Legend has it that Avalon is a mystical island cloaked in mist, steeped in ancient lore and said to be a gateway to the Otherworld—a place where seekers discover inner peace and wisdom. That makes it a perfect name for this river cruise company. Avalon Waterways charts its course along the rivers of Europe and beyond, where every turn uncovers fresh wonders.
Step into an Avalon stateroom, and you’ll find yourself perfectly positioned for scenic views without budging an inch from your bed. It’s all part of the thoughtful design that’s been honed over Avalon’s more than 90 years in the business. Evolving from post-World War II motorcoach tourism to the renowned “Globus Family of Brands” and eventually into the river cruise industry in 2004, Avalon now operates 14 riverboats in Europe and explores waters as far as Asia, Africa, and South America.
Where Avalon Sails
Today, Avalon’s vessels sail not only Europe’s rivers but worldwide. From the Mekong in Asia to the Nile in Egypt, from the eco-exotic Galapagos Islands to the Peruvian Amazon, Avalon offers journeys to diverse destinations.
What Awaits Guests On Board
Onboard, guests revel in the comfort of beds angled toward floor-to-ceiling windows that transform into open-air balconies. The Panorama Suites, which make up the majority of the rooms on board, offer 30 percent more space than the industry standard, with generously sized bathrooms and thoughtful amenities.
Showers are larger than average and easy to maneuver around in, and there’s plenty of room surrounding the toilet and sink. Towel sets are colored dark and light, making them easy to tell apart, a small detail that we appreciated.
Read more: 5 Ways Avalon Waterways Goes Above & Beyond
Complimentary spirits are served on board during Happy Hour, and 24-hour self-service beverages are available for all guests who might crave a cappuccino, hot chocolate, or something sweet to eat at the aft Club Lounge. We also love the water station that fills your reusable water bottle with cold water, still or sparkling, and even allows you to add fun flavors with different health benefits.
Avalon can cater to a variety of diets. Half of our pair when we travel is vegan, and when we sail the Danube on Avalon View last year we met with the chef the first day to make sure that our dietary needs would be accommodated. Avalon also includes healthy dining options with its AvalonFresh program, which are created by Austrian chefs Leo and Karl Wrenkh. This partnership emphasizes the commitment to providing healthy and flavorful meals using fresh, locally sourced ingredients.
Overall, dining aboard an Avalon cruise is a relaxed yet luxurious affair, with no enforced dress code and menus that change daily.
Avalon Itineraries & Excursions
Avalon offers itineraries for all types of travelers, from four-day cruises to weeklong cruises to in-depth cruises of up to two weeks. These cruises include special-interest cruises, such as Wine-Centric Appreciation Cruises, Culinary, Beer Cruises, History Cruises, Jewish Heritage Cruises, or Christmas Market Cruises.
Avalon also differentiates its brand with its programming. Pam Hoffee, managing director of Avalon Waterways, calls it “building beyond the view”. That means inviting guests to river cruise in their own way, customizing to their tastes. Keeping to that formula are Avalon Choice and YourWay programming.
Avalon YourWay allows guests to customize their vacation further by packaging cruise tours in another three ways: with an Avalon land extension, a Monograms vacation package or a Globus escorted tour. Monograms and Globus are sister brands to Avalon, and they bring their own regional expertise and local hosts to the itinerary.
Avalon Choice refers to Avalon’s excursion categories: Classic, Discovery and Active. Avalon Classic focuses on history and culture, often in the form of a city tour. Avalon will provide expert local guides who will reveal the history and heritage of local sights. They will provide guests with insider information and stories behind must-see sites and hidden gems.
Avalon Discovery delves into interactive opportunities such as a cooking demonstration; and Active Discovery highlights energetic activities such as caving. With Avalon Discovery guests can roll up their sleeves or pull up a chair for interactive experiences. Avalon believes that these local experiences will help guests find their inner artists, satisfy their curiosity, or satiate their cravings to learn new things.
Avalon Active gives guests the opportunity to hike up a hill or speed down a trail by foot or bicycle. These are active excursions designed to keep guests in motion. Guests will have the Avalon Adventure Center and Host who will provide all necessary gear and guidance a guest needs to turn sightseeing from passive viewing to active doing. Guests can hike, bike, jog or kayak through the scenic locales. The host will provide everything needed from walking sticks to picnic blankets.
Avalon also has Active & Discovery Itineraries, which highlight these two excursion styles and even can call on different destinations than traditional itineraries to complement this style of travel. For example, during our Danube cruise, we made a stop in a quaint town along the Schlögen Oxbow, where guests had the opportunity to embark on a hike for a panoramic view of the river below. These itineraries are some of our favorites.
Read more: What Is An Active & Discovery River Cruise?
So, What Makes Avalon Different?
It’s not just about the luxurious touches, like beds perfectly positioned for scenic views and locally sourced dining options, although those certainly add to the charm. What truly sets Avalon apart is its commitment to customization. Guests can tailor their vacation to their tastes, whether they’re drawn to history and culture, interactive experiences, or active excursions. With decades of experience and a solid infrastructure, Avalon is ready to help you embark on your next dream river cruise – your way.