Avalon Adds New Departures to Meet Demand
River cruises are creating waves across the industry, helping to lead travel’s comeback. In fact, Avalon Waterways recently enjoyed its strongest first quarter sales season ever. From witnessing a surge in bookings across France on the Seine & Rhône, to the Rhine & Moselle Rivers, to sell-out status on special interest cruises, Avalon Waterways has added new departures to meet 2023 and 2024 river cruise demands.
“This year, we witnessed the biggest first quarter bookings swell in our history,” said Pam Hoffee, president of Avalon Waterways. “While the Rhine River is leading this wave of interest, our most popular destination for 2023 is France. We expect both the Seine and Rhône Rivers to sell-out this year. And, thanks to an increased interest in longer journeys, we’re also enjoying a growing trend in two-week vacations, including 14- and 15-night river cruises that cover more ground like our Magnificent Europe and Grand France itineraries.”
According to Hoffee, Avalon is also experiencing a rise in off-season travel. The company’s Festive Season cruises are nearly sold-out for 2023 so the company has added two new cruises featuring some of Europe’s best Christmas Markets on the Danube, between Budapest and Vienna, in late November to provide cruisers more availability and options.
Another special interest cruise trend? Avalon Waterways’ wine-themed cruises. According to Hoffee, they’re nearly sold-out for 2023 so Avalon has added two additional wine-themed cruises that take cruisers along the postcard-perfect Rhône River through Burgundy and Provence in early- and mid-November – reaching even more cruisers in the off-season.
And, to prepare for more river cruise ripples next year, Avalon Waterways is extending its 2024 cruising season into November on the Seine and Rhône Rivers while also adding a plethora of additional departures on the Rhine and Danube Rivers, including more Festive cruises.
Avalon to Debut a New, Suite Ship on the Douro in March 2024
Soon, Avalon will make its Douro debut with a new itinerary and Suite Ship – the Avalon Alegria. Embarking on its first-ever sailings in Portugal, Avalon Waterways is poised to offer a new view of the Old World.
“We’ve been waiting for the perfect opportunity to add Portugal to our robust vacation portfolio and that day has finally arrived,” said Pam Hoffee, president of Avalon Waterways. “Inviting our guests to sail the Douro for the first time, we’re bringing the Suite Ships of Avalon, the grandest views in cruising and whim-powered itineraries to Southwestern Europe. And we couldn’t be more excited.”
VIDA PORTUGAL: VINEYARDS & VILLAGES ALONG THE DOURO:
Hillside vineyards and historic villages await guests as they sail through Portugal’s postcard-perfect views on Avalon’s all-new, eight-day cruise that begins and ends in Porto and is filled with Avalon’s signature, included “Classic,” “Discovery” and “Active” excursion choices. Featuring everything from ancient Amarante – in the picturesque Minho region, known for its golden church that dates back to 1530 – to the sandstone architecture in Salamanca Spain; rock art to riding bikes from Porto to the sea, this NEW cruise promises countless ways to soak up splendor – from medieval castles to cinematic scenery and all the vinho, baked bread, olives and cheese your soul desires.
SHIP, SHIP HOORAY!
Living up to its name (which, in Portuguese, means “happiness”), the Avalon Alegria – like the rest of the company’s fleet of Suite Ships – will feature signature, award-winning Panorama Suites on two full decks. Each Suite provides guests 200-square-feet of living space, Open-Air Balconies and beds facing the views for which river cruising is famous. In addition, the Alegria, will provide guests with a pool on the Sky Deck to bask in the sun and soak-in the beauty of Portugal while sailing from a new, poolside point-of-view.
This new Suite Ship, built exclusively to sail the Douro, will have a total of 14 Deluxe Staterooms and 37 Panorama Suites, accommodating just 102 guests and 33 crew members.
The Avalon Alegria is making big waves for the company during its debut year. The ship is – already – nearly sold-out for 2024.
