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13 AmaWaterways AmaDolce River Cruise Reviews

This is our second AMAWaterWays cruise and we were again rewarded with a thoroughly enjoyable river cruise. The Amadolce cabin was spotless and in excellent condition as were the public areas. The crew with Captain Danny and Cruise ... Read More
This is our second AMAWaterWays cruise and we were again rewarded with a thoroughly enjoyable river cruise. The Amadolce cabin was spotless and in excellent condition as were the public areas. The crew with Captain Danny and Cruise Director Helene was one of the best we've experienced in over 30 years of ocean and river cruising. They were friendly, attentive, responsive and prompt. The tours were great and well paced and gave an insightful education on French wines. The food and wine selection onboard was very competitive with some of the best local restaurants in the Bordeaux region. The wait staff was fun, friendly, responsive and made us feel that the Amadolce was our river home for the week. Housekeeping was impeccable and Georgina, our stewardess, was a delight with her engaging personality and warm greeting in addition to the care she gave our cabin. My wife had a post-operation medical problem toward the end of our cruise and the staff was on top of the medical situation instantly, brought a doctor on board and helped us get treatment that she needed. The Purser, Captain and Cruise Director all demonstrated concern, empathy and acted to help ease my wife's issues. We were very grateful. Read Less
Sail Date September 2016
My wife and I recently returned from a week-long cruise down the Rhine River from Basel to Amsterdam on AmaWaterways’ AmaDolce. We also took the cruise line’s 4-night pre-cruise extension, consisting of 2 nights in Zurich and 2 nights ... Read More
My wife and I recently returned from a week-long cruise down the Rhine River from Basel to Amsterdam on AmaWaterways’ AmaDolce. We also took the cruise line’s 4-night pre-cruise extension, consisting of 2 nights in Zurich and 2 nights in Lucerne; and we remained in Amsterdam for 3 additional nights in a hotel we booked on our own. The fortnight in Europe was a truly wonderful experience, but for the purposes of this review, I’ll stick to the 11-night AMA-produced land and cruise components. For the record, this was our second river cruise in Europe, having sailed on the then new AmaCerto on the Danube in August, 2012. We were so enthralled with that experience – after having taken more than 30 ocean cruises since the mid 1990s, including 5 in Europe -- that it sold us on river cruising (see my comprehensive river of the Danube cruise in the member reviews page of this website). Although we continue to cruise on the oceans and plan on at least several more such cruises in Europe, these are no substitute for the relatively low key, but highly active and wonderfully intimate vacation experience only a river cruise can provide. Our second river cruise certainly confirmed and reinforced the conclusions drawn during our 2012 Danube cruise; and we are already booked on a Douro River cruise in Spain and Portugal for next fall and hope to cruise the eastern Danube from Budapest to Istanbul sometime in 2017 or 2018. Having said that, I think it’s fair to say that every river cruise is unique, but that comparisons can certainly be drawn, especially between two such experiences on the same cruise line. Taken in its broadest sense, our Rhine River cruise on AmaDolce matched up quite favorably with our previous river cruise in almost every respect. The difference is in some of the details, and I think it would be useful to set out these details according to the following categories: the ship and accommodations; the food; the activities; the staff and crew; and the itinerary and tours. Along the way I hope to draw some conclusions and insights about the general river cruise experience, as well as this particular river cruise vacation. This may take some time so I apologize in advance for the long read. Ship and Accommodations: AmaDolce is the 5th of 6 nearly identical river ships build by AmaWaterways between 2006 and 2009. These ships are slightly smaller than the newer ships in the AmaCerto class and hold 146 passengers compared with 164 on the newer class of ship. Having sailed now on both classes of ship, the only significant difference between the two is that the AmaCerto class of ships offers staterooms with both a French balcony and a standard balcony, in addition to staterooms only with a French balcony. On AmaDolce the dual balcony stateroom is not available and so we took a Category B stateroom with a French balcony and were perfectly satisfied with that. Because it was fall and Europe tends to be cool during late October, the only times we opened the French balcony were to take photos and those times were not all that frequent. In overall layout, design and even accoutrements, AmaDolce bears a remarkably close resemblance to its slightly larger cousins. Getting around these river ships is simple enough to begin with, but our familiarity with the layout – along with our stateroom location only a few steps from the forward, public section of the ship – made negotiating our way around the ship easier than a snap of the finger. One point I must add about the staterooms on the river cruise ships is that there is a real focus on economy of space. At 170 square feet with a queen-plus sized bed, the stateroom was a little cozy compared with many of the ocean cruise ships we've sailed on, but it was eminently functional in every way, with features not usually found on mainstream ocean cruise ships -- even in the suites. Besides a double closet with 2 levels for hanging clothing, there's a third closet with floor to ceiling shelves. Even so, we took so much with us that we would have been a little cramped for space until we discovered the rolling shelf under the bed. With our luggage stored under there, we still could get to everything easily. The bathroom was larger than most standard bathrooms on mainstream cruise lines, with a large and very functional shower, a full array of bath products, hair dryer, and shelving both above and below the sink. The stateroom comes equipped with a pair of bath robes and slippers, a pair of umbrellas, a safe, and complimentary water bottles (replenished daily). There is also an infotainment system that includes a TV that can be switched to internet mode -- and an accompanying keyboard and mouse. The TV provides a satellite feed from networks in multiple languages, as well as music channels and movie options, and there is free WiFi on board the ship that was, frankly, more reliable when the ship was docked than sailing down the Rhine. Each stateroom also comes equipped with "silent voice boxes" used by passengers to hear their tour guide without having to stand within earshot of the guide. With a standard adapter, one can use up to 3 electric sockets in the room to charge cameras, smart phones, and electric razors. In sum, we found our French balcony stateroom to be highly functional and comfortable, with plenty of extras included. Dining: Having read hundreds of reviews and comments on Cruise Critic, the subject of dining always seems to provoke great debate. Frankly, everyone's taste in food is different and so I try not to engage in value judgments or argue about favorite dishes. But I also know that the dining experience is considered by most to be an essential component of a cruise – all the more so on a river cruise, where menus usually reflect the local cuisine. Having said that, I must acknowledge I was more impressed by the quality of both the menu selections and of the food on our AmaCerto Danube cruise than on our Rhine cruise on AmaDolce. This is not to say the meals weren’t enjoyable. Most were, thanks to the excellent service and wine selections. But I found myself seeking out the standard daily options for salads and entrees on more than one occasion; that was never the case on our previous river cruise. Again, because meals are such a personal thing, it is quite possible that most passengers loved the menu selections; but I do know that our traveling companions, who were experiencing their first river cruise, came away feeling the same as us about the dinner menu options. Other than that, there was little to complain about regarding the food on board. We Americans have a lifestyle that often prevents us from having a good breakfast; I think Europeans are far more civilized in this respect, and I very much appreciated the onboard full breakfasts that offered a good variety of options from the buffet, plus omelets and other special dishes prepared fresh on the spot in the dining room. The same was true at lunchtime, where regional dishes were available both on the buffet and specially brought to you by one of the waiters. A "light" lunch consisting of mini-sandwiches, a soup, a pasta dish, salads, and desserts, was available daily in the lounge for folks who preferred to eat quickly and move on to something