Frequently Asked Questions
What do you need to know while on board?
Air Conditioning and Heating
All rooms on the ships are air conditioned and heated. All ships have individual controls in the staterooms.
Choice of of complimentary wine, beer or soft drinks will be included with dinner on Avalon Europe river cruises. In Europe and the Galápagos, coffee and tea are available free of charge throughout the day from “early riser” breakfast through dinner. On the Yangtze, sodas are included at lunch and dinner.
Dress aboard and on shore is casual. Please bring comfortable walking shoes for sightseeing. Dinner attire is casual—open-neck shirts, slacks, dresses. Coats and ties may be worn. The Captain’s Welcome and Farewell Dinners are dressy, but not formal.
A professional, experienced, English-speaking Cruise Director accompanies every departure.
All meals on board are prepared by accomplished chefs and consist of local food adjusted for North American tastes. There is a full buffet breakfast, and in Europe a buffet lunch including choice of soups and main courses with appetizer, salad or sandwich, and dessert. On the Yangtze, a mix of Western and Chinese dishes is offered; in the Galápagos, you’ll be able to taste some Ecuadorian specialties. Dinner is a multi-course meal with a choice of entrées.
Currency and Credit Cards
Most of the countries you will be visiting in Europe use the Euro. Exceptions are Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Romania and Slovakia; they all have their own currencies but the Euro is accepted in many establishments. Many locations accept major credit cards; however in small towns they are not widely accepted. In these cases and for incidentals or small vendors, you will need some local currency. ATM machines are located on shore at some stops. Prior to your departure, confirm with your bank that your ATM or credit card and PIN number will work abroad. All purchases on board are charged to your room account. The onboard currency is the Euro. U.S. currency and traveler’s checks may be exchanged for Euro. For payment of shipboard accounts, Euro and U.S. dollars are accepted as well as American Express, Visa, Mastercard and Diner’s Club. A fee is charged for the use of traveler’s checks. Personal checks cannot be cashed on board.
U.S. dollars are widely accepted on shore. The local currency is the Yuan. ATM machines will dispense yuan or they can be purchased on board the ship using U.S. dollars. The currency on board is the yuan. Shipboard accounts can be settled in cash, traveler’s checks or most major credit cards.
Ecuador uses US Dollars as their official currency. Credit cards are usually accepted in larger towns. In smaller towns cash is recommended. Shipboard accounts can be settled by credit card, cash or travelers checks.
The official currency in the Egyptian pound, but Euros and US Dollars are widely accepted. In small towns it is recommended to carry small amounts of local currency, but vendors in tourist areas are likely to accept US Dollars. Credit cards are usually accepted in larger towns. ATMs are available in most larger cities. Shipboard accounts can be settled by credit card or with cash. Travelers checks are not accepted.
When it comes to dining, you’ll savor your destination in more ways than one. Whether you’re planning a busy day of sightseeing or a relaxing day on board, start each day with the breakfast that’s right for you! Sumptuous breakfast buffets feature menu items that are conveniently color coded to indicate foods that are low calorie, low fat/low calorie, high fiber, low cholesterol, and high energy. Meanwhile, tantalizing lunch buffets will please your palate, and each onboard sit-down dinner features an inviting selection of appetizers, soups, entrees (including vegetarian choices), desserts, and complimentary coffee, tea, and regional wines. From the rouladen of Germany to the fine wines of France, our professional chefs will delight your tastebuds with regional specialties as well as Western favorites (complimentary wine, beer or soft drinks will be included with dinner on Avalon Europe river cruises). And for those times when a quiet breakfast sounds appealing, room service of Continental breakfast is available in all Royal Deck staterooms and suites on our European ships.
Electricity on board is 220v. The bathrooms have a dual 220v/110-120v plug for shavers and small appliances. You will need an adapter or converter to use in other outlets in the stateroom for any small personal items such as a razor, curling iron or alarm clock. In the Galápagos, electrical outlets are 110v with American type outlets.
Gratuities on board and on land are not included in the cruise price. Tipping is a personal way to show your satisfaction for good service and is always appreciated. It is recommended that tips be paid in cash.
All ships have hair dryers for passenger use; please ask at the reception desk if one is not in your stateroom.
Laundry service is available on board for a modest fee. Check the price list in your stateroom. Clothes cannot be dry cleaned on board. For safety reasons, we ask that passengers do not iron their clothes in the staterooms; the laundry service will do pressing for a fee.
