning only 11 people left. Helmut had planned on going to Munich, but since so many were remaining on board, he did also. The next two days were spent on the river, with only one brief stop where we could get off and stretch our legs. We did not stop at Melk, nor were we able to have a side trip to Salzburg. We had visited Melk before and also spent two days in Salzburg on another trip, but we felt sorry for the people who had planned on enjoying both the beautifuly cathedral in Melk and the charms of Salzburg. It was during this stretch that we saw Avalon Expression on its trip from Budapest to Amsterdam. We pulled up together and exchanged greetings and handshakes, while the captains visited. It had started with 168 passengers, but had only 60 remained as the rest took the bus option offered rather than face the lock delays and cancelled stops. Vienna We arrived in Vienna on Saturday morning as scheduled. We had time for a one more tour, spending most of the day in Vienna. Our guide was somewhat elderly, but she did lead us to a great casual place for lunch, the Rathsberger, just off the main pedestrian street near the Statsoper. We also ate there for lunch the next two days. While there one of our fellow passengers suggested that we visit the Albertina Museum. Vienna was very hot, in the 90s, and we knew the Museum would be refrigerated. We were absolutely delighted with the exhibition then being held, of many late 19th and early 20th century artists, including Manet, Monet, many Picassos, Klint etc. We had a most enjoyable time, and it was very near where we caught our bus back to the boat. That night many fellow passengers opted to go to a concert in town. This was an additional charge, and we had seen one of these concerts on a prior trip. They are staged solely for tourists, not serious music lovers. The orchestra members are dresed up in late 18th century outfits with wigs etc. The music is largely from the Johann Strauss family, with perhaps one or two Mozart pieces. All the more serious musicians from Vienna are at the Mozart Festival in Salzburg in July; so we decided to skip this show and use the time for more leisurely packing. Some of our fellow passengers were forced to get up very early in the morning the next day to make their flights, but we were content to be among the last to leave since we were staying on in Vienna for two more nights, and did not want to arrive at our pension too early. Our taxi ride from Affinity to our Vienna residence took only about 15 minutes and was not expensive. Our cruise was over. Entertainment River boats are limited in this area, and we lost two entertainment offerings scheduled, due to the strike. These would have been local entertainers, but early sailing times prevented their appearance. We did have one musical evening (not counting the on board pianist) and this was a German zither player named Tommy Temerson, who was quite enjoyable. Edith chatted with him afterwards and was pleased to find out he knew, and had played in her home town. There were three lectures, all given by local educators, on history and the locks, and they all were knowledgeable, pleasant and worthwhile. Passengers As usual, the majority of the passengers were American, but there was a very large contingent of Australians aboard, I believe 4 from New Zealand, a few from the UK and and some Canadians. There were five or six young people, from early teens to early 20s, which surprised us a little. River cruising seems to offer more opportunity for socialize with fellow passengers, perhaps because we are always seeing people we recognize and with whom we are more apt to have shared dining times. Overall impression River cruising is different from ocean cruising in many ways. The small size of the boat, the much smaller passenger and crew size, the frequent stops, the guided tours, the limited entertainment, are only part of it. The peace and quiet of the rivers themselves make for a more relaxed overall experience. As noted earlier, it seems much easier to get to know ones fellow travelers and spend time conversing. The lock situation on this trip was a problem, but not enough to ruin the trip or make us regret it. Many of Avalon's amenities, free internet, free wine at dinner, the complimentary Rothenburg trip, and the overall effort to work with a very difficult problem made us believe that this is a good cruise line. We would recommend it as a way get to know countries in depth and in a much more personal way than from a large cruise ship. Pre-cruise Paris We spent 5 days in Paris, arriving on July 13. We stayed at the Hotel St. Jacques in the Latin Quarter portion of the 5th Arrondissment on the Left Bank. It is an excellent three star hotel, which fortunately has refrigeration, since the temperature was in the 90s for our stay. We have posted a review on www.tripadvisor.com. This was our first visit to Paris, and we loved it. Bastille Day (July 14) the big National Holiday, was rather frantic, and no one can possibly see what Paris has to offer in a short period of time, but we had fun. The Metro is marvelous, fast, efficient, clean, frequent. There is a website - www.ratp.fr - which not only provides maps, but has a system which shows you how to get from station to station in a marvelous way, covering the metro and bus lines, giving choices for the fastest route, the route with the least walking and the route with the fewest connections,and a map with clear directions. We had three great dinners; La Cuisine de Phillipe, Le Berthoud and Le Tournebievre, all reviewed also on Trip Advisor. We ordered Louvre tickets on line, and that got us in pretty quickly at 9:00 A.M. The Musee D'Orsay is also marvelous and there are many others. We found everyone friendly and helpful, especially since I tried to speak French as often as possible. Unfortunately, when they answered in French, I was often lost. Post cruise Vienna We had spent a week in Vienna in 2008 inorder to see Wagner's 4 opera Ring Cycle at the Statsoper. We stayed then, as well as on this trip, at the Pension Suzanne, also reviewed