else. We did not take advantage of this option on this cruise. Unlike our first river cruise, we opted to dine at the Chefs Table restaurant located at the aft of the ship. It was the final night on board (the Captain’s Gala Dinner having been held the previous night), and the ship was docked in Amsterdam. With space for only 24 diners, this specialty restaurant offered a very small choice, but the meal was truly extraordinary, made all the more so by the extra special service, the intimacy of the dining space, and the lights of Amsterdam harbor clearly visible from the floor to ceiling aft windows. It was one of the most memorable moments during our weeklong cruise and certainly the highlight of our dining experience while on board – at no extra charge, by the way. The Main Lounge had a constant availability of coffees and teas, iced tea and water, and cookies. These snacks came in most handily during the late afternoon upon returning from a shore excursion and late at night after working up an appetite from the dancing. Meals were regularly supplemented with a variety of edibles and drinkables, most notably what amounted to a meal between breakfast and lunch served in the lounge on the last full day of the cruise and consisting of brats, potatoes, sauerkraut, and German-style pretzels all washed down with free Bitburger Pilsner beer. In this instance – as delicious as it was, the extra meal was something of overkill, as it was served about 90 minutes after breakfast and a half hour before lunch (we had an early lunch that day because of an early afternoon city tour of Amsterdam). Ugh! Talk about having plenty to walk off!! Other examples of extras included Gluwein (warm red wine) served as we returned from a chilly tour in Strasbourg, Rudesheimer coffee served topside while sailing through the Rhine Gorge, and champagne cocktails served upon our arrival on board and during the Captain’s Gala reception, just to name a few. Also available in a free-flowing form and at no extra charge was a selection of a white wine and red wine at lunch and dinner -- a different selection each night -- as well as Bitburger beer. In sum, although the dinner menu selections did not match the superb and unique choices we enjoyed on our Danube cruise, I was certainly satisfied with the overall quality and selection of food on AmaDolce , which would certainly have met our expectations had it not been for our previous, extraordinary dining experience on the 2012 river cruise. Onboard Activities: One might have assumed that the general lack of activity venues on a river ship compared with the giant ocean cruise vessels would have caused passengers to be bored. Nothing was further from reality aboard AmaDolce. For one thing, there were very few occasions when the ship was sailing during the day when we weren’t at a meal, and in each case that lasted only a brief 2-3 hours, and so passengers were more often sightseeing off the ship for the better part of each day. The fitness center, although small, was ample for this cruise, as most passengers had precious little time to compete for use of the exercise equipment. Again -- from my own experience -- with each day packed with shore excursions that often involved pretty significant walking, and two optional bicycle tours, there wasn't much need for additional aerobic exercise. During those few stretches when the ship was sailing and we weren’t eating or attending a port talk by the cruise manager, many of the passengers seemed more preoccupied with capturing the incredibly beautiful scenery on film – or socializing with each other -- than doing anything else. I know that on those few occasions when the ship was on the move, I spent as much time on a small deck forward of the lounge or on the Sun Deck waiting for the next lock or for what the next bend in the river would reveal. On four occasions during the evening, AMA Waterways provided some form of guest entertainers who performed in the Lounge. Each act was unique and most of them were quite enjoyable, but only one or two offered a true flavor of the country and locale where the ship was docked. Performers would come aboard, do their show, and then depart the ship. Samples of entertainers who performed in the lounge included a young woman singing tunes from Broadway shows, who was probably the weakest of the acts presented; an accordion and chanteuse act called “Lizzi” who provided a full hour of wonderful French standard songs – and in the process I somehow found myself pulled up to help sing one of them, much to the amusement of my fellow passengers; there was also an outstanding string trio (La Strada) performing semi-classics, European folk songs, and famous operatic pieces; and then there was Monia & Hutch – a keyboard and singing duo playing pop and Motown numbers and working desperately to get passengers up on the dance floor. Their efforts eventually paid off, but for them it was a bit of a struggle, although as musicians they were top notch. My point about the activities is that it is impossible to compare the kind of Broadway or Vegas-style acts and guest headliners you see in the main theaters of ocean going cruise ships with the entertainment on a river cruise. Nor did we miss those big shows (which we usually like to see, by the way). The kind of guest entertainment provided by AMA Waterways on this river cruise was well-suited for the intimate setting and provided a sometimes excellent supplement to the cruise line's efforts to give passengers a real taste and feel of local culture and life. While I think most passengers enjoyed the guest entertainment, however, it did not succeed to the same degree as our Danube cruise as cultural enrichment and, in retrospect, left me a bit disappointed in this respect compared with our earlier river cruise experience. One final note regarding the onboard activities: each day before dinner and later at night after dinner and the local entertainment, the resident musician -- Szoldt -- provided piano music for easy listening, and he was always gracious about taking requests. On several nights, the easy listening segued into dance music, and several of the passengers got up to dance. These sessions never reached the full-blown dance party atmosphere we had on our Danube cruise, but that was probably a factor of the mix of passengers more than anything the cruise line did or did not do. Staff and Crew: An intimate river cruise ship with 140 passengers means an intimate experience with a relatively small staff and crew. The Captain had a crew of about 8-10 officers and sailors. Unlike on most large cruise ships, the Captain was almost totally accessible. The cruise – including negotiating through 14 locks between Basel and Amsterdam – proceeded smoothly without incident, even with lots of traffic on the river (although nothing like the summertime traffic we experienced on the Danube in 2012). The other senior officer on AmaDolce is the Hotel Manager; on this cruise it was Martina. She also interacted with the passengers on any number of occasions, not only at formal gatherings, but she was almost always waiting at the gangway to welcome each person back on board after a tour – or overseeing the distribution of welcome back drinks. The Hotel Manager is responsible for virtually every non-crew member of the staff, which includes such departments as dining, bartending, housekeeping, and administration. In this regard, the housekeeping team of about 8 staff members performed their duties with the utmost competence. Staterooms were cleaned and replenished twice daily but it was a rare occasion when you saw your room steward, so efficiently and stealthily did they perform their jobs. The dining staff of a maitre d' and about 8 waiters was equally efficient, and most of them were engaging and friendly. Although there is but one seating and no assigned tables, I felt as if each waiter treated you as if you were a longtime acquaintance. Of the several waiters we personally encountered on this cruise, our favorite was Marius. The team of three bartenders not only worked the bar during the afternoon and after dinner hours, but also served drinks during lunch and dinner. They were friendly and competent, especially our favorite – Dimitrar, who always went the extra mile to keep us happy in our drinking. Finally, we were thoroughly impressed with the team of 3 staff members responsible for handling the front desk and all the business aspects of the cruise: paperwork; boarding passes; issuing tour group colors according to passenger's wishes and also as equitably as possible to ensure balanced-sized tour groups; and billing matters. Unlike ocean cruise ships, where the Cruise Director is responsible for all onboard activities and entertainment and must manage a fairly sizable team of cruise staff, on river cruises there is a Cruise Manager who works virtually alone. The Cruise Manager is responsible for the passengers from the moment they arrive at a pre-cruise hotel until they leave a post-cruise hotel (when applicable). The Cruise Manager