River ship cruising along the rivers and canals of Europe has become so popular in recent years that most of the major river ship companies operating in this region have launched several new ships over the last few months, with several more to come in the near future, to meet this growing demand. River ship cruising is the fastest growing segment within the cruise industry.
Recently I visited Holland where I spent a week cruising aboard Avalon Luminary, one of Avalon Waterways new fleet of vessels. Departing from Amsterdam, we visited such historic towns as Maastricht and Middelburg then into Belgium to the ports of Antwerp and Gent.
As it was tulip time in Holland, one of the main reasons for selecting this cruise, Avalon Luminary’s itinerary highlighted a visit to Floriade, a horticultural exhibition held once every ten years at a different location in Holland. This time Floriade was in Venlo.
Each morning there would be 4 motor coaches waiting to take us on our included daily excursion. Every passenger was issued with an ear piece and voice box to take on the excursion, thus enabling them to hear the guide without having to gather round in a huddle. Optional excursions, which incurred a charge, were offered on most afternoons and some evenings.
In our cabin we were very impressed by the floor to ceiling glass window wall with sliding doors, which gave an excellent panorama of the countryside plus the option of having fresh air, instead of relying all the time on air conditioning. All dining was open seating which meant enjoying the company of different passengers at each meal. Breakfast and lunch were buffet style and each evening dinner was served a la carte. Complimentary wine and soft drinks were served at lunch and dinner.
An added bonus, especially for the Australian passengers, was the presence of Avalon Waterways Ambassador, Steve Liebmann and his charming wife. To everyone’s delight, Steve mingled with the guests and joined in all the excursions and activities. Sandra T. PHOTO: John Pond ©