After reading all of the glowing reviews of the AMA Waterways European river cruises, we made reservations for the Legendary Danube cruise from Prague to Budapest on the AMA Lyra. We reserved a modestly priced cabin with a French balcony on the upper (Violin) deck. With a three day pre-cruise extension in Prague, the cost, not including airfare was close to $9000. We had great expectations and were so disappointed.
In Prague, we stayed at the Intercontinental, an older hotel that has been nicely updated. The included breakfast there was excellent. We had a city tour on the first day, and it was fair, at best. The tour guide was difficult to understand due to her accent. We were rushed from site to site, a pattern that persisted through the trip. The following day we took the optional tour of Terezen. The bus ride was tiring, but the tour was excellent.
The following day, we left by bus for our embarkation from Nuremberg. On the way we stopped for lunch and a brief tour of Karlovy Vary. The guide on our bus had such a pronounced accent that we understood very little of what he said. Our embarkation was smooth and the cabin, although small, as others have noted, was acceptable and adequate for our purposes. The housekeepers were friendly and did a excellent job of keeping it clean. We were promised bath robes; After numerous phone calls, they finally arrived 36 hours later. There were not enough electrical receptacles in the cabin, and the ones there were under the bedside tables, making access to them challenging.
At the reception dinner, our disappointments escalated. Everyone was instructed to arrive simultaneously, so there was a delay finding seating. We met the waiter, who like most of the dining room staff was somewhere between surly and unhelpful. Requests were either denied or ignored. Smiles were nowhere to be seen. We finally found a pleasant, helpful water serving a corner table, so we managed to sit at his table throughout the remainder of the cruise. The staff in the lounge were similarly inadequate. We were never offered the opportunity to purchase a beverage. To get a drink, one had to walk to the bar and put in an order. We were never offered any beverage service on the sun deck. The bartender could be nasty. One day we returned from a late bus tour in the late afternoon. The afternoon tea was scheduled to open at 4 PM. Since we had missed lunch, we were anxious to have something to eat. The buffet was partially set up, and sandwiches were accessible. As I tried to take one, the staff person told me that food could not be touched until 4 o'clock.
We were disappointed by much of the food. Breakfasts were adequate, although slow moving lines were common at the buffet and the omelet station. They did have lox and bagels, which I enjoyed. Lunches were poor. There was a salad bar with the usual slow moving lines. When I arrived at the food, several items had been consumed and were never refilled. The waiter rook orders for soups and entrees. Soups were excellent, the best of the food we had on the boat. Entrees were mediocre, at both lunch and dinner. Each meal included an offered fish dish. For seven days, it appeared that we were served the time fish with a different description, trout, bass, etc., all identical. Beef was similar. We were daily offered a different beef entree that seemed to always be the same dry tough cut of meat. Chicken dishes were similarly disappointing. The salad bar was often closed before we had finished our meals.
We had daily bus tours on this "all inclusive" cruise. They seemed to consist of interminable bus rides with tour guides who were fair to good. We rapidly tired of rushing to get on a bus, riding to a site, having a brief tour, and then rushing back to the bus. The promised slow walker and strong walker tours never materialized, so with everyone walking at differing rates, the group was stretched out and the faster walkers had to wait for the slower ones.
Even the fellow passengers on our tour were a problem. Many were form a large group, and as another reviewer has noted, many were brusque and unfriendly.
The worst problem was our cruise director. She had an excuse as to why any request could not be fulfilled. She was constantly making announcements over the PA system, often in the early morning and late evening, announcing things that had already been clearly outlined in out daily hand-outs. Our impression was that she was always trying to impress us with how hard she was working and how important she was for our cruise.We cringed every time we heard her voice. Unfortunately, any question to the ladies at the reception desk were simply referred to the cruise director.
Disembarkation presented another issue. We were offered a cab to our hotel in Budapest, where we pent another five days.What we received was a car service, which was very nice. We only later found that the fare was triple that of a taxi!
We are experienced cruisers, but our disappointment (I keep using that word) with this cruise really turned us off toward river cruising. There were so many issues that I have not mentioned, but between brusque crew, poor food, and a terrible cruise director, AMA Waterways has lost our respect.