Avalon Affinity River Boat Experience
The Avalon Affinity was a new ship in 2009. The Avalon boats are fabulous! They hold 138 passengers but we only had 119 sailing on our cruise. This is a very comfortable number of shipmates to travel with that became four busses when we toured and about the same number of people that fit into the canal cruise boats we took. When we did walking tours, we broke into four groups and the headsets were included. We never felt crowded on the ship as the lounge is pretty large and there is a lot of deck space and a library in the back which served a continental breakfast after the regular breakfast.
The boats have three decks, plus a top observation deck. The restaurant has panoramic windows all around as does the lounge. The ships have a small but adequate gym. The rooms are all about 220 square feet, the bottom deck is the least expensive price with two oblong porthole type windows, but all the cabins are outside cabins. The top two decks actually have sliding glass doors that open but no balconies.
The rooms all had great bathrooms with very hot water and good water pressure in a fully tiled showers. The bathroom was actually a little larger than a typical cruise ship bathroom with granite and upscale amenities like shampoo and soaps. The beds can be split into twins or put into a queen size configuration. The cabin had a mini fridge and satellite television. Our cabin steward Judit was from Eastern Europe and was a sweet lady with a nice personality. The housekeeping was immaculate on the ship in both the cabin and the common areas. The rooms were cleaned early each morning with a turn down service in the afternoon. The housekeeping staff also could be seen cleaning all over the ship as the whole boat was thoroughly cleaned daily. Hand sanitizing stations were located at the entrance to the ship and the restaurant and we were encouraged by the staff to use them frequently.
Each morning a full buffet breakfast was served in the main dining room with an abundance of choices including a fresh egg station for omelets plus a host of choices for American and European breakfast including prosciutto and cheese trays daily, oatmeal and choice of breads and rolls plus a specialty item each day like French toast with apples and sausage. After the full breakfast, a continental breakfast was also served until 10:30 in the library on the rear of the ship. Lunch was a full buffet that we thought was the best meal of the day on this ship plus they also offered a light lunch on the top deck. It was cool when we went in October, but the chef told us they also did picnics on the top deck in the summer season. Dinner was a la carte table service and we enjoyed the efficient wait staff. The daily menu changed each evening so it was very varied and interesting. Currently Avalon offered wine complimentary with dinner in the evening. The wine that was served complimentary was very adequate in the restaurant, as it was a selection of Italian and lower grade French wines but we did not like the German reds and opted for white on the days that German wines were served.
This is a stock photo provided by Avalon Cruises
Pictured is Dan our "Hotel Manager" on the ship who
did a very good job and had a great rapport with the staff.
I have spoken of the staff throughout this blog, but I want to finish this by complimenting the Management and staff, again, as the service was excellent. Each day we were welcomed back to the ship with hot cider and hot towels or hot tea and towels or hot chocolate when we returned from shore excursions plus a glass of champagne at embarkation. By about Tuesday, we were greeted by our names when we arrived at a meal or saw staff in the hall. They were always smiling and this made us feel welcome all week. The cruise director knew her stuff about the destinations and had very good bus drivers and tour guides.
The operation of the ship was interesting and even the mariners were friendly to the guests. The top deck broke down to get under bridges and it was interesting to see that happen in our early days of the cruise when we were way up river. Everything like awnings and railings were on cotter pins that could be pulled to lay flat to get under bridges. The mariners said it took about 45 minutes to get the top deck converted and the furniture stowed on a lower deck at these times. Docking was interesting as all of the docks were different and at times, we docked another sister ship outside of ours and those guests came walking through our lobby to get ashore.
My only critique of the trip was that they needed an upgraded wine by the glass menu in the lounge but I did not have any other criticisms of our trip except the speed of the internet on the boat was painfully slow (especially when we were underway). We would probably use internet cafés on our next trip instead of buying the internet access card on the ship.
Overall this was one of the best vacations we have ever taken that made for a busy and interesting week.
Basic cabin with two small windows on the lower deck.
Upgraded cabins on deck 2 and 3 all look like this with a sliding glass door, but no balcony.
Plenty of closet space for both people with a cabin that is larger than most cruise ship cabins.
The lounge was the meeting point and focal point of activity on the ship.
The Lobby was utilitarian and efficient.
Open dining was the norm each evening with dinner always at 7:15PM. We met some very nice and well traveled people on this ship.