virtuoso global March 2019 Our Favorite Things about Avalon Waterways

Our Favorite Things about Avalon Waterways

Call on romantic Dürnstein, Austria, during an Avalon Waterways cruise along the Danube River.
Call on romantic Dürnstein, Austria, during an Avalon Waterways cruise along the Danube River.

Fresh, modern, and innovative – these are just a few of the adjectives that Virtuoso travel advisors used when we asked them to describe Avalon Waterways. From extra-spacious staterooms to an abundance of activities that can make a getaway feel truly extraordinary, here is a list of things we love about Avalon Waterways.

1. You can take complete control of your itinerary.

The ports of call on each cruise have been thoughtfully mapped out in advance, of course, but the experiences along the way are entirely left up to guests, and there are so many options beyond the included activities. “Thanks to the Avalon Choice program, the line’s activities exceed shore excursions offered by other river cruises,” says Virtuoso travel advisor Mark Johnstone. Take the eight-day Active & Discovery on the Rhine itinerary, from Mainz, Germany, to Amsterdam, during which travelers can do everything from participating in a painting class to taking a guided jogging tour. And in 2020, Avalon is introducing what they’re calling Your Way, which makes it easy to add pre- or post-trip extensions. On the Blue Danube Discovery cruise, for example, you can spend two nights in Budapest before departing or two nights in Prague at the end – or, if you have the time, both.

Like something out of a storybook, the town of Mainz in Germany demands cameras and paintbrushes.
Like something out of a storybook, the town of Mainz in Germany demands cameras and paintbrushes.

2. The view from your window is the widest of any river cruise.

Avalon’s entire fleet in Europe and Southeast Asia boasts accommodations that are like nothing else you’ll find in river cruising. Case in point: the Panorama Suites, which are 30 percent larger than standard staterooms and come with the widest openable windows on the water. The balconies are also built in such a way that they don’t sacrifice space; rather, when the wall-to-wall window opens, your room essentially becomes the balcony. “The Panorama Suites are the best, with beds facing outside so you can see the view without even having to get up,” Johnstone says. “Some of the most beautiful stretches of scenery are on the Moselle River between Luxembourg and Koblenz.”

For Virtuoso advisor Kelly Shea, it’s more than the view. “I think the way they’ve designed the rooms with extra space is brilliant,” she says. “I’ve been on other cruise ships with walkout balconies, but I didn’t really end up using them. I much preferred having a bigger room. It was a welcome surprise.”  

With the biggest windows on Europe’s rivers, Avalon rooms have some of the best views around.
With the biggest windows on Europe’s rivers, Avalon rooms have some of the best views around.

3. You can savor local flavors.

Avalon Waterways approaches mealtime like a destination to be enjoyed – and thanks to dishes prepared with fresh, local ingredients, travelers tend to linger. “The dishes feature ingredients that the chefs gather in various villages we visit, so in some ways you feel like you’re dining in the home of a local,” Johnstone says.

Virtuoso advisor Mary Kleen agrees that dining is a highlight: “During a recent stop on an Avalon ship in Amsterdam, I had a fish dinner that was prepared very simply but surprised me with seasoning that reflected a Dutch sensibility.” The cruise line has partnered with chefs Karl and Leo Wrenkh, Austrian brothers who have helped craft extra-healthy dishes as part of the Avalon Fresh program; think not-boring salads for lunch and protein-packed options for dinner. 

Avalon Waterways chefs gather inspiration and ingredients along the route.
Avalon Waterways chefs gather inspiration and ingredients along the route.

4. Planning starts early with an easy-to-use app.

“There’s an app for that” is a refrain we hear a lot, but that doesn’t mean each one is actually useful. The complimentary AvalonGO app, however, will definitely come in handy before and during your cruise. Up to 30 days in advance of the departure date, travelers can begin customizing their free time at ports of call thanks to preloaded information about restaurants, bars, sightseeing, boutiques, and more. The best part? The app has built-in GPS navigation that works off-line, which means you can let yourself just wander during days in town. If you get lost, there’s no need to worry about finding Wi-Fi or using too much data to find your way. “The idea of having access to a map without needing to go into a café or back to the ship is really customer-friendly,” Shea says. 

Use the AvalonGO app to explore new places on your own.
Use the AvalonGO app to explore new places on your own.

5. There are plenty of new itineraries to choose from.

Avalon is always adding new routes to its robust menu of offerings, and next year is no exception. Launching in April 2020, the eight-day Tulip Time Highlights trip takes full advantage of spring’s colorful blooms, navigating the Rhine River from Brussels to Amsterdam. Take a spin on the color wheel with millions of blooms during a stop at Keukenhof, one of the world’s largest flower gardens, located in Lisse, Netherlands. And in May 2020, the inaugural five-day A Taste of the Rhine itinerary will take travelers from Amsterdam to Mainz, with stops in Cologne, Boppard, and Rüdesheim in Germany – and plenty of chances to sample regional wine, beer, and cuisine along the way.

Experience the full glory of tulip season at Keukenhof in the Netherlands on an all-new Avalon Waterways journey in April 2020.
Experience the full glory of tulip season at Keukenhof in the Netherlands on an all-new Avalon Waterways journey in April 2020.

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