Avalon Waterways – look, design & feel
Our journey through the Danube took place on board the luxurious Avalon Impression – Let’s take a look at the design, look and feel on board. Built in 2014, she is one of the lines’ signature suite ships. She has 83 rooms, of which 67 are suites.
All river ships for the most part have a very similar layout. That is, main social spaces are located right at the front of the ship including lounges, restaurants and other spaces. Cabins are located along the spine of the ship and at the aft you tend to find a further quiet social space. One of the best features of river ships are the expansive open spaces found on the top deck of the ship. Let’s take a look at Avalon Impression in more detail.
Atrium & Reception
You may think that because river ships are so small they may not be opulent or elegant, but you couldn’t be more wrong (and I would say every cruise line has a totally different take on this). As you walk onto Avalon Impression, you are greeted with a contemporary vibe, with a light and airy reception space dominated by a giant skylight and chandelier.
This is arguably the most useful space on the ship, not only because this is where 90% of the time you will get on and off the ship, but also that you’ll find all services you may required for the cruise. This includes reception/housekeeping, shore excursions, daily port information, a small shop and key membersof staff, including the Cruise Director.
One thing I really love on Avalon are the interactive displays by the entranceways which display key information and you use to log on and off of the ship if you are going out.
Just below the reception you’ll also find the on board Gym, which I used a lot on our journey and is just the right size.
Panorama Lounge & Bistro
Right at the front of the ship you’ll find the Panorama Lounge & Bistro. This is very much the focal point of activity on board.
The space continues the contemporary feel of the ship, with dark woods and accents. There’s also a variety of seating, all of which is comfy, but is setup for both couples to enjoy time together or for larger groups to mingle. On top of this, there is a fully stocked bar, a dance floor, piano/band area and a self-service coffee station. You can also find fresh water and other beverages here throughout the day.
It is here you will find daily port talks by the lovely and knowledgeable cruise director and other activities taking place across the cruise. In the evening there was live music, local acts (which are brought on board) and a first for me on a river ship, karaoke! Honestly it was so much fun night-to-night. A key element of river cruising is sharing the experience with fellow passengers, so inevitably you get to know like-minded people and discuss the day gone by and enjoy an evening together (late into the night in some cases!). We met some truly lovely people on this cruise.
This space is divided in two, and right at the front you will also find the Panorama Bistro. This is a casual dining space where you can grab a light bite for breakfast and lunch, or in the evening it serves similar food to the main restaurant but in a casual / buffet manner. It’s also where you’ll find the sumptuous afternoon tea – honestly, not one to be missed, as you can tell from my various photos below!
Observation Lounge, Sky Bistro and Sky Deck
In front of the Panorama Lounge you’ll find a cosy outdoor space overlooking the bow of the ship. Since I last sailed with Avalon all the furniture has changed here and it’s made a real difference to the space. It’s a great spot for watching the world go by, go through the various locks on your journey and to get to know fellow guests over a drink.
Heading upstairs you’ll find the expansive top deck. This is split into three distinct areas. Firstly, an extension of the observation lounge, with more comfortable seating to enjoy a cocktail at sunset.
Secondly, just behind the bridge of the ship is a covered casual dining area which features a grill for eating al-fresco. On certain days this space is setup for lunch or dinner with a grill out on deck – it was so nice to watch the Danube go by while enjoying delicious food al fresco. I enjoyed having afternoon tea up here from the Panorama Lounge a couple of times.
One thing to note about river cruising is how accessible staff are – the captain and his staff were always about and eager to answer any questions you might have about the journey, the ship and local facts – or watch it all from the bridge!
And finally, the main part of the Sky Deck has lots of premium sun loungers, shady spots, deck games such as giant chess and it even features a Jacuzzi. It’s an enjoyable and expansive space to spend time in.
The Dining Room
Heading downstairs from reception, you’ll find the main dining room on board. This feels like an intimate space with large windows, a buffet area and a variety of seating. Something I really love about Avalon is how they have a variety of table sizes to meet all guests requirements – from tables of two right up to large grouped tables.
And in terms of the food. I’m always blown away by the food offering on board river ships. There is so much choice on offer throughout the day, all of which is freshly made every day for all guests. On top of that, and something again I really love, is how depending on where you are chef’s will draw on the local cuisines and feature it on the daily menus alongside local wines. You can’t ask for much more than that and you can see a selection of the food on board above and below – I was so impressed day-to-day whether that was made-to-order omlettes at breakfast, or anticipating your likes and needs for dinner. You can read much more about this day-to-day in my previous review of Avalon Waterways here.
Right at the back of the ship you will find one of the best kept secrets on board, the Club Lounge. Featuring more comfy seating, this has views over the wake of the ship and is such a chilled space to spend time in. It features a self-service coffee machine (which freshly grinds the beans), freshly made (and replenished) pastries, other juices and a water machine (that does still, sparkling and flavoured water – which I honestly *loved*). I often found myself sitting here relaxing and a number of guests used this similarly throughout the cruise.
Service on board
One thing to really highlight on board is the incredible, personalised service – which honestly is taken to a whole other level on a river cruise. You really do get to know the lovely staff across the ship and they work so well to anticipate your needs throughout the cruise – whether that’s knowing your likes, dislikes, needs and wants. Nothing was honestly a trouble and is one reason I love to come back to river cruising again and again.
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