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Sail Date: September 2018
This was our first river cruise and we were lucky to have selected an Active Discovery Cruise. The ship, though one of the oldest in the Avalon fleet, was wonderfully maintained. For the first three days we were puzzling over how old it ... Read More
This was our first river cruise and we were lucky to have selected an Active Discovery Cruise. The ship, though one of the oldest in the Avalon fleet, was wonderfully maintained. For the first three days we were puzzling over how old it was, with many guests guessing that it was new! We later learned from the crew that the Luminary would soon be replaced. Our cabin, while small, and the beds did not face the window, was very comfortable and well detailed. I was amazed that with all 120+ guests showering at the same time that the shower pressure and water temp was perfectly regulated. AC worked well, and we loved being able to keep the sliding door open when we were cruising. Staff was amazingly attentive and each and every one of them bid us a good day as we left for excursions and welcomed us back at the end of the day. Exceptionally professional staff. Each meal was served with a "wow" response - fresh ingredients and beautifully presented. We were eager to see the next course, the next meal each day. They provided wonderful alternatives with dining in the lounge, or outdoors when weather permitted. Loved the fact that this was a "come as you are" sort of cruise - no dress codes, very relaxed. The captain greeted us back on board after a day of exploring; they had handcloths and beverage ready to welcome us back. Very nice touches throughout. The excursions left within minutes of departure times. The coaches were clean, new and comfortable. The bicycles were new and well maintained. Everything met or exceeded expectations. Our tour director, Roos Wilner, was exceptional as well Very detail oriented; very prompt; ever present; in complete control. Excellent communicator and she instilled a great deal of confidence. She had total control of all aspects of the tour. I wish i could clone her for any business i might own! The itinerary was varied. Each of the excursions we took was worthwhile. Many were included in the price, and those that were optional were of high quality and worth the extra price. This was the best vacation we have ever had, and we are already researching other Avalon Active Discovery cruises. Very, very well done! I am hard pressed to find any criticisms of our time aboard the Luminary. I wish that all beverages were included in the price (though I was happy for the happy hours on board. Drink prices were expensive otherwise. The main dining hall got very loud during dinner when the room was full. Wish more was done for noise abatement. Some of the chairs in the lounge were showing wear on the fabric. Read Less
Sail Date: September 2018
Our ship, the Avalon Luminary, was beautiful and comfortable. We enjoyed every stop on the Danube cruise, with Budapest being our favorite city. Cesky Krumlov was a gem that we’d love to visit again. Our arrangements for the trip ... Read More
Our ship, the Avalon Luminary, was beautiful and comfortable. We enjoyed every stop on the Danube cruise, with Budapest being our favorite city. Cesky Krumlov was a gem that we’d love to visit again. Our arrangements for the trip and extra days on either end exceeded our expectations. The onboard accommodations and the activities program were excellent. The port city hotels in Prague and Budapest were first rate business hotels. Although we were not traveling with the group, our airport transfers and luggage pickups were flawless. The Active Discovery tour proved to be a perfect choice for us. We enjoyed the city walks, hikes and bike rides and the hands-on excursions. Our local guides always spoke good English and were knowledgeable and interesting. Avalon did a great job of managing change to make our cruise vacation memorable and enjoyable. Upon boarding, we were advised low water conditions would require us to depart immediately and change the itinerary for our first two days. We would visit Bratislava instead of Visegrad and arrive earlier in Vienna. Despite this last minute change, the cruise director had arranged interesting port activities for the next day and the crew carried it off without any problem. Avalon provides an excellent website and app to track each individual’s travel plans. An opportunity for Avalon to improve would be to integrate the customer’s choice of activities on the app, particularly when these are selected and paid for in advance. The onboard dining was a highlight with 4 or 5 entree choices for dinner and delicious lunches and breakfasts. On the nights when everyone decided to eat at the same time, the dining room was unfortunately noisy and uncomfortably warm. The service was good and when the room was not full, it was more pleasant to linger while making new friends over dinner. We thoroughly enjoyed our Avalon cruise and look forward to another river cruise. Read Less
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Sail Date: September 2018
