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  #121  
Old April 10th, 2012, 11:55 AM
pingpong1 pingpong1 is offline
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Keenmolly - I would feel sad if you cancelled your trip just because of something that I might have said or implied. You will find the things on the trip that you will enjoy. Every morning, I very much enjoyed and looked forward to the flutes of champagne I had with the smoked salmon and cream cheese! Each lunch, I enjoyed the the make-your-own salad bars with a selection of dressings and I enjoyed the cold-cuts (cold sliced meats and cheeses) that were available at every meal. My Dad loved the "make your own" ice cream deserts at the end of each lunch. At dinner, there were many different selections to choose from, as well. The included tours and guides that Avalon arranged for us in each port of call were all interesting and helped us "walk off" the calories we had packed away the evening before. Our weather was wonderful and I very much enjoyed sitting up on the Sky Deck while we were cruising down the Danube and just taking in the scenery. Like every vacation I ever took - there have been things I liked, things I didn't like quite so much, and other things that were "just fine". The vast majority of people I spoke with on our cruise were having an overall good time. We'll all be looking forward to your report - both the positve AND the negative when you get back. Have a GREAT time! Regards, Kelvin
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  #122  
Old April 11th, 2012, 06:05 AM
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Hi all
PingPong ,while we did float the possibility of canceling way back in February Avalon have since then done their best to allay any fears we had re the food & drink.
We are still waiting to be convinced that all they said was not just spin, so we guess that the proof will be in the pudding .
We notice that at no time did anyone say that they had returned a meal to the kitchen due to it not being an acceptable standard .

With only 10 days till we start our 27 hours of travel to Budapest we have decided to think positively and are looking forward to a great cruise and subsequent time in Europe .We will be reporting as we go ,if reports aren't coming thick and fast it will be due to the fact that the wine is fine, the food is great, and we are too busy enjoying ourselves.
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  #123  
Old April 11th, 2012, 10:15 AM
tstr tstr is offline
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Hi all
PingPong ,while we did float the possibility of canceling way back in February Avalon have since then done their best to allay any fears we had re the food & drink.
We are still waiting to be convinced that all they said was not just spin, so we guess that the proof will be in the pudding .
We notice that at no time did anyone say that they had returned a meal to the kitchen due to it not being an acceptable standard .

With only 10 days till we start our 27 hours of travel to Budapest we have decided to think positively and are looking forward to a great cruise and subsequent time in Europe .We will be reporting as we go ,if reports aren't coming thick and fast it will be due to the fact that the wine is fine, the food is great, and we are too busy enjoying ourselves.

Keenmolly - I also am on an Avalon cruise in 10 days we will be traveling in opposite direction of you (sarting with 3 day pre cruise in Prague). I also have some concerns but as other posters have said much of it depends on the chef and other factors although I would hope that it is somewhat better than average "chain" restaurants I also do not expect a 5 star gourmet experience. What I do hope to experience is some ethnic variety in both the food and drink. I also am on an older ship (Tapestry) but got a great deal on this especially for the cabin I have so I am sure it will all work out.

Have a great trip!
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  #124  
Old April 11th, 2012, 10:52 AM
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Keenmolly - I also am on an Avalon cruise in 10 days we will be traveling in opposite direction of you (sarting with 3 day pre cruise in Prague). I also have some concerns but as other posters have said much of it depends on the chef and other factors although I would hope that it is somewhat better than average "chain" restaurants I also do not expect a 5 star gourmet experience. What I do hope to experience is some ethnic variety in both the food and drink. I also am on an older ship (Tapestry) but got a great deal on this especially for the cabin I have so I am sure it will all work out.

