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1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: June 2012
We travelled from Amsterdam to Basel on the Visionary from 6/24/ to 7/2/2012. The ship is new and we found that the upcharge for having a cabin with the highly touted panorama doors was worthwhile. The doors are actually a large slider so ... Read More
We travelled from Amsterdam to Basel on the Visionary from 6/24/ to 7/2/2012. The ship is new and we found that the upcharge for having a cabin with the highly touted panorama doors was worthwhile. The doors are actually a large slider so that 2/3 of your entire seaward wall can open to the water. This was our first river cruise, so we don't have any experience with which to compare, but we felt our expectations were very well met. We spent several days in Amsterdam before the trip, stayed at the Movenpick and were charmed by both the city and the hotel. Given the chance, go for the concierge level at the hotel; you will get a room on one of the top 2 floors, the full breakfast (otherwise about 30+ Euro) and a lovely evening beer/wine and excellent hot and cold hors d'oeuvres from 5-7pm. Great service, very attentive. We met our fellow passengers and cruise director, Sabina, at the Movenpick Hotel in Amsterdam to be shepherded to the ship, moored just next door. The staff of the ship was very well organized, all spoke English in consideration of the demographic. The passengers on our trip were all US, Canadian, UK or Australian. Without detailing every stop along the way, each city included a walking tour of about 1-1.5 hours with a local guide. An "easy walker" group was available for those with mobility issues. We had earpieces so that one could wander quite a bit away from the guide and still hear everything they said. The walking tour gave some history and gave one a feel for the lay of the land. Following the walking tour there was generally some free time to further explore, shop or sightsee, another included excursion or the opportunity for an optional excursion. We LOVED that excursions were included and enjoyed all of them. We did opt out of one included excursion to explore on our own and some more experienced travelers seemed to do more of this than we did. We only did one optional excursion; I went on the winery tour while my husband napped aboard the ship one afternoon. I heard someone complaining loudly about it as they didn't enjoy it. I'm not sure what the fellow's gripe was, but he didn't think it was worth the cost. Although I am not a big fan of German wines I thoroughly enjoyed the tour, the tasting and the ambiance of the town. Excursions that involved coach travel were well organized and the coaches clean, comfortable and equipped with a guide who narrated as we drove. Several days involved multiple stops in a single day and it means your time in one of the locations is limited. For example, the morning we were in Koblenz we had a walking tour at around 8:15am and left the town at 10am for the Rhine Gorge and Rudesheim, which didn't leave time to explore or shop. No way around this really I suppose; it just left us hungry to see more. Onboard: We travelled with a small group of friends and agreed that the coffee machine in the stern lounge was a unanimous hit; GOOD latte macchiato, cappuccino, coffee, hot chocolate available 24 hours a day. Our steward was attentive but not intrusive. Food was abundant and good with a very nice variety of entrees at dinner and buffet breakfast and lunches with great variety. If offered, do not miss the German Cookout on the Skydeck, it was wonderful. Our unanimous concern...our ONLY concern on the entire trip, was that non-alcoholic beverages in the dining room at meals were slow to arrive, if they did arrive. Wine was poured very freely and your glass never empty BUT water, iced tea or coffee were generally not offered during the meal; you had to ask for it, which meant flagging down a very busy waiter as you are all seated for a single seating at the same time. Iced tea was particularly hard to get for some reason. Coffee and tea were usually offered at the end of a meal, just not terribly promptly. Again, this was our only complaint and I hope one that is easily resolved for future travellers. Entertainment was fine but limited, though honestly, given the demographic (mostly 50-75, a couple of families with young adults and a single honeymoon young couple) this wasn't a big party crowd :) and many of us retired relatively early in order to be up and fed in time to leave for the 8:15-8:30 walking tour most mornings. So, if you are going primarily for night time entertainment, don't. I would happily travel with Avalon again. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: June 2012
This was our first River Boat Cruise, so we really did not know what to expect. We have been "big ship" cruisers for 20 years. The staff, cruise director and captain of Visionary are exceptional. They are all very involved ... Read More
This was our first River Boat Cruise, so we really did not know what to expect. We have been "big ship" cruisers for 20 years. The staff, cruise director and captain of Visionary are exceptional. They are all very involved with you and your cruise. The captain played his trumpet as we passed the Lorelei and the crew did a talent show which was such fun! The meals onboard were very good with a nice variety. One tip, check the breakfast and lunch specials each day before going to the buffet. Dinner was great. Six of us travelled together and were able to sit together without a problem each night. Wine at dinner was wonderful and we had more than our share. The included excursions were great. I was in a walking boot due to a foot problem but was able to keep up without a problem. You will receive earphones and a receiving device on each excursion. The guide then transmits the details of the excursion as you walk. This enabled all of us to hear without a problem and was excellent for my husband who wears hearing aids. My only regret was that we didn't have more "free time" in the cities. Our guides were fun and informative. I would strongly recommend the optional trips to Alsace and Colmar. For the small cost, these excursions really gave you a flavor of the area. Also, make sure you are on deck when going through the locks (at least one). We travelled through the Panama Canal on a "big ship" and enjoyed the locks. But on this small vessel, it is really "up close and personal", a real treat. I have three minor "complaints". The bar did not stock bourbon, only CC and Jack Daniels. But since the wine was so good, it really didn't matter. Rafting is a real bummer, but necessary evil. On the third day of our trip, I awoke and opened our curtains only to be looking at the vessel we had rafted with. This occurred 4 times for us so basically rendered our French balcony worthless. Finally, it would be nice to know a basic time for the itinerary. Example, we had a flight delay to Amsterdam (7 hours!). We arrived at 4PM versus 9AM on Sunday 6/10. However, from the brochure, I thought we had all day in Amsterdam on Monday. No, the boat left at noon so I only had 4 hours in Amsterdam. I would strongly recommend adding a day (minimum) to the front of your cruise. Post cruise, we spent 3 days in Lucerne. We all had a marvelous time with Avalon and I would recommend them highly. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: August 2012
Arrived in Amsterdam on first day of cruise coming from Copenhagen where we had just completed an 11 day Baltic Sea cruise that day. With the long, expensive flights from the US, we decided to do the 2 cruises back to back. The dates ... Read More
Arrived in Amsterdam on first day of cruise coming from Copenhagen where we had just completed an 11 day Baltic Sea cruise that day. With the long, expensive flights from the US, we decided to do the 2 cruises back to back. The dates worked out for us & I booked both over the internet directly with the cruise companies with no problems. Avalon did great job getting our documents to us early and answering all my questions pre cruise. Arriving at the airport around 4:00 PM & collecting our luggage, we expected to see an Avalon representative holding a sign to transfer us to the ship. After walking around for about 10-15 minutes, we finally found the red & white object where they were standing; after the driver finished his coffee, we left for the ship, about a 20 minute ride. At the ship, we got on immediately & went to our room with no further waiting. The ship is beautiful and the room was very comfortable with plenty of space for everything. The room seemed small with only had 2 small windows; when we booked in June, no balcony rooms were available. However, with the great weather, there were plenty of public viewing places so didn't spend much time in our room. The ship ride was very smooth and our room very quiet. Beds were very comfortable. Dress was casual during the day & dining room at night most dressed up a little more but no ties or sports coats. Saw a few men in tee shirts & shorts at night. There are no activities on the ship as with large cruise ships, which didn't bother us as we do not participate in those anyway. Viewing the scenery along the river and the ports are the focus of this type of cruise and these did not disappoint. Likewise, there is no shopping on the ship and no photographers. Entertainment in the evening is primarily a piano player which we listened to a few times. One night 3 local musicians were brought in & they were excellent. By evening after dinner & sightseeing all day, we were ready for bed as most days begin with the included walking tour around 8:30 AM. Dining: The breakfast & lunch buffets offered a nice variety & food was good. Two days a bar-b-que lunch was also offered on the top deck outside but you had to signup the day before which wasn't made very clear so we missed the first; apparently they only had space for about 40 people, so if you weren't on the list, you couldn't have that. Dining: Dinner was at 7 PM in the dining room, a sit down dinner with no other option. I was disappointed in the entree options several nights as well as the desserts at lunch & dinner. The brochure information makes it sound like there is a bistro on the top deck for casual dining as an option & there wasn't. Seven nights of sitting through a long drawn out dinner was too much after sightseeing all day. The unlimited wine & beer was nice & the service was great. The self serve coffee, juice, cookies & fresh fruits in the Club Lounge all day were nice. The ports were wonderful & beautiful cities. Some of the walking tour guides gave us a little too much history but most of the included tours were good and the headsets worked well. Nice to be docked usually right in towns where we could walk around. Really enjoyed the Rhine River gorge scenery but got tired of listening to hours of history over the loud speaker on the ship; for us, an occasional break would have been nicer as we began to feel like we were in a history class. At the rear in the Club Lounge, it is quiet (no speakers) but we wanted to sit outside at the front of the ship. Rudisheim was charming & enjoyed the musical museum & included wine tasting. Really enjoyed the bus tour to the Black Forest area which also was included; very pretty & interesting. We took the optional tour to Alsace for the wine tasting, plus got to see the beautiful countryside along the way. Would recommend this tour. I would recommend this ship for this type of cruise if your primary focus is the ports & their history which they did very well. For us, the lack of evening dining options, plus the cost of a balcony room compared to the ocean cruise ships would be a factor in booking another river cruise. Also, if possible, we prefer to do our own sightseeing at the ports which gives us more options. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: September 2012
This was my first River Cruise, after about 15 ocean cruises. I went with my sister, both of us in our 50s. Usually we travel with our husbands and/or children, but this was our "practice" River Cruise, just to see if we would ... Read More
This was my first River Cruise, after about 15 ocean cruises. I went with my sister, both of us in our 50s. Usually we travel with our husbands and/or children, but this was our "practice" River Cruise, just to see if we would like it. This was also our first time in Switzerland, Germany, eastern France and the Netherlands, and our main objective was to get a good look at this part of the world. We chose the Avalon Visionary, a new 128-passenger boat, for a 7-day Rhine 500-mile cruise due northward from Switzerland to Amsterdam, 9 to 16 September 2012. We traveled directly from JFK (NY) to Zurich overnight, Delta Business Class, with tickets purchased through Avalon. I got a lower airfare from Avalon than I could get on my own. We took the hotel shuttle--very easy--to the Zurich Airport Moevenpick, also booked through Avalon. The hotel was awesome, because the room was clean, modern and spacious, we got into the room at 8:30 am, and the hotel was easy walking distance to the tram that goes into Zurich, which we saw later that afternoon on our own. I would strongly recommend getting to your embarkation city a day early, because of 3 factors: (1) you have an extra day to handle the time change; (2) you have a cushion day in case your luggage is late (happened to me before, and I was lucky for the extra day); and (3) delayed flight can mean missed vacation time--we met a wonderful couple from South Carolina who had to "catch up" with the boat on Day 2. It is colder in Northern Europe on average in early September than it is at home (I live near DC), by about 10 degrees F. After all, Zurich is at the same latitude as Quebec, and we travel north from there. We had some unusually warm weather in Switzerland and France the first 3 days, but the temperature sank to normal fall temps (55-70 degrees F) the rest of the time. The highest marks I would give for the trip are for the tours. I think Avalon did a fantastic job, providing plenty of room in the tour buses and making all of the tours easy to follow. My sister and I are physically fit, but we were impressed that Avalon offered "slower walker" groups on each included walking tour. The first tour we took was a non-included pre-boarding tour, to Mt. Pilatus and Lucerne, and it was the best. Do not miss it. We took cable cars up Mt. Pilatus, and a rail car down. At the top was the most amazing view of Alpine peaks, along with people hang-gliding and hiking. We had a crystal clear day, so we were lucky to get such a great view. Lucerne is a postcard resort city, with cobbled streets and picture-perfect buildings. We then traveled to the boat. Visionary was very clean, crew was great, decor was simple and streamlined. Tour Director, Robert, was a hoot, explaining each night the planned activities for the next day with a rare mixture of insight and sarcasm. My sister and I had a Royal Suite, which was the last suite available when we booked for that sailing. I would not recommend this larger room; unlike large suites on an ocean-going cruise, there are no perks, just more square footage, which is basically not needed. Getting on and off the boat was so easy--you just pick up your laminated room card in the lobby and walk in and out. Zero hassle. The cruisers were 100 percent English-speaking. There was not one person under 40, I think, and most of the group was a least late 50s and beyond. This is a very easy-going and comfortable way to travel if you are "getting up there." Because there are so few passengers, you get to know a lot of them right away. By the end, you can recite first names for about a third of them. That's not at all like an ocean cruise, right? We met sisters from NC, sisters from MD, couples from all over--everyone very nice, and very relaxed. The food I thought was typically good cruise quality, with an understandably smaller selection for our small river boat than on a big cruise ship, with healthy alternative choices every night. There is no assigned seating, and we sat with many different traveling groups. Breakfast and lunch are buffet style. Good news for wine drinkers--the included wine at dinner flowed, and a different specialty wine offered every night--nothing stingy about Avalon how did this on our cruise. Entertainment--well, it was basically a piano-player every night and the crew talent show one night. The best was the Captain of the ship singing "New York, New York," with a heavy Dutch accent. I have no complaints about the entertainment, because a river cruise will not have a Broadway-style musical, right? The first portion of the Rhine was straight, calm and maybe a ½-mile wide, and descending from the higher elevation in Switzerland to the lower elevations in France and Germany by many locks. The first night, we must have gone through a half-dozen locks. There are very few large towns directly on the Rhine, because this river until a century ago was untamed and flood-prone. There is a lot of cargo and river cruise ship traffic on the river, all shallow-draft, flat-bottomed boats, nothing too big. Our first included tour was Strasbourg, France, which we saw by canal boat. This is another beautiful town, but with a sad history, as it changed hands back and forth between Germany and France over the years. Heidelberg was next, and is obviously very wealthy town, with a wonderful medieval castle. Heidelberg was our second-favorite stop. Mainz and Rudesheim (2 separate stops) were a nondescript industrial-modern town, and a quaint storybook town, respectively. We did the optional German dinner in Rudesheim, which was held at a regular restaurant, for a change of pace. It was good, but not amazing. After Rudesheim, the Rhine itself gets interesting, around the 30 mile or so (just guessing) section around the Rhine River Gorge. Our boat Visionary traveled mostly at night, but of course traversed the Gorge in the daylight, so that the cruisers could take it in. The river is wider, there are a lot more bends and rocks, and there are so many castles, every mile or so, I think. We had a cold and misty morning, but this part of the cruise was awesome. It is also famously dangerous, and one bend in the Rhine has a huge rock hill and the statue of the legendary Loreley, the maiden who distracts sailors and causes them to crash. Next was Koblenz, at the intersection of the Rhine and 2 other rivers. We had a walking tour here that started right at the boat, and it was our only boring tour, so my sister and I ditched it. There is a new cable car strung high above the Rhine at Koblenz, crossing the river to an old, very large and very high-up fort. We did the cable car ride and toured the fort on our own instead, and that was a great decision. The next day we saw Cologne, large, commercial, cold, windy, and, well you can tell, not my favorite. But, it does have an immense and impressive cathedral, and the best shopping strip on the whole tour. Finally, there was Amsterdam, which I love/hate, very strongly, both feelings. We did a long included canal tour, and saw the gorgeous homes and mix of both nice and decrepit houseboats lining the canals. We even floated past Anne Frank's house. Avalon does not offer an Anne Frank house tour, and tickets have to be ordered well in advance. I regret not getting my own tickets before the trip. We took 2 of the optional tours offered in Amsterdam, Van Gogh museum during the day and the Red Light tour at night. The first was just okay--even though I love Van Gogh, there is only so much one can see there. The Red Light tour was depressing and demoralizing, as we should have known. Sorry we took that tour. And sorrier still it was the last tour of the vacation! The next morning we took a pre-purchased bus transfer to the airport, which was another hassle-free trip about an hour from the boat. Upon reflection, this was a very relaxing vacation, and I think I want to do this again, but maybe after I have finished the more challenging stuff on my bucket list. If I were 5 to 15 years older, I think it would be right in my wheel house. I think Avalon is a good, straight-shooting company, and I will seek them out next time! Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: December 2012