We choose this cruise because of Active Discovery option. The Activities offered were varied and included several types of activities. They were interesting and all were of great quality. We are outdoorsy, living in the Mountains of ... Read More
We choose this cruise because of Active Discovery option. The Activities offered were varied and included several types of activities. They were interesting and all were of great quality. We are outdoorsy, living in the Mountains of Colorado. The hiking and biking was great. The canoeing was much more fun than anticipated with stand up paddle board option. I do wish there was more availability for kayaking. The biking options were terrific with availability of good quality bikes whenever we were in port. Our tour director, Roos, was amazing. She was ever-present, exceptionally detail oriented, an excellent communicator, and she masterfully organized 128 guests. Each morning the excursions left on time with beautiful, clean coaches. The staff bid us well on our daily journeys, and the Captain welcomed us back each afternoon. Nice touch with the hand cloths and drinks in the lobby. The variety and quality of food was excellent, and we enjoyed the options to formal dining by having lighter fare in the lounge, or BBQ on deck. Read Less
Sail Date: September 2018
The ship was beautiful and the staff was great. But what made this river cruise stand out was the active options for the excursions. Guided bike rides and hikes were all great. At some of the ports they could have had more bikes as ... Read More
The ship was beautiful and the staff was great. But what made this river cruise stand out was the active options for the excursions. Guided bike rides and hikes were all great. At some of the ports they could have had more bikes as these tours filled up quickly. One thing I would improve is the wine selection at dinner. I feel they could have provided higher quality wines. And also, it would have been nice to include all beverages in the price even when it wasn't at meal time. The free beer and wine being offered only at the meals didn't work well for me. I like to have a night cap and it would be good if that were included in the price. Also, more snack during the day would be good. The musician was great but the music was too mellow for the active passengers. I also recommend adding more Active Discovery cruises in other destinations. It's a great idea and a terrific way to discover new areas. Read Less
Sail Date: September 2018
We were interested in the Active Cruise that was offered. We went from Budapest to Linz and added Prague. I'd say overall the cruise was awesome. The food was great, the ship was great, our cabin was nice, comfortable bed, and the ... Read More
We were interested in the Active Cruise that was offered. We went from Budapest to Linz and added Prague. I'd say overall the cruise was awesome. The food was great, the ship was great, our cabin was nice, comfortable bed, and the crew were great. Also, all of the activities were very well organized. I'd say our only room for improvement was the following: 1) The 2 hour briefings were way too long. It is hard to focus beyond 30 minutes. 2) We would have loved to have a little more time just relaxing on the boat. That was probably our own fault for signing up for too many things. 3) We would definitely have loved to spend 1 more day in Vienna. 4) We think that the cruise should offer an excursion to Shonbrunn Palace. We went ourselves, and it was absolutely wonderful. 5) It would have been nice if the waiters would come up to the sky deck to take drink orders. With that said, the cruise was absolutely wonderful, and we can't wait to do our next Avalon River Cruise. Read Less
Sail Date: August 2018
This is a review of the 14 day Avalon cruise from Budapest to Amsterdam. We are a 70's couple and the excuse for the cruise was our 50th wedding anniversary, but was actually the fulfillment of the last item on my punch list. The ... Read More
This is a review of the 14 day Avalon cruise from Budapest to Amsterdam. We are a 70's couple and the excuse for the cruise was our 50th wedding anniversary, but was actually the fulfillment of the last item on my punch list. The cruises was exactly as described in Avalon's online advertisement. So I will confine this review to a few pleasant surprises, a few negatives, and a commentt. Pleasant surprises 1. Portages Due to low water conditions at 3 points, a cruise on the Avalon Luminary actually comprised 1 hotel, 3 different ships, and 3 portages. First we were put up in a luxury hotel in Budapest and then bused to the Luminary stuck in Komora, Slovakia. Then we were bused from Vilihofen, Germany to Regensburg where we met the Impression which turned around (I presume the Impressions passengers were bused to the luminary). Then we were put on a lower draft tourist boat from Ruedesheim to St. Goar, so as to not miss the most famous part of the Rhine, and then a bus to Koblenz where we swapped with the Visionary's passengers for the remainder of the cruise to Amsterdam. The bus portages ranged from ½ hour to 1 ½ hours. I thought the situation was handled very professionally by Avalon; and none of the program was missed. In addition to receiving 15 Euros cash per person for lunches missed, $1250 was credited to my credit card for the inconvenience of having to pack and repack 3 times. 