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    by mkataoka Fodor's Editor | Posted on Nov 28, 16 at 01:31 PM
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Trip Report Loved my Avalon Tulip Time River Cruise!

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I booked Avalon because the itinerary was exactly what I wanted. That was: starting and ending in Amsterdam which meant short, non stop flights to and from Chicago, excursions to Zaanse Schans (extra charge) Rotterdam, Kukenhof, Middleburg, Ghent, Bruge (extra charge) Antwerp, Brussels (extra charge) Mastricht, Edam/Volendam (extra charge).

I upgraded to a Juliet balcony room when the single supplement charge was dropped and it really enhanced my experience, as during those short times in my cabin I was able to have an excellent view of the river sights as we traveled along, and close ups when going through the locks.

There were 140 passengers on this early April cruise, a mix of most from the U.S., as well as Canada, UK, Australia and Trinidad. The weather was cool, low 40's but perfect for the daily walking tours. We had three days of very high winds (I went in two days before the cruise began) unusual for The Netherlands, but then the weather settled, spitting light rain only occasionally.

Food on board was excellent for all meals, the wines (included at dinner) in particular, were of very high quality. Tea time every afternoon included tiny sandwiches and cookies/cakes, all delicious.

Most nights piano music was the entertainment after dinner in the lounge and one evening a very well known classical group with electric violin (sorry, can't remember the name) which everyone raved about but I took a pass on, evenings in the bar not being my thing. On the final afternoon of the cruise there was a juniper demonstration of how these gins are made in Holland as well as a cheese tasting. One afternoon we also had a lecture on Dutch history with a typically costumed couple representing that era.

All departmental crew on the ship were exemplary, cabins kept immaculate, no needs unmet, service with a smile and lots of enthusiasm. I had chosen to pre pay the gratuities and so submitted the two coupons in their envelopes, one for crew, one for Tour Director, along with the usual review questionnaire, on the last day.

The Tour Director himself was a bit of a disappointment. He had very little interaction with passengers (as opposed to my previous experience with Tauck where the tour directors have daily close personal interaction). His function seemed to be to deliver a run down of the next day's activities in the bar each evening prior to dinner and then we were turned over in divided groups to the local tour guides each morning and afternoon. The tour guides were terrific and all did their jobs well but it would have been nice to be a little more in touch with our leader. Perhaps it's the philosophy of Globus that dictates how the Tour Director performs his job.

At any rate, it was a marvelous week and I was so happy that I chose the four additional charge excursions, which along with those included in the base itinerary, rounded out those particular places I wished to see in The Netherlands and Belgium. Of all the river cruises I researched Avalon offered exactly what I wanted at a very good price, once the single supplement was waived.

This was my second river cruise, having taken a Tauck Paris/Provence river cruise last year. I'm hooked now and looking at yet another, this time to the Bordeaux region of France with a little of Spain tacked on to the end (see my inquiry re: Tom Harper River Cruises).

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