The Avalon Tapestry II joined the Avalon Waterways fleet of European river ships in March 2015. Her Godmother is writer Diana Gabaldon, and the ship sails the Seine River in France.
Like other Avalon Waterways ships sailing in France, the Avalon Tapestry II is shorter than some of the other Panorama class ships and has less cabins. Therefore, the ship is more intimate, carrying 128 guests, compared to 166 on the larger ones in the Panorama class.
This article provides details on four important areas of the Avalon Tapestry II.
This Avalon Tapestry II photo gallery has 34 photos of the river ship, and the other links in this article provide more details about the ship.
Cabins and Suites
The 64 cabins and suites on the Avalon Tapestry II are spacious and comfortable, and the 52 suites have the spectacular window seen in the photo above.
All of the dozen ships in the Avalon Waterways Panorama "Suite Ship" class have this outstanding unique feature in their suites--a wall-to-wall panoramic window that opens to create an open-air balcony. The whole room seems to transform into a large balcony and includes a small table and chair to enjoy the fresh air. The objective of the panoramic window is to maximize the area in the suite, but still provide a balcony experience, and Avalon has certainly succeeded with this panoramic window.
Travelers who have not done a river cruise might wonder why river cruise lines just don't make their ships wider. Most navigable European rivers have locks, so ships must be designed to fit into these navigation necessities. The width and length of river ships are driven by the size of the locks, and the height is driven by the low bridges over the rivers. Therefore, most river ships are the same width, and some cruise lines choose to use part of the width for balconies. However, Avalon Waterways has chosen to incorporate a balcony experience into the cabin space, and the concept works well.
The Avalon Tapestry II has two types of suites--the 2 Royal Suites and the 50 Panorama Suites. In addition, the river ship has 12 Avalon Deluxe Staterooms on deck 1, which do not have the panoramic balconies.
Dining and Cuisine
The Avalon Tapestry II has two main dining venues--
- Dining Room
- Panorama Bistro
The river ship has a great selection of dishes in both locales. The Dining Room has delicious buffets at breakfast and lunch, and guests order a four-course dinner from a menu.
The Panorama Bistro is a small venue forward of the Panorama Lounge. It has early and late riser's buffet breakfast and a light buffet lunch with sandwiches, salads, and one or more hot dishes. In the evening, the Panorama Bistro has a tasting menu, and all guests should make a reservation for this venue when on their cruise. (It does not have an extra cover charge.) The tasting menu has about a dozen different small bites, along with a cheese course.
When the weather is nice, guests can choose to enjoy lunch outdoors on the sun deck at the Sky Bistro, and the Panorama Bistro also has some outdoor seating. Guests can enjoy a coffee/tea station in both the Panorama Lounge and the Club Lounge. In the morning, pastries are put out in the Club Lounge.
Since each cruise has cocktail parties with canapes and afternoon tea on most days with snacks, none of the guests are likely to get hungry on the Avalon Tapestry II.
Interior Common Areas
The interiors of the Avalon Tapestry II European river ship are classic and comfortable. Entering the ship on deck 3, the first areas guests see are the atrium and reception desk, with the large Panorama Lounge forward. This lounge is the hub of the ship, and includes the bar, piano, dance floor, and seating for all the guests. As its name suggests, the Panorama Lounge is surrounded with windows and provides 270-degree river views. It also has some open dividers, which makes the room seem a little more intimate.
The favorite room of many guests is the small Club Lounge, which is aft on deck 3 and has both indoor and outdoor seating. It has tables, chairs, and sofas indoors, along with a popular complimentary coffee/cappuccino/latte/hot chocolate machine. The aft views are quite nice, as are the morning pastries and afternoon cookies.
Exterior Common Areas
The European river ship also has outdoor seating forward of the Panorama Bistro in an area called the Observation Lounge, and aft of the Club Lounge.Both of these areas are popular and provide great views, much like from the Sky Deck.
Avalon Tapestry II "Paris to Normandy Landing Beaches" Itinerary
This "Suite Ship" primarily sails the Seine River roundtrip from Paris to the Normandy region of France on 8-day itineraries called "Paris to Normandy's Landing Beaches". Ports of call and shore excursion options along the Seine include
- Les Andelys,
- Bizy Castle,
- Caudebec (shore excursions to Normany landing beaches of World War II or have a "taste of Normandy" tour to a cheese farm and Calvados distillery
- Conflans (shore excursions to Auvers-sur-Oise or Napoleon and Josephine’s Château de Malmaison)
- .A day in Paris (shore excursions to Notre Dame Cathedral, a walking tour of Paris, or a guided sightseeing tour of the city)
On the 5-night Avalon Tapestry II christening cruise, the ship visited some of these delightful ports. We docked within easy walking distance of the historic area and Cathedral of Rouen, and in the town center of Les Andelys and Caudebec. This cruise itinerary is a good mix of history, the Norman culture, art, interesting foods and wines, and lovely scenery.
As is common in the travel industry, the writer was provided with complimentary cruise accommodation for the purpose of review. While it has not influenced this review, About.com believes in full disclosure of all potential conflicts of interest. For more information, see our Ethics Policy.