About us: I went on this cruise with my sister and mother. I am 52, sister is 56 my mother is 82 she is in good health for her age but, has back and knee pain at times. I give this information to help others that may have mobility issues. We have been on many ocean cruises and 2 river cruises both with Uniworld. This is our first time on an AmaWaterways cruise.
Embarkation: We arrived in Amsterdam without any issues. We purchased the transfer from AMA for the transportation to the ship it was $30US pp and we felt it was worth the cost. After exiting the arrival hall there was a gentleman waiting for us. He helped us with our bags waited while we used the restroom and escorted us to our van for the 25 min ride to the ship. We arrived at the ship at approx. 1pm. We ate buffet lunch. There was not a lot of selection as was the case throughout the cruise but the food was good.
Our Cabins: My sister and I were in room 226 on the Cello deck and my mom across the hall in room 227. The rooms are quite small especially it seems in our room where we had the beds separated into twins. But, even with 2 women in the room (yes we over packed) we had enough space for everything. Our room had the French balcony not the double balcony. We looked in the double balcony room and decided even though the room was a little bigger we felt for the price increase it was not worth the added space and the weather being cool we did not think we would use the balcony that much. Maybe in a warmer month it might be worth the added price. The bathroom is smaller than on any other ship I’ve been on (ocean or river) but the shower is larger and the shower head was great. You could use it as a regular shower head or a rain shower. I just wish you could use it both ways at the same time. We did not watch much TV but there seemed to be a lot of channels and we did not use the internet in our room so I can’t comment on that.
Amsterdam-Day One: We wanted to go to the Rijksmuseum but, we did not want to ride a bus. It had been a long flight and I wanted the easiest way to get there without any hassle. We had the reception desk get us a taxi to the museum. It cost 23 Euro for the taxi there and 15 Euro for admission. We got there late and only had 1 hour to see the museum. We wished we had longer but, we were able to see the Night Watchman painting. The lady at the reception desk on the ship said we could ask the information desk at the museum to call a taxi. That was incorrect information. They will not call a taxi but there is a taxi stand on the road opposite the entrance. The taxi back to the ship was 20 Euro (less traffic).
Amsterdam-Day Two: We took the Canal cruise because we have been to Keukenhof Gardens on our previous cruise. We enjoyed the canal cruise with the guide pointing out sights. We also took a bus tour of the city stopping at the Rembrandt Windmill where we could take pictures from the bus. Maybe if it wasn’t raining they would have made a longer stop to get out for a better look. This night we cruised all night and we could really feel the vibration. My mother and I both had a hard time falling asleep. This was the only night it bothered us and all I can think that might be the reason is we were going fast to get to the next port.
Cologne, Germany: We took the Walking Tour & Kolsch Tasting. We joined the gentle walking group and the guide was very good walking slowly, and not taking the stairs when she could avoid them. We are not beer drinkers but we tried the Kolsch beer and the potato pancakes which were delicious.
Rudesheim, Germany: This morning was the castle viewing along the Rhine. It was very chilly and the staff served Rudesheim coffee which is coffee with chocolate and whip cream - YUM! After lunch we went on the Gondola Ride. This is where a good cruise manager would have been welcome. I will go into more detail about the cruise manager later. Each gondola only holds 2 people so my sister rode alone. The restrooms which at most sites are 50 Euro cents are 3-10 Euro cents here. We were lucky a gentleman gave us the correct change. We had specifically asked the cruise manager how many steps up to the gondola ride and she stated 25 steps. It was actually 40. Not a big deal for me but my mom said her knees were sore later in the day. I don’t think we would have changed our plans but it would have been good to know. In the evening we went to the Siegfried’s Mechanical Museum. They take you into the town via a tram and drop you off right at the museum. It was very interesting.
Speyer/Heidelberg Germany: They had a brunch on board from 8:30am-11:30am due to the long tour to Heidelberg (45 min drive each way). I had asked on Cruise Critic how strenuous the walk was to the Heidelberg castle and after getting several responses we decided to take this tour. The walk up to the castle was not bad at all. Again we took the gentle walkers group and our guide walked slow and waited for everyone. The castle itself was very impressive. I thought it would be more of a ruin but, there was quite a bit still standing. I was told on Cruise Critic that we could take the funicular down but, our guide did not inform us of this option so we walked back down to the bus and did some shopping in town. We stopped at a bakery and bought some sweets to eat but, all the tables nearby were for the restaurants and bars so we had to eat our pastry on the steps of a fountain. If I knew it at the time we would have ordered something from one of the bars and used their table.