My husband and I have been on 3 previous European River cruises: The Seine on Viking, The Rhine on Uniworld, and the Danube on AMA. The cruises on Uniworld and AMA were both Christmas market cruises as this one on the Visionary was.The ... Read More
My husband and I have been on 3 previous European River cruises: The Seine on Viking, The Rhine on Uniworld, and the Danube on AMA. The cruises on Uniworld and AMA were both Christmas market cruises as this one on the Visionary was.The only thing they all had in common was that they went to Christmas markets. Both AMA and Uniworld had Christmas activities scheduled on the ship with AMA going all out to keep up the Christmas atmosphere. Other than some tasteful decorations, the Visionary had no Christmas activities. Not even a cooking demonstration on how to make some Christmas yummy! There was one lecture on the formation of the EU. Sadly the water was high and we barely cruised and it was at night. The busing and the night in the hotel in Frankfurt were handled very smoothly, but it was a disappointment not to see the small towns along the Main. The ship was beautiful and our cabin gorgeous. The food and wine were good. If we had never been on other Christmas cruises maybe we would have been satisfied. As it was we were very disappointed with the lack of Christmas on the ship. The towns along the Main were all charming decked out for Christmas. Our guide, Victoria, was such fun that even the bus ride had everyone having fun! (Maybe the happy hour on the bus helped keep us happy!) Read Less
7 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: July 2013
The Avalon Visionary is a lovely ship boat. Our 200-level portside cabin was excellent. The "French Balcony" is fantastic. Staff and crew are extremely friendly and accommodating. When there was too much sun at dinner, I ... Read More
The Avalon Visionary is a lovely ship boat. Our 200-level portside cabin was excellent. The "French Balcony" is fantastic. Staff and crew are extremely friendly and accommodating. When there was too much sun at dinner, I started to pull down the blinds. A waitress came running up to pull them down. She said, "We're supposed to do everything for our guests." Don't worry," I said, smiling, "I took a course in blind pulling." It's neat. They have mini-newspapers for Canadians. The buffets are never crowded and there's always plenty of table space available. (That's quite unlike our experiences on over a dozen ocean cruises.) Anyone complaining about the quality of food needs cerebral assessment. The breakfast and lunch buffets are elaborate and the dinners are excellent. (A brochure explains that, because of the limited space, the buffets can have no more than 80 or 90 items!) At dinner, the red and white wines flow freely ... with multiple refills (all for no extra charge). When they say dinner begins at 7 pm, you gotta be there at 7 pm. You select everything at the start, from a multiple-choice menu. Then the meal is served like clockwork; starters/appetizers/salads, soup, main course, dessert, coffee, tea. Every guest gets the same component at the same time. That's efficiency, eh? You come a half hour later, you miss your goose liver pate or caesar salad and begin your dinner with the cream of white bean soup. A neat thing? As we move from Germany thru Bavaria to Vienna to Hungary, the food changes to reflect the locale. Bavarian sausages, Wienerschnitzel, Hungarian goulash ... very nice! The maid came by twice a day to fix our room, leaving bottled water in the mornings and chocolate on our pillow at night. (Unlike ocean cruises, the bottles of water are free.) WiFi is free (unlike 75 cents / minute on ocean cruises) ... and we even got CNN on TV. There are free tours / excursions at many stops ... with guides and earphones. Although there is no elaborate evening entertainment (as there is on ocean cruises), we had musical entertainers, chocolate and beer testing sessions, talks and videos on local history and other things of interest. In addition to lots of information and a daily schedule (delivered each day to your cabin), the cruise director explains everything over the PA system. Because there are only about one hundred guests, you often bump into the same people. After a few days, it's like a "family gathering". Although there are elevators, the ship is cleverly designed so that the restaurant is between the 1st and 2nd floor and the lounge is between the 2nd and 3rd floors ... so there are just a few steps to negotiate. What is so neat is to see the villages, farms, vineyards, castles going by ... and the locks are fun. Our daily diary with comments, pictures and videos is here: http://www.gummy-stuff.org/Danube-diary.htm   Read Less
24 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: July 2013
Been on about 50 total cruises but only 2 Riverboat sailings. The first riverboat was 2 1/2 years ago on Viking's Pride, a 10 night Tulip Time sailing Amsterdam to Amsterdam. It was really only a 7 night sailing as three nights we ... Read More
Been on about 50 total cruises but only 2 Riverboat sailings. The first riverboat was 2 1/2 years ago on Viking's Pride, a 10 night Tulip Time sailing Amsterdam to Amsterdam. It was really only a 7 night sailing as three nights we were docked in Amsterdam using the ship like a hotel. The latest was an 11 night Avalon Waterways cruise tour on their Visionary. The tour included 2 nights in Prague at the Old Town Marriott, then a 7 night sailing from Nuremberg to Budapest ending with 2 night at the Inter-Continental in Budapest. Our Avalon Sailing was a charter but pretty much everything is what anyone booking with Avalon Waterways would receive. Let start with the ships themselves. I liked the Avalon Visionary better than the Viking Pride. It was smaller holding 128 vs. 178 and had a better decor. Lacking though were drawers in the cabins. Lots of shelves and cabinet storage but no drawers. Bathrooms goes to the Visionary as well. Bigger and nice layout. Beds were set up as a Queen on both ship but the Visionary had a thick topper, so no center crack like on the Pride. On the Visionary we had a Cat. E, minimum rate, which was much nicer than the minimum rate cabins we saw on the Viking Pride. We upgraded to a Cat. D on Viking's Pride because of no hotel beds in minimum. I understand Vikings new ships have comparable minimum rate cabins to the Visionary. Keep in mind that riverboat cabins are much smaller than those on large cruise ships. You spend very little time in your cabin other than sleeping. When going through locks you are requested to have your sliding doors closed in the cabins with them. Also when docked you might be right against another ship as they often dock two or three abreast. You have to walk through one or two other ships to get to the pier. Personally I would not pay for more than a minimum rate cabin as long as it had "hotel style" beds. Most cabins are about the same size in all categories except the suites which are still not that large. Save your money and book minimum rate cabin. They are always the first to go. Food goes to Viking hands down. Viking did 4 course table service lunches equal to those in a fine hotel, the same for dinner. Avalon did buffet lunches with one item that could be ordered from the kitchen. Most passengers didn't even know that unless asked for a menu. I felt the food on Avalon reminded me of large cruise ship buffets and pretty much the same everyday. Dinner, while offering table service were not as elegant as Viking. Wines and beer were freely poured on both at dinner. I am not sure now that Viking has added 24 new ships in just two years if their food and service is up to par with that offered in the Spring of 2011. The Visionary offered coffees, teas and other beverages 24/7 as did Viking but Avalon always had lots of fruit and homemade cookies set out as well. It was hit or miss with Viking for snacks. Both lines offer included tours in port as well as optional tours. I felt Avalon offered a lot more optional tours. I am not sure if this was because of a different itinerary or not. Both did a great job with their tours. All in all I would go on either line again. While pricey as compared to Ocean Liner Cruises I really enjoyed both riverboat sailings. It is a totally different experience and one that I am liking more and more. It is a great way to see Europe. I just wish they would offer more 10 or 11 day sailings. Most sailings tend to be either 7 or 14 nights on the riverboat itself. I have always felt 7 nights is too short and 14 nights a bit too long on board a ship or riverboat. Giving riverboat cruising a try. I think you'll enjoy them as much as I do.   Read Less
