Avalon Waterways Focuses on Solo Women With New River Cruises in Portugal and France in 2025

by | Mar 27, 2024

Avalon Alegria Douro River
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Last updated on April 29th, 2024

Featured image: Explore Europe with these exciting new itineraries from Avalon Waterways | Photo provided by Avalon Waterways

Longer trips and new, active itineraries cater to solo women

by JourneyWoman staff 

River cruising company Avalon Waterways is unveiling new itineraries, longer stays and special offers. For 2025, Avalon Waterways has announced one-, two- and three-week sailings to Bordeaux, France, called Bonjour Bordeaux: Châteaux, Wineries & Charming Villages. The company is also making its Douro River debut with the Avalon Alegria on a new itinerary – Vida Portugal: Vineyards & Villages Along the Douro in 2024.

Not only has Avalon waived the single supplement for solo travelers on select Europe and Southeast Asia departures, including the Mekong River, they also reserve staterooms for each departure to accommodate solo travelers. This includes its award-winning Panorama Suites. This has earned Avalon the recognition of the “Best for Solo Travelers in River Cruising” Cruise Critic Editors’ Picks Award this year.

“River cruising offers the perfect platform for solo women,” says Avalon President Pam Hoffee. “I think what makes river cruising so great for solo travelers is that they can be on their own if they want, or they can mix with like-minded travelers you meet on board and on excursions. At Avalon, we strike the perfect balance of helping guests go their own way, with help from an on-site Cruise Director and expert local guides to ensure an engaging, life-changing cruise for our solo travelers.”

Why women are such desirable travelers for Avalon Waterways

According to Hoffee, women help influence every aspect of the Avalon Waterways experience.

“From the types of excursions we offer – in Active, Classic and Discovery categories – to our heart-healthy Avalon Fresh dining menu and even our complimentary, high-end coffees, teas and BeWell water stations on our Suite Ships,” Hoffee says. 

With an average of 10 percent of current guests cruising solo, Hoffee wants to help solo women save money on their trip, but also explore and engage with the world in the ways that interest them.

Pam Hoffee President Avalon Waterways

Pam Hoffee, President, Avalon Waterways

“Off-season cruising is another new twist we’re excited to share with Avalon guests,” Hoffee says. “The allure of off-season travel is swelling across the globe. That’s especially true for Avalon. Since 2023, we have increased off-season cruise offerings by 88 percent, adding new departures to an already robust menu of late-fall sailings, including Wine Cruises during harvest season and Festive Cruises celebrating Christmas to meet demand.”

Avalon Artistry II sailing on the Rhine River, flanked by lush vineyards and the rolling hills of Germany

Artistry II sailing on the Rhine River, flanked by lush vineyards and the rolling hills of Germany / Photo provided by Avalon Waterways

New cruises this year: Portugal and France

This spring, Avalon is making its Douro River debut with the Avalon Alegria on a new itinerary – Vida Portugal: Vineyards & Villages Along the Douro. This eight-day river cruise begins and ends in Porto, visiting sloping vineyards and sleepy villages where rugged landscapes have been tamed for centuries to produce a bounty of wines and cuisine. Prices start at $3,299 USD.

“We’ve been waiting for the perfect opportunity to add Portugal to our robust vacation portfolio and that day has finally arrived,” Hoffee says. “Inviting our guests to sail the Douro for the first time, we’re bringing the Suite Ships of Avalon, the grandest views in cruising and customizable itineraries to Southwestern Europe.“

In 2025, Avalon is unveiling all-new cruises in France and will be sailing Bordeaux for the first time on the Garonne and Dordogne Rivers.  The first, Bonjour Bordeaux: Châteaux, Wineries & Charming Villages, starts at $3,349 USD based on double occupancy. This 8-day cruise starts and ends in Bordeaux with visits to Cadillac-sur-Garonne, Cussac Fort Médoc, Blaye, Bourg and Libourne. New, longer cruises combine Bordeaux with the Seine, Saône, Rhône and Rhine Rivers, creating an incredible, in-depth opportunity to enjoy France and Western Europe, as a whole.

Other longer options include the new French Masterpiece: Paris, Normandy & Bordeaux (15 days, starting at $6,498 USD); France, Uncorked: The Rhône, the Seine & Bordeaux (22 days, starting at $11,097 USD) and Vineyards, Châteaux & Bordeaux (22 days, starting at $11,097 USD). From the historic halls of castles and Châteaux to romantic cellars and kitchens where wine bouquets and bon-vivant cuisine tempt the palate, Avalon is bringing Bordeaux to life in new ways with Active, Discovery and Classic excursions on its new France-focused itineraries.