You may check out books from the ship’s library free of charge. We ask that you return them before your cruise ends.
Due to the proximity to land, medical services can be called from shore rapidly. In the Galápagos, there is a physician on board.
The onboard daily newsletter features information about daily activities, shore excursions and tour departure times.
The language on board is English. All staff, crew and tour guides speak English. All announcements and commentary will be in English.
Each ship has a shop area offering accessories, film, souvenirs and some select personal and toiletry items.
Ships have in-room safes. In the Galápagos, valuables may be stored in the ship’s safe free of charge.
In Europe and in the Galápagos, all ships have non-smoking interiors. Smoking is only permitted on the Sky Deck. On the Victoria Anna and Royal Lotus smoking is limited to certain areas of the ship.
Passengers celebrating special occasions, such as anniversaries or birthdays, should alert ship personnel upon boarding the ship.
Each stateroom has a direct dial telephone which may be used to call between staterooms. Ship-to-shore calls are also available. Any charges are placed on your shipboard account. In the Galápagos, there are two satellite-linked pay phones available for use in the reception lounge.
Each stateroom has color satellite TV and will receive some English programming. There is a shipboard information channel and a channel with entertainment videos or movies. A TV is found in the ship’s library in the Galápagos only.
Your Shipboard Account
For your convenience, all purchases and paid services on board are billed with a guest check and added to your personal shipboard account. At the end of your cruise, you will receive a total which can be paid with cash or charged to a credit card.
What are some nautical terms you need to know while river cruising?
AFT toward the stern of the boat
ASTERN in back of the boat
BILGE the interior of the hull below the floor boards
BITTER END the last part of a rope or chain; the inboard end of the anchor rope
BOW the forward part of a ship
BRIDGE the location from which a vessel is steered and its speed controlled
BULKHEAD a vertical partition separating compartments
BUOY an anchored float used for marking a position or a hazard on the water and for mooring
CLEAT a fitting to which lines are made fast
COURSE the direction in which a ship is steered
CURRENT the horizontal movement of water
DISPLACEMENT the weight of water displaced by a floating vessel
DRAFT the depth of water a boat draws
FATHOM six feet
FLOOD an incoming current
GALLEY the kitchen area of a ship
GUNWHALE the upper edge of a ship’s sides
HELM the wheel or tiller controlling the rudder
HULL the main body of a vessel
KEEL the centerline of a boat running fore and aft
KNOT a measure of speed equal to one nautical mile (6,076 feet) per hour
LEEWARD the direction away from the wind
NAUTICAL MILE one minute of latitude; approximately 6,076 feet—about 1/8 longer than the statute mile of 5,280 feet
PORT the left side of a ship looking forward; a harbor
SCUPPERS drain holes on deck, in the toe rail, or in bulwarks or in the deck itself
SOUNDING a measurement of the depth of water
STARBOARD the right side of a ship when looking forward
TRIM fore and aft balance of a boat
WINDWARD toward the direction from which the wind is coming
YAW to swing or steer off course
What are the origins of river cruising nautical terms?
OVER THE BARREL
The most common method of punishment aboard ship was flogging. The unfortunate sailor was tied to a grating, a mast, or over the barrel of a deck cannon.
TO KNOW THE ROPES
There were miles of cordage in the rigging of a square rigged ship. The only way to keep track of and to know the function of all of these lines was to know where they were located. It took an experienced seaman to know the ropes.
Thin and worn sails were often treated with oil or wax to renew their effectiveness. This was called “dressing down.” An officer or sailor who was reprimanded received a “dressing down.”
The bottom portion of a sail is called the foot. If it is not secured, it is “footloose” and dances randomly in the wind.
In 1740 British Admiral Vernon (whose nickname was “Old Grogram” for the cloak of grogram which he wore) ordered that the sailors’ daily ration of rum be diluted with water. The men called the mixture “grog.” A sailor who drank too much grog was “groggy.”
The poop is the stern section of a ship. To be “pooped” is to be swamped by a high, following sea.
AS THE CROW FLIES
When lost or unsure of their position in coastal waters, ships would release a caged crow. The crow would fly straight toward the nearest land, thus giving the vessel some sort of navigational fix. The tallest lookout platform on a ship came to be known as the "crow’s nest."