2. Bicycles Avalon was on my short list of English speaking cruise lines because they advertised that bicycles could be checked out at each port. I had no idea before hand how this would work out. Would the bikes be junkers that needed a lot of tune up before being ride-able, and how accommodating would the staff be when we requested them. The bikes turned out to be almost new, what Europeans call touring bikes, with multi-speeds and well adjusted shocks. The latter were handy over cobblestones yet didn't have that irritating bungee jumper action. The staff couldn't have been more accommodating. You simply told reception when you wanted them and they would be ready on shore. We took advantage of the offer every day but one. We had taken tours of Vienna and Brataslava before and had been to Duernstein and Passau enough times, and wasn't interested in Ruedesheim. We much preferred to strike out on our own via bicycle. During the cruise I came to hate the huge crowds of cruise passenger, other tourists, and locals than hung out near the dock or the old part of town. But since cruise lines and long distance bike routes tend to follow rivers, I found that you could quickly get away from it all on quiet, scenic bike trails along the river. This was especially true in Duernstein and Ruedesheim, places whose only reason for being is catering to hoards of tourists. The Maintal Radweg (Main Valley Bike Path) was my favorite. Even in Amsterdam I found a way to quickly get out into farm country biking along dikes alongside canals. 3. Ice machines The Luminary and Impression had ice machines just like any motel back home. It was surprising because ice is consider immoral, against the natural law, in Europe. They were a god-send because of the 95F heat wave the first 5 days. With all the exercise we did, a drink with two tiny ice cubes just wouldn't cut it.. Disappointments (Disclaimer: most people would put these complaints in the “not applicable” category) 1. Acoustics in dining room and lounge on all 3 ships. It seemed that no attempt to mitigate the noise had been incorporated into ship design. The large number of people shouting to be heard made meal times almost unbearable. I spoke with the cruise director and he said they were aware of the problem and were trying to solve it. If so, the solution is still in the design stage. To be fair, this seems to be a standard feature of our brave, new world. Even upscale restaurants operate under the assumption that the louder and more irritating the environment, the more customers will spend. If I didn't think all cruise lines operate under the same assumption, this would be a “show-stopper” for choosing Avalon again. 2 On board musician The musician in the lounge on all three ships came equipped with a full array of electronic devices which he connected to a sound system. He then cranked up the volume to a level not appropriate to the situation, namely background music in a relatively small area. Playing “cocktail piano hour” music without electronic enhancement would have been more appropriate, allowing passengers to converse easily and add some class to the lounge. What we got was more like a hillbilly honky tonk. Since loud speakers were situated throughout the lounge, you couldn't avoid the noise. Note: I'm not critiquing the musician's ability or selection of tunes, only that it was too loud to enjoy it. 3. Air conditioning Normally, the AC was more than adequate. But during the previously mentioned heat wave, the sun would cause heat to build up between the wall-to-wall window glass and the curtain. Heat would leak through the curtain and the AC could not keep up. My advise is, unless global warming shifts from central Europe to the US Middle West, book a cabin on the right hand side when traveling east to west and visa versa. 4. Local musicians (more a comment than complaint) Sailing from Brataslava a group of 5 young ladies came aboard with 2 violins, cello, piano, and flute. They morphed American pop tunes into a classical style that was very pleasing and classy. But since we were in the heart of the old Austro-Hungarian empire, why not something from that era: Hungarian folk tunes, Viennese waltzes, Franz Lehar operetta tunes, etc Entering Bavaria, it was announced that the onboard musician would do rock music in the lounge that evening. Good grief! Why not Bavarian style blassmusik, better knows as oompah. When I complained (tongue in cheek) to the cruise director, he said that they had tried oompah unsuccessfully; people didn't like it, got bored, and left. The cruise director's credibility with me dropped dramatically. No self-respecting tourist operator taking a group anywhere near Munich would not schedule a night of oompah in the Hofbrau House. His credibility dropped further a few nights later. Departing Wuertzburg it was announced that we would have oompah that evening. Sure enough a five piece group called Volkacher Ratherrn Musikanten (Volkach city council music group) came aboard. They consisted of trumpet, trombone, clarinet, accordion, and tuba. Again, they were excellent, but in no way could it be calledt Bavarian oompah. A trumpet instead of a rotary valve fluegelhorn (not to be confused with an American style fluegelhorn) and