Dispatch, Avalon Panorama: No Rhine drama

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Travel Weekly's Michelle Baran is aboard the new Avalon Panorama. Her second dispatch follows. Click to read her first dispatch.

There’s no better feeling than having everything work out. When we boarded the Avalon Panorama on Friday for the ship’s christening cruise from Frankfurt to Amsterdam, executives at Avalon Waterways warned us that there might be some changes to the itinerary if the Rhine River didn’t get some more water.

To both the crew and passengers’ credit, there was never any sense of real worry, that it would spoil the trip if we did have to change the itinerary slightly and perhaps take a motorcoach from Cologne, Germany, to Amsterdam rather than enjoy the last leg of our sailing.

But alas, the region welcomed just enough rain over the past few days to allow us to cruise smoothly along our originally scheduled itinerary, intended to be a small sampling of several of the region’s rivers (including the Main, Rhine and Mosel) and to enjoy port calls in Mainz, Rudesheim and Cologne among others.

While much has been made of the Avalon Panorama’s newly designed staterooms, there have been some additional changes and enhancements, the most apparent of which is on the menu in the ship’s main restaurant.

AvalonPanorama-diningroom

In addition to the chef’s selection of first and main courses at dinner, there are healthy options as well as nightly alternatives that feature standbys such as Caesar salad and salmon. That is in addition to the option of having breakfast served in the cabin.

For longer sailings, and even for weeklong cruises, the ability to switch things up a little when all the meals are served onboard is refreshing. The same goes for the outdoor grill on the sky deck, where some lunches are served al fresco, weather permitting. (Though this isn’t a new feature on Avalon ships, having some grilled meats and salad outdoors is a pleasant option to the main dining room, particularly when the weather is nice).

And of course, the ship is simply newer than its predecessors. The furnishings and interior design are in line with the modern style and clean lines that Avalon has implemented to its interiors fleetwide. The Panorama showcases warm colors and fabrics throughout, contrasting modern furniture with red or orange upholstery.

Passengers will pay on average a $200-per-week premium to sail on the Panorama, compared with older ships in the Avalon fleet, according to Patrick Clark, managing director of Avalon Waterways.

And given that the ship is almost sold out for 2011, clearly that’s a premium people are willing to pay.

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