Have a great trip!
TSTR, You will have a wonderful trip as the Danube itinerary is just lovely! Prague and Budapest are fabulous and we too were on the Tapestry for the first 5 days of our Danube cruise last November due to low water levels. We were able to be placed on the Panorama (our original booking) for the final 2 days after being bussed from 1 port to the subsequent one up river from the low area in the river. The Tapestry staff were wonderful and we actually thought the food last Fall was better on the Tapestry then on the Panorama. After 2 Avalon cruises, on 3 different ships...we have determined that as subjective as personal tastes goes with a Dining experience, much of the food types and quality with Avalon truly depends on who the Chef is for that cruise. Our best by far was on our first Avalon cruise on the Affinity where "Stefan" was the Chef. His food was truly excellent, good variety and flavors as well as preparing many selections that were regional for our cruise itinerary (mostly Germany and Bavarian ports). I would rank the Chef on the tapestry from last Nov. as our 2nd choice and the food on the Panorama 3rd. Hopefully after all the negative comments regarding the food on the Panorama since last fall, that as this new cruising season unfolds....Avalon has made a change in their Chef on the Panorama.
Yes the Tapestry is an older ship but we were quite surprised how well it has been maintained and most all the comments from our cruise mates were very positive and many like the cozier ambience of the Tapestry over the Panorama. For us, we very much enjoyed our larger cabin and the decor of the Panorama but would not hesitate if a good opportunity for a cruise deal came up to go back to the Tapestry.

Have a great trip!! FYI, if you are staying at the Hilton in Prague, there is a great Czech Pub restaurant we loved with a wonderful selection of Czech beers and authentic Czech food within easy walking distance. It is called Pivovarsky Klub, was recommended by the Concierge at the Hilton. Very, very reasonably priced.Another good choice is Kolkovna Celnice, very near the Old Town Square.Also walking distance from the Hilton.

In Budapest, our favorite was Cafe Kor...ate there twice.

Have a great trip!!!
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  #125  
Old April 11th, 2012, 11:20 AM
tstr tstr is offline
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TSTR, You will have a wonderful trip as the Danube itinerary is just lovely! Prague and Budapest are fabulous and we too were on the Tapestry for the first 5 days of our Danube cruise last November due to low water levels. We were able to be placed on the Panorama (our original booking) for the final 2 days after being bussed from 1 port to the subsequent one up river from the low area in the river. The Tapestry staff were wonderful and we actually thought the food last Fall was better on the Tapestry then on the Panorama. After 2 Avalon cruises, on 3 different ships...we have determined that as subjective as personal tastes goes with a Dining experience, much of the food types and quality with Avalon truly depends on who the Chef is for that cruise. Our best by far was on our first Avalon cruise on the Affinity where "Stefan" was the Chef. His food was truly excellent, good variety and flavors as well as preparing many selections that were regional for our cruise itinerary (mostly Germany and Bavarian ports). I would rank the Chef on the tapestry from last Nov. as our 2nd choice and the food on the Panorama 3rd. Hopefully after all the negative comments regarding the food on the Panorama since last fall, that as this new cruising season unfolds....Avalon has made a change in their Chef on the Panorama.
Yes the Tapestry is an older ship but we were quite surprised how well it has been maintained and most all the comments from our cruise mates were very positive and many like the cozier ambience of the Tapestry over the Panorama. For us, we very much enjoyed our larger cabin and the decor of the Panorama but would not hesitate if a good opportunity for a cruise deal came up to go back to the Tapestry.

Have a great trip!! FYI, if you are staying at the Hilton in Prague, there is a great Czech Pub restaurant we loved with a wonderful selection of Czech beers and authentic Czech food within easy walking distance. It is called Pivovarsky Klub, was recommended by the Concierge at the Hilton. Very, very reasonably priced.Another good choice is Kolkovna Celnice, very near the Old Town Square.Also walking distance from the Hilton.

In Budapest, our favorite was Cafe Kor...ate there twice.

Have a great trip!!!

BP - Thanks for the tips and reassurance! Yes we are staying at the Hilton. My wife is Czech (Slovak) as her mother was born in Czechoslovakia so the info on the local food and beer is appreciated! So far Avalon has been great! Every email I have sent has been answered promptly, friendly and been informative. Because of lock closures we will begin the cruise in Passau instead of Nurenberg due to lock maintenance. We will still visit both Nurenberg and Regensberg via motor coach. To make up for this Avalon has added 2 additional port stops with tours Durnstein and Bratislava (which is especially nice for my wife).
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  #126  
Old April 11th, 2012, 05:37 PM
Avalon Waterways Avalon Waterways is offline
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For a broader view of experiences had with Avalon Waterways, we invite you to join our online community on Facebook at www.facebook.com/AvalonWaterways.