arranges and organizes all the tours, including those offered during pre-and post-cruise extensions as well as all included and optional tours during the cruise. And the Cruise Manager is responsible for the onboard local guest entertainers throughout the cruise, and for the daily program provided to the passengers. Because the Cruise Manager follows the passengers for a given sailing and extensions, he or she moves from ship to ship rather than having postings on a particular ship -- and that is why they tend to work alone (in busy extension locations the Cruise Manager sometimes has assistance from local contractors). Our Cruise Manager, Frederico, was exceptional in every conceivable way. He was the person who greeted us with a friendly smile upon arrival at our hotel in Zurich for our pre-cruise extension, and the last AMA Waterways person we saw when we departed the ship in Amsterdam at the end of the cruise. In between, his winning smile and overall friendly personality, enthusiasm, professionalism, and constant attention to every detail and the interests of the passengers endeared him to just about everyone. He personally went out of his way to assist my wife and me with two important issues: in Lucerne, we had a problem with our assigned hotel room and he immediately interceded with the hotel front desk to have our room changed and luggage moved; we also hoped to meet up with a couple who live close to Koblenz, and because the ship was only there for an evening, Frederico arranged for our friends to come aboard when we docked and join us for dinner on the ship, for which we happily paid a nominal charge for their dinner. In sum, I would have to say that the performance of the relatively small staff and crew of the AmaDolce not only exceeded our expectations for this river cruise, but ranks equally with the performance of the staff and crew on our previous river cruise as among the best we have encountered in our extensive cruising experience. Itinerary: Zurich and Lucerne (4-night pre-cruise extension: Upon our arrival in Zurich, our pre-paid transfer to the hotel worked absolutely smoothly even though our flight arrived about 90 minutes late. I had emailed AMAWaterways before our departure from Washington Dulles the night before, alerting them to the delayed departure, and the cruise line representative (Judith) was waiting for us outside the baggage claim area at the Zurich airport. After a few minutes to collect 5 other members of the AMA group that arrived on our flight, we were quickly and efficiently transported by luxury coach to the Continental Hotel. The hotel turned out to be an excellent choice. Rooms were typically European – meaning cozy by American standards; but they contained all the amenities. A very extensive breakfast buffet and complimentary WiFi were included, as well as a barrel of fresh apple juice available in the lobby pretty much throughout the day. The hotel is located within reasonable walking distance of the heart of the Altstadt (Old Town) on both sides of the Limmat River, and we spent our first afternoon exploring the main shopping district from the central railroad station south on Bahnhofstrasse. The next morning we had a city tour that began with a bus tour of the university district above our hotel and the lakefront, and ended with a walking tour through the winding streets of the Altstadt between the Limmat River and the Bahnhofstrasse. In the afternoon we took an optional tour by bus to the Rhine Falls and the medieval town of Stein Am Rhine – a UNESCO World Heritage Site with beautifully painted building facades along a pedestrian walking street. The falls were quite exciting and unique, as we were taken by a small boat within yards of the falls – upon which there is a large rock and a boat landing where those more fearless and younger than our group can climb to the top of the rock. The afternoon was all the more wonderful because we had beautiful weather. In fact, the weather was nothing short of spectacular pretty much the entire time we were in Switzerland, with brilliant sunshine and mid-afternoon temperatures in the 70s. The next day we had perhaps an hour or so after breakfast before loading up the buses to take us to Lucerne. There wasn’t enough time to see anything we hadn’t already seen in Zurich, so most of us sat around the hotel lobby for a chunk of time chatting until the buses departed right at noon for a scenic drive from Zurich to Lake Lucerne. It was yet another beautiful day and much of the rolling countryside south of Zurich was quite picturesque, especially when we drove along one lake after another. We stopped for a late lunch in the town of Brunnen, located on the eastern end of Lake Lucerne. Because we had to drive to Viznau to catch a boat by 3 p.m., we had only about 40 minutes for 80 people to find restrooms, have some lunch, and catch a quick look at the lakefront. It was a very tight schedule, but we were able to wolf down a sandwich and get some photos of the lake before the buses brought us to Viznau. Here they left us and went on to the Radisson Blu Hotel in Lucerne, while we enjoyed an absolutely wonderful hour-long ride to Lucerne on one of the Lake ferries, which we had all to ourselves. The scenery was beyond gorgeous, as we passed several major peaks in the foothills of the Alps, including Mt. Pilatus, all the while basking in the brilliant afternoon sun. The only thing that would have made the afternoon completely perfect would have been to have departed our Zurich hotel about 45 minutes earlier (rather than sitting around the lobby), so we wouldn’t have been so rushed during our lunch stop in Brunnen. The Radisson Blu was also a pretty good choice by AMAWaterways. Located a few steps from the Lucerne lakefront, adjacent to and behind the central railway station and rail yard, we were but a short walk to the primary areas of interest both in the new part of the city where Lake Lucerne empties into the Reuss River and on the opposite side of the river where the Altstadt is located. Although larger than our hotel in Zurich, the Radisson Blu had similar amenities and slightly larger rooms. The included breakfast buffet was, if anything, more extensive than and just as excellent as the one we enjoyed in Zurich. The following morning we had an escorted walking tour of the old and new town. After lunch we took the optional tour to Mt. Pilatus. The highlight was the half-hour ride to the top of the mountain on a cog railway – the oldest and steepest such railway in the world, with grades approaching 50 degrees. It was a Sunday, and hundreds of people lined up to take the tram up and down the mountain; fortunately we had a reservation and so there was no long wait. The views climbing and descending on the tram were only surpassed by those from the top of the mountain, where there is a hotel, restaurant, gift shop and plenty of trails to hike. Once we took our photos, however, we had a wonderful time just sitting and enjoying wine, beer, and the incredibly warm and perfectly sunny weather. That moment was a true highlight of the entire vacation. Much as we hated leaving beautiful Lucerne behind, the next morning after breakfast we were back on the buses for our transfer to Basel and the ship. Unlike the scenic drive from Zurich to Lucerne, this drive took us mainly on major highways and through farmland and industrial areas. Upon arrival in Basel, we had a one-hour escorted tour of the central part of the city, which I found to be considerably less picturesque than either Zurich or Lucerne. We had some free time to wander around and grab some lunch before meeting the buses for our short ride to the ship and embarkation. With respect to dining out during our 4-night pre-cruise extension, while we were on our own to find places to eat for lunch and dinner, we usually had little time or interest in major lunches and so we focused our attention primarily on dinner. In Zurich, we dined each night in different restaurants along the pedestrian-only Niederdorfstrasse, located less than a 10-minute walk directly south from our hotel. On the first night we stumbled upon a wonderful dining spot serving up local specialties at moderate prices – Café Mohrenkopf – which turned out to be a truly outstanding find. We had reserved a table for the second night at a more well-known place specializing in fondue dishes: Restaurant Swiss Chuchi, where we celebrated my birthday. The fondue -- and the huge ice cream birthday dessert served up (on the house), made for a very special dinner. In sum, our 4-night pre-cruise extension proved to meet and even exceed expectations, with many special moments. The tours – especially factoring in the two optional excursions – were informative and reasonably thorough. The fact that we were blessed with almost perfect weather for mid-October only enhanced what turned out to be a truly outstanding four days. Day 1 – Basel: Covered in the above section. Day 2 – Riquevihr: After remaining docked overnight in Basel, Amadolce began its cruise down the Rhine very early the