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It was awesome to experience my first river cruise along the Danube River in Eastern Europe with an awesome group of top travel agents from Manila. It’s like staying in a floating hotel, cruising from one town to another while having a lazy champagne breakfast or just chilling on the sundeck or in the comforts of your stateroom.

It’s a lot better than going on an Ocean Cruise because it can dock directly beside the city and you just literally walk into town. The experience is all-inclusive—walking tours from a local guide and eat-and-drink-all-you-can breakfast, lunch and dinner.

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Here are the details of the actual Danube River Cruise that we took. There were changes in our itinerary because of the low river level due to a long drought during the European summer season. We had to go by land from Budapest to Vienna and board a different Avalon ship, missing Nuremberg, Germany.

THE BLUE DANUBE DISCOVERY
Deluxe 7-night cruise from Budapest to Nuremberg in an outside stateroom with Avalon’s exclusive Comfort Collection Beds.

Cruise details:
13 days – Budapest to Prague (Cruise Code WBN)
Avalon Passion (Dept # 1024)
Start Budapest – October 24 – November 5

Cruise fee:
Land/Cruise – $3,809
Cruise Only – $2,799
Gratuities to Local Guides & excursion drivers are included.
+ Tip to Cruise Director & Crew (~ $300)
Port Charges $168

All Departures are guaranteed.

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Here’s a complete guide to the Avalon Danube River Cruise experience with all the awesome highlights for you to decide: Is it Worth it?

BARON TRAVEL CORPORATION
3rd Floor, PCCI Corporate Center 118 L.P. Leviste Street
Salcedo Village, Makati City, Philippines
Telephone: +632 817 4926
Email: [email protected]
Website: www.barontravel.ph

AVALON WATERWAYS
5301 South Federal Circle Littleton, CO 80123
Your Dreams Come True with the Most Epic Views.
A River Cruise product from the Globus Family
Facebook: Avalon Waterways
Instagram: @avalonwaterways
Websitehttps://www.avalonwaterways.com/

BUDAPEST (HUNGARY)

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We landed in Budapest just in time for the golden evening glow of the city. It’s beautiful at night, and it rivals the allure of Prague but with less tourists.

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We stayed at the awesome Hotel Intercontinental perfectly located in front of the Chain Suspension Bridge that connects the Buda and Pest sides separated by the Danube River.

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We ate authentic Hungarian goulash and sausages everywhere we went.

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A visit to Budapest is not complete without visiting the Great Market Hall to savor authentic Hungarian food and to bring home souvenir and sausage pasalubongs.

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Don’t miss the best ruin bar in Budapest, Szimpla Kert, located in the Jewish quarters.

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An overnight is not enough to discover the local awesome experiences in the city. Best to fly earlier and spend 3-5 days in Budapest before or after the river cruise.

Check out these Budapest Travel Guides:

• BOBO & CHICHI | Ultimate Guide for Best Things To Do in Budapest
FINDING MY WAY by Tanya LaraSearching for Stalin’s Boots in Budapest


AVALON ILLUMINATION

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Avalon Illumination—which was 134.98m long, 11.45m wide with a capacity of 168 people—was our home during our Danube River cruise.

Checking in was a breeze and it was not as crowded as an Ocean cruise.

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Once you’re settled in your room and everyone is checked in, a mandatory safety exercise is conducted.

The biggest safety threat in a river cruise is not the event of a capsize but the presence of fire hazards. The exercise covers what to do in case of a fire emergency.

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You can check the actual itinerary from the Avalon Go App to guide you as you explore the different towns along the Danube.

There are no boat-wide announcements of activities except for the daily briefing by the cruise director the night before.

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After the safety briefing, sparkling bubblies are served for the Captain’s Welcome Reception, introducing the entire crew.

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Drinks are included during breakfast, lunch, dinner, welcome and farewell reception. There’s a 50% off happy hour daily with an extensive drink selection:

Bar Menu: Sparkling Wine & Champagne, White Wines Germany, Austria | Red Wines from Germany, Austria, Italy and Rose Wines, Germany | Aperitifs, Vodka, Gin & Genever, Tequila, Rum | Spirits, Liqueurs, Brandy & Cognacs, Whisk(e)y | Whisk(e)y, Single Malt, Long Drinks | Vodka Cocktails, Gin Cocktails

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Avalon ship has three floors and the best place to stay is the Sapphire/Royal Deck on the 3rd floor.

