The Small-Ship, River Cruise Experience In-depth



In the last decade, river cruising has grown by 250 percent (250%), making waves in the travel industry and proving that, when it comes to bodies of water and ships, bigger is not necessarily better.

River cruisers know that it’s possible to cruise without a crowd, explore new cultures with ease and sail in intimate settings. Aboard Avalon’s spacious Suite Ships, travellers 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 seven reasons this travel style has become a preferred way to travel.

1. Size is seismic. It matters.

River cruise vessels are built to ply the world’s meandering rivers, to sail under centuries’ old bridges and squeeze between 12-meter-wide locks. Avalon Waterways’ floating “boatique” hotels hold an average of 150 guests, although some are much smaller. Suite Ships on the Mekong River, for instance, have just 18 staterooms, accommodating 36 cruisers.

And, while fellow passenger numbers are low, Avalon’s onboard crew ratio is high. In fact, on every ship, the average guest-to-crew ratio is 3:1.

2. See not sea. There’s a (big) difference.

On a river cruise, travellers are not at sea. Instead, river cruises wind and bend through the heart of fascinating countries providing a panoramic view of the Old World. Always within a few feet of shore, travellers have easy access to ports-of-call.

 3. Cruising focused on “to dos,” not crowds and queues.

River cruise itineraries are destination-focused, with local guides who help travellers experience – and connect with – the world around them. Most river cruise itineraries also sail off-the-beaten-path, visiting small fairytale villages, quaint village squares and family-owned wineries, bakeries and restaurants, along the way. Further, queues are not news on the world’s rivers. Excursions typically accommodate no more than 30 guests at a time.

4. Fresh air and perspectives.

On board Avalon’s innovative and award-winning Suite Ships, guests on two full decks are welcomed with 200-square-foot Panorama Suites, each featuring a wall of floor-to-ceiling windows that open 7-feet wide (the widest-opening windows in cruising). This wall of glass converts into an Open-Air Balcony with beds facing the views for which river cruising is famous.

Public spaces onboard also provide guests room to move. Avalon’s Suite Ship Sky Decks run the length and width of each vessel (approximately 20 meters longer and 2 meters wider than a football field) with wide-open spaces, fresh air and lounge chairs aplenty.

5. Charting a new course in sustainability.

The vibrant and beautiful natural surroundings of the world’s rivers are a benefit of river cruising. Avalon has taken great strides to improve monitoring and measurement to reduce our environmental impact, save water, limit waste and foster a sustainability culture among our crew and guests.

6. Ship-Shape Suite Ships.

The world has changed but what remains certain is Avalon’s steadfast commitment to guest safety, comfort and peace-of-mind. To that end, the company has developed a new Avalon Assurance program, with help from its Global Health & Safety team, dedicated to ensuring that the cleanliness of all operations exceeds today’s standards from start-to-finish.

7. Not Everything in the World Goes as Planned …

That’s why Avalon Waterways is prepared to offer the highest standards in the lowest situations with its new 2021 Peace of Mind Travel Plan.

For more details, view the company’s Suite, Safe & Sound guide.