I am writing this from a cool but still gorgeous Amsterdam, the disembarkation point for our short media jaunt on Avalon Waterway’s new Panorama. Our last day on board was quite a busy one, with a quick tour of Cologne in the morning, and then a cruise through Germany and Holland into Amsterdam during which we packed, filed copy and did some last interviews with key members of the company’s team.

In this blog I thought I would focus on some of the destinations Panorama will be visiting when she takes on her regular run between Amsterdam and Budapest and back. In a 15-night cruise entitled Magnificent Europe, she will be taking in around 13 ports of call, although depending on water levels these do occasionally change. In our short cruise we visited a few of them, giving us a good taste of what the “real” cruise would be like.

Amsterdam is a great place to start out from, and although it’s been around 20 years since I last visited the city didn’t fail to capture my imagination all over again. From its amazing museums, including the must-see Van Gogh, to the fascinating networks of canals, it’s a city oozing charm, sophistication and history. Next down river is Cologne, famous for its stunning and imposing cathedral, and after that guests are treated to a leisurely meander through the Rhine Gorge, dotted with castles at every twist and turn.

Other German ports include picturesque Rudesheim, which can expect up to 25,000 visitors a day during the high season, Miltenberg, Wurzburg, the UNESCO heritage site of Bamberg, the historic city of Nuremberg, and one of Germany’s best preserved medieval cities, Regensburg.

From there Panorama heads into Austria and Passau, ideally located at the confluence of the rivers Inn Ilz and Danube, and a city of graceful arcades and cobblestone streets. Next omes Melk, famous for its magnificent Benedictine Monastery, and Vienna. The ship then enters Slovakia for a stop at Bratislava, sitting on the foothills of the Carpathian Mountains.  And finally there’s another of Europe’s great capital cities, Budapest.

What to do in port? The options are endless, from walking tours and seeing the sights to enjoying some truly local experiences – sipping on a locally brewed wheat beer in a German pub, sampling unusual cheeses, visiting historical sights, and wine tasting. This is all a part of the Avalon experience, and although Panorama is a hard ship to leave behind, the destinations make it all worth while.

We have had a lovely taste of what this ship has to offer both in terms of her on board experience and also the places she will visit regularly. Cruising Europe’s heartland is a truly unique experience, and there’s no better way to do it than on one of the world’s most modern and sophisticated cruisers. Next week’s blog will be from a completely different ship, Oceania’s new Marina….so until then, Happy Cruising!