 


AVALON STATEROOM

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Avalon’s Panorama Suite is known for its Open-Air Balcony with a floor-to-ceiling and 11′ wall-to-wall panoramic window with 7′ wide opening that slides open to nature.

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I loved the super comfortable Comfort Collection Beds angled directly facing the awesome views, with these firmness options:

Avalon’s Comfort Collection Bed
Very Soft. Soft surface with a plush topper. Sink in while you float.
Soft. Soft surface without a topper. Drift off in more ways than one.
Firm. Firm surface with a plush topper. Next port – the Land of Nod.
Very Firm. Firm surface. No topper. You can bounce a euro off this mattress.

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You can select from 10 different virtual fireplace channels to set a romantic mood with your special someone or an intimate bonding session with 6 friends while you enjoy the view.

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Each Panorama suite features 18.58 sqm of interior space with a spacious bathroom just like in a 5-star hotel.

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You’ll love the L’Occitane toilet amenities which are replenished as needed.

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The best room is the Royal Suite with 27.87 sqm interior space that features a living room where you can play mahjong, a separate toilet and bath which comes with premium L’Occitane bath amenities.

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The lowest room category, featuring two rectangular port windows, is located in the Indigo Deck below the water level.

(Please note that triple sharing is not allowed in Avalon cruises.)

 


VIENNA (AUSTRIA)

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It was cold and raining when we arrived, and you could already see the Christmas decorations in the lovely city of Vienna.

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The city is predominantly Catholic, and its main highlight is the St. Stephen’s Cathedral.

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Sacher Torte Original (Euro 16.30). Sacher Torte, coffee, sparkling water

When in Vienna, you can’t miss trying the original Sacher Chocolate torte and authentic Viennese Melange coffee.

(Check out the Original Sacher-Torte and Hot Chocolate Specialties Menu.)

 

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I remember the cruise director saying “Vienna is Music and Music is Vienna” so the best way to experience the city’s vibe is by watching a Viennese Concert.

We watched a 9-piece orchestra by Vienna Supreme Concerts with Soprano soloists and a ballet duo, with the music of Johann Strauss Jr., Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and a finale of Blue Danube Waltz.

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The Cruise boats are docked outside the Old Town of Vienna and directly beside the St. Francis of Assisi Church in Mexikoplatz.

We were able to attend a beautiful English Mass at 10 am before we set sail at 1pm.

 


AVALON DINNER

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One of the things I truly enjoyed was the eat-and-drink-all-you-can sit-down dinner amidst awesome conversations with travel influencers.

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You can do your own wine pairings every night and get to know more about the local wine specialties in the region.

Chardonnay Höpler – Austria 12%
Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve – Assennovgrad – Bulgaria 14.5%
Rose from Zweigelt – Weingut Bründlmayer – Austria 11.5%

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Caesar Salad, Grilled Salmon and Steaks are always available every night, and you can choose from the 4-course evening specials.

Dinner 4-Course and Dessert Menu
Appetizer
: Garden Salad with cucumbers, lettuce, tomatoes, red onions, cheese and hearty croutons
Soup: Cauliflower Soup with chopped chives and herb croutons
Main Course: Grilled salmon with the side dish of the day
Dessert: Cheese Board Brie, Chaumes and Cambozola with Carr’s crackers, walnuts, grapes and sweet mustard chutney

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Yes, you get to celebrate your birthday with a special cake and birthday greetings from the crew!

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Don’t miss the wine tasting sessions. I got to learn that the Austrian region specializes in white wines specially Reisling, and that they like it crisp with a dry finish (not sweet).

 


DÜRNSTEIN (AUSTRIA)

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I loved the old quaint town of Dürnstein in the wine region of Wachau.

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They are best known for the best tasting apricot, so don’t miss trying their apricot jams and products.

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Check out the town square with a 100-year old grape vine and listen to the local guide sharing anecdotes that happened in the town.

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Don’t miss to visit the Abbey Church of Dürnstein with its blue and white tower considered as a Danube River landmark of the Wachau Valley.

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Buy a bottle of Wahouua Lionhart Gin and Single Malt Whisky as pasalubong or something to enjoy throughout the river cruise.

 


AVALON BREAKFAST

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Breakfast is extra special as you cruise along a mystical foggy river with the Wachau Valley across while the sun rises in the horizon.

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Breakfast morning sessions are the best over a drink-till-you-drop mimosa (champagne + orange juice).

