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Avalon Waterways River Cruises
Cruise Line Review

2017 Brochure

An Avalon Waterways river cruise may be one of the best valuesyou can enjoy on a premium European river cruise! Having enjoyed an Avalon river cruise and reading our ongoing surveys from Premier's returning Avalon guests, there are two words that appear to resonate from everyone. Those two words are: "outstanding" and "value," and we would very much agree. Avalon has dramatically elevated the quality of its product while keeping their focus on providing guests with a quality premium product at a value price point.

You can enjoy one of the incredible river ships of Avalon Waterways in Europe, Vietnam (By the way, check out our Destination Overview of Vietnam's Ha Long Bay!), China, the Galapagos Islands, and in the mystical land of Myanmar (Burma).

Any review of Avalon Waterways should start with one of the least known, but most important facts: Avalon is owned by the Globus Family of Brands, a well-established, family-owned 80-plus year old worldwide tour operator. This relationship allows for a seamless integration of the cruise and land portions of your vacation and trust us, there’s a big difference when your vacation provider, in this case a river cruise company, takes care of all the details from arrival to departure and everything in between.

Avalon’s river cruise fleet is now the newest of all river cruise lines in Europe with the most spacious cabins of any river ship. All of Avalon's "Suite Ships" feature elegant interiors with abundant glass, polished metal, vibrant colors, modern designs with remarkable appointments, and state-of the-art technology. At the heart of an Avalon river cruise is a warm and friendly crew offering personalized service in a relaxed and fun environment. The spacious suites and staterooms can only be aptly described when the word, "remarkable" is used in the same sentence. And ladies, if you enjoy a wonderful bathroom, Avalon offers by far and away the largest and most remarkable marble bathrooms of any river cruise line — you can even bend over in the shower to pick-up the soap with ease.

2014 saw the introductionof 2 more incredible "Suite Ships" in Europe and 2 more were introduced in 2015 — one sailing the Rhine and Danube and one (we are happy to report), sailing through northern France on the Paris and Normandy river cruise. Premier has some incredible offers on Avalon for those who are smart enough to BOOK EARLY! In 2015, Avalon also repositioned the new Poetry II to the Rhone and Saone rivers doing 7-night Burgundy and Provence cruises.This very welcome addition to a high-demand region was right on target!

After reading this review, why not take a few minutes to enjoy the Avalon Waterways' videos?

Aboard an Avalon river cruise, you can also enjoy the world's most beautiful landscapes from the privacy of your luxury stateroom. That's because on Avalon river cruise ships, all staterooms enjoy an outside location and are designed to enhance your river cruising experience. Their beautifully appointed staterooms feature a minimum of 172 square feet of space with "Suite Ship" balcony staterooms at 200sf, and suites at a whopping 300sf (larger than most ocean cruise ships); these are among the largest on the European rivers today.

In our opinion, the "Suite Ships'" balcony (200sf) staterooms offer something that no other river cruise ship has: beds that face the river, not a wall. Okay. You say, "so what!" Here's what... the unique design of the "Suite Ship" cabins not only provide the largest and nicest bathroom on any river ship, it's design was purposely created to allow one to sit in bed and gaze through the floor to ceiling windows at some of the most beautiful scenery in the world... and no other river cruise ship has this feature. Imagine cruising the Rhine and Moselle amongst the grape vine covered hills as you enjoy a beverage or snack in the intimacy of your stateroom. Can it get any better?

In addition to boasting 17 award-winning Avalon deluxe staterooms on the lower deck, each "Suite Ship" features 64 of these uniquely designed suites on the top two decks. This new suite category showcases a full, 200-square feet of living space, 30% larger than the industry standard. In addition to the really cool location of the bed, these suites come complete with a large seating area adjacent to the wall-to-wall panoramic window. When opened, this floor-to-ceiling window is nearly 11' x 7', and transforms the entire suite into an open-air balcony. At Premier, we feel one of the best features of the "Suite Ships" is that they represent great value. While Avalon calls them suites, these large staterooms are really not priced as suites, but more like standard staterooms of other lines. What that means to you is that they provide possibly the best value of any new ships sailing along the Rhine and Danube, and in France as well.

