After years on the high seas, I’ve finally given river cruising a try. My first sailing is on Amadeus Silver, the newest ship in the Amadeus by Lueftner Cruises’ fleet. I never go into anything without doing research, and working at Cruise Critic means I read and talk about river cruising all the time — either with colleagues or our knowledgeable members. Armed with as much info as possible, I thought nothing would surprise me on the river boat.
Truth be told, that pretty much has been the case, so far. Still, I’ve run into a couple of unexpected treats on Silver.
1. It takes 10 minutes to get to know the ship…er…boat
On an ocean cruise, I generally pick up the layout pretty quickly (well, faster than my husband does, anyway); after a couple of days, I’m not looking at the map so much or pausing to read signs. But on Amadeus Silver, a 10-minute self-guided tour was all it took for me to find my bearings. I was a whiz before the sun set on Day 1. I don’t think I could have got lost if I tried.
2. River cruising is REALLY laid back
I’m used to the ocean life, where everything starts exactly when it says it’s going to, where the ship will leave you behind if you’re late, where you need to show up early if you want a good seat at trivia. That’s not so much the case on river boats. My first clue? Amadeus Silver, detained by lock issues, showed up to its Cologne starting port 45 minutes late. Still, the crew turned around the ship incredibly fast, and we were onboard in fewer than 15 minutes after it arrived.
Muster drill? It was more of a reminder of how to put on a life jacket and find the staircases, and the cruise director used the opportunity to talk about the next day’s excursion in the Netherlands. I left feeling plenty prepared in case of emergency – and ready for our tour of Arnhem. Even getting on and off the boat is simple. With only 180 passengers, lines are never long. And there is no sea pass. Instead, when you are in port, you trade in your room key (pictured below) for a card that has your name and room number written (by hand) on it. When you return, you get your key back, and the crew know you’re onboard.
3. Windows that open are great!
Instead of balconies, many cabins have floor-to-ceiling windows, which (on Amadeus Silver) open halfway, from the top down. This requires the turn of knob, which works much the same way as an automatic car window. On our sailing, we love having the window open, which gives unobstructed views of the passing scenery.
4. You get to know the crew quickly
On Amadeus Silver, 46 crewmembers share the work, and it didn’t take long before we knew them by face – if not by name. As on ocean ships, crewmembers seem to pull double-duty, perhaps showing up at the concierge desk and again in the bar.
5. You don’t feel the motion of the water
I happen to love the feeling of waves rocking a ship – gently. It helps me sleep, and it reminds me subtly that, yes, I’m on a ship. On the rivers, though, you barely feel any motion. Those in the know told me this is typical of Europe’s rivers. I can imagine those who suffer from motion sickness might enjoy the smoother cruise that river ships provide.
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