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River cruising with Avalon Waterways

clock 8th July 2015 | comment0 Comments

Updated February 2017

 

Iglu’s Marketing Manager, Natalie, went on her first river cruise adventure with Avalon Waterways. Here’s what she thought of her first river experience onboard the luxurious Avalon Tapestry II:

I have only been on ocean cruise line's before so I was looking forward to experiencing a River Cruise and was lucky enough to be invited on Avalon’s newest ship to the fleet, Avalon Tapestry II.

On the deck on Avalon Tapestry II

I was meeting the ship halfway through its 7 night Paris to Normandy Landing Beaches itinerary.

 

Day 1

I met the ship in the picturesque town of Rouen after taking the Eurostar to Lille. As I approached the ship I was instantly struck by how luxurious the ship was. It is decked out with luxury sun loungers and tastefully decorated with plants on the top deck. I was greeted with a glass of Champagne into an airy reception area and couldn’t wait to see my cabin. It didn’t disappoint with a modern bathroom and a full supply of L’Occitane bath products. The layout of the bedroom was fantastic with the beds facing the French windows. The layout might not sound exciting but Avalon is the first river cruise line to point the beds towards the window. I could already picture myself waking up in the morning and watching the world go by.

Before I got too comfortable I unpacked and went to explore the rest of the ship. I was just in time for the daily afternoon tea. Delicious finger sandwiches and a choice of two gateaux’s were on offer. It would be rude not to sample so I tried both. As this was an educational trip I thought I better check my emails and there was no excuse not to as the ship has free wi-fi throughout. Fortunately there were not many emails to check so I had some time to relax in the sun on the top deck before the next round of delicious food at dinner.

 

Avalon Waterways Trip

Avalon Waterways Holiday

Heavenly cocktails and delicious food


The dining room is tastefully decorated and I was pleasantly surprised that although the ship is small compared to ocean cruise lines, you do not smell the cooking throughout the ship. I chose the red snapper for my main course tonight and enjoyed the free flowing wine which is included lunch and dinner.

As this was my first night onboard I stayed up to watch the entertainment for a while before getting an early night so I would be ready to get up bright and early for the Van Gogh excursion the following day.

 

Day 2

I woke up feeling revitalised after a good nights sleep in the comfortable bed. I was delighted with the buffet breakfast and enjoyed smoked salmon and eggs. If salmon and eggs is not your cup of tea, they have a fantastic selection of food to choose from including freshly made pastries, cereals and much more.

 

Cruising with Avalon Waterways

A cruise onboard Avalon Waterways

Glorious views of the riverbank through France


I had the choice of two free excursions and decided to go on the tour of the town Van Gogh spent his last few months of his life in the picturesque town of Auvers-sur-Oise. Before you set off on the tour you pick up a complimentary water and a headset so you can listen to the tour guide.

I am not an art expert and it really didn’t matter as the tour guide William was really engaging. He brought the history to life and it was very special to see the places and subjects Van Gogh had painted. I particularly enjoyed walking through the fields Van Gogh painted known as Wheat Field with Crows.

After the tour we were taken back on the coach in time for lunch and were greeted with freshly made iced tea. We had booked the grill lunch which was hosted on the Sky Deck. They host these lunches several times on the cruise itinerary but you must put your name down to reserve a space. Lunch was delicious and I enjoyed fresh salad and steak.

In the afternoon there was an optional excursion to the Palace of Versailles. However, as I only had 3 days on the ship I decided to experience what it was like whilst sailing as we were going to set sail to Paris. I am sure the Palace is beautiful but I was so pleased I stayed onboard. The engine is so quiet, the experience is tranquil and the journey along the Seine was stunning. I was surprised by how unpopulated the river banks were. Every now and then you would spot a stunning Chateau along the banks. I would have happily sailed along the river for days absorbing the view. We picked up the guests who took the afternoon tour and then sailed into Paris. The dinner was served as we sailed towards the Eiffel Tower.