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Technically, it’s not Champagne but a fine bubbly of Haus Hochheim Goldlack Trocken. We would order this to start every meal.

(Breakfast Beverage Menu)

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My favorite breakfast of salmon, eggs, cheeses and Nuremberg sausages and select items from Today’s Breakfast Specials.

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We enjoyed the symphony of fall colors with the occasional castle on the hill.

 


LINZ (AUSTRIA)

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The weather was awesome and sunny when we arrived at the town of Linz where the ship stayed for the entire day.

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This was the day to choose between an optional tour of Cesky Krumlov or Salzburg, each priced at an additional €96/person.

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Decided to explore the city of Linz on our own to just relax and…

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…cleanse our palate and get our Asian fix with a buffet lunch of Chinese food.

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Plus a whole day of bargain shopping for winter clothes and lots of Rimowa.

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I loved the Gothic Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception (the largest church in Austria), with its awesome stained-glass windows.

 


RIVER LOCKS

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We passed by 9 river locks which acted like a dam and transported the ship from a lower level river or higher level when you went upstream.

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The captain carefully and accurately navigated the ship inside the lock…

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…with a width enough for two boats side by side.

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The lock was filled with water until the level was above the gate then it opened to continue the cruise upstream.

The boat’s height is 6 meters, so don’t miss to be on the sundeck on the last lock crossing Austria to Germany and to tap the bridge above the lock.

 


MELK (AUSTRIA)

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The Benedictine Abbey of Melk is stunning in its Baroque splendor, glowing in gold and towering over the city.  My personal favorite!

For more info, check out http://www.stiftmelk.at/englisch/

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The tour starts at the museum, showcasing its medieval roots, baroque treasures and the monastic life.

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We visited just in time to see the sunset vista overlooking the city of Melk in Lower Austria.

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The highlight of the visit is the magnificent old-school library with stunning ceiling frescos, display of 16,000 out of 100,000 volumes of books and the smell of old books.

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The visit ends at the Abbey Church, glowing with real gold and heavenly ceiling frescos. The Church houses the preserved remains of saints, monks and members of the House of Babenberg, Austria’s first ruling dynasty.

 


AVALON LUNCH

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Buffet lunch is served every day when you are cruising onboard the ship and not out on excursion.

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The highlight is the different meats depending on the specialty in the region, so it’s literally steak-all-you-can.

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They showcase the local specialties in Hungary, Austria and Germany.

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My favorite Bavarian feast of Pork Shank with Sauerkraut, Gnocchi and Bavarian Bier Weizen.

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You can also have a light lunch of salad, soup and sandwich in the Main Lounge if you want to take a break from heavy buffets.

 


PASSAU (BAVARIA)

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Our last stop was in the Bavarian Town of Passau with our local guide, wearing Lederhosen and carrying the authentic smell of Bavarian beer.

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The town of Passau is where the Danube, Inn and Ilz rivers meet, earning its nickname Three River City.

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It’s home to the first ever German Dachshund Museum.

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Continue your pilgrimage at St. Stephen’s Cathedral in this predominantly German Catholic town.

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The cruise stopped here because it couldn’t cross to Nuremberg which they say is one of the most beautiful towns in Bavaria, made famous by its sausages and the Nazi trials.

 


AVALON ACTIVITIES

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Don’t miss visiting the Captain’s wheelhouse (with no wheels) and learning how it cruises with two propellers at a maximum speed of 35km/h.

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You can work from Avalon, soaking in the views as you write your inspired blog posts.

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The internet allows you to work nomadically or binge watch on Netflix while cruising.

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There’s no swimming pool but you can dip in the hot tub while cruising in less than 10-degree chilling weather.

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My sons would have loved to play with this giant chess pieces and to learn playing Backgammon.

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Make sure to exercise to burn off the calories and be able to eat some more for the rest of the day.

 


REGENSBERG (BAVARIA)

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This is the most beautiful city we visited during the trip: the city of Regensburg, largest medieval old town in Bavaria.

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It is a city of towers, and this one is the most stunning, showing different window designs as you look higher up.

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Lunch is served in the historic sausage kitchen beside the iconic stone bridge of the city.

(Historische Wurstküche Menu)

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Admire the beauty, and say a prayer at the preserved German Gothic Cathedral of St. Peter, the main landmark of the city of Regensberg.


FAREWELL DINNER

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The Avalon ship and crew were all dressed up for the Halloween celebration onboard.

