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russg140

Avalon versus Viking - what are the differences?

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We currently have a river cruise booked with Viking and someone had mentioned Avalon.  So my question is: how are the two different?  Is there a difference in demographics?  Avalon seems more expensive and we’re wondering why.

 

Any help is greatly appreciated.  TIA!

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I think every cruise is different and so long as it matches your preferred itinerary you will enjoy it (river levels permitting!). So far I have only taken 1 Christmas Markets river cruise on the River Main (Nuremburg to Frankfurt) with Avalon, a few years ago. It was so much fun that we are going soon to take our Danube Christmas Markets river cruise - with Amadeus because Avalon had doubled its prices since we travelled.

 

There was a Viking cruise taking a similar itinerary when we were there. I just remember passing their tour group a few times on our included excursions. They didn't seem as happy as us, and perhaps older?

 

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We've done 3 Viking cruises and 2 with Avalon. We prefer Avalon. A big difference is the cabins. All of the Avalon cabins on the two upper decks are 200 sq. ft. Viking's Veranda cabins are 205 sq. ft, but I think that number includes the balcony. Viking's French Balcony cabins are only 135 sq. ft., and we've found that to be VERY small for two people. The beds in the Avalon cabins face the extra large sliding glass window. They also slant the bathroom wall to give more room in the shower without seriously impacting usable space in the cabin. Also, Avalon uses some shorter ships on some of the rivers. For Seine cruises this means that their ships dock in Paris rather than outside the city.

 

We found the food to be comparable on the two lines, but we're not big foodies. Our Avalon cruises were much more international with a lot more passengers from the UK, Australia, New Zealand, and Canada, whereas the Viking cruisers have been almost all from the US. All the crew, hotel, and food staff on the Avalon boats are employees of River Advice, and we've been very impressed with the service we received with Avalon. WE also got good service with Viking.

 

The other thing to do is to look closely at the routes. For instance on our last Avalon cruise we did the Rhone/Saone. The thing that sold us on Avalon was their itinerary from Arles to the village of St. Jean de Losne. Viking's cruise was from Lyon to Avignon or vice versa. The extra day of relaxing sailing on a part of the river that Viking didn't do appealed to us.

 

Finally, Viking's large fleet gives it an advantage when there are water issues like Europe is experiencing now. Viking has enough ships spread out over the rivers that they can do ship swaps when smaller lines may not have that option.

 

Both are great lines with great products that won't disappoint, so look at the itineraries and the deals, roll the dice and don't look back. 

 

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We like both lines and had a great time on both of our Avalon and Viking cruises. We went on the Luminary with Avalon and did not like this river boat. It's an older boat and was very noisy. I will travel with Avalon again if I like the route but on a newer vessel. Now I love the clean lines of the Viking boats and the service was top notch as well as the food. To be honest I felt Viking was a step up from Avalon.  

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We have travelled with both a number of times...  And honestly, there are more similarities than differences IMHO.  You do need to look at the itinerary closely, and see what differences there are there. We are now repeating rivers, and find that Avalon often offers "choices" for excursions, so we can do or see something different.  For example, we just did the Seine again, and at every stop - except Rouen - there was a choice that we had not done before.  In Rouen, we planned our own day. 

Food is subjective - and relies quite heavily on the chef and his crew.  

Viking has been in the business so long that they have many of the details down pat. I do agree that the clean lines of the Viking boats are appealing - and their staircase to the lower level (we always travel lowest category) is one of the best we have seen (steps easy to climb, good railing etc).  But, many of the Avalon boats are smaller and carry less passengers, which does appeal to us.

I have noticed that Avalon is often changing or amending their itineraries.  For example, on the Eastern Europe itineraries, there are some that start close to the Black Sea and Km 0 on the Danube - when many others start in Giurgiu, Romania. 

Viking is known for their "sales that never end"...  but you can often get a great price.  Avalon may be higher is some cases, but when they have a sale - it can be amazing!!  Just keep looking at all of the companies - and get on their e-mail lists.  

Don't 2nd guess your choice... just enjoy your trip!!

Fran

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It has been covered in other posts, but Avalon allows flatirons and curling irons onboard, while they are banned on Viking.

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12 hours ago, Shipswap said:

It has been covered in other posts, but Avalon allows flatirons and curling irons onboard, while they are banned on Viking.

Just back from Viking, took my curling iron, no problem. This was our third trip on Viking and this was the first time someone pointed out that is says that in the paperwork, saw somewhere on these boards that they are removing that statement. No one mentioned the curling iron situation...

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