 

My River Cruise with Avalon Waterways

Avalon Waterways Cruise

Excursions in France and more sublime views from the ship


Tonight was the Captain's farewell dinner as the following night guests were going to Moulin Rouge in Paris so it was a day earlier. Before dinner, we were all given a glass of champagne and the Captain came and said goodbye to everyone. Once again the meal was fantastic and my favourite dish was the lobster. Also having been on several ocean cruise lines I was delighted to see that the famous baked alaska was on the menu ,so it is not just the big ocean lines who have this tradition.

As the ship was staying in Paris I went for a stroll around the city before coming back to a refreshing cocktail on board.

 

Day 3

It was our last night on the ship and I went on the complimentary walking tour in Paris. If you didn’t want to walk there is a bus tour which is also included. After the tour I arrived back and sampled the light lunch which is also on offer every day on the Sky Deck. We had free time in the afternoon as the optional trip was to the Moulin Rouge in the evening. I decided to head back into Paris and hit the shops on the Champ Elysees.

As I was not going to the Moulin Rouge I booked a place in the bistro dining experience. This was hosted in the Sky Lounge and there are 20 places available so you need to book. They offer a 7 course tasting menu and once again I was extremely impressed with the standard of the food.

This evening we were sailing to another port in Paris close to the business district so I sat on the deck and enjoyed a refreshing cocktail as the ship gently sailed past the glittering sights of Paris before heading back to my room where I enjoyed the view for a little bit longer before falling into a relaxing sleep.

 

River Cruising with Avalon Waterways

Crepes and cocktails! A match made in heaven

 

The Verdict 

What I really love about river cruising is the relaxed pace, you can do as much or as little as you want. Even if you participate on all the tours you are looked after so well and come back to such a beautiful ship you don’t feel exhausted. I came back from my cruise feeling refreshed and invigorated. My only complaint is next time I want to go for a bit longer.

 

View Avalon Waterways Cruise Deals | Find out more about River Cruising.



Life onboard as a teenager

clock 2nd July 2015 | comment0 Comments

Updated December 2017

 

 

There is no better account of cruising than from a first person perspective, and we are always interested to hear about your experiences.

To gain a new point of view, we had guest blogger Henry Dalton offer us the teenage angle on cruising with the family...

 

As a fifteen year old boy, I’m lucky to say I’ve already been on four cruises. If you’re a teenager who instantly says no to cruising, think again.

Are there many other teenagers?

You might think that cruising is a dull holiday, full of old people strolling around, but that’s not necessarily true. Onboard alone, there’s a wide range of activities for us teens. For a start, almost every cruise line will have a teen club where you can meet people your age and do different types of activities. You can meet people, play snooker, Xbox or whatever it has to offer. Usually these clubs have a detailed schedule of more planned activities throughout the week, that are not confined to one room.

Royal Caribbean's FlowRider

 

What is the food like?

If you’re a food lover, a lot of ships have free pizza services running throughout most of the day, as well as the breakfast, lunch, and dinner buffets that go on for a long time. The food tastes brilliant and you’ll probably miss it when you go home.

What active things are there to do?

If you think being on a ship is limiting in terms of doing sports, you’re wrong. Most ships have fully equipped, air conditioned gyms, which will help you keep fit. Usually positioned at the front of the ship, the treadmills, striders, and more, tend to have TV screens with Sky Sports, BBC News, and other main British channels. As well as gyms, sports courts are frequent on big ships. There are sometimes free to use 5-a-side football pitches, basketball courts, mini-golf (if that counts as a sport!), rock climbing, ice skating, and even surfing!

 

 

Are there places to chill out?

You can book to go to the spa for a relaxing massage or treatment, although prices tend to be quite steep from a teenager's perspective. If you want entertainment, a lot of ships have theatres with free shows every night - including magicians, comedians, musicians, and more.

On the outdoor deck, there are swimming pools surrounded by loads of deck chairs, perfect if you’re a lazy sunbather. On a Princess cruise that I went on, I watched Divergent on a big screen, lying on a deck chair under the stars.

