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Our travel agent found the deal of the century for us. We had been contemplating taking a European River Cruise - Germany, perhaps a Christmas Market Cruise - for several years and finally I went to the travel agent and told her what we had in mind. Our only previous cruising experience was with Windstar Cruises - their flagship Clipper ship the Star Clipper - and we LOVED that... so... we figured a river cruise would be right up our ally. We were right! So... fly out of JFK... arrive in Munich the next morning... catch a connecting flight to Budapest... check into the Intercontinental... and let the vacation begin! Two glorious nights in Budapest - a beautiful hotel in a beautiful city! Then off to the boat to start the cruise. We sailed first out of Budapest to Vienna... then over the course of our cruise through Austria, Germany, and the Czech Republic... ending up in Prague for a three night stay at the Old Town Hilton - another simply outstanding high-end property. But back to the boat... please allow me to rave about the cabins. While many river boats angle the bed as necessary to make the best use of limited space, thus impacting the view even if you have large windows and a faux "balcony," the Illumination provides you with a bed positioned directly for viewing the river and shore as you sail. Floor to ceiling windows/"doors" puts the "sight" into sightseeing as you sail the rivers of Europe. It's a river boat, not a cruise ship, but even so, the lounge/bar area is very inviting and this is where presentations and entertainment are held. I agree with the general rating of others that the food gets a 4 out of five rating. It's good. Nothing knocks your socks off... but... it's good... it's plentiful... and wine and beer - better quality wine and beer - are complementary with dinner. Again, it a small boat. Their storage and preparation facilities are limited, but, the food was fresh and while it's not 5 star dining, you won't be disappointed. As I said, our cruise was a beer cruise, complete with a "Beer Pope" who led us on bar hopping excursions as well as leading shipboard tastings. We took part in several complementary excursions as well several paid excursions. We were happy with each and every one. Avalon actually does an outstanding job of providing a seamless cruise/tour experience. I can't think of a single negative. In terms of bang for the buck, our first European river cruise - with Avalon - was an outstanding bargain and I would HIGHLY recommend them.

Our First River Cruise - And It Was a Beer Cruise!

Avalon Illumination Cruise Review by William_R_Barker

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Trip Details
  • Sail Date: November 2016
  • Destination: Europe River
  • Cabin Type: Panorama Suite with French Balcony
Our travel agent found the deal of the century for us.

We had been contemplating taking a European River Cruise - Germany, perhaps a Christmas Market Cruise - for several years and finally I went to the travel agent and told her what we had in mind. Our only previous cruising experience was with Windstar Cruises - their flagship Clipper ship the Star Clipper - and we LOVED that... so... we figured a river cruise would be right up our ally.

We were right!

So... fly out of JFK... arrive in Munich the next morning... catch a connecting flight to Budapest... check into the Intercontinental... and let the vacation begin!

Two glorious nights in Budapest - a beautiful hotel in a beautiful city! Then off to the boat to start the cruise.

We sailed first out of Budapest to Vienna... then over the course of our cruise through Austria, Germany, and the Czech Republic... ending up in Prague for a three night stay at the Old Town Hilton - another simply outstanding high-end property.

But back to the boat... please allow me to rave about the cabins. While many river boats angle the bed as necessary to make the best use of limited space, thus impacting the view even if you have large windows and a faux "balcony," the Illumination provides you with a bed positioned directly for viewing the river and shore as you sail. Floor to ceiling windows/"doors" puts the "sight" into sightseeing as you sail the rivers of Europe.

It's a river boat, not a cruise ship, but even so, the lounge/bar area is very inviting and this is where presentations and entertainment are held. I agree with the general rating of others that the food gets a 4 out of five rating. It's good. Nothing knocks your socks off... but... it's good... it's plentiful... and wine and beer - better quality wine and beer - are complementary with dinner. Again, it a small boat. Their storage and preparation facilities are limited, but, the food was fresh and while it's not 5 star dining, you won't be disappointed.

As I said, our cruise was a beer cruise, complete with a "Beer Pope" who led us on bar hopping excursions as well as leading shipboard tastings. We took part in several complementary excursions as well several paid excursions. We were happy with each and every one. Avalon actually does an outstanding job of providing a seamless cruise/tour experience.

I can't think of a single negative. In terms of bang for the buck, our first European river cruise - with Avalon - was an outstanding bargain and I would HIGHLY recommend them.
William_R_Barker’s Full Rating Summary
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Cabin Review

Panorama Suite with French Balcony
Cabin B 231
Wonderful layout; comfortable bed; small flat-screen TV with English language programming - mostly news channels. Upscale modern feel to the cabin. Large enough; enough closet space; panorama suite with French balcony.
Sapphire Deck Suite Cabins