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4 AmaWaterways AmaDara Family Cruise Reviews

My family and I do a big adventure trip every year and we had been wanting to do SE Asia for a couple of year and just couldn't find anything escorted that lined up with school holiday breaks. We booked about 9 months in advance for ... Read More
My family and I do a big adventure trip every year and we had been wanting to do SE Asia for a couple of year and just couldn't find anything escorted that lined up with school holiday breaks. We booked about 9 months in advance for myself, my active but older parents and my 16 yr old daughter. We have previously done only land packages with Tauck tours and were looking for something close to that level of service and accommodation and we were pretty pleased overall with the AMA experience. We had a day of our cruise cut off due to a typhoon in the area closing the embarkation port. The cruise line added an extra day in Ho Chi Minh City at the Sofitel with lunch and dinner (but no additional excursions), we did not miss any ports but did lose time in pheom phen and had to forgo an excursion there. Accommodations on the land portion (all Sofitels, including the Phokeethra in Siem Reap and Metropole in Hanoi) were first rate. The Metropole is a truly special hotel experience, especially if you are as into history as our family is. We had a category B stateroom on the ship and I was pleasantly surprised (with limited cruise experience) having previously sailed with disney and on an expedition ship in the Galapagos, with the size and comfort of the cabins. The bathroom allowed for a shower without having to do any strange contortions, and there was ample space to spread out a little, dress and relax with two people. We chose the one on the end of the ship by the gym, didn't feel any movement at all, and it was much quieter location. Things we liked: The staff was all very nice and accommodating, but the hotel manager (Marcus) and the restaurant manager (I am horrible and forgot her name but she was beyond fantastic) were standounts. Massage/spa prices were very reasonable for a cruise ship, as were the additional charges for upgraded wines. The included wines were also very drinkable, but I wish they would serve wine by the glass in the bars instead of just at dinner. We did the chef's table one night, I didnt think it was anything extra special. In general the food was perfectly edible, but nothing standout EXCEPT when they cooked local. I wish they had more local options at dinner, where it was pretty much all western style. The local items on the action station and morning noodle soup were always excellent, the rice paper wraps and spring rolls, etc were also fantastic. We tended to leave dinner a little wanting some evenings. They do have more mainstream choices available for every dinner (salad w/chicken or shirmp, hangar steak etc), but when in a place like SE asia, there's too much good local stuff to be cooking up fancy french food - but the brand knows their audience and I'm probably the weirdo who wants to eat pho all the time. The local guides changed with each region, and they were all good, but we were lucky enough to have two really outstanding guides in southern Vietnam and in Cambodia before we got to Siem Reap. Vinh and Buntha really make the trip special with their insight and their stories. Loved all the shore excursions we did from the standpoint of the sights we saw, loved they had options for people with mobility issues or who wanted less challenging temple climbing etc but still wanted to actually see the highlights. The overnight cruise in Ha Long Bay at the end of the trip was also great for scenery and the accommodations on that boat were also really nice. The cooking class and bingo, and a a few of the other daytime onboard programs while the ship was in transit were fun. I wish they had more enrichment, maybe a photography class, more in depth lectures about the history and culture, etc. but what they did have was fun and informative. What i wasn't crazy about: Some of the shore excursions I would have liked to have a little more time allowed at some of the museums and temples, etc. I felt rushed especially at the War Remnants Museum and Temple of Literature, Reunification Palace and the market in Ho Chi Minh City. I also wasn't crazy that for New years eve we were tied up at basically a loading dock in the middle of nowhere Cambodia, and there was no place to get off the ship to maybe check out some local nightlife. The staff tried really hard with the evening entertainment, but it wasn't really my speed, especially in a region known for night