River Cruise FAQ

Frequently Asked Questions

What do you need to know while on board?

Air Conditioning and Heating
All rooms on the ships are air conditioned and heated. All ships have individual controls in the staterooms.

Choice of complimentary wine, beer or soft drinks will be included with dinner & lunch and sparkling wine with breakfast on Avalon Europe river cruises. In Europe, Asia and South America, coffee and tea are available free of charge throughout the day from "early riser" breakfast through dinner. On the Yangtze and in the Galápagos, wine is included with all dinners. On the Mekong, Irrawaddy, and Amazon rivers, complimentary coffee, tea, soft drinks, and local beer/spirits is available throughout the day and wine is included with dinner.

Clothing & Dress Code
Your comfort is our first concern. Onboard and onshore dress codes are casual. Please bring comfortable walking shoes for sightseeing. Dinner attire is casual—open-neck shirts and slacks for men; slacks, skirts, or dresses for ladies. Coats and ties may be worn if preferred. The Welcome and Farewell Dinners in Europe are dressy, but not formal. On the Mekong, Ganges, Amazon, and Galápagos, dressy attire, coats, and ties are not recommended due to the warm, humid climate.

Cruise Director
A professional, experienced, English-speaking Cruise Director accompanies every departure. Naturalists are onboard in the Amazon and Galápagos.

All meals on board are prepared by accomplished chefs and consist of local food adjusted for North American tastes. There is a full buffet breakfast, and in Europe a buffet lunch including choice of soups and main courses with appetizer, salad or sandwich, and dessert. On the Yangtze, Irrawaddy and Mekong, a mix of Western and Asian dishes is offered; in the Galápagos, you'll be able to taste some Ecuadorian specialties and in the Amazon, you will be able to sample Peruvian specialties.

Currency and Credit Cards

In Europe:
Most of the countries you will be visiting in Europe use the Euro. Exceptions are Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Hungary and Romania; they all have their own currencies but the Euro is accepted in many establishments. Many locations accept major credit cards; however in small towns they are not widely accepted. In these cases and for incidentals or small vendors, you will need some local currency. ATM machines are located on shore at some stops. Prior to your departure, confirm with your bank that your ATM or credit card and PIN number will work abroad. All purchases on board are charged to your room account. For payment of shipboard accounts, Euro and Canadian dollars are accepted as well as American Express, Visa, Mastercard and Diner's Club. A fee is charged for the use of traveller's checks. Personal checks cannot be cashed on board.

In China:
Canadian dollars are widely accepted on shore. The local currency is the Yuan. ATM machines will dispense Yuan or they can be purchased on board the ship using Canadian dollars. The currency on board is the Yuan. Shipboard accounts can be settled in cash, traveller's checks or most major credit cards.

In Southeast Asia:
Although, each country has its own currency including the Riel (Cambodia), Dong (Vietnam), Bhat (Thailand), and Kip (Laos), Canadian dollars are widely accepted in each country. ATMs are available in most large cities and will dispense the local currency. In Myanmar, while US dollars are accepted at most hotels and attractions, food, souvenirs and other daily purchases usually require local currency (Kyat). ATMs are readily available in Yangon and to a lesser degree in Bagan and Mandalay. It is advised that you check with your bank to ensure your card will work otherwise we recommend you bring all the money you need from home. The currency on board is the Canadian dollar. Shipboard accounts can be settled by credit card (Visa or Mastercard) or with cash. traveller's checks are not accepted.

In Ecuador:
Ecuador uses US Dollars as their official currency. Credit cards are usually accepted in larger towns. In smaller towns cash is recommended. Shipboard accounts can be settled by credit card, cash or travellers checks.

In Peru/Amazon:
Peru uses Nuevo Sol (PEN) as their official currency, however, US Dollars are widely accepted as well. Credit cards are accepted in Peru, and you should have no problems using them in larger shops and restaurants. Visa and MasterCard are most accepted. Smaller shops may ask you to pay in cash or have a minimum amount required to use a credit card.

On Board

Electricity on board the Isabela II is 110v. Electricity on board the Amazon Discovery is 220v. The bathrooms have a dual 220v/110-120v plug for shavers and small appliances. You will need an adapter or converter to use in other outlets in the stateroom for any small personal items such as a razor, curling iron or alarm clock. For specific details on land voltage requirements for each of the countries you are visiting, please refer to the Know Before You Go documents.

Hair Dryers
All ships have hair dryers for passenger use; please ask at the reception desk if one is not in your stateroom.

Laundry service is available on board for a modest fee. Check the price list in your stateroom. Clothes cannot be dry cleaned on board. For safety reasons, we ask that passengers do not iron their clothes in the staterooms as this is a safety hazard; the laundry service will do pressing for a fee.

You may check out books from the ship's library free of charge. We ask that you return them before your cruise ends.

Medical Services
Due to the proximity to land, medical services can be called from shore rapidly. In the Galápagos and Amazon, there is a physician on board.

The onboard daily newsletter features information about daily activities, shore excursions and tour departure times.

Onboard Language
The language on board is English. All staff, crew and tour guides speak English. All announcements and commentary will be in English.

Onboard Shop
Each ship has a shop area offering accessories, film, souvenirs and some select personal and toiletry items.

Ships have in-room safes. In the Galápagos, valuables may be stored in the ship's safe free of charge.

In Europe and in South America, all ships have non-smoking interiors. Smoking is only permitted on the Sky Deck. On vessels in China, smoking is limited to certain areas of the ship. On the Irrawaddy and Mekong river cruises, smoking is permitted in a designated area.

Special Occasions
Passengers celebrating special occasions, such as anniversaries or birthdays, should alert ship personnel upon boarding the ship. Special services are available (some free of charge) on Europe cruises.

Each stateroom has a direct dial telephone which may be used to call between staterooms. Ship-to-shore calls are also available in Europe. Any charges are placed on your shipboard account. In the Galápagos, there are two satellite-linked pay phones available for use in the reception lounge. On the Mekong and Irrawaddy, a phone is available for emergencies if needed.

Each stateroom has color satellite TV and will receive some English programming. There is a shipboard information channel and a channel with entertainment videos or movies. A TV is found in the ship's library in the Galápagos only. There is no television service on the Mekong, Irrawaddy, Amazon or Galápagos.

Your Shipboard Account
For your convenience, all purchases and paid services on board are billed with a guest check and added to your personal shipboard account.

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How do I make a payment on a cruise I already booked?

If you have already made a booking and need to apply a payment, please login to access your booked cruise vacation.

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What are some nautical terms you need to know while river cruising?

AFT toward the stern of the boat

ASTERN in back of the boat

BILGE the interior of the hull below the floor boards

BITTER END the last part of a rope or chain; the inboard end of the anchor rope

BOW the forward part of a ship

BRIDGE the location from which a vessel is steered and its speed controlled

BULKHEAD a vertical partition separating compartments

BUOY an anchored float used for marking a position or a hazard on the water and for mooring

CLEAT a fitting to which lines are made fast

COURSE the direction in which a ship is steered

CURRENT the horizontal movement of water

DISPLACEMENT the weight of water displaced by a floating vessel

DRAFT the depth of water a boat draws

FATHOM six feet

FLOOD an incoming current

GALLEY the kitchen area of a ship

GUNWHALE the upper edge of a ship's sides

HELM the wheel or tiller controlling the rudder

HULL the main body of a vessel

KEEL the center line of a boat running fore and aft

KNOT a measure of speed equal to one nautical mile (6,076 feet) per hour

LEEWARD the direction away from the wind

NAUTICAL MILE one minute of latitude; approximately 6,076 feet—about 1/8 longer than the statute mile of 5,280 feet

PORT the left side of a ship looking forward; a harbor

SCUPPERS drain holes on deck, in the toe rail, or in bulwarks or in the deck itself

SOUNDING a measurement of the depth of water

STARBOARD the right side of a ship when looking forward

TRIM fore and aft balance of a boat

WINDWARD toward the direction from which the wind is coming

YAW to swing or steer off course

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What are the origins of river cruising nautical terms?

The most common method of punishment aboard ship was flogging. The unfortunate sailor was tied to a grating, a mast, or over the barrel of a deck cannon.

There were miles of cordage in the rigging of a square rigged ship. The only way to keep track of and to know the function of all of these lines was to know where they were located. It took an experienced seaman to know the ropes.

Thin and worn sails were often treated with oil or wax to renew their effectiveness. This was called "dressing down." An officer or sailor who was reprimanded received a "dressing down."

The bottom portion of a sail is called the foot. If it is not secured, it is "footloose" and dances randomly in the wind.

In 1740 British Admiral Vernon (whose nickname was "Old Grogram" for the cloak of grogram which he wore) ordered that the sailors' daily ration of rum be diluted with water. The men called the mixture "grog." A sailor who drank too much grog was "groggy."

The poop is the stern section of a ship. To be "pooped" is to be swamped by a high, flowing sea.

When lost or unsure of their position in coastal waters, ships would release a caged crow. The crow would fly straight toward the nearest land, thus giving the vessel some sort of navigational fix. The tallest lookout platform on a ship came to be known as the "crow's nest."

