A Tour of Avalon Waterways' Avalon Expression
I have just finished a 1 week river cruise with Avalon Waterways and I was very impressed; Avalon is definitely a four star superior river cruise and many aspects could be given 5 stars - not least the crew on board and Avalons superb customer service skills. Here's my account of the ship including the cruise director's guided tour.
This afternoon our Cruise Director, Silvia, took us on a guided tour of the Avalon Expression. Having been on-board now for a few days, I have had the opportunity to take a good look around the public areas such as the Panorama Lounge, the restaurant and the Club lounge. The first stop on Silvia’s tour were the Royal Suites. On board Avalon Expression there’s only two Royal Suites, these are situated on the Royal Deck and are cabin numbers 310 & 312, which are next door to each other. The suites have a Wall-to-Wall Panoramic Window with the bedding facing the panoramic views so you can lie down comfortably and watch the world pass you by. Because there’s no official balcony (your cabin is one big balcony) you can sit on the couch or chairs, and take in the scenery as you cruise down the river. The suites have a king-size bed in the cabin, a full sized bathroom with shower, toilet & 2 sinks, they also have a separate toilet & sink in the cabin. They feature 2 flat screened TV's, so if you fancied a lie down whilst watching telly is there is one facing you bed & the other is facing the seating area in your cabin.
The next cabin which we visited was the most popular cabin type, the Panorama Suite. This is the cabin type I am staying in and on total there’s 65 of these suites on board and they are situated on the Royal & Sapphire Deck. They all feature a queen sized bed, full sized bathroom with sink and shower plus a panoramic window, which opens fully, so again you sit in the comfort of your cabin with the window open and watch the world go by. There is a good point to make here about #AvalonWaterways and their new ships – the top two decks are almost exclusively Panorama Suites. Therefore everyone on-board has the same cabin layout, space and facilities in a format that is proven to be very popular with river cruisers who are new to the Avalon brand. That says that Avalon Waterways have got something very right at the outset and the bathrooms are one of if not the largest in their class. The team at RiverCruising.co.uk have voted Avalon Waterways new bathrooms – “The Best”.
The final cabin in which we visited was a Deluxe Stateroom. The only main difference with the deluxe staterooms & the panorama suite's are that the deluxe staterooms do not have the panoramic window, instead they have 4 mini windows. There’s a total of 16 deluxe staterooms and these are situated on the Indigo Deck. All staterooms include premium mattress toppers, the choice of soft or hard pillows, the choice of bed configuration, nightly turn down service (with a different chocolate left on your pillow each night, which I have loved), spacious wardrobe, writing / vanity desk with mirror & chair, bathroom and slippers and in-room safe.
So that is the cabins explained, now on to the public rooms.
The Panorama Lounge at the front of the ship is the bar area where we meet late afternoon for our cruise director to give us a talk on the next day’s itinerary. This lounge then comes into its own in the evening where everyone meets up for drinks and to discuss their day’s adventures and to be entertained by the resident pianist or at times, local acts.
Then we have the “Club lounge” which is an area at the back of the ship where guest can go and enjoy a relaxing tea or coffee through-out the day. They offer an array of different tea's and coffees for guests to choose from with a choice of cakes or cookies to accompany your drink. They also offer a selection of juices if guests do not wish to have a hot drink.
The restaurant is situated on the lowest deck of the ship and there is a lift for those who are not too good with steps. Food is a big thing for Avalon Waterways and their customers and when you consider the size of the kitchen, it’s quite remarkable the standard and choice of food that is delivered to your table. You can have as little or as much food as you wish. The service both Susan and myself experienced in the restaurant is excellent, and so was the food. Juices, Tea & Coffee are all included with breakfast & lunch whereas wine, beer & soft drinks are included with your dinner. The staff are very attentive and are always there if you need a top up of your drink or to clear your plates once you have finished.
The tour continues….this time it’s off the Captains domain, “The Wheel House” for a look around. The wheel house is where the captain & 2nd captain keep an eye out and navigate the ship up and down the river channels. It was very interesting to take a look around and see how the ship was navigated. The part I found most interesting was the fact that the wheel house was on hydraulics, so if we are going under a bridge that is very low they can lower the wheel house and direct the ship from another section of the ship. They can also cover up all the furniture up again so it doesn't get damaged if we go under a bridge that is very low.
Over all my experience on board Avalon Expression has been amazing, all the staff and crew members are lovely, polite and offer a very high level of service not only in the restaurants and bars but also when you are walking around the ship. The ship and its amenities are all brilliant and on a very serious note, there is a very high level of cleanliness on board, with bottles & machine's filled with hand sanitizer around the ship. I would struggle to find a fault with Avalon Expression and the service this is provided on board. Because of this I would have no hesitation in recommend the Avalon Expression to anyone.
Sinead The Cruise Village - RiverCruising.co.uk