Review: Dining Aboard the Avalon Waterways Tapestry II
As people consider a river cruise for their vacations, the idea of an unpack-once floating hotel is appealing.
While destination considerations are generally the first draw, beyond that, people want to know about the ship, the staterooms, the shore excursions, and of course the food. And as such, the cruise industry puts a lot of their resources into designing cuisine that will appeal to their target audience as well as giving them the opportunity to sample local flavors.
If we take a peek at the dining page on Avalon’s website, the first thing we will encounter is Avalon Fresh, appealing to a more active and informed traveler who desires to eat healthily and abhors the idea of coming home 5 pounds heavier after their cruise.
Secondly, we’ll notice a variety of dining choices offering “FlexDining” that allows for a resort-casual dress-code and a come-and-go-as-you-please atmosphere.
Here is a peek at Avalon Waterway’s current meal schedule and dining choices:
As I mentioned in this article, we absolutely loved the design of the Avalon Waterways staterooms, but as we consider a review of our Avalon Waterways experience, many will want to know, “how was the food?”
Well, as we had a group of 10 people with us, let’s turn to them for the answer.
When we got home, I posed to all of them the following question: please give me a rating of the food quality from your perspective (1- 5), where 1 = food fit only to slop the hogs and 5 = they deserve a Michelin star.
Here are their responses:
- Bonnie: My overall rating is a strong 4. A few misses but nice, fresh variety and gracious willingness to accommodate special requests.
- David and Judy: I say 3. David says 4
- Robert: My feeling is a 3. I thought the dinners were mostly very good, although the Dover sole I had was definitely not Dover Sole. The breakfast buffet was normally very good as long as you got made to order eggs or omelet, but items that were supposed to be hot were many times cold.
- Chris: 3.5 overall. Breakfasts were wonderful, lunches good, but dinners left a lot to be desired especially since we had a couple of dinners in Paris at neighborhood cafes that were excellent. I wanted especially to experience the local cuisine which we did not seem to get.
- Jim and Shirley: We’d give them a 3 – pretty amazing considering the size of the kitchen. The presentation and attentive service were 5 stars.
- Paul: 3 (clearly a man of few words).
Our Review of the Food Aboard the Avalon Waterways Tapestry II
First of all, food is a very subjective thing, right? Where some folks might be very content to eat at Denny’s every night, others towards the foodie end of the spectrum have much higher expectations.
So, before I give you my answer, understand that Carol and I trend towards the foodie end of the spectrum. And, you should also know that we had just spent three glorious days in Paris before boarding the ship where we enjoyed dining in Michelin-star restaurants and decades-old French bistros.
So, we came aboard expecting good food and great service. To say it another way, we expected 4-star food and 5-star service as this might also describe Avalon Waterways niche in the river cruise industry.
Well, to be honest, Carol and I both felt as though the dining experiences were more in the 3 – 3.5-star range. There were moments of brilliance, the savory crêpes come to mind, but there were also misses: cold eggs on the buffet, slow service with my morning coffee, and while the service was cordial, it lacked the expected “we’re going to wow you with our service” mentality. As Jim Collins advised in his best-selling business book, “good is the enemy of great”.
So, now, does that mean that we would advise against Avalon Waterways? Absolutely not! Think of it this way; no sports team is always on their game. They have up weeks and down weeks. To my mind, we hit Avalon Waterways during one of their off weeks. Further, Carol and I have sent scores of folks to Avalon Waterways over the years and we’ve always received good reports about the food.
I feel bad that we must share this less-than-desirable review, but the trust of our reader is more important than trying to appease any cruise line. Plus, as a business owner, if I needed to up my game, I would want to have that feedback.
Going forward, Carol and I will continue to confidently recommend Avalon Waterways, and perhaps sometime in the future, we will get the opportunity to again sail with Avalon Waterways were we might enjoy the expected 4-star food with 5-star service. After all, I absolutely loved the staterooms and everything else about our experience. 🙂
Stay tuned for more articles about our Avalon Waterways river cruise experience as we sailed the River Seine from Paris to Normandy and back. We have lots more to share about our wonderful journey.
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