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Avalon Illumination Review

Find a Avalon Illumination Cruise from £816

Avalon Illumination
4.0 / 5.0
60 reviews

Pros
Cons
Bottom Line
top-deck BBQ and bistro fare

About

Passengers
166

Crew
47

Passenger to Crew
3.53:1

Launched
2014

Shore Excursions
73
Sails To
Europe
Sails From
Avalon Waterways Cruise Deals
Carolyn Spencer Brown
Cruise Critic Contributor

Avalon Illumination Overview

As new ships flood the river cruise market, each line has been one-upping the other with better bells and more whistles. Avalon Waterways' newest entry into the competition is the 164-passenger Avalon Illumination, the latest in the line's "suite ship" class.

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In developing its “suite ships,” Avalon Waterways, part of the Globus family of brands, faced the obstacles that all ships plying the rivers of Europe must conquer: how to provide passengers with balconies and more public open space onboard, while dealing with European river constraints. (Think varying water levels, low bridges, narrow locks and tiny docks.)

So, how did Avalon Illumination and its seven nearly identical siblings rise to the challenge? Magnificently. Each Panorama suite features an 11-foot-wide, seven-foot-tall wall of glass that can slide to reveal a gaping, almost magical open-air expanse. When the doors are opened, take my word, you'll feel as if the entire cabin was outdoors.

Freed from having to set aside space for dedicated outdoor balconies, the 200-square-foot Panorama suites are 15 percent larger than many river ship cabins, allowing room in each for a queen bed, a small couch, table and chair. An innovative slightly curved wall leads to larger-than-expected bathrooms, with lovely marble floors. These are the most common staterooms onboard Illumination and it's no surprise that reaction has been positive.

Public gathering spaces have also been maxed out on the 443-foot-long, 37.4-foot-wide ship with four decks. In addition to the ship-long sky deck, there's a large indoor lounge, a smaller indoor lounge and an outdoor covered seating area in the front of the ship, perfect for open-air sightseeing on rainy days.

Interior design is contemporary chic, with lots of dark espresso woods highlighted with colorful modern art and deep orange rugs and furniture. Think Scandinavian rather than French Provincial. A French influence can be felt, however, in the high-quality L'Occitane bath products -- which sport a delicious lemon verbena scent.

The mostly Eastern European staff was generally efficient and pleasant, although not all spoke fluent English. Knowledgeable, English-speaking local guides led shore excursions (at least one daily excursion was included), and the excursions were enhanced with the use of wireless headsets.

While the ship markets almost exclusively to passengers from the U.S., Canada, the United Kingdom, Australia and New Zealand, it retains some not-so-welcome European influences, including 220-volt outlets, mostly German-speaking TV channels and the euro as ship currency, which, because it is strong against the dollar, means higher gratuity and drink costs. But those are minor complaints.

Avalon Illumination sails on a selection of itineraries on the Seine, Rhine, Main, Rhone, Saone and Dutch waterways, which range from seven to 15 nights.


Top Avalon Illumination Itineraries

Avalon Illumination
7 night festive season on romantic rhine (northbound)

Basel, Strasbourg, Rudesheim, Cologne, Amsterdam, Amsterdam

7 Night Festive Season on Romantic Rhine (Northbound)

Avalon Illumination

View All Avalon Illumination Itineraries (10)

Fellow Passengers

The ship, which cruises the Danube River, attracts travelers from North America, the U.K., Australia and New Zealand. Passengers tend to be retired (or in the 60-plus bracket), and well-traveled.


Avalon Illumination Dress Code

Country-club casual is the order of the day. Leave the jeans and T-shirts, as well as the opulent evening gowns and tuxes, at home. At dinner, understated cocktail dresses and jackets (sans ties) are appropriate. Bring good walking shoes.


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Avalon Illumination Ratings

CategoryEditorMember
Cabins5.04.6
Dining4.04.5
Entertainment4.04
Public Rooms4.04.7
Fitness Recreation4.03.8
Family2.0N/A
Enrichment4.04.3
Service4.04.7
Value For Money5.04.3

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More about Avalon Illumination

Where does Avalon Illumination sail from?

Avalon Illumination departs from Budapest and Amsterdam

Where does Avalon Illumination sail to?

How much does it cost to go on Avalon Illumination?

Cruises on Avalon Illumination start from £816 per person.

