River Cruising Adventure for Active Travelers

Avalon Waterways has been rated in the top for river cruising. I recently got to experience a European river cruise on the Avalon Expression. I’m 37 and my friend is a very fit 58-year old, so we chose the “Active and Discovery on the Rhine” itinerary sailing northbound from Frankfurt, Germany to Amsterdam, Netherlands. How did it go? Read on to find out our impressions of the excursions, accommodations, itinerary, and our experience of how Avalon Waterways dealt with low river levels on the Rhine.

River cruising is very different from your typical ocean cruise. Our agency owner, Michael Graham, has already written an excellent post on why to take a river cruise, so I won’t go into too much detail. In short, the ships are smaller, you get closer & more intimate access to towns and cities along the way, and more is included. Yes, a river cruise is more expensive than a mass-market ocean cruise, but typically that price includes the cruise, luxurious accommodations, all meals, beverages, airport transfers, Cruise Director, onboard educational opportunities, and many excursions.

Avalon Waterways: Active & Discovery on the Rhine (Northbound)


Avalon’s Active & Discovery itineraries offer more of those types of excursions, but they also still offer Classic excursions at each port. They summarize the three types of excursions as follows:

Active: “Embark on energetic excursions to keep you in motion and on the go – from a guided jogging tour of Amsterdam, to biking, paddling, and hiking your way through scenic locales.”

Discovery: “We’ve found inspiring and interactive activities to speak to your interests – from cooking classes, to painting workshops – to immerse yourself in each culture you explore.”

Classic: “Your local expert is ready to guide you through the history and heritage of local destinations. You’ll marvel at the legends, lore, and spectacular architecture of iconic and historic sites.”

On our cruise, we took advantage of all three categories. Below are the excursions we chose. *Indicates optional excursions that cost extra.

Active: Guided Nature Walk in Eltville, *Kayak Adventure on the Canals of Amsterdam, Biking Tour through Dutch Countryside
Discovery: *Düsseldorf Cultural Walk: Four Centures of Treasures, Düsseldorf Old Town
Classic: Guided Walk of Ehrenbreitstein Fortress & Koblenz, Guided City Walk of Cologne, Guided Tour of Düsseldorf, Guided Tour of Kroller-Muller Museum

Kayak the historic canals of Amsterdam. As you travel through the city, under bridges & past historic buildings, observe the countless variety of boats, from the hip & lux to the run-down & patched, to boats designed for day-use or restaurants. Our Local Guide was himself a house-boat resident & avid kayaker, and was able to describe what it’s like living in the canals. For example, many house boats have “green roofs” which help with temperature regulation & dampen noise from the city. You will definitely want a guide as one could easily get lost in the many tunnels, bridges, and turns along the way.

Avalon Waterways is coming to the Grand Strand to talk about river cruising – find out more here!

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