The beds in the Panorama Suites face the balcony windows to give guests a view of their surroundings
Avalon Waterways, which is part of the Globus family of brands, is continuing to refine its river cruise offering by doubling down on the guest experience onboard its ships.
Avalon View, the company’s latest ‘Suite Ship,’ debuted in April 2022. Like the rest of the Suite Ships fleet sailing in Europe, Avalon View averages just 150 guests (some accommodate) a much lower number, to give guests plenty of space, time and attention during their cruise.
The focus on the guest experience continues across the fleet of Suite Ships, each of which boasts large, outside-facing Panorama Suites. “Our boutique hotel-inspired Panorama Suites are featured on two full decks of every ship and these spacious staterooms feature the industry’s only Open-Air Balconies with the widest-opening windows in cruising,” says Pam Hoffee, president and managing director of Avalon Waterways. “Our wall-to-wall, floor-to-ceiling windows open seven foot wide in Europe and 11 foot wide in Southeast Asia – wider than any other balconies in the industry – and blur the line between outside and in without sacrificing room space.”
In addition, when it comes to the brand’s Comfort Collection beds, Hoffe says: “Avalon is the only line whose beds are turned to face the view and ever-changing scenery rather than a wall.”
However, it is not only the ships that are immersive in nature. this theme continues in the itineraries and activities available to guests. “Since launching our very first ‘Active & Discovery’ cruise on the Danube in 2017, we have grown these offerings by 560 per cent,” says Hoffee. “And in 2023, we will be providing cruisers with eight ‘Active & Discovery’ itineraries with 53 departures. That’s 14 per cent of our overall portfolio and 25 per cent of our itineraries during the main cruising season.”
‘Special interest’ cruise itineraries are increasingly popular, covering topics such as beer, wine, photography and history. This year’s celebrity-hosted ‘Storyteller Series’ of sailings feature authors Candace Bushnell, Cheryl Strayed, Gillian Flynn, Christopher Moore and Sister Hazel.
Throughout all of its endeavours, Avalon maintains a focus on sustainability. “The vibrant and beautiful natural surroundings of the world’s rivers are a benefit of river cruising,” says Hoffee. “Avalon Waterways is dedicated to preserving those precious environments with the Lighthouse Project, an initiative created to help travellers 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 categories: Planet, People and Places. Avalon Waterways is spotlighting nearly 50 causes in these categories, with plans to add more. They include The Ocean Cleanup, a global non-profit spearheading the largest plastic clean-up in history; Trees4Travel, in partnership with which Avalon Waterways is offsetting the carbon footprint of every guest’s cruise experience in 2022 by donating tens of thousands of trees; and Landmine Design, a social enterprise committed to educating and providing jobs for women living in poverty in Cambodia.
Investments in technology to limit energy consumption and emissions are ongoing for the brand. “We’re constantly monitoring new technology in sustainability and are committed to developing new ships – when the technology is available – that allow us to maintain our position of having the most efficient engines in the market,” adds Hoffee.
Waste and recycling programmes are helping reduce the fleet’s environmental footprint, save water and foster an environmentally friendly culture among crew and guests worldwide. Achievements to date include eliminating single-use plastics onboard the ships and at operations offices, worldwide; reducing paper waste by 95 per cent onboard; receiving the Green Award for the entire fleet; investing in local farmers to secure locally produced food and beverages, reducing food miles while supporting local economies; and installing LED lighting fleet-wide. The company also works with dozens of ports to purchase shore power while ships are docked.
So what’s next for the brand in the coming months and years? Growth is at the heart of the plans as Hoffee says the company is considering “expansion into different ports – including the likely possibility of a new ship on a new river in 2024.”
This article was first published in the Autumn/Winter 2022 issue of Cruise & Ferry Review. All information was correct at the time of printing, but may since have changed.
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