CUT AND RUN
If a captain of a smaller ship encountered a large enemy vessel, he might decide that discretion was the better part of valor. He would order the crew to cut the lashings on all the sails and run away before the wind. This term also meant to cut the anchor cable and sail off in a hurry.
TOE THE LINE
When called to line up at attention, the ship’s crew would form up with their toes touching a seam in the deck planking.
UNDER THE WEATHER
If a crewman is standing watch on the weather side of the bow, he will be subject to the constant beating of the ocean spray. He will be "under the weather."
What should you know about locks and the canals?
The diverse and fascinating geography of the European Continent has blessed it with magnificent and varied natural sights. Mountain ranges such as the Swiss Alps, the French Vosges, Germany’s Fichtelgebirge and Black Forest region have given birth to the great rivers of Europe which have provided most important transportation links since ancient times.
Before the advent of highways and road transportation, the rivers were the only efficient method of carrying goods from one place to another. Those most important trading centers located on a river soon grew into some of Europe’s most important cities—Budapest and Vienna on the Danube, Strasbourg and Cologne on the Rhine, Mainz and Frankfurt on the Main, Coblenz and Trier on the Moselle, to name but a few!
The challenge facing the early navigators was how to tame the rivers and make them navigable along their entire lengths. One of the answers was the invention and development of the lock.
Normally, water levels on each side of a navigation lock are different, so a lock has to work like an elevator. This is accomplished by using two sets of gates to enclose a chamber.
The lock starts with one set of gates open, and the water level in the chamber is the same as the water in the channel on that side. A vessel enters through the open gates.
Once the vessel is moored inside the lock chamber, the lock operator closes the lock gates behind the vessel.
With the vessel securely tied up and the gates closed, the lock operator can then open the valves at the opposite end of the lock. To adjust the water level in the lock chamber to match the water level of the waterway on the opposite end, water is allowed to enter into the chamber from the high-water side, or drained out of the chamber to the low-water side, thus raising or lowering the ship.
Once the water levels are equalized, the gates at that end are opened and the vessel can continue on its way.
The Main-Danube Canal
The Main-Danube Canal is an old dream of humanity. Charlemagne started the construction of its “Fossa Carolina” more than 12 centuries ago, and while his construction effort failed, parts of the canal are still visible in southern areas of central Franconia. King Ludwig I of Bavaria built the first fully functioning Main-Danube Canal in only 10 years of construction from 1836-1846. Yet, the Ludwig-Main-Danube Canal as it was called, with its 101 water locks was rather narrow and its practical use for shipping was highly limited. Its operation came to an end in 1945, partly due to damage from the war.
The planning of the present canal dates back to 1922. A project of this magnitude caused a lively debate over the environmental and economic consequences of its construction. Economic planners gravely overestimated its potential, while environmentalists largely underestimated the positive aspects of its construction for the biotope—and the fact that the canal actually provides 1,25 million cubic meters of water to the dry Northern Bavarian region every year.
It was not until September 1992 that the present-day Main-Danube Canal was opened for traffic. It stretches for a length of 106 miles from Bamberg, in Germany, via Nuremberg to Regensburg.
The canal reaches its apex 1,332 ft. above sea level. 16 water locks facilitate safe passage of vessels. 11 water locks were needed to overcome the ascent of 574 ft. between the Main in Bamberg and the apex and 5 additional locks facilitate descent from the apex. The canal is 180 ft. wide and 13 ft. deep. All traffic water locks are 40 ft. wide and 623 ft. long.
Thanks to the canal, it is now possible to navigate from the Rhine Delta at Rotterdam, Holland, to the Danube Delta at the Black Sea—a stretch of 2,200 miles.
Our price policy
Vacation prices are per person, based on double occupancy, and do not include airfare except as noted on the itinerary pages. Single room supplements and triple room reductions are listed where applicable; not all accommodation types are available on all vacations. We encourage full deposit early to secure your space and to protect the price of your vacation. Prices are subject to increase without notice, subject to the guarantees set forth below.
Once Avalon has received your full non-refundable land/cruise deposit your vacation price is guaranteed and you are protected against any base land/cruise price increase due to currency surcharge. Any subsequent cost increases are at our expense, not including energy cost increases and/or any government tax increases.
If you purchase air through Avalon, an additional $250 per person non-refundable deposit is required to protect your air fare price. Please note that Avalon reserves the right to ticket passengers upon receipt of full land and air deposit. Thus any changes at your request made after receipt of your full deposit are subject to airline-imposed change fees and/or changes in airfare price. These fees are your responsibility to pay and will be required at time of request. This includes name changes or name alterations.
