Patrick Clark, managing director of Avalon Waterways, and author Diana Gabaldon, godmother of Avalon Tapestry II. Photo Credit: Michelle Baran
France — At a new docking facility built to accommodate the rapid growth of the
river cruise industry, Avalon Waterways on Tuesday christened the latest in its Suite
Ship class of vessels, the Avalon Tapestry II, a move that doubled the
company’s capacity on the Seine River.
Gabaldon, author of the Outlander series of novels, served as godmother of
the vessel in a ceremony attended by the mayor of Les Andelys, Frederic Duchet; Patrick Clark,
managing director of Avalon Waterways; Jacques Den Breejen, owner of the Den
Breejen shipyard in the Netherlands that builds the Avalon vessels; and other
representatives from Avalon and the local government.
of river cruising as a travel style has been enormous,” Clark said during the
christening ceremony. “This next year there will 500,000 to 600,000 [river
cruise] visitors coming [to Europe], and more and more coming each year. … And
there are still a lot more who are yet to be exposed to river cruising.”
128-passenger Avalon Tapestry II marks Avalon’s second river cruise vessel on
the Seine, where it joins the 140-passenger Avalon Creativity. The Avalon
Tapestry II is also the company’s first Suite Ship class of vessels on the
iconic French river that cuts through the heart of Paris. Additionally, Avalon
sails two vessels, the Avalon Scenery and the Avalon Poetry II, on the Rhone
and Saone rivers in the south of France.
Avalon Tapestry II represents a handful of Avalon Suite Ship vessels that have
been built slightly shorter in length than their 443-foot, 166-passenger Suite
Ship counterparts in order to better navigate certain waterways and have better
access to some docking locations. According to Clark, this shorter style of
vessel is better suited to the Seine.
being technically smaller in size to some of the vessels in the Avalon fleet,
the Avalon Tapestry II does not otherwise feel it, with public areas that evoke
a more airy and spacious feel than some of the earlier-generation Suite Ships.
The main lobby has been opened up to allow more natural light to flow in
through the sky light, and the lounge area has been rearranged to make what is
arguably the social hub of the river cruise ship feel both larger and more
intimate at the same time, with partitioned sofas and seating areas offering a
subtle sense of privacy.
other Suite Ships, the Avalon Tapestry II’s lower-deck staterooms are 172
square feet each, and the staterooms on the second and third decks are 200
square feet each and feature the Suite Ships’ defining amenity — a floor-to-ceiling,
wall-to-wall sliding glass door that can be opened to create a French balcony.
There are also two 300-square-foot suites onboard.
Tapestry II will sail eight-day itineraries along the Seine River from Paris to
Normandy and can also be combined with Avalon’s south of France sailings.