River Cruising to Austria and Bavaria
Excellent organisation from Avalon from beginning to end. This really is an all inclusive holiday beginning with a chauffeur service to the airport or in our case to an airport hotel the day before. The flight was with BA direct to Vienna. Check in was quick and the flight on time. Vienna is an easy airport to navigate. We were met at the exit by our Avalon rep and transferred immediately with another couple. As you aren't allowed to board until 4, Avalon provide a room at the Intercontintental which is well situated. Tea, coffee and soft drinks are provide but we chose to visit the park just across the road and sample our first of many apricot delicacies. Suitcases and any other luggage are stored at the hotel and taken directly to your cabin on board. We were also introduced to our fabulous cruise "organiser" Caroline who seemed to be available at all times. Transfer to the ship was again well organised and took about 30 minutes. The ship is a relatively new one and we had chosen a balcony cabin which I think is larger than the norm at 190 sq ft. The room is very well appointed. There is plenty of storage space and the bed is placed so that you have direct views through the balcony windows which span the width of the room. The bed and pillows Were the most comfortable I have ever slept on and we have made more than 40 sea cruises with many of the cruise lines. The bathroom too in my opinion is superior with a quality shower and plenty of storage. L'Occitane products are provided and replenished daily. The ship itself has a comfortable lounge at the front with a bar and glass windows all around to make the most of the wonderful Views as you travel along. There is a further lounge at the back of the ship which has a coffee etc machine and daily cookies, muffins and cakes in case you might get a bit peckish in between meals. This area is self service and has a nice seating area with a selection of books and games for those who might have time. Food: Breakfast is self service it there is always a special of the day you could order and a chef providing eggs cooked however you might want them. The selection is from fresh fruit, cereals, cooked meats, pastries and breads, home made jams, cheeses as well as a selection for a cooked breakfast. Lunch is also elf service with a good variety of hot and old dishes. There is also a selection on the menu to be cooked to order. Evening meal is one sitting and was a highlight as this gives the opportunity to meet new friends. There is generally a choice of two starters soups salads main courses and desserts as well as vegetarian options and again there are the usual regular dishes to order if nothing else suits. I should also say that as this is an all inclusive trip wine flowed freely every evening and we had a different selection every evening Passengers on Avalon ships tend to be mainly American, Canadian, Australian and a minority of British. We had 12 British couples on our trip. We met many interesting people and will keep in touch with some. Cruise Director was Caroline. She preferred "organiser" and she was absolutely fantastic. She was full of energy and personality. She gave a talk before dinner every evening with information for the following day which was informative and humorous too so ne'er tedious. There was often a happy hour early evening when drinks were half price and this was the only cost. Our final bill came to about 20 euros Entertainment was very low key with a very good piano player but our entertainment was spending time chatting and sharing experiences There was local entertainment one evening which was excellent. Trips: there was an included trip every day and sometimes there was an additional afternoon trip at extra cost. I found that the included trips were plenty They were extremely well organised with interesting local guides and the groups were kept small. If coaches were necessary we would only have about 20 people per coach. This was an excellent service. We chose this particular cruise as it was a golf cruise as well so the golfers trips ran alongside ours. My husband played 3 times in a mixed group of 12 and thoroughly enjoyed the experience. The courses chosen all had spectacular views and were in fantastic condition. It worked well as I went on the alternative trips with a sociable group of children. As part of the trip After the cruise we were transferred to Munich for 3 days to the Sofitel which was centrally situated. We were given an interesting orientation tour and a full day tour on the final day. We happened to be there for the World Cup final when Germany won. The atmosphere in Munich was great and everybody in fantastic spirits. Caroline stayed with us at the hotel and again was available for advice as well as organising tours. On the final day we were transferred to the airport were another representative was waiting to escort us to check in. On arrival at Heathrow our chauffeur service was waiting in arrivals. A perfect ending to perfect trip. I'm sorry that this is such a long review but I know there have been a lot of questions recently as to costs and the merits. In my opinion, although river cruises are more expensive, I would highly recommend Avalon. Once you have paid for the cruise you really don't have to spend a penny on the ship and the tours are first class. We will certainly travel with Avalon again in the future.
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