next morning, passing through a series of locks with up to 60-meter drops in the water level. After lunch the ship docked in Breisach, Germany, and we had the option of doing walking tours of this town with its hillside cathedral, plus nearby Freiburg, or taking a longer bus trip to visit the medieval village of Riquevihr in the heart of Alsatian wine-growing country. We opted for the latter, and off we went with Monika, our German guide for the nearly hour-long drive. Monika spent some time on the bus trying to explain the history of Alsace – which passed back and forth between French and German control for more than a century ending in 1945 – with very limited success. Things did not improve when I noticed a road sign indicating an approaching memorial to the Maginot Line – the famous fortification erected by the French prior to World War I to protect it from attack by Germany; a fortification that failed not once but twice during the two world wars. My wife, who speaks fluent German, asked Monika in German about this memorial and whether the bus could slow down for a photo. Monika had no idea what the memorial, or the Maginot Line, was. The bus driver, who was considerably older, did know about it, however, and slowed down so some of us could take a photo, even though the memorial was difficult to see clearly from the road. I mention this because one would think a tour guide, who is trying to explain the struggle between France and Germany over Alsace, would at least know about the Maginot Line and include that in the explanation as we passed by its memorial. After passing vineyard upon vineyard, we arrived at the medieval walled town of Riquevihr. Monika took us on a walking tour from one end of the main street to the other; the town is filled with beautifully colorful shops and wine bars. After the 45 minute tour, we had nearly two hours of free time to wander around what amounted to one long street. Many of us took advantage of the time not only to shop but to taste some of the local wines for which the area is known. We found a wine cellar overflowing with atmosphere and enjoyed a wonderful wine tasting. By the time the bus returned to the ship, however, it was almost dinner time. There were precious few moments to clean up for the evening. Although Riquevihr is definitely worth a visit, I wondered why we needed so much free time in such a small town when, had we headed back to the ship 30 minutes earlier, there would have been no need to scramble to prepare for the evening meal. Day 3—Strasbourg: We awoke to a change of season from late summer weather to late fall weather. It was overcast with temperatures in the 40s and a strong north wind was blowing when our bus arrived at Strasbourg, the capital of the Alsatian region of France. This tour was a true highlight from the start. Our French guide, Virgina, was able to convey in mere moments what Monika had failed to do the previous day with respect to the historical struggle between France and Germany over Alsace. The city truly lived up to its star billing. Ringed by a narrow river, the island that forms the city’s center provides far more than a visitor can digest in a few hours. Despite the bone-chilling wind, our walking tour gave us a real flavor of this both historic and contemporary city, with the cathedral at its epicenter and its astronomical clock the focal point of our visit within its massive walls. During our free time after the walking tour, we had an opportunity to warm up with a glass of gluwein and sample local pastries. Serving as a political center for Europe as well as an educational center, the city projected a youthful vibe that transcended the weather. We thoroughly enjoyed this half-day visit to Strasbourg under the auspices of an outstanding tour guide. Day 4 – Speyer: After a pleasant morning sail down the Rhine that included an early lunch, we arrived at the village of Speyer. There was an option to take a walking tour of the town, but we elected to take the full afternoon tour to Heidelberg, and that turned out to be a very wise choice. The weather had moderated from the previous day as our bus drove through the city of Heidelberg, the historic educational center of Germany, and ascended the hill upon which sits the ruins of a medieval castle. Our tour guide, Renate, had lived in Australia and so she not only spoke very lucid English, but was quite good at telling many interesting anecdotes in an informative and sometimes amusing way. From the castle grounds, there is a really nice view of the city of Heidelberg and of the historic bridge across the Neckar River (a tributary of the Rhine). Following the castle tour, we took the bus down the steep hill while Renata explained how in Germany it is required to study Hitler and the Holocaust in the schools and that in many places in the country, people have taken pains to restore synagogues and other aspects of Jewish life, even though the Jewish population in Germany remains very small compared with the time prior to World War II. Only by understanding what happened, she said, can such a thing be prevented in the future. After a brief walking tour, we had more than a full hour to wander around the mostly pedestrian main street of the Altstadt. Renate showed us the best place to purchase local pastry specialties, and off we went to explore, shop, and enjoy a glass of wine or beer while sitting outside and enjoying the balmy afternoon weather. We then lined up in droves to purchase pastries for the ride back to the ship – and these turned out to be an instant favorable reminder of a wonderful visit to a beautiful and unique city in the heart of the Rhineland. Day 5 – Ruddesheim am Rhine: This was a busy day during our itinerary, beginning with a morning visit to this enchanting German village located on a great bend in the river just at the start of the picturesque Rhine Gorge. Our morning of sightseeing began with a mini-train ride from the pier into the heart of the town, which is literally surrounded by vineyards. We first had a tour of an interesting museum featuring early musical cabinets, ranging in size from music boxes to player pianos, to major full wall-size cabinets producing multiple instrumental sounds simultaneously. The demonstrations were entertaining – if perhaps a bit repetitive; nevertheless, it was a unique place to visit. We then went essentially next door for a wonderful wine-tasting and talk. The sponsoring vineyard’s speaker must have been an actor at some point in his life, because his presentation was truly entertaining and fun; the wine tasting itself featured several types of white Reislings that went down well and tasted quite good on the palate. We had a little extra time afterward to explore some of the shops before walking back to our ship for lunch. Rhine Gorge: Almost immediately after lunch, the ship set sail for Koblenz through one of the few really scenic portions of the cruise, as we passed through the Rhine Gorge. The weather cooperated enough so that most of us went topside to photograph something like 20 castles – both active and ruins – along with an almost constant presence of vineyards rising above villages on both sides of the river. We sat or stood watching what the next bend in the river would unfold. During this three-hour journey, trays of “Ruddesheimer Coffee” – a local special coffee drink with something “extra” added – were passed around, and it served to warm us and fortify us from the chill as we sailed through the beautiful Rhine Gorge thinking, this is really the essence of river cruising. And so the afternoon cruise turned out to be one of the most memorable moments for most of us. Koblenz: This small city, located at the confluence of the Rhine and Mosel rivers, served as an overnight stop for us. Although there was no tour included in the formal itinerary, Frederico, our Cruise Manager, organized a walking tour through the center of town after dinner. Perhaps a third of the passengers joined this impromptu walk, which I think would have been even more interesting had it not been dark and had it not been sort of cut short by an annoying light rain that began shortly after we left the ship. The Altstadt proved to be strangely deserted for a Friday evening. If people were in the bars and restaurants in any significant number, it was not apparent as we walked by. But I think we all appreciated the extra effort made by Frederico to provide a bonus to our already pretty full sightseeing agenda. Day 6 – Cologne: After a morning sail from Koblenz, we spent the afternoon on a walking tour of the center of one of Germany’s most populous cities. Having been largely destroyed during World War II, Cologne has been rebuilt. But the massive Dom (cathedral) nearby the banks of the Rhine and the central railroad station amazingly suffered only minor damage during the war and stands as one of Cologne’s most important historic structures. It is also by far the most popular tourist attraction in the city, and so our walking tour was organized so as to get us to the church on time (our reservation time, that is). For the better part of an hour, we were led by our tour guide through busy streets and squares in central Cologne on a fairly overcast and raw day that for me held very little attraction. The old Rathaus (town hall) was worth a look, but why walk us all the way around the building to see three sides of it? It seemed to me that we were killing time until the one major attraction – the Dom which, I must add, is absolutely well worth a visit as long as you hold on to your children, because it is virtually impossible to walk any distance from someone without losing them in the mass of humanity inside. We spent some time after the tour shopping and trying the local favorite beer – Kolsch, before walking back to the ship to get ready for the Captain’s gala reception. In all, I would say our stop in Cologne was our least favorite on this cruise. Day 7 – Amsterdam: This city has always been one of my favorites. Whether it is your first visit, or you are fortunate to have been to Amsterdam on several occasions, such as I have, the city has much to offer and much that is unique about it. The ship arrived around lunchtime, and the cruise line had arranged a pretty full afternoon of sightseeing for us on our final day of the cruise. Our tour guide, Hank, was not only supremely knowledgeable, but he was a hoot. We began with a one-hour canal boat tour of the harbor and, more importantly, some of the major and minor canals that comprise the central part of the city. It is a wonderful introduction to the city, as you pass by many historical sites and it is an excellent way to get your bearings if you are staying on after the cruise. Hank then led us on a walking tour through a small part of the inner city and turned us loose for some free time to explore on our own and catch a whiff of the city’s vibe, especially if you’re in close proximity to a “coffee house.” We met Hank at the appointed time, and continued with a bus tour of the portions of the central city we could not see during the can boat tour. By the time Hank returned us to the ship, we had covered a pretty significant part of the central city by 3 different means of transportation. It was a truly outstanding finale for our sightseeing during the cruise. In sum, I thought AMAWaterways’ “Enchanted Rhine” itinerary proved to be a very good one. True, not every tour rated an “A” in my book; but many of them did, and the same can be said for our tour guides, who certainly formed an instrumental component when assessing the shore excursions. For the purposes of comparison, I would have to say that we were slightly more impressed by our 2012 Danube River cruise itinerary, especially when comparing what we were able to see while the ship was sailing on each of the two cruises. But let’s face it: how many places do you get to sail through at night all lit up like in Budapest? Overall, I think it’s fair to say that our itinerary was very enjoyable – and that certainly includes the 4-night pre-cruise component in Switzerland, which was well worth the additional cost. Final Thoughts: Well, I did it again and went on far too long. For those of you still with me on this article-length journey, I think it is important to reaffirm what I articulated in the review of our 2012 Danube cruise. “Getting to see parts of the world not readily accessible on ocean cruises is only the tangible outer core of all those intangibles I've recounted herein. A river cruise is more than just another cruise, it is a life style; it is an opportunity to stop and smell the flowers -- to immerse yourself in cultures only available from a distance on an ocean cruise; it is an opportunity to get to know and enjoy the company of people each day that you may not even glimpse from afar on an ocean cruise. It is an experience that I think no cruise enthusiast should deny themselves.” Which brings me to one final point: so much of what makes a river cruise a truly wonderful experience depends largely on two factors: the first, obviously, is the cruise line, and in this case AMA Waterways consistently went the extra mile not only to deliver a wonderful cruise vacation, but to ensure that every passenger was completely happy 24/7. The personal touch they provided, right down to the most minor detail, and the effort that each member of the cruise staff and crew made to accommodate the needs of each passenger, once again surpassed not only our past experience on some very fine cruise lines but certainly met our own highest expectations based on our 2012 river cruise. The other factor was our fellow passengers, with whom we shared this river cruise experience, and who provided the best possible companionship we could have hoped for. Did this cruise equal or surpass the amazing experience we had on our 2012 Danube cruise? Probably not; but it came close. And I think one needs to account for the fact that it’s almost impossible to duplicate one’s reaction to their first such experience. Would I recommend AMA Waterways’ Enchanted Rhine cruise -- on AmaDolce or any of their other modern river ships? Absolutely! As I’ve said once before, if it's your first experience with a river cruise, it may change the way you think about vacations forever -- and for the good.   Read Less
Sail Date October 2014
We decided to book the AmaWaterways's "Europe's Rivers & Castles" trip as it combined 2 nights in Prague, 7 nights on the Main and Rhine rivers and ending with 3 nights in Paris. I had visited Europe on business ... Read More
We decided to book the AmaWaterways's "Europe's Rivers & Castles" trip as it combined 2 nights in Prague, 7 nights on the Main and Rhine rivers and ending with 3 nights in Paris. I had visited Europe on business before I retired but my spouse had never been to Europe. The overall trip exceeded our expectations in almost every catagory. AmaWaterways led by Cruise Manager, Reka Piros, did an outstanding job throughout the trip and into Paris. The daily AMA Newspaper provided everything from the weather report to that day's scheduled tours as well as optional tours. They even had a daily USA newsletter. Our hotel in Prague was the upscale Inter-continental. It was located so we could walk for dinner at a local restaurant or shop and we did both. The City Tour of the Prague Castle and the Charles Bridge are musts to see. We took a tour bus up and walked back down. The local tour guides and the neat headsets and small groups worked very well. From Prague we took a nice tour bus to Nuremberg for a city tour and arrived at the ship late afternoon. Our luggage was handled efficiently and we began our first night at the Chef's Table Restaurant where we met other travelers who we visited with throughout the cruise. Everyone has one night at that private Restaurant and then they eat in the main Restaurant each night. Right away on our first full day arriving Bamberg, Germany we enjoyed the incredible breakfast and did so every day usually sitting in the same area alone or with other passengers we met and visited with. The menu of all of the meals included optional items and the service was consistently very good. We enjoyed the scheduled tours most days but also took the optional Rothenburg Tour and enjoyed it a lot. We took numerous photos each day and more when we reached the Rhine and all of the wonderful castles and towns we passed by. Our Cruise Manager, Reka Piros, provided periodic talks about what to see and why and was always accessible at her desk near the reception area. While some passengers took advantage of the free bikes on the ship for local tours we stayed with the bus tours since they had local guides and we could go at an easier pace in small groups. The tour of the Reichsburg Castle in scenic Cochem was very well done with the interesting local Tour guide "Margarete" leading us. The shuttle bus made it easy on the legs as it is located above the city. The pace of our daily schedule was up to us as there were many options available and we took advantage of them. As our river cruise was nearing the end of its schedule I was curious as to how they would handle the process of our leaving the ship and moving our luggage to Paris for the final three nights there. It was done most efficiently. Some 104 of us were going to take a high speed train to Paris after the Luxembourg tour. The process they used not only verified that our luggage would go to our hotel (which it did) but that we would not have to worry about getting on and off the train as it was all well coordinated. Our stay was at the Pullman Montparnasse Hotel; the room was comfortable on the 18th floor. We loaded our Paris visit with both scheduled tours as well as some optional tours and it was worth it. The weather turned rainy for part of our Paris time but we expected it and dressed appropriately. On our last night we took a cab to the Louvre Museum for a small group tour and then a cab back to the hotel. The final morning Ama was there to insure we and our luggage made the trip to the airport and check in. From start to finish we loved the trip. Read Less
