Avalon Tapestry II The Avalon Tapestry II is a more recent addition to the Avalon fleet, having been christened by Outlander author, Diana Gabaldon, and released onto France’s waterways in 2015. The latest in the line’s Suite Ships, with enviable Open-Air Balconies in every suite, the Tapestry II offers guests a flawless cruising experience, bringing contemporary design and classic river cruises together. Like its sister ships – the Artistry II, Visionary, Tranquility II and Poetry II - the Tapestry II offers river cruises which combine fabulous public areas and onboard experiences with enlightening European excursions.
Passengers The Avalon Tapestry’s maximum capacity is 128 passengers, with 37 crew members onboard – all of whom have an excellent grasp of the English language. Guests will also benefit from the help of the onboard Cruise Director, and local certified guides will lead the way on all guided shore excursions. As a US-based line, the majority of Avalon passengers hail from the USA, but the itineraries are also popular with people from Canada, New Zealand, Australia and, more increasingly, the UK. Voyages tend to appeal to a more senior audience, with most passengers having a strong interest in learning more about the culture, history and traditions of the regions visited.
Dining With a number of different dining options onboard, guests can have the choice of where to eat their breakfast, lunch and dinner. As well as a continental breakfast being available via room service (fee applicable), an extensive buffet station can be found in the open-seating main dining room, which also has a made-to-order egg station. Complimentary sparkling wine and fresh juices are available with breakfast, and early- and late- rise breakfasts are also served in the Panorama Bistro and the Club Lounge. Lunch consists of a buffet station filled with various soups, pastas, salads, carved meats, entrees and desserts, and includes soft drinks. The Panorama Bistro also offers a lighter, alternative lunch. Dinner in the main dining room is in the sit-down, waiter service format, where guests can enjoy a four-course gourmet menu made up of regional specialities as well as western favourites. Local wines, beers and soft drinks are free-flowing during dinner, and hot beverages are available after the dessert course. Guests can also help themselves to hot beverages and fresh fruit from the self-serve beverage station, whenever they like. The Sky Deck is also home to the Sky Bistro, which dishes up al-fresco grill fare whenever the weather allows, and the Panorama Bistro serves afternoon tea daily. Night fare is available from 10:30pm. The dress code is casual throughout the day, with many guests choosing to dress a little smarter in the evenings.
Entertainment The main entertainment venue is the Panorama Lounge that can be found on the Royal Deck. As well as a full-service upscale bar there is also a broad entertainment program available, with scheduled performances by local acts and the crew – some of which complement the itinerary and the various regions of France that you’re sailing through. There is also an in-house pianist, onboard movie nights and a social hour every day where guests can enjoy drinks specials before dinner. Guests onboard look forward to the Captain’s reception which includes sparkling wine and canapés, as well as the Welcome and Farewell dinners, which are good opportunities to dress up and socialise with fellow travellers.
Activities Relax on the premium lounge chairs on the Sky Deck and grab some respite from the heat of the sun beneath the shade awnings. Alternatively, enjoy a dip in the whirlpool or play against a fellow traveller at a game of giant chess or shuffleboard. There is also a library onboard, and an Internet Corner (Wi-Fi is also shipwide and complimentary). The Local Favorites program offers a number of lectures, presentations and classes that guests can enjoy as part of the itinerary, such as pastry and chocolate tasting, cheese tasting classes, D-Day lectures and a musical presentation on ‘les guitares de camargue’. One of Avalon’s major appealing factors is the shore excursions that are included in the fare price, with the Avalon Choice program ensuring guests can pick and choose what excursions they join, depending on their individual preferences. Take excursions to the poignant Normandy beaches, Avignon’s Palace of the Popes, an evening cabaret show in Paris, wine tasting in Beaune and many, many more. There’s a choice of leisurely, traditional and independent sightseeing tours available, with maps and Nordic walking sticks available for use and audio systems provided for all guided shore excursions.
Accommodation There are 12 staterooms onboard that feature picture windows, and 52 suites that boast the fabulous Panoramic Windows that slide away to form the Avalon Open-Air Balcony concept. Depending on the category of accommodation chosen, guests will have between 172 sq. ft. and 300 sq. ft. of space, including a queen-size bed (king-size if Royal Suite is chosen) that is angled to face the beautiful windows in all suites. At 200 sq. ft. Panorama Suites are 30% larger than the industry standard. Beds are fitted with memory foam mattress toppers, Egyptian cotton linens, European-style duvets and your choice of pillows. Other amenities in every room include flatscreen TV, hairdryer, Wi-Fi, climate control, minibar, bathrobes and slippers, premium L’Occitane bath products, telephone and in-room safe. Royal Suites benefit from a larger sitting area with sofa and a spacious full-size bathroom with double sinks.
Spa/WellbeingThere is a hair salon onboard that offers manicures, and an expanded fitness center on the Indigo Deck that is equipped with exercise equipment and free weights. The whirlpool on the Sky Deck is also very inviting.
Itineraries The Avalon Tapestry II sails two itineraries, including the eight-day Paris to Normandy’s Landing Beaches cruise that sails along the Seine River, and offers excursions including a guided walk in Les Andelys, a Normandy Abbeys excursion in Caudebec, sightseeing in Paris and a visit to the Chateau de Malmaison, where Napoleon and Josephine resided. Some dates include culinary and art & impressionist themed elements. The second itinerary is the 16-day Grand France cruise that navigates the Saone, Rhone and Seine rivers between Paris and Cote d’Azur, including excursions to Giverny, Lyon, the Palace of the Popes in Avignon, Rouen and the landing beaches. At no extra cost, there are sometimes culinary, wine appreciation, and art & impressionist segments of the itinerary (departure date dependent). Optional extensions in London, Nice and Aix-de-Provence are also available.