While I am on Oceania Riviera, Avid Cruiser Contributing Editor Wallace Immen will be joining Avalon Waterways’ sleek blue river ship Avalon Vista in Amsterdam for her inaugural cruise travelling in tandem with sister ship Avalon Visionary with a highlight of a double christening in the town of Enkhuisen. The ships feature innovations like two full decks of suites featuring wall-to-wall panoramic windows that when opened create a unique open air balcony.
At 200 square feet, Panorama Suites are more than 30 percent larger than the standard on European rivers. Onboard amenities include an expanded fitness center, complimentary wi-fi access, and a top deck with that even includes a dining area and whirlpool. The godmother of the Avalon Vista is a long time friend and cruise specialist: Vanessa Lee. She’s founder of Canadian cruise booking agency Encore Cruises and now president of Cruise Strategies Ltd. in Toronto.
She’s developed a wide following for her columns and cruise magazines, including Cruise and Travel Lifestyles. Despite her extensive experience at sea, she professes to be deeply humbled by the experience of being the guiding spirit of a new ship. This is an all-Dutch itinerary, which lets us visit places seldom visited by river cruises that leave from Amsterdam and generally sail overnight up river to Germany.
Our first stop is Hoorn, the namesake of Cape Horn, a city that dates back to the 1300s which is gateway to the great tulip fields of northern Holland. Then Lelystad, a modern development first inhabited in the 1960s but a fascinating look at contemporary Dutch design. On to Batavia, whose claims to fame include reproductions of two of the 17th century’s most intrepid sailing ships.
The christening happens in Enkhuizen, that was a trading powerhouse in the heyday of trade with the East Indies. I’m looking forward to the Zuiderzee museum that recreates life in various eras of Holland’s long history. Finally an old favorite: Volendam, with its famous windmill and a trip to the cheese capital of Edam. And of course, there are going to be many gala evenings on board as well.
We’ll be flying there on KLM Royal Dutch Airlines and trying out their new Comfort class seats and Meet & Seat selection program that lets you pick your seat up to three months in advance. Stay tuned for all the excitement.