I was fortunate to recently have the opportunity to partake in a river cruise with AmaWaterways sailing out of Amsterdam. Now having never done a river cruise, I have to say that yes river cruising is different from ocean cruising BUT only with regards to the size of your ship. There is no difference in the experience that you receive and just like ocean cruising there is a multitude of different styles of river cruising to choose from.
I flew out of Bristol to Amsterdam, where I was met by the AmaWaterways staff in their blue coats, and was transferred to the ship in their own fleet of coaches. This journey from the airport to the river cruise terminal in central Amsterdam took around 30 minutes, so no long transfers for this type of holiday. The checkin procedure was very swift and in no time I was in my cabin.
Now yes the cabin is smaller than on an ocean cruise ship, but there was plenty of wardrobe space for your clothes, a 32inch apple TV with numerous channels in case the scenery is not enough for you!! The bathroom is compact but again it’s got everything that you need in there. As with all ships there are various cabin options, but all have a minimum of a window, small if you go for the entry level cabin, but personally I would pay that bit extra and go for the cabin that I had which gives you a French Balcony AND a outside Balcony.
The lightness of the cabin was superb due to this design and it also then allows you the option of sitting outside with your table and chairs OR open your French Balcony doors and sit inside with table and chairs, the choice is yours. An excellent feature for not a great deal more money. You can also select larger cabin suites if you desire, but the quality of furnishings in all is superb.
There is so much outdoor space on the top deck (usually deck 4) for you to just sit and relax and watch the scenery go by, or why not take a dip in the heated pool!! Yes it is small but perfect for a bit of a dip, and you even have a bar so that you can indulge in a refreshment whilst in the pool.
If this sounds too much for you well you can always play a game of giant chess. At the back of the ship there is a smoking area, and there is another just at the front of the ship outside the main lounge.
The main lounge area is just off to the right of the reception area, and this is where you find the bar
and also the tea & coffee station. Tea and coffee is available 24 hours and you have a wide choice to choose from so you should be able to find your preferred choice. This is great because if you are like me, when you want a hot drink you help yourself and there is always some cookies on the side to go!
Dining for breakfast and your evening meal is taken in the main dining room and all I can say is that even the most fussiest of pallets will be taken care of.
Breakfast is a buffet style option with a choice of items from the kitchen for ordering. Fresh fruit, pastries , fresh bread and rolls , hot food is all available to you to pick from. Lunch can be taken in the main dining room where again choice is abound, or you can take the option of a light lunch in the lounge area where sandwiches and other light bites are offered. The evening meal was waiter service and again a multitude of choice is there for you, but not too much as to cause confusion for you. You will enjoy complimentary, unlimited wine, beer and soft drinks during lunch and dinner, as well as sparkling wine and fresh-squeezed juices during breakfast.
AmaWaterways include a variety of different excursions at each of their ports of call on the rivers. These will vary depending on the destination, but you can choose an excursion that suit you. They have a fleet of bicycles on board if you fancy something a little bit different, but even then they will alter the excursion depending on the people partaking, so flexibility is abound and you will never find yourself asking “what shall I do today as there is nothing for me to do” I opted for the bicycle excursion and really enjoyed the 3 hours on the bike. Remember I did say they are flexible on their trips so not all bike rides are 3 hours long!
Overall I really enjoyed my all too brief river cruise experience with AmaWaterways. The organisation of the airport transfers was excellent and the check in process was very quick and painless. The cabin accommodation was excellent and as mentioned earlier I would definitely go with the unique French Balcony/Balcony cabins if your budget allows. The food was excellent and the presentation of the food was just like you would expect in a high class restaurant. Even though your drinks are not included outside meal times you are not paying a fortune for your favourite tipple, so no need for a bank loan. Entertainment is more low key than on Ocean cruises but you don’t really need big west end shows for a river cruise.
My overriding view of a river cruise is this :
“An ocean cruise takes you to your destination, A river cruise will take you through your destinations”
The AmaWaterways Difference:
Family-owned and operated. AmaWaterways offers cruises along Europe’s Rhine, Moselle, Danube, Main, Seine, Rhône, Dutch and Belgian Waterways, Dordogne and Garonne, and the Douro. AmaWaterways also operates its own luxury cruise ship in Asia, the AmaDara, sailing Vietnam & Cambodia’s Mekong River; and in Africa, AmaWaterways operates the 28-passenger Zambezi Queen sailing the Chobe River.
Spacious river view staterooms and suites range from 160 square feet to 350 square feet and most include the revolutionary signature twin balconies—a French balcony and a full outside balcony.
La Chaîne des Rôtisseurs dining experience—featuring all meals on board, including exquisite multi-course dinners and bountiful breakfast and lunch buffets
Multiple dining venues, including the one-of-a-kind exclusive Chef’s Table specialty restaurant featuring a unique tasting menu with perfectly paired wines for intimate dining experiences
Entertainment-On-Demand and Ship-Wide Wi-Fi – all staterooms offer a flat screen monitor featuring moves, news, TV, and music.
In-room internet access and ship-wide Wi-Fi are also complimentary
Choice of complimentary shore excursions in every port that are led by expert guides. AmaWaterways offers choices for tours for gentle, regular, and active walkers.
Expertly guided shore excursions with choices to tailor your experience as you like
Exclusive Special Interest and Culinary Tours are included excursions to experience local culture in a unique way
Adventurous guided bicycle and hiking tours, as well as options to bike on your own with complimentary bicycles and helmets
Enriching onboard programs, including lectures, theme dinners, cooking demonstrations, onboard music performances and afternoon/evening piano music
Experienced and dedicated Cruise Manager who accompanies you throughout your entire journey, both on land and on your cruise
With a high staff-to-guest ratio on our ships, our team is fully dedicated to providing each guest with the highest level of genuine service with a smile
Wellness Program offering a variety of exercise classes; discussion groups with a focus on healthy eating and relaxation.
As the trendsetter in river cruising, AmaWaterways has garnered several prestigious awards. Out of 310 river cruise ships reviewed by the premier travel authority Berlitz—based on accommodations, dining, service and other onboard features—AmaWaterways received the top ten highest-rated ships in Europe in 2016 and 2017.