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  #1  
Old February 13th, 2014, 08:09 AM
tomkat50 tomkat50 is offline
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Default AMA vs Avalon

Have never river cruised before, but started researching over a year ago for a September 2015 cruise. Decided on AMA....but found an awesome itinerary on Avalon (12 days from Basel to Vienna). Has anyone out there cruised with both lines? If so, do you think there are any significant differences (food, excursions, etc.)?? My husband read some negative comments on the meals and is a little leary about Avalon now. Any thoughts would be appreciated!
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  #2  
Old February 13th, 2014, 08:39 AM
caviargal caviargal is offline
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Originally Posted by tomkat50 View Post
Have never river cruised before, but started researching over a year ago for a September 2015 cruise. Decided on AMA....but found an awesome itinerary on Avalon (12 days from Basel to Vienna). Has anyone out there cruised with both lines? If so, do you think there are any significant differences (food, excursions, etc.)?? My husband read some negative comments on the meals and is a little leary about Avalon now. Any thoughts would be appreciated!
Food is subjective and I can only offer our experience.

We have done both lines, and our first cruises were with Avalon. Then we tried AMA and have not looked back. This also is the case for friends we travel with who have been on both lines with us.

We prefer AMA for the food quality and variety, wine quality, warm and gracious CDs and staffs; we found Avalon to have a more formal service approach and older CDs who were very efficient but without the personality and personal touch we experienced on AMA.

We love the AMA cheese board at lunch and dinner and the dining room layouts make for less congestion. We also appreciate that more things are served to you on AMA rather than being self serve - such as soups at lunch.

We enjoy their range of included excursions that provide an active experience option for us and a slow paced for my mother, who often travels with us.

We preferred the overall personality of our two AMA cruises.

IMO, the devil is in the details and the attention to detail we enjoy with AMA is excellent.
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Last edited by caviargal; February 13th, 2014 at 08:40 AM.
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  #3  
Old February 13th, 2014, 03:48 PM
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I think that perhaps AMA is slightly more expensive than Avalon. Avalon is a good, solid, middle of the road experience. For an analogy, I would equate Avalon with Royal Caribbean on ocean cruises. Perhaps AMA is more like Celebrity. You usually get what you pay for.

I also think that the time of year you travel might make a difference. I am a school teacher so I can only travel in the summer. Our river cruise on the Seine was filled with school teachers and their spouses, plus several teenagers and their families.

I would look at the particular ships used and the cabin sizes for the level you plan to book also. I like that on Avalon all cabins are the same size.
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Old February 13th, 2014, 05:58 PM
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I think that perhaps AMA is slightly more expensive than Avalon. Avalon is a good, solid, middle of the road experience. For an analogy, I would equate Avalon with Royal Caribbean on ocean cruises. Perhaps AMA is more like Celebrity. You usually get what you pay for.
I agree, and for us the quality of the food and wine on AMA was worth the price difference.

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I would look at the particular ships used and the cabin sizes for the level you plan to book also. I like that on Avalon all cabins are the same size.
This is very important. River ship dimensions are limited by the locks, so the ships with more cabins [Viking] have to make it up either with smaller cabins or with fewer public areas. We were on one of AMA's older ships (Cello); all cabins are 170 sf, which was quite comfortable. On their newer ships the smallest cabins are 170 and for a little more money you get even more space (including real balconies for those who think this is important). [They also have a couple of Single cabins on each ship; they're only 140 sf but with only one bed they are still roomy enough, and the single price is very reasonable.]
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Booked:
Crystal Serenity Mediterranean 5-7-2014
Celebrity Eclipse Southern Carib 3-1-2015
Celebrity Xpedition Galapagos 5-10-2015
AMA Provence 9-3-2015
Norwegian Pride of America Hawaii 9-2016

Sailed:
Coral Princess Panama Canal 1-19-2014
AmaCello Rhine 8-30-2013
Coral Princess Alaska 6-26-2013
Norwegian Dawn Caribbean 3-3-2013
Celebrity Summit Caribbean 1-28-2012
Oceania Insignia Mediterranean 5-17-2011
Fair Dinkum (Erie Canal bareboat) 7-18-2003
Costa Italia Caribbean 5-18-1974
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Old February 14th, 2014, 05:04 PM
tomkat50 tomkat50 is offline
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I think all the above comments are the reasons I narrowed it down to AMA. But unfortunately AMA does not have a cruise that travels the Rhine, Main, and Danube. Would I be terribly disappointed choosing Avalon based on itinerary alone, having no other river cruise line to compare it to?
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Old February 14th, 2014, 06:26 PM
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Are you thinking this will be your only river cruise? I personally would prefer to raise my odds of enjoying the experience, so that I would look forward to a second, third, etc. cruise to eventually cover all the interesting itineraries.

AMA's Amsterdam to Basel cruise is great. It also allows you to spend some time at each end in interesting places (for example, you could fly to Paris and take a train to Brugges and then Amsterdam; after the cruise you could go to Lucerne and Zurich before flying home).

