In August, Sarah – part of our Sales team – embarked on a river cruise down the Danube with Avalon Waterways.
“I hope you don’t find this rude…but you’re a bit young for a river cruise, aren’t you?” – Jane, fellow passenger.
I recently came back from an 8-day Danube Dreams river cruise. And yes, Jane – I am a few decades younger than the average client you’d expect on a European river cruise! So why don’t more people in their 30’s travel on river cruises? For some in my age range, it’s a matter of cost or having young families. For some, it’s a matter of perception (“aren’t those for old people?”). I’m here to tell you no, they are not.
Here are eight reasons why you should do a river cruise in your 30’s:
1. You’ll be treated like a Queen (or King)
When I came back from a day’s sightseeing, I was greeted in reception with cool towels and iced tea. When my coffee or wine ran out at mealtimes, it was refilled before I could even think to ask. Housekeeping on my cruise were also sneaky. They were like Santa and his elves, creeping in and changing my towels whenever I wasn’t looking. And not just once, it happened multiple times a day. They even did turndown service – I would return to my room in the evening to find the curtains drawn, the covers folded back and a fire crackling along to classical music on my TV. This is not a level of service I am accustomed to. All I could think was ‘if my sister could leave the kids at home with her husband to be pampered like this for a week, she’d be in heaven!’.
2. No cooking
Which also means no dishes either! All onboard meals are included with regional wine and beer at lunch and dinner. There is an extensive cocktail menu with a very generous Happy Hour, buffet breakfast, buffet lunch and multiple courses and options for dinner. If you have any dietary requirements or want to opt for something healthier, you can choose from the Avalon Fresh menu. If you want to make sure you’re trying the best of the local cuisine, the head chef has you covered. If you want homemade ice cream for breakfast, you can have that too (and no, it wasn’t me who ordered it). Plus, there is afternoon tea. By this I mean many cakes…Every. Single. Day. Have I mentioned how good the crew are?
3. It’s the epitome of relaxed luxury
Avalon Waterways isn’t stuffy. There are no ostentatious chandeliers, and the ship is simply comfortable, functional and welcoming. The design is brilliant with everything having its rightful place. In addition, I never had to question if I was dressed up enough for dinner or if it was okay for me to wear active wear between excursions around the ship. While I wouldn’t choose to go barefoot to dinner, I never felt judged. Avalon is very much a come as you are vibe.
4. You unpack once
This was my first time travelling where I actually did unpack. I put things in drawers and the wardrobe; and I arranged things as I would at home, safe in the knowledge that I would be in the same suite for a week and wouldn’t have to look at my suitcase again until departure day. As someone who has travelled a lot and used to work on coach tours, I never put much consideration into how exhausting it is to move to a new hotel every few nights. I didn’t realise how much more time and headspace I seemed to have by staying in the same space. It doesn’t hurt that the Panorama Suites also have incredible views!
5. There are Active excursions
Avalon has several cruises that are specifically designed for the more active traveller in mind. While this itinerary wasn’t one of them, there were still plenty of Active excursions. For example, you could hike up to a castle or take a bike ride with your Adventure Host. It was great to be able to take a step away, get into nature and move. Plus, the views were spectacular from our vantage points!
There is a fitness centre onboard and a dedicated Adventure Host on every single departure. Even the Classic sightseeing excursions with Local Guides often divide into groups to cater for the gentle walkers versus those at a faster pace.
6. You’ll make friends of all ages.
Will you be noticeably younger than most of the other travellers on your cruise with Avalon? If you’re 30 – yes, probably. But here is what you often forget – those who have lived longer often have the best stories. If you’re looking to make friends, age hardly matters. The Adventure Host is always there to join you on your Active excursions and if you’re really concerned, take a friend with you! You don’t even have to share with them if you make use of our deals for single travellers and get your own room.
7. Your time is your own on a river cruise
If you want to go exploring, go. If you want to hang around in the lounge and chat to the staff or other travellers, you can. Avalon purposely don’t have allocated seating for dinner so you can come and go as you please.
8. It’s a different way of life
There’s something so relaxing about being on the water and a clear reason why millionaires buy boats. On a river cruise, chances are you’ll be visiting smaller towns that you wouldn’t otherwise go to, so there is always something new to see. You also can’t quite beat cruising along, parked up on the Skydeck when you’re surrounded by hills covered in vineyards and castles. Your transport is your accommodation and falling asleep in my Comfort Collection bed to wake up in my next destination…that’s certainly the best overnight travel experience I’ve ever had! The hardest part of your trip will be trying to sleep on the plane on the way home and remembering you have to feed yourself and make your own bed. Who’s going to do my turndown service and light my fake TV fire now?
No matter your age, Avalon Waterways has a cruise for you! Take a look at our full range of cruises here.