Avalon entered the fast-growing river cruise market in 2004 and is owned by the Swiss-based Globus family of travel industry brands. The line aims for the upper end of the river cruise market, operating a large number of riverboats on a vast range of European itineraries (nearly three dozen) as well as programs in the Galapagos and along the Peruvian Amazon, the Mekong, Ganges and the Nile.
The line’s affiliation with the Cosmos and Monograms travel brands means Avalon Waterways offers countless add-on itineraries for before and after your cruise, and can coordinate the various legs seamlessly.
Avalon Waterways will resume cruising in November 2020.
Be sure to check the line’s website for up-to-date news.
Europe (Avalon Suite Ships)
Avalon Panorama (b. 2011 & 166 p) – Danube & Rhine Rivers
Avalon Vista (b. 2012 & 166 p) – Danube & Rhine Rivers
Avalon Visionary (b. 2012 & 128 p) – Danube, Rhine & Moselle Rivers
Avalon Artistry II (b. 2013 & 128 p) – Danube, Rhine & Moselle Rivers
Avalon Expression (b. 2013 & 12 8p) – Danube, Rhine & Rhône Rivers
Avalon Impression (b. 2014 & 166 p) – Danube River
Avalon Illumination (b. 2014 & 128 p) – Danube & Rhine Rivers
Avalon Poetry II (b. 2014 & 128 p) – Rhine, Rhône & Saône Rivers
Avalon Tapestry II (b. 2015 & 128 p) – Seine River
Avalon Tranquility II (b. 2015 & 128 p) – Danube & Rhine Rivers
Avalon Imagery II (b. 2016 & 128 p) – Danube & Rhine Rivers
Avalon Passion (b. 2016 & 166 p) – Danube & Rhine Rivers
Avalon Envision (b. 2019 & 166 p) – Danube River
Avalon View (b. 2020 & 166 p) – Danube & Rhine Rivers
Avalon Siem Reap (b. 2015 & 36 p) – Mekong River
Avalon Saigon (b. 2017 & 36 p) – Mekong River
Ganges Voyager (b. 2015 & 56 p) – Ganges River
Treasure of Galapagos (b. 2009 & 16 p) – Galapagos Islands
Delfin III (b. 2015 & 44 p) – Amazon River
MS Farah (b. 2011 & 124 p) – Nile River
Most, age 50 and above, hail from the U.S., Canada, Britain and Australia, with some younger passengers on the shorter itineraries.
- Onboard meals
- Coffee, tea, soft drinks & water
- Wine, beer & spirits with dinner, sparkling wine with breakfast
- Wi-Fi (including in cabins for Europe cruises)
- Most shore excursions
Avalon Waterways’ cruise itineraries are packed with options to extend your cruise with land tours.
In Europe, the huge variety offers cruise tours lasting from 5 to 22 nights, generally adding a land portion at one or both ends of the river cruise. Land travel may be by high-speed train such as TGV, Thalys, and Eurostar or motorcoach.
Springtime tulip bulb season cruises navigate the intricate waterways of Belgium and Holland; French rivers include the Seine, Rhône and Saône; the Rhine with or without the Moselle; combine the Rhine and Rhône between Amsterdam and Cote D’Azur; the Upper and/or Lower Danube, the latter including, on some cruises, sailing all the way to the Danube Delta just in from the Black Sea.
Longer European itineraries may cover, for instance, the Upper Rhine and then via the Main, Main-Danube Canal and the Danube all the way to Vienna; with the granddaddy of all from the North Sea to the Black Sea (22 nights).
In South America, cruises to Galapagos and along the Peruvian Amazon include a 7-night Galapagos cruise-tour with the inclusion of sights in and around Quito, Ecuador; 14-night cruise tour that combines the Galapagos cruise with a land tour to Cusco and Machu Picchu (Peru) and Quito (Ecuador); and a 17- to 19-night cruise tour with the addition of the Amazon River lodge including day cruises on the river.
For Asia, cruises along the Mekong include 7-night voyages between Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam and (near) Phnom Penh, Cambodia. Longer itineraries of 12 or 17 nights include Siem Reap and Phnom Penh in Cambodia and Halong Bay in Vietnam, respectively. On India’s Ganges River, there are 6-night cruises round-trip from Kolkata and 12-night journeys from Delhi to Kolkata.
In Egypt, Nile River itineraries include 9 nights round-trip from Cairo, and 13 nights from Cairo to the Dead Sea, exploring Jordan.
The best way to explore Central Europe, the Magnificent Europe cruise on the Rhine, Main and Danube rivers is a 14-night itinerary from Amsterdam to Budapest. The cruise begins with a canal tour from Holland’s capital, then it’s on to Germany to visit Cologne and sail through the dramatic Rhine Gorge. In Germany, you’ll also call at Rüdesheim, Würzburg, Volkach, Bamberg, Nuremberg and Regensburg before sailing through the Main Danube Canal to Melk, Austria. Finally, the journey passes through the Wachau Valley to Vienna and on to its final stop in Budapest, Hungary.
Another popular itinerary is the Mekong Discovery, a 7-night cruise that starts at Ho Chi Minh City in Vietnam, exploring the city and smaller local village via sampan. Cruising up the Mekong, stops at rural villages reveal temples, local cottage industries and cultures. The cruise finishes near Phnom Penh, Cambodia with tours of the city.
