IN 1928, Antonio Mantegazza took passengers around Lake Lugano in a rowboat. He acquired motor coaches and founded Globus & Cosmos, which launched Avalon Waterways in 2003. Ships: The launch of Avalon Artistry 11 and Avalon Expression next year will bring the total to 12. Activities: Most ships have whirlpools and all have fitness centres. Three types of sightseeing tours are included: unhurried and leisurely; more active, yet still moderate; and an energetic option, for those who feel they need to see it all. Unique feature: Suite Ships designed using feedback from Australian passengers. They are Avalon Panorama, launched by Australian television presenter Lisa Wilkinson last year, and Avalon Vista and Avalon Visionary, launched this year. Avalon Artistry 11 and Avalon Expression will bring the number of Suite Ships to five. Attractions for Australians: Cappuccino machines are aboard Suite Ships, which also serve complimentary sparkling wine with breakfast and beer and wine with dinner. There are two decks of all-suite accommodation with wall-to-wall windows used to create open-air balconies. Sample 2013 cruise: Avalon Artistry 11’s eight-day Romantic Rhine voyages between Basel and Amsterdam from April to October. From $2694 a person twin-share. More: avalonwaterways.com.au.