But where was Bryan Ferry?
Leaving the house at 3am seemed like a good idea, so we could catch the early flight and get more time in Amsterdam, but when the alarm went off I questioned my sanity. Then our chauffeur turned up in a glistening Mercedes and it didn’t seem so bad after all, a nice included extra by Avalon so we could relax and travel in style.
The coach transfer from Schiphol airport took us to a pleasant canal side hotel and, free of our bags, we were left to explore the delights of the city. The place where the Amstel River was dammed and eventually Amsteldam, became Amsterdam as we know it today. It’s quite amazing that all the fabulous buildings, with bell shaped tops and interesting statues, are all built on reclaimed swampland. The substantial foundations still don’t allow skyscrapers to be built and blot the beautiful tree lined canal side landscape, but if you look carefully a few of them must have been done on the cheap as they’re looking decidedly wonky now. We discovered the church where Rembrandt was buried and plenty more in our self-guided tour of the city but we were more proud of our achievement of escaping mortal injury from the bicycles, whizzing all around us from all angles, than our skill with the guidebook. Amsterdam has a population of about 800,000 and they all seemed to be out on their bikes during our walk.
It was nice to be so warmly greeted by the staff on the gangplank and lined up in the foyer of Avalon Impression as we boarded. Check-in took just seconds and we were whisked away to our stateroom. We’d chosen an A class (221) on the main deck with floor to ceiling patio style doors that pulled back two thirds of their width, to open up your cabin onto a Juliet type balcony. The feeling of openness as the breeze blew around your cabin was amazing. The comfortable bed had a double topper (so no ridge from the two twins pushed together) and was the perfect place to lounge back in the quality linens and watch the world slide by (the TV can show the forward view web cam if you want to see where you’re going). The stateroom was quite spacious and had most things required for the trip, including safe, fridge, hair dryer, L’Occitane toiletries and a spacious shower.
The big windows, plus light and airy feel is repeated throughout the ship. You get a real feeling of spaciousness in the comfortable lounge where Robert the Cruise Director gives his informative and amusing briefings. It’s also the place where one of the complimentary tea and coffee stations is situated, the other being in the smaller aft lounge on the deck above. In the unlikely event that you want a drink of the alcoholic style (yeah right), the bar is situated in the main lounge too, with staff that will whip you up your favourite cocktail in a trice. Below the lounge is another area which is of little interest to most passengers, the dining room (sniggers). Attentive service accompanies a well laid out and decorated area with different sized tables. Open dining and the smart casual dress code provides a sumptuous and relaxed space for you to dine with your new found friends. We were delighted with our first culinary excursion into the beautifully cooked and presented food. The remainder of this trip will undoubtedly be a challenge to my waistline, perhaps I should just buy bigger clothes and have done with it.
So it was a very satisfying start to our 1,800 km journey along the Rhine, Main and the Danube, plus navigation over 60 odd locks along the way. Incidentally the Prince Bernhardt lock is the largest European lock by dimensions outside of the former USSR (you’ll thank me when that comes up in a Trivia Quiz one day).
Being a young man of the 80s and loving the music of that time, I also know that Avalon was the eighth and final album of Roxy Music. So right from the start I had Bryan Ferry’s voice from the title song in my head. When we slipped out of Amsterdam my expectations were high that the owners had made the same connection and it would come blasting out of the Sun deck speakers as I took advantage of one of the many available loungers. Not to be though, nice music was played but where was Bryan Ferry?
Silver Travel Advisor recommends Avalon Waterways