Bordeaux river, with vineyards leading down to the river's edge

The vineyards of the Bordeaux region / Photo provided by Avalon Waterways

Porto Old town on the Douro River_The vibrant old town of Porto cascades down to the Douro River

Old town in Porto, Portugal / Photo provided by Avalon Waterways

Customizing the cruise experience

“Unlike a traditional, “one size fits all” approach to cruising, guests can tailor their cruise to fit them – from start to finish,” says Hoffee. “Our guests are naturally curious travelers, interested in customizing their cruise to fit them – and their interests.”

Hoffee notes that Avalon’s Active & Discovery cruises are the fastest-growing itineraries on Europe’s rivers. That mentality of catering to curious cruisers, wanting a little more out of their experience extends to our land experiences as well. Delivering unparalleled experiences and boundless exploration, Avalon places guests in the captain’s seat to navigate their journeys and fuel their passions with included AvalonChoice Excursions.

“Since launching Active & Discovery cruises on the Danube River in 2017, we have added these popular itineraries to every major European waterway, increasing offerings by 600 percent (600%),” she says. “Whether our guests want to take a guided walking tour of one of Europe’s great cities, join a cooking class or paddle a canoe, our selections of Classic, Discovery and Active excursions offer a wide range of possibilities. With as many as 28 included excursions on their cruising itinerary, the compass is in the guests’ hands to choose any direction they desire.”

These special itineraries feature “Active” excursions like kayaking through gorges, spelunking in caves, biking through cities and country-sides, hiking up to castle ruins and taking e-bike tours to places like the Château de Maisons-Lafitte. With an average of 23 included “Active,” “Discovery” and “Classic” excursions, guests can completely customize their cruise.

Room types on Avalon

Avalon’s boutique-hotel-inspired Panorama Suites – available on two full decks of every Suite Ship – feature the industry’s only Open-Air Balcony with the widest-opening windows in cruising, but that’s not all. Every Panorama Suite offers guests Comfort Collection beds that face the ever-changing scenery.

Providing wider openings for the wide-eyed, Avalon Waterways Open-Air Balconies were designed with our guests’ views in mind. A Panorama Suite highlight on the Suite Ships of Avalon, these wall-to-wall, floor-to-ceiling Panorama Windows invite the view inside so there is nothing between you and the view.

When Avalon cruisers prefer to explore on their own, they have access to all the recommendations, information and gear they need with Avalon Waterways’ Adventure Center and AvalonGO mobile app, making it easy to take a complimentary bike out for a spin or enjoy freeing experiences in port.

Inside an Avalon Waterways Panorama Suite, with spacious rooms to sweeping river views

Inside a Panorama Suite with sweeping views / Photo provided by Avalon Waterways

Panorama Suite view - framing an inviting view of the tranquil river and lush riverbanks beyond on an Avalon river cruise

Panorama Suite with an inviting view of the tranquil river and lush riverbanks / Photo provided by Avalon Waterways

Sustainable cruising with Avalon Waterways

The vibrant and beautiful natural surroundings of the world’s rivers are a benefit of river cruising. It is up to Avalon Waterways – and other river cruise companies – to preserve this precious environment around us and limit our footprint. (Check out Avalon Care’s Lighthouse Project for more details.)

“We work tirelessly to engage with communities by hiring local drivers, guides and operators for land activities,” Hoffee says. ”Through engagement, we ensure our guests connect with each place we visit; we also fortify our partnership by creating jobs. This “give back” mentality extends to the purchase of local produce, wines, beers and even bread, further connecting our guests to people, places and culture. Avalon Waterways believes, wholeheartedly, that we are advocates for the destinations and sites we visit. It is our job to positively contribute to thoughtful tourism.”

One example of this mentality extending to women is Landmine Design, a social enterprise committed to educating and providing jobs for women living in poverty in Cambodia. Landmine Design has provided dozens of women with the opportunity to safely work with their children by rolling paper beads and crafting them into beautiful jewelry. The Globus family of brands is proud to support the Landmine Design community and to help turn a cycle of despair into a circle of hope.

Disclaimer: We’re always proud to showcase companies from the JourneyWoman Women’s Travel Directory who are passionate about women over 50 and female solo travelers. Since we haven’t experienced this tour, we want to let you know that the material for this article was provided by Avalon Waterways, as part of a sponsored campaign with JourneyWoman. 

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