The Scoop: What to Know About Avalon Waterways

This award-winning river cruise company focuses on experiences and food.

Avalon Expression Panorama Suite with view of room and view outside of a European city

Avalon Waterways is a river cruise company with itineraries on some of the world’s most well-known rivers and the cities on their banks. Excursions and activities onboard and off the company’s 14 ships immerse passengers in the local culture and cuisine and include options like guided walking tours, canoe trips, and cooking classes.

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Food is a big focus at Avalon, and ships feature multiple dining venues where passengers can take advantage of the company’s FlexDining program. Another initiative, Avalon Fresh, incorporates local ingredients to create dishes that are both healthy and inventive.

TourScoop Takeaways 

View of the Mekong River and an Avalon waterways ship with traditional fishing boat and fisherman in foreground
An Avalon Waterways ship on a Mekong River cruise (Photo: Christine Sarkis)
  • Destinations: 70+ itineraries/four continents
  • Tour Size Average: The average ship holds 150 guests, with some, like the Avalon Saigon in Southwest Asia, carrying just 36 passengers.
  • Tour Type: River cruise ship

How to Book

Cruises can be booked by phone with an Avalon Vacation Planner at 877-797-8791 or through a travel advisor. You can also chat with a Vacation Planner through the Avalon Waterways website.

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Credibility Check

Avalon Waterways has received a slew of awards and accolades, including being named a top river cruise line by Conde Nast Traveler, USA Today, and Travel + Leisure. It has a Cruise Critic user ranking of 4.7 out of 5 and rates 4.7 out 5 on TravelStride.

Tour Destinations

Avalon Waterways ship Envision with a bridge in the foreground
Avalon ships sail 10 rivers in 22 countries (Photo: AMATUCCIPHOTOGRAPHY/Avalon Waterways)

Avalon Waterways travels on 10 rivers through 22 countries on more than 70 different cruise itineraries. Passengers can travel throughout Europe on rivers including the Rhine, Danube, Rhone, and Seine, visiting counties such as Austria, Belgium, Croatia, France, Germany, Luxembourg, Portugal, Romania, and Switzerland. There are also cruise itineraries to Cambodia and Vietnam in Southeast Asia; the Galapagos, Peru, and the Amazon in South America; and Egypt. 

Tour Types

River cruise types include classic European river cruises, active itineraries, holiday season cruises, and cruises focused on interests including cuisine, wine, photography, gardens and nature, and history. Typical itineraries range from eight to 16 days, but there are also options for shorter four- to six-day trips and sailings of three weeks or longer. 

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Tour Guides

English-speaking staff aboard Avalon ships include Adventure Hosts who can provide information on onboard fitness activities and connect passengers with excursions and gear (think bikes, walking sticks) for exploring the destinations they’re visiting. Expert local guides lead excursions. And street directions, restaurant recommendations, and other information are always on hand in the the AvalonGO mobile app. 

What’s Included

View of the empty dining room aboard the Avalon Saigon river cruise ship
(Photo: GRANTSWEETWOOD/Avalon Waterways)

Almost everything is included on an Avalon Waterways cruise. That means the price includes:

  • Daily meals
  • Wine/beer/soft drinks with dinners and lunch and Champagne with breakfast
  • Complimentary Happy Hour
  • Accommodations in an exterior stateroom (more than 80% featuring open-air balconies)
  • Up to 28 included excursions on itineraries
  • Use of bikes and e-bikes
  • Exercise classes with Adventure Hosts
  • On-board entertainment and classes
  • Complimentary computer stations
  • Complimentary water stations

What’s Not Included

  • Gratuities
  • Optional excursions

Typical Travelers

The average Avalon traveler is in their 50s or 60s. But the variety of itineraries offered broadens that age range. The company’s Active & Discovery Cruises are popular for multigenerational travel and its Storyteller Cruises that feature celebrity hosts drawing in many first-time river cruisers.

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Avalon river cruises also appeal to solo travelers, and the company waives the single supplement on a select number of staterooms on every departure. There are no special arrangements or activities for children on the ships, and no children under the age of eight are allowed on the company’s cruises.


Avalon Vacation Planners are available by phone, email, and online chat from booking through travel. Passengers receive five pre-trip email communications after booking, which include a Travel Packet with a detailed itinerary, schedule, and flight information (if flights are booked through Avalon); destination information; tips and guidelines on pre-trip requirements and preparation for their destination; and the ability to add optional excursions to their trip 90 days or closer to the departure date. Avalon also provides access to its AvalonGO app 30 to 40 days prior to departure, which includes information on the destination and excursions, schedules, and interactive maps.

Loyalty Program

Avalon Waterways is part of the Globus Family of Brands, which offers a Welcome Back Credit for returning guests. Each time you travel with a Globus Family of Brands operator, you can earn up to a $250 per person Welcome Back Credit to use toward your next vacation. Guests have two years to book a vacation using their credit with Avalon Waterways, Globus, or Cosmos. 

Sustainability Efforts

Avalon Waterways has undertaken numerous sustainability efforts, including supporting environmental organizations like Trees4Travel and The Ocean Cleanup. The company has eliminated single-use plastics onboard its ships, installed LED lighting fleet-wide, reduced paper waste by 80% onboard, and committed to using shore power while docked wherever available to reduce emissions. Avalon has longer-term goals to reach zero emissions and unveil the first, fully electric river cruise vessel.

Health and Safety Practices

Avalon has continued enhanced cleaning procedures that include daily disinfecting, air-filtration practices, the use of electrostatic and UV disinfecting technologies, and hand sanitizing stations when entering the ship and dining venues. For even more peace of mind, you can purchase Avalon’s Travel Protection Plan that includes a cancel-for-any-reason benefit and covers trip interruption expenses. 

Family Companies

Avalon Waterways is one of the Globus Family of Brands, which also include tour companies Globus and Cosmos.

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Beth Luberecki writes about travel, business, and lifestyle topics. Her work has appeared in publications including The Washington Post, USA TODAY,, and The Indianapolis Star. The Florida-based writer shares her travels on her website and on Instagram at @bethluberecki and @findingfloridafun.