Avalon Tulip River Cruise Review

Tulip Time in Amsterdam. Round trip


8/28/20235 min read

Avalon Tulips of Northern Holland Cruise 2022

This trip was on my bucket list for years. Just being able to visit Holland was extremely exciting. But to take a river cruise too! oh boy! Our very 1st river cruise and we are starting off on one of the best and most popular itineraries. Round trip Amsterdam for spring tulips.

I was so excited to travel with Avalon. It was really hard to decide who to sail with, We ultimately went with Avalon for two main reasons. First, they are part of the Globus Family Touring company. This means, Avalon unlike some other river cruise lines, has A LOT of connections. They have impressive private tours, wonderful local guides and if the rivers are too low/too high to sail, they will do better in providing buses and hotels tours. Not saying the completion won't do well. It's just Globus, is so huge with over 90 years touring and relationships, it's hard to go wrong. The second reason they sold us, was the room. The design layout is perfect. No seprate balcony, simply slide open your double pane, floor to ceiling wall and turn your room into the balcony. Our bed faced the open window wall, so you could sit and gaze in complete comfort.

As a travel advisor, I help people build amazing trips. To stay savvy to the places my clients visit, I too look for time to visit so that I can have some real input for them and answer questions they might have. I often get asked by younger clients, if river cruises are geared towards retirees. The truth is, they are not. They are geared towards those that can afford and have the time for them. That comes in all stages of life. Though, yes, your shipmates will mostly be in the retirement age bracket.

The Review:

Avalon Waterways nailed it. From the moment we arrived, we felt welcomed by the staff and guest alike. We were early, and initially waited in the living area chatting with fellow travelers.

Since there was time, we left our luggage and did another walking tour in Amsterdam near the port. We had stayed two nights on our before we boarded the ship though Amsterdam is just massive and jammed packed, I thought it was nice to walk around again before we sailed off.

Our Avalon room steward kept our room tidy and stocked. She was a hoot, we enjoyed her personality and friendliness.

We stayed in a Panorama Suite, I’ll highly recommend this stateroom category. The wall of glass opens nearly all the way, giving you a fantastic open room/open balcony that you can enjoy with from your bed, as your bed faces the balcony. The scenery is just stunning while you are crying along the country side.

The service at the bar was on point. Stella remembered our favorites and had perfect timing on delivery. The entire crew was so pleasant and did a great job at making us feel welcomed and relaxed.

The main dining for dinner was not my favorite place. We only dined there once, the first night. The thing I didn't enjoy, is although the ship was only at 70% full, dinner was packed. It was too loud for my anxiety. Each night, the bar above the main dining offered a light buffet style diner. The menu was based off what there were serving in main dining. We had made good friends with an older couple that also preferred the quite space in the buffet, plus the view was better upstairs. The ship was advertised to have Al Fresco option when weather is nice a few night, though even with the brilliant weather we had on our 8 night adventure, they not once had lunch nor dinner Al Fresco. That was disappointing. I suppose, they were understaffed still, or didn't think with only 70% occupancy this would be idea.

We chose to take most tours with Avalon and enjoyed them all. Most of the time, once a tour ended, there was plenty of time to wonder off and do your own thing. You could take one of their well maintained bicycles, hop in a local cab, or explore on foot. As big ocean ship cruises, being able to walk on off our Avalon ship was a breeze compared to a vessel with thousands trying get off and on seemingly at the same times. Plus, you can bring anything back on. Wine, liquor, they did not care. There are two self check in/out stations where you tap your room key, and you are free to go. Avalon did a great job of posting when to be back on board and I never felt panicked or overwhelm, the way you can on the ocean ships. Other plus, no metaldecetors, long lines or bag searches. After a long guided tour, you were treated with local drinks and snacks when boarding back on with the group.

If you are planning on cruising for the tulips and your cruise includes visiting the Keukenhof gardens, I will recommend a 2 week trip, giving you the opportunity to visit twice. We were very fortunate our 8 day trip, with one visit to the gardens, as our visit everything fas in full bloom and 100% perfect. Warm and sunny. The trip we took, our ship mates were a mix of our 8 day trip and about 20 others that had booked a 15 day trip, in which began the week before our arrival. Those that went to Keukenhof the week before went in freezing sleet, and nearly no blooms open yet. The Keukenhof gardens are only open to the public for 6 weeks of year, and the blooms may or may not be open, or may have bloomed and wilted in that time frame. Most of the guests on our ship that missed the garden blooms, went again with our group and were thrilled by all the beautiful flowers cooperating on the their second visit.

Being part of the Globus family, our tour guides were all amazing. Avalon would even bring some guest on over night for entertainment, story time and history lessons. It was engaging and interesting learning about the area further. One day while touring a the town of (I’ll have to come back to this) a full day adventure where we took a small ferry over and our ship actual continued down river and we bused to later in the day. Evidently this sort of thing will happen on the river cruises. That made it eventful as you really had 3 destinations in a one day.

Sailing the river, view from panorama suite on Avalon Tranquillity II. Photo by Chad Hoberer