By Carolyn Spencer Brown, Editor in Chief
AmaWaterways has carved out a niche for itself in the river cruise arena with its emphasis on wine and food amid comfortably stylish surrounds.
The majority of AmaBella's staterooms (along with those found on AmaVerde and near-sisters AmaCerto and AmaPrima) feature double-balcony configurations. One side is a French verandah, with floor-to-ceiling doors that open wide, and the other is an actual balcony, with comfortable chairs. Notable, too: These spacious staterooms aren't limited to a lucky few. On the top two cabin decks, they're plentiful.
Other delightful features on AmaBella make it such a welcoming ship. On the sun deck, a splash pool (with swim-up bar) and deep, comfy wicker-like sofas are popular gathering spots. The small gym is well stocked with state-of-the-art equipment, and the sprawling lounge features a library nook with a faux fireplace.
It's important to note, though, that the ship's gorgeous decor and creature comforts are a backdrop to the experience you'll have on land. AmaWaterways features a nice range of possibilities in each port (most of which come in the complimentary category) that target a variety of travel styles. Highlights include standard tours; themed experiences geared toward interests in areas like art, food and wine; and recreationally oriented expeditions on bicycles. (Two dozen of them are stored onboard, and they're free for passengers to use in port.)
AmaWaterways offers terrific value-for-money extras on its cruises; these include free and unlimited Wi-Fi (with an unusually fast connection for a cruise ship) and complimentary beer, wine and soda at lunch and dinner.
Rounding out a superb cruise experience, the crew on AmaBella are outstanding. Warm, efficient and personable, the tone was set for us on the first night onboard, when a couple, having traveled all day, arrived well after mealtime. They plaintively asked the bartender if there were snacks available. Instead, she went down to the kitchen and assembled them a full meal.
AmaBella Fellow Passengers
AmaWaterways generally appeals to well-traveled, 50-plus passengers with a strong interest in culinary arts and active exploration. Geographically, passengers are strongly drawn from North America, but the cruise line attracts a solid representation from the U.K. and Australia, where its partner, APT Touring, also markets the line.
AmaBella Dress Code
Day and night, the prevailing dress code is country club casual, except for the once-a-cruise Captain's Dinner, when male passengers don jackets and ties and women wear cocktail garb.
Recommended gratuity is 3 euros per passenger, per day, for the ship's cruise manager and 12 euros per passenger, per day, for the crew. This can be paid with cash or credit card. It's good form to tip tour guides 1 to 2 euros for half-day tours and 5 euros or more for full-day outings.
I have long wished to be in the Netherlands during the tulip time at the Kerkenhof Gardens (sp) and so this trip was a dream come true. I did find that my disability in walking spoiled much of the trip for me but I did have a wheelchair available ...continue
We began our tour with two nights in Prague in the Czech Republic. We had a walking tour on the first day. We asked Balosch, our cruise director, for a dining suggestion for a restaurant for dinner and he gave us an excellent one that featured ...continue
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We cruised from Budapest to Nuremburg. We had a D class stateroom and I was concerned that it would be small and our views very limited. It turned out that the cabin was spacious and the views fine. AmaBella's standard outings were free but there ...continue