Avalon Waterways Review | What Makes Avalon Different & What We Like

Our Rating

With itineraries ranging from 4- to 26-days geared toward a wide variety of travelers, Avalon provides something for everyone. The company’s itineraries call on unique ports with the opportunity to kayak, canoe, cycle, spelunk, and more. And its Storyteller Series cruises are particularly special, allowing guests to sail with some of their favorite authors such as Jen Hatmaker, Diana Gabaldon and, previously, Candice Bushnell, Gillian Flynn and more.

What We Like

  • Active & Discovery itineraries, a program that immerses you into the destinations through active tours, such as walking and bicycling, and cultural immersion through art & cooking classes, “day in the life” tours, and so much more.
  • Suite ships provide ultimate comfort with hotel-worthy beds and bathrooms with nice-sized showers. These ships also have complimentary WiFi Internet access, an expansive sun deck and a small fitness center. 
  • Large windows that open in the stateroom to create a huge open-air balcony. We called it Europe in HD.
  • A dining program that includes flexible dinner times and dinner almost anywhere you request on the ship. Plus, Avalon Fresh, which offers really good Vegetarian and Vegan options, as well as healthy breakfast items.

Avalon Waterways traces its roots back to 1928, when Antonio Mantegazza used a rowboat to transport goods across Switzerland’s Lake Lugano. His business evolved into motorcoach tourism and expanded into an international travel brand: Group Voyagers, Inc. – parent company of Avalon Waterways.


This consortium of well-known brands such as Globus, Cosmos, and Brennan Vacations has been a leader in escorted tours of Europe for almost a century, but it wasn’t until 2004 that the company launched Avalon Waterways’ fleet of royal-blue river cruisers.


The Avalon Waterways’ fleet expanded quite rapidly, eventually introduced newly designed “Suite Ships”. Today, the Avalon fleet encompasses nearly two dozen vessels. In Europe, Avalon Waterways operates on the Rhine, Main, Danube, Douro, Moselle, and Seine, as well as French wine country cruises on the Saone and Rhone rivers. Avalon also offers sailings on the Mekong, Ganges, Nile, Amazon, and in the Galapagos.


Each ship within the Avalon Waterways’ European fleet features an intimate dining room, a relaxing Main Lounge with panoramic views, a reception area, and a small fitness room. An expansive sun deck allows guests to stroll and enjoy the fresh air, or relax in a deck chair and take in the ever-changing scenery. And while it’s nearly impossible for river cruisers to feature anything more than two dining rooms, Avalon is creative enough to offer guests multiple dining options throughout the day.

What Makes Avalon Waterways Different

  • Suite Ships 

Avalon’s “Suite Ship” accommodations measure between 200 square feet and 300 square feet apiece and are equipped with Avalon’s signature Open Air Balcony – a French-style balcony that opens wall-to-wall, transforming staterooms into a giant veranda. These Open Air Balconies are found in nearly 80 percent of the total accommodations aboard Avalon’s Suite Ships in Europe.


  • Flexible & Accommodating Dining Options

 When we sailed with Avalon, I we were absolutely blown away when it came to the adaptability and accommodation of the kitchen. On the first day of the trip, we attended a meeting where we shared our dietary restrictions (one of our party is vegan) with the chef and maitre d. From that point on, Emma was practically escorted from the doors of the dining room to the breakfast and lunch buffets and given a personal tour of what she could and couldn’t eat.

Flexible dining times ensure guests don’t miss time to explore, you can stay out in town and come back to the ship a bit later for your dinner. Dinner can also be set up practically anywhere you want per request, with light dinner offered in the lounge every night.


  • Attention to Detail & Added Comfort 

Avalon’s ships are designed with comfort in mind. The lounge houses many couches where guests can relax with a book or position themselves to watch a local entertainer on board, as well tables to play games. Couches are nice and comfortable, the table and chairs can be better sometimes for passengers with limited mobility. It can be hard to shuffle around coffee tables and into the corner of a sectional.

The Cruise Manager will assist if anything in the cabin needs to be changed – Avalon can always make the mattresses more firm or soft, and provide different bedding if needed. (It likely won’t be needed, the beds are seriously comfortable.)


  • Active & Discovery and Themed Sailings

Avalon’s Active & Discovery sailings offer more excursion choices than its traditional itineraries, with added components to appeal to an active group of travelers. The choice of unique excursions offered provide the chance to immerse oneself in the culture of the region through bike rides, canoe and kayak trips, hikes, and so much more – like a visit to an essential oil factory, participating in a Medieval Knights tournament, an olive oil tasting (yum!), art & cooking classes, even a wine tasting in a cave.


Avalon also offers a multitude of themed cruises, from beer and wine cruises to photography cruises. Particularly special are the line’s Storyteller Series cruises, which allow guests to sail with some of their favorite authors.


  •  Globus Family of Brands

One differentiating factor for this cruise line is that it boasts the backing of the huge Globus family, which offers some practical value: those who are members of Globus’ Journeys Club, for example, receive discounts and other perks for traveling within the family of brands. The brand’s large footprint in Europe also helps with operational infrastructure, such as guides and transport, enhancing the guest experience.

Read other articles on River Cruise Advisor about Avalon Waterways.

News & Experiences On Avalon Waterways

What Makes Avalon Waterways Different?

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.

