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Tracy McCully

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Avalon River Cruises "Blue Danube Discovery"

Year: 2016

Avalon Illumination

Blue Danube Discovery

July 22-29, 2016  Budapest to Nuremburg

Ports of call: Vienna, Durnstein, Melk, Passau, Regensburg and Roth.

On my own I added  1 night in Budapest and 2 nights in Prague 

This was my first rivercruise with Avalon.  We had a category A panorama suite with French balcony.

Last fall I cruised with AmaWaterways. I found the food to be better with Ama but I liked the bed and cabin better with Avalon.  I found the service to be equivalent. 

I wish I had booked 2 nights in Budapest. There was a lot to see and due to time constraints we missed seeing some things.  It is a beautiful city.  I enjoyed the Great Market Hall and going up to the castle district to see beautiful views of the iconic parliament building.  We stayed at the Hotel Ibis Heroes Square. The room was basic and the location was not great.  I think it would be worth it to spend a little more and get a hotel closer to the main tourist area.  A taxi from the airport is about 26EUR/7300HUF.  The Fo taxi service is recommended and this was very good.  Efficient and smoke-free.  Exit the terminal and turn left and the booth is right there. They call the taxi for you.

 We assembled at the Intercontinental hotel around 3:30pm for a transfer to the Avalon Illumination.  You are not permitted to board the vessel until 4pm so I advise all clients to go at least one day early so that you are not waiting around for hours to board.....exhausting after an overnight flight.

Check-in was easy as we all sat in the lounge and then they checked in a few people at a time.  Our cabin was lovely. I really enjoyed the wall-to-wall windows and being able to open the sliding door and hear the water and birds as we cruised along.

The food was good but I was not as impressed as I was on AmaWaterways.  There are some items on the menu that are always there in case you don't think you will like something....such as steak and chicken.  There are vegetarian options and you can speak to the chef about dietary/allergy requirements.  There is an automated coffee machine in the lounge for coffee/cappuccino/espresso/hot chocolate.  Beer, wine and soft drinks are included with lunch and dinner.  Mixed drinks are at an additional charge.

There is nightly entertainment but this was sometimes lacking.  One evening two very good musicians from Bratislava entertained us.  Another evening the crew put on a "show"...this was just a bunch of little short skits and the show did not last more than 30 minutes.

On this cruise we went through over 20 locks.  This is always an interesting experience.  Sometimes we went through them at night and so you should expect to be awoken some times by either the noise or the jostle of the vessel.

There are included excursions in each port.  They also offer optional excursions at an additional cost.  For example, in Passau we took the optional full-day excursion to Salzburg. This was about 74EUR per person.

Avalon provides audio sets with earpieces so you can hear your guide on your walking tours.  The coaches used for transportation were clean and comfortable.

One of my favorite memories was having coffee and sachertorte cake sitting in an outdoor café in Stephansplatz, Vienna.

A nice feature in Regensburg was the voucher given to us for a free sausage & beer at the Old Sausage Kitchen.  It was very tasty!

We booked our own transfer to Prague and spent 2 days there. This is now up there on my list of favorite places.  The architecture is amazing!  I could not stop taking photographs.  We saw the old town square with astronomical clock, Wenceslas Square, Charles Bridge, and Prague Castle.  We saw a guy selling tickets to a classical concert and decided to give it a try.  It was about $20 Canadian and my goodness it was so worth it!  It was held in a lovely chapel with a huge pipe organ.  Mozart once played there!  The string quartet was wonderful!

 It was an amazing trip!