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1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: June 2017
This was our first River Cruise and found it most enjoyable. The ship's company were friendly and willing to offer assistance whenever needed. The Cruise Director had all the tours arranged and well organized. She is a great asset ... Read More
This was our first River Cruise and found it most enjoyable. The ship's company were friendly and willing to offer assistance whenever needed. The Cruise Director had all the tours arranged and well organized. She is a great asset AMA Waterways. The Captain and First Officer made them selves available to answer questions and socialize with the guests when not on watch. The wait staff and chefs were outstanding and the food was excellent and representative of the region and represented any five star establishment in a relaxed atmosphere. Being only having a 140 passenger it made it easy to socialize and make new friends. It was more intimate than the ocean cruises we have been on.This was our first experience on a river cruise, but will not be our last. Hats of to the Captain and crew, and AMAWaterways. This is a great concept and provide an opportunity to get to now the crew and for them to get to know you and your needs. Read Less
5 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: June 2013
I just returned from sailing on the Amalyra, Europe's Rivers and Castle Tour (Paris to Prague, 6-25-13) with my sister and mother. Easiest way to describe the journey - a fabulous experience - a five-star hotel set on top of a very ... Read More
I just returned from sailing on the Amalyra, Europe's Rivers and Castle Tour (Paris to Prague, 6-25-13) with my sister and mother. Easiest way to describe the journey - a fabulous experience - a five-star hotel set on top of a very quiet barge that glides down beautiful rivers. I'm in the hotel business, so I can be pretty critical. First off, the ship was absolutely spotless. You could literally eat off any surface on this ship. Cabins are small compared to a hotel room, but plenty of space to unpack and stow belongings – you’re not in the room that much anyway. French balcony, the ceiling-to-floor sliding door/window, made the room seem plenty spacious. Bathrooms were tiny, but laid out very well. Showers were wonderful (long hair needs good pressure.) I would suggest putting in memory foam mattresses - beds were a bit hard with the scaled-down mattress depth and no box spring. Ratko, the hotel manager, ran a very tight operation. At no point during the time on the ship did we experience ANY half-hearted or poor service. Having the crew made up of mostly couples obviously keeps the morale and service culture thriving. The aft lounge was beautiful, but they had just refinished the floor so it needed a lot more airing out - maybe windows that could open? Housekeeping staff was excellent and we absolutely loved the towel surprise and the little touches each night. The captain, Hank, and the very small contingent of sailors performed what seemed to me a miraculous feat of moving this floating hotel down the rivers and through the 55 locks. The nautical crew never seemed to be off shift; and yet they always smiled when the passengers pestered them with questions. We saw a Viking ship sailing in the opposite direction one day and it had peeling paint and a run-down appearance. The Amalyra sparkled in comparison with gleaming paint and polished wood. The crew never rested between sailing and sprucing. Again, the entire ship was spotless. Be warned - the sun deck does close down often (high water - low bridges), but there was always seating around the wheel house. The food service on board takes into account that people are waking at different times. The early bird offering in the lounge is a great idea - loved the 24-hour coffee machine. Having 2 options for lunch - lighter fare in the lounge rather than table service in the dining room was also a great feature. The culinary team was excellent. The menu each night was varied and the food beautifully prepared and presented. The menus for both lunch and dinner offered plenty of options. I heard some grumbling about wanting more regional fare. However, 7 nights of unfamiliar German food would have caused massive complaints. It is a great mix of cuisines. We were a party of 3, so the table arrangements caused us to seek out new dinner partners. Some large groups ran to the dining room and "hoxied" tables - sort of rude. Free flowing wine and beer during meals were served by the bartending staff, who always had a smile and a very generous pouring hand. Bar service is not included, but the prices were very reasonable and, again, very generously poured. Entertainment was provided most nights, variety of styles. Some got people dancing - Oh, my 82-year-old mother and those spiked heels! Visions of hospital trips and casts abounded but she had a blast because the atmosphere was fun and festive. The final artist of the cruise was a bit of a diva apparently and actually stopped her performance to shush the passengers. Since this was the last night of the cruise, maybe a band-type of entertainment would have been more appropriate when people were enjoying conversing with each other before leaving the next day. Amawaterways advertises that the ship docks at small towns which you can disembark and stroll to the town center. Be warned that this is true for only SOME of the docking sites. Your excursions are included (with the exception of Rothenburg) but you are bussed to most locations. Some local guides were better than others (a small complaint that a few talked way too much), Keeping us tourists together is probably akin to herding cats. Almost lost someone in Heidelberg, but the guy just didn't get on the right bus. Local guide was in a panic until all the guides added their numbers together. Buses were also spotless, drivers amazing (although a few us saw death coming going up to Bernkastle - thank goodness we backed up - LOL.) Vox system for tours is excellent. I saw many other tour groups huddled around their guides trying to hear instead of being able to enjoy the experience. System was easy to use and pretty flawless. Our cruise manager Kata was very knowledgeable, but seemed a bit stressed at times. I think they need to give them an assistant on the cruise. Organization is excellent, but sometimes info was presented in such a way that it was a bit confusing. Language was never an issue - English was spoken by all the crew and staff - accents could be heavy however. The daily "newspaper" which explained where, what and when was a great feature. Be aware that if you do the land portion - hotel in Paris was in the middle of the left bank (we chose to stay elsewhere and meet the tour for the transfer) and didn't scream "I'm in Paris!" Also passengers were a bit upset when they realized Prague was a four-hour bus ride from Nuremberg. It wasn't that bad, small rest stop break in between. Intercontinental in Prague was beautiful and extremely close to where you want to play tourist. The price for the entire tour was expensive - be prepared. You are not nickel-and-dimed to death - so it was very relaxing when on board (loved the warm towels and tea when we returned from an outing) - but this is not a cheap way to see Europe. You are pampered, wined and dined, entertained and astounded by the beauty of the land, buildings and sheer history of the area. Would I do it again? In a heartbeat - as soon as I pinch my pennies and save up for it. Amawaterways hits every note with precision, excellent service and top-notch accommodations.   Read Less
Sail Date: December 2009
Just got back from the cruise. I've been on many ocean cruises, including a couple of times in the Mediterranean. But overall, this was the best. Even though river cruising and this particular cruise line caters to the retired ... Read More
Just got back from the cruise. I've been on many ocean cruises, including a couple of times in the Mediterranean. But overall, this was the best. Even though river cruising and this particular cruise line caters to the retired "blue-hair" crowd, my 2 college age children agree this was their best cruise experience. To be honest, even though I have been on a 3-day Yangtze River cruise exploring the 3 Gorges, this was really my first river cruise. So, as a river cruise neophyte, the comments I make may or may not reflect the typical European river cruise line. Please remember this important point as you read. This cruise appeals to a leisurely-paced crowd interested in culture and history. If high energy cruises with Vegas shows,hairy-chest competitions, and drunk, obese nymphs stuffed into bikinis and gatoring on the dance floor is your shangri-lai ideal of a cruise, look elsewhere. Original ports of call included Nuremberg, Bamberg, Wurzberg, Heidelberg, Rothenberg, Koblenz, Cochem, Bernkastle and Trier. Prague and Paris pre and post cruise excursions were available at additional cost. Amalyra's personal service and attention were fantastic. I am a travel agent, and this particular cruise was marketed to attract a number of travel agents (about a dozen out of approx 120 passengers were agents). Although the president and VP of AMA were on board, I sensed the service we received from the crew was the norm. I definitely will travel AMA again and see if this is the case. The cruise started in Nuremberg, Germany and was originally scheduled to end in Trier traveling the Main, Rhine and Mosel rivers. However, due to the high water level of the Mosel, the ship was forced to avoid Bernkastle (which I was most looking