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We finally decided on Avalon for late June 2014. Two couples are flying into Paris for two nights. We have booked our airfare into Paris and home from Amsterdam. Staying at the Marriott Champs D E.... (can't spell it) in Paris.
Then plan on taking a train to Lucerne - for two nights. I have heard that Lucerne is one of the prettiest cities in Switzerland and I can't stand being so close and not going.
Does anyone know which train to use from Paris to Lucerne (I understand there are Swiss or French) and how long that would take? We are staying at the Renaissance or Marriott in Lucerne.
We will then take a train from Lucerne to Basel to pick up the boat. Does anyone know how long that trip takes? I am seeing on here that seems like you can board the river cruises in the early afternoon. Does anyone know when Avalon departs? Is this risky trying to leave on a Saturday morning train to Basel? I assume we get into the Basel train station and take a taxi direct to the river cruise boat - that would be the easiest with our luggage and four people although I hear the taxis' are small so may have to take two.
We will then get to Amsterdam on the last leg of the cruise - and stay one night at the Renaissance and fly home.
Does anyone see any issues with this plan that I may not be seeing?
Lucerne to Basel is about 1 hr, non stop. There is at least one train per hr. Go to sbb.ch for all swiss train info. Not risky at all. That is what I am doing with the number of trains, it is hard to miss the boat. Viking lets you on early, even provides a lunch and then you can have a look around Basel until dinner time.
Look at rail europe's site for into from Paris to Lucerne. The TGV takes about 4.5 hr to Zurich and then you will need a local to Lucerne.
One night in Amsterdam is not really enough IMO, unless you have been there before.
Be prepared, Lucerne is expensive. We spent 75chf for 2 medium Pizzas (one was cheese), 2 beers, and 2 soft drinks. 2 day trips from Lucerne that we have enjoyed were a trip to Mt Titlus and Mt Pilatus. Both were fun but I would have to say the trip up Mt Titlus was one of the most spectacular in my life. Even though it was misting on the ground, (I thought we had wasted our money), when we broke through the clouds at 10000 ft, the view was surreal. Of course we couldn't see the ground, but the above the clouds view of the Alps skyline was amazing. I can't offer any advice on the trains - sorry. However, Lucerne is a must see IMHO.
Lucerne is a must, and a visit to at least one of the mountains, we were there is July before boarding Avalon - Basel to Amsterdam. The boarding is Sunday afternoon, we (most) meet at Movenpick Hotel at Zurich Airport and this was check in of bags etc and they then provided coaches to take us to ship at Basel, departed at 3 and were on board by 4.15.
I understand that ship docking point varies from week to week and will not be confirmed until 24hrs before. Not sure how those already in Basel found ship.
Great trip, plenty to see on and off ship, great free daily tours. Have booked another one for 2014