River cruising conveniently takes you in one conveyance to a vast array of cultural, historic and scenic sites with so many of Europe’s major capitals (Paris, Amsterdam, Berlin, Prague, Vienna, Budapest, Belgrade) and most picturesque towns growing up along the banks. In Asia, South America and Egypt, river cruises access cultures, natural scenery and wildlife, and historical wonders in ways that overland touring can’t.
When to Go?
In Europe, most cruises operate from April through October, while some begin in March and end in November. Christmas markets cruises have increasing appeal.
South American cruises generally take place from January to July and September to November. In India, cruises generally take place in the cooler months of January and February, and September to November, while Mekong cruises are generally year-round. In Egypt, cruises are also offered year-round.
The company has removed all single use plastics from their cruises and supports The Ocean Cleanup organization.
Activities & Entertainment
The line offers a lot of included excursions and activities. Excursions ashore may be on foot when the dock is convenient to the destination or otherwise via bus and offer a range of interest levels with local guides, from classic sightseeing to hands-on discovery experiences to active ventures.
The AvalonGo Mobile App aids in self-guided exploration. The onboard cruise director provides commentary at significant locations throughout the cruise. An Adventure host guides fitness activities and active excursions. The “Active Discovery” cruises on the Danube offer hiking, biking and canoeing and opportunities to explore an ice cave or salt mine. Other activities can include archery or cooking lessons.
Onboard entertainment will showcase local musicians and singers after dinner and special interest talks while underway.
Avalon Suite Ships (Europe)
Avalon’s European fleet of 14 riverboats, known as Suite Ships, are almost identical, so this write up refers to all of them. Built for a capacity of either 128 or 166 passengers, all of them have four decks, with elevator access.
Passengers have a choice of three dining venues, from the al fresco Sky Grill to casual meals at the Panorama Bistro or an elegant 4-course dinner under floor-to-ceiling windows at the Panorama dining room or 24-hour coffee and snacks. Menus feature regional cuisines and have an abundance of healthy choices.
All riverboats share a forward Observation Lounge, forward Panorama Lounge and bar and aft-facing Club Lounge with a book and games library. The Sky Deck is laid out stem to stern with open and covered deck space for lounge chairs, whirlpool and game area. There’s also a fitness center.
Avalon Suite Ships come with large cabins and substantially different configuration — for example the 200 sq. ft. Panorama Suites and 300 sq. ft. Royal Suites in which the beds face a wall-to-wall, floor-to-ceiling glass expanse that slides open to the outside railing, rather than arranging the beds, as most do, parallel to the windows. The sensation gives your entire cabin a feeling of a cozy, protected balcony with a clear view to the outside.
In cabin: en suite, TV with entertainment options, complementary Wi-Fi, minibar.
Avalon Siem Reap
Along the Mekong, Avalon Waterways operates two 36-passenger sister ships, Avalon Siem Reap and Avalon Saigon.
Despite their diminutive size (each has only two decks), they are still Avalon Suite Ships, as each has signature cabins open to the outside with 14-ft. sliding glass doors and windows; they measure 245 sq. ft. A forward-facing covered lounge provides a 180-degree view and connects to an interior air-conditioned panorama lounge with bar.
The aft dining room seats all at once for breakfast, lunch and dinner. The menus offer both Asian and western dishes.
The ships also have a fitness room, sundeck with plenty of shade, a spa treatment room and library with games.
In cabin: en suite, individual climate control, in-house telephone, safe, hair dryer, and complimentary bottled water
A 56-passenger riverboat decorated in colonial-era style, Ganges Voyager has three decks (there is no elevator).
The Panorama Dining Room offers Indian and western menus and includes beer, wine and soft drinks with meals.
There’s also an air-conditioned lounge with glass walls and another shady al fresco lounge, a fitness room, spa treatment room and library with games.
Most cabins measure between 260-280 sq. ft., some with pretty four-poster beds, all with French balcony.
In cabin: en suite, individual climate control, TV with on-demand movies, in-house telephone, minibar, safe, hair dryer.
Treasure of Galapagos
Accommodating 16 passengers, Treasure of the Galapagos has cabins and common areas on three decks (no elevator).
Common areas include a dining room, indoor lounge and bar, shaded outdoor lounge, sun deck with Jacuzzi and observation area.
Cabins measure 215 sq. ft., and all have balconies, while the master suite is 430 sq. ft. with two balconies.
In cabin: en suite, individual climate control, safe, hair dryer.
Cruising the Amazon, Delphin III’s three decks are built to accommodate 44 passengers with a dining room, indoor and outdoor lounge (with nightly entertainment), an outdoor plunge pool, exercise room, spa, and excursion skiffs on board.
Most cabins are 237 sq. ft. and all have large picture windows.
In cabin: en suite, individual climate control, complimentary filtered water, safe, hair dryer.
On five decks, MS Farah has a lot of facilities including a large restaurant (with vegetarian options on the menu), barbecue on the sun deck, pool and pool bar, lounge bar, library dedicated to Brazilian lyricist and novelist Paulo Coelho and fitness center with sauna and steam rooms. They even hold cooking classes on board.
There are 60 cabins, most of which are 239 sq. ft. All have floor-to-ceiling, wall-to-wall windows for excellent views. There are also a pair of royal suites
In cabin: en suite, individual climate control, TV with cable programming, Internet, tea & coffee-making facilities, minibar, safe, hair dryer.
Along the Same Lines
Emerald Waterways and AmaWaterways offer comparable itineraries on Europe’s rivers and canals.
Avalon Waterways, US-based; Avalonwaterways.com; +1 (877) 797-8791
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