Just returned from a very busy and enjoyable wine-themed cruise through the Burgundy, Beaujolais and Provence regions of Southeastern France. The trip included two days in Paris and one in Monte Carlo, which we extended on both ends. I ... Read More
Just returned from a very busy and enjoyable wine-themed cruise through the Burgundy, Beaujolais and Provence regions of Southeastern France. The trip included two days in Paris and one in Monte Carlo, which we extended on both ends. I highly recommend the additional day in Monte Carlo as the coach does not arrive until after noon on the day before checkout. You really need the extra day to experience Monte Carlo and, in our case, Eze. Overall great trip with top notch crew on the ship.
1. Bike excursion we took as a side trip in Versailles
2. Hotel-Dieu in Beaune
3. Guided walk of Vivier
3. Pont du Gard & Uzes tour.
4. Lyon silk museum and market tour
5. Les Baux and olive oil tasting tour
7. The cruise director Katy
8. Our bartender (Eddie) and waiter (Petro)
9. The Fairmont Hotel in Monte Carlo
10. The exceptional meals on board
1. The tiny size of the stateroom (smaller than on other Avalon boats)
2. The cold, wet weather on part of the sail (unusual for this time of year)
3. The Pullman hotel in Paris (poor service, location, amenities)
4. The Perouges tour (cold, wet and empty)
5. A virus/flu that hit about 20 passengers at the end of the trip (which Avalon handled very weil)
Everything else either met or slightly exceeded expectations.
I would recommend this trip, but book during warm weather months and pace yourself with the wine consumption. Read Less
We took the cruise from Arles to Chalon Sur Saone on the Scenery after having been met at the Nice Airport by an Avalon-contracted shuttle service, as Avalon also booked our flights and arranged all airport transfers. Basically the land ... Read More
We took the cruise from Arles to Chalon Sur Saone on the Scenery after having been met at the Nice Airport by an Avalon-contracted shuttle service, as Avalon also booked our flights and arranged all airport transfers. Basically the land transfer services were spot-on. Our driver from Nice to Monaco (where we stayed the first night) was originally from Brazil and he was great. Knew a great deal about the locale and people. Very enjoyable. I am not a big fan of Monaco, as it is ridiculously expensive, without great attractions. In fact Avalon had a tour the next AM from Monaco to Nice. Ironically Nice is about 45 minutes closer to the Arles embarkation point than Nice. So, Avalon why not make your first night stay in Nice instead of Monaco ?
Our bag transfers went very smoothly the whole trip. On arriving at the ship, our bags were waiting for us in our assigned cabins. They were also delivered to our assigned rooms in Paris and when we changed rooms, they sent the remaining bag to the new room promptly. They also picked up bags at the Paris hotel rooms for our airport transfers.
The cruise director, Danielle, was fantastic. She attended to everything, had a great sense of humor, and helped make the cruise very enjoyable. The rest of the staff was equally terrific, including the waiters, housekeeping, crew and the piano player who entertained every night after dinner. Can't say enough about them. Hard working, very friendly and really attentive.
Offshore excursions were very good for the most part. Avalon has selected some very good local guides who were entertaining and informative. They usually also allotted enough time for free roaming at most stops. My only disappointment was the excursion to Tournus which was all free time. Three hours in that small town with no local guide to explain things was a waste of time. It was accentuated by the fact that it was raining, the shops were closed on a Monday and the local restaurants were rather sparse. Wouldn't recommend that particular excursion. Paris excursions were good for the most part. On the optional tour of the Louvre, we had an exceptional guide, Samantha. She also was the guide for the walking tour in the AM. Don't know about Versailles or Moulin Rouge tours as we didn't take them.
I thought the cabins were well appointed, of adequate size and they were promptly cleaned up every AM. Can't ask for anything more. The lounge was adequate. Maybe a bit outdated, but it had comfortable seating.
Food and beverage was just OK. I thought the chef, while a very personable guy, was average at best in terms of his quality. Presentation of all dishes was great, but nearly all the fish selections were poor - either the fish wasn't fresh or it was overcooked and fishy tasting. There was one veal dish that was excellent but that was at lunch. Beef and lamb dishes were generally well prepared as were dinner soups and salads. Breakfasts and lunches were pretty much the same fare every day. Would have liked more variety and in particular more local type dishes prepared. Wasn't overly impressed with the wine selection either. They did have a nice French Chablis and the Bordeaux was decent. But there was little variety. They did not have a Burgundy red which was disappointing. It was also disappointing that the bar did not stock a greater variety and higher quality of wines. Sure, the happy hour prices for a glass of wine were great - 3 Euros. But I gladly would have paid 6-7 Euros for a better quality of wine with more to choose from.
Finally the "fitness center" was pathetic. It was so small as to be unusable with a treadmill, bicycle and two small free weights. Maybe the newer ships will have a bigger area that have several weight machines along with more free weights.
