Just as we enter the start of the 2018 European river cruise season, Avalon Waterways (cruise.center/avalon) has some compelling reasons to book early for 2019, not the least of which is a new ship and a special cruise hosted by Canada’s own Jann Arden.
Arden will sail aboard next year’s 12-day Blue Danube Discovery river cruise, departing Budapest on June 18, 2019, and concluding in Prague. While on board, guests will be treated to a private concert, photo opportunities and a CD signing, as well as the opportunity to mingle with the singer, who was appointed as a Member of the Order of Canada last year for her achievements as a singer-songwriter, and for her charitable work.
If you follow Avalon Waterways, you’ll know that Arden served as Godmother of Avalon Tranquility II in 2015, and hosted another of Avalon’s river cruises last year. The singer says she’s a fan of river cruising and Avalon Waterways, and looks forward to hosting this unique river cruise next year.
Ports on this 12-day journey include two nights in Budapest, followed by calls on Vienna, Durnstein, Passau, Regensburg, and Roth before heading to Prague for a two-night stay. Guests will be able to enjoy all of Avalon’s features, including free on-board bicycles and Nordic walking sticks, along with the ship’s soothing staterooms (nearly all of which feature the line’s signature design, whereby the beds face the ship’s wall-to-wall balconies). Complimentary wine, beer and soft drinks are provided with lunches and dinners, and Avalon’s elegant and contemporary styling is one of my favourite features about the line. It’s impossible not to feel welcomed aboard the line’s sleek ships.
In the case of the Jann Arden Cruise, as I’m calling it, guests are treated to another feature: the opportunity to sail aboard a brand-new ship, the Avalon Envision.
Debuting next year, the Avalon Envision will be the company’s 13th Suite Ship in Europe, and the 16th overall since Avalon Panorama debuted in 2011. Since then, Avalon’s Suite Ships have garnered plenty of awards from industry partners and consumers alike. Even covering the industry as regularly as I do, I don’t think I realized how fantastic (and spacious) the line’s staterooms were until I actually sailed aboard them last fall.
“Each of our Suite Ships in Europe features two full decks of these spacious staterooms,” says Stéphanie Bishop of Avalon’s Canadian office. “Measuring 200 square feet, they feature our trademark ‘open-air balconies’ to bring in the local sights and sounds.”
The balconies in Avalon’s signature Panorama Suite are large, opening over two metres on the ship’s European vessels and up to 3.5 metres in Southeast Asia. I remember spending a memorable evening sailing away from Amsterdam with the windows open as far as they would go on my Avalon Waterways cruise last fall, listening to the birds chirp and watching the sun set as we began our journey down the Rhine.
Even better, Avalon is offering a number of incentives right now on its 2018 and 2019 river voyages. These include the line’s new Active Discovery river cruises in Europe that pair soft adventures in ports throughout Europe with history, culinary tastings, and off-the-beaten-path sights. A number of activities are offered on these voyages, from guided cycling tours to hands-on art classes and active (but very manageable) hikes and walks through some of Europe’s most picturesque towns. Avalon even offers a very cool Running Tour of Amsterdam on these Active itineraries; a nice diversion from the usual canal cruise and museum visits that’s perfect for active travellers looking to see Amsterdam the way locals do.
If I can impart two important words on you when it comes to river cruises, it would be this: book early.
Like other river cruise lines, many of Avalon’s most popular European river cruise itineraries are already filling up for 2018, and booking for 2019 is essential for one-off voyages like Arden’s hosted cruise, or the always-popular Tulip Time voyages through Belgium and the Netherlands in springtime.
For those looking to travel this year, there’s still time to book for that summer, fall or even Christmas Markets river cruise. Personally, I’m already planning my fall river cruise journey.
Visit Portsandbows.com, sponsored by Expedia CruiseShipCenters, 1-800-410-4744,www.cruise.center, for daily updates on the latest cruise news, best deals and behind-the-scenes stories from the industry. You can also sign up for an email newsletter on the site for even more cruise information. Aaron Saunders may be contacted directly [email protected]