Kehl Germany/ Strasbourg France: We took the Strasbourg City Tour. We had a narrated tour of Strasbourg and the bus dropped us off with our guide to see the Cathedral of Notre Dame and the astronomical clock which chimes at 12:30pm. I would recommend getting there early to get a good view. We went back to the ship for a quick lunch to be ready for our next tour, the Obernai Wine Tasting. The bus ride was 45 min each way. We then went to the wine tasting and had some delicious Alsatian Bundt Cake afterwards. We were driven to the town of Obernai which is a very quant town with narrow cobblestone streets and unique shops where we enjoyed some shopping and gelato.
Breisach Germany: We took the Breisach & Freiberg Tour. We specifically took this tour because the tour book stated you “take a panoramic drive through the black forest”. If we went through the black forest the guide did not tell us we did. He did point out the black forest many miles away while we were driving. The winery we went to was very nice the owner took us through the wine cellar as he spoke about making the wine. Although learning about the wine was interesting the owner was too philosophical for me. Telling us how making wine is life changing and like Bach writing a symphony. The bus took us to Freiburg where you could shop but the stores were mostly clothing and shoe stores. This was our least favorite tour because we did not go to the black forest (that we know of), the shopping was not to our liking, and we did not enjoy the wine tour.
Disembarkation: I thought this was not done well. We took the time to go to the disembarkation talk on the last night. The cruise manager had no information for us. She said we would find out after she posted the schedule on her desk about 6:30pm that night. So when we went to dinner we did not know when we would have to be off the ship. During dinner I went up to the cruise manager’s desk to find out that our bags had to be outside our cabins at 8:30am and our pickup to the airport was at 9 am for an 11:15 am flight. We were able to get up in the morning and finish packing our bags without any problem but, it would have been nice to know earlier rather than having to stress about when we needed to have our bags outside the room. We did purchase transfers from AMA for $60US pp to take us from the ship to Basel airport. This all went smoothly. Our driver was there to help us with our bags. A couple was supposed to be traveling to the airport with us but, they never showed even after the ship crew made an announcement for them so, it was just the 3 of us. I again think the transfer was worth the price we paid. I know we could have informed the reception desk the night before that we needed a taxi and they would have arranged one. It probably would have been less expensive but, this worked best for us at the time.
Our cruise manager: Kata was not the best. She was not very knowledgeable about the ports and not very friendly. Yes, she would say “hello” when she saw you but not personable as I am used to with other cruise managers. Also the tours were not well organized. For instance, she informed everyone to wait in the lounge and not mill around the reception desk before the tours so we did. There was only us and 2 couples in the lounge. Everyone else was at the reception desk. I just happened to stand up and look at the reception area and no one was there. They were already out to the busses. We were the last ones on the bus because she did not make an announcement and because my mother walks slow. Needless to say, we got a couple of dirty looks from the people waiting for us. Also, in the brochure it states there is a late starters group. There was never a late starters group. We did not think about this until our last tour day. Maybe if we asked they may have started one.
Staff: The entire staff was very friendly and helpful. They always had a smile on their faces. The food staff went out of their way to get us what we wanted. For instance my sister wanted a dessert but she wanted some cherries with it. When the dessert came (some type of cake) there was a side bowl of cherries. Our cabin steward (I don’t remember her name) was very responsive. We requested a top sheet and extra towels and they were there with the night turndown. My mother had her hair done -wash, blow-dry and set - for 22 Euro and she liked the results. My sister had a 30 min massage for 30 Euro and she said it was one of the best she has ever had.
Wine Cruise: We did not know when we booked this cruise it was a wine cruise. My mom drinks wine and enjoyed the Captain’s Dinner with wine pairing but, my sister and I do not enjoy wines so we tried all the wines but, they are not to our taste. They had a wine expert who gave several lectures while on board but, we did not attend.
Ellebnis Restaurant: We went to this restaurant one evening. I read the Cruise Critic posts before we left and they said to do this restaurant when the ship is moving. So, that is what we did. The scenery is beautiful and the sunset was picturesque. I know food is subjective. With that being said we did not enjoy most food here. We don’t like caviar and foie gras but, the entrée was good and the dessert was the best! I feel the food at the main dining room was always good, freshly prepared but had a limited selection.
Entertainment: The piano player was nice but, we really enjoyed the night the local entertainer came onboard. Her name was Jela and she got everyone on the dance floor with music from the 60’s-80’s. They also had a local female French singer and accordion player one night that we enjoyed.
With this all being said we would go on another AmaWaterways cruise. I hope with a different cruise manager. Others on this cruise who have sailed AmaWaterways before agreed that the cruise manager, Kata was not as good as others.