Avalon Waterways is a river cruise company and is part of the Globus Family of companies and operate ships in Europe, Egypt, China, Southeast Asia and the Galapagos. They cater to the American (or English speaking) market.
The Ships - Avalon Waterways worldwide fleet is among the newest in the industry and feature large cabins and modern decor. For a review of their ships including some sample deck plans CLICK HERE.
European River Cruising - Avalon has 13 ships cruising European rivers. They do not have a ship on the Douro River in Portugal but have every other river covered with itineraries similar to their other five primary competitors. Food, service and amenities are all rated at the very top of the scale. Their relationship to Globus Tours helps both the pricing and content of their pre and post land stays. They are also better able than most companies to integrate extended stays with their cruise product.
Cruises in China - As is common with river cruises in China, the cruise is a small part of the total experience - usually 3 or 4 days. Avalon Waterways uses two ships in China (very few companies operate their own ships in China), the Century Paragon and Legend. Both are brand new ships with large staterooms and modern decor.
Southeast Asia River Cruising - From its source high up in the Tibetan Plateau the powerful Mekong River courses for over 3,000 miles through China, Burma, Laos, Thailand, Cambodia, and Vietnam, providing a lifeline for millions of people. In Vietnam, cruise the massive Mekong Delta that covers an area of some 15,000 square miles. This picturesque area is dotted by rice paddies, fish farms, fruit orchards, and more. The rice produced in the delta accounts for over half of Vietnam’s rice production, so it’s no surprise that it is commonly referred to as the “rice bowl” of the country. Avalon operates it's own ship in SE Asia, the Avalon Angkor which is brand new and has a competitive advantage in the area because of it's size. It holds just 36 guests and, because of that, it can sail further up the river eliminating the 7 hour bus ride others include in their cruise.
Egypt River Cruises - Avalon offers a variety Egypt options including a cruise on Lake Nassar. The ship they use on the Nile was launched in 2010 and features large cabins and modern decor. Cruise and land combinations range from 9 to 16 days with additional extension options available.
Galapagos - Sailing to the Galapagos is a departure from the river cruises theme that Avalon maintains in the rest of the world. Since no ships carrying more than 100 passengers are allowed in the Galapagos Islands, the model Avalon uses in Egypt, China and SE Asia fits here very well - a combination of land tour (Ecuador) and a small ship cruise is familiar. Their ship in the area is the 90 passenger Santa Cruz, well known for its excellent staff of naturalists.
Life on board - large cabins, casual atmosphere, daily entertainment, and delicious food reflecting the local culture are all hallmarks of Avalon cruises. Daily shore excursions are included in the cruise fare and there are frequent lectures regarding the culture and history of the countries and cities along the route.
Prices - Avalon's prices are comfortably competitive with their competition. Mid level cabins (those with floor to ceiling windows) will range from $350 to $450 per person per night. There are specials and bargains available throughout the year that can bring that price down some. The most common discount is early booking that can be 5 to 10%. Once in a while there are 2 for 1 prices or $1000 off per cabin. When we are helping someone decide on a trip, we often compare prices from all of the competitors.
Value - in our opinion, Avalon Waterways is one of the top two river cruise companies in Europe. Their ships are new and cabins are large. On all of the other factors that make up a value comparison - service, itineraries, shore excursions, food, entertainment, amenities, etc. - they rank at or near the top.
Itineraries - samples are below: