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4 AmaWaterways AmaCello Cruise Reviews for Group and Theme Cruises to Europe - River Cruise

Background information: I picked this cruise because I wanted to revisit the places I had been on a trip I made in 1964, and I took my 18 year old granddaughter with me because she wanted to see France and practice her French. She had ... Read More
Background information: I picked this cruise because I wanted to revisit the places I had been on a trip I made in 1964, and I took my 18 year old granddaughter with me because she wanted to see France and practice her French. She had been on 2 cruises prior to this and I had been on 30 cruises. One of my prior cruises was on AmaViola which was a newer AmaWaterways ship with a pool. The AmaCello was an older ship. I use a mobility scooter because I cannot walk very far, and although the crew on the ships are most helpful, it is sometimes difficult to get on and off the ships with a scooter. The actual cruise on AmaCello went from Lyon to Arles, with two days in Paris at the start and an option of two days in Barcelona at the end. I decided to arrive in Paris four days before the tour. We flew in to Charles de Gaulle airport - arriving on 20 June, and our travel agent arranged for us to be picked up and taken to the hotel. HOTEL: We stayed in the same hotel as the AmaCello groups were staying in. Originally this was to be the Renaissance Arc de Triomphe but we were switched to the Renaissance La Parc Trocadero. I think the switch was because there was a large Jazz group on this cruise and they filled up the first hotel. The hotel had three steps up to the lobby - they had a small lift for wheelchairs but it was awkward because I had to have staff assistance to use it. It had to be unlocked both at the top and bottom. Normally I went in to my room through the garden (which was a cool relaxing space) because there were no steps. The hotel had handicapped rooms (with a shower instead of a tub) but they were all doubles. I didn't want to sleep with my granddaughter, so I got a rollaway bed Breakfast was included and it was more than adequate, and we also got room service twice and ate in the restaurant which had delicious food. Our travel agent (who was with Vacations To Go) also arranged a private tour of Paris, a trip to the Louvre and the Catacombs, and a Riverboat cruise dinner. On our own we visited the Musee d'Orsay and L'Orangerie, and I booked a walking tour of the Left Bank with a company called Discover Walks. The rest of the group came in on June 24th. We had a meeting with our Cruise Director Dragan Reljic that evening. Paris was in the middle of a unusual heat wave where the temperature would be over 100 deg. F. EMBARKATION was 27 June. We were to take the high speed train from Paris to Lyon. Initially I was told that I would have to ship my scooter with the luggage and that I would have to walk to the train. After I flatly refused to do that, they figured out that there were elevators in the station, and Dragan took us (my granddaughter and me) to the elevators. In Lyon we got on a bus and there was an arrangement for us to cook and eat some food and then walk or take a shuttle to the ship in Lyon. But it was way too hot to do that, so most of us just went directly to the ship. At the ship, they had a buffet for us while we were waiting for our rooms, and quite quickly, we could get into the room and unpack. We had a meeting to do the safety briefing - the Captain kept us laughing and then Dragan talked to us about the schedule. When the meeting was over, all the women got roses. There was a vase in the cabin for us to put the roses in DINING: The dining room is on the lowest deck. For awhile the door to exit into the dining room would not open and this was a problem for me. After a day or so they figured out a manual override, but I always had to wait for someone to let me out (or for the person with the key to let me in). The food at dinner was excellent. Breakfast and Lunch were mainly a buffet. I absolutely cannot do a buffet. There's no room for the scooter, the food is almost too high for me to see, and if I get something, I can't carry it. If my granddaughter was with me, she could sometimes bring me food from the buffet, and sometimes the waiters would help me. The food was good, it was just hard for me to get. ACTIVITIES and ENTERTAINMENT There was a gym and Alex was the guy doing the exercise classes. There were nightly concerts, which in the case of this cruise were often Jazz performances. Neither