Avalon Expression Cruise Review by PBK49
- Sail Date: October 2016
- Destination: Europe River
- Cabin Type: Deluxe Stateroom with Window
13 Day Tour from Budapest to Prague
October 22 – November 4, 2016
The Real World Review of An Actual River Cruise
Our trip started with 3 days in Budapest at the InterContinental Hotel, then 7 days on the Danube river cruise on the Avalon Expression and then 3 days in Prague at the InterContinental Hotel. During our river cruise we were able to travel from Budapest to Regenburg however due to low water level we had to stay docked in Regenburg for two days and visit the last stop, Nuremberg by bus. After our cruise we traveled 4 hours by bus to Prague for the last 3 days of our vacation.
This was our first riverboat cruise but decided to try it since we got a great package for the air and cruise. Having sailed over 25 ocean cruises, we really did not what to really expect from a river boat cruise with only 152 guests and 46 crew – a lot smaller. River cruising gets you up much closer to things you normally cannot get to. The riverboats do get you where the large ships can’t so you get to see and do the things normally not able to. You can interact with the locals as you stroll through their streets and visit all their sites, restaurants and shops.
Our room was very nice with a bit more storage space, ceramic tiles bathroom floor and large shower with real glass door and granite counter top. The bed orientated so when laying on the bed one could see the river and sights pass by. The river view wall is a all-glass window with 2 panels sliding open to give you an almost open-air experience. The only negative thing was the safety railing did obstruct the view somewhat and glass panels would have been better idea.
All crew were very nice and tried to accommodate all our needs.
It was hard to adjust to the small size of the ship and the limited or lack of amenities that we were always used to on the larger ships. There is really only one dining option/location and the breakfast buffet, lunch buffet and dinner a la cart (small portions and service is slow taking 2 hours or so for dinner) all served in the same one and only restaurant. The restaurant on deck one is small and heat/cooling system is not very good – (at most dinners it was too hot!). The selection of food options is very limited so little chance of gaining any weight on this type of cruise. There is no room service. And food outside the normal eating times is limited to none! So eat hearty at your meals! And maybe bring your own snacks for along the way. I asked for some ice for the room and I was told to get my own ice on either the 3rd or 1st floor ice machines. Really?!
The included tours were okay and the optional tours were okay. I would recommend wherever possible to book your own tours that you select in advance to the trip so you get to see and do exactly what you what! However most ship’s docking locations don’t let you just walk off the ship and immediately put you in the center of town. Also I found it impossible to get any advanced detailed information on the tours e.g. length, time of day (morning or afternoon) and how the included tours interact time wise with the optional tours. On this trip if a couple booked all the optional tours that would cost about 1200 euros.
When ships dock, they do so side by side not end to end. So to get off the ship you may need to go through other ship main floor or up and over the sky deck then down again – very difficult for anyone with walking issues. Also when docked side by side, the shipside’s touching blocked each other’s view and you have to keep your curtains closed so they don’t see you and you see them. On our trip, 4 of the 7 docked days we had a ship docked by our side and we lost our view not happy about that! So we had no land or river view at all on these days.
The Internet on the ship is very good. There are no non-news channels on the TV. The movie selection is limited. Recommend as we did load up your computer with some movies and TV shows. There is very limited evening entertainment and the ship is quiet after 10pm.
The second last night in Regenburg we had to stay over due to low water levels. The cabin got warm and it seemed that the air conditioning was not working so I called the front desk. They told me something about the electricity and there was nothing that they could do so we either had to live with it or open the cabin window. Well really! Also we have another ship docked aside us so do we want them to see us in bed? Anyways the problem was corrected by the time we went to bed at 11pm.