They also have a Danube cruise that (IMHO) focuses on the best part: Prague to Budapest, and you should certainly spend extra time in each of those cities. [I don't think the Main Canal is anything except a way to get from the Rhine to the Danube = a wasted day. JMHO] We'd like to do that someday.

The AMA Provence itinerary (Lyon to Arles) is going to be the centerpiece of a 3-week tour of France (Normandy, Brittany, Loire, Dordogne by car; cruise; Provence, Paris) for us next year.

I think each of these itineraries is a great trip: you have 7 days on board and spend extra time to thoroughly explore two areas. The pace on a river cruise can be very hectic (one or two ports each day), so this mix gives you time to get over jet lag before the cruise and time to relax from the cruise before flying home.
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Booked:
Crystal Serenity Mediterranean 5-7-2014
Celebrity Eclipse Southern Carib 3-1-2015
Celebrity Xpedition Galapagos 5-10-2015
AMA Provence 9-3-2015
Norwegian Pride of America Hawaii 9-2016

Sailed:
Coral Princess Panama Canal 1-19-2014
AmaCello Rhine 8-30-2013
Coral Princess Alaska 6-26-2013
Norwegian Dawn Caribbean 3-3-2013
Celebrity Summit Caribbean 1-28-2012
Oceania Insignia Mediterranean 5-17-2011
Fair Dinkum (Erie Canal bareboat) 7-18-2003
Costa Italia Caribbean 5-18-1974
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Old February 14th, 2014, 07:44 PM
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Originally Posted by tomkat50 View Post
I think all the above comments are the reasons I narrowed it down to AMA. But unfortunately AMA does not have a cruise that travels the Rhine, Main, and Danube. Would I be terribly disappointed choosing Avalon based on itinerary alone, having no other river cruise line to compare it to?

I have never sailed AMA. Avalon is a solid product. The reviews on Cruise Critic are positive. Some posters have replied that they prefer certain small details on AMA. Will the lack of certain details ruin your cruise or will the sights and experiences make up for it. Only you know the answer.
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  #8  
Old February 14th, 2014, 10:09 PM
cbb cbb is offline
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If the itinerary is what is driving your decision, then go with the itinerary. Remember, food is subjective, what kind/year of wine is offered may be of little interest to you, even size of cabin might not be a big deal.

Most of the cruise lines are not going to be very different. They can't be or they would go out of business, therefore, it comes down to small details or someone else's opinions.

Only a very few people out of thousands of passengers a year participate in CruiseCritic so you'll have to decide how much credence to give to their opinion.

We cruise to see the rivers and towns and don't pay attention to a stranger's idea of what is great. Go with what interests you....especially an itinerary that YOU like.
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  #9  
Old February 15th, 2014, 02:42 AM
franski franski is offline
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Originally Posted by cbb View Post
If the itinerary is what is driving your decision, then go with the itinerary. Remember, food is subjective, what kind/year of wine is offered may be of little interest to you, even size of cabin might not be a big deal.

Most of the cruise lines are not going to be very different. They can't be or they would go out of business, therefore, it comes down to small details or someone else's opinions.

Only a very few people out of thousands of passengers a year participate in CruiseCritic so you'll have to decide how much credence to give to their opinion.

We cruise to see the rivers and towns and don't pay attention to a stranger's idea of what is great. Go with what interests you....especially an itinerary that YOU like.
I agree wholeheartedly....

You have no control over the chef - or the servers. Just as you have no control over the Cruise Manager. All of these things can affect your experience(s).

DH and I choose itinerary, then look at dates and then prices. We have traveled with Uniworld (x 3), Scenic (x2) AMA & Viking so far. I would travel with any of them again. Our first with Avalon is this year --> south of France. We are booked with Viking again next year.

In our experience, AMA was the weakest link. But - this was our experience - and so I offer up that this is completely subjective.

Pick what you like - and don't second guess your decision.

Fran

Last edited by franski; February 15th, 2014 at 02:43 AM.
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  #10  
Old February 15th, 2014, 06:25 AM
caviargal caviargal is offline
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Quote:
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If the itinerary is what is driving your decision, then go with the itinerary.

We cruise to see the rivers and towns and don't pay attention to a stranger's idea of what is great. Go with what interests you....especially an itinerary that YOU like.
I agree that if itinerary is your first priority - and it seems to be from your post - then you should make that the reason to choose accordingly. For us, it is a factor but not the most important one.

I agree that Avalon has a solid, reliable product and IMO, especially as a first time river cruiser, you would likely be quite satisfied - if it turns out that you enjoy river cruising overall.
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  #11  
Old February 16th, 2014, 07:26 PM
tomkat50 tomkat50 is offline
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Thanks for all of your comments. You guy's are awesome! You've helped me make my mind up....and eased my husbands, also! We'll probably be booking sometime this week.....I'm sooooo excited already! I hope all of you stay active on Cruise Critic, as I know I will have many other questions for you!
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