If a captain of a smaller ship encountered a large enemy vessel, he might decide that discretion was the better part of valor. He would order the crew to cut the lashings on all the sails and run away before the wind. This term also meant to cut the anchor cable and sail off in a hurry.

When called to line up at attention, the ship's crew would form up with their toes touching a seam in the deck planking.

If a crewman is standing watch on the weather side of the bow, he will be subject to the constant beating of the ocean spray. He will be "under the weather."

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What should you know about locks and the canals?

Navigational Locks

Navigational LockThe diverse and fascinating geography of the European Continent has blessed it with magnificent and varied natural sights. Mountain ranges such as the Swiss Alps, the French Vosges, Germany's Fichtelgebirge and Black Forest region have given birth to the great rivers of Europe which have provided most important transportation links since ancient times.

Before the advent of highways and road transportation, the rivers were the only efficient method of carrying goods from one place to another. Those most important trading centers located on a river soon grew into some of Europe's most important cities—Budapest and Vienna on the Danube, Strasbourg and Cologne on the Rhine, Mainz and Frankfurt on the Main, Coblenz and Trier on the Moselle, to name but a few!

The challenge facing the early navigators was how to tame the rivers and make them navigable along their entire lengths. One of the answers was the invention and development of the lock.

Normally, water levels on each side of a navigation lock are different, so a lock has to work like an elevator. This is accomplished by using two sets of gates to enclose a chamber.

The lock starts with one set of gates open, and the water level in the chamber is the same as the water in the channel on that side. A vessel enters through the open gates.

Once the vessel is moored inside the lock chamber, the lock operator closes the lock gates behind the vessel.

With the vessel securely tied up and the gates closed, the lock operator can then open the valves at the opposite end of the lock. To adjust the water level in the lock chamber to match the water level of the waterway on the opposite end, water is allowed to enter into the chamber from the high-water side, or drained out of the chamber to the low-water side, thus raising or lowering the ship.

Once the water levels are equalized, the gates at that end are opened and the vessel can continue on its way.

The Main-Danube Canal

Main-Danube CanalThe Main-Danube Canal is an old dream of humanity. Charlemagne started the construction of its "Fossa Carolina" more than 12 centuries ago, and while his construction effort failed, parts of the canal are still visible in southern areas of central Franconia. King Ludwig I of Bavaria built the first fully functioning Main-Danube Canal in only 10 years of construction from 1836-1846. Yet, the Ludwig-Main-Danube Canal as it was called, with its 101 water locks was rather narrow and its practical use for shipping was highly limited. Its operation came to an end in 1945, partly due to damage from the war.

The planning of the present canal dates back to 1922. A project of this magnitude caused a lively debate over the environmental and economic consequences of its construction. Economic planners gravely overestimated its potential, while environmentalists largely underestimated the positive aspects of its construction for the biotope—and the fact that the canal actually provides 1,25 million cubic meters of water to the dry Northern Bavarian region every year.

It was not until September 1992 that the present-day Main-Danube Canal was opened for traffic. It stretches for a length of 106 miles from Bamberg, in Germany, via Nuremberg to Regensburg.

The canal reaches its apex 1,332 ft. above sea level. 16 water locks facilitate safe passage of vessels. 11 water locks were needed to overcome the ascent of 574 ft. between the Main in Bamberg and the apex and 5 additional locks facilitate descent from the apex. The canal is 180 ft. wide and 13 ft. deep. All traffic water locks are 40 ft. wide and 623 ft. long.

Thanks to the canal, it is now possible to navigate from the Rhine Delta at Rotterdam, Holland, to the Danube Delta at the Black Sea—a stretch of 2,200 miles.

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Our price policy

Vacation prices are per person, based on double occupancy, and do not include airfare except as noted on the itinerary pages. Single room supplements and triple room reductions are listed where applicable; not all accommodation types are available on all vacations. We encourage full deposit early to secure your space and to protect the price of your vacation. Prices are subject to increase without notice, subject to the guarantees set forth below.

Once Avalon has received your full non-refundable land/cruise deposit your vacation price is guaranteed and you are protected against any base land/cruise price increase due to currency surcharge. Any subsequent cost increases are at our expense, not including energy cost increases and/or any government tax increases.

If you purchase air through Avalon, an additional non-refundable air deposit ($300 per person for departures) is required to protect your air fare price. Please note that Avalon reserves the right to ticket passengers upon receipt of full land and air deposit. Thus any changes at your request made after receipt of your full deposit are subject to airline-imposed change fees and/or changes in airfare price. These fees are your responsibility to pay and will be required at time of request. This includes name changes or name alterations.

