River cruising is incredibly popular, and with good reason – it’s a lot of fun! This week we sail along the Danube with Avalon Waterways and share what the experience is really like.
River cruising, especially in Europe, has exploded in popularity in recent years sparking an explosion of cruise ships on the rivers. I recently had the opportunity to sail a new-to-me company, Avalon Waterways, from Budapest, Hungary to Linz, Austria on what they call an Active and Discovery itinerary.
Founded in 2004, Avalon Waterways regards itself as a relaxed luxury cruise line that operates 16 ships in various parts of the world, but especially in Europe. Their ships are called Suite Ships and feature a much larger room size than the standard cabin on any of their competitors. With the widest opening windows in river cruising, these wall-to-wall, floor-to-ceiling windows open 11-feet wide and, when combined with the innovative Open-Air Balconies, create an incredible feeling of bringing the outside in. To feature these views, the beds in the cabins actually face the windows, another unique design concept that shockingly hasn’t been copied by rival lines. Beds can be further personalized with a mattress and pillow menu, ideal for picky people like me who want a certain firmness in their beds. All together, these features come together to create a luxurious and infinitely comfortable experience the likes of which I’ve never seen onboard a river cruise ship.
Offered several times throughout the year on different rivers and ships, the Active & Discovery itineraries are definitely not your average river cruise experience. These cruises are for guests who want to do and not just see and offer a wide variety of included-excursions that enable passengers to be active and fully engaged with the local cultures. As I learned, Active is no understatement and on my cruise guests had plenty of options including: biking in Budapest, hiking through national forests, jogging along the streets of Vienna, just to name a few. This is tempered by the Discovery side, which is very much focused on bringing local cultures to life in any number of ways.
This week we chat with a number of passengers onboard the Avalon Impression, as well as the company’s Managing Director – Pam Hoffee – to learn what makes Avalon so special.