 

 

What about the destinations?

As well as activities on the ship, many underestimate the magnificence of arriving in a port with beautiful views. One of my personal favourites was waking up and having breakfast whilst looking at the city of Monte Carlo, Monaco. Lots of teens would find the idea of walking around cities very boring, and admittedly, I thought that at first. But you start to appreciate the iconic features that every place has to offer, and very soon you start looking forward to the next place. If you absolutely can’t walk around, I suggest going on a summer cruise to a place with lots of beaches.

 

 

Overall, cruising is a very fun experience. You get to visit lots of world-famous places without spending too long there, whilst living on a ship that has loads of brilliant activities. So before you associate cruising with veterans listening to classical music, do your research!

Browse our family cruises departing during school summer holidays.

 

Cruises for Young Adults

There are also more and more options for slightly older guests who don't necessarily want a traditional cruise experience. Uniworld River Cruises have introduced their incredible and innovative U by Uniworld brand; a brand which is designed with the needs and wants of 21 to 45 year olds in mind. Think stunning and vivacious European cities, a range of excursions from wine tasting to kayaking, and top international DJs onboard. See what U by Uniword itineraries you could enjoy.



A First Club Cruising Journey

clock 27th June 2011 | comment0 Comments

Have you ever wondered what club cruising is all about and if it's for you? Well one of Iglu's latest cruise converts from our renowned ski team jumped onboard the Azamara Journey recently and here are his thoughts as a first time cruiser.

Azamara Journey is not like any other cruise, the experience is more like a home from home. “Welcome home” the crew say as they greet you after spending the day ashore. Of course you aren’t waited on hand and foot at home, and the food onboard is much better!

Greeted with a glass of champagne, while your bags are whisked off to your room you feel instantly comfortable onboard. Felicidad, our room attendant comes round to make sure we have everything, she does seem surprised that we are so young. The age of the customers onboard ranged from mid-twenties to over 65's — a very diverse group of people.

The crew clearly love their jobs, smiling and happy to serve you. Throughout the cruise we were treated to exceptional service. From the chefs freshly preparing omelettes in the morning, to the casino staff convincing us that we feel lucky today, there is a very unique atmosphere onboard (we weren’t lucky!).

Each morning we found the daily newsletter in our cabin filled with information about the weather, the days events, opening times of restaurants and key points of interest about the destination we were in that day. Perhaps we should’ve read the weather report on our first day in Corsica, when we found ourselves caught in the rain on land. Of course Azamara had towels waiting at the tender station in the port.

We were lucky enough to visit both the specialty restaurants onboard. Prime C served a fantastic filet mignon accompanied by wines recommended by the staff. Aqualina, the Mediterranean inspired restaurant served the most perfectly cooked fish courses and delicious deserts. Both restaurants charge a very modest cover charge — definitely worth every penny.

If for any reason you don't feel like leaving your cabin for dinner (or any other meal or snack throughout the day) then you can make use of the extensive 24 hour complementary room service menu which comprises of everything from cheese and fruit plates, to individually prepared steaks. Having sampled the majority of the room service menu, we decided it may be a good idea to visit the ships gym. Although not the largest gym I have been to, it is very well equipped, and was never too busy whatever time of day we visited.

The main thing that made the Azamara cruising experience so special was the combination of all the small touches that you don't get with a lot of other cruise lines. Examples of these touches include; the staff handing out cold towels, bottled water and lemonade while you wait for your tender back to the ship. The free bus that was set up to take guests to the centre of town at one of the ports, even if you were not booked on an excursion. The bar staff even knew what I was drinking by the second day of the cruise, and had the drink ready for me in the time it took to enter the room and walk across to the bar. It is these things that made the Azamara experience stand out from all the other cruises we have been on.

The prices may look more expensive than other cruise lines, but taking into account what's included, an Azamara cruise is exceptional value. Its not the hardware that makes Azamara special, it's the software: the staff, the food, and the feeling of the ship is second to none.



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