9 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: October 2013
First, let me say that the crew of the Avalon Visionary were wonderful. They did everything in their power to make the trip a pleasure, but couldn't overcome the shortcomings of stateroom 202. The continuous sound of running, ... Read More
First, let me say that the crew of the Avalon Visionary were wonderful. They did everything in their power to make the trip a pleasure, but couldn't overcome the shortcomings of stateroom 202. The continuous sound of running, splashing, gurgling water beneath our cabin floor caused us endless sleepless nights. We would emerge in the morning for breakfast looking like zombies. When exhaustion did bring on sleep, we were frequently awakened green and gasping as diesel exhaust fumes wafted through our cabin courtesy of the air conditioning system. There was no fear of motion sickness on board, but carbon monoxide poisoning was a real possibility. The on-board entertainment system was nice, but only worked sporadically. Then there was the day when our room inexplicably locked us out. This was surely an omen. Only a crew member with a master key could let us in that day until the entire lock system was replaced. On the final evening of the trip we had a silent tour of Budapest at night when our local guide was given a dead audio transmitter. Note to beer lovers: The complimentary on-board beer served with dinner is awful. It looks and tastes like....well....you know. After the first night nobody touched the beer. We all switched to wine, which was quite good. Small (0.3L) bottles of German beer were available at the bar but cost 3.5 Euros (about $5). Slake your beer thirst in Prague, where delicious Czech beer cost less than $2 for a half liter. Wish we had brought a case on board. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: May 2014
We did the Romantic Rhine Cruise, northbound (from Basel to Amsterdam), and there was nothing about this cruise we didn't love. Our Panarama Suite was roomy and well-appointed. We especially liked the sliding glass doors which made a ... Read More
We did the Romantic Rhine Cruise, northbound (from Basel to Amsterdam), and there was nothing about this cruise we didn't love. Our Panarama Suite was roomy and well-appointed. We especially liked the sliding glass doors which made a balcony of our whole room; even though the weather was, with rare exception, too cool to open the doors wide the week we cruised, the 7-feet-wide, floor-to-ceiling doors made our suite feel light and spacious even on a cloudy, overcast day. The elegant bathroom was large, with excellent lighting. The crew must get first-class training because every single member of the crew was friendly and eager to be of service. By mid-week we felt like we were part of a big, happy family. The food was quite good. Breakfast and lunch were served buffet-style, but one could order from a select menu if preferred. Unlimited soft drinks and wine (perhaps beer, too) were provided at evening meals. Along those same lines, there was a half-priced Happy Hour every evening for designated times as stated on the daily itinerary we found in our room each night (as part of our nightly turn-down service). We liked that the evening meals were served at a leisurely pace since this gave us an opportunity to relax, talk about that day's excursions,, and visit with the "new friends" at our table. About the excursions: the excursions (both included and optional) were very good and certainly enhanced by very good local guides with a great communication system: Avalon issued each of us earpieces the first day of our cruise and provided each of the local guides with a transmitter. This was, hands-down, the best of these audio systems we've ever experienced (with the exception of our guide in Heidelberg who couldn't seem to understand he had to speak INTO his transmitter). All of our other European trips had been land tours, which we'd always enjoyed, but we decided we were ready for the unpack-just-once experience of a river cruise. After much research we liked what we saw and read about Avalon Waterways, and we weren't disappointed! The experience was so positive that we left the Visionary wondering what other river cruises Avalon offers that we could work into our travel plans. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: September 2014
We picked Avalon among the confusing assortment of river cruise lines because of the pictures of the staterooms and granite bathrooms and we weren't disappointed. We loved the all glass side with the bed, table and chairs facing out ... Read More
We picked Avalon among the confusing assortment of river cruise lines because of the pictures of the staterooms and granite bathrooms and we weren't disappointed. We loved the all glass side with the bed, table and chairs facing out for the best view, not that we spent much time in our room! The cruise we took was called "Castles on the Rhine" but the castles were just part of the cruise, a lovely afternoon on the prettiest part of the Rhine. What we really appreciated the most was the crew. They were so gracious and friendly that it made the cruise very personal. This was our first river cruise so this aspect was a nice difference from the ocean cruises we have been on. The food and wine with dinner were excellent and the breakfast and lunch buffets always delicious. There were only 129 guests on board so there are no lines, no rush, just relaxation and the best service we have ever experienced. The included tours were very good and the afternoon extras we chose were also good, all a little heavy on history and light on free time for us. The evening entertainment varied, depending on what local talent was available, but no production numbers like the big ships. The crew talent show was hilarious and there was always dancing in the evenings for the party animals. The cost of a river cruise seems high compared to the ocean cruises we have been on but with everything included like excursions, wine and gratuities, it didn't seem like that much more and no one was trying to sell us anything else on board! We would definitely book Avalon again. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: October 2014
This cruise was booked because mom wanted to do a Rhine River cruise. My late dad and mom took a Rhine River cruise years ago and thoroughly enjoyed it. The price was great probably because the end of the tourist season was here. The ... Read More
This cruise was booked because mom wanted to do a Rhine River cruise. My late dad and mom took a Rhine River cruise years ago and thoroughly enjoyed it. The price was great probably because the end of the tourist season was here. The cruise was sold out. The big cruise lines could learn a lot on how to treat their passengers from Avalon. My mom, sister, and I were on this cruise. We knew our experience was going to be different when we checked in with the cruise folks at the Zurich Movenpick Airport, the start point of the cruise. Mom is disabled but the folks at the hotel took her under their wing to make sure she was taken care of. Check in was a snap, they just checked our names off a list. We opted for the Mt. Pilatus and Lucerne excursion. Avalon could just skip Mt. Pilatus and offer several hours in Lucerne instead. After spending about an hour in Lucerne, it was on the bus for a short trip to Basel. (Cruise Critic add Basel to your ports of embarkation). We got off the bus and the crew helped mom to the reception deck where they gave us our cabin cards. The crew escorted us to our cabins and helped us to orient ourselves to the features of the cabin. Our luggage was in the cabin before we could catch our breath. There was a evacuation orientation followed by a description of what to expect on the cruise by Gusta, the Cruise Director. She went into great detail about the included shore excursions, an extra that we weren't expecting, but welcome. Afterwards, there was a happy hour followed by the first of many great dinners. Beer and wine were included in the evening meal, another nice touch. In fact beer and wine were included in all evening meals. Happy Hour, every day, had drinks at half price. Since it had been a long day most cruisers retired to their cabins. The first full day found us in Strasburg, I opted out of the include excursion and just wandered around town. It was Sunday morning, everything was closed, except the bakeries. I bought a couple of roll and some cheese and strolled about. In the afternoon, we boarded a bus for a trip to area wine producing region and had a delightful afternoon of sipping wine. Though rain clouds threatened, we didn't experience any rain. After about three hours it was short trip back to the boat. The tour guide gave us a lot detail but knew when to be quiet and let us enjoy the ride. Another great meal on board. There was a very unexpected surprise in store for us. Sunday was my mom's birthday and about midway through the evening meal, the lights went out in the dining room and the head waiter led a procession of the crew to where mom was sitting and presented her with a birthday cake and rousing chorus of "Happy Birthday". It seemed that everyone on board came by to wish her the best. That was something a big cruise line would never do. That made