“Well organised with friendly atmosphere and excellent cruise directors. Suite temptation for history lovers.”
This 128-passenger ship is the 13th in Avalon Waterways’ fleet and its eighth new Suite Ship. The contemporary design makes Suite Ships popular with English-speaking tourists who want a leisurely holiday exploring Europe’s culture and history while enjoying the ever-changing countryside. While most passengers are American, around 25 per cent are from Australia and New Zealand. Daily excursions with local guides are included, plus optional trips at extra cost.
The heart of the ship is the light and airy reception area on Deck Two that leads to the Panorama Lounge and outdoor Observation Lounge at the front. Daytime relaxation, afternoon tea, pre-dinner drinks and after-dinner entertainment all take place in the Panorama Lounge, which has a bar, dance floor and soft leather armchairs.
On Deck Three there is a small hair salon and cosy Club Lounge with books and board games plus tea and coffee, while Deck One has a small fitness room. On a fine day, the Sky Deck is the perfect spot to relax on a sun lounger or in the hot tub, or grab a light lunch from the Sky Bistro BBQ and sit in the open-air Sky Lounge.
The dining room offers a mountainous hot and cold breakfast buffet, while the lunchtime self-serve choice ranges from roasts to salads and sandwiches. Dinner is four or five courses with complimentary wine and soft drinks. For lighter meals, there’s the Panorama Lounge Bistro, Sky Bistro or, for a small charge, room service.
Decks Two and Three have two Royal Suites (each measuring 300 sq ft) and 50 Panorama Suites (200 sq ft) with wall-to-wall, floor-to-ceiling windows that slide across to effectively turn the whole space into an open-air balcony. The 12 Deluxe Staterooms on Deck One measure 172 sq ft and have high, narrow windows just above the waterline.
Complimentary excursions, wine and Wi-Fi are in line with other river cruise companies although overall prices are slightly higher. Suggested improvements: free bicycles and GPS self-guide sets for those who want to break free of big tour groups.
Highlights Free inclusions such as excursions, Wi-Fi and wine with dinner. Luxurious décor with a signature dash of lavender among the dark wood furnishings adds to the relaxation and the beds, which face the windows in suites, have superb memory foam mattresses.
Best suited to Mature couples and singles with an interest in European culture and history presented with a modern twist.
France – Burgundy and Provence.
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Pick up the Winter 2014 issue of Cruise Passenger magazine for your local newsagent for reviews on:
Emerald Sky Fiji Princess Mutiara Laut National Geographic Orion Assam Bengal Navigation SS Catherine Avalon Poetry II Viking Buri Amareina Queen Mary 2