The Creativity Cabins on the Avalon Creativity provide up close views of the cruising environment
Avalon Waterways' latest addition to their expanding fleet is the Creativity, christened Saturday, August 8 in Volendam, a Netherlands fishing village. The Creativity marks the company's eighth new ship in Europe since 2004, each averaging just two years in age. Nancy Telliho, president of Newsweek Budget Travel, Inc., serves as the vessel's godmother and gave the ship it's blessing.
Following a Champagne-christening, the Creativity and Travel Agent embarked on the vessel's inaugural cruise down the Rhine River, known as the Romantic Rhine itinerary. The ship boasted full occupancy.
Carrying a maximum of just 140 passengers and a 39-member Eastern European crew, the cruise began in Amsterdam, then traveled to Cologne, Koblenz, Rudesheim, and Heidelberg, Germany; Strasbourg, France; Breisach, Germany and ultimately to the port of Basel, Switzerland. Although one of the smallest of the Avalon ships, the Creativity's 68 staterooms are a spacious 172-square-feet and well appointed, with floor-to-ceiling panoramic sliding glass doors in the rooms on the top two decks. Two junior suites are available, both located on the third (or Royal) deck. Both boast 258 square feet of space and the addition of a sofa and coffee table beyond the standard room amenities.
One of the major attractions of a river cruise is the ability to have a more intimate experience, and Avalon does not disappoint, beginning with its cabins. Travel Agent enjoyed Room 317 and the opportunity to open the sliding glass doors and watch the scenery roll by like a storybook in motion. Additional features of the Avalon Creativity's staterooms include: French balconies in staterooms on the top two decks; flat-screen satellite TV and radio; private bathroom with shower; hotel-style beds with European-style duvets and Egyptian super-combed cotton linens; large closets; a stocked minibar; hairdryer; in-room safe; and individual room climate control.
A view from the Sky Deck
The common areas, including the Sky Deck and the forward deck just outside the lounge, proved to be favorite viewing locations for passengers, whose median age was decisively in the older, retirement-age demographic. (No children under 8 are allowed.)
The forward observation lounge and restaurant are both public spaces that deserve special mention. As passengers enjoy a cocktail or a leisurely dinner, there is always scenery to enjoy and there's not a bad seat in the house. A rear lounge, which includes a small library, is ideal for a small group gathering. There is an elevator onboard, although it does not reach the Sky Deck, which could prove to be a difficulty for older or less mobile passengers. A small, one-chair hair salon and a modest fitness center can be found onboard, in addition to a reception area that offers two Internet-connected computers. (Internet connection is not cheap: expect to pay five Euro per hour or 15 Euro for unlimited access.)
Accommodation, onboard meals with unlimited complimentary local wines, beer or soft drinks, regional entertainment and land excursions are all part and parcel of an Avalon Waterways river cruise. Additional excursions are available for purchase through the cruise director and may be purchased onboard.
Part of the Globus family of brands (which includes Globus, Cosmos and Monograms, as well), Avalon Waterways is able to capitalize on its family's 80-year industry history to provide passengers with an intimate glimpse into history on the ground, as well. Local hosts provide the location's narration through headsets on guided tours, an easy way to become familiar with the city while avoiding the feeling of being lectured to. Agents with clients particularly interested in Heidelberg should request a tour by Charlotte Frey of Heidelberger Gastefuhrer (+49 62 21 - 43 68 80; firstname.lastname@example.org) for an excellent excursion through this historic city. Her knowledge is voluminous and her affection for the locale is infectious.
Conveniently, the Creativity is able to dock within walking distance of city centers or desirable sightseeing spots, such as the gothic cathedral in Cologne and La Petite France in Strasbourg. An onboard cruise director shares details and facts along the way, such as during the long stretch down the Rhine where numerous castles watch over the waterway. Also of particular note and interest are the locks the vessel must pass through to reach its destinations. Built a mere 11.5 meters wide, the Creativity squeezes through locks only 12 meters wide, the walls of which you can literally reach out and touch as you pass through.
"It's more than a visit," says Avalon Waterways' Managing Director Patrick Clark of their river cruise offering. "It's an experience."
|The outdoor pool near the Sky Deck|
The Creativity will sail its Romantic Rhine cruise through the end of 2009, after which it will move to Western Europe and travel the Grand France itinerary and the Paris to Normandy's Landing Beaches itinerary. To view images of the Creativity's deck plans or staterooms, or to view the itineraries of the Creativity or any of her sister ships, visit www.avalonwaterways.com.