a trombone rather than a rotary valve tenorhorn (similar to an American style euphonium) produce a much brassier, less mellow, sound. Although a tuba is the heart of oompah, a tenor horn is indispensable In fact what we heard was the Franconian style of blassmusik. All the tour guides insisted that although we were technically in Bavaria, the people consider them selves Franconians, only annexed to Bavaria by Napoleon. Needless to say, the group was well received and no one left early. Leaving Miltenberg one of the worlds' foremost zither players (talk about a big fish in a small pond) came on board and gave an outstanding concert and demonstration. Again, I thought the timing strange because the zither is associated in everyone's mind with Vienna, probably because of The Third Man movie theme. I'm sure it was logistical, the artist was from Frankfurt, Germany. Finally, in Engers, a suburb of Koblenz, we walked a short distance to a palace where we were presented a classical chamber music program with a piano and violin. No complaints here. A final comment Because I wanted the full meal deal, I selected the two week cruise from Budapest to Amsterdam. I enjoyed it so much that I want to do another one. The only problem is our cruise covered almost the whole territory, at least in German speaking lands (Ich spreche etwas Deutsch). The only thing left is the Moselle and the upper Rhine. But Avalon does not seem to offer a Luxembourg to Basel cruise. The Moselle is combined with the Main and Upper Rhine with Amsterdam. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: July 2018
Our family of six, four young adults in their twenties and my husband and I (fifty-somethings), all had a great time on our cruise! There was a wide range of activities, enough to please everyone and keep us all busy (maybe too busy at ... Read More
Our family of six, four young adults in their twenties and my husband and I (fifty-somethings), all had a great time on our cruise! There was a wide range of activities, enough to please everyone and keep us all busy (maybe too busy at times...we had to take some breaks!). The food was outstanding, with many choices at every meal. The dining room staff was professional, yet also comfortable and familiar for our family. The shore excursions were great...each day we thought that the next day couldn't possibly get any better, but it did each day. We loved having the bikes available, to just take off when we had spare time and explore on our own. We really liked the headsets that we used on excursions. They were easy to use, worked well, and allowed us to hear the very informative tour guides. I do have one suggestion. We arrived in the departure city around 10 am and got to the boat about 11AM. We were exhausted from our flights and just wanted a place to rest. Unfortunately our cabins were not ready until 3 PM. We literally slept (uncomfortably) in the ship's lounge as we waited for them to prepare our cabins. I wonder if there isn't a way for Avalon to plan better for this, giving those of us who had traveled immediately before our arrival (as opposed to those who may have spent the previous night in a hotel in the departure city) access to our cabins more quickly. Since our air travel was arranged through Avalon, this might be possible and it would have made our first day more pleasant. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: July 2018
This was my second cruise with Avalon. I loved the first one (Rhine River) so much I booked this one just a few weeks after getting back! I was interested in the Active Discovery concept, because I wanted a little more than just the ... Read More
This was my second cruise with Avalon. I loved the first one (Rhine River) so much I booked this one just a few weeks after getting back! I was interested in the Active Discovery concept, because I wanted a little more than just the standard walking city tour at each stop. I was definitely not disappointed! I absolutely loved the variety of unique excursions (both included and optional) available on this cruise. I took full advantage of the excursions and tried to choose things that were a bit off the beaten path. I did several tastings (beer, wine, and absinthe), took two different cooking classes (one was part of the 'insiders tour' and the second was its own excursion), canoed in the Danube Bend, toured old WWII tunnels, experienced a concentration camp, among many, many other awesome adventures! Each excursion included a friendly and knowledgeable local guide. I did the three-day add on in Prague before the ship embarkation in Linz. I always enjoy a day or two prior to the sailing to get acclimated with the environment and reset my internal clock. This add-on was great - several different choices of things to do in Prague and a day in Cesky Krumlov. The hotel was great - right in the heart of Old Town Prague so it was very convenient to just about everything, very clean, comfortable, and a very helpful staff. The time onboard the ship was good as well. Unfortunately the Luminary is one of the oldest ships in Avalon's fleet, and it does not have the newer staterooms that are a bit larger and laid out a bit better. My first cruise was on one of their newer ships and I definitely prefer