For those new to river cruising, you may not know that on the main European rivers, most ships are the same length and height as those demensions are controlled by the length of the locks and height of the bridges. While some new river ships carry upwards of 190 passengers, Avalon's new "Suite Ships" only carry a maximum of 168 which translates to more space and better service for you.

While size is important for a European-based river ship, it may be an actual hinderance in other parts of the world such as Vietnam or Myanmar (Burma). In Vietnam, Avalon offers a remarkable, shallow draft 36-passenger ship called the Siem Reap. The name is important because it denotes something that no other major river cruise line can do — sail directly from Siem Reap, as well as into Saigon. While this may not seem important,IT IS! For other lines you have to take a 2+ hour drive to meet the ship outside of Siem Reap and about an hour drive from the port into Saigon... time you could enjoy touring.The ship is marvelous and features monsterous 245sf standard balcony staterooms with the most incredible view (again, the beds face out) you can imagine...and a crew so cool and polite you'll want to take them home with you. One of the other features that sets the Avalon Siem Reap apart from larger ships is the positioning of their "open air" observation lounge in the front of the ship. This is the absolute best place in the world to view the impressive Mekong and the many floating markets and villages you'll sail by. And, there's plenty of room for everyone at the same time.

In the event you encounter a rain shower or two, there's also the enclosed Panorama Lounge just next to the Observation Lounge. Don't fret, as this beauty, too, has floor to ceiling windows for an air-conditioned, panoramic view of the sights and sounds of the fabulous Mekong. CLICK here to read more about this fascinating destination.
Although young in age, Avalon Waterways has already garnered numerous industry awards, including Travel & Leisure's award for Top River Cruise Line in 2013, numerous Magellan Awards, and Cruise Critic's Best River Cruise Line for 2013.

The balance of their impeccable European fleet accommodates between 138-178 pampered guests. All the beautifully appointed staterooms enjoy river views and are equipped with individual climate controls, flat-screen TVs, radios, telephones, mini-bars, safes, hair dryers, and wi-fi access. Approximately 80% of all cabins have French balconies with sliding glass doors while the remaining cabins feature large picture windows. Their elegant staterooms and suites are further enhanced by the use of deluxe woven carpets, L’Occitane toiletries, and Avalon-branded premium bedding, including European-style duvets and Egyptian super-combed linens. All ships follow an English language only policy.

Avalon travelers come home with more than photographs and curios, they come home with exciting stories and a new perspective on their travels. Avalon says that they, “transform tourists into travelers by bringing the world’s stories to life.” They can do this because their highly skilled cruise directors — whether it is an Egyptologist on the Nile or a Naturalist in the Galapagos — all deliver historical and cultural commentary as the ships glide down the rivers or serenely sail from one island to the next. And of course, all your eye-opening and very interactive shore excursions are INCLUDED in your value-packed price as is your own personal headset for easy listening.

Because Avalon’s parent has been operating tours in Europe and throughout the world for so many years, they are well connected and we believe truly embrace the fact that many American’s really do like to learn and experience as much as they can during their destination vacation. Avalon does an exceptional job with their complimentary shore excursions and don’t be surprised if, when you are berthed in some of the smaller medieval towns and villages you will actually see (or go with) the crew as they purchase local food items for the ship. In a recent trip within France on the Seine River, crew members and guests went into the beautiful town of Honfleur to buy local cheeses for the ship’s cheese tasting night; the next day, it was an incredible selection of French pastries (OMG — they were over the top!). On Avalon, you can do as much or as little as you prefer, but no matter how much you choose to participate, you'll come home knowing you got the most out of your brief visit.

In addition to their very comprehensive “included” shore excursion program, Avalon also provides guests with a number of “Enriching Theme” cruises that allow one to discover more about a destination and its culture. These theme cruises include wine cruises through the wine regions of France and Germany, as well as music lover and art cruises within France and Germany. Local entertainment also plays a large part on every Avalon itinerary. Guests will enjoy a local folkloric group on the Rhine, lessons in Tai Chi or calligraphy while on the Yangtze, or daily talks on the wildlife found throughout the Galapagos.

