Avalon Waterways, Avalon Expression, exterior, Danube River
Save
Photo Credit: Avalon Waterways | Avalon Expression on the Danube River
Avalon Waterways, Avalon Expression, Sky Deck
Save
Photo Credit: Avalon Waterways / John Amatucci | Sky Deck on Avalon Expression
Avalon Waterways, Avalon Siem Reap, Stateroom
Save
Photo Credit: Avalon Waterways | Stateroom on Avalon Siem Reap
Avalon Waterways, Avalon Vista, dining room
Save
Photo Credit: Avalon Waterways / John Amatucci | Avalon Vista's Dining Room
Avalon Waterways, Avalon Siem Reap, cuisine
Save
Photo Credit: Avalon Waterways | Avalon Siem Reap
Avalon Waterways, Avalon Expression, Panorama Suite bathroom
Save
Photo Credit: Avalon Waterways / John Amatucci | Panorama Suite Bathroom on Avalon Expression
Avalon Waterways, Avalon Myanmar, Gym
Save
Photo Credit: Avalon Waterways | Gym on Avalon Myanmar
Avalon Waterways, Avalon Siem Reap, exterior
Save
Photo Credit: Avalon Waterways | Avalon Siem Reap

Avalon Waterways

Avalon Waterways, Avalon Affinity, Moselle River Photo credit: Avalon Waterways / Einhard | Avalon Affinity on the Moselle River

This river line operates approximately two dozen comfortable, classy, well-designed ships in Europe, Asia, Africa, and the Amazon for a mostly age 55-plus crowd. Avalon Waterways gets props for good tours (it organizes everything; no need for a guidebook) and creative special interest cruises — on topics including golf, wellness, wine, and beer. The fleet, with ships holding between 36 and 140 passengers each, includes two "Suite" classes where the majority of cabins are 200 square feet or larger and have beds facing sliding glass doors.

What We Love

The Library: On all river ships, space is limited due to the fact the ship has to fit into locks and under low bridges. But on its Suite Ships, Avalon makes the most of what it's got — including in this delightful, windowed room with a self-service espresso machine and views facing aft.

The Inclusions: Daily tours are included in the cruise fare (additional options are available for a fee), and so is sparkling wine with breakfast and beer and decent (and sometimes local) wine with lunch and dinner.

Fireplaces: It's a gimmick, but when you arrive back in your cabin at night, there's a roaring fire and classical music on the flat-screen TV. It's oddly soothing, even a little sexy.

Best Known For

Nice Cabins: Larger-than-average staterooms (most measuring 200 square feet) are one of Avalon's calling cards, and many on the line's 128-passenger Suite Ships come with either windows or an Open-Air Balcony — a whole wall of glass that slides open so you can catch prime views of, for instance, fairy-tale castles along the Rhine.

Tours: Avalon is affiliated with well-established tour company Globus, and that's a good thing. Certified local guides conduct tours that are above the norm. You may find yourself marveling at the insight and pride they show in local history and culture.

Shop for Cruises

Find the best Deal

Is any passenger?

Special residency rates

Who It's Best For

Those Who Like Easy Travel: This is spoon-fed travel for an English-speaking, mostly American crowd, ages 55 to 70. Theme cruises tend to attract a slightly younger demographic, as do exotic itineraries such as those on the Mekong and Irrawaddy, both of which also have a more international passenger mix.

Don't Say We Didn't Warn You

Alternative Dining Is Blah: The line makes a big deal of its complimentary Panorama Bistro, a reservations-only dinner option on Suite Ships featuring a tasting menu of a dozen small dishes. The thing is the chef's work from a corporate playbook, and the dishes are more pretty than delicious.

Wi-Fi Is Iffy: Wi-Fi is complimentary, but it can be slow and sporadic in some locations and is pretty much nonexistent on the Asian itineraries.

Fran Golden

Fran Golden is a Cleveland-based contributor to ShermansCruise who also writes for USA Today.

Avalon Waterways Videos

Shop for Cruises
Find the best Deal

Is any passenger?

Special residency rates

Not sure about Avalon Waterways? Find the cruise that's right for you.

Click Here
Shop for Cruises
Find the best Deal

Is any passenger?

Special residency rates