Avalon Waterways has led the river cruise trend, unveiling for travellers an unforgettable fusion of distinctive sights, colourful cultures and enduring traditions while sailing aboard innovative Suite Ships. In this article, the company lays out eight reasons this travel style has become a preferred way to see, experience and explore the world.
In the last 10 years, river cruising has grown by 250 per cent, making waves in the travel industry and proving that when it comes to bodies of water and ships, bigger is not necessarily better. “Our guests know that it’s possible to cruise without a crowd, explore new cultures with ease and sail in intimate settings. Aboard our spacious, state-of-the-art Suite Ships, travellers enjoy the company of an expert Cruise Director, appealing crew-to-passenger ratios, the personalised attention they deserve, and seamless dock-and-go sightseeing with insider tips and experiences only the locals can provide. River cruising is the perfect way to see and explore the world,” says Pam Hoffee, Managing Director, Avalon Waterways. So, what makes river cruising so special? Avalon Waterways lays out eight main reasons:
1) Size is seismic – It matters!
River cruise vessels are built to slowly ply the world’s weaving and meandering rivers, to port in storybook settings, or to sail under centuries-old bridges and squeeze between 12-meter-wide locks. Avalon Waterways’ floating ‘boatique’ hotels hold an average of 150 guests, although some are much smaller. Suite Ships on the Mekong River, for instance, have just 18 staterooms, accommodating 36 cruisers. And, while fellow passenger numbers are low, Avalon’s on-board crew ratio is high. In fact, on every ship, the average guest-to-crew ratio is 3:1, which means travellers are privy to copious amounts of attention to detail with crew members easily and happily catering to guests’ needs, every moment of every day.
2) See, not sea – There’s a (big) difference!
On a river cruise, travellers are not at sea. Instead, river cruises wind and bend through the heart of fascinating countries providing a panoramic view of the Old World. Always within a few feet of shore, on a river vessel, travellers pass clifftop castles, hillside vineyards, ancient villages and capital cities. Every day, and night, travellers have quick and easy access to ports-of-call.
3) Focus on to-dos, not crowds and queues
River cruise itineraries are destination-focused, with local guides who help travellers experience, and connect, with the world around them. Most river cruise itineraries also sail off-the-beaten-path, visiting small fairy-tale villages, quaint village squares, as well as family-owned wineries, bakeries and restaurants, along the way. Further, queues are not news on the world’s rivers. Avalon Waterways’ excursions typically accommodate no more than 30 guests at a time, providing every traveller an immersive and authentic experience.
4) Fresh air and perspectives
On board Avalon’s innovative Suite Ships, guests on two full decks are welcomed with 200-square-foot Panorama Suites, each featuring a wall of floor-to-ceiling windows that open 7-feet wide (the widest-opening windows in cruising). This wall of glass converts into an open-air balcony, but that’s not all. No Avalon Waterways ship has interior-only cabins. Instead, every Deluxe Stateroom and Panorama Suite offer guests natural light and most feature beds facing the views for which river cruising is famous. Public spaces also provide guests room to move and views galore. And, Avalon’s Suite Ship Sky Decks run the length and width of each vessel (approximately 20 metres longer and 2 metres wider than a football field) with wide-open spaces, fresh air, and lounge chairs aplenty.
5) Warm ‘welcomes’ along the way
Avalon works tirelessly to engage with communities visited by hiring local drivers, guides and operators for land activities. This “give back” mentality extends to the purchase of local produce, wines, beers and even bread, further connecting our guests to people, places and cultures. As a result of our partnership-approach to tourism, Avalon Waterways has been actively pursued by new towns along the world’s rivers – always promising our passengers an authentic experience.
6) Charting a new course in sustainability
The vibrant and beautiful natural surroundings of the world’s rivers are a benefit of river cruising. And, it is up to river cruise companies to preserve the precious environment and limit our footprint. As a result, Avalon Waterways has taken great strides to improve monitoring and measurement to reduce its environmental impact, to save water, to limit waste and to foster a culture of sustainability among crew and guests.
This work includes supporting ‘The Ocean Cleanup’ in its unprecedented efforts to clean up the world’s river and oceans.
7) Ship-shape Suite Ships
The world has changed but what remains certain is Avalon Waterways’ steadfast commitment to guest safety, comfort and peace of mind. To that end, the company has developed a new Avalon Assurance programme, with help from its Global Health & Safety team, dedicated to ensuring that the cleanliness of all operations exceeds today’s standards from start to finish. The river cruise operator’s new Avalon Assurance programme currently features seven major categories and protocols that span across guest experience touchpoints – all of which are being shared, explored, reviewed and renewed, accordingly.
8) Not everything goes as planned
That’s why Avalon Waterways is prepared to offer the highest standards in the lowest situations. “Avalon Waterways understands that our value and our service is measured by what we do when things go wrong even more than when everything runs as planned. We are there for our guests, offering refunds for missed services, alternative sightseeing or the opportunity to rebook and try again another time. We are a long-term business prepared to tackle short-term obstacles. Our hope is that travellers choose to explore the world with time and time again,” says Varesh Chopra, Regional Director, Globus family of brands (including Avalon Waterways).
Avalon Waterways’ complimentary AvalonGO App is designed to put a world of pre and on-trip information at your fingertips. Approximately 30 days prior to departure, and for the duration of their vacation, guests can log in to check flight and transfer information, review their itinerary, and customise their trip.