the cruise for us. A night of cruising found us in Speyer the next morning. While my sister opted for the included excursion again I opted to stroll around myself. My sister said the tour guided gave a great walking tour. We only spent about three hours in Speyer because we were expected in Heidelburg in the afternoon. A short hop and we docked and got on board for a tour of downtown Heidelburg. I need to add since my mom uses an wheelchair some optional excursions were out of the question. On the walking tour of Heidelburg the tour guide went to great lengths to make sure mom was comfortable with the pace. I would also like to give a shout out to our fellow passengers that were always asking if mom was doing okay. On the way back to the boat the tour guide pointed out several old US Army Kasernes that were in the process of being converted back to civilian use. Another short hop found us in Mainz. It was at Mainz were we experience several days of less than nice autumn weather. But Avalon had us covered there as well. What big cruise line would provide its passengers with umbrella before going ashore? We did the tour of Mainz and the Gutenberg Museum and had about an hour of free time in Mainz. As luck would have it, there was a farmer's market in progress. It was nice walking about an seeing all the fresh produce, cheese, and breads. There was short hop to our next destination, Rudesheim. Rudesheim is the center of Rhineland wine region. Avalon stayed in Rudesheim overnight. I went ashore a bought some fresh pastries before we shoved off. We enjoyed the pastries as we sailed down to Koblenz. The morning and early afternoon were spent sailing down the Rhine Gorge getting a running history of the castles that dot the riverside. Gusta gave a great rendition of "Die Lorilei" as we sailed past that point of the Rhine. Koblenz is where the Mosel and Rhine Rivers merge. Koblenz could be called the capital of Mosel wines. It rained the afternoon but that didn't spoil our roaming the streets of Koblenz. The huge statue of Kaiser Wilhelm sort of dominates the area, located on the Deutsche Ecke, "German Corner" on the confluence of the two rivers. We sailed in the evening headed to Cologne. Enroute to Cologne, we passed the town of Remagen, where US Forces captured the lone standing bridge across the Rhine during World War II. The captain slowed the boat down and pointed the boat's spotlight on the ruins of bridges abutments to about dozen of us veterans on the upper deck. Gusta gave an excellent recap of the battle. Again we sailed throughout the night and docked sometime that night in Cologne. We took the walking tour of of downtown Cologne and visited the rebuilt Cologne Cathedral. Despite the cobblestones, folks in Cologne went out of their way to give us tips on smoother paths as we pushed mom in her wheelchair around. We stopped at a cafe for a cup of coffee and the owner gave mom a free cup of coffee with a huge dollop of whipped cream and a pastry that must have had a gazillion calories! Another night of sailing found us in Amsterdam for the last day of the cruise. Avalon provided a canal cruise. Amsterdam canal boats are not the easiest to get in and out of, the canal boat pilot went through great effort to get mom down before we started and helped her out at the end of the tour. The tour guide presented the history of Amsterdam in a very humorous way. The only really disappointing excursion was the trip to a "traditional Dutch village". It was more of a three hour shopping tour. That evening we wound up the cruise with a last excellent meal on board. The captain introduced his crew. The cruise director went through any last minute instructions in preparation for disembarkation. Disemarkation was a snap. We said our final goodbye, several crew members gave mom hugs and wished us well. I would recommend this Avalon cruise-Basel to Amsterdam to everyone. We were extremely pleased with the service, boat, food, and cabins on the cruise.   Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: May 2015
This was our first river cruise. We started our cruise in Amsterdam on May 2 2015. We went to the Movenpick Hotel city center on Saturday to check in and take an optional "Flower time in Tulip Land" The Keukenhof Flower ... Read More
This was our first river cruise. We started our cruise in Amsterdam on May 2 2015. We went to the Movenpick Hotel city center on Saturday to check in and take an optional "Flower time in Tulip Land" The Keukenhof Flower Exhibition.The gardens are very big and beautiful. We were there just at the right time because all the Tulips were in bloom. Coach transfer to the MS AVALON VISIONARY after the Tulip trip.We boarded the Avalon Visionary and it was beautiful. Our cabin on the 3rd floor(upper deck) was more than we expected. A big queen bed facing a big French Balcony. It had a sitting area, chair, sofa, and table. The bath was better than any cabin on any cruise ship we were ever on before. We had our Mandatory SAFETY DRILL, then a welcome meeting and cocktail. 7 PM Embarkation dinner(every dinner was very good, with a good selection of food.) We really didn't leave Sunday we had an Included Canal Cruise of Amsterdam in the morning. Then lunch on board. at 1:45 we took the optional Shore Feature visiting The ANNE FRANK HOUSE. 5PM all aboard, then a port talk, 7PM Dinner, Afterwards music. The rest of the week was great with every day doing a city tour, then lunch, either a light lunch in the lounge or buffet in the main dinning room. Then Dinner at 7PM where you could sit anywhere with anyone you wanted to. The menu was very nice with meat or fish or chicken every day and wonderful soup salad and dessert. The ports were Amsterdam, Cologne, Rudesheim, and Mainz Strasbourg and Basel. We had a problem that the river was to high for ships to continue to sail down the river. We disembarked in Bingen and were driven to Strasbourg by motor coach were we were put on another Avalon ship named The Tranqulity II the same class ship as the Visionary only newer. After lunch we went to our new rooms(the same room as we had on the Avalon Visionary.) Then we did a tour of Strasbourg came back for coffee and cake then a port talk then dinner. After dinner a Black Forest Presentation then music and dancing. Overnight in Strasbourg. 8AM tour of the Black Forest by tour bus, for shopping for Cuckoo Clocks and some Black Forest Cherry Cake and Coffee. Back to the ship for a buffet lunch. After lunch a free tour to the City of Colmar France. This tour was Complimentary by Avalon. 4PM back on board coffee and cake. 6-7 Happy hour(every night) Port talk 7PM Dinner. Music and dance. We were to leave Strasbourg but due to the high water Avalon Tranquility stayed docked and we could not go Basel. Saturday we all left for Basel or Zurich by bus for our planes or trains home. The river being too high is no fault of Avalon, they gave every one $200.00 refund for the inconvenience. This was a great river trip and we are going to do another with Avalon. Read Less
13 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: August 2015
As I was about to board the plane with my friend for Prague, I received an urgent call that our Central European Experience cruise was cancelled due to a cargo ship blocking the river. They didn't have an alternate plan as they had ... Read More
As I was about to board the plane with my friend for Prague, I received an urgent call that our Central European Experience cruise was cancelled due to a cargo ship blocking the river. They didn't have an alternate plan as they had just received the news. By the time we reached Prague, Avalon Waterways had redirected our cruise to take us down the Danube. They did an outstanding job of giving us an amazing substitute cruise including all the wonderful side excursions from Passau ,Germany to Vienna,Austria and Budapest, Hungary. When the were no longer able to take us by train to Paris because of the distance from Budapest they chartered a plane and flew us there. They went above and beyond what was expected of them. I am 100% sure the other cruise lines would have sent us on the original itinerary on a bus instead. Our cruise director Danielle and all the crew were wonderful and went out of their way to make sure we had a great cruise. I tell everyone if you have future plans to take a river cruise, Avalon Waterways is the way to go! Read Less
7 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: August 2015
In August of 2014 my husband and I booked an Avalon River Cruise from Prague to Paris to take place August, 2015. Unfortunately, our first night in Prague we learned that there was a barge loaded with steel in the middle of the river and ... Read More