on www.tripadvisor.com. The only problem this time was that it is not refrigerated, and Vienna reached close to 100 degrees. We made do with a fan, but there are few shops that are refrigerated, and not all restaurants are either. That aside, Vienna is a marvelous city, with wonderful sights, stores museums etc. It also has great music, but not during July or August unfortunately. We mentioned the Rathsberger Restaurant, which is a buffet, and a very good place for a well prepared, very reasonable lunch. We ate at one rather unique place, the Wrenkh-Weiner Kochsalon, which had an excellent vegetarin dish for Edith and a marvelous trout for me. It is reviewed also on Trip Advisor, and is highly recommended. It is quite convenient, as it is close to Stephan Plaz, which is immediately in front of St. Stephan's Cathedral in the center of the pedestrian part of the Innerstadt, cwhich, as it sounds, is the center of the city. Vienna has much to offer. All in all we spent three weeks on this adventure, and while we were tired after our long flight back, we felt that the overall experience was well worth while.   Read Less
Sail Date: November 2009
We started our trip with 4 nights in Berlin, a highlight of our trip. Berlin is a fabulous city and anyone interested in reading my very detailed trip report can find it on Trip Advisor and Fodor's - title is "Four Fabulous Days ... Read More
We started our trip with 4 nights in Berlin, a highlight of our trip. Berlin is a fabulous city and anyone interested in reading my very detailed trip report can find it on Trip Advisor and Fodor's - title is "Four Fabulous Days in Berlin". We took an early morning train to Frankfurt to meet the ship. Our designated meeting spot was the Westin Grand. Here there was a hospitality room where we left our luggage and carry on. The cruise director, Nancy, was there along with some other Avalon folks. There was light refreshment available but we were anxious to explore Frankfurt so just checked in, dropped our stuff and headed out. This was our first time in Frankfurt and we frankly did not care for the city. We grabbed a map and set out to see as much as we could in 5 hours. The streets in the pedestrian area had a lot of trash and were just not as nice as what we have come to expect in Germany. We explored, had an ok lunch at Cafe Mozart and headed back to the hotel. Avalon transported us to the ship around 4pm. It was a short ride and the check in process took just a few minutes - a sign of what was to come. We were escorted to our category B cabin, located at the very end of the passenger cabins. The cabin was very modern, immaculate and thoughtfully designed with great storage. We quickly unpacked, settled in and headed out to explore the ship. This was our first river cruise and it was much as we had anticipated though the ship itself was actually nicer than we expected. Colors and fabrics gave it a rich and luxurious look and we found it delightful! It did not take long to check out the facilities and we decided to head back and shower and head to the welcome party. The party was nicely done and we had the opportunity to chat with other guests and meet the crew. Lovely canapEs were served, along with champagne. A welcome talk included some general info about life aboard the Affinity and at the conclusion we headed to the dining room. The dining room was lovely and the only disappointment was that we could not find a table for two. Since we had reviewed the videos on their website, this came as a surprise to us and we do enjoy a table for two but such was not to be on this sailing. We joined three other couples and enjoyed what was to be the first of 5 very nice dinners aboard. The menu had two choices for each course and two standard selections as well. I had emailed ahead that I follow a low fat, low cholesterol-eating plan and they worked with me to provide dishes prepared without fats and sauces, which were fresh and tasty. Breakfast and lunch were buffet with a good choice for most folks but a bit more of a challenge for me as there no eggbeaters or egg whites available for breakfast. I opted daily for fruit and smoked salmon and the occasional slice of turkey breast when it was offered. They offered a small salad bar at lunch, which is what I had when we were not in port. We did dine in port as often as possible in order to enjoy the German foods we have come to enjoy over the years of travel there. My husband and everyone I spoke with just loved the food on the Affinity. Everything was prepared fresh and was served hot. Quality was excellent overall. Fresh fish was available nightly and I enjoyed each of the varieties offered. Desserts were also a big hit with everyone at our table but I will leave that for others to review, as I did not partake. Our itinerary was: Miltenberg-Wertheim Wurzburg. Excursion to Rothenburg Bamberg Nuremberg Of these we most enjoyed Bamberg and Wurzburg, followed by Miltenburg and Rothenburg. Nuremberg was our least favorite except for the fact that we had the most time there and were able to stay out as long as we wanted. We only took the included tour in Wurzburg, which included the Residence and was lovely - our tour guide was excellent! In the other cities, we grabbed a map and headed off on our own to explore, as that is what we prefer. Avalon did a great job with organizing, with providing as much detail as was needed and in taking care of the various needs of the guests. There were some who were very active and another component that used walking sticks and had to go at a slower pace. Though there not always tours available for all abilities, as we had expected, no one was left behind and the quality of their shore program was very good as were the guides we met. We were quite late getting into Bamberg and they quickly rearranged their plans and had the ship stop before we reached the port - buses were there to take us into town. We ended up only having 3 hours there but they did extend our departure time as much as possible to allow us that. Happy hour was offered nightly and was quite popular. We