Cruising without the crowds.
It's something that I've always preferred.
Now, it seems like this style of travel will be the most palatable choice for many cruise lovers as we navigate a new world and embrace innovative and creative ways to explore in healthy, safe and responsible ways.
River cruising has grown by 250 percent during the past decade as more travelers are turned on to the intimate, fun, flexible and immersive experiences that it offers.
Avalon Waterways has been among the leaders in offering special itineraries throughout Europe and Asia. The line says its voyages provide an unforgettable fusion of distinctive sights, colorful cultures and enduring traditions while sailing aboard innovative and award-winning Suite Ships.
"Our guests know that it's possible to cruise without a crowd, explore new cultures with ease and sail in intimate settings," said Pam Hoffee, managing director of Avalon Waterways.
"Aboard our spacious, state-of-the-art Suite Ships, travelers enjoy the company of an expert cruise director, appealing crew-to-passenger ratios, the personalized attention they deserve and seamless dock-and-go sightseeing with insider tips and experiences only the locals can provide.
"River cruising is the perfect way to see and explore the world."
So, what makes river cruising so special? Avalon Waterways lays out six reasons this travel style should appeal to people seeking a more curated, flexible and intimate adventure.
Sensible Size: It matters. River cruise vessels are built to slowly navigate and explore the world's great rivers. Ships pull into port amid storybook settings. They sail under centuries' old bridges and squeeze between 12-meter-wide locks. Avalon Waterways' ships serve as quaint floating boutique hotels, carrying an average of 150 guests, with ships cruising in Asia much, much smaller. Suite Ships on the Mekong River, for instance, have just 18 staterooms, accommodating 36 cruisers.
Travelers on these voyages share a passion for exploration, and fellow passengers become fast friends while enjoying intense discovery in fantastic destinations.
On every ship, the average passenger-to-crew ratio is 3:1, which means you get personalized attention from staff and officers who are happy to engage and help with personal requests to make your experience special.
Scenic Shores: River cruises wind and bend through the heart of fascinating countries providing a panoramic view of the Old World. Because you are always within a few feet of shore on a river vessel, travelers pass clifftop castles, hillside vineyards, ancient villages and gorgeous capital cities. You have quick and easy access to ports-of-call, day and night.
Hassle-Free Daily Activities: River cruise itineraries are destination-focused, with expert guides coming directly from the communities leading daily excursions. These passionate guides help travelers experience -- and connect more fully -- with the destinations. Most river cruise itineraries also venture to off-the-beaten-path attractions, visiting small fairytale villages, quaint town squares and family owned wineries, bakeries and restaurants.
Avalon Waterways' excursions typically accommodate no more than 30 people at a time, providing every traveler an immersive and authentic experience.
A Breath of Fresh Air: On board Avalon's innovative Suite Ships, passengers on two full decks are make their homes in 200-square-foot Panorama Suites, each featuring floor-to-ceiling windows that open 7-feet wide. This wall of glass converts into an open-air balcony. Plus, every Deluxe Stateroom and Panorama Suite offers guests natural light and most feature beds facing the views for which river cruising is famous.
Public areas also provide plenty of space to move around, as well as providing great vantage points to take in the views. And, the ships' top area Sky Decks run the length and width of each vessel. These areas are our favorite places for a morning workout, daily walks and just sitting back in the lounge chairs and enjoying a beer or cocktail in the fresh air and sunshine.
A Positive Impact: Avalon engages with communities by hiring drivers, guides and operators for land activities. This "give back" mentality extends to the purchase of produce, wines, beers and even bread, further connecting travelers to people, places and culture.
River cruising benefits exclusively because of the vibrant and beautiful natural surroundings of the world's rivers. So, of course, it is up to river cruise companies to preserve the precious environment and limit their footprint. Avalon Waterways says it takes great strides to improve monitoring and measurement to reduce its environmental impact, to save water, to limit waste and to foster a sustainability culture among its crew and passengers.
This work includes supporting Ocean Cleanup in its unprecedented efforts to clean up the world's rivers and oceans.
Staying Ship-Shape: The world has changed for travelers, but it's refreshing to see that some companies are striving to keep cruising safe and enjoyable. Avalon Waterways has developed its new Avalon Assurance program, with help from its Global Health and Safety team, dedicated to ensuring that the cleanliness of all operations exceeds today's standards -- throughout your entire journey.
This new health program features seven major categories and protocols that span across the passenger experience touch-points -- and all of these items are being shared, explored, reviewed and renewed continuously.
Thanks for reading,