There, our cruisers (and our team) are happy to answer questions, provide personal insight and share opinions.
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  #127  
Old April 12th, 2012, 06:36 AM
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  #128  
Old April 12th, 2012, 01:21 PM
Royalgirl Royalgirl is offline
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Default Just back from Avalon Panorama

I have been following this thread as we are first time river cruisers on Avalon's Legendary Danube departing in early May from Prague to Budapest.

We have been looking forward to this trip and must admit after reading some of the recent reviews of "okay" food we are apprehensive to say the least. As Avalon boasts "superb dining" and "quality wines" we were definitely anticipating something better than "okay".

Food is not everything but if it's promised as something special it's a disappointment when that doesn't occur.
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  #129  
Old April 12th, 2012, 02:04 PM
caviargal caviargal is offline
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I have been following this thread as we are first time river cruisers on Avalon's Legendary Danube departing in early May from Prague to Budapest.
Are you spending time in Prague? It is such a lovely city and we enjoyed much more than we anticipated!

Have a wonderful trip.
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  #130  
Old April 12th, 2012, 03:29 PM
Royalgirl Royalgirl is offline
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Yes, we have 4 nights in Prague before the cruise. It will be our first visit to the city. We are staying at the Prague Hilton - not the Old Town.

Any suggestions for restaurants, pubs etc. would be appreciated. I understand the hotel has a car/taxi service for a flat rate which we may use to get to the Old Town and Castle etc. Not sure about the Metro/tram as to how close they are to the hotel.
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  #131  
Old April 12th, 2012, 04:53 PM
K2DangerGirl K2DangerGirl is offline
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As Avalon boasts "superb dining" and "quality wines" we were definitely anticipating something better than "okay".
I think it helps to remember these are marketing materials and that even on a river ship they are preparing meals for many people at once so it is rarely going to match the standards of a really fine land restaurant. Do you really expect them to say "Our food is just okay and the wine is plonk!"
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  #132  
Old April 12th, 2012, 05:12 PM
Royalgirl Royalgirl is offline
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K2 - I do understand marketing but at the prices we are paying for these cruises we do expect something better than "okay". I never expected 5 star dining but something approaching better than average.

Most of my concern relates to posters who feel that Avalon has cut back on the quality of the food served. River cruising has become quite popular and surely with increased popularity and bookings we shouldn't have cutbacks.
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  #133  
Old April 13th, 2012, 02:32 AM
pingpong1 pingpong1 is offline
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RoyalGirl - After posting some of my initial comments/impressions of my recently completed "European Splendor" cruise on the Avalon Imagery, I held off for a couple of days on making any additional comments because I thought I might have been worrying folks too much about their upcoming trip/s and perhaps creating too many doubts about their vacation decisions. Afterall, the things that might strike me as being a bit deficient might be perfectly okay with the majority of the rest of you. "When you set a low standard for yourself - you're never disappointed!"

I have also not yet posted my formal "members review" of the cruise which will cover many areas for the same reason. I'm jotting down a lot of notes as I think about them. I don't want to be seen as putting a "damper" on other people's enthusiasm for their upcoming trip/s - for which they've paid a lot of money, just as I did. I've been thinking about what I'm going to say, I've been reviewing copies of all the dinner menus that I saved from the trip, I've been looking at the many pictures I took during the cruise, and for the first time - I went to the member's review section and read some of the reviews written over the past year that were specific to the Avalon Imagery, the boat I rode on. I was most surprised to see (for the first time) that a couple of the reviews posted within the past 10 months - especially those submitted by "foster3312" and "galleonslap", almost exactly mirrored of few of my own impressions. It was like the 3 of us were on the "same cruise", although all 3 experiences were months apart.

I also have been thinking about some of the comments I heard from my fellow cruisers on our last morning together over coffee. Everyone seemed to have a good time. I don't think anyone regreted the expience. If they did, they didn't tell me. But that's also not the same thing as everyone thinking that everything was "perfect", and it doesn't mean that those same people wouldn't go on a "different cruise" or use a "different company" next time. As one of the recent posters pointed out, perhaps some of the superlatives and descriptions used in the advertising literature are a bit too inflated (let's say "magical") - and perhaps our mistake is in taking those descriptions and expertly-posed pictures in the brochure far too literally.