the newer ones! However, even though it didn't have a small seating area, the French balcony windows were smaller, and the bed did not face the windows, the stateroom on the Luminary was very clean, comfortable, and well laid out. There is plenty of storage space, and the bed is super comfortable! But the best part about being onboard is always the staff. Everyone from the front desk team to the hotel staff to the kitchen staff was very friendly and helpful. Everyone always greeted me with a smile. My stateroom attendant was very helpful - she ensured my bed was set at the best firmness for me, and she got me a different duvet when I requested it. The cruise director, Stefano, was superb. He was friendly and knowledgeable and helpful. He went above and beyond to ensure everything was perfect. Our last two days had to be rearranged a bit (due to low water levels in and around Budapest), but he worked tirelessly to ensure that most excursions could still happen (we only had one afternoon where scheduled excursions had to be cancelled) and arranged all additional transportation and meals as needed. The highlight of Avalon service on this trip, though, was one afternoon in Vienna. I was the only person to sign up for one of the optional excursions (the absinthe tasting). To my utter surprise and delight, they did not cancel due to low participation. On the contrary - they arranged for a guide and a driver for me. The car was a Tesla, no less! My guide was wonderful - since I did not do the city tour that morning, she offered to give me a private city tour and had the driver drive around so I could see all the key spots in the city. He even stopped at a couple so I could get out and take pictures. My guide and I were the only ones at the tasting and museum visit, so we had the place to ourselves and got a private tour there as well (and all of the schnapps, absinthe, and other liqueurs I wanted to taste!). It truly speaks to Avalon's customer service that they went ahead with that excursion just for me. Definitely the highlight of my trip! Dining onboard the Luminary was top-notch. There are a variety of options at every meal, and all were delicious. I also enjoyed having the 'Avalon Fresh' options, which were lighter and more healthy than the standard fare. Breakfast and lunch were both buffets with an endless variety of hot and cold choices. Dinner was a 4- or 5-course sit down meal with delicious local wines and beers available. Throughout the day, snacks and fresh fruit are always available. I prefer to travel solo, and this was my second sailing as a solo traveler on Avalon. They make it easy for solo travelers by offering reduced/waived single supplements. I never felt alone or lonely at any time - I made tons of new friends of all ages, backgrounds, and nationalities on the trip. I absolutely recommend Avalon. Their service is superb, the cabins are comfortable, and their excursions are excellent! Read Less
Sail Date: July 2018
We picked the Danube because we had never been to Vienna or Budapest and liked the idea of sailing on the river. We picked the 'active' cruise and this was the right decision for us. We love bike tours of cities and this cruise ... Read More
We picked the Danube because we had never been to Vienna or Budapest and liked the idea of sailing on the river. We picked the 'active' cruise and this was the right decision for us. We love bike tours of cities and this cruise included four bike tours. We loved the wine with all the meals on board and the food was very good. It's also great to meet most of the passengers and crew by the end of the cruise. We even tried the hot tub on board. Despite the low water level on the river, and the fact that we couldn't reach Budapest by river, Avalon handled the situation professionally and efficiently. Service was very good and entertainment was fun! Well done! Intercontinental in Budapest was very comfortable, central and great views. Not sure will will be able to go back to massive ocean cruises ever again! We will be back. Read Less
Sail Date: July 2018
Avalon was recommended by our travel agent, and we are so glad we took her advice. Everything was done with excellence, and it made our first river cruise and time in Europe most memorable! This was as "active cruise", and ... Read More
Avalon was recommended by our travel agent, and we are so glad we took her advice. Everything was done with excellence, and it made our first river cruise and time in Europe most memorable! This was as "active cruise", and lived up to its name! There were always active choices - we hiked, canoed, took bike rides - but these were interspersed with walking and coach tours, sight-seeing and just relaxing. A great mix! We were very impressed with the hotel in Budapest, our overnight there, and the seamless embarkation the following day. Excellent hotel in Salzburg, too. This cruise had a land portion following 7 nights on the Danube - we enjoyed the variety. Dining was not only delicious and varied, but a great social time! We met delightful people who quickly became friends, and we will treasure our memories of this trip. Hoping another adventure with Avalon is in our future! Read Less
Avalon Luminary Ratings
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