Air is only available to passengers travelling from the Canada and is only available when booked in conjunction with a land/cruise vacation.

Please see the Terms & Conditions for full information on our Pricing Policy.

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Save by forming your own group

If you form your own group, you'll receive the following rebates: On river cruises, one person travels free in a group of 16. These group rebates do not apply to any international or intra-vacation flights. Free land and cruise arrangements are credited at the twin rate; single room and stateroom supplements must be paid in full.

View Group Information

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Single room supplement

For single travellers who prefer the privacy of their own room and stateroom, single accommodation can, of course, be requested. Call for single room supplements.

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Extra nights before & after your vacation

If you'd like to add extra hotel nights, we will try to make arrangements for you at our contracted rates. Rates are per person, per night, and include a room with private bath, breakfast, service charges and taxes. Extra hotel nights are only available immediately prior to or after your vacation and are not available on some cruise-only vacations. If your vacation includes a hotel stay, every effort will be made to reserve extra nights at the hotel where your vacation stays. If space at the hotel is not available, alternative accommodation will be reserved at a hotel of equivalent standard. When this is the case, the transfer to and from the included hotel is at our expense. During particularly busy periods, hotel space in certain cities can become so tight that we may be unable to sell extra nights.

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Deluxe, Superior First-Class & First-Class hotels nearly everywhere

Avalon is proud to be associated with some of the finest establishments worldwide. Many of them belong to famous chains such as Westin, InterContinental, and Hilton.

The specific hotels we have selected for you are listed separately for each vacation. The vast majority of them are Deluxe (D), Superior First-Class (SF), or First-Class (F) establishments. In a few overnight places, where there is no hotel in these categories, we choose the best available (BA) hotels.

Avalon hotel ratings follow the standards set by the independent Hotel & Travel Index and by national tourist boards. The specific rating for each contract hotel is determined by our quality controllers.

We reserve the right to substitute hotels listed on the itinerary pages with hotels of equivalent standard. With your Avalon travel documents, you'll receive a list of hotel addresses, telephone numbers, and fax numbers for your vacation.

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Young travellers

In our many years of cruising experience, we have found that children under the age of eight typically are too young to fully enjoy a cruise vacation. Because of this and for the safety and enjoyment of all passengers, we do not accept children under eight years of age. In addition, please note that there are no special arrangements or activities for children on our ships.

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Travel Insurance

Travel Insurance offers comprehensive protection for your travel investment. In addition to excellent trip coverage and cancellation protection, the plan also includes a Cancel for Any Reason Waiver Benefit that allows for cancellations up to 24 hours prior to departure (or prior business day, whichever is farther out) for any reason. In the event cancellation is for a non-covered reason under Travel Insurance, the cancellation penalty retained by Avalon Waterways, minus the travel protection payment, will be reimbursed under the Cancel for Any Reason Waiver Benefit, in the form of Travel Certificates valid for travel within two years from the original cancelled vacation start date. This Cancel for Any Reason Waiver Benefit does not cover Instant Purchase Air or independently purchased air.
View more about Travel Insurance.

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Before you go

Avalon will send you a set of travel documents, which includes a copy of your itinerary and, where applicable, information on your hotels and optional excursions.
View "Know Before You Go" travel tips

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Internet access on Avalon ships

All Avalon ships in Europe have complimentary Wi-Fi available for in-room use, as well as public computers with Internet connections. On the Mekong and Irrawaddy, complementary Wi-Fi access is available in the Panorama Lounge. Wi-Fi access is available for a charge on the Isabela II in the Galápagos. The signal is not always reliable, as you will be cruising through remote areas. To access the ship's Wi-Fi network you will be given a PIN number at the reception to use on your laptop, tablet, or mobile device to access the Internet. Wi-Fi is not available in the Amazon.

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What are the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) requirements?

Many countries have enacted legislation requiring airlines to collect information from you for the purposes of identifying and approving passengers before entering their country. The information that you provide may be shared with law enforcement or intelligence agencies or others under their published systems of records notice. At time of booking a vacation with reservations, Avalon will collect the required information and add it to your air booking to pass it to the airline(s). The information includes full name, date of birth, gender, and redress number (If available). Failure to provide the required information at time of booking may result in the loss of confirmed flights and airline price, as information is required for ticketing. Rebooking lost airfare is subject to schedule availability at time of rebooking and may result in alternate flight schedules and/or increases in airfare price. Any increase in airfare price is payable by you.