Air is only available to passengers traveling from the United States and is only available when booked in conjunction with a land/cruise vacation.
Vacation departures in 2012 are subject to price and itinerary modifications. Full details will be available in May 2011. Passengers have the right to cancel their reservation without penalty within 14 days of notification in the event of price increases for departures in 2012.
Please see the Terms & Conditions for full information on our Pricing Policy.
Save by forming your own group
If you form your own group, you’ll receive the following rebates: On river cruises in Europe, one person travels free in a group of 16. On cruises in Egypt, China, and South America, one person travels at half price in a group of 16. These group rebates do not apply to any international or intra-vacation flights. Free land and cruise arrangements are credited at the twin rate; single room and stateroom supplements must be paid in full.
Single room supplement & guaranteed shares
For single travelers who prefer the privacy of their own room and stateroom, single accommodation can, of course, be requested. Call for single room supplements. On European river cruises: Guaranteed shares are available in select categories. If you are traveling alone but prefer to share a cabin, we will try to match you up with a single traveler of the same gender. Please call our Travel Consultant for details.
Extra nights before & after your vacation
If you’d like to add extra hotel nights, we will try to make arrangements for you at our contracted rates. Rates are per person, per night, and include room with private bath, breakfast, service charges and taxes. Extra hotel nights are only available immediately prior to or after your vacation and are not available on some cruise-only vacations. If your vacation includes a hotel stay, every effort will be made to reserve extra nights at the hotel where your vacation stays. If space at the hotel is not available, alternative accommodation will be reserved at a hotel of equivalent standard. When this is the case, the transfer to and from the included hotel is at our expense. During particularly busy periods, hotel space in certain cities can become so tight that we may be unable to sell extra nights.
Deluxe, Superior First-Class & First-Class hotels nearly everywhere
Avalon is proud to be associated with some of the finest establishments worldwide. Many of them belong to famous chains such as Westin, InterContinental, and Hilton.
The specific hotels we have selected for you are listed separately for each vacation. The vast majority of them are Deluxe (D), Superior First-Class (SF), or First-Class (F) establishments. In a few overnight places, where there is no hotel in these categories, we choose the best available (BA) hotels.
Avalon hotel ratings follow the standards set by the independent Hotel & Travel Index and by national tourist boards. The specific rating for each contract hotel is determined by our quality controllers.
We reserve the right to substitute hotels listed on the itinerary pages with hotels of equivalent standard. With your Avalon travel documents you’ll receive a list of hotel addresses, telephone numbers, and fax numbers for your vacation.
In our many years of cruising experience, we have found that children under the age of eight typically are too young to fully enjoy a cruise vacation. Because of this and for the safety and enjoyment of all passengers, we do not accept children under eight years of age. In addition, please note that there are no special arrangements or activities for children on our ships.
Travel Protection Plus
Avalon offers a Travel Protection Plus plan that allows you to cancel your vacation up to 24 hours before your scheduled departure for any reason.
Before you go
Avalon will send you a set of travel documents, which includes a wallet to hold your passport, a handy travel bag, baggage tags, a copy of your itinerary, and, where applicable, information on your hotels and optional excursions.
Internet access on Avalon ships in Europe
All Avalon ships in Europe have 3G Wi-Fi available for in-room use, as well as public computers with Internet connections in the Internet Corner. There is a small fee to use either the Wi-Fi connection or Avalon’s Internet Corner – 2010/2011 Rates: 5 Euros per hour, 15 Euros for 24 hours or 30 Euros per week.
If you choose to bring your own laptop with a network card installed and your plan covers roaming fees, you will not be required to pay an onboard fee. However, if you bring a laptop that is Wi-Fi enabled and access the ship’s system you will be charged the rates stated. To access the ship’s Wi-Fi network you will be given a PIN number at the reception to use on your laptop to access the Internet.
What are the Transportation Security Administrative (TSA) requirements?
The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) will require full name (as it appears on a government issued ID passenger will be traveling with), date of birth and gender for all passengers traveling on or after November 1, 2010, regardless of when the reservation was booked. For passengers with an existing air reservation with the [Brand] we encourage you to contact us and provide the required TSA information. Failure to provide the required TSA information for your air reservation can result in, delays at the airport during the check-in process and/or flights cancelled prior to departure by the airline.