Because so many folks are new to river cruising, our focus in this review of Avalon Waterways has been Europe. That said, the quality that we talk about on the European river cruise product is matched in every aspect when you select one of the other exciting destinations serviced by Avalon including Egypt and a Nile River cruise, China and the awe-inspiring Yangtze River cruises and, of course, one of our favorites — a small ship cruise to Darwin’s immortal Galapagos Islands.

So we’ve told you about Avalon’s sensational fleet of newer ships, their very detailed and exciting included shore excursion program — so what’s left you ask? Ah… could it be their “inspired” and creative dining program? YES!

When thePremier Team looks at Avalon, we see a company who fully grasps the constantly changing tastes of today’s discriminating and experienced vacation traveler. On all their river cruises, Avalon employs 5-star chefs who are experts at crafting local ingredients into culinary masterpieces. To make your dinner even more unforgettable, you’ll enjoy complimentary regional wines and beers paired specially with the chefs’ fresh creations. We’re not talking limited selection here, but rather 4-6 nightly entrée choices plus a full grill just in case you cannot find that perfect choice on the menu. While they cannot accommodate kosher meals, almost all other preferences can be accommodated given the incredible selection and array of soups, salads, entrées and desserts that are offered up each day.

We really enjoy one of Avalon's newest dining innovations which again says they are really listening to their guests.In Europe, many of us prefer to enjoy a long day of touring and probably a great local lunch while ashore. With that in mind, you might not have a large appetite for a sumptous 5-course evening meal. Thus, Avalon has introduced a type of Tapas light meal service in their beautiful Sky Bistro. Not only is the view remarkable, you'll enjoy table side service and delightful small plates of your choosing... all included in Avalon's value price.

Should you prefer a full 5-course dining experience, there’s always a table available in the open-seating dining room where meals are offered in an elegant, yet relaxed atmosphere. Yes, it’s okay to wear jeans to dinner as long as you dress them up just a bit. The dining experience on Avalon ships is even further enhanced: their dining rooms are positioned to expose unimpeded shore side views through full panoramic windows. That means dinner with a view and it’s really cool to watch the sun set on a warm summer or fall evening as you glide along the river — it doesn’t get much better.

Two other things you should know about an Avalon river cruise. All of their ships now have a small mini-refrigerator in the cabin in case you need to store medicines. The other is that Avalon does not have bicycles on board, but you do have access to them in most ports. Because of certain liability and maintanence issues, Avalon contracts in most ports to provide bicycles, so they are almost always available to guests.

Unlike many other river cruise lines, Avalon recognizes that this is your vacation and you may not want to hurry. If you desire to linger in bed for a while, you can enjoy an in-stateroom Continental breakfast, in addition to the regular breakfast service. If you’re like me — I want to get in as much as I can do each day — so Avalon also satisfies my needs with their early-riser breakfast… that way, I can get going on my busy day of sightseeing and meeting the locals. If you’re back on board for lunch, you can enjoy it inside the dining room or above deck where light fare is offered at the Open-Air Bistro. The Bistro is a perfect place to meet friends, enjoy a great meal, and watch the world float by.

Why not complement your Avalon Waterways cruise with a pre or post stay? You can now do just that by taking a Monogram Independent Vacation. Monogram is a sister company to Avalon Waterways and is the perfect marriage of independent travel with the convenience of an all-inclusive package. Each tour is designed with you, the guest, in mind. Why not spend a week in London or Paris before that South of France Cruise. Enjoy more time in Vienna and experience Munich after you leave your Taste of the Danube River cruise. All programs include a choice of hotels, daily buffet breakfast, sightseeing, the services of a local host, and transfers to/from the ship.

We are very confident that your choice of an Avalon Waterways river cruise booked with one of our river cruise experts at Premier River Cruises will afford you a memorable and worry-free vacation at a great price!

We think that Avalon “gets it.” They understand that river cruising has to adapt to the guests, rather than the guests adapting to the cruise. They do an excellent job of providing their guests with an enriching and memorable journey aboard a fleet of contemporary ships offering up fine food and wine in a relaxed and very comfortable atmosphere. Their service standards are high, but the service rendered to you, their guests is unpretentious and warm.

If you’re looking for that perfect blend of pampering service, an enriching destinational experience married with exceptional accommodations, then you need look no further than an Avalon river or small ship cruise for your next vacation.
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