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Imagine floating past historic castles, dreamy vineyards, lush green hillsides and other picturesque settings on a relaxing river cruise in Europe. Now, imagine you’re doing all that alongside one of your favorite actors or authors.
It may sound like something out of a fairy tale, but this experience can be your reality when you book one of Avalon Waterways’ new “Storyteller Series” river cruises through Europe. The whole goal of these special sailings is to “immerse yourself in the legendary settings of yesterday” while also getting up close and personal with the “artistic legends of today,” according to the cruise line.
When you book a Storyteller Series trip, you’ll get to hang out with different musicians, writers, actors, artists and other celebrities. Since they’re on the ship with you and all the other passengers for the entire duration of the cruise, you’ll have a chance to meet them, attend lectures, watch them perform and just otherwise interact with them while on vacation.
The celebrities who host these cruises change from year to year but, in the past, hosts have ranged from Cheryl Strayed (author of the best-selling book “Wild,” which was later made into a movie starring Reese Witherspoon) to Gillian Flynn (who wrote the popular thriller “Gone Girl“).
For the 2024 sailings — which are available for booking now — the lineup is just as stellar. Sister Hazel, the rock band behind the hit “All For You,” will celebrate its 30th anniversary on an eight-day river cruise on the Danube River next July.
The trip departs from Budapest, then winds its way through the picturesque scenery of Austria before arriving in Vilshofen, Germany, eight days later. As you cruise from town to town, you’ll get to hang out with the band during meals, happy hour and excursions — and they’re even planning to perform at least twice on the ship.
In August, American writer Jen Hatmaker is hosting an eight-day itinerary through Holland and Belgium. Set sail from Amsterdam aboard the Avalon Passion and enjoy stops in Middelburg, Ghent, Brussels, Antwerp and Rotterdam before returning to Amsterdam.
Along the way, you’ll see some truly dreamy scenery, including Holland’s famous windmills. You’ll also be able to participate in some fun excursions, such as a chocolate workshop in Brussels and a ceramic painting workshop in Rotterdam, just to name a few. Hatmaker is using this trip to celebrate her 50th birthday.
Fans of Scottish actor Graham McTavish — best known for his roles in “Outlander” and “The Hobbit” trilogy — will want to book his special eight-day cruise along the Rhine River, set to take place in mid-October.
You’ll sail aboard the Avalon Vista through the gorgeous landscapes of Switzerland, France, Germany and the Netherlands, passing by charming villages and historic castles along the way. The trip departs from Basel, Switzerland, and ends in Amsterdam in the Netherlands. As you travel in style, you’ll have a wide array of excursion options, from an e-bike tour of the Black Forest to a culinary tour of Düsseldorf.
Diana Gabaldon, the American author of the “Outlander” series, is also hosting a cruise next year, but unfortunately hers is already sold out.
And if you can’t make these dates work with your schedule (or if you just aren’t particularly in love with any of these stars), Avalon offers a wide array of other river cruises without celebrities. The cruise line can whisk you down Egypt’s Nile River, usher you through Vietnam and Cambodia on the Mekong River and help you have a once-in-a-lifetime adventure in the Galapagos Islands, just to name a few of the exciting trips available.