With a release date of 2016, the Avalon Passion is one of two brand new Suite Ships to be added to Avalon’s impressive fleet of river cruise vessels (the other being the Imagery II). With two full decks of 200 sq. ft. Panorama Suites featuring the famed Open-Air Balcony technology and angled Comfort Collection bed so that guests can enjoy the phenomenal vistas in comfort and style, as well as beautifully appointed public areas and carefully-selected itineraries, the Avalon Passion will continue the line’s dedication to excellence.
The Avalon Passion holds a total of 166 passengers, who will be served by 47 crew members who speak fluent English. A Cruise Director and certified local guides who also have a good grasp of the language will help all guests to feel at home throughout the voyage.
The majority of guests onboard tend to come from the USA, but more and more passengers hail from other English-speaking countries including Canada, Australia, New Zealand and increasingly, the UK. River cruises tend to appeal to a more mature audience, with most being well-travelled with a keen interest in learning more about the history and culture of Europe.
The main restaurant, which serves a buffet breakfast and lunch, and a waiter service gourmet dinner, can be found on the Sapphire Deck and operates an open-seating policy, which provides flexibility to the passengers onboard. Breakfast includes a spread of full buffet breakfast dishes, with a made-to-order egg station, while lunch includes an array of salads, soups, entrees, pasta dishes, carved meats and desserts. Dinner is a four-course affair, with regional and traditional menu options. Drinks with meals are complimentary, including sparkling wine and fresh juices with breakfast, soft drinks with lunch and beers, wines, soft drinks, and water with dinner service. Hot drinks are provided following the dinner’s dessert course, but are also available via the self-serve station, 24 hours a day.
There are several other dining options available onboard, including night fare at 10:30pm and room service which offers continental breakfast items at a small charge. The Sky Bistro on the Sky Deck is perfect for al-fresco dining when the weather allows, and the Panorama Bistro offers guests an alternative to the main dining room, with early and late riser breakfasts, light lunches, casual dinners and afternoon tea available.
The dress code is casual, with many guests choosing to dress a little smarter for their evenings onboard.
While compared to ocean cruises, the entertainment onboard is low-key, it does provide interesting evenings for guests to enjoy after a busy day of sightseeing. Evening entertainment takes place in the Panorama Lounge, which benefits from a full-service bar with extensive drinks menu including spirits and cocktails. Here, guests can enjoy anything from the in-house pianist and movie nights to more itinerary-specific entertainment, including Bulgarian folk dance performances and local Serbian music.
Guests can also look forward to special events, including the Captain’s reception with sparkling wine and canapés, and gourmet Welcome and Farewell dinners. The Panorama Lounge is also the venue for a daily social hour, with drinks specials. Or guests can take cocktails with a view on the Sky Deck.
The Sky Deck features a fun deck games area, as well as plenty of premium lounge chairs with convenient sun awnings that offer shade when required. The vessel also benefits from ship-wide Wi-Fi and an Internet corner. The Local Favorites program gives passengers a range of activities onboard to get involved in, including presentations and lectures on topics including the Main-Danube Canal and the Danube Delta, as well culinary tasting sessions that include regional beers, sauerkraut and sausage (itinerary dependent).
The Avalon Choice programme also ensures that guests can make the most of their time onshore too, by giving them a choice of what excursions to sign up for, wherever possible. With traditional, leisurely and independent sightseeing options available, guests can enjoy tailored guided tours in every port. Biking excursions are available in Amsterdam and Durnstein, and for independent exploration, guests can enjoy the use of complimentary maps and Nordic walking sticks.
There are 83 staterooms and suites onboard, split into standard rooms (172 sq. ft.), Panorama Suites (200 sq. ft.) and Royal Suites (300 sq. ft.). The majority of amenities across the various categories are the same, with Royal Suites benefitting from more space, larger seating areas and bigger bathrooms.
The main feature of Panorama Suites and above is the acclaimed Open-Air Balcony system which allows guests to appreciate the stunning views and fresh river breezes outside of the floor-to-ceiling panoramic windows, which can either be open or closed. Standard staterooms have picture windows instead. Suites also boast six person sitting areas.
Other amenities include view-facing Comfort Collection beds with Egyptian cotton linens and European-style duvets, ample storage, private bathroom with shower, bathrobes, slippers and premium bath products, flatscreen TV, minibar, telephone, in-room safe and hairdryer. Complimentary bottled water is also available and replenished daily.
There is a small whirlpool on the Sky Deck, and a well-equipped fitness centre with exercise machines, free weights and stretch mats. There is also a hair salon onboard, which offers manicures and pedicures as well as hair styling.
The majority of itineraries that the Avalon Passion is set to sail focus on the beautiful Danube River in the heart of Europe. Travellers can choose from a variety of set itineraries, including the Legendary Danube, Balkan Discovery, Blue Danube Discovery, European Splendour, Blue Danube to the Black Sea, Grand Danube Cruise and the North Sea to Black Sea cruise which also sails the Rhine and Main Rivers.
Itineraries tend to last between 11 and 24 days, and the Avalon Passion programme of cruises includes an array of captivating excursions and guided tours, from sightseeing in some of Europe’s iconic cities including Prague, Budapest and Vienna, to unique activities such as beer tasting in Regensburg, organ concerts in Mohacs, the fascinating Lepenski Vir archaeological site and the underground tombs in Pecs.