An example - On page 23 and page 26 of the current 2012 Avalon catalog you see pictures of two couples and one couple, respectively, sitting ostensibly all by themselves in an uncluttered, and what seems to be a "private" and intimate dining atmosphere. That is NOT the reality that you're going to experience at dinner on your cruise. In reality, there is one seating time for dinner - usually at 7:00PM. All passengers (at least 150) scramble ("herd") into a single, relatively small dining room and sit down at the same time at tables with place settings for 4, 6, and 8 people. The tables and chairs are close together, the ceiling is low, and there are only 8 or 9 waitstaff who are each trying to take care of about 4-5 tables for all the orders, bring all the food, serve all the beverages, and clear the tables between courses. There's a lot of people in a small area and the conversation and background noise becomes so loud that it is hard to hear what the person alongside of you is saying. Each night, my Dad and I tried to "snag" the ONLY table for 2 in the entire dining room. It was near the dining entrance and further away from all the other tables. We both have hearing difficulties and if we were sitting in any other part of the room we simply would not have been able to hear or communicate with each other. All we would have heard was a loud and indistinguishable ambient "noise" all around us. Yet page 26 of the brochure refers to the dining room as being "spacious" and providing "an elegant yet relaxed atmosphere that will accentuate your dining experience." There is a case where the advertising does not reflect "reality". But I can't say with any certainty that many or most of the diners did not enjoy that atmosphere. It just wasn't enjoyable for me. There are "quiet times" to be had on the cruise and on the boat. I just don't think you're going to find them during dinner.

I have not read any reviews that I could say were patently "false" or "untrue". Some reviewers place a heavier emphasis on some things than others might. The more of us who take the time to write and submit reviews will provide a broader base for making individual decisions. There were 150 people on my cruise but so far, I seem to be the only person who is furnishing any comments about it. The other 149 might feel totally different about it. Best Regards.
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  #134  
Old April 13th, 2012, 05:31 AM
caviargal caviargal is offline
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Originally Posted by K2DangerGirl View Post
I think it helps to remember these are marketing materials and that even on a river ship they are preparing meals for many people at once so it is rarely going to match the standards of a really fine land restaurant. Do you really expect them to say "Our food is just okay and the wine is plonk!"
We had very good food on the Avalon Luminary and Affinity at evening meals thanks to Chef Stefan who was a magician in that small galley - even as compared to good quality land restaurants and better than the premium cruise lines for certain (Holland, Celebrity, Princess).

And the food on our recent AMA cruise was uniformly excellent - also as compared to a up market land restaurant. And the overall dining room experience (service, ambiance) was impressive.
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Last edited by caviargal; April 13th, 2012 at 05:37 AM.
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  #135  
Old April 13th, 2012, 07:53 AM
Royalgirl Royalgirl is offline
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Pingpong - thanks for taking the time to give us more details on your cruise experience especially concerning the dining issue.

We are now more prepared for our trip and perhaps have lowered our expectations somewhat. A crowded and noisy dining room makes for difficult conversations with your tablemates. At least we are now forewarned.

Group experiences are not something we are accustomed to as we are mainly independent travellers. We will adust no doubt.
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  #136  
Old April 15th, 2012, 01:19 AM
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Yes the dining room is crowded and can be noisy. From others that were on the continuation of the cruise that Pingping1 was on (we boarded the as Kelvin was getting off), they stated that the noise was much less on our portion of the cruise. There were fewer folks in the lounge after dinner, too.

We are about to leave our ship and we are traveling for another week before getting home. I will post by the beginning of May my trip summary. We have been cruising with Patrick Clark, President of Avalon. He took time to talk with anyone who wanted to complain or praise Avalon.

Well on to Bucharest!
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  #137  
Old April 15th, 2012, 07:07 AM
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Cool Noisy dining

Hi Webfoot
Perhaps it was quieter due to the fact PingPong was not on board anymore!!!
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  #138  
Old April 15th, 2012, 08:40 AM
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Originally Posted by caviargal View Post
We had very good food on the Avalon Luminary and Affinity at evening meals thanks to Chef Stefan who was a magician in that small galley - even as compared to good quality land restaurants and better than the premium cruise lines for certain (Holland, Celebrity, Princess).