the ship nor any of the hotels had a pool, which was a big disappointment to me. I normally do my exercises in a pool for a hour three or four times a week. My health deteriorates when I can't get into a pool. This ship only had a hot tub. I did go up on the Sunshine Deck once and sat there in the shade and enjoyed the breeze. SERVICE: In all aspects, excellent. PORT and SHORE EXCURSIONS PARIS: Most people arrived on 24 June. On June 25th, we had two tours. First an overview of Paris in the morning. And in the evening we had an evening illumination tour - first they took us up to Sacre Coeur where we could have dinner on our own. Then we went down the funicular, and got back on the bus. We got to the Eiffel tower a little before 11:00 - just in time for the sparkling light show. The next day (June 26th) we had on our own but then our cruise director Dragan Reljic had arranged an optional visit to a dinner show cabaret up on Montmartre. This was really a terrific show and a lot of fun. LYON: There was a Bike Tour, but my granddaughter can't ride a bike, and a City Tour which my granddaughter took. They went up to the Basilica and did some of what my granddaughter called "secret passageways" (Traboules) She enjoyed this tour. It was too hot for me to go BEAUJOLAIS: Neither of us took this excursion because we are not interested in wine tasting. VIENNE: The Mount Pipet hike was my granddaughters favorite tour. She said: The view of the city was spectacular. Vienne is definitely my favorite of the places we have visited so far. It’s beautiful and quiet with more story to it than it seems. Vienne is the underdog city. TOURNON: Steam Train RIde: This was the first tour that I did, and it was a really nice ride up the gorge and back. We went through tunnels, and then at the top, the engine turned around and went to the other end of the train to pull us back down the mountain. I went to the little museum at the end of the train trip. AVIGNON: My granddaughter did the Pont du Gard (aqueduct) tour and then the visit to the Truffle farm, both of which she enjoyed. Dragan arranged for me to get a taxi, and the taxi took me up to Las Baux, and to the Les Remy Antiquities, to King Rene's palace and then around to the Pope's Palace ARLES: We went on the Camargue and Aigues-Mortes tour and this was a disappointment. For some reason I thought we would see some of the Camargue horses, and we did, but just through the bus window. We did see lots of sunflowers and the bus stopped so we could get out and take photos. Then my granddaughter went on the Van Gogh walking tour. She felt that she knew more about it than the guide. Also it was very hot. BARCELONA: I have been to Barcelona before, but I had not seen the old city nor had I been into the Sagrada Familia. So we made a reservation for the Sagrada Familia for 12:15 which I thought would be at the end of the "Best of Barcelona" tour. Be the tour had been rearranged so after we saw the Gothic Quarter, we got a taxi to the Sagrada Familia. It was an amazing experience. The following day my granddaughter did the Mountains and Abbey of Montserrat excursion, which I think she enjoyed. DISEMBARKATION: Some people got off the ship in Arles but we were going on to Barcelona. So first we went to Nimes, where we had a nice tour, and some free time so we could buy lavender honey. That part of the day was good. We got to the train station and first we had to change platforms for the train and then we had maybe 6 minutes to get everyone and their hand luggage (and the scooter) onto the train. The train had two levels, and I was blocked getting to my seat in a timely manner because someone was getting another person settled and wouldn't get out of the aisle. We finally got to our seats which were facing another couple which means you have no room for your feet like in a regular seat. Although you have someone to talk to. There was no real provision for lunch, but my granddaughter went and got me a sandwich. I ate it, but it was soggy. I hate soggy bread. Then the train stopped in a station and just stayed there for a hour. The A/C was not keeping up. It was hot. We got to Barcelona about a hour late. HOTEL in Barcelona - It was another Renaissance. Other people got handicapped rooms with a shower, but I did not. They had to scramble around to find one that had a shower, and, as before it had a double bed. I got a rollaway. My granddaughter loved this hotel. She said it was fancy. The bathroom has one of those rain shower heads and a button IN the mirror that turns on this LED light around one part of it. At one point it got really really cold in the room, and I had to turn off the A/C and the fan because it was blowing cold air on me. I opened the window and let the sun warm up the room a little. SUMMARY: It was very hot, but that (and the non-working bow camera) was almost the only flaw in this cruise. The cruise director was great, the service was excellent, the food was good, and there was a good variety of excursions and things to do. When I didn't go on an excursion I could sit on the bow and take photos (until it got to hot, and then I could go to my room and take photos) Read Less