In August of 2014 my husband and I booked an Avalon River Cruise from Prague to Paris to take place August, 2015. Unfortunately, our first night in Prague we learned that there was a barge loaded with steel in the middle of the river and our river boat would not be able to reach us in Nuremburg which was the original point of embarkation for the cruise. Since we had arrived a day early, the company was unable to contact us before leaving the US. At the initial meeting we were informed that the company was redirecting our cruise to travel from Passau, Germany to Budapest, Hungary along the Danube. They would then fly us to Paris so we could connect with our original return flights. We were informed that we could either continue with the cruise and receive a refund of 50% or cancel and receive a full refund. We opted to continue with the cruise (not having much choice). Naturally we were disappointed because we had been planning for a year to visit towns in Germany that we had never seen. As it was, one of the days in Austria was a national religious holiday and our second day in Budapest was a national holiday resulting in most businesses and venues being closed. Additionally, we lost an afternoon in Paris because of the late arrival of our flight. Upon our arrival home, we found that our refund was based on the cruise portion only (something that was not spelled out in our original meeting.) We called our travel agent who contacted Avalon; after several days we were given a contact to email. We received a note from an Avalon customer service representative that we would not be receiving the full 50% refund. We were not only disappointed in the new route, but also in the indifference of the Avalon staff to consider our request for a full 50% refund as promised. Read Less
9 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: September 2015
The hotel in Prague pre-cruise was excellent. The Intercontinental hotel is definitely 5 stars. The bus transportation to Nuremburg was good, not great, the organization at the hotel for pickup could have been better. The ship itself ... Read More
The hotel in Prague pre-cruise was excellent. The Intercontinental hotel is definitely 5 stars. The bus transportation to Nuremburg was good, not great, the organization at the hotel for pickup could have been better. The ship itself was quite nice, the public rooms were well equipped and bright and airy and very modern. The room we had was on the bottom deck but it was fine. The beds are very comfortable, there is adequate storage, the bathrooms are well thought out and have lots of storage space, and they are quite quiet. The provided tours are for the most part OK, some of the guides were less than stellar. The cruise director was not as involved as he could have been and not as attentive as we have had in the past. The outlandish prices for drinks, including soft drinks was a continual annoyance. The only free drinks are provided at dinner time. In the lounges there is coffee and tea available but no juice or soft drinks. There was some entertainment onboard but we never availed ourselves of it. The meals were quite good, there was always something that appealed. Wi-Fi was good in all areas of the ship. Disembarkation in Budapest was handled quite well with transport and taxis readily available. We made our own arrangement for a hotel in Budapest for a few days and after talking to some folks who booked a post cruise extension and stayed at the Intercontinental in Budapest we were glad we did. Overpriced and not in great shape. Read Less
8 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: March 2016
I loved this cruise! Amsterdam to Budapest. The staff was exceptional. It comes from the top down. Each person was genuine, polite and professional. The ship is spotlessly clean. The food overall was delicious. I didn't care for ... Read More
I loved this cruise! Amsterdam to Budapest. The staff was exceptional. It comes from the top down. Each person was genuine, polite and professional. The ship is spotlessly clean. The food overall was delicious. I didn't care for most of the fish dishes when they were featured on the evening menu. But there is always something to appeal to your appetite. If you can't find something, you are too picky and shouldn't be traveling. Many days featured the local cuisine, beer and wine. It was a great opportunity to try local cuisine. During dinner, the included wine and beer flowed generously. The daily routine is breakfast, touring, back to the ship for lunch, relaxing or perhaps an additional tour or shopping in the town. Snacks at 4pm, happy hour, port talk and then 7 pm dinner. Some evenings local tradional entertainment is brought on board. Piano music is otherwise available and people are in bed by 10-10:30pm. The average age is retired. A few under 30 were traveling with family. Being on the ship 15 days you get to know many people from around the globe. Dining is always open seating, you may sit anywhere anytime. We did the Panorama Bistro 2 nights and each night was delicious. In the bistro you receive several small bites of many options. You'll never go hungry. The room configuration with the beds facing the wall of windows is genius! It was wonderful to lay in bed and watch the scenery go by. Free wifi is available, but sometimes you are in the model of nowhere and do not have service. This was my first river cruise and I loved it! I don't know if I'll ever go back to sea cruises and big ships. This spoils you with the quality and individual service. Read Less
20 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: April 2016
After two cruises on Uniworld, we decided to try Avalon. We liked their "panorama suite" design. Sadly, that was the only thing outstanding about our Avalon experience. Our "journey" started with "check-in" ... Read More
After two cruises on Uniworld, we decided to try Avalon. We liked their "panorama suite" design. Sadly, that was the only thing outstanding about our Avalon experience. Our "journey" started with "check-in" at the Hotel Intercontinental in Vienna. By this time, we had already been in Europe for 3 nights, on our own. There was a large window to check bags in, from 8am to 3:30pm, but this entire process really messed up any possibility to do anything meaningful on that day. (With Uniworld, we were actually able to present ourselves to the ship itself, at any time during the day. They also had light snacks available in the lounge.) Not the case with Avalon. There was a conference room, at the hotel, with chips, peanuts, water, and coffee. We were required to be back, at the hotel, at 3:30, so we could be bussed, as a group, to the ship. Again, having to schedule events around this time frame, was inconvenient. As we had travel cards, we could have easily traveled to and from the ship much easier on our own.....but, that wasn't an option. Moving on to orientation......there were only 50 people on our cruise. We were assembled in the lounge, where our cruise director gave us a brief overview of the ship, and upcoming cruise. We did the mandatory muster drill, and then were escorted to our rooms by a staff member. Basically, this involved......"here's how your room key works," and, "here's your room"......our luggage was then delivered, one piece at a time.....(Now, comparing to Uniworld, we got an overview of the room, outlet locations, "how-to's", and, our luggage was already in our room when we arrived). Cabin: We had a Panorama suite on the middle deck, 4 cabins from the rear of the ship. The cabin was very spacious, and we loved that the bed faced outward (though we were often rafted, and couldn't open the curtains). The bathroom was also very spacious, and well appointed. The bed was comfortable. The couch and chair, not so much. There was a minibar/fridge, which we used to keep our own water cool. Hanging closet space and shelf space was adequate, but there really weren't any drawers. The desk chair was uncomfortable, and had a solid back, which made it difficult to pull in and out. We were provided with two large bottles of water at the beginning of our trip. We had to fill the ice bucket ourselves. Comparing to Uniworld, this cabin was a clear winner with regard to space. The Uniworld beds are much more comfortable, and the staff much more attentive with Uniworld. However, factoring in rafting makes the extra $$ for the suite not worth the concept. Public space: Avalon's decor is more contemporary, and simplistic, than Uniworld. However, it is also much less comfortable. From the dining room to lounge, the furniture was very uncomfortable. The seating on the sundeck was also of inferior quality to Uniworld. By the end of our cruise, my husband said, "Give me the brothel look anytime!" Shore excursions: honestly, we really didn't participate in many of these. The first day (the hotel day mentioned above) didn't include any. The second day, we remained in Vienna. Tours included a morning city tour (we were on our 3rd day, so did the Spanish Riding School in the morning, and Schonbrunn Palace-on our own-in the afternoon). The third day, we started off with the Durnstein walking tour, but as there were 4 ships there, the one street was pretty congested, so we opted to walk to the castle ruins. We sailed to Melk that afternoon, and did do the Melk Abbey excursion, which we thoroughly enjoyed. Day 4 took us to Cesky Krumlov. After 45 minutes, we left that tour, as we hadn't even made it across the river yet, and our guide was more focused on telling us where to shop and eat, than about the city itself. The last day was a short city tour in Passau, but we opted to climb to the castle on the right side of the city, and the church on the left side. We did meet up with the tour guide afterwords, with members from our cruise, and enjoyed a beer. In general, since we are "young" river cruisers, we like to get out and do our own thing. Food: Is always subjective, but Avalon certainly was mediocre to average here. Variety, and quality, were lacking. Choices were few, and didn't really reflect the local cuisine. Thank goodness there were menu items for breakfast and lunch, because the buffet offerings were of cafeteria quality. The beer/liquor selection was equally underwhelming. Lastly, there was no "open seating" with regard to time. We were "asked" to proceed to the dining room for dinner, 15 minutes after the appointed "start" time. Entertainment: "Typical" regular piano player/singer. We had