THE NEW WAVE IN CRUISING? ACTIVE, IMMERSIVE CRUISES
Avalon Invites Cruisers to be Choosers on Innovative, New Itineraries
The greatest days are the ones where we wake to a wide-open agenda, a world of possibilities and a blank canvas to color as we please. While all Avalon river cruises present guests with an exciting menu of included Avalon Choice excursions that put cruisers in the pursuit of history, mystery, culture and cuisine in an unparalleled variety of elevated ways, the company’s exclusive series of Active & Discovery itineraries invite cruisers to be choosers every day of their getaway.
“We are turning the tide on cruising. Avalon’s Active & Discovery departures are attracting new, diverse travelers to river cruising,” said Pam Hoffee, president of Avalon Waterways. “With an average of 22 included Avalon Choice excursions, these special cruises represent a new wave in river cruising, inviting guests to personalize their vacation to their passions. The average guest on our Active & Discovery itineraries is 10 years younger than traditional river cruise guests.”
Since launching Active & Discovery cruises on the Danube River in 2017, Avalon Waterways has added these popular itineraries to every major European waterway it sails, increasing its offerings by 600 percent (600%). For 2023, the company is offering travelers 12 Active & Discovery itineraries with 52 departures, not including pre- and post-cruise extension opportunities.
Now, Avalon is placing an exclamation point on the importance of guests curating their curiosities on vacation by sharing those “Active,” “Classic” and “Discovery” excursions that are proving to be most popular on every river the company sails across Europe.
“The robust variety of excursions available to Avalon guests every day is emphasized by their wide array of interests. By reviewing their favorite excursion picks, we’re offering a great snapshot into the importance of inviting cruisers to customize their experience, from start-to-finish,” said Hoffee.
Avalon guests can enjoy an included menu of memories every day on Active & Discovery cruise. Their top “Active,” “Classic” and “Discovery” choices, by itinerary, are:
Active & Discovery in Holland & Belgium:
- Architectural Rotterdam on Two Wheels (Active)
- Discover Brussels + DIY Chocolate Workshop (Discovery)
- Treasures of Antwerp (Classic)
Active & Discovery on the Danube:
- Hit the Trail Hike: Danube-Ipoly National Park (Active)
- Engelszell Abbey with Trappist Beer Tasting (Discovery)
- VIP Access at Vienna Museum of Fine Arts (Classic)
Active & Discovery on the Rhône:
- Hit the Trail Hike: Val d’Enfer & Carriéres de Lumiéres (Active)
- Bites & Highlights of Lyon (Discovery)
- Ghostly Viviers (Classic)
Active & Discovery on the Rhine:
- Black Forest on Two Wheels (Active)
- Bites & Highlights of Düsseldorf (Discovery)
- Koblenz & Ehrenbreitstein Fortress (Classic)
Active & Discovery on the Moselle:
- Hike the Vineyards of Remich (Active)
- Walking & Wines in Bernkastel (Discovery)
- Highlights of Ancient Trier (Classic)
Active & Discovery on the Seine:
- Kayaking along the River Epte (Active)
- Benedictine Liquor in Normandy (Discovery)
- Memorials & Landing Beaches of Normandy (Classic)
CHANGING TIDES IN CRUISING … TREND ALERT!
Avalon Guests Weigh in on “Wish List” Travels
At the end of the last cruising season, Avalon asked past travelers to share their travel interests and plans for 2023 and beyond. The company heard back from 10,000 past Avalon travelers, revealing the following cruise trends:
A River Runs Through It. From Paris to Prague, Amsterdam to Zurich and Budapest to the Black Sea, the storybook landscapes, castle-dotted cliffs and vineyard-lined waterways of Europe continue to drive river cruise interest. According to Avalon’s recent survey results, the top five (5) rivers Avalon cruisers are interested in sailing next are:
- Rhine River (76%)
- Upper Danube River (64%)
- Seine and Rhône Rivers (39%)
- Lower Danube River (34%)
- Douro River (31%)
The countries on those itineraries that are topping their “must-see” lists are:
- France (39%)
- Portugal (31%)
- Germany (30%)
- Austria (25%)
- Switzerland (24%)
Outside of Europe, survey results indicate that the river cruise itineraries of most interest are:
- Nile (15%)
- Mekong (13%)
- Amazon (9%)
Whim-Powered Cruising. While many river cruisers pack their passion for food, wine, architecture and art when they travel, according to Avalon’s “Wish List” survey, more than one-fourth (26%) of river cruisers are interested in Active excursions, choosing to hike, bike or even, paddle, through their destination.
