Launched onto some of Europe’s most dramatic waterways in 2009, the Avalon Affinity is one of the smaller ships in the fleet, along with its two sisters – the Avalon Felicity and the Avalon Luminary. With beautifully decorated interiors, and an atrium that is swathed in natural light thanks to the ‘Sky Light’ dome, guests can enjoy a bright and brilliant river cruise from the moment they step aboard.
From the contemporary features and modern conveniences to the luxurious public areas and staterooms, the Avalon Affinity offers an elegant and refined river cruise experience. Plus, with plenty of exciting itinerary fillers available, guests will be able to soak up as much history, culture and heritage as they can handle.
The maximum capacity of the vessel is 138 passengers, who tend to be from English-speaking countries, particularly the USA, Canada, the UK and Australia. Avalon cruises attract a more senior demographic, who are likely to have a keen interest in the culture, art and history of their chosen destinations. The 39 English-speaking crew members onboard are attentive and professional, and aim to provide a personalised and efficient service throughout the voyage. A Cruise Director is also onboard throughout, and local guides are certified experts.
As part of the fare, full board, excursions, lectures, entertainment and wine with dinners are included.
The main dining room adopts an open-seating policy, so guests can choose to sit wherever they like, without the need for a reservation. Breakfast and lunch are served buffet-style, with sparkling wine, juices and a made-to-order egg station available, as well as the full buffet. For lunch, guests can choose from an array of items from the pasta and carved meat stations, as well as other seasonal cuisine that is of an excellent standard. Soft drinks are complimentary with lunch.
Dinner is in the form of a sit down four-course meal, with waiter service. The menu consists of regional dishes, as well as popular Western favourites like steaks, salmon and Caesar salads. Wines, beers and soft drinks are all complimentary with dinner.
Alternatively, guests can enjoy the early- or late-riser breakfast and Afternoon Tea featuring tea, coffee and sweet treats. The Sky Bistro on the Sky Deck offers another dining venue when the weather allows, while room service is also available for breakfast, at a charge.
There is also a self-serve beverage station available, where guests can help themselves to complimentary hot drinks including tea, hot chocolate and a selection of premium coffees. Dress code is casual, with smarter casual dress being encouraged in the evenings.
As with most river cruises, entertainment onboard is low key, with carefully selected special events that coincide with the itinerary. Passengers look forward to the Captain’s reception with sparkling wine and canapés at the beginning of the voyage, and the Welcome and Farewell dinners are also anticipated.
The Panorama Lounge on the Royal Deck offers a social hour, with drink specials, before dinner every day, and has an upscale bar serving premium spirits. The Observation Lounge at the front of the vessel is accessed via the lounge, giving guests a wonderful view of the approaching scenery as they relax and mingle.
The Panorama Lounge is the main entertainment venue onboard, with a show program that includes movie nights, crew shows, local performers and the musical talent of a resident pianist. It is also here where guests can enjoy the scheduled daily Local Favorites activities, including food and wine tastings, lectures and presentations.
A highlight of any Avalon river cruise is the onshore tours and excursions, and the Affinity’s itinerary is no different. The Avalon Choice cruise experience means that guests often have a choice of what excursion they wish to sign up for, with leisurely, traditional and independent sightseeing options available. Choose from city tours and heritage walks, guided sightseeing and visits to museums including the Gutenberg Museum in Mainz - or opt for experiences including trips to Heidelberg Castle, Strasbourg’s gothic cathedral, the Palace of the Popes in Avignon or even the poignant Normandy landings. Biking excursions are available in Amsterdam, Durnstein and Breisach, and Nordic walking sticks are also available.
Guests can also take advantage of the onboard facilities when not onshore, including the Internet corner and well-stocked library in the atrium, and the Sky Deck’s sunloungers and lounge chairs, and small deck games area.
There are 65 staterooms and 4 suites onboard, and 85% of them boast a French balcony. The remainder have picture windows. All staterooms are spacious, measuring between 172 sq. ft. and 258 sq. ft. Amenities include a flatscreen TV, radio, mini-bar, in-room safe, hairdryer, queen size Comfort Collection bed (with optional twin configuration) with Egyptian super-combed cotton linens, high-quality pillows and European-style duvets, direct dial telephone, L’Occitane bath products, bathrobes and slippers, complimentary bottled water, climate control and a nightly turndown service.
In addition, the Avalon Suites boast a larger seating area with sofa, and a very spacious bathroom.
The Sky Deck offers a whirlpool for guests to enjoy, and there are also ample seating and lounging areas if you wish to kick back and relax. There is also a hair salon offering styling and manicures/pedicures, and a fitness centre equipped with workout machines and free weights.
As a vessel that cruises the waterways of Europe, itineraries on the Avalon Affinity include voyages through Holland, Belgium, France and Germany, cruising through the Rhine Gorge, and along the Rhine, Danube, Rhone, Saone and Moselle rivers. There are a number of different itineraries to choose from, including the Romantic Rhine, Burgundy & Provence and Grand France tours, which range from eight to 19 days.
There is also the possibility of extensions with some itineraries, with stays in London, Nice and Aix-en-Provence available.