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Are Avalon Waterways river cruises handicap accessible?

Avalon Waterways makes reasonable attempts to accommodate the special needs of disabled and mobility impaired travellers but is not responsible in the event it is unable to do so. Because we cannot provide individual assistance to travellers in many situations, and most of our transportation services are not equipped with wheelchair ramps, we recommend that you view our terms and conditions for details and contact us to learn more.

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How does Avalon support sustainable travel and protect the environment?

Avalon is committed to minimizing its impact on the environment and to reducing its dependence on non-renewable resources. In this endeavor, we have implemented policies to support this mission and are working carefully to enhance our products with this mission and our values combined. We are committed to complying with all relevant legislation and/or regulations.

Avalon maintains a policy of "Leave Only Footprints and Take Only Photos". Our staff and major service providers strive to ensure that no removal of any natural or cultural artifacts or materials to ensure our environment looks and functions the same before and after our visit. Our cruise directors educate passengers on our "do no harm" code of conduct to ensure that the passengers comply.

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Do I need a passport and a visa?

When travelling outside the Canada, a passport is required for Canadian citizens. Some countries also require a visa. Please refer to the Know Before You Go documents for the countries you are visiting for more information.

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What size can my suitcase be?

Your single bag should have dimensions not exceeding 30"x21"x11" and weight not exceeding 50 lbs (22 kg). We regret that we are unable to accept a second suitcase or any luggage exceeding these limits on any Avalon vacation outside of Europe. Some vacations have more restrictive regulations than these listed above, such as cruises on the Yangtze. Please refer to your travel Documents for more information.

Please note that air carriers, cruise lines, and other forms of transportation may have other restrictions and requirements, including weight, and we recommend that you contact the suppliers directly for additional information. Some airlines also charge fees for checked baggage, and these fees are not included in the vacation or airfare package price. Check with your airline directly for baggage information and regulations. Avalon is not responsible for additional baggage fees imposed by air carriers.

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When will I receive my travel documents?

Travel documents, including applicable eTicket receipts, itineraries and other information, are sent approximately 2-3 weeks prior to departure, provided full payment has been received.

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When can I purchase optional excursions?

You can learn about the optional excursions available on your Avalon vacation, including cruises with Monograms extensions, by visiting AvalonWaterways.com/MyAvalon. A complete listing will also be available in your travel documents. These are available to purchase in advance online from 90-11 days prior to departure. We recommend you book early to avoid excursions selling out. When adding a Globus tour to your cruise, you may purchase the Globus excursions online 90-11 days prior to the start of the Globus departure by going online to GlobusJourneys.com/MyGlobus.

NOTE: Optional activities and excursions are subject to change and may not be available as described; please visit our website for up-to-date information, including Terms & Conditions and details regarding payment.

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Where can I find the docking location for my cruise ship?

Avalon Waterways strives to bring you the best docking locations along Europe’s rivers. In many cities, this includes multiple docking sites. Docking positions at each port are assigned by local authorities, and may vary depending upon the number of ships in port on any given day. This can sometimes result in double-docking - when more than one ship is assigned to the same dock and the ships are rafted together, temporarily obstructing some views from on board the ships.

Exact docking locations will be available 24-72 hours prior to embarkation.

Before your cruise’s docking location is available, you can download a map of all possible docking sites for your embarkation city at AvalonWaterwaysPorts.com. Once your ship’s docking assignment is available, you can download a map that shows only that specific location, including address.

Additionally, you can view all possible docking locations for all cities by downloading this PDF of all embarkation cities.

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Why is my contact information collected when I book?

There may be times when unforeseen events beyond our control impact travel schedules and potentially disrupt your vacation. These include, but are not limited to, severe weather conditions, acts of nature, and government travel advisories. Under such circumstances, it is critical that Avalon be able to contact you immediately and reliably-including nights, weekends, and holidays-to make sure we’ve informed you of any possible changes to your travel.

Additionally, the care and safety of our guests have always been our highest priority. There may be a need to contact you while on the trip or to contact someone back home due to an unforeseen event that happens while on the trip. Therefore, in addition to pre-trip contact information, we also require an emergency contact name and number, as well as an on-trip phone number for all travellers.

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How do Monograms & Globus vacations differ from Avalon?

Avalon is a cruise vacation with a Cruise Director and Globus is an inclusive escorted tour with a Tour Director, both of which follow a set itinerary. Monograms vacations, including the package added to your cruise, are independent stays in major cities and destinations that include hotel accommodation with breakfast, sightseeing with VIP access, transportation between cities, and the services of a Monograms professional Local Host.

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