Awards and Recognition

Avalon Illumination Member Reviews

Avalon Illumination
rfmagui
Sail Date: Oct 2019
And, of course, the Avalon experience was ourstanding.... Read More
Avalon Illumination
kcd1952
Sail Date: Sep 2019
We chose Avalon for our first river cruise because of the itinerary, the amenities offered during the cruise and the cabin layout. The ship was spacious and our cabin was very comfortable.... Read More
Avalon Illumination
Paddyo1993
Sail Date: Dec 2018
The entire staff aboard the Avalon Illumination were amazing. We received first class treatment in a very relaxed, friendly and professional environment.... Read More
Avalon Illumination
Ctboone
Sail Date: Aug 2019
As we did cruise three different rivers we had an opportunity to see other cruise lines along the way and personally we are super glad that we chose Avalon not only from the ships appearance but also from... Read More

Avalon Waterways Fleet

Avalon Imagery II
75 reviews

Suite ship Avalon Imagery II debuted in 2017 and with only 128 passengers, is small enough to access lesser-known ports and towns on the Rhine.

Avalon Imagery Cruises to Europe View All Avalon Imagery Cruises
Avalon Creativity
4.5 / 5.0
Editor Rating

Avalon Creativity is part of Avalon's Scenery-class of 140-passenger ships, and cruises along France's Seine River.

Avalon Panorama
5.0 / 5.0
Editor Rating


Avalon Panorama offers 17 172-square-foot deluxe cabins outfitted with standard windows that offer limited views (read: no open-air balconies) and two 300-square-foot Royal Suites with panoramic windows.

Avalon Vista

The 166-passenger Avalon Vista is a "Suite Ship." Vista also features all the classic riverboat accouterments, including a top-deck whirlpool, bow-to-stern Wi-Fi and spacious sun deck dotted with loungers.

Avalon Visionary
4.0 / 5.0
Editor Rating


Avalon Visionary, is one of Avalon Waterways' "Suite Ships." It is the sister ship to Imagery II, Tapestry II, Tranquillity II, Poetry II and Artisty II.

Avalon Artistry II

The 128-passenger Avalon Artistry II will join the Avalon Waterways fleet of river cruise ships in 2013. One of the lines Suite Ships, Avalon Artistry II features 52 suites, at least 200 square ft.

Avalon Expression

This four-deck river boat features 66 suites, a sky deck with a whirlpool and open-air bistro, multiple lounges, a small fitness center and free Wi-Fi.

Avalon Poetry II
4.0 / 5.0
Editor Rating


The 128-passenger Avalon Poetry II is one of the smallest of Avalon Waterways' suite ships, a full 82 feet shorter than most of the ships in its class.

Avalon Illumination
4.0 / 5.0
Editor Rating


Avalon Waterways' 164-passenger Avalon Illumination, part of the line's "suite ship" class, offers roomy cabins, multiple lounges and contemporary chic design.

Avalon Impression

Avalon Impression has 83 cabins, three lounges, a whirlpool and games area on the Sun Deck, a fitness center, hair salon and two dining venues.

Avalon Myanmar
4.5 / 5.0
Editor Rating

A cruise on Avalon Myanmar is as much about the itinerary as the boat itself, which was purpose built to sail the Irrawaddy River in Myanmar (Burma).

Avalon Siem Reap
5.0 / 5.0
Editor Rating


A delightfully intimate experience -- only 36 passengers -- that gets cruisers into the heart of Cambodia and Vietnam

Avalon Tapestry II
4.0 / 5.0
Editor Rating


Launched in 2015, the 128-passenger Avalon Tapestry II is one of Avalon Waterways' "Suite Ships," a term that reflects the company's pride in its all-suite accommodation.

Avalon Tranquility II

One of Avalon Waterways' all-suite ships, Avalon Tranquility II features two full decks of suites with wall-to-wall sliding windows that create an open-air balcony with seating for six.

Avalon Passion
4.5 / 5.0
Editor Rating


With its newest "Suite Ship," the 166-passenger Passion, Avalon rises to the occasion with an experience that's modern, but still familiar and relaxing.

Avalon Saigon
5.0 / 5.0
Editor Rating


Avalon's second ship on the Mekong River has the line's signature award-winning cabins on a smaller vessel.

Avalon Envision
4.5 / 5.0
Editor Rating


The latest in Avalon's successful line of Suite Ships, Avalon Envision features two decks of Panorama Suites and plenty of active options on Europe's rivers.

Avalon View

Set to debut in 2020, Avalon View is Avalon Waterways’ newest Suite Ship. Sister to 2019’s Avalon Envision, it will primarily cruise itineraries along Europe’s Rhine River.

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