Read More »

Avalon’s Active & Discovery: Our Readers Chime In

Britton’s recent story about Avalon struck a chord with readers. Responding to 5 Ways Avalon Waterways Goes Above & Beyond, which Britton wrote after her May Danube sailing on Avalon View, our friend Ben Rich was one of several readers who felt compelled to write about his experience on Avalon. 

Read More »

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I like slower forms of travel. Trains. Ships. Cars. If I can watch the details of the world pass by as I travel from Point A to Point B, I’m a very happy girl.

Which is why I think I enjoy river cruising so much. You’re close to all the action as you float down the grand rivers of Europe, and can take it all in from your stateroom - sometimes while laying in bed!

And my favorite unique thing about avalonwaterways is the fact that the beds in their staterooms face the amazing view! (And the fact that the view is through an 11-foot-wide floor-to-ceiling window that slides open 7 feet to turn your whole room into a balcony.) This is by far my favorite cruise ship stateroom I`ve ever stayed in!

Who can imagine sitting here to watch the scenery go by? 🙋🏻‍♀️ (This was taken as we sailed past the Hungarian Parliament in Budapest.)
#AvalonAD #AvalonWaterways #sponsored

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Take a river cruise along the Rhine Valley, Germany.

Visit Rüdesheim am Rhein and explore the little town, head to the Mechanical Music museum or hike through the vineyards to Niederwald Monument, or if you are feeling less energetic take the gondola ride instead.

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Day 7- We are still in Lyon, and the ship is unable to take us to Tournus-Chalon-Sur- Saone. Which is a shame, but the bonus is that it gives us a day to wander the streets and have a shopping day .

However, we have woke up this morning to a dock wall. Not everything can be perfect! 😂 always be prepared for the unexpected, and remember to be flexible. Plus where is the sun today? 😂😎 ☀️

This mornings excursion was a trip to the Chardonnay Winery.
This wonderful half-day guided excursion takes you into the spectacular landscapes between Mâcon and Tournus, home to the buttery, white grapes behind France’s world-famous Chardonnay wine. Along the way, stop at the dramatic prehistoric Rock of Solutré, an iconic limestone escarpment surrounded by vineyards and known as the Cradle of Pouilly-Fuissé Wine. Then, the highlight of the day: wine-tasting in the cellars of a real medieval castle!

Discover the treasures of Tournus with a walking tour to follow the route of the old castrum, the town hall square with the statue of Greuze, and the rue de l`hôpital near the historic Hôtel-Dieu. See the lanes of the city center and the main street, abundant with shops, and Rue Dr Privey with food shops, and abbey district with the Saint-Philibert along the docks of the Saône River.

This is what Happy Hour looks like. 😂❤️

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Questa crociera fluviale natalizia AVALON WATERWAYS inizia a Norimberga, la capitale non ufficiale
del Sacro Romano Impero.
Una visita guidata vi mostrerà i suoi tesori medievali nel centro storico, illuminato con luci e decorazioni natalizie.
C’è tutto il tempo per visitare il mercatino di Natale, uno dei più famosi della Germania e per assaggiare il tradizionale lebkuchen (pan di zenzero speziato), una specialità di Norimberga.
E via verso la deliziosa Bamberga, patrimonio mondiale dell’UNESCO...
trovate il programma di viaggio completo sul nostro sito.

“La magia del Natale lungo il fiume Meno”

5 notti da Norimberga a Francoforte - Partenza: 5, 10, 11 dicembre 2023

📌 Scopri i più famosi MERCATINI DI NATALE con le crociere AVALON WATERWAYS



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Breakfast with a view 😍☕️

In attesa di attraccare a Rotterdam, colazione in camera con vista sul Ponte Erasmo e sul grattacielo De Rotterdam dell’architetto Rem Koolhaas. Grazie AvalonWaterwaysItalia per questa splendida crociera sul Reno!! 💙

#avalonwaterways #avalonwaterwaysitalia

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Lost in Amsterdam 💚

w/avalonwaterwaysitalia #avalonwaterways #avalonwaterwaysitalia

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Exploring Antwerp 🇧🇪

Sono da pochi giorni rientrato dalla mia prima crociera fluviale sul Reno 🛳 Una bellissima esperienza che mi ha permesso di visitare tante città tra Belgio e Paesi Bassi 😍

In partnership w/AvalonWaterwaysItalia #avalonwaterways #avalonwaterwaysitalia

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So here`s an interesting thought: Want to sail down the Danube River with me while I tell you stories? Happy to be part of avalonwaterways Storyteller series.
Link in bio 📚🚢 #AvalonWaterways

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I have more to share with you from Scotland, but it will have to wait because I’m already off on my next trip! Up next is a river cruise up the Danube from Budapest, Hungary to Linz, Austria with avalonwaterways.

This isn’t just any river cruise, though - it’s one of Avalon’s “Active and Discovery” itineraries (#AvalonAD) which means more chances to get out and be active, as well as more unique cultural immersion options.

There are bike tours, hikes, cooking classes, and more to enjoy. What I love most is that the wide variety of excursions means a whole family can come on this cruise and all find something they want to do.

We started out in Budapest, which remains one of my very favorite cities in Europe! I was staying at a hotel next to Fisherman’s Bastion, which is how I managed to get this people-free shot! (That, and I went out at 6:30 in the morning!)

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