My family and I recently came back from our 21 Day Romantic Seine & Rhone Paris to Barcelona APT tour in June 2013 on board AmaLegro and AmaDagio. We all had a wonderful time there and I would like to use this opportunity to share my experiences and thoughts with everyone. Hopefully, people would find my article useful in their decision making and preparation for their trips with APT and/or AmaWaterways.
There are 2 parts of my review: part 1 covers 3 days in Paris and 7 day on board AmaLegro, and part 2 covers 7 day on board AmaDagio and 3 days in Barcelona. This is part 2 of my review.
The second part of our journey started from disembarking from AmaLegro in Paris and taking 1 day of bus ride from Paris to Lyon where our luxury river ship, AmaDiagio, awaited. It took us to a spectacular cruise from Lyon to Arles on the Rhone River, exploring the fascinating sights of Southern France.
Compared to our previous experiences with AmaBella and AmaVerde travelled from Amsterdam to Budapest in 2011, AmaDagio is very similar to those ships but a few years older. There are public lounges in the front and back of the ship, free internet and Wi-Fi access, and gym. The cabins are well equipped and reasonably spacious.
The food and shore excursions were certainly the highlights of my cruises. The quality of the food (3 meals, morning tea, and afternoon tea) was excellent and services from the restaurant and bar staff were very good. Although there were a few problems relate to non-alcoholic drink not being refilled and no pepper served in a timely manner in the beginning of the trip, the restaurant manager, Andras Rafajlovics, was able to resolve all of our concerns effectively and swiftly. He was very attentive and thoughtful in dealing with passengers’ special diet requirements, such as food allergies.
My favourite shore excursions along Rhone River were (1) Lyon city tour where we visited the Basilica Notre-Dame de Fourviere and the Old Town of Lyon; (2) Beaujolais wine region; (3) attractive Roman town of Vienne where we saw the 1st century Roman Temple of Augustus and Livia; (4) Grignan and Truffle Farm (5) Avignon walking tour that took us to see the Palace of the Popes, Rocher des Doms, and the bridge of Avignon; and (6) Arles where our guide show us the amazing Roman Amphitheatre and stroll through the town’s squares and cafes bathed in the provincial light that inspired Van Gogh’s most famous works.
All passengers on walking tours were accompanied by Quietvox and people could join different groups to suit their fitness level. There was daily information session every afternoon by the tour director informing everyone the details of shore excursions for the next day. We have a different tour director on board AmaDagio from AmaLegro. Every day when we left the ship for shore excursion, Captain Louis Devaux and Hotel Manager Luis De Sousa Marques would always standing by the ship exit to say good bye to us then greeted us again when we came back from the shore excursion. I was impressed with this old school French hospitality.
If you are planning to participate in Vivers “Ghost Walk” in the evening, then please make sure that you take a torch with you from the ship reception before you leave. Although you would be accompanied by tour guides, there was limited lighting in some part of the journey. I almost tripped over on the stairs on the way down from a castle because I couldn’t see the missing tile from one of the steps as there was no light shining over the stairs.
Similar to my experiences at AmaLegro, I have the same safety concern with the design of the spiral staircases to level 1 cabins in AmaDagio. Compare to all other stairs in the ship, the tight construction of these stairs with narrow staircase width, steep gradient, and handrail on only one side, they are not easy for the elderly passengers to use. With majority of the passengers on board over the age 50, every day I saw elderly passengers struggling with these stairs. I am a much younger person and even I found the stairs gradient very challenging. I felt climbing up these stairs was like a rock climbing exercise because these stairs are just too steep.
After 7 day cursing along Rhone River, we disembarked AmaDagio and travelled by coach from Arles to Barcelona. We stayed 3 nights in Le Meridien Ramblas Hotel Barcelona and attended tours organised by APT.
I filed a formal complaint to APT after the tour to raise my concerns. APT addressed my concern about the evening tour swiftly. APT was initially sceptical to my concern about the level 1 stairs and told me that these staircases comply with European safety standards, and since nobody ever complaint about the stairs and have been no accidents recorded, then it must be an isolated problem. So I had no choice but to liaise with other level 1 passengers and encourage them to contact APT and tell APT what they thought about level 1 stairs. In the end, APT agreed to pass on my suggestions regarding a second handrail to AmaWaterways for future consideration, and APT would encourage anyone who has disclosed their mobility concerns to book cabins on level 2 or 3 in the future.
Overall, we had a lovely time in Barcelona and on board AmaDagio. It could have been perfect holiday for us if it wasn’t for the dangerous stairs. We do not hold any grudge or vendetta against APT or AmaWaterways, but we want to share our experiences with people who are considering taking the European river cruise with APT / AmaWaterways, so people would be much better prepared than us.