One of our top five travel tips for 2020 was to cruise the river. The idyllic, stress-free way to explore somewhere new, river cruising allows you to sit back and enjoy the ride, without having to worry about the logistics.
One of our favourites is Avalon Waterways, where the possibilities are as wide open as the views.
Five-star service comes free from stuffiness, accommodation is spacious, food is top-restaurant quality and everything is included - right down to the gratuities.
A river cruise is a fantastic way to explore Europe's most beautiful towns, villages and landmarks. Join an included excursion, plump for an optional guided visit or explore on your own.
River cruising is the epitome of relaxed luxury. The beautiful ships are small and intimate, offering a refined atmosphere.
Onboard, lounges and restaurants are light and airy, and there is one staff member to every three passengers.
Evenings are spent enjoying a drink on deck or in the lounge, chatting with friends new and old, admiring the view from your open-air balcony or simply snuggling up to watch a movie in your stateroom. Grab a book, listen to a guest speaker or local musician, or perhaps even take part in an onboard tasting of wine, beer or regional delicacies.
Wide windows give you the whole picture.
Avalon have mastered the art of blending luxury with discovery by blurring the line between outside and in. Not only are the Panorama Suites 30% larger than the industry standard staterooms, the wall-to-wall and floor-to-ceiling windows open wider than any other, creating river cruising's only open-air balcony.
They’ve also turned the beds to face the window, giving you a morning with a breathtaking view. Even if you're a seasoned traveller, you've never seen Europe like this.
Having smaller vessels allows the boat to dock in the heart of iconic cities, historic towns and hard-to-reach villages, so you can immerse yourself straight away in the local sights and sounds.
Whether you want to hike through German forests, get a look at the Habsburg family’s private art collection in Vienna or join a cooking class, the Avalon Choice® selections of Classic, Discovery and Active excursions offer a wide range of possibilities.
Excursions are included, but you have the freedom to choose whether to join them or discover each port of call on your own terms.
Every meal is part of the journey
Using the freshest local ingredients, the talented chefs prepare delicious recipes from the region through which you’re travelling and present them in a variety of inspiring settings.
Try an al fresco lunch at the Sky Bistro or a light dinner in the Panorama Bistro. With à la carte waiter service in an elegant dining room with panoramic windows, you’re always assured of stunning views and superb service, with complimentary wine and beer at lunch and dinner.
If you’d like to explore a port destination by yourself, there’s no need to miss out on the quality cuisine, as the team are more than happy to prepare you a delicious packed lunch.
With Avalon, you decide what and where to eat on board.
‘Included’ is one of Avalon’s favourite words. Along with the widest suite views that river cruising has to offer and the space to soak it up from your window-facing bed, the package comes with the following:
Full-board dining - From the full breakfast of your choice, with Bucks Fizz and a dedicated egg station, to lunch, afternoon snacks, afternoon tea, dinner and late-night supper, you will be fully catered for all day.
Excursions - At each port of call, a local guide will show you around to give you a first-hand, behind-the-scenes look at each destination.
Complimentary paired wine - You'll enjoy sommelier-selected regional wines at lunch and dinner, or beer if you prefer.
Gratuities - All tips for crew and staff are included, so you don't have to budget extra for tipping or worry about how much to give.
Where to begin?
Looking for where to start your journey? The Rhine is the perfect destination to guide you into the wonderful world of river cruising.
Cutting deep into the mountains and winding its way through rolling hillsides, dramatic rocky gorges and past pretty Old World villages, the Rhine river is a romantic’s dream.
Springing from a lake in the Swiss Alps, it charts a scenic course to the North Sea, lighting up some of Europe’s most captivating sights and customs. Immortalised by Wagner, Byron and Turner, the Rhine riverbanks are dotted with ancient castles and fortresses, award-winning vineyards, riverside cafes and dynamic cities. With beautiful scenery and enriching surprises around every turn, a journey along the Rhine is an unforgettable voyage into the heart of Europe.
This pretty Swiss town is the first navigable point of the Rhine where Switzerland, Germany and France converge. Perhaps because of this, Basel is rich in history and charm, with world-famous choirs, theatres and museums. Its atmospheric Gothic cathedral houses the tomb of 16th-century scholar Erasmus.
The capital of the Alsace region, Strasbourg is a cosmopolitan hub that is known for its excellent wines. Take a stroll along the cobblestone streets, which are lined with medieval buildings, and admire the winding canals of La Petite France in the heart of Strasbourg's Old Town.
A pretty little Rhine Valley wine town, Rüdesheim is a riverside village with an unusual attraction: Siegfried's Mechanical Musical Instrument Museum, with its phenomenal collection of self-playing instruments. Be sure to enjoy a warming liqueur coffee at the nearby cafe afterwards.
Rhine Gorge and Lorelei Rock
Sail through the UNESCO-listed Rhine Gorge, a beautiful stretch of water that is sprinkled with medieval castles, award-winning vineyards and crumbling fortresses. Pass the legendary Lorelei Rock where a heartbroken nymph was said to have lured sailors to their deaths.