And the food on our recent AMA cruise was uniformly excellent - also as compared to a up market land restaurant. And the overall dining room experience (service, ambiance) was impressive.
I must totally agree with Caviargal about the quality food we had on-board the Affinity in Oct. 2010 when Chef Stefan was in the galley. His entree's were flavorful, well presented and offered the variety of the local cuisine we were hoping for. He is a true reflection of what Avalon advertises in their Dining comments and if you happen to be on one of the Avalon riverboats with him, you will be quite pleased and undoubtedly satisfied! It is no different then going to any other fine dining venue, it so matters who the Chef of the evening is as to the quality of the food. Hopefully Avalon will see what makes him special in the Kitchen and look to hire others for their other riverboats who are equally capable. Our Dining experience on the Panorama in Nov. 2011 was not nearly the quality of Chef Stefan, not bad just not nearly as good.
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  #139  
Old April 15th, 2012, 09:13 AM
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Yes, we have 4 nights in Prague before the cruise. It will be our first visit to the city. We are staying at the Prague Hilton - not the Old Town.

Any suggestions for restaurants, pubs etc. would be appreciated. I understand the hotel has a car/taxi service for a flat rate which we may use to get to the Old Town and Castle etc. Not sure about the Metro/tram as to how close they are to the hotel.
Royalgirl,
We were in Prague for several nights post cruise this past November and ate twice at a pub-style restaurant called Pivovarsky Klub. Excellent local beers and wonderful Czech food very reasonably priced. They also had daily Luncheon menus serving till 3p which were unbelievably inexpensive and so very tasty. There were many from our Avalon group who ate there on varying days and all were as pleased as us. It is easy walking distance from the Hilton and the Concierge can give you a map and the walking directions. You can also read the reviews on -line on Trip Advisor. Our 2nd favorite was Celnice Kolkovna which is also walking distance from the Hilton if you are an able- bodied walker who enjoys walking. It is closer to the Hilton in Old Town Square and about the mid-way point if walking from the Hilton you will be staying at and actually getting to the Old Town Square. You can also read about this restaurant on Trip Advisor. We had a wonderful Thanksgiving meal here and would go back again. Reasonably priced and a bit larger and not as much of a Pub Style as Pivovarsky Klub. Both highly recommended by others on this Board as well as the Concierge at the Hilton. Cafe Imperial was very good as well, highly recommended by others on this Board and you would probably need reservations to get in for Dinner. More upscale and a bit pricier then Celnice Kolkovna. It also is on the main street that you walk on to get to the Old Town Square. This was where we ate on our last night with some good friends we met on our cruise. For the quality of the food and price, my 1st 2 recommendations were our favorite. You will pay more for Dining in the Old Town Square around the Astronomical Clock and in my opinion from the 2 meals we ate in that prime location, food quality and prices were not nearly as good. Most of the locals will say the same. We walked daily from the Hilton to the Old Town Square with no difficulty and over to the Charles bridge and across the bridge as well to the town area on the other side which also has many nice restaurants, shops and St. Nicholas Cathedral which was beautiful. Prague is so beautiful and the cold weather of the time we were there just for us enhanced our experience of the Christmas Markets and wanting to be out and about walking to see so many lovely sights. Just wear good walking shoes. The Hilton does offer a flat rate car transport service to and from the Hotel to Old Town Square. It is not inexpensive and if you are able to walk and like to get the exercise, you could just as easily walk it and take in the sights along the way. It felt very safe to us walking it both in day as well as night and was beneficial to help keep the pounds off from all we were eating. We walked by ourselves as well as with others who we made friends with on the boat, all of varying ages. We were the youngest of our little group, late 50's but no one had issues with the walk.
If you have time, take the elevator up to the top of the Astronomical Clock at night and the scenery is beautiful looking over the city of Prague. We got some great pictures from the top of the tower, even at night as all the buildings were lit up. Just beautiful! Have a great trip
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  #140  
Old April 15th, 2012, 01:04 PM
Royalgirl Royalgirl is offline
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Thank you BPcruiser! I really appreciate your taking the time to respond to my request. I have a small journal to take with me and I am writing in your dining recommendations and information.

We are really looking forward to this trip as we will be with three other couples who are very good friends and no doubt will add to our enjoyment of this cruise.
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