For those of you who have just started to think about river cruising and have only heard of and like the look of Viking, I would like to suggest looking at the Avalon waterways fleet as a great alternative when making your decision.
My Auntie and Uncle, avid attendees of the Telegraph Cruise Show, selected Avalon as offering the best value in their class and it is hard to argue. Avalon have a very new fleet, with most ships under 3 years old and they also have very large cabins, sorry staterooms on their innovative suite ships.
The feel of the ships is extremely contemporary and puts you in mind of a floating, modern hotel. The Avalon Vista, a ship completed in 2012 with the new suite design, which I have stayed on has open spaces, square lines and dark wood and orange tones. It is extremely comfortable and welcoming.
Avalon Staterooms and Suite Rooms
The Avalon Vista is sister ship to the Avalon Panorama and the Avalon Expression. They tend to do the longer itineraries and I could easily see spending a fortnight on board. These are Avalon’s innovative “suite ships”. I stayed in a panorama suite on the middle deck. The suite had a wall to ceiling panoramic window which opened as patio doors. The whole wall was a window, with the bed facing it.
Avalon reckon this is 50% wider than the industry standard. A real “wow” factor for the ship. Imagine the view on the river from first thing in the morning and throughout the day. With a full size bathroom complete with L’Occitane toiletries, this stateroom was 200 sq feet. A french balcony cabin on a Viking Longship is 135 sq feet.
Thought I’d just include the picture of a Royal Suite as found it quite funny that the television is as big as me! The suite is a mere 300 sq feet!
The decor is distinctly modern with dark wood and orange but the amount of windows and the size of them makes the Avalon Vista a cooling place to be during the spring and summer months. The amount of large windows also mean that in the Spring and Autumn (when I stayed) you can feel like you are part of the outside even when the temperature makes it cosier to stay indoors. A haven to return to after a busy day sighting on the Danube or the Rhine. It has a whirlpool on the large sundeck for dipping your feet in the afternoon.
Food on board the Avalon Vista
I have to give full marks for the food. The gala meal was fantastic with the food tasting like it was cooked to order although there was a dining room of 150 people. The broiled rock lobster tail melted in the mouth.
So what does the Avalon product offer? A home pick up within 75 miles of your local airport in a Mercedes E class or similar. A great way to start your holiday. The Titan VIP home transfer is from anywhere, it is worth noting, but home pick up is not something that Viking do. Oh, and the thing that swung it for my Uncle, all gratuities for crew and cruise director. Of course excursions are included and wine with dinner.
Avalon cruises sail on the Rhine, The Main, Danube, Moselle, Rhone and Seine. They are 85% sold for this year but early Spring and Autumn they are showing some discount and availability, so why not have a closer look?
Global River Cruising