First Impression and Cologne

Chrissy Nason. Silver Travel Advisor. See the full Part One article online at:, as well as Parts Two and Three.

"My first river-cruise experience.  My first ship christening. Doubly exciting.

First impressions didn’t disappoint: sleek, elegant, with a full-length sky deck, spacious lounge and dining areas, the ship exudes style. The roomy staterooms (cabins) are very chic and have the benefit of wall-to-wall panoramic windows to facilitate maximum viewing that give added depth and space as well as creating a balcony within the room.

A brilliant design concept and, which I was to find out later, one of many modern approaches to technology that Avalon have used to make the Poetry II a truly state-of-the-art cruising vessel.
Ready to explore, I opted to join a walking tour of the city centre, keen to get a feel for Cologne before sailing later that afternoon.  All destination excursions are included in the package with expert local guides and individual audio sets to give a personalized experience.

Our guide, with excellent English, walked us around the very attractive area next to the river. The squares were full of locals enjoying the sunshine and drinking the local hooch, Kolsch in the many beer gartens.  Our guide repeatedly pointed out that Cologne residents are very untypical of Germans as they have a much more relaxed attitude to life and were often considered lazy by their fellow country men. Certainly, relaxation was high on the agenda that day!. Cologne is one of Germany’s oldest cities but 95% of it was destroyed in the war so the majority of buildings are reconstructions. Nevertheless, with its large Jewish quarter currently being uncovered it is an interesting and easy city to explore.

Relaxation and dining room facilities on the ship are plentiful with more than sufficient space and seating for its 128 passenger capacity.  So no bun fights on this or any Avalon ship, which makes for a very relaxing cruise.  After a pre-dinner drink in the lounge we headed down to a delicious dinner that, typically, consists of a three or four course a la carte menu, including speciality regional dishes, served with complimentary wine or local beer. The food throughout the cruise was very good with a choice of hot food to order and served at the table or a buffet and salad bar."

As you would expect on a new ship everything was pristine. However, even more striking was the thought put into the design, lighting and layout of the public areas and staterooms. Beautifully decorated in contemporary style and furnished to a very high standard, the staterooms are luxurious yet comfortable and easy on the eye.  Storage in small spaces is always a challenge but was plentiful. The marble tiled bathroom and shower was a decent size and, again, beautifully appointed, with complimentary L’Occitaine toiletries, the ultimate touch of luxury for a rejuvenating bathroom experience."