This was my first river cruise even though I had been on many ocean cruises. It was a completely different experience with only 152 people onboard and I really enjoyed it. Our cruise director, Tony, was excellent and we had some wonderful entertainment onboard. The accommodation on Sapphire deck with a bed facing panoramic windows was very comfortable and tastefully decorated.
There were so many lovely stops on this cruise but one memorable experience was a magical snowy day tour in Cesky Krumlov in the Czech Republic. I would recommend staying a couple of extra days in Vienna and an extra day or two in Prague as there is lots to see in those two beautiful cities. My favourite Christmas markets were the ones at the Rathaus in Vienna and in Nuremberg.
Thank you to Yvonne at Global Journeys and to Avalon for making this such a wonderful Christmas holiday!
My adult daughter and I had 7 wonderful nights aboard Imagery II. From first boarding until we left everything and everyone was just amazing. Our cruise director made sure we all knew what was happening every day and even made sure we didn't get hit by bicycles on our many excursions ashore. The Executive Chef and his team made sure we were well fed at all times, providing both healthy and not so healthy choices for each meal - we were in heaven.
Our friendly waitstaff made our meals, particularly dinner, very enjoyable and relaxing. Out wonderful cabin steward spoilt us every morning with a tidy of our room and also made an elephant with the towels (very talented). And lets not forget the Captain and his crew. We met some very lovely people, which helped make the cruise all the more special. I will definitely be taking another Avalon cruise at some time. Our agent at Global Journeys made our wonderful holiday very special. Thank you so much.
The "Avalon Passion" is a beautiful and comfortable ship. We were delighted with our cabin, the extremely comfortable bed, and the large ensuite. Storage space was more than adequate. The crew were excellent. We loved their friendliness and appreciated their willingness to meet our every need. Excursions were very good and very efficiently managed by the cruise director. We purchased several additional tours, and they were all very good value for money. We would love to repeat the cruise some time in the future. However, affordability will always be a factor that we will need to consider.
As we had never been on a river cruise before and only heard from others who had done this, we were unsure what we would find. Well the only word to describe it is luxury. The Imagery II we were lucky to get on, was in its second season, and wow what an experience. Capt Marian was a very friendly Host.
We were on the top floor for accommodation, it was spacious and beautiful, sitting at our table and chairs with the sliding door opened with a drink, sailing down the Rhine was very relaxing, our steward Jerry gave us a beautiful smile every day. The food was never boring, each region you visited the wine and food reflected this.
The tour director provided all information twice daily to us , once by a daily newsletter, always found on your bed after dinner and Vlads talk each evening before dinner. All places we visited they provided excellent local guides, optional tours were fairly priced and interesting. All we can say is this is our new way of holidaying.
Our first river cruise was with APT in 2016, so we can only use that very good experience as a comparison to the Avalon cruise. The upgrade to deck 2 was a real bonus. Another bonus was the optional excursions offered by Avalon. As with APT, most of the included excursions are half day, leaving a fair bit of time on the cruise spent on the ship or on 'own time' in the town where the ship is moored.
APT didn't offer any optional trips, so Avalon has the advantage in that respect. The only negative issue was that the buffet breakfast dishes were consistently lukewarm to cold. Similar dishes at lunch were fine. Overall, we'd be happy to travel with Avalon again. After four trips to Europe, which centered mainly on the culture (churches, cathedrals, palaces and castles), we'll be looking for something that offers a different theme next time. Maybe food, wine etc.
Very lucky with the weather for the time of year - lots of sunny days. Our 2nd trip with Avalon and overall very happy. There appeared to be less staff in bar and restaurant than previous trip - maybe cost cutting? Some staff didn't appear to be very happy (maybe the end of season is near?). Captain, Cruise Director, room staff & food were very good. Included and optional excursions were great. The availability of bikes on board now is an added plus.