My summary though was that this cruise was very good, well done and the many hits drowned out the few misses. Read Less
So long as one doesn't need to correspond with Avalon's US headquarters in Colorado, their cruises are magnificent. My wife and I have cruised with Avalon 3 times, the latest being their Grand France cruise this past summer. ... Read More
So long as one doesn't need to correspond with Avalon's US headquarters in Colorado, their cruises are magnificent. My wife and I have cruised with Avalon 3 times, the latest being their Grand France cruise this past summer. We’ve found everything to always be first class: cruise directors, accommodations, crew, service, cuisine, routes, side excursions, ships—even the scenery. We and our friends on board couldn't think of even small things that we didn't like.
But at the end of our last two cruises we needed to email Avalon over some relatively minor matters unrelated to the cruises themselves. Even though we went through Avalon's website both times to submit our correspondence, both times we were ignored. When we then wrote a letter to their CEO, he ignored us as well. I've never dealt with an organization before that treated its customers this way. Only when our travel agent insisted on contacting them did they call us proposing a resolution for one of our issues. Now, we think, it's our turn to ignore Avalon. It's sad that such wonderful experiences ended on such sour notes over such small matters! Read Less
We have been on several big line cruises. This was totally different. The ship was in excellent condition. The room had plenty of storage space. The food was wonderful. The wine was always flowing at dinner. The crew was fantastic ... Read More
We have been on several big line cruises. This was totally different. The ship was in excellent condition. The room had plenty of storage space. The food was wonderful. The wine was always flowing at dinner. The crew was fantastic and attentive. Our cruise director , Danielle was wonderful. All of the walking tours, which were included were great and informative. It was my Mother's birthday and they made it so special. It was so intimate, but plenty to do. We were almost always in a town to visit. You will not be disappointed. Read Less
This was my first River cruise but it was such an excellent experience I will certainly do another one and go with Avalon. Firstly the location through the south of France was great with beautiful scenery and amazing history. Using the ... Read More
This was my first River cruise but it was such an excellent experience I will certainly do another one and go with Avalon. Firstly the location through the south of France was great with beautiful scenery and amazing history. Using the river cruise and with the aid of local guides we were able to explore the towns and villages on the river. The crew on the Avalon were wonderful. Very friendly, helpful and efficient. The perfect combination in my view. The cruise was quite informal. While there was some dressing up for dinner it was also ok to stay in the same clothes from the day, as long as they were not shorts.
We had an excellent tour director who was knowledgable and articulate. My cabin was comfortable and the food on board was outstanding. We also had a number of regionally based food tastings which were interesting and delicious. The included tours were very good and were well complemented by the additional tours which at €40 -50 each were reasonably priced.
To really get the advantage of the cruise you need to be prepared to do a fair amount of walking, which is a good thing light of the amount of excellent food we consumed. We had around 100 passengers on our cruise compared to the boats capacity of 130.
I did find the cruise stating in Monaco odd and was told it was because closer hotels did not cope well with the volume. I was not a big fan of Monaco and thought Nice was be a better starting point and give a shorter coach ride to connect with the boat. Read Less
We did the cruise-only portion of the Paris to Monaco tour package. The ship was sold out months before departure from Chalon-sur-Saone on 02SEP14. Unlike many cruises on the Rhone River which start and return to Lyon repeating most of the ... Read More
We did the cruise-only portion of the Paris to Monaco tour package. The ship was sold out months before departure from Chalon-sur-Saone on 02SEP14. Unlike many cruises on the Rhone River which start and return to Lyon repeating most of the river views, the Avalon Scenery begins in Chalon-sur-Saone and finishes at the mouth of the Rhone in Arles using both the lovely and picturesque Saone as well as the Rhone rivers. There were double day stops, a sense of easing through southern France. In short, the pace was efficiently lovely.
Local tours were provided as needed and were outstanding. Extra excursions offered more to those with additional interests like wine tasting.
The staterooms were more than adequate, well appointed and quiet. The housekeeping we got was cheery and efficient. The ship was well appointed and functioned very well without any sense of it all being simply routine. The meals, buffet breakfast and lunch and smoothly served dinner offered lots of choice and new items appeared daily. The dining room needs to be altered to absorb more of the conversational noise especially for those siting in the mid section of the dining room where conversations were almost impossible. Although seating was open, most sat at the same tables every evening. I would advise future cruisers on the Avalon Scenery to head for one of the tables at the far end of the dining room on the first night to stake out a place so that conversations are possible without shouting to each other.
Tony, our cruise director, was attentive and aware of the needs of the passengers. He was amusing and made sure we all got as much from our cruise experience as possible. Alternate arrangements that are common on River cruises were explained he usually showed us how to get extra benefit from the new situation.