“Our fastest growing itineraries on Europe’s rivers are Active & Discovery cruises,” said Hoffee. “Since launching Active & Discovery cruises on the Danube River in 2017, we have added these popular itineraries to every major European waterway, increasing offerings by 600 percent (600%).”
Among the company’s no-one-does-it-like-this, included “Active” excursions are kayaking through gorges, spelunking in caves, biking through cities and country-sides, hiking up to castle ruins and taking e-bike tours to places like the Château de Maisons-Lafitte. An average of 23 included “Active,” “Discovery” and “Classic” excursions are available for guests to choose from on Avalon’s innovative, Active & Discovery itineraries.
Plunge into the Unparalleled. Another emerging trend, according to Avalon’s new survey, is an increased interest in off-the-beaten-path travel. Nearly half of Avalon respondents (44%) said it’s important to walk cobblestones less traveled to discover new experiences and new ports.
The Ideal Travel Squad. With this new survey, Avalon Waterways also noticed some new shifts and trends for travelers, post-pandemic. Specifically, who cruisers want to travel with – if anyone. While 73 percent (73%) of respondents still consider their partner or “better half” to be the best person for which to share their vacation, 30 percent (30%) shared an interest in going with friends or family members. And nearly one-fourth of travelers (24%) said they prefer to go solo on their next trip.
“Catering to this trend – and recognizing that river cruising is a perfect travel style for solo travelers – Avalon waives the single supplement on a select number of rooms on every departure across Europe and Southeast Asia,” added Hoffee.
What a Trip! Another new trend, according to Hoffee is length of trip. “In the past, many of our guests have chosen seven (7) to 10-day journeys with us. Others have even opted to test the cruise waters on micro-cruises of 3- and 4-nights. But our new ‘Wish List’ survey results indicate that river cruisers are increasingly looking for longer vacations.”
More than half of river cruisers (51%) said they want to book a two-week vacation this year. That’s up 13 percent (13%) from those who said they will be booking a one-week trip (38%).
To cater to this trend, Avalon is putting together several new “combination” vacations for cruisers for 2025, connecting rivers and Suite Ships for longer trips, more experiences and deeper immersion into destinations.
Two-week cruising itineraries that currently exist include Magnificent Europe and Grand France. Avalon also provides cruisers with YourWay extensions, offering pre- and post-nights from Budapest to Barcelona, Milan to Marseille and London to Lucerne, inviting travelers to spend a little – or a lot – more time in destinations of interest. Avalon also offers guests cruise and tour pairings, thanks to sister company Globus.
SUSTAINABLE, RESPONSIBLE RIVER CRUISING: THE LIGHTHOUSE PROJECT
The vibrant and beautiful natural surroundings of the world’s rivers are a benefit of river cruising. And Avalon Waterways is dedicated to preserving those precious environments with the Lighthouse Project, an illuminating initiative created to help travelers come together to reduce our footprint and give generously for the globe’s greater good.
With a mission of nurturing a culture of care and sustainability that extends to guests, the Lighthouse Project is focused on three, give-back categories:
- Planet: Conserve and preserve in each destination visited. To protect waterways and wildlife and shine a light on organizations that do the same.
- People:Protect, respect and support the extraordinary communities of the world as well as improving the individual lives within them.
