Avalon Poetry II
Built in 2014, with Olympic gold medallist rower Dr Katherine Grainger acting as godmother, this sister ship to Avalon Artistry II, Avalon Visionary, Avalon Tapestry II and Avalon Tranquillity II, brings a new meaning to the phrase ‘poetry in motion’. Like her equally luxurious sisters, Avalon Poetry II is a Suite Ship. This means she has two decks of luxury suites boasting wall-to-wall panoramic windows which result in the living space being transformed with Avalon Waterway’s unique Open-Air Balcony.
As Avalon Waterways is an American river cruise line with an emphasis on luxury and attention to detail, all the fleet’s ships attract an upmarket clientele who are accustomed to 5 star comfort and are keen to learn about the culture and history of the places on the itinerary. This is particularly true on Suite Ships like the Avalon Poetry II, where the line’s signature deluxe style is taken to luxurious new levels. As well as Americans and Canadians, Poetry II attracts British passengers who want their river cruise to come with a contemporary edge and an intimate feel. There are only 52 suites and 12 staterooms onboard, so the 37 crew on hand to attend to passengers’ every need ensure that standards of service are excellent.
The MyAvalon programme, where you can pre plan and personalise your cruise with your choice of celebration packages and sightseeing options, is another attraction for this line’s discerning passengers.
Days onboard start with a full buffet breakfast with egg station and sparkling wine in the spacious dining room. Alternatively passengers can take advantage of the early-riser and late-riser breakfasts which include pastries and cereal. Or, for an added fee, Continental breakfast from room service is available.
The lunch buffet features a carving and pasta station with soft drinks included. There’s also a light lunch with a view available in the Panorama Bistro. Afternoon tea is served every day too.
Dinner is a four-course affair with soft drinks, wine and beer included, and a choice of dessert or cheese. Again, a lighter dinner option is on offer in the Panorama Bistro.
All meals are cooked with the seasons and the delicacies of the itinerary in mind, with healthy options always available. Fruit and tea, coffee and hot chocolate are available all day from the self-serve beverage station, and late night sustenance can be found at Night Fare which is served from 10.30pm.
Cruises get off to a sparkling start at the Captain’s reception where you can mingle with fellow guests over canapes and sparkling wine. The welcome and five-course farewell dinners are both social highlights of any cruise on Poetry II, although the dress code and atmosphere remains informal.
You can enjoy a pre or post dinner drink made with premium spirits in the stylish bar or Al fresco on the Sky Deck. Or why not join in with social hour and drinks specials in the Panorama lounge? Local entertainers are a regular fixture and you can attend movie nights or have your own private movie marathon in your suite with a choice of over 100 films.
The library keeps avid readers happy, and the internet corner and free Wi-Fi mean that staying in touch with home is easy. Interesting behind-the-scenes ship tours are available and the Local Favourites programme brings the passing scenery alive onboard with regular demonstrations from regional artisans, local food and wine tastings and talks from experts.
The Sky Deck has a games area, but many guests are happy to kick back on one of the Sky Deck’s lounge chairs and watch the world go by from the outside viewing deck.
On dry land the sightseeing options of the Avalon Choice programme are threefold. Traditional takes you on a detailed guided tour, Leisurely is a laidback look at the highlights and Independent is for those who want to explore their surroundings on their own. Complimentary maps, Nordic walking sticks and headsets are available for sightseeing.
There are two 300 sq. ft Royal Suites onboard Avalon Poetry II, but the rest of the suites fall into the still generously-proportioned 200 sq. ft Panorama Suite category, featuring the stunning wall-to-wall panoramic window with Open-Air-Balcony. They also boast a six-person seating area and marble countertops in the bathrooms.
The 12 deluxe staterooms are also large by industry standards at 172 sq. ft, and the tasteful, contemporary colour scheme of golds, creams and purples is continued here. The staterooms have two windows to admire the view from. Safe, hairdryer, flat screen TV, phone, minibar, large bathroom mirror, air conditioning, bedside tables, writing desk, spacious closet and alarm clock come as standard in all cabin categories.
The fleet’s signature window-facing Comfort Collection beds, extra blankets, memory foam mattress toppers, soft and firm pillows, Egyptian linens and option to configure your bed just how you like it, give a luxurious feel. This is enhanced with bathrobes and slippers, premium L’Occitane products and a nightly turn down service for all passengers.
The whirlpool on the Sun Deck is a great way to unwind after a day’s sightseeing. If your itinerary takes you to Amsterdam or Breisach, you can explore on a bicycle. Working out is easy in the ships larger-than-standard Fitness Center, but if a gentle stroll is all you want, you can use the ship’s elevator to get from suite to Sun Deck. Manicures and hairdressing are available in the salon.
Although Avalon Poetry II sails all over Europe, she is most often found exploring the rivers of France, where she glides quietly on the Rhone, Seine and Saone thanks to her innovative technology. All itineraries are long enough to give you the chance to immerse yourself in your surroundings. One of the shortest is the 11-day Burgundy & Provence itinerary from Paris to the Cote D’Azur. There’s also a range of 16-19-night Grand France cruises, or the epic 22-day Rhine & Rhone Revealed which starts in the Cote D’Azur and takes you to London via Paris.