Looking to start traveling again in a safe, fun, sustainable, and luxurious kind of way? In our ever-changing world, this new era of travel means looking for options that skip the crowds and choosing companies that prioritize sustainability, personalized itineraries, the health of patrons and staff, and fun amenities.
I recently went on my first international trip since the pandemic began — a river cruise in France — with Avalon Waterways. A cruise ship company specializing in bespoke river tours in Europe and Southeast Asia, I was blown away by the attention to detail and personal feel of the experience.
If you’re looking for a small tour provider that will keep you safe, take you to fairytale destinations, and completely immerse you in luxury, then read on — because I found all of this and more on my river cruise.
Here are 10 benefits of taking a river cruise with Avalon Waterways!
10 Benefits of Taking a River Cruise with Avalon Waterways
Cruising Without the Crowds
When given the option, more and more travelers are choosing smaller cruises over mega voyagers.
The current health crisis is a big reason for this (rubbing elbows with strangers doesn’t quite have the same appeal it used to), but having fewer guests onboard means that companies can deploy smaller ships that fit into ports the big ones can’t.
This means you’ll get to spend time in off-the-beaten-path destinations without standing in lines, experiencing inflated prices, and having hordes of people in all your photos.
Plus, because Avalon Waterways’ ships have smaller capacities, they can make their cabin sizes bigger and have a greater amount of staff per guest. Avalon Waterways’ ships hold an average of 150 guests with an average of three guests per crew member.
Skip The Seasickness
If you’re prone to seasickness, then sailing on a river as opposed to the sea should be on your radar.
Not only are rivers in Europe famously serene, but you can pretty much hedge your bets to never get seasick on a river regardless of your destination. There are no waves on rivers and less motion than the sea in general — meaning you can skip the ginger pills and enjoy every moment of the water.
See The World Your Way
Feeling adventurous? Exploring port cities while your ship is docked is one of the best parts of the experience — you’re on vacation to see the sites, after all. Which makes having awesome tour options that suit your interests and style paramount to having a great trip.
Avalon Waterways includes plenty of Active & Discovery Tours that’ll make sure you get the most out of each destination. Think walking tours, adventure activities, culinary classes, wine tours, and more.
These tours are included in the price of your ticket, but if you’re feeling like a solo adventure, then there is a solution for that too. Sailing with Avalon Waterways means having access to their Avalon Go app; a downloadable application that’ll give you access to maps, itinerary recommendations, and expertly chosen restaurants, bars, and museums.
Plus, this app will send you notifications for your daily itineraries and scheduled activities.
And don’t forget to grab lunch if you decide to create your own tour and head out on your own — the culinary staff onboard will happily pack a lunch for you.
You’ll Get a Room With a View
If you’ve ever dreamed of waking up in the morning to the sight of a gorgeous river, then cruising with Avalon Waterways is your chance for this and more.
Two entire decks of Avalon’s Suite Ships include Panorama Suites — 200 square foot rooms with floor-to-ceiling windows that open up to 7-feet wide. These windows essentially transform your room into an open-air balcony, meaning it will be full of fresh air and natural light all day long. Even the rooms that don’t feature these windows are never fully interior — every single one of them boasts windows and natural light.
The Suite Ships also have sky decks that run the length of the ship and feature plenty of places to hang out and enjoy the view.
I loved waking up to natural views outside of my room every morning, and having my private balcony was the cherry on top.
Tons of Variety
No cruise is ever truly one size fits all, and the key to having the best trip possible is one where you can customize your preferences and experiences.
Avalon Waterways offers multiple options for where to cruise and plenty of port cities for every trip. They put a lot of thought into the destinations in their itinerary scheduling; hiring local guides that help travelers understand and connect with their destinations deeper than they could on their own.
The company also has plenty of off-the-beaten-path experiences on offer, featuring small towns and mom-and-pop shops along the way. Plus, all of their excursions are kept to small groups — you’ll be hard-pressed to find one that is open to more than 30 guests at once.
If you love supporting companies who think big when it comes to customer service, then you’ll feel right at home aboard an Avalon Waterways ship.
The company truly goes above and beyond when it comes to its customer service. They have plenty of amenities on board, and are more than happy to cater to your needs should you require items or special resources.
Also, the narrow crew to patron ratio on the ship means that there is always someone available to help you out should the need arise.
Commitment to Sustainability
More and more, travelers are expecting higher levels of conduct from their tour operators when it comes to sustainability. Preserving the environment and lessening our travel footprint may take a little extra planning, but it’s more than viable in today’s travel landscape.
Thankfully, Avalon Waterways takes a lot of the guessing out of the sustainability equation and is very transparent in its efforts. Home to the Lighthouse Project, the company is committed to measuring their environmental impact and has committed themselves to save water, lessening waste, and using their influence to clean up the world’s rivers and oceans.
Here are just a few initiatives that Avalon Waterways has succeeded in over the last couple of years:
- Eliminated all single-use plastics from their ships and worldwide offices
- Is working with The Ocean Cleanup to help stop the flow of plastics from land to ocean
- Has gone digital in their communication, effectively reducing their paper waste by 80%
- Uses LED lighting on all their ships
Not to mention, the company plans to further reduce their environmental impact in the coming years by lowering their carbon emissions by 50%, generating sustainable electricity while docked, and partnering with more companies to help their mission of removing 90% of the earth’s ocean plastics.
Attention to Detail
It’s often the little details that turn a so-so trip into an unforgettable lifetime experience, and it’s exactly this attention that makes Avalon Waterways stand out from the crowd.
Aboard the ships, you’ll get to choose the firmness of your bed and pillows, soak in designer bath products, cozy up in plush towels, sip on premium beverages, and relax in gorgeous lounges.
This company seriously leaves no stone left unturned, and if you need something, the crew is always there to assist.
The Freshest Local Ingredients
Let’s be honest, it’s often hard to maintain a healthy diet while traveling abroad. With so many temptations, ingredients, and standards around the world, many notions of health can easily go out the window.
But with Avalon Waterways, delicious healthy food is a constant offering. They use only the freshest local ingredients to prepare their taste bud-invigorating dishes, each one of which has been artfully crafted by award-winning chefs.
There are also food options galore, no matter your diet or food tolerances.
As I mentioned above, attention to detail is what makes Avalon Waterways’ service above and beyond, and their vast menu of inclusions is no exception.
Regional wine and beer are included with every lunch and dinner, there are awesome onboard enrichment activities and entertainment, they offer onshore excursions featuring local knowledgeable guides, and their app is loaded with local gems to inspire your free time.
The whole ship is outfitted with complimentary WiFi, there are water refilling stations scattered throughout (there are even vitamin-infused options), and they even offer cappuccinos for any time you need a pick me up.