Sail Date September 2014
This was our first River Cruise and we are so glad that AMA Waterways was the line our Tour Company used. The service was Excellent, the staff were the most amazing professionals, you felt like family. Everyone knew when you needed ... Read More
This was our first River Cruise and we are so glad that AMA Waterways was the line our Tour Company used. The service was Excellent, the staff were the most amazing professionals, you felt like family. Everyone knew when you needed something, they keep an eye on you, and if your cup or glass was empty refills were always forthcoming. Our tour started in Budapest with a two night stay, then our transportation to the ship was quick and efficient. The embarkation process was very seamless, and we were escorted to our cabin. The room was spacious enough for us, the closet held our luggage, so we never felt crowded. River cursing is a different experience from ocean cruising, and I totally loved it! Shore excursions were well planned, many of the walking tours were separated into, active, regular & gentle walkers. Many excursions included were of great interest to us, there were also optional tours of interest to many of our fellow travellers. This trip was a celebration of our 40th anniversary, and it was a Stellar Trip, Thanks AMA. Read Less
Sail Date September 2014
We are expats based in Shanghai and took our first river cruise with AMA Waterways on the Ama Dolce in August 2014 on the Rivers Moselle/Rhine. We had a room on the Cello Deck with a French balcony and a nice room configuration. All staff ... Read More
We are expats based in Shanghai and took our first river cruise with AMA Waterways on the Ama Dolce in August 2014 on the Rivers Moselle/Rhine. We had a room on the Cello Deck with a French balcony and a nice room configuration. All staff we encountered in HouseKeeping and the service waiters were warm, friendly and eager to ensure everyone is well looked after. The availability of good wi fi was a nice bonus. The food choices were excellent and the chef was very accommodating for my wife who had dietary restrictions. Alcohol was provided during meal times which was another bonus. The on shore excursions were very well co ordinated and all programs run on schedule. With an excellent Cruise Manager, Darinka, who seemed to orchestrate every process seamlessly. Overall, despite a few wet days, we had the best vacation. We have shared with friends our happy snapshots of the beautiful sceneries of castles on the Rhine and many are keen to book this same program. We look forward to another cruise with AMA Waterways. Read Less
Sail Date August 2014
This was our first river cruise. It was 7 nights from Amsterdam to Luxembourg City on the Rhine and Moselle rivers. The staff was very friendly, helpful and hard working. One day, I even saw the maid on her hands and knees scrubbing the ... Read More
This was our first river cruise. It was 7 nights from Amsterdam to Luxembourg City on the Rhine and Moselle rivers. The staff was very friendly, helpful and hard working. One day, I even saw the maid on her hands and knees scrubbing the carpet on the threshold to our room! We had a deluxe room in the middle of the ship, on what could be called the second floor. I had been concerned about the room being cramped, but it was not and the amount of storage was unbelievable. The closet was big enough for both my husband's and my hanging clothes and there was plenty of shelf space and even under-the-bed space. And the tiny bathroom had a rain shower that was better than the one we had in the Marriott! The open seating arrangement in the dining room allowed us to easily meet other couples who were traveling, and we met many fun and interesting people. Each day offered two or three different tour options in port and all of them were good. There was entertainment each evening for an hour after dinner in the lounge. The entertainers were varied, all were good and left us wanting more. Although the weather was a little dreary most of the time, the staff and local tour guides made the best of the situation by always being cheerful. We will definitely do another AmaWaterways cruise. Read Less
Sail Date July 2014
My husband and I thoroughly enjoyed our cruise, Vineyards of the Rhine & Mosel. We stayed at the Pullman Montparnasse Hotel in Paris for 3 days. It was across the street from the metro and had an abundance of restaurants in the ... Read More
My husband and I thoroughly enjoyed our cruise, Vineyards of the Rhine & Mosel. We stayed at the Pullman Montparnasse Hotel in Paris for 3 days. It was across the street from the metro and had an abundance of restaurants in the neighborhood. We enjoyed the tour of the city and the ambiance of Paris. The only problem encountered was not the fault of the cruise line. Our TGV train was canceled because of a strike; our cruise director scrambled to get buses, so it worked out. She was fantastic. The ship was very nice. Our French balcony was much enjoyed. We just turned our chairs around and enjoyed a glass of wine while watching the river go by. The ship was wonderful, the meals fabulous, and the free wine, beer, and sodas during lunch and dinner were much appreciated. There were a variety of excursions to choose from. My spouse was not able to do strenuous tours so most of the time there were more gentle options available. The crew was just exceptional! Always smiling and anxious to please. There were buffets for breakfast and lunch but also items from the menu available. One dinner sitting and no set seats gave you an opportunity to meet different guests. There were no children nor any activities for children. The disembarkation was seamless as was the embarkation. I would give the cruise 5 stars and hope to travel with AmaWaterways in the coming year. Read Less
Sail Date June 2014
We had a delightful time on our first river cruise. I was somewhat nervous about river cruising as I love the sense of expansiveness with ocean cruising. I absolutely loved the simplicity of getting on and off the smaller ship and I ... Read More
We had a delightful time on our first river cruise. I was somewhat nervous about river cruising as I love the sense of expansiveness with ocean cruising. I absolutely loved the simplicity of getting on and off the smaller ship and I enjoyed the relaxed atmosphere. The cruise manager, Nick Hartog was amazing: knowledgeable, helpful, and great at handling the myriad of details in making the cruise run smoothly. I appreciated his dry sense of humour. Also, the food was first rate. The room was amongst the best appointed I have experienced (about 10 ocean cruises ranging from ocean view to suite). The pianist who played every day was tremendous. One suggestion I would make is to have some covered area on the sundeck. My husband is a smoker and he said that it was really windy whenever he went for a smoke. Also, my husband said the treadmill was very noisy. The daily excursions are a more integral part of the river cruising compared to ocean cruising. If someone is looking for lots of on board stimulation they are probably better off taking an ocean cruise. Otherwise, I highly recommend river cruising and AMAwaterways.   Read Less
Sail Date April 2014
We just returned from a 7 day cruise on the AMADolce through Germany. We were absolutely thrilled with our experience. This was our first river cruise, however, we have travelled extensively and done everything from all-inclusive resorts ... Read More
We just returned from a 7 day cruise on the AMADolce through Germany. We were absolutely thrilled with our experience. This was our first river cruise, however, we have travelled extensively and done everything from all-inclusive resorts in Carribean, to medium-sized cruises in the Mediterranean, to bus tours through Poland. The level of service we received on this trip was beyond anything we have experienced before. First, the ship itself was great. It was tastefully decorated, while not being over the top. The room did not feel confining at all. The bed was large and comfortable. While not huge, the bathroom was adequately sized. We enjoyed having the large sliding door. While it would have been nice to have a full balcony if we would have cruised in the summer, I did not miss having it at all in October/November. The food on the ship was excellent. Dinners were 3-4 courses every night. There was always 2 or 3 choices for each course, and a standard fall back of chicken or steak if none of the menu selections appealed to you. The food was prepared well and the presentation was outstanding. Portions were good sized, but not too much that you couldn't finish. Our wine glasses were constantly kept full with either a red or white wine that was typically local to the area we were in. Lunch and breakfast were also great, with a nice buffet or choices off the menu. The staff was superb. Everyone from housekeeping, to the wait staff in the dining room, to the cruise director and hotel manager, to the captain. The staff to passenger ratio cannot be beat. Within the first day or so, everyone knew your names, what cabin you were in, and what you liked. They were constantly asking if there was anything they could do to make your trip better. Due to high water on the Mosel River, the end of our itinerary had to change at the last minute. Although I'm sure this led to a mad scramble by the cruise director and staff, they never showed it. They remained calm and explained everything in detail. They came up with alternate accommodations that were very well done. The only complaint I had is that I wish we had more free time in port. If you chose to do the ship excursion, you typically only had 30-45 minutes of free time before needing to be back on the ship. Even if we could have had another hour, that would have been enough. I highly recommend this cruise line. I will definitely sail with them again. Read Less
