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During the christening cruise of Avalon Panorama in May, Avalon Waterways had plenty of good news to share. For starters, the Panorama had already sold out most of its departures for 2011, which was beyond the line’s expectations. Panorama’s quick success, however, is particularly encouraging for the line, which plans to launch two more Suite Ships, the Avalon Vista and Avalon Visionary, in Europe during the spring of 2012. The new additions will expand Avalon’s European fleet to 11 ships.
The new ships will offer two full decks of suites — ranging from the 200-square-foot Panorama Suites, of which there are 178, and the 300-square-foot Royal Suites, of which there are six. Like the suites on the Panorama, each suite on the Visionary and Vista feature a large seating area adjacent to a wall-to-wall, floor-to-ceiling window. When opened, this 10 foot by 7 foot window transforms the suite into an open-air balcony.
“Nothing showcases the best of river cruising like the Panorama, Visionary and Vista,” said Patrick Clark, managing director of Avalon Waterways. “Each Suite has been thoughtfully designed to enhance the European cruise experience. From bed and bathroom positioning to storage and sound-proof insulation, we provide cruisers a renewed feeling of freedom, space and comfort not found with other cruise lines.”
The Suite Ships feature a club lounge, a main lounge, a hair salon, a fitness room, a Sky Deck with a Jacuzzi tub and an Open-Air Bistro for grilled lunches.
Also next year, Avalon is offering free Wi-Fi access throughout its European Fleet, and Royal Suites guests will have exclusive access to in-room iPads to browse the Web during their stay.
The Avalon Vista will sail the 11-day Legendary Danube cruise (starting at $1,839 per person) and the 13-day Blue Danube Discovery (priced from $2,249 per person) as well as the 15-day Magnificent Europe vacation. The Avalon Visionary will sail the eight-day Romantic Rhine cruise (starting at $1,849) as well as several Christmastime cruises.
On the Mekong River next year, the line is set to unveil the new 16-room Avalon Angkor. According to Clark, the Angkor is the first passenger ship built to cruise from Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, to Siem Reap, Cambodia, which eliminates approximately seven hours of driving time on land.
The new ship is hand-finished in brass and teak and features Avalon Deluxe Staterooms that measure 172 square feet, a 24-hour bar, a spacious dining room and fitness equipment.
“With the Angkor, Avalon takes cruisers to difficult-to-reach villages, providing them with a unique experience with immersive access into the diverse cultures and histories found in Vietnam and Cambodia,” said Clark, who recently returned from touring Southeast Asia. “The Mekong excursions we provide cruisers, including a visit to Phnom Penh — the sight of the Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum and one of the Khmer Rouge Killing Fields — as well as onboard lectures, are not only eye-opening but also life-altering.”
The Angkor will say the 14-day Fascinating Vietnam, Cambodia & the Mekong River itinerary from Ho Chi Minh City to Bangkok, Thailand, priced from $3,819 per person.
Avalon Waterways is also enhancing its cruising experience in Egypt next year by chartering the five-star Mayfair and the Kasr Ibrim. With these ships come three new Egypt itineraries: the nine-day Highlights of Egypt voyage (priced from $2,606), the 12-day Pyramids, Lake Nasser & Nile Highlights itinerary (starting at $3,441) and the 13-day Egypt & the Nile in Depth cruise (priced from $3,538).