Standing ovation at the Captain’s Farewell Cocktails & Hospitality Crew Farewell Dinner.

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Farewell Dinner 5-Course Menu:

Appetizer: Crab Meat with Avocado Cream
Soup: Flusskrebssuppe (River Crayfish Bisque) with tomatoes, vegetable cubes and brandy cream
Intermezzo: Broiled Half Lobster Tail on saffron risotto and basil foam
Main Course: Whole Roasted Beef Tenderloin with port wine jus, garden vegetables, truffle potato, mousseline

We were treated to a special 5-course menu with the best meats and seafood the ship had to offer.

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We loved the extra virgin olive oil and balsamic vinegar they used during the dinner which you could bring home as pasalubong for €29.

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A signature Avalon dessert to culminate the culinary feasts throughout the cruise.

 


PRAGUE (CZECH REPUBLIC)

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We ended the trip exploring the city of Prague on our own. Check out our Food & Travel Guide of Prague:

OUR AWESOME PLANETHow to Prague? (Travel Guide)
• OUR AWESOME PLANETBest Restaurants in Czech Republic! (and Where to Find Them according to World’s Best Travel Bloggers)

Go on a morning walk along St. Charles Bridge before the tourist crowd arrives.

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Don’t miss the Saturday Food Market at Naplavka along the Vlatava river.

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Go on a pilgrim visit to the Church of Lady Victorious and the Infant Jesus of Prague.

(Tip: Go to the Sacristy and buy the Santo Niño image made of butterfly wings to support the Catholic missions in Africa.)

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All the Avalon Cruise guests stay at the Hotel Intercontinental located along the luxury shopping street of Parizska in the Jewish quarters in Old town.


FINAL THOUGHTS

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First, as the saying goes, “What happens in Avalon, Stays in Avalon.” So make sure you travel with a good group of friends to make the trip memorable.

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The Cruise Director, Tony Campailla, is the best because of his in-depth knowledge of the destination, heart-led leadership and witty humor. Congrats!

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I was blessed to meet the top travel agents in the Philippines and learn a thing or two about the cruise and Europe-bound Filipino tourist industries.

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My personal favorite highlights were The Melk Abbey, Regensburg and the Cruise along the Wachau Valley.

It was awesome to visit most of the predominantly Catholic towns.

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I fell in love with river cruising. It’s definitely the best way to explore Europe in style, better than the Ocean cruises, land tours or even driving from one town to another.

I was surprised that the food and drinks, featuring the local specialties in the region and eat & drink all you can, were quite good.

You can enjoy the cruise which is all-inclusive of the walking tours of the towns even without taking an extra excursion. Although I was hoping they would include Cesky Krumlov and Salzburg in the cruise price and not as an upsell optional excursion.

Is it worth it? Definitely, YES.

THE BLUE DANUBE DISCOVERY
Deluxe 7-night cruise from Budapest to Nuremberg in an outside stateroom with Avalon’s exclusive Comfort Collection Beds.

Cruise details:
13 days – Budapest to Prague (Cruise Code WBN)
Avalon Passion (Dept # 1024) changed to Avalon Illumination
Start Budapest – October 24 – November 5

Cruise fee:
Land/Cruise – $3,809
Cruise Only – $2,799
Gratuities to Local Guides & excursion drivers are included.
+ Tip to Cruise Director & Crew (~ $300)
Port Charges $168

All Departures are guaranteed.

BARON TRAVEL CORPORATION
3rd Floor, PCCI Corporate Center 118 L.P. Leviste Street
Salcedo Village, Makati City, Philippines
Telephone: +632 817 4926
Email: [email protected]
Website: www.barontravel.ph

AVALON WATERWAYS
5301 South Federal Circle Littleton, CO 80123
Your Dreams Come True with the Most Epic Views.
A River Cruise product from the Globus Family
Facebook: Avalon Waterways
Instagram: @avalonwaterways
Websitehttps://www.avalonwaterways.com/

 

If you like this Avalon Danube River Cruise guide, please pin this to look up for future reference or to share with your friends on Pinterest.

 

Live an Awesome Life,
Anton
Founder, www.OurAwesomePlanet.com 

Disclosure: Our river cruise experience is courtesy of Baron Travel.  I wrote this article with my biases, opinions and insights.

P.S. I liked Avalon Panorama Suite’s Open-Air Balcony spacious design versus other ships’ smaller rooms with external balconies.

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