Sail Date October 2013
This was our first river cruise, and my first cruise. The pre-cruise information packet and the information provided by the travel agent AmaWaterways referred us to was excellent. We had some specific concerns and she addressed them ... Read More
This was our first river cruise, and my first cruise. The pre-cruise information packet and the information provided by the travel agent AmaWaterways referred us to was excellent. We had some specific concerns and she addressed them clearly. We got a better deal through CruiseCompete.com, however, and took that. Arrival in Prague: we hadn't booked a transfer but we were on the same plane as others who did, so we got a ride in the van provided and they billed us for it, which was convenient. The pre-tour in Prague was well-organized, although the hotel (Old Town Hilton) was used by many cruise and tour groups and the elevator was jammed. Transfer to Nuremberg and embarkation: Well-handled, good commentary provided during the long ride. Stop at the Czech border with last chance to spend Czech money. Tour of Nuremberg and then embarkation. We had a cocktail welcome and snacks in the lounge while the crew boarded the luggage. It was all well done, and the crew was introduced. Our cruise director clearly explained our itinerary each day. My husband has some oddball food allergies. We called the cruise line in advance and then discussed them with the Maitre D. He ensured that we got a menu at each lunch and dinner marked as to what selections were "safe." In some cases, they crossed out a sauce and were prepared with an alternate for my husband. This worked perfectly, he was able to make selections with confidence. I love gourmet food and fine dining. I give the dining experience an excellent rating. While the dishes were "foodie" enough for me, they weren't over-the-top "adventurous." You had 3 selections for each course for lunch and dinner, plus standard options (such as a hamburger, steak, grilled chicken breast). My husband (non-adventurous eater) only resorted to the standard option once. Our only negative is that the menu didn't include local comfort food specialties of the area we traveled (Germany). We would have liked to see schnitzel and wurst as standard options. The only clunker of an entree I had was the sauerbrauten. Drinks: I loved the 24-hour coffee/tea station, where cookies were also always available. I never had to wonder where my next cup of coffee would come from. Wine, beer, soft drinks, coffee, tea was included at all meals and usually reflected the local wine of the area we were sailing through. Our glasses were filled expeditiously. You are allowed to bring your own wine and spirits onboard and we bought our favorites in the villages along the way to enjoy in our cabin. The waiters really hustled and did an excellent job. We were always served promptly. The dining room had a good selection of 2-person and 4-person tables as well as a couple of larger tables. This was excellent as we usually preferred to dine alone. There is no assigned seating, which also gave us some variety in where we sat. Cabin: We had a top floor standard cabin with French balcony. The amount of closet space and storage was very good. Although the bathroom was small, the shower had lots of room to maneuver and fancy spray nozzles. The hairdryer worked well. We used the storage space above and below the sink. Excellent towels, bathrobes, slippers. The air conditioning was super -- we had very hot weather and the cabin could be kept pleasantly cool -- even cold! We loved the laundry service, which we thought was reasonably priced. Our items were back in 24 hours or less. That was our only additional expense for the cruise. The beds were firmer than we are used to but not too firm. Good easy chairs for watching the river go by from the floor-to-ceiling full-length wall of windows. We enjoyed opening the sliding window to enjoy the breeze while sailing (once the weather cooled!). We didn't need to go to the lounge or sun deck but could enjoy the views comfortably in our cabin. We loved having the infotainment system tuned to the bow camera. On that setting, you could also listen to any lecture in the lounge or the Cruise Director's daily updates and instructions. The internet connection through the infotainment system worked well (except when going through locks or deep in a river gorge), with a keyboard provided, and you could print to the printer in the aft lounge. I also used the free Wi Fi and it worked great except at the downtimes in locks, etc. In general I had access most of the time I wanted it, at good speed. The cabin was amazingly quiet, we never heard our neighbors below or on each side. Far quieter than any hotel I've ever stayed in! We only got a little use of the Sun Deck because our first 3 days were on the Main-Danube canal with too many low bridges and locks to allow access. But it was great that both the main lounge and the sun deck appeared to have enough seating for all passengers. Some passengers used the small hot tub once we had access. They had a sun shelter that they put up at times. I used the walk/jog track. For the shore excursions, I grew to love the Whisper System audio sets provided. You could follow along with your local tour guide's directions and commentary without having to huddle around him/her. I have hearing aids and it still functioned well. I loved the Active Walker options each day -- the same walking tour as the Regular group but at a little faster pace (still VERY LEISURELY WALKING - nothing aerobic). That left us more free time in the town or city to shop, eat or explore on our own. There was also a gentle walkers group that usually had a shorter route. We often had a short bus ride into town to start the walk and a ride back to the ship, but sometimes we started from the ship itself. There were clear instructions if you wanted to break off from the group and explore on your own, meeting them at the bus or ship at the appointed time. We had excellent maps provided at each dock. The walking tours were definitely easy-paced and the distance was minor, usually only a mile, maybe 2 miles total for the longest ones. They had seat canes available for those who needed to sit while listening to the guide. We appreciated the little extras included in the tours, such as beer or wine tasting. We only went to one of the evening entertainment offerings, we preferred to head to the cabin (just like at home!) We liked the amount of downtime provided each day, enough to relax and enjoy the scenery but not too much leading to boredom. We bought a couple of items at the ship gift shop. They have a nice selection of things. At the end of the cruise, our only additional expenses were the airport transfer, laundry, and the two items we bought at the gift shop. They arranged for our taxi to the airport at the end, setting the price so we had no surprises. The tipping was handled well, with suggested amounts (stated in advance in the packet you got pre-cruise, so no surprises). You could pay by card or cash, with envelopes provided. Overall, this cruise was perfect. We would probably choose to have lunch more often onshore to enjoy the local cuisine -- not that the food on board wasn't super (it is), but just because we love the local food. Read Less
Sail Date July 2013
The commitment of the company to satisfying its customers was impressive. The experience of sailing down the Rhine, Main and Danube under flooding conditions created extra excitement for the cruise. The Amadolce, sailing from Amsterdam on ... Read More
