Last updated: 04:38 PM ET, Tue July 05 2016

Passion On The Danube

Avalon Waterways’ 14th Suite Ship makes a stylish debut in Upper Austria

Vacation Agent | Cruise Line & Cruise Ship | Claudette Covey

Passion On The Danube

[PHOTOCAPTION]PHOTO: The Avalon Passion plying the Danube.[/PHOTOCAPTION]

Five years ago, Avalon Waterways unveiled one of the most significant innovations in its 12-year history: the Suite Ship, a class of riverboats that has provided the line with a considerable competitive edge. Anyone who has sailed on one of these vessels can tell you why. The majority of staterooms, called Panorama Suites, measure a generous 200 square feet, with beds positioned to face floor-to-ceiling windows that, when opened, create open-air balconies spanning a full seven feet.

Two months ago, Avalon welcomed a 14th Suite Ship to its fleet, which was christened by U.S. soccer coach Jill Ellis in a stylish yet down-to-earth ceremony in Linz, the capital of Upper Austria. In many ways, the April ceremony reflected the ambiance of the ship itself. While sleek and stylishly appointed, Avalon Passion’s onboard vibe is relaxed and unpretentious.

Most Common & Fanciest Suites: In all, Avalon Passion offers 65 Panorama Suites, featuring Avalonbranded Comfort Collection beds (and they are indeed comfortable!) with Egyptian cotton linens and duvets. They boast bedside tables with reading lamps, couches, writing desks, three-door closets with shelves, stocked minibars, coffee tables, flat-screen televisions with movie channels, safes, hairdryers, bathrobes and slippers, and direct-dial telephones. Marble bathrooms are equipped with extremely spacious showers with glass doors, vanities with plenty of counter space, light-up makeup mirrors and L’Occitane bath products.

The ship also features 16 172-square-foot Deluxe staterooms with small windows, which include the amenities of Panorama Suites, minus coffee tables and couches.

The Avalon Passion houses two 300-square-foot Royal Suites, with living areas that can comfortably seat six people, and bathrooms with double sinks.

What’s Included: Meals; excursions; Wi-Fi; self-service tea, coffee, cappuccinos and lattes; daily bottled water in staterooms; soft drinks with lunch (lunchtime beer and wine will be included in 2017), and beer, wine and soft drinks with dinner. Next year Avalon ships will also be equipped with bikes that passengers can use on a complimentary basis. 

Entertainment: Avalon Passion’s onboard entertainment is focused on the destinations visited, bringing local lecturers and entertainers. The ship will host wine, beer and culinary tastings that put the spotlight on regional offerings.

Excursions: The inaugural itinerary tested some active optional excursions that Avalon plans to unveil next year. They included a biking excursion from Durnstein to Aggsbach, Austria; and in Vienna, a hike through the Vienna Woods, which sit at the foothills of the Northern Limestone Alps. The Vienna Woods excursion is an excellent option to recommend to customers who have visited Vienna before and are looking for something new to do. (In 2017, Avalon will debut a series of "Active Discovery" cruises, incorporating all-inclusive excursions that include activities like hiking, cycling and canoeing.)

What’s for Dinner: Evening meals in the main dining room are delicious, four-course affairs. One evening, main courses included roasted Barbary duck with savoy cabbage and duchess potatoes; pan-fried fillet of pike perch with Riesling sauce, and Romanesco broccoli; and vegetable goulash with couscous.

The latter dish is the brainchild of Vienna-based chefs Karl and Leo Wrenkh, who Avalon has partnered with to launch “Avalon Fresh,” a 2017 initiative that will bring vegetarian and vegan culinary options on board the line’s ships. Dinner menus also boast “Always Available” steak, chicken and salmon options.

The dining room is the site for breakfast buffets with eggs made to order and lunch buffets with carving and pasta stations. Late-risers can enjoy a light breakfast buffet served in the Panorama Lounge‘s Panorama Bistro. The Bistro is also the site of intimate 15-course tasting dinners with paired wines, which are once or twice a week. Weather permitting, lunch buffets are served a couple of times a week in the Sky Bistro on the Sky Deck.

Public Areas: The focal point of the ship is the spacious forward Panorama Lounge, with panoramic windows and an array of comfortable seating nooks, a bar and an outdoor seating area. The open-air Sky Deck is equipped with lounge chairs, a whirlpool and deck games. The aft Club Lounge is the go-to spot for 24/7 coffee, tea, juice, and cookies and pastries. Avalon Passion also houses a hair salon, a small but very serviceable fitness center and an elevator.

Who Goes on This Ship: Consider booking your active, well-heeled baby boomer clients who are intellectually curious and interested in active pursuits. Avalon’s new active excursions will also appeal to this group, as will its new healthy cuisine options.

Key Selling Points: The generously sized staterooms with floor-toceiling windows and beds that face the views are a huge selling point, as are the robust array of excursions available and the new vegan and vegetarian menu items.


Cruise line: Avalon Waterways

Ship: Avalon Passion

Size: 166 passengers, 440 feet

Entered Service: April 2016

Itineraries: The Avalon Passion will operate a wide range of cruises next year that vary in both lenght and destinations. Fares for the 17-night "Grand Danube" vacation between Prague and Bucharest, Romania, start at $6,289 per person double, including a three-night hotel stay in Prague. Cruise-only rates start at $5,399. Departures will be available in June, September and October. Rates for a seven-night May "Taste of the Danube" itinerary from Vienna to Budapest start at $2,039 per person double, including a one-night hotel stay in Vienna. Cruise-only rates start at $1,199.

Contact info: 877-7978791,

For more information on Avalon Waterways

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Vacation Agent Magazine

A version of this article appears in print in the June 2016 issue of Vacation Agent Magazine.


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