Our stateroom (213) was located in the centre of the ship and a good size. Housekeeping staff did a great job of maintaining the room. The scenery along the Moselle was stunning and would highly recommend a cruise along this river - Avalon go further than many of the other cruise lines. The Rhine was beautiful - always something to see! The evening entertainment was mainly the on board keyboard player, they did bring on various musicians along the way. But as dinner didn't usually finish till 9.00pm most people went straight to their cabins as the days were busy when on the excursions. The age of fellow travellers was a lot older for this cruise with more people taking the gentle walkers group than previous tour. Would recommend Avalon for good value. Very happy with all dealings with Global Journeys - you all do an excellent job and we very much appreciate it!
Unfortunately wet weather played a big part where we had to use umbrellas when site seeing and could not sit on the top deck to view best part of the Rhine where the vineyards and castles were. Our cabin on the royal deck was a bit tight where the chair was an obstruction when walking around the bed end. Staff were polite, efficient and very professional and their customer service was exceptional. In regards to entertainment there was not enough variety. Shore excursions were run professionally but due to returning back to the ship the time factor for sight seeing was rather short.
The tour guides that we were involved with did a great job and showed how passionate and how knowledgeable they were. The cruise guide did a fantastic job making sure all passengers were fully aware what was in store for them before dinner the night before. Wasn't what we expected there was a lot of travel at night where we missed a lot of viewing of towns and what existed on the shore line this included going through the river locks which was an experience we didn't see but was done at night.
Another very proficient Avalon cruise. All very good. Maybe, too late in the year as the weather was cold (30 Sept - 10 Oct). Our only complaint was that the quality of food provided at dinner was not as good as on our earlier Romantic Rhine Cruise. The vegetarian fair was particularly poor. Breakfast and lunch were fine. Table service was not attentive and to get a wine glass refilled was often difficult.
The Avalon river cruise from the Black Sea to Budapest takes you on a less travelled part of the Danube, giving you a snapshot of life in Romania, Bulgaria, and Serbia before getting to Hungary. There is some time spent off the ship to go on bus tours into the countryside. These tours were largely included which was very good, but sometimes it was god to just relax on the ship. Facilities on board were superb.
We have just returned from a month in France which included Avalon's Grand France cruise (WLP) from Cote D'Azur starting on 18th September and ending on 3rd October 2017. We had cabin 203 on both ships. We also had the same cruise director for both cruises - Jean-Loup Domart who kept us entertained with his dry wit during his daily briefings and was very helpful, knowledgeable and patient. The first cruise was on Affinity and Creativity on the second leg. The ships do sail during the night, sometimes only for a short time but sometimes all night. Unfortunately cabin 203 on Affinity had a very annoying sliding glass door rattle which happened to be next to my head. I did let the receptionist know and was told maintenance would come and check it out but they never did. Otherwise, we were very happy with both cabins and ships overall.
I would suggest they should have coffee, tea etc available in the main lounge/bar area rather than at the rear of the ship too. We enjoyed all the included and optional excursions and everything was run smoothly and we were well looked after. The food was delicious but surprisingly we thought it was a little nicer on Affinity. The weather was very king to us and we had warm days and cool nights and mornings - a nice time to be in France. Overall we would highly recommend this cruise especially for first time travellers to France. As usual, Global Journeys handled our booking well and got us a good discount.
The cruise boat was very clean, staff were very pleasant & helpful, food was excellent. I was surprised that almost all of the food & drink one needed was covered in the price - there was little need to spend anything extra except for drinks other than at meals & when I went on shore guided walks or excursions. I was also surprised I was able to see so much on the walks or excursions.
The downside was having a cabin on the lowest deck without any access to fresh air. Air conditioning was adequate but very drying & caused me to have to drink a lot of water throughout the nights. Global Journeys did an efficient job with bookings.
A wonderful trip Budapest to Bucharest with a side trip to Transylvania. Thoroughly enjoyed all included and additional excursions. A great of guests from various countries, the majority middle aged and older. One error in the cruise documentation was that the Euro would be accepted in all countries visited, this was not the case and we required local currency in all the countries visited, I'm sure Avalon will rectify this.