The commitment of the company to satisfying its customers was impressive. The experience of sailing down the Rhine, Main and Danube under flooding conditions created extra excitement for the cruise. The Amadolce, sailing from Amsterdam on June 6th, was the first boat to make it way almost all the way to Amsterdam after the floods. Were it not for a broken lock just before Budapest, the ship would have made it all the way. We were greeted with delight at each port with the locals saying that we were the first boat to make it in weeks. We were able to do this only due to the amazing skill of the captain. Captain Rien left his job as an administrator at AMA headquarters just to sail the Amadolce through this crisis. Because of high waters, sometimes we cleared low bridges along the way with only about a foot to spare. Our cruise manager was even more amazing. He proved to be particularly adept and creative in arranging for last minute excursions and tours since we were never sure how far down river we would be able to dock. He was invariably calm and good natured. Both he and the Captain kept us continually informed as to what we might encounter along the way. All this was on top of the customary top notch service, cuisine, and wine we received on the cruise. All in all, we couldn't have had a better cruise. Read Less
Sail Date June 2013
We recently returned from a cruise tour that started in Paris and ended in Amsterdam. We arrived a couple of days early to tour Paris on our own and had a problem with our room reservation booked 10 months earlier through the cruise line. ... Read More
We recently returned from a cruise tour that started in Paris and ended in Amsterdam. We arrived a couple of days early to tour Paris on our own and had a problem with our room reservation booked 10 months earlier through the cruise line. Apparently the hotel overbooked quite a few rooms and there was finger pointing on the part of the hotel and cruise line but the problem was resolved quickly. The only cruise sponsored activity we participated in was the bus tour of the city. We transferred to the embarkation city via TGV and bus, touring Metz and Luxembourg. Embarkation was a breeze, we were met by the entire crew and a glass of champagne. Upon arrival in our rooms, our suitcases were already there and our cabin attendant introduced herself immediately. The ship was immaculate, the hotel staff was cleaning every surface all the time and I have never had such as spotless cabin(or hotel room for that matter!) The decor was modern with warm fabric colors that made the ship very comfortable and inviting. The cuisine was 5 star, such a variety of tastes and textures, some of the best food I have had anywhere in the world. We enjoyed regional wines every night with dinner. The waitstaff were fast and efficient and anticipated your needs before you said anything. They got to know the passenger's tastes and preferences quickly. The cruise manager was the "go to" guy, he arranged all the shore excursions, transport, entertainment and made sure everything went smoothly. We appreciated the 24/7 self serve coffee station where you could get any type of coffee, tea and hot chocolate. There was always a sweet snack station set up in the lounge to welcome you back from shore excursions. The bar was extensive and the prices for the drinks were very reasonable. Shore excursions were included in the cruise fare, you had local guides that were very knowledgeable and you even got insight into local customs and daily life. There were bicycles onboard if you chose to use them. Local entertainers were brought onboard in some ports which were wonderful. The entire crew knocked themselves out to ensure that you wanted for nothing and that you had the best vacation ever. Everyone was so friendly and upbeat and all the officers(including the captain) chipped in to help at all times. I liked the intimate passenger size(only 140) so you were able to meet everyone. The slower pace allowed you to relax and watch the moonlight on the river pass by your balcony at night. There was enough entertainment going on in the lounge in the evening if you wanted to pick up the beat and party late. I cannot say enough good things about this ship and crew. It was our first(but definitely not last) river cruise and I have no desire to try any other river cruise line as AMA waterways has set a very high bar.   Read Less
Sail Date September 2012
I just got back from the AmaDolce, 7 night Danube cruise from Budapest to Nurmberg. After 33 ocean cruises, it was time to experience the wonders of River Cruising in Europe. As a travel agent, people look to me for my expertise, and I ... Read More
I just got back from the AmaDolce, 7 night Danube cruise from Budapest to Nurmberg. After 33 ocean cruises, it was time to experience the wonders of River Cruising in Europe. As a travel agent, people look to me for my expertise, and I needed to experience this, so I could sell it to my clients. We flew in a day early (something we always recommend to our flying customers) and enjoyed the hillside Buda part of the city. The next day, we checked into the beautiful AmaDolce ship to begin our voyage. Even though we flew in early, our luggage was still lost for several days, but it is so nice to get into the city a day early so you can get a chance to catch your breath before beginning your journey. It also allows a little wiggle room in case you have flight delays, etc. Instead of including all the details about the trip and the port stops, etc, I have decided to critique the ship and river cruising in general, and to explain the differences that made this trip stand out so much above the rest. First of all, instead of thousands of passengers, this ship holds just over 120 passengers. The crew knew us by name, recognized us when they saw us, smiled and greeted us each time they could catch our eye contact, and treated us like a guest in their home. They were always pleasant, friendly, smiling and had the gift of service The things that stood out most are: The steaming hot towels waiting for us as we boarded the ship after an excursion The complimentary (and good quality) wine included with dinner The complimentary shore excursions, with terrific, local guides who love their cities. The complimentary head sets to use on the excursions, so you could hear the guide without having to be right next to him/her. This allowed us to stay close, yet take a few steps away to make pictures, etc. The extra complimentary drinks they threw in as surprises, like Gluwein (hot wine served during the cold months) when you came back from a shore excursion, the blue cocktail (champagne & blue curaso) when we passed the European Continental Divide, the welcome champagne toast with the captain, the farewell champagne toast with all the staff, more Gluwein after each excursion, The complimentary bottled water in the cabin (which was replenished each day). The coffee station which provided 24 hour complimentary coffees, espresso, lattes and more, with a simple push of the button The relatively low cost of drinks purchased at the bar during non-dinner hours. The plush bathrobes and slippers in each cabin. The FREE internet, which was sometimes slow when we were in the locks, but definitely fast most other times (they included an "internet forecast" in the daily planner, so you could plan when to get online for fastest service). The fact that our flight home was not till 4:30pm and they let us stay on board the ship and enjoy the lounge area, including light lunch buffet until our cab came to pick us up at the ship about 1:30. The delicious food. Portions were smaller than in America, but they were large enough. We could not finish the plate each night. Breakfast and lunch had a buffet for quick service, and we could order additional items from the menu from our smiling server. Dinner had 3 fantastic daily special choices, a chef's suggested menu, and a few standard items that were available anytime. Not once in the whole week did we have to ask for a glass to be refilled before someone offered to refill it for us Our luggage was lost in transit and the Cruise Manager personally tracked our luggage each day and kept us informed as to his efforts and findings. He kept looking until he found all the bags and gave us an estimate of when each one would arrive at the ship. I spoke to several passengers about their current and previous experience with AmaWaterways and how it compared to other river cruises, and each one I spoke to said that this was the best cruise line for River Cruises. I spoke to several travel agents on board, and most of them agreed that AmaWaterways was the top of the line. Several agents commented that they would only book clients onto AmaWaterways because of their terrific product. I believe Cruising in general is THE BEST way to see the world. You unpack only once and you get to see several different ports of call. I can only imagine if we traveled from city to city any other way, and had to pack and unpack our bags each time we pulled into a new city and a new hotel. What a waste of time that would be, and the stress of keeping up with it all. My week on AmaWaterways on the beautiful AmaDolce was incredible. I will definitely recommend this to my clients and also will take this line again and again, as I explore more rivers. Read Less
Sail Date December 2011
AmaDolce Ratings
Category Editor Member
Cabins 4.0 4.5
Dining 4.5 4.5
Entertainment 3.5 4.1
Public Rooms 4.0 4.6
Fitness Recreation 4.0 3.8
Family 2.0 3.8
Shore Excursion 4.0 4.3
Enrichment 3.0 4.1
Service 5.0 4.7
Value For Money 4.0 4.3

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