forward to due to the local wine country) and Trier. Instead, we went to Koln. The food and port tours were the highlights of the cruise. The food for the most part was as good as many 5 star restaurants I've experienced with a couple of choices in each stage of the meal. I usually went with the "chef" recommendations in the evening. Dinner included free sodas and all u can drink wine. I expected the wine to rival "2 Buck Chuck" or "Yellowtail," but was surprised to find most of the wine selections from local regions quite good. Cocktails incurred a charge at all times, along with wine during the day. Only one night was my food selection typical of the usual cruise mediocrity. Breakfast was a buffet. Lunch a combination of buffet and a couple of menu entree selections. All u can eat cheese selections accompanied each meal. Afternoon tea with sweets and hors-d'"uvres were served every afternoon. A coffee/cappucino/expresso/hot chocolate machine was available 24/7. Since the ship was less than a year old, the cabins were top-notch. Clean & comfortable decorated in the IKEA motif. Although the square footage was only a little bigger than the standard ocean cruise ship cabin, the layout of the furniture allowed more room to manuever than any other ship on which I've traveled. Thus, my wife and I were able to avoid constantly stepping over each other as what usually happens. The bathroom was larger than on other ships. The shower actually had a door (instead of a mere curtain) and actually had enough room to allow 2 people (not that we did that, mind you!) TVs were LCD flat screens and contained free internet (albeit very slow and available only when the ship was stationed in port. While cruising, the antennae was removed to allow the ship to manuever under bridges.) Complimentary bottle water was in the room. Since we received a complimentary room upgrade, our room had a "French" balcony. This is not a balcony in the true sense (since the ship must pass through locks with just a few inches maneuvering room on either side, real balconies would unwisely reduce the living area of the ship). Instead, "French" balconies are merely sliding glass doors that allow you to stick your head out the door for a 180 degree viewing. Protective bars prevent you from falling out. The exercise room was practically non-existent. It had a few dumb bells and a couple of tread mills. AMA's market niche of retirees (think arthritic joints) along with the ship space limitation I assume are the likely reasons. Tour guides and bus transportation were gratis at all ports. All guides were good except one. The one in Heidelberg was outstanding. In fact, she was key to my family's unanimous opinion that Heidelberg was our favorite city. She even provided us with locally made chocolate. Due to space, I won't elaborate on the actual sights of each port as they don't deviate from what you can learn about them from any guide book. AMA usually offered each local port tour in 3 segments: fast, medium and slow paced. My family always selected the fast pace in order to pack more tourism into our time slot. Each person received ear phones and a radio transmitter to clearly hear the guide. AMA sent us a small, multi-color guide book of the regions we visited 4 weeks prior to the cruise. Reminiscent of a Fodors or Frommers guide. Nice touch. Details about the service.......on cruises, I'm used to being constantly accosted to buy stuff -- port tours, alcohol, souvenirs, pictures (a camera being shoved in my face at every turn), massages, beauty treatments, etc. Not so on AMA. What a relief! Of course, a river cruise is considerably more expensive on average than an ocean cruise. This reflects the fact of having 150 passengers as opposed to 3,000 -- more passengers allow more distribution of fixed costs, even with bigger, more expensive ships. Nonetheless, perhaps the profit margins of river cruising forego the necessity to harass passengers with additional purchases. Our airline lost my daughter's suitcase. Upon boarding, my wife asked the ship's purser to make contact with US Airways to ascertain if they found the suitcase to deliver it at a future port of call. Though the suitcase never materialized, the next day the cruise director (whose name is Elke. She's from Belgium and deserves meritous recognition) offered us free laundry service. Please note, we did not request this. The ship merely volunteered to do this in light of our lost luggage, saving us over $200. As I mentioned earlier, due to a rising river water level, the ship was diverted from the originally scheduled last 2 ports. No problem for my family, but it caused a minor level of hysteria for some of the older passengers set in their ways. They were disturbed about making their connections with flights, continuing with their holiday, etc. Elke tracked me