Launched: May 2011.
Number of passengers: 166.
Where she cruises: Primarily the Rhine and Danube Rivers between Amsterdam and Budapest.
This elegant river cruiser caused a bit of a buzz long before her launch in Mainz, Germany. The main reason was a new concept in river boat design – 64 Panorama Suites, which transform into an open-air balcony thanks to a three-metre wall of floor-to-ceiling sliding windows. She’s also very much a boutique hotel meets the river, with a contemporary design befitting a land-based hotel.
Who Should Go?
Things You Might Not Know
Panorama’s godmother is the popular co-host of the Nine Network’s Today Show, Lisa Wilkinson. The traditional “bubbly” which christened the ship wasn’t French champagne but a top quality Australian sparkling, reinforcing Avalon’s claim that this is a river cruiser built with Aussies in mind. The ship’s wheelhouse (bridge) can be lowered to negotiate bridges if water levels are high.
All of the ship’s staterooms boast a similar design, with use of chocolate coloured wood, woven carpets, leather-styled headboards, plush beige coverlets and drapes, European quilts, and vibrant splashes of red on soft furnishings. They also come equipped with flat screen televisions, a mini-bar, Wi-Fi internet access, and bathrooms furnished with his-and-hers towels and luxury L’Occitane toiletries.
There are 17 Deluxe Suites at 16 square metres in size, which are located on the lower level of the ship and have two small windows placed near the ceiling to provide natural light. The Panorama Suites, boasting those unique sliding windows, total 64 across two decks, and are a spacious 18 square metres in size. And at the top end of the scale there are two Royal Suites which are 28 square metres in size, both with separate living areas.
Facilities and Entertainment
Panorama has a spacious sun deck on top of the ship which has both open and covered sun loungers, a large jacuzzi, and a giant chess board. There is also a small fitness centre on the lower level, a beauty salon, and the part al fresco Lounge doubles up as a place to enjoy a drink, or to watch the scenery float by with a coffee or listen to an enrichment lecture. At the rear of the ship there’s a more intimate lounge which doubles up as a library, with self-serve tea and coffee making facilities, snacks including fresh fruit and cookies, and an oversized television set with games. If you haven’t brought your own computer, there are two terminals located in the reception area.
This ship has only one dining venue, a main restaurant which serves all three meals in an open seating basis. Breakfast and lunch are buffet style, while dinner is an a la carte fine dining experience with views from virtually every spot and a focus on seasonal specialties, local produce and wine. Panorama doesn’t offer room service beyond a continental breakfast.
The Low Down
Avalon has built a ship which is elegant as well as contemporary in style, and the company believes in this design so much that two more vessels will follow in her wake next year. For anyone who loves the idea of a stylish boutique hotel on the water, this lovely ship will no disappoint.
If you want to see more images, click on the gallery below (photos © Ben Hall):[nggallery id=93]