one night of special entertainment, in Melk, from a man from New Zealand, who played guitar and sang 60/70/80's music. He was very good, but sadly, only played for an our, and was gone......The on board musician wasn't good, at all, and often played, and sang, the same songs over and over. When he wasn't playing, the music choices were awful. When we asked the bartender about it, he said they had a playlist provided by corporate...... Staff: Despite there only being 50 passengers aboard, the staff seemed very unengaged. Most really didn't seem to care that much. There were a few waitstaff that went out of their way, and learned our likes/preferences, but that was it. The front desk staff wouldn't initiate conversation, and would only reply if spoken to first. Housekeeping would store their carts in the halls, and their "uniforms" looked like something they had worn to bed the night before (t-shirts and casual, pull-on style pants) General Avalon comments: As noted, we had done two Uniworld cruises previously, one pre all-inclusive, and one after they went all-inclusive. This is my observation of Avalon. They are too corporate focused, and not customer focused. There is a place for procedure, but, in the river cruise business, the customer has to be attended to, and they don't do a good job here. From their regimented check-in, to bussing to the ship.......I'm not sure how other lines handle it, but Uniworld definitely gets the nod here. The "approved" music list in the bar......Also, their headset system, not nearly as good as Uniworld's, and they kept them at the front desk, instead of in the cabins.....I can't imagine the chaos this would cause on a full ship, as it caused chaos on our less than half-full one! Also, their passenger tracking system leaves a lot to be desired. With Uniworld, we would scan our room cards in and out, with an electronic card scanner. With Avalon, they give you small laminated cards to carry offshore with you. On the Durnstein-Melk day, there was a notice to not turn in your card if you planned on doing the afternoon excursion (Melk). So, we didn't.....the cruise director had seen us come onboard, and came up to the sun deck to retrieve our cards.....he said, "You didn't turn in your cards" I said, "When we left this am, there was a sign up telling us not to!". Perhaps one of the most disappointing parts of our cruise, and one where corporate prevailed over customer, was on the last full day of the cruise. We were enjoying a beautiful morning of sailing between Linz and Passau, and the crew was assembling furniture, running wire, etc, on the sun deck, in anticipation of the next sailing, which was chartered by Goodyear. In addition, once we reached Passau, we attempted to come back to the ship, only to find them loading supplies for the next sailing. It was a chore to get to our cabin, with the staff heaving crates of water bottles down the hall. While I realize it has to be done sometime......they do kick you off no later than 10am, and don't let anyone on again until 4pm on embarkation day! And, in this case, they had an entire day between our disembarkation and the next cruise's embarkation. In closing, I didn't feel like a valued passenger......Avalon did nothing to make me feel special, and did nothing to make me want to be a repeat passenger. Read Less
19 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: May 2016
Has Avalon lost the plot or are they about to sink into murky water? One would think so by our experience. Picked up at 4.30am in the morning, in Amsterdam by 10.25am we were taken to a hotel where a meeting room has been hired and told ... Read More
Has Avalon lost the plot or are they about to sink into murky water? One would think so by our experience. Picked up at 4.30am in the morning, in Amsterdam by 10.25am we were taken to a hotel where a meeting room has been hired and told we have a choice, sit there until 4.00pm before we go to the ship with provided refreshments of lukewarm coffee in jugs, or go and walk around Amsterdam centre which was twenty minutes walk away. Okay, fair enough, we were early, although not our fault Avalon had booked the aircraft, so we wandered off, carrying all our belongings being no secure storage. Now to the boat (which we've decided it to be rather than a ship) and to a 'State Room' sold in the brochure to us as spacious with panoramic floor to ceiling window and comfortable seating, while we cruised along through the tulip fields of Holland. In our case the 'State Room' should be more aptly named 'Cabin in the Bilges' as a better description. I kid you not, the panoramic window turned out to be two narrow slits looking out at the concrete side of the jetty and a warning from the man who took us to the cabin to keep the curtains closed if we were changing. Although to be fair, when the boat was cruising you could look out, if you stood on your bed and held onto the ledge that is! Then the brochure claimed the cabins were the largest for this type of boat. We tend to disagree, the end of the bed was eleven inches from the dressing table, either side of the bed twelve inches from walls. The single chair (not two, one for each of us) to sit on, was more like a one you'd find in a kitchen, jammed under the dressing table with not enough room to be pulled out and use. Then the lighting of the room (we needed that having little or no window) was so bad we were forced to use the lights on our mobiles to look into the wardrobe, or the tiny safe seated at the back. Then, if you wanted a wet shave, forget it, far too dark in an en-suite that could only be described as bijou, or in practical terms so small that if the boat hit the jetty at least you couldn't fall over. Naturally, as one does, faced with this, you complain, after all the boat was only two thirds full, so they must have something better for two people in their late sixties? They did, we were proudly shown around a cabin with lounge chairs, panoramic window and actually room to walk around and could move, if we paid £1600 hundred pounds more that is, otherwise we stayed where we were and put up with it. That works out at £228 a night extra for the two of us, to be added to the £431 a night we'd already paid. Why was it, talking to people in these so called luxury rooms, that they paid the same as us? Very strange, or was it an attempt at extortion by the cruise manager once you are captured? However, being British we are are resourceful. We had the bed turned around sideways, got rid of the side tables, leaving the telephone on the floor and had two chairs brought from the lounge. Clever, eh? At least we could sit down, although one of us had to climb over the other to get into bed, then we had to stack the chairs on top of each other at the entrance door at night, to have room to get out of bed and go to the loo. That was because we were banned from leaving the chairs in the corridor at night, even after we said blocking our door was a fire hazard for us. They claimed that to have us leave chairs in the corridor would look bad for a boat offering four star accommodation, besides a hazard to other passengers. Right we were off, uncomfortable, yes, but the tulips awaited. No they didn't, there wasn't any. Why didn't someone tell us this little fact, that in late May the tulip cruise which we were on isn't? No one mentioned that even though the question was asked and verified, till we were aboard that is and holding an itinerary sent in advance included a day at the world renowned tulip gardens of Keukenhof, which was closed. At this point we wanted to go home, after all, we're only an hour or so flight away. But they convinced us that the alternative itinerary would make up. Well, yes and no, if you like to wander around towns at eight thirty in the morning, full of delivery lorries, smelly bags of rubbish besides rubbish carts and completely void of life. We found that out more than once, when ignoring the optional coach trips at an average cost of £55 each, we went back to the towns later in the day to find a vibrant cafe culture, open shops and people, yes people and no rubbish carts. I must mention the food, after all food is important on such holidays. It was okay, we've had better. Then most of the menu of the next day seemed to be recycled using a variation of the previous day's offerings they had over. As for breakfast, avoid the jams and honey in packets. They are so old the jam had gone a funny colour and the honey granulated. Also forget bacon unless you like it crispy, well burnt really and toast that one day gave you anemic toast, the next so charred you had to scrape it. Best meal advice. Avoid the fancy stuff, most are pretty ordinary, but they will make you steak and chips as an alternative, we lived on that. Overall impressions? I'm months off seventy, my partner is disabled, with a heart valve and pacemaker, besides associated problems. So maybe the hardened cruisers among you will laugh at our naivety. Maybe we shouldn't have believed the brochure that all cabins had panoramic windows and we really couldn't expect a two chairs in our cabin for £3500 on an eight day cruise. Maybe we should have realised the tulips were finished, even though we'd still few in our garden. Even so, we were entitled to some consideration rather than complacency, after the cruise director could only laugh that we'd had the bed turned around, bedside cabinets removed and another chair brought just to sit down. Besides required to climb over a bed to get in and stack chairs up blocking the exit. We’re going back to a cruise line that tells the truth and looks after you. Besides giving you a cabin for two and not a converted single cabin, where the bed won't fit the room and an en-suite that you can actually turn round in. As for Avalon, half empty boats, out and out lies to get you aboard, followed by indifference when something can be done about an obvious problem, for us indicates a cruise line that has no concern for its passengers. Be warned, make sure you are very clear what they are offering you, preferably in writing, or just don't go with them and find a cruise company that cares. Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: June 2016
