View with a Room

Porthole Cruise Magazine - - FEATURES -

In­clud­ing trans­fers to and fro is just one way that Avalon makes trav­el­ing eas­ier. I was greeted at the air­port by an Avalon rep­re­sen­ta­tive and trans­ferred to the ship in a comfy van with fel­low cruis­ers. Also in­cluded would be great tours on shore and spe­cial touches on board, in­clud­ing bi­cy­cles for sightseeing in town, Nordic walk­ing sticks, and on­board WiFi.

At first glance, Avalon Vi­sion­ary — built in 2012 and about 37 feet wide and 361 feet long — looks im­pres­sive. It’s the per­fect size to fit through the locks and un­der low bridges that we’d tra­verse on our jour­ney along the Rhine and Moselle rivers. Docked in the heart of Am­s­ter­dam, the ship of­fered the per­fect start­ing point for walk­ing into the cen­ter of town to visit shops, restau­rants, and at­trac­tions.

As the all English-speak­ing crew of 37 pre­pared our rooms and read­ied the ship for de­par­ture, we were treated to lunch, re­fresh­ments, and a quick tour. The Panorama Bistro at the front of the ship serves as a spot for light lunches as well as cock­tails and en­ter­tain­ment in the evening. The Club Lounge at the back of­fers a quiet corner for cof­fee and cook­ies (avail­able 24 hours a day), games, read­ing, or a comfy chair to take in the vis­tas. The Sky Deck boasts 180-de­gree un­en­cum­bered views and a grill lunch, weather per­mit­ting. It was too chilly to use the hot tub, but I sus­pect it’s a pop­u­lar spot in warmer months.

The main din­ing room ac­com­mo­dates ev­ery­one com­fort­ably in one seat­ing, and a gym — com­plete with com­pli­men­tary bot­tled wa­ter and tow­els — is avail­able if you feel com­pelled to work off a few calo­ries. ( Sadly, I was not so com­pelled!) A sa­lon that of­fers cuts and blowouts rounds out the crea­ture com­forts. (And even though she was a hair stylist, the young lady staffing the sa­lon did man­age to solve a mi­nor nail pol­ish emer­gency for me.)

Your cabin on any cruise can some­times de­fine your trip, and it seems Avalon gave this quite a bit of thought. A sneak peek into one of two Royal Suites re­vealed 300 square feet, only a tiny bit smaller than my first apart­ment and much more well ap­pointed with a queen-sized bed, sep­a­rate sit­ting area, and large bath­room with dou­ble sinks and sep­a­rate wa­ter closet. But you don’t have to be in a Royal Suite to feel spoiled and with just three decks and three cabin tiers, en­joy­ing your tem­po­rary home away from home is easy.

My Panorama Suite felt spa­cious, with large clos­ets and plenty of un­der­bed stor­age for lug­gage (it makes a dif­fer­ence when you don’t have to walk around your suit­cases), a room safe, Com­fort Col­lec­tion bed, desk, sit­ting area with small sofa, ta­ble and chair, com­pli­men­tary bot­tled wa­ter, swivel TV, mini bar (with very rea­son­able pric­ing), fresh or­chid, a fluffy robe and slip­pers, room ser­vice for break­fast, and a large bath­room made all the more spe­cial with L’Oc­c­i­tane ameni­ties, a Mille­fiori Mi­lano reed dif­fuser, and, get this: two dif­fer­ent color tow­els so if you’re trav­el­ing with some­one, you will al­ways know which towel is yours.

The pièce de ré­sis­tance in the cabin, how­ever, is the lack of a bal­cony. Not hav­ing an ac­tual carved out bal­cony is just one of the things that Avalon does mar­velously. Suites all boast an 11-foot floor-to- ceil­ing slid­ing glass door/win­dow that opens 7-feet wide, which es­sen­tially makes your en­tire room a bal­cony. Pop a chair in front of the rail­ing or lay in bed (which faces the wa­ter) for the view of your life and fresh air on your skin.

Din­ing op­tions aboard Avalon Vi­sion­ary do not dis­ap­point. Break­fast is served buf­fet style with hearty fare, light op­tions, and ev­ery­thing in between. Mi­mosas and sparkling wine are al­ways in­cluded. You can opt for a light lunch in the lounge — serv­ing mostly salad, soup, and lighter fod­der — or a buf­fet in the din­ing room with a few added op­tions. Din­ner gath­ers ev­ery­one for a

fresh and sea­sonal four-course à la carte menu fea­tur­ing regional spe­cial­ties beau­ti­fully con­nected to your itin­er­ary. When­ever pos­si­ble, the ship’s ex­ec­u­tive chef goes ashore and vis­its lo­cal food mar­kets to cre­ate dishes in­spired by that day’s port.

Adding to the op­tions is the al­ways-avail­able Cae­sar salad, chicken, salmon, or steak. Mak­ing its de­but this year is the com­pany’s new Avalon Fresh menu, fea­tur­ing mostly veg­e­tar­ian, but al­ways healthy and lo­cally in­spired ap­pe­tiz­ers, main cour­ses, and desserts. Part­ner­ing with broth­ers Karl and Leo Wrenkh — the culi­nary gu­rus be­hind the first veg­e­tar­ian restau­rant in Vienna — Avalon now of­fers even more guilt­less and de­li­cious dishes. A late-night snack in the lounge also al­ways hit the spot. And be­cause one of Avalon’s fa­vorite words is in­cluded, beer and wine are com­pli­men­tary dur­ing lunch and din­ner (as are soft drinks, sparkling wa­ter, and juices).

Top to bot­tom: Panorama Suite, Din­ing Room cui­sine, Panorama Lounge

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