- Places: The parks, palaces, museums and monuments we enjoy today are the result of previous generations passionately committed to preservation. By way of the Lighthouse Project, we aim to pay-it-forward so that future generations can enjoy the same glorious places to relax, renew and reflect.
Currently, Avalon Waterways, in partnership with the Globus family of brands, is spotlighting nearly 50 causes focused on the “Planet,” “People” and “Places,” with plans to add more. Among them are:
- The Ocean Cleanup: Every year, millions of tons of plastic bottles and other disposable products enter our beautiful oceans, mostly by way of rivers, impacting our ecosystems, our communities, and our health. Avalon Waterways is proud to partner with The Ocean Cleanup, a global nonprofit spearheading the largest plastic cleanup in history to rid our oceans and rivers of harmful pollution.
- Trees4Travel: Trees4Travel encourages travelers to explore and experience the globe with a slower, more thoughtful approach while simultaneously planting trees and forests to remove CO2 from the air. Planting trees for travel is a simple but powerful act dedicated to reversing climate change while creating a safe, sustainable planet for future generations to enjoy. As part of its partnership with Trees4Travel, Avalon Waterways is offsetting the carbon footprint of every guest’s cruise experience in 2022 by donating tens of thousands of trees to Trees4Travel.
- Landmine Design: Landmine Design, a social enterprise committed to educating and providing jobs for women living in poverty in Cambodia, has provided dozens of women with the opportunity to safely work at home with their children by rolling paper beads and crafting them into beautiful jewelry. Avalon is proud to support the Landmine Design community and to help turn a cycle of despair into a circle of hope.
Avalon Waterways’ operations team is also highly invested in providing sustainable, responsible river cruising for its guests and the planet.
“As part of our sustainability efforts, Avalon has invested in a state-of-the-art fleet of Suite Ships and top-of-the-line technology to limit energy, consumption and emissions; plus waste and recycling programs to reduce our environmental footprint, save water and foster an environmentally friendly culture among crew and guests worldwide,” said Pam Hoffee, president of Avalon Waterways.
Avalon Waterways has also:
- Eliminated single-use plastics onboard our ships and at operations offices, worldwide.
- Reduced paper waste by 95% onboard by favoring digital communications.
- Received the Green Award for Avalon’s entire fleet of ships, recognizing that each Suite Ship meets the high safety and environmental standards required for recognition.
- Invested in local farmers to secure locally produced food and beverages, reducing food miles while supporting local economies.
- Installed LED lighting throughout ship, fleet-wide.
- Worked with dozens of ports to purchase shore power (while docked), allowing generators to be turned off, further reducing emissions.
For more information about the Lighthouse Project, click HERE.
MORE ABOUT AVALON WATERWAYS
Cruising Elevated. Avalon Waterways has redefined cruising by going against the current and away from the ordinary. Delivering unparalleled experiences and boundless exploration, Avalon puts you in the captain’s seat to navigate your journey, fuel your passions and steer clear of the unexpected as you cruise down the world’s most memorable and mesmerizing waterways. One step aboard our modern, luxurious Suite Ships with the grandest views in cruising and you’ll see how the tides are changing. Welcome to a new wave in cruising. Welcome aboard Avalon Waterways.
Please visit our NEWSROOM for more details.
OUR LEADERSHIP TEAM
The Globus family of brands began in Switzerland in 1928 as a small family company with one man, his rowboat and a dream. More than nine decades later, the entrepreneurial spirit and ingenuity that created this family-owned institution lives on. With equal measures vision and hard work; team collaboration and commitment; honesty and integrity as well as a genuine love for all-things travel, the Globus family of brands, with help from its U.S.-based leadership team, is dedicated to offering inventive, inspired and perfectly planned vacations to travelers across the globe.
Please visit OUR LEADERSHIP page for bios and headshots.
Please contact Melanie Gravdal at email@example.com for editorial needs or media trip inquiries.