Wanted to cruise the Rhine, Main and Danube rivers. Switzerland, France, Germany, Czech Republic and Austria. Gorgeous. The ship was very nice. Water levels were high so we didn't board until second day. Our cabin was nice, food ... Read More
Wanted to cruise the Rhine, Main and Danube rivers. Switzerland, France, Germany, Czech Republic and Austria. Gorgeous. The ship was very nice. Water levels were high so we didn't board until second day. Our cabin was nice, food pretty good. Service is excellent. However for the price it was very expensive compared to ocean cruises. Of course river cruises include all the tours guided. Dining room was very warm, it was hard to eat when you are very warm. Scenery was gorgeous and cruise director was excellent. Think for the price all alcohol any time of day should be included. Daily schedule was just the right pace. Lived all the stops but particularly Czech Republic and Wacau Valley. Loved Regensburg a lot. Felt like a Christmas town. I think the best way to describe this river cruise is castles, cathedrals, storks, swans, vineyards and apricot orchards. So breathtaking and unusual. Life onboard was very good. Ship is immaculate. Service was very good. Activities were not too numerous which is good because several days had two excursions and didn't need a lot of entertainment onboard. The food was very good. Absolutely loved the special tasting dinners at the start of each region. The lounges and patios were perfect onboard. Read Less
Sail Date: August 2016
I choose this trip because the port of calls seemed interesting, and I enjoyed all the wineries that were available for tastings. I like a mix of busy cities and quiet out of the way places, it is a better way to actually see how others ... Read More
I choose this trip because the port of calls seemed interesting, and I enjoyed all the wineries that were available for tastings. I like a mix of busy cities and quiet out of the way places, it is a better way to actually see how others live. In general I like the smaller scale that you get with a river cruise, and the ability to customize it to suit individual interests. Everyone on board makes you feel welcome and ready to help in any way they can. The food is good, and served hot with plenty of choices for every dietary need. Excursions were well planned and came of without any problems, buses were clean and always locked so that you could leave personal items behind. The drivers were careful, and knew the areas well. I never knew there so many locks on the various rivers, it was interesting to see how they all functioned. Read Less
4 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: August 2016
after much research, we felt that the room size was larger on the Avalon Visionary boat and more to our liking... which it was. The room was immaculately clean and kept clean and tidy every day. The crew was friendly and accommodating ... Read More
after much research, we felt that the room size was larger on the Avalon Visionary boat and more to our liking... which it was. The room was immaculately clean and kept clean and tidy every day. The crew was friendly and accommodating and the food was fabulous. Every tour had a knowledgeable and thorough guide that was very informative. We didn't expect to have entertainment nightly onboard - however we were pleasantly surprised with the local talent that jumped on board while we were docked or while we passed through a lock..... amazing!!!!! The Hum Pa Pa band was hysterical... I hadn't laughed that hard in a long time. He was fabulous. During the day we had a Zither concert - something new for me - and not to be out done by the beer tasting in the afternoon. I need to compliment the "bar - tender" and the rest of his staff.... they always went out of their way for you. I like Avalon. Read Less
Sail Date: August 2016
We chose Avalon as we had heard good things about their cruises. The Avalon Visionary is a great ship and we thought our cabin (206) was well appointed with plenty of storage space and seating. We enjoyed the daily entertainment which ... Read More
We chose Avalon as we had heard good things about their cruises. The Avalon Visionary is a great ship and we thought our cabin (206) was well appointed with plenty of storage space and seating. We enjoyed the daily entertainment which was varied, including lectures, musicians, singers, and even a show put on by the crew. The service was excellent from all crew members we encountered. The dining was 4-star quality and varied. Breakfast and lunch were buffets, but always offered a made-to-order specialty from the chef. Ports were as wonderful as we had anticipated, and you can be as busy as you want to be with choices of additional excursions on most days. All the local guides were excellent. An extra shout-out to our cruise director, Karoline, who was outstanding. We though it was really an ideal way to travel and hope to plan another river cruise with Avalon. Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: August 2016
Our trip was a work promotion and it couldn't have been better. We'd never been on a such a vacation--ocean or river--before and couldn't be more pleased. The Visionary was terrific, the crew warm and accommodating. The ... Read More
Our trip was a work promotion and it couldn't have been better. We'd never been on a such a vacation--ocean or river--before and couldn't be more pleased. The Visionary was terrific, the crew warm and accommodating. The dinner service left us wanting for nothing, as the offerings each meal were fresh, new and creative. Our cabin was spacious, warm, modern, clean and comfortable with plenty of space. The view outside our glassed doors was magical as we got to watch Austria pass by. The shore trips arranged for us were great, allowing enough time to be with a guide AND to explore on our own. I would gladly recommend such a cruise to anyone looking for the pleasure of water travel as well as the chance to explore on dry land. Even though our vacation was technically "work", our trip down the Danube was a vacation my wife and I will never forget. Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: September 2016
We signed up for this cruise as past passengers...Mekong River. We were so impressed that when the offers came in for early booking we accepted. In every respect this cruise exceeded our expectations. The entire crew was fully engaged ... Read More
We signed up for this cruise as past passengers...Mekong River. We were so impressed that when the offers came in for early booking we accepted. In every respect this cruise exceeded our expectations. The entire crew was fully engaged not only with their duties, but with genuine concern for all if the passengers. Starting with Nynke, the cruise director through the entire crew, we were treated with warmth and respect. It was very evident to us that "Customer Service" is a top priority. Our cabin was very spacious, and the layout was unique and very user friendly! The 2 stage sliding glass door which opens onto a french balcony is particularly noteworthy. Food was very tasty and beautifully presented. The wait staff was outstanding! One of the many outstanding aspects of this trip was it's pace. We never felt rushed either ashore or on board. PERFECT!! We are not new to river cruising, having sailed with Tauck and Viking...both the old boats and the new Long Ships. We can say that we rate Avalon at the top of the list. Read Less
Sail Date: September 2016
We wanted to try something different, travel on the Canal's and the price was very good. The Service was excellent, the food and entertainment was out standing. The crew was very observant, I had a knee problem and was lagging behind, ... Read More
We wanted to try something different, travel on the Canal's and the price was very good. The Service was excellent, the food and entertainment was out standing. The crew was very observant, I had a knee problem and was lagging behind, that added a bus for the "Gentle Walkers", that was a wonderful surprise. The Docents were very good. I loved having the fire on the TV when returning to our room at night. We met people from all over the world and the crew made us feel very welcome. I would do another River Boat Cruise. We only had 92 people on the ship, which made it nice to get to know all the other passengers. One of the evening entertainments was postponed but the crew came up with a funny skit to entertain us, very funny. Our Captain made himself available, greeted us at different times on the ship. Tony was wonderful, very helpful with the side tours and very informative on the ship every day. And you have the best Bar Tenders.... Read Less
Avalon Visionary Ratings
Category Editor Member
Cabins 5.0 4.6
Dining 4.0 4.5
Entertainment 3.5 3.9
Public Rooms 4.0 4.6
Fitness Recreation 3.0 3.7
Family N/A 3.7
Shore Excursion 4.0 4.6
Enrichment 4.0 4.4
Service 4.0 4.8
Value For Money 4.0 4.3
Rates 3.0 3.6

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