Making its debut in 2014, as the sister ship to the Avalon Illumination, the Avalon Impression is another of Avalon Waterways’ incredibly popular and highly regarded Suite Ships which provide ample space for guests with a focus on bring the outdoors in, thanks to the floor-to-ceiling panoramic windows that transform into Open-Air Balconies with a simple slide of a door.
Featuring all of the same amenities and facilities as other Suite Ships in the series, including a Sky Deck with whirlpool, bistro and premium lounge chairs, and Panorama Suites that are more than 30% larger than the industry standard, the Avalon Impression provides luxurious, contemporary and elegant river cruises along some of Europe’s finest waterways.
With a maximum capacity of 166 passengers, served by the 47 crew members onboard, the Avalon Impression provides a friendly and laidback experience with excellent attention to detail. Most passengers are American, but passengers from Canada, New Zealand, Australia and increasingly the UK, are also onboard. Travellers tend to be from a more senior, well-travelled demographic, and appreciate the English-speaking staff, dedicated Cruise Director and certified local guides.
Passengers should head to the main dining room on the Sapphire Deck for breakfast and lunch, with a choice of dishes on offer to suit every tastebud. Sparkling wine and fruit juices are provided with breakfast that consists of a full buffet plus eggs that are made to order. Soft drinks are free-flowing with lunch that includes an array of soups, pastas, salads, carved meats, entrees and desserts – again, in a buffet format. Dinner is also served in the main dining room, but is a four-course sit-down gourmet experience, with impeccable waiter service. An array of menu options is on offer every evening, with both regional specialities and traditional fare available, freshly prepared from local, seasonal products. Wines, beers, soft drinks and water are complimentary with dinner.
The dress code is casual, throughout the ship, with guests opting for smart casual for dinner. Open-seating ensures flexibility and is the policy in the main restaurant as well as in the alternative dining venues, which are the Sky Bistro (situated on the Sky Deck and providing al-fresco grill fare when the weather permits) and the Panorama Bistro, that serves early and late riser breakfasts, light lunches, casual dinners and afternoon tea. Hot beverages are available around the clock, from the self-serve beverage station.
The entertainment onboard is low-key and relaxed, but an engaging programme is available on every itinerary in the main Panorama Lounge. Choose to enjoy crew shows, performances by local musicians and acts that are inkeeping with regional customs and culture, and occasional movie nights. There is also a full-service bar offering premium spirits and cocktails, and a resident pianist provides background music when the performers aren’t on stage.
The Captain’s reception with sparkling wine and canapés, and the Welcome and Farewell dinners, are highlights of every river cruise. The Panorama Lounge also offers drinks specials during its social hour, which takes place before dinner, daily.
Onboard, guests can enjoy the leisure facilities available, including premium lounge chairs, sun awnings and sunloungers, and a deck games area, all on the Sky Deck. Alternatively, the complimentary Wi-Fi and Internet corner allows passengers to stay connected with loved ones at no extra charge. Avalon’s Local Favorites offers passengers the chance to attend presentations, multimedia talks and lectures, and itinerary-specific activities when on the vessel too, including lectures on Christmas traditions, classical music performances, and sauerkraut & beer tasting.
Onshore, there’s a host of guided shore excursions available, with certified local guides leading the way. The Avalon Choice programme allows guests to choose from a selection of excursions in each port, including traditional, leisurely and independent sightseeing options. Guided tours include the use of headsets, and complimentary maps and Nordic walking sticks are also available should guests wish to use them.
There are 67 suites onboard, which feature the acclaimed Open-Air Balcony technology, and 16 staterooms which have picture windows instead. All 67 suites are 200 sq. ft. or larger, and are equipped with similar amenities to the staterooms onboard, including Comfort Collection beds, Egyptian cotton linens, European-style duvets, a spacious bathroom with shower, bathrobes and slippers, premium bath products, flatscreen TV, minibar, seating area, telephone, hairdryer and safe.
At 300 sq. ft., Royal Suites are larger than the Panorama Suites, with extensive seating areas including a sofa, and more spacious bathrooms.
The fitness centre onboard is equipped with a range of exercise machines and free weights, and is perfect for active sorts to start the day with a brisk workout. The whirlpool on the Sky Deck is ideal for guests who’d prefer to just sit back, relax and feel refreshed.
There is also a hair salon onboard, which offers styling and cuts, as well as manicures and pedicures.
The Avalon Impression operates a number of popular itineraries, including The Legendary Danube, The Blue Danube Discovery and Magnificent Europe with optional Paris and London extensions. It also offers a festive-themed nine day extravaganza – Christmastime on the Danube – that gives guests an opportunity to sail between Vienna and Prague, visiting the buzzing Christmas markets in Vienna, Regensburg, Nuremburg and Prague, and sampling specialities like gluhwein in the process!
The new ‘Essential Holland and Belgium – Tulips in Spring’ itinerary is also available on the Impression, which is an eight day river cruise between Vilvoorde and Amsterdam, offering visits to Ghent and Antwerp, as well as Rotterdam, the tulip-filled Keukenhof Gardens and Kinderdijk-Willemstad which is home to 19 historic windmills.