I was one of 6 travel agents given the opportunity to experience life onboard one of the latest additions to the Avalon Waterways fleet. We were onboard for the first 4 nights of their 7 night ‘Paris to Normandy’s Landing Beaches’ itinerary. This meant we would embark in Paris with all the other passengers, but disembark in Rouen. Please take a look at my review and watch my video below, and you can also see my photos on Facebook. For more details, or to book your cruise, call GoCruise with Ian on 01455821770 or 08002922850.
We flew from Birmingham, and were transferred from the airport to a hotel in central Paris. You could have a drink and relax there, or go off and explore the local area. Then at a pre-advised time we were taken to the ship and, after a quick drink in the lounge, we picked up our keys and went to unpack. I was in a Panorama Suite, with its 11 foot wide window, giving an amazing fresh-air balcony. The ship has 12 deluxe staterooms (categories E & D) with a window, 50 Panorama Suites (categories B, A & P) and 2 Royal Suites.
Before dinner we went to the lounge for a welcome drink, and the cruise director introduced everyone to the Captain, and heads of departments. A really enjoyable dinner followed that, and then we relaxed on deck for a while before having an early night, having been up for 18 hours.
We woke up in Vernon, and breakfast was a buffet in main dining room, with a good selection of hot and cold food. As I always do on a cruise, I opted for a freshly made ham and cheese omelette, and it was up there with some of the best I have had.
At 8.30 it was time to head off on the morning excursion. There was a choice of two excursions and, with the exception of just four people who chose the Chateau de Bizy, everyone opted to visit Claude Monet’s garden and house in Giverny. The gardens are kept in really good condition, and it was great to see some of the views which have become so famous from his paintings. We also looked around his house, before having some free time in Giverny.
Back on the coach it was time for some lunch, and I then spent a couple of hours in the lounge working on the laptop, and listening to the cruise director talking about all the excursions available throughout the 7 night cruise.
At 4pm we were in Les Andelys, and again there was a choice of included excursions. These were a walking tour to Chateau Gaillard, or a leisurely walking tour of Les Andelys. I decided to take some photos around the ship, and then went for a walk around Les Andelys, which has a really picturesque tree-lined square by the church. Back onboard it was time for a shower and change, as there was a short port talk on Caudebec, followed by the Welcome Gala dinner. Again the choice and quality of food was excellent. Back in my suite I watched half of Les Miserables (my favourite musical) on the television. There is a great selection of free to watch films and music on demand.
After breakfast I went on the excursion along the Route des Chaumières to see some of Normandy’s charming and traditional half-timbered houses, but it rained lightly most of the morning. The alternative excursion was to visit Jumièges Abbey, a former Benedictine Abbey church. Back onboard for lunch and then some people had booked an optional excursion to Honfleur. Having been several times before, I decided to stay onboard and catch up on emails and quotations, transferring photos, and writing this review. Judging by how hard it rained this afternoon I am glad that I decided not to go.
Back in the suite late afternoon I watched the rest of Les Miserables on the television. During the evening we sat and chatted, before and after dinner, and I then had an early night ahead of our long day tomorrow.
The sun was shining when I got up, and it looked good for the full day excursions. Today’s choices were (a) the historic Normandy landing beaches, visiting Pegasus bridge museum, Juno Beach and the British & Canadian War Cemeteries, (b) as ‘ option a’ but visiting the American War Cemetery instead, and (c) a ‘Taste of Normandy’, for a more in-depth look at the region, including a look at the Bayeux Tapestry and a local distillery.
I went for option (a) and had an amazing day out. I had never been before, and it was very moving to visit the amazingly well kept war cemeteries, and the Pegasus and Juno Beach museums. Although the excursion lasted for about 10 hours, it didn’t feel too long, and there was a light lunch included.
Back onboard there was time for a quick shower and change, before a relaxing drink and then another enjoyable dinner. After dinner we sat on deck for a while to watch the passing scenery, although late evening this turned to more industrial views as we arrived in Rouen.
Although the rest of the passengers had another day of excursions, and three more nights to look forward to, our time onboard had come to an end, to make way for another group of agents. After an early breakfast we were taken to the station and caught the TGV back to Paris. The rest of the passengers wouldn’t need to do this at the end of their cruises, as the ship would be back in Paris by then.
A very enjoyable five days spent on a high quality modern river cruise ship. The standard of accommodation, food and service was very high, and I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend an Avalon Waterways river cruise to any of my customers.
The dress code is casual, both onboard and ashore. For dinner trousers, open-neck shirts and dresses are perfectly acceptable. Smarter dress is good for the Captain’s Welcome and Farewell Dinners, but formal dress isn’t required.
Seine, Rhone & Dutch Waterways, including the following itineraries –
Rhine, Moselle, Main & Danube, including the following itineraries –
You can have your cruise tailor made if you wish, by adding pre-cruise or post-cruise hotels, upgrading your flight or train tickets, or perhaps adding an airport lounge pass. Please ask for further details.
There will be a total of 17 ships in the fleet, with the addition of Avalon Passion and Avalon Imagery which will both be launched in 2016.
Avalon also offers cruises on the Mekong, Yangtze, Irrawaddy and Amazon rivers, as well as cruises in the Galapagos Islands. The ships they use in that part of the world include the Avalon Siem Reap, Avalon Angkor, Avalon Myanmar, Century Legend, Century Paragon, Isabella II, Amazon Discovery and Aria.
For more information on any river cruising, please call GoCruise with Ian on 01455821770 or 08002922850