Our Avalon river cruise through France was fantastic from beginning to end. From the fantastic friendly crew for whom nothing was too much trouble, and our super efficient and personable cruise director to the amazing food and fine dining, plentiful drinks and luxurious on board accommodation, everything was even better than I'd imagined. The local guides at each town along the way shared their extensive knowledge about the town and brought its history to life through interesting and at time humorous anecdotes. The optional extra tours provided even further opportunities to see even more. It was an unbeatable way to see France. I would thorough recommend this holiday and would happy do it all again.
Everything was good on the cruise. The guides were good, some excellent. The included excursions were well organized and interesting.
The optional excursion to Weltenberg Abbey was very disappointing and we felt we had wasted our money. The boat was overcrowded, we couldn't hear the commentary, the boat was dangerous as it had only one narrow exit (apart from jumping overboard) and everything was shut at the Abbey so there was nothing to see.
We enjoyed the extension trip to Transylvania very much although we were disappointed to be rushed through Dracula's castle at a fast rate. That was the main reason for going on the extension.
Avalon probably exceeded our expectations, as we had cruised with Uniworld last year from Istanbul to Amsterdam which was spectacular in every sense. However cruising on the Affinity from Arles to St. Jean De Losne was lovely. Although an older ship it was extremely comfortable, well maintained and the cabins though not their new design were immaculate, quite spacious with lots of storage and L'occitane products in the bathroom. Food in the dining room was very good and plentiful and they were very generous with the free wine, beer and soft drinks served with meals. Tea, coffee and delicious biscuits were available in the lounge at the "back" of the ship 24 hours. The staff on board were amazing, well trained and couldn't do enough for guests, always smiling and nothing was too much trouble. A special mention for Laura and Thomas for excellent service in the dining room, but all a great team.
Included shore excursions were interesting with well informed local guides. The general feeling was that the cruise director could have been better, perhaps more friendly and approachable although the nightly run down or the next days events was adequate and also posted on the board in the foyer. She made a proper stuff up of organising the train journey from Dijon to Paris.
A couple of suggestions about the hotels before and after the cruise. The Meridien Beach Plaza in Monte Carlo, though an impressive hotel on the beach, it was quite impersonal, and food and drinks were very expensive and the location of the hotel was a long way from any outside restaurants, only a couple of beach bars serving burgers etc. In fact I'm think that it would be much better to start the tour in Nice and have an optional tour to Monte Carlo for those who wanted to see this overcrowded, over rated rich man's playground.
The journey from Monaco to Arles was a four hour coach journey on the freeway nowhere near the deep blue Mediterranean Sea which is a spectacular coast drive or train ride. The hotel in Paris Hotel Du Collectionneur, although an impressive entrance and a large comfortable bedroom had so many short comings, it would bore you to list them all, but the reception staff and Avalon Rep did their best to apologise and address the issues, which became amusing really. Overall we enjoyed the holiday very much and met nice fun people on board. Of course can't forget the excellent, efficient and knowledgeable service from Georgie at Global Journeys which we've come to rely on for a few years now. Thanks again Georgie.
This was our 1st river cruise & I hope its not my last, I loved the fact that there was only a maximum of 120 people on board, which equates to a more personalised service. The food was great, the dinner service was great. The cabins were comfortable & well kept. I just loved it.
Although we've been on several ocean cruises, this was our first experience on a river cruise.
Being on a much smaller vessel with a lot less people created plenty of opportunities to get to know other travellers on a much more personal level, mainly because of the number of times we could meet them. The downside though is that on a couple of evenings, we were tired from the day's activities and didn't feel very sociable, but there was nowhere to hide!