Given the lower fare than competing cruises that use the Rhone, this was money well spent. Read Less
We sailed with Avalon "Scenery" for a river cruise through Burgundy and Provence, embarking on July 1, 2014-CANADA DAY. When booking the trip over a year ago, space was limited as river cruises are so popular. We chose the upper ... Read More
We sailed with Avalon "Scenery" for a river cruise through Burgundy and Provence, embarking on July 1, 2014-CANADA DAY. When booking the trip over a year ago, space was limited as river cruises are so popular. We chose the upper floor, cabin #305 and the premium was well worth the location for our own reasons. The cabin was more spacious than regular cruise lines we had sailed in the past. The use of space was so well thought over, utilizing every nook & cranny. We called it a "barge" before leaving for our trip not knowing what to expect...it truly did not disapoint ! The ship was spotless and had been refurbished in 2013. Although still a very new ship (built in 2008), it was a pleasant surprise from photo's shown in the brochure that appeared to be a little dated. Pictures do not do this ship justice.
The staff were very pleasant, helpful and funny....we had an awesome crew serving us at dinner. A huge thanks to a few chosen, "Oleg, Dimi and Daniel". The dining room was very noisy but you soon adjusted as everyone was simply having a great time. Food was exceptional and the free wine just kept coming- thanks to Dimi. On CANADA DAY we were surprised to arrive in the dining room to find red & white balloons, honoring our countries flag. They celebrated Canada's Birthday with a cake as they did again for our American friends on July 4th...such a nice touch :)
There was plenty of space indoor and outdoor to enjoy as you wished. With only 126 passengers, it was a refreshing change from the large cruise ships. We never felt crowded- always found great spots to curl up in and watch the scenery pass or read a book. It was peaceful-no barside reggae music, no loud poolside games, no constant announcements.
One final note. We had been told that the average age onboard river cruises would be in the 70-80's range. It varied and there was a good range of ages on our specific cruise. Everyone got along very well, everyone kept up the pace, and everyone enjoyed the others company regardless of age. We were there to have a good time - and we had a great time!
KUDO"S TO AVALON Read Less
The Grand France cruise is actually made up of 2 separate cruises, therefore 2 ships, 2 crews , just 25 of us did the whole cruise so we had almost a whole new ship of passengers , so you get to meet a lot of people on this cruise, but ... Read More
The Grand France cruise is actually made up of 2 separate cruises, therefore 2 ships, 2 crews , just 25 of us did the whole cruise so we had almost a whole new ship of passengers , so you get to meet a lot of people on this cruise, but only the 1 CD which is great, our CD was Jerome he was with us the whole time, he did a great job and we were very happy with him, he was approachable and very well organized. Avalon crew were all fantastic, we found the food and wines very good, the onboard demonstrations were very good too, we had cheese, local foods and wine tastings, a pastry demonstration with tastings, this was a Jazz cruise on the southern part and we had some very good entertainers come on board.
We were on the Scenery from Cote D’Azur to Paris, then the Creativity from Paris to Rouen then back to Paris, These are the 2 oldest ships in Avalon’s fleet, being built in 2008 and 2009, but both ships are very well maintained, layout is very functional and the crew on both were fantastic. In 2015 there will be 2 new ships on the French rivers, I believe they are on the Rhine this season in preparation.
We flew to Nice 8 days prior to our Avalon Grand France cruise, we had a night in Nice and a week further along the French Riviera close to Italy at Menton, absolutely beautiful, we’d go back there in a heart beat.
Our Avalon cruise started with a night in Monte Carlo at the Fairmont, a large hotel right beside the Monte Carlo Casino, while the hotel is nice I thought it was very impersonal, we were only there overnight and then breakfast as we went on the optional evening tour which included a sightseeing tour by coach of Monaco, a walk around the area of the Prince’s Palace, into St Nicholas Cathedral, the resting place of Princess Grace and Prince Ranier, then dinner at Vista Palace Hotel, perched on a hill high over Monaco, dinner was nice, 3 course with wines, but the views were sensational, ladies you need to check out the view from the toilets as well! The tour was around 100 euros each, but we hadn’t planned on doing anything else that night and eating out in Monaco is very expensive anyway, so we thought it was a nice way to start our Avalon experience. (We had already been to Monaco for a day during the previous week, so we’d seen many of the attractions, but it was nice seeing the Palace area of a night when its so much quieter than of a day)
There were quite a few optional tours available on the 1st cruise, but the only ones we took apart from the evening one in Monaco, was the trip to Pont Du Gard and Uzes, Pont du Gard was on my bucket list so this was one tour that we were definitely doing, it was absolutely breathtaking, its just amazing to think it was built over 2000 years ago and its still in such remarkable condition. We were there early so there weren’t a lot of tourists around at all, we stopped at Uzes on the way back, a charming city, after a short city walk we had plenty of free time to look around the many shops or have a coffee, the inside of the food shops around the fountain are well worth a look, I took loads of photos inside them, staff were great, we were given samples to try as well.