Sail Date June 2019
We had a wonderful time on the AmaCello in the south of France. The ship, cuisine, crew, staff, excursions, and scenery were excellent. This was only our second river cruise, the other being with Crystal, and we found Ama to be very ... Read More
We had a wonderful time on the AmaCello in the south of France. The ship, cuisine, crew, staff, excursions, and scenery were excellent. This was only our second river cruise, the other being with Crystal, and we found Ama to be very good, with the Crystal cruise being better in most every way, but of course, at a higher price point. This Ama cruise was just a notch below Crystal, but a better value, and every element was fantastic, so you can't go wrong with Ama. SHIP: I had read that the AmaCello was older, but there were no signs of that at all. It was clean, modern, classy, spacious, functional, well laid out, very nice. River cruise rooms are smaller than ocean ships, and these were smaller than Crystal's, but again, at a lower cost. I am 6'-8"/203cm, so I could not stand up in half the ship, especially the shower (which was tiny), but I was expecting that and an average or tall person will have no problems. Everything on board was comfortable and luxurious. There wasn't a big screen TV in the cabin, but there was a Mac computer that doubled as a screen, so that was a win/win. A little small, but we actually watched a couple of on-demand movies and it was fine. Bed & linens were comfy, french balcony was nice- good to be able to open it from floor to ceiling and sit there admiring the view and breeze while cruising the waterways. The fitness room was adequate and it even had a sauna that my wife used a number of times. There were a few cardio machines and just a few free weights. The heaviest weight was so light I had to put two dumbbells in each hand to get a sufficient weight workout, but I did it. There was a spa for massages, but we never got one. CUISINE: All the meals were top notch and wonderfully presented by the hard working and friendly staff. River ships have smaller galleys and staff than ocean ships so there is a more limited selection of what they can do, so the cuisine lacks the wow factor of ocean ships, but everything was gourmet and delicious. Compared to Crystal, which has a larger galley and more staff on their river ships, Crystal was a significant notch better, but Ama's food was wonderful and we were very pleased with every meal, drink, and snack. Crystal offers more sugar-free and gluten-free options, however. ama was very accommodating with my wife's food allergies. STAFF: The AmaCello staff were wonderful, friendly, delightful, and helpful in every way. Compared to Crystal, which has a much higher staff to customer ratio, I sensed that everyone was spread more thinly and had to work harder, but they did that all with aplomb. Where Ama exceeded Crystal was with their marvelous cruise director Cesario Santos who was with the group in the hotel in Paris before the cruise, took us on the train to Lyon, then on the ship, and then traveled with the guests on the train to Barcelona for the extra days after the cruise. This was a very nice touch that other cruise lines do not offer and it was very welcome. Cesario worked day and night, hammering out details, serving the customer, he was truly excellent and made me want to travel with Ama again. I had even left my coat in the hotel in Paris and Cesario immediately had it shipped to our next stop for me. Truly excellent service. CAPTAIN/PILOT: Our captain or his pilot did manage to bang the ship into a few pilings or river locks on the trip, in fact, they smashed into someone's room breaking the window and denting the whole french balcony. That couple had to be moved down to a below water level room. I think the captain got removed from the ship at the end of the cruise judging from his farewell speech. No one was hurt and the cruise was not impeded, and everyone was amused by it except the displaced couple. ENTERTAINMENT: There's not much entertainment on a river cruise due to space and staff issues, and that's fine. Compared to an ocean cruise where there is so much it can be exhausting, the river cruise model is more laid back. The AmaCello had nice pianists and DJs and such, and some musical guests, all who were good. EXCURSIONS: From the trip from Paris to the ship and all the excursions during the week (all the cruise excursions were included in the price), every one was fantastic, seamlessly integrated with the ship, informative, interesting, luxurious, really great. The Rhone Valley and Provence are simply beautiful, and the cities and towns are wonderful. They would be even more spectacular in the summer when the lavender blooms, but everything was so picturesque, we were delighted. The village of Grignan is a must-see, simply the most picturesque village I can remember anywhere. The Papal Palace in Avignon is well worth it, and the Carrières de Lumières show in Arles in an underground rock quarry is an amazing and mesmerizing experience that you shouldn't miss. If you continue on to Barcelona, the Basílica de la Sagrada Família is one of the most spectacular sights in all the world and is a must-see. So, we would highly recommend the AmaCello. Everything was top notch without breaking the bank. A highly enjoyable, luxurious vacation with all the details taken care of by a superb staff. We will definitely go on another Ama cruise. Read Less
Sail Date May 2019
My daughter, mother and I just returned from cruising on the AMACello last week and wanted to commend AMA on an overall fabulous experience. This was a wine cruise and we found the Cave B Estate Winery representatives, Freddy and Carrie, ... Read More
My daughter, mother and I just returned from cruising on the AMACello last week and wanted to commend AMA on an overall fabulous experience. This was a wine cruise and we found the Cave B Estate Winery representatives, Freddy and Carrie, to be extremely knowledgeable and we enjoyed the lectures and tastings. Also, a French sommelier came onboard and they compared and contrasted French wines with American wines. One night they even paired each meal course with a specific wine. My daughter and I were on the Violin deck, while my mother was on the Piano deck, and both of our cabins were kept immaculate. We felt the food was excellent with multi-course meals for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Sorin, the dining room maitre d', brought our table our own large piece of walnut cheese that was not displayed on the cheese plate at the time, but we had previously had it and enjoyed it so much we wanted more. The ice cream party was lots of fun as well. The variety as well as the quality of the tours offered was excellent. AMA arranged for local guides and they were outstanding. We were provided with multiple choices of tours each day with different difficulty levels that catered to the passengers' personal activity levels. My daughter and I biked alongside the river and through several smaller towns in Vienne and loved it. We would have enjoyed biking more often, but if you choose to bike, you will not experience as much of the city, and if it's a city you haven't visited before, I would recommend the walking tour over biking. In addition, we loved visiting an olive farm, truffle farm complete with lavender fields, a wine and chocolate tasting at a chateau, the Valrhona Chocolate Factory, and the hike through the Chapoutier vineyards with gorgeous views. The cruise director, Andre, was particularly outstanding - he literally stopped what he was doing and went over in detail the entire itinerary to help us make choices for tours. Throughout the cruise I saw different times where he demonstrated an infinite amount of patience with passengers. He also helped arrange a transfer to Marseilles Airport at a MUCH more reasonable rate than we had previously set up. Captain Tony was a lot of fun and even gave us a tour of the wheelhouse! Marchetta, our hotel manager oversaw every detail and was always available and friendly. A special shout-out to our dining room wait staff, Damir and Julian, who treated us like three princesses. The only area we felt could be improved upon was upgrading the fitness equipment. I look forward to cruising with AMA again in the near future - next time I'm bringing my husband!! Read Less
Sail Date June 2017
We had enjoyed AMA's Porto cruise, so this was a natural next choice. Our cruse tour was organizd by AMA and included 7 nights on the Amacello, followed by the Loire vally and return to Paris.The cruise was A1 from start to finish. ... Read More
We had enjoyed AMA's Porto cruise, so this was a natural next choice. Our cruse tour was organizd by AMA and included 7 nights on the Amacello, followed by the Loire vally and return to Paris.The cruise was A1 from start to finish. Most of the passengers were seniors on this trip. We were met in Paris at the Paris Marriott Opera hotel by the cruise director Rachel, and everything flowed from there. Paris was rained out...the Louvre was flooded and closed, the Metro was flooded and closed, Roland Gaross was rained out. We took the bus trip to Montmartre and found dinner near Sacre-Coeur. Not much of the bohemeian life style left, but the view of the city was worth the effort. The TVG was on strike, so we boarded a bus rather than the TVG for Bordeaux to join our ship.. 9 hours later we arrived in Bordeaux and boarded, having enjoyed a very comfortable luxury coach ride through the French countryside. Our cabin on the Violin deck, port side forward, was very comfortable with a juliet balcony from which we enjoyed watching the river activity. The walkin shower had a multihead arrangement that took some getting used to, but once accustomed worked very well. Excellent hair dryer in the dressing table away from the shower, a nice touch. We exchanged the duvets for light blankets. The lounge is comfortable, with enough good seating for most events. We heard that the ship was 60% on this cruise so the wait staff and housekeeping were very attentive. With a full ship the lounge mght have been a bit crowded. When on board we took our lunches there, usually a soup, sandwiches, salads, a hot entree, fruits, cheeses or a light dessert were provided, More than enough, tasty and beautifully presented. Familiar listenable music on the electric piano in the corner by the ship's musician each day was pleasant and not intrusive. Dinners in the dining room were open seating. The predinner chat in the lounge with Rachel was always fun, interestiing and informative as well as entertaining. Evenng entertainment featured ccomplished young local musicians and dancers. A walking tour of Bordeaux was offered, but as the guide talked more than she walked we soon abandoned, headed back to the ship, took bicycles and explored Bordeaux on our own. Buses accompanied the ship each day along the rivers. One aftenoon I left my nexus phone on the bus. By the time i realized it was missing the buses had moved on to the next day's rendevous. The ship staff made contact with the bus company, and my phone was waiting for me at the desk the next morning before we departed the ship. The drivers come early to the ship for breakfast, and the driver had had found the phone and brought it back. What excellent service. Shore excursions led to daily wine tastings in vineyards in the Bordeaux, Garonne and Dordogne rivers. Tastings of various vintages were invariably accompanied by fine cheeses, meats and fresh breads. Many very famous Vineyards could be seen in the area. The cruise ended in Bordeaux and we had time to visit the new Citi du Vin wine museum, just opened. Filled with hundreds of interactive displays it is well worth a visit, to be topped off with a glass of wine of your choice as a treat on the 8th floor, which features a panoramic view of the city of Bordeaux and the river. The ship doesn't actually sail much on this itinerary, as the distances are short. I was left wanting more sea time. Next time , a longer itinerary, perhaps. All too soon we left our comfortable Amacello, boarded the TVG post cruise for the Loire Valley arranged by AMA. Didn't see much as the tracks run through cuttings much of the way to Tours, then on to Amboise to view Chateau D'amboise, Chateau du Clos Luce which featured working models of many designs and drawings by Leonardo da Vinci, Chateau de Chenonceau, and then to Blois to view Chateau de Chambord. We then bussed to Paris to the Pullman Paris Roissy, CDG airport, where the rooms are comfortable but the food at dinner was awful. Fortunately our flight home was not with Air Fance as they were on strike again, so we left on time. Altogether a memorable cruise tour. Read Less
Sail Date May 2016
AmaCello Ratings
Category Editor Member
Cabin 5.0 N/A
Dining 3.0 4.5
Entertainment 4.0 3.9
Public Rooms 5.0 4.6
Fitness & Recreation 2.0 N/A
Family 1.0 3.5
Shore Excursions 3.0 N/A
Enrichment Activities 4.0 N/A
Service 3.0 4.8
Value for Money 5.0 N/A

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