were so impressed with the staff of the Affinity overall and especially David at the main bar, Dan the Hotel Manger and Claudio in the dining room. The service overall was very personal and professional and so much better than the rushed, impersonal service we have come to expect on mass market cruise ships. Entertainment was minimal as expected. The house piano player, Vasco, was enjoyable and played every night in the main bar. One night they brought a zither player aboard and on another the crew joined the guests for carols and Santa came to visit. That night was the most fun as everyone got in the holiday spirit. There was a small fitness center, which made keeping up with basic cardio workouts possible. The beauty salon also stayed quite busy. The aft lounge offered coffee and tea throughout the day. Fellow passengers came from as far away as Australia and Hawaii and most were quite friendly and personable. There were three young girls aboard who were very well behaved and who seemed to enjoy their experience. Downsides for us were short times in port and the "dead" time when the ship sailed during daylight hours. While I am sure many enjoy relaxing on vacation, when we are in Europe, we really are interested in our destination more so than downtown. Some improvements that Avalon could make in my opinion would be to provide robes in the rooms for guests and more choices for those of us who need to watch their calories on vacation. Otherwise, my husband and I really enjoyed the Affinity overall and made some wonderful new friends over the course of the cruise who we are staying in touch with. For us, that was a real bonus! We love Germany and especially over the Christmas season. We left the ship in Nuremberg and headed by train to Munich for a couple of days after the trip, which was a perfect finish to the trip. I can recommend Avalon and the Affinity for those looking for a very good quality experience overall. The staff was exceptional and we plan to return, this time knowing what to expect. Read Less
Sail Date: October 2018
My husband and I took the Rhine River Cruise although we didn’t cruise much. The Rhine water levels were low. We weren’t sure if we should even go. We decided to make the best of it and go! We had the best time!! The people we met ... Read More
My husband and I took the Rhine River Cruise although we didn’t cruise much. The Rhine water levels were low. We weren’t sure if we should even go. We decided to make the best of it and go! We had the best time!! The people we met were wonderful, the food was good, the tours were awesome. The day was planned perfectly. Our cruise director, Maria was so sweet, she did an wonderful job getting us from place to place! She got me a cake from a local bakery because it was a day that we were not on the ship. It was so nice! Even though I’m sure cruising down the Rhine would have been even nicer, it was perfect for me. The hotel choices were great. The ship is not like an ocean liner but elegant ( we were only able to enjoy it a few days). I can’t wait to take another—hopefully the water levels will be better! Read Less
Sail Date: September 2018
We chose this particular cruise because the cities (ports of call) on the Rhine appealed to us. We read positive reviews about Avalon and took a chance. I can't say enough good things about our experience. We had a spectacular week. ... Read More
We chose this particular cruise because the cities (ports of call) on the Rhine appealed to us. We read positive reviews about Avalon and took a chance. I can't say enough good things about our experience. We had a spectacular week. The staff is awesome; from the cruise director to the wait staff and the housekeeping and the deck/nautical crew and the on-board entertainer. Everyone is VERY customer focused. The food is great....and if you don't like the menu, you can always have a steak and baked potato or a grilled chicken breast. The outings and excursions were great; lots of choices. It was a busy week but we kind of wanted busy. There is some flexibility. There are lots of excursions included and lots of "optional" excursions that cost extra. I didn't think we were being nickel-dimed. The included excursions were great with some choices in some cities. The food was great. The wine and beer choices were pretty good. I'm not a wine expert but I'm not a novice....I enjoyed the wines. There wasn't an aspect of the cruise with which I was disappointed. The tour guides were very knowledgeable and approachable and engaging. Some (not many) of the other guests were rude. We avoided them. It happens. Most guests were friendly and there to have a fun vacation. We'll do another river cruise with Avalon. Read Less
Sail Date: September 2018
My husband and I wanted to do a river cruise through Europe with our 81 and 90 year old mothers. We wanted to have time together doing something new and interesting for us all. The highlights for us were the really lovely dinners, the ... Read More
My husband and I wanted to do a river cruise through Europe with our 81 and 90 year old mothers. We wanted to have time together doing something new and interesting for us all. The highlights for us were the really lovely dinners, the gorgeous day we spent sailing through the Rhine gorge, and the incredible staff - both on the ship and on the excursions. We met people from different countries and cultures, had lots of educational outings, and experienced it all together! We toured beautiful and historic cities, the Black Forest, and the wine region. Outings to castles, the Maginot Line, and a music museum gave us a variety of new information. We also did a wine tasting, and watched as craftsmen made cuckoo clocks, wooden shoes, and Dutch cheese. We saw how a windmill ground stone to make paint. The canal tour of Amsterdam was amazing and relaxing. There was also some time to eat and shop on our own. And every night, we looked forward to the most wonderful dinners, served with elegance and congeniality. Read Less
Avalon Affinity Ratings
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