On the 2nd cruise we took the Lights of Paris tour and then the next night the one to the Moulin Rouge , although it get so crowded in the theatre, its amazing how many people the squeeze in there, it was still a very entertaining and fun night, the meal was set (with an optional for the main course if I remember correctly) although we didn’t think it was up to the quality we had been experiencing with Avalon on the ship, it was still quite good and we had about 4 bottles of wine included for 6 of us at our table, but we were mainly there for the show which was fantastic, it didn’t disappoint at all.
We didn’t do the included Normandy Beaches excursion, but opted for the Taste of Normandy option, we visited the magnificent Bayeux Tapestry, had a 4 course local meal with cider in a lovely little town, went to a Calvados tasting which included a slice each of the best apple pie I’d ever tasted and we travelled through some beautiful countryside as well, a very relaxing day.
We were onboard for both Canada Day and American Independence Day, we thought it was a great touch to have the dining room decorated of an evening honoring both these countries with celebrations including birthday cake. I know the passengers from both of these countries appreciated it too.
We actually got to celebrate another national day , as we arrived in back in Paris on the ship for Bastille Day, so got to see the flyovers during the day, plus the fireworks on the Eiffel Tower from the ship, we went to Moulin Rouge that night but were back in time for the last 15 minutes of the display, a lovely end to a lovely night and a lovely cruise as this was our last night onboard.
Overall we saw some amazing things, visited beautiful towns, saw some magnificent scenery, met some fantastic people, had wonderful food and wines and treated so well by a great crew and CD, it was a very memorable experience and we thank Avalon for their professionalism. Read Less
We spent 8 days cruising from near marseille up the Rhone river to the Saone river. Our trip started in Monte Carlo at the Fairmont hotel. I heartily recommend a couple of days cruising around Monte Carlo and shopping. We were coached to ... Read More
We spent 8 days cruising from near marseille up the Rhone river to the Saone river. Our trip started in Monte Carlo at the Fairmont hotel. I heartily recommend a couple of days cruising around Monte Carlo and shopping. We were coached to just west of marseille where we embarked upon the Scenery. The cruise was exceptionally well organized and the ship's crew were tremendous all the way to the last day. They have customer service down to a "T". It would be impossible to have a bad time aboard the ship. The bar tenders remember your name and drinks. The entertainment was a little corny but fun as well. The small village and large town sites were as interesting as they were unusual. With one exception, the dinners were gourmet quality and well presented by servers who made you feel like they enjoyed serving you. (Sea bass was not very good on one evening). Be careful dining in the evening because your wine glass is ALWAYS full. You don't even notice it until the next day!! We always ate lunch in the little villages we visited and the food was very good and relatively inexpensive except in Avignon, Lyon and ultimately Paris. The ship negotiated about 20 locks and each one was fascinating from the open air third deck. The cruise director provided by Orbridge travel was extremely good...perhaps the best we've seen. The optional excursions were OK but not something I'd spend 4-5 hours doing. Skip the medieval village tour. The roman aqueduct is interesting but the trip is too long by coach for the tour. At the end of the sail, we boarded the TGV train and sped back to Paris at about 150 mph! My only complaint was that the passenger complement was for the most part older persons and things were moving at a slow pace most days. Bring your friends along and make your own onshore fun. Also...Would be a better tour if air was included in the package to insure everyone is accounted for arriving at Nice and that the company helps with lost baggage. You will enjoy this trip. Read Less
We thoroughly enjoyed our cruise from the moment we arrived in Paris to the time we got on our flight home in Nice. The staff were spectacular. We were greater at the airport by a wonderful driver and then when we arrived at the hotel ... Read More
We thoroughly enjoyed our cruise from the moment we arrived in Paris to the time we got on our flight home in Nice. The staff were spectacular. We were greater at the airport by a wonderful driver and then when we arrived at the hotel there was a host to help us with all our planning.
The rooms were fabulous, clean and well appointed. The ship was the nightlight of the whole trip. The staterooms were very nice, spotless clean and the entire crew could not have made us feel more welcome. And the food! I really didn't want to leave. The meals were so delicious and the wine flowed freely. The dining room was a bit noisy at times but we found that the tables at the front of the dining room ( the ones for four people) were the quietest.
The tours were great, very informative and the extra ones that we took were well worth the money. We did the olive groves, wine tasting at Chateauneuf du pape and the evening in Monte Carlo. They were all fantastic! We would go again in a minute and if you are lucky enough to have Jean Loup as your tour guide it will be even more spectacular. A wonderful way to see France. Read Less
Avalon Scenery Ratings
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