The ship itself was adequately fitted out with all necessities but wasn't that impressive as far as a river passenger ship goes. However, the cabins were a standout. Ours had full length floor to ceiling sliding windows that gave the illusion we had a balcony. The king bed was very comfortable and faced the windows. A full sized mirror on one side also gave the illusion that the statesroom (as they called it) was larger than it was. There were adequate power points which I'm particular about. Special mention must go to the fabulous and spacious ensuite decked with stone tops and a range of L'occitane branded toiletries. Overall, a luxurious and well-equipped statesroom.
Although the daily breakfasts and lunches were generally good, the dinners were particularly superb. It was like eating at a fine dining 5-star restaurant each night, enjoying the company of people we've gotten to know quite well.
As for the included shore excursions, we had mixed perceptions. The locations we stopped at were interesting to us, more so because we were exploring new territory, but we felt that mostly the local tour guides assigned to our group needed to be more engaging and amiable. With many of them, we felt they didn't try (or maybe didn't know how) to connect with us on a personal level. They came across as guides who needed to impart as much data as possible in the short time they were allocated.
Finally a word of compliment for our pre-trip consultant, Jemma Rosen. We didn't start off well, with another consultant but when Jemma took over, she proved herself to be a worthy representative of Global Journeys. She was professional, had a sense of humour and was very responsive to questions - a great person to deal with.
Would we sail with Avalon again? Quite likely given what we know now. It was a great experience overall and while not everything met our expectations, we were quite satisfied with what we got.
A high standard of guided tours were provided at every port of call, with usually the provision for slower/elderly walkers; plus interesting on-board lectures and plenty of on board entertainment - some very good. So in that regard the cruise offered excellent value for money. The meals were of a very high standard and the service excellent. The staff/crew were all efficient and some were smiling and friendly too. The cruise director was very efficient and experienced. At one point, Passau, the river was too low to proceed, so we all disembarked and boarded the ship again down river later that day. This complex manoeuvre was seamlessly performed.
We opted for two of the 'extra cost' excursions. The one to Salzburg was excellent with a brilliant guide who travelled hundreds of km (back and forth) that day to perform this task. The other extra was the concert in Vienna. The concert itself was very good however the venue, though grand was a touch gloomy with rather hard seats. (On a previous visit to Vienna I had attended a similar concert at the Kursalon which was a far more sparkling, audience-friendly venue).
Our cabin was on the lowest deck with a window just above water level. It was luxuriously appointed but definitely on the small side for a two week stay. Calling it a stateroom was a little over the top, I thought. Most of the passengers were in the over 50 age group from USA, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and UK. One couple was from Taiwan and one couple from Brazil. We found most passengers friendly. My overall comment is that if you want a full-on cruise that teaches you a lot about this part of Europe then this is the cruise for you. But if you want a really laid back cruise to completely unwind and veg-out then this is probably not for you.
The booking with Global Journeys was fine and Georgie always most helpful. I think the arrangements for actually joining the ship at Amsterdam could have been made clearer. An email confirming final details about exactly when and where to go to join the ship in Amsterdam would have been handy ie confirming the actual hotel where we were to meet.
We had previously travelled with Avalon some years ago and, while that tour was very good, we believe that the Avalon network has improved in quality since that time. The rooms are very efficiently designed and even though they are not large (about the size of a standard Paris hotel room - and that's not large) the amount of storage is amazing. The ships (back to back cruises here) were in excellent condition and kept immaculately. Anybody who has been on a river cruise knows that, by the end of the cruise, you are begging for no more food please! Breakfast, lunch and dinner are varied and of high quality.
The staff on the ships were outstanding - well trained, efficient, welcoming and very friendly. The excursions were OK and starting the tour in Monte Carlo, whilst a bit of a gimmick, was probably worth it for fun value. Although Monte Carlo is more difficult to get to than, say, Nice or Marseilles, it is probably a place most people would avoid. A room on the very front row of the Fairmont Hotel looking out over the billionaires boats and sitting directly over the F1 circuit at the Fairmont Hairpin is a bit of fun.
The on-board entertainment was not a strong feature but it was adequate. In summary, I was impressed by the commitment of Avalon to quality improvement.