Day 1 - 24th April
Following our short hop over to Amsterdam by direct flight from Leeds Bradford with KLM, we were greeted by an Avalon representative and shown to our coach which would take us to the Movenpick Hotel. Here we had use of the hospitality room including free tea, coffee and soft drinks and also met our cruise director, a lovely lady named Nynke, who would accompany us for the duration of the cruise.
With time to spare in Amsterdam we took the optional excursion to the charming village of Zaanse Schans, a quaint village showcasing Dutch traditions such as a visit to a working windmill, cheese making demonstration followed by a wooden shoe demonstration; complete with shopping in the fabulous wooden shoe shop offering every size and colour imaginable, great souvenir opportunity!
Back to the coach for a short transfer to Haarlem to meet Avalon Visionary, can't wait to step aboard!....and I was not disappointed; our accommodation was a spacious category P stateroom offering fantastic views from the wall to wall panoramic sliding glass doors with comfortable seating area. Our twin beds even faced the sliding doors, perfect for watching the world go by! A very nice bathroom with shower and premium products - ideal for two ladies sharing a cabin and flat screen TV with entertainment system.
Once the mandatory safety exercise was over we had a welcome meeting with cocktail including an introduction of the staff and crew, hosted by Nynke. We then set sail for Volendam whilst enjoying our first dinner onboard. The modern dining room offers open seating allowing you to talk amongst your fellow travellers with tables of various sizes. The 5 course A La Carte menu offers a tempting choice! Bon Apetit!
After dinner we enjoy a cocktail or two in the lounge which offers panoramic views all around and outside seating area, whilst Stefan the onboard musician plays live music for us.
Day 2 - 25th April
We awake today in the port of Volendam after a wonderful night's sleep in the very comfortable beds and head down for buffet breakfast which offers a wide choice of continental options and cooked breakfast including omelette station prepared there and then by the chef.
Our first excursion of the day is a visit to Edam, a beautiful village which strangely has the largest church in the whole of the Netherlands! Felt almost as though we had gone back in time with the beautiful small houses and quiet way of life, very much enjoyed meandering through the streets listening to our guide tell us many a fascinating tale about the history of Edam.
Then back to Volendam and some free time to visit the souvenir shops including a huge cheese shop and various kiosks offering local speciality fish.
Time for lunch onboard the ship whilst we sail onto Enkhuizen, a tasty array awaits us at the buffet including some amazing waffles - not sure my waistline can take much more!
We then depart for our afternoon excursion to the open air Zuiderzee museum which shows the traditional way of life in the 1800's and early 1900's. The staff dressed up and even played out a typical day in the fishing village and we looked around a typical family home which were very small box houses. A very interesting excursion!
An alternative excursion offered included "The Dutch Experience" which was home hosted coffee and tea with the locals in Enkhuizen. Small groups invited to spend the afternoon at a Dutch home. The locals are proud to have you as their guests.
Back to the ship and time to get ready for the welcome gala dinner - seven courses tonight!
Day 3 - 26th April
The ship stayed moored in Enkhuizen last night so following our buffet breakfast we enjoyed a short excursion to Alkmaar with cheese market and souvenir stalls.
Then back to the ship and all aboard for sailing to Lemmer in Friesland. Lunch onboard with a choice of A La Carte menu or light lunch in the lounge. I decided to try the light lunch today which offered a simple choice of sandwiches and soup.
This afternoon a longer Friesland excursion, mostly by coach to the planetarium and a working windmill; meanwhile the ship moves to Sneek where we re-join after our excursion ends.
Tonight dinner with a difference - optional Tapas night (as well as the usual A La Carte option in the main restaurant) I signed up for this and very pleased I did, a welcome change and delightful food!
This evening's onboard entertainment includes traditional Frisian folk dancers; much to my embarrassment I was picked out of the audience to try this!
Day 4 - 27th April
This morning the ship sails early for our next stop which is Lelystad. We enjoyed a later buffet breakfast whilst sailing and some time for relaxation in the Club Lounge enjoying a coffee and a good book. On arrival in Lelystad we briefly visited the unique Batavia Shipyard where they are building 17th century tall ships.
Then it is time for us to bid a fond farewell to Avalon Visionary and head back to the airport for our journey back to Leeds Bradford with KLM.