With most ocean going cruise ships, you dock in an area which is far from any town or attractions (and often in a not-so-nice-area at all). The joy of Avalon is that they dock in the heart of things. Imagine getting off in Cologne and strolling to the famous Cathedral. Or stepping ashore in the charming town of Vollendam in Holland and within two minutes be seated at a charming waterfront café. It’s easily done.

 

 

And speaking of going ashore, with Avalon your shore excursions are included – a huge difference from the big ships where it’s easy to drop hundreds of dollars on shore excursions. And this year Avalon has also introduced more variety into their excursions. You can do the “traditional” route, which is usually a walking tour with a knowledgeable and interesting local guide (Avalon provides handy listening devices so you never miss a detail). Or you can choose “essential” where you get the main highlights, combined with free time on your own to shop or explore. Slow things down a bit by choosing a “leisurely” pace. And if you want a workout with your walk, Avalon supplies Nordic walking poles, free of charge!

 

 

The onboard experience also varies significantly to being on a big ship. Take Avalon Waterways’ sleek new European vessels – they have an average capacity of just 143 passengers, a far cry from the literally thousands who may board an ocean-going cruise ship. So it’s a more intimate experience. By the time your holiday is over, you get to know many of your fellow passengers and the friendly international crew.

 

 

Many travellers are also curious about accommodation on the European river cruises. Every single ship in Europe has to be the same width, as they all have to fit into the locks. So how spacious can you make a stateroom? Surprisingly so. Avalon has the newest ships on the rivers of Europe and this year feature five Panorama class vessels, which offer 200 square feet staterooms (30% larger than industry standard) featuring glorious 11 foot wide windows which open a full 7 feet so you can really experience the sights and sounds of Europe. Like having an open air balcony – without sacrificing the space!

 

 

Dining onboard is also an experience as you’ll enjoy the freshest ingredients from the country you are floating through. Breakfasts and lunches are generous and stylish buffets, while at dinner you have the choice of a four course dinner or a casual light bistro meal, both served with complimentary wine or beer. Every cruise features a dinner prepared by a local chef who comes on board to work his or her magic.

 

 

Nightlife? While you won’t find casinos, magicians or dancing girls, you will enjoy port talks that delve into the history and culture of your ports of call, and live music from a local group who’ll come on board to share a bit of their culture with you. Plus, you’ll enjoy food and beverage tastings with local hosts.

 

 

Let your Vision 2000 travel agent give you more insight into Avalon and their amazing European experiences. This year they have 28 itineraries from 5 to 24 days, including theme cruises (music, wine, Christmas markets, history and more). Come discover Europe the way it was meant to be – up close!