Avalon Tapestry II Cruise Review to Europe

7+ cruises


Helpful Votes

5 out of 5

Fabulous Cruise!!!

Sail Date: May 09, 2015

Reviewed: 1 year ago

Traveled As: Couple

Room Type: Suite

Cabin: 312

This cruise was outstanding in every way -- the quality of the ship,  the comfort of the rooms, the food, the excursions and, of course, the splendour of the country we were traveling through.

Because the Seine was high, we were not able to depart from Paris, but the bus ride to our first stop was short and comfortable, with a guide chatting to us on and off as we drove.  Embarkation couldn't have been easier.  No waiting in long lines.  We were welcomed aboard and  greeted by most of the staff and shown immediately to our room.  River boat rooms are not large, but this was larger than most and very comfortable.  Our sliding glass door turned our room into a balcony, from which we had a beautiful view.

Our cruise director, Jean Loup, was absolutely wonderful.  He is funny, creative, informative and so organized.  He teased us abour our early departure the next morning to go to Giverny and see Monet's gardens (8 AM PROMPT! on bus) but assured us we'd be grateful in the long run.  He was exactly right, of course.  We were one of the first groups to arrive and so many of our pictures don't have people in them at all.  The gardens are breathtaking, one of the highlights of the trip.  Jean Loup also gave us a special treat, buying local cheese and wine in Rouen for a wine and cheese tasting in the late afternoon and a lesson on certain French cheeses.  It was great to taste the real Camembert!!!

As was Normandy.  Jean Loup had arranged a special ceremony for us...the National Anthem as we faced the cemetary and the playing of Taps, as we faced the statue of the young soldier.  Though the park does this ceremony regularly for groups that request it (we heard another before we left), it is still personal and moving.  And our guide let us experience our time at the cemetary on our own, so that we had the opportunity to take it in at our own pace.  She provided plenty of narration on the bus getting there and at the other stops, so we were filled with a sense of history as we walked around.

All the excusions were wonderful.  Such an inspiring group of guides, filled with information, personal anecdotes, often a sense of humor and always vast experience.  Only once did we feel too overwhelmed with minute detail.  Most of the time, the guides sensed our attention span, allowed us time to take in things for ourselves at the same time that they gave us enough background to appreciate in greater depth what we were seeing.

The food was great, plenty of choice but not too much, as I've sometimes felt on ocean cruises.  The staff was friendly, helpful and observant. (Wine and water were poured the moment a glass looked like it was getting dangerously low!!!!)  The tables were set for four and six, which worked out well for everyone, giving us all a chance to meet new people.

Of course the country is beautiful -- lush, quaint, dotted with small towns, and wonderful in terms of the glimpse of another way of life it showed us as we glided along.  Despite the reputation of the French being standoff-ish, we found everyone warm and welcoming.  I had a few opportunities to pratice my French, though I found mostly the French responded to me in English.  

This is the first river cruise we have been on, and we would travel with Avalon again in a heartbeat.  In many ways, I preferred it to ocean cruising -- I thought the excusions were better; I like the intimacy of a small boat; I don't miss all the big entertainment (we did have some fun, light entertainment most evenings); I prefer the less overwhelming food choices, with excellent quality; and I enjoy the gliding on the river, seeing the country.  I almost wish we'd been on the river longer!!!

Ship Quality
The ship was beautifully appointed. The rooms were pristine and so nicely decorated; the dining room was spacious; the lounge was comfortable and could accommodate all passengers easily.
Food and Dining
Food was wonderful! Every meal. We were especially pleased at how accommodating everyone was for our friend who is lactose intolerant. The director of the dining room checked in with our friend at EVERY meal to make sure she had good choices.
Service and Staff
Everyone was wonderful, but a particular shout-out to Jean Loup, the cruise director.
The entertainment was understated in that there were no big shows as on an ocean cruise The piano player was fabulous and one night there was a duo, a singer and other piano player, who were fabulous. They had us all up on the floor dancing!!
Destinations and Excursions
Monet's Garden was breathtaking; Normandy was deeply moving; the guides were incredible!
Cabin / Stateroom
Bed was lovely! Nice that they were willing to give us a top sheet and blanket instead of the comforter, which was too much.
Vernon, France
Monet's garden in Giverny is breathtaking. And we were most fortunate to be there early enough that there were hardly any groups yet, so many of our pictures are without people! Favorite excursion!
Les Andelys, France
Really enjoyed the walking tour up to Chateau Gaillard. The view is well worth the climb!
Caudebec, France
Honfleur in the afternoon (paid extra) was wonderful. We enjoyed the Abbey Road tour, but there was a bit too much information and not enough time to take in the Abbey ruins in silence. Great fun at the abbey still inhabited by monks, thanks to the brother who took us around!
Caudebec (Normandy Beaches), France
Deeply moving experience. Incredible to get the history in detail and to imagine what the Americans were actually facing when they landed.
Rouen, France
Loved the city, loved the Joan of Arc church especially, though Rouen is better known for the cathedral that Monet made so famous. We had seen his paintings at Musee Orsay, so it was wonderful to see the inspiration. And we had plenty of time to wander around!
Paris, France
We chose not to do an excursion since we'd spent three days in Paris prior to the cruise. On our own, we walked from the boat to the Eiffel Tower along the Seine, which was lovely. A perfect end for us!

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