I am sitting here in my Panorama Suite on a rather chilly and gloomy day as we approach one of the locks west of Klobenz on the Mosel River. With the curtains drawn back we have three metros of open window offering a panoramic view of the lush, green, vine-dotted countryside. It’s a key selling point for a brand new luxury river cruiser; from anywhere on this ship there’s a view, including a rather spectacular one from the two decks of Panorama Suites.
On Saturday I wrote about the launch of Avalon’s new flagship, Panorama. This elegant new build was christened in Mainz, Germany, by her Aussie godmother, the lovely Lisa Wilkinson. Although weather set to spoil the fun, the ceremony went off without a hitch and a good time was had by all. Since then, on a short, four-night cruise along the picturesque Rhine gorge and Mosel Rivers through to Amsterdam, we’ve had plenty of time to check Panorama out from top to bottom and put her through her paces.
It’s been a long time since I have undertaken a river cruise and I quickly remembered some of the many reasons why it’s become so popular, particularly among Australian cruise fans. What sets this vessel apart from a lot of her competition, however, are those amazing windows – they open to transform your suite into an open air balcony so come hail, rain or shine you have those incredible views to enjoy. The entire ship is also very stylish, and classically elegant, with the feeling of a Four Seasons hotel rather than a traditional river cruiser. Our suite was spacious, with a decor featuring dark wood, red upholstery and splashes of vibrant colour intermixed with white, biscuit and cream.
The entire ship has a similar decor – they haven’t mixed it up too much. There’s a primary lounge area which doubles up as a bar, a club lounge which has self serve tea and coffee all day at the rear of the ship, and the one dining room operates in an open seating manner, although dinner is at the same time every night, 7pm.
Beyond that, facilities wise, Panorama has a small gym (not that you get much time to use it on a busy itinerary) a small hair salon, and an expansive sun deck on the top with an occasionally used al fresco bistro. The ship also has two computer stations and is Wi-Fi throughout, although as many of the working journalists on board discovered, some sections of the Rhine with steep inclines on either side impact on the internet signal significantly!
Undoubtedly Panorama is a ship which is easy on the eye and has plenty of bells and whistles. Another dining venue would have been a bonus, or at least the option of some room service beyond a continental brekkie, but I hear these are things which are being considered down the track. And as Lisa Wilkinson told me during our interviews today, this is a really easy, stress free way to travel in style, with fine cuisine, fine wines and those incredible views.
From here we cruise to Cologne tomorrow, then further northwest to Amsterdam where we will disembark and Panorama will embark on her proper maiden voyage with paying passengers….of which all but two are Australian, and that’s on a full load! My next blog next week will focus on some of the amazing destinations we’ve seen en route, so in the meantime I am going to get ready for a gala dinner tonight pairing local food and wine! Happy Cruising!