Avalon Tapestry cruises the magnificent Danube River. Photo courtesy of Avalon Waterways

The History of Avalon

Group Voyagers had been a leader in escorted tours of Europe for more than 75 years — under well-known brands such as Globus, Cosmos and Brennan Vacations — but it was not until 2003 that the company launched Avalon Waterways and its fleet of royal-blue river cruisers.

The Avalon Waterways fleet has expanded rapidly in the past few years, encompassing: Avalon Imagery, Tapestry, Tranquility, Scenery, Creativity, Affinity, Luminary and Felicity.

In 2013, the line will take delivery of two brand-new “Suite Ships” – Avalon Artistry II and Avalon Expressionbringing the total number of these revolutionary vessels to five including Avalon Panorama, Avalon Vista and Avalon Visionary.

Avalon Luminary, seen here sailing the waterways of Europe. Photo courtesy of Avalon Waterways.

The Suite Ships

The first of Avalon’s “Suite Ships,” Avalon Panorama, debuted in May 2011 and pioneered the use of two full decks featuring Panorama Suites with floor-to-ceiling windows that open to create unique Open Air Balconies. And while the line states that 100 cruisers could fit within the spacious, 200-square-foot Panorama Suite, we wouldn’t recommend it. But let’s not split hairs – these are still some of the most spacious river cruise ships out there.

Avalon Artistry II will continue Avalon’s tradition of building exquisite suites. Photo courtesy of Avalon Waterways

The Avalon Onboard Experience

Each ship in the Avalon Waterways fleet offers big-ship amenities coupled with the intimacy of a river cruise. The line is also one of the few to offer multiple dining venues on many ships, and one of the first to allow guests to go online to pre-reserve tours, purchase optional excursions and pre-purchase drink and celebration packages using the MyAvalon web-based service.

Many Avalon Waterways ships offer multiple dining venues. Photo courtesy of Avalon Waterways

Onboard accommodations are comfortable and relaxing, with hotel-quality beds, satellite TV, bathrooms with full-sized showers, floor-to-ceiling sliding glass doors in most staterooms, and even some private balconies. Ships also have complimentary WiFi Internet access, an expansive sun deck and fitness equipment.

Each ship in the Avalon Waterways fleet features an intimate dining room, a relaxing Main Lounge with panoramic views, a reception and internet workstation area, and a small fitness center and hair salon. Up top, an expansive sun deck allows guests to stroll and enjoy the fresh air, or relax in a deck chair and take in the ever-changing scenery.

Onboard, complimentary regional wines, beer and soft drinks are offered during lunch and dinner.

Avalon Destinations and Itineraries

Avalon Creativity docked in Vernon, France. © 2012 Ralph Grizzle

Avalon Waterways operates on the Rhine, Main, Danube, Mosel, and Rhône rivers.

The company also offers French wine country cruises on the Saône and Rhône rivers, as well as Christmas-market cruises from late November through December. Theme cruises are also on offer. These voyages aim to enhance the overall river cruise experience by providing insight into the history and culture of the surrounding area.

In more exotic destinations, Avalon Waterways offers cruises on two vessels in China (Victoria Anna and Victoria Jenna), both deployed on the Yangtze River by Victoria Cruises) and one in Egypt (Royal Lotus, cruising the Nile). Avalon also operates the Santa Cruz, a small ocean going ship that cruises the exotic Galapagos Islands

The warm, inviting Main Lounge aboard Avalon’s elegant Avalon Felicity. Photo courtesy of Avalon Waterways

Questions about Avalon Waterways? Please ask in the comments box below.

Also see Avid Cruiser’s Avalon Creativity Cruise Review: Seven Days On The Seine, Does Avalon Measure Up?

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Avalon Waterways Ship Reviews