Avalon Creativity and her sister ship Avalon Scenery are two of the older vessels in the US-based Avalon Waterways fleet, but with a launch date of 2009, she’s certainly no old lady of the rivers! In fact, the Avalon Creativity’s contemporary, upmarket interiors and floor-to-ceiling windows on two decks mean that she’s very much at the forefront of modern, luxurious river cruising on the rivers of France.
As Avalon Waterways is an American river cruise line, it attracts many well-heeled passengers from America and Canada. These holidaymakers are keen both to explore the history and culture of France and enjoy the deluxe, intimate feel onboard. The like-minded British and Australian passengers fit in seamlessly with this clientele.
With a maximum of 140 passengers and 39 cruise members onboard every Avalon Creativity cruise, excellent service is a given. Passengers also enjoy being able to personalise details of their cruise with the MyAvalon programme.
The breakfast buffet, which is served in the spacious, stylish open-seating dining room, comes with complimentary juices and a made-to-order egg station, as well as a huge selection of hearty favourites and healthy options. There’s also the added flexibility of late-riser and early-riser breakfasts, and the option to have breakfast in bed for an extra charge.
The buffet format continues at lunch with soft drinks and pasta and carving stations included. Alternatively, you can opt for a light lunch in the Sky Bistro on the Sky Deck before treating yourself to afternoon tea later on.
Dinner is a four-course affair with wine and beer, a choice of desserts or cheese, and post-meal tea or coffee to complement your soups, salads and main courses. Again, you can choose to eat with a view on the Sky Deck. Night Fare, which is served from 10.30pm, ensures that no one goes to bed hungry.
On Avalon Creativity, the food is prepared with the influences of the seasons and the places on the itinerary in mind, with a great balance between classics and undiscovered French delicacies.
Fruit is always available, and you can help yourself to tea, coffee or hot chocolate at the self-serve beverage station.
Entertainers are often invited onboard to give evenings a local flavour. Many passengers enjoy a cocktail in the bar or on the Sky Deck. The Captain’s reception with sparkling wine and canapés is a social highlight and, although the dress code is consistently casual, many choose to dress up a bit to bring a sense of occasion to the welcome and farewell dinners held on every cruise. The Panorama Lounge plays host to social hour, with special offers on drinks. Movie nights are also a regular fixture and the stateroom TVs all have a huge choice of English speaking channels, including 100 free movie options.
Avalon understands that not everyone wants to sightsee in the same way, so they provide a Traditional option for those who want a rigorous guided tour. The Leisurely itinerary takes in all the main attractions at a slower pace. Or opt for Independent and create your own sightseeing adventure. Tours guides speak excellent English, and Nordic walking sticks, maps and headsets are on offer for excursions.
Onboard you can relax or play games on the Sky Deck or unwind in one of the two lounges with a book or game from the library. Catching up with home is easy with the free Wi-Fi and internet corner. There’s also the Local Favourites programme that brings local experts, artisans and food producers onboard to enhance your experience of the area you’re sailing. Also, there’s a behind-the-scenes tour of the ship available for those who want to discover its inner workings.
Eleven category E deluxe staterooms have two windows but the remaining 57 staterooms and two suites boast floor-to-ceiling sliding glass doors with a French Balcony. The two suites are especially spacious at 258 sq. but the deluxe staterooms are still 15% larger than the industry average at 172 sq. ft.
All staterooms are decorated in stylish neutrals with warm autumnal accents. Luxurious L’Occitane bath products, Egyptian bedlinens, bathrobes and slippers, extra blankets, a choice of soft or firm pillows, memory foam mattress toppers, nightly turn-down service and a choice of bed configurations all add a real feeling of luxury to the Avalon Creativity staterooms. From a practical point of view, bedside tables with reading lamps, telephones, safes, writing desks, minibars, climate control, large bathroom mirrors and full showers with glass doors can be taken for granted on every cruise. There’s also plenty of storage with shelved 3-door cupboards and space under the bed.
Avalon Creativity cruises France, with her 8-day Paris to Normandy’s Landing Beaches itinerary being especially popular with those interested in the history of World War 2. Fabulous 16 or 19-day Grand France itineraries are also available with the added option of a stay in London.