markets and such. We were VERY and I recognize VERY lucky that our trip included a few multi-generation families with younger people so there were other people my daughter's age or near it on the trip, which made it more fun for her. the food on the Ha Long bay boat was edible, but nothing to write home about. Also, the wifi on the ship worked intermittently at best and there is no roaming service in Vietnam - no biggie for me, but for some it might be an issue. Also no wifi in the cabins, only the lounge and the sundeck unless you're in a suite. We also didn't get our documents from AMA until about week before we left (2 weeks before the actual tour start date) and as we were visiting another country on our own and 2 days of transit to get there, it left me a little anxious and we were unable to pre-register for shore excursions, as they had already closed by the time we had had a chance to review everything. Overall, we loved the trip, we were fortunate to have some experiences that were really life changing (touring the Killing Fields and S-21 Detention center with Buntha, Sunrise on Angkor Wat), I came back wanting to return to explore more because I found the people so welcoming, and feel like on such a whirlwind trip I didn't get to explore the cities as much as I would have liked to. The river cruise does allow you to get to places like Tan Chau, Sa Dec and the rural areas of Vietnam and the floating villages on the ton le sap, etc in Cambodia where there really aren't western tourist class accommodations. My mom thinks river cruising is now the greatest thing. It wouldn't be my first choice to go back to for something like Europe, but for something more exotic such as the Zambezi, the Irrawaddy I'd probably book another one. It was a good trip for the diverse ages we have in my family, there was plenty of activity for my daughter and i and enough down time to allow my folks to be able to enjoy most of the sightseeing and still relax. Read Less
Sail Date December 2017
When we told our Travel Agent Friend, Linda Androlia, of Sunstone Tours about our plans to visit Southeast Asia, she said the best cruise line for this area is Amawaterways. She booked it for us and she was right. It was an amazing ... Read More
When we told our Travel Agent Friend, Linda Androlia, of Sunstone Tours about our plans to visit Southeast Asia, she said the best cruise line for this area is Amawaterways. She booked it for us and she was right. It was an amazing cruise. The staff are all local and really know the area and hospitality. The food was delicious and plentiful and we got to taste food from Cambodia and Vietnam. Everyday we disembarked to a new adventure whether is was to be blessed by buddhist monks, visit a remote fishing village or experience the horrific destruction from the American war and the dictators that followed. The tour guides were knowledgeable and did not sugar coat any of the atrocities that occurred during the war. Each room was beautifully appointed with a balcony, not matter what the cost. The whole boat was spotless. We even treated ourselves to a massage, which is comparable to anything I've had in the states. Many evenings we were treated to local entertainment, Dancers from Vietnam and Cambodia demonstrated their beautiful, delicate dances. We were on board during Christmas and the crew serenaded us with Christmas carols, there was even a crew entertainment night. We also had a pre-tour at Angkor Wat where we stayed in the Sofitel in Siem Ream. and a post tour in Saigon again staying at the Sofitel. Both tours were excellent. Read Less
Sail Date December 2016
We just returned from our cruise on the AMADARA.We started the trip off with a 3 day stay in siem reap at a small but a great hotel in every aspect(golden temple residence)it is located less than 5 minute walk to pub street and night ... Read More
We just returned from our cruise on the AMADARA.We started the trip off with a 3 day stay in siem reap at a small but a great hotel in every aspect(golden temple residence)it is located less than 5 minute walk to pub street and night market.Our family of 6 including 85 yo father spent 2 days doing all the temples unbelievable one pointer it is a long walk from parking area to base of angkor wat I suggest to carry 3 bottles of water. We had the long bus ride to the ship not too bad made two stops along the way.once arriving to the ship the process was smooth and easy our bags were in our cabins waiting for us.The cabins were big enough so not to feel too cramped.My wife and I had cabin 304 (cat b).The ship and crew were fantastic the only suggestion I would make would be to have a little music during dinner. All the excursion were good perfect length of time.A little about my self I am a 52 yo vet and had visited concentration camps in germany,but I was prepared for the emotions I felt at the killing fields we took over 2000 pictures during our trip,but I could not bring myself to take one picture there just did not feel good about doing it. On arrival to ho chi minh bus ride quick and easy we chose not to stay at the sofietel we stay acroos the river.We did a 3hr foodie tour with a company (bao loc tours)started at 3 ended at 9:30 they were great. I hate writing reviews so if anyone has questions feel free to contact m sarge 1340@att.net Read Less
Sail Date August 2016
This was our 10th cruise, first on Amawaterways and last river cruise for sure. We boarded the bus from Siem Reap to the ship on a 7 hour bus ride. We made 2 stops along the way for restroom breaks and to stretch your legs. The tour guide ... Read More
This was our 10th cruise, first on Amawaterways and last river cruise for sure. We boarded the bus from Siem Reap to the ship on a 7 hour bus ride. We made 2 stops along the way for restroom breaks and to stretch your legs. The tour guide stated to us that only a few cruises a year actually depart from Siem Reap so expect to be on the long bus ride to the ship. We booked the entire land portion on our own and some what mimicked the cruise lines itinerary. We stayed 5 nights in Hanoi's Old Quarter (Highly recommend) and a 3 day 2 night Halong Bay cruise on Signature Halong Cruises (Top notch experience). The AmaDara is a brand new ship in 2015 and is spacious and comfortable. What set us off from the very beginning and put a bad taste in our mouths was after we checked in and received our keys to our room we approached our cabin watching the "Hotel Manager" giving 4 other passengers a tour of our cabin while our luggage is in plain view inside the room. I asked him why he was allowing people in our cabin and he a stumbled for answers and said "He thought the room was vacant." We booked our cruise 15 months in advance, it was never vacant. Again our luggage is clearly visible in the room. I said to him "You should have pulled the door shut and never allowed them to enter." OUR TRUST WAS IMMEDIATELY BROKEN WITH THIS COMPANY. He then stated that "The door was left opened by the porters so I allowed them to take a "peek"." I said "Really? Our bags are in the room. You should have pulled the door shut." Now they are climbing over our luggage laughing on the way out and said "Thanks for the tour." I say to him "Are you serious?' and he looked at us in disgust and asked us "If there was a problem" I knew then he was a lost cause and an embarrassment to his company. 5 days later he has someone place a bottle of wine with a card apologizing for the misunderstanding on embarkation day. There was never a misunderstanding. Activities onboard include a swimming pool, small gym, eating, and sleeping. Horrible to no WIFI. The food and service by the dining and cabin stewards were amazing. So gracious and always readily available to assist you in any way. Very genuine kind hearted individuals. Port and Shore Excursions were poor and thoughtless. You will hurry through to see floating villages and markets galore. They all look the same with no real time to explore during the short port time. Usually under 2 hours and then they herd you back onboard for lunch and then sit in the middle of the river with no way off to continue to explore. Entertainment onboard consisted of an Apsara Dance performance by local children which I have to say was impressive, a crew talent show which was fun to see the crew relax and have some fun, and a tropical fruit tasting at the end of the cruise to use any left over fruits that were not consumed in the prior 6 days. Disembarkation was a breeze and a 2 1/2 hour bus ride for the port to Ho Chi Minh City. My personal summary of this cruise is not a favorable one. This particular itinerary is weak and is designed for the inexperienced traveler who needs to take baby steps along the way and lives a sedentary lifestyle. If you really want to see Vietnam and Cambodia which I highly recommend, stay in nice hotels along the way and see more and do more for far less money. We wanted to get off half way through and just take a cab to HCMC. Good Luck! Read Less
Sail Date October 2015
AmaDara Ratings
Category Editor Member
Cabin 4.5 N/A
Dining 5.0 4.8
Entertainment 3.0 3.7
Public Rooms 4.0 4.7
Fitness & Recreation 4.0 N/A
Family 3.5 3.7
Shore Excursions 4.0 N/A
Enrichment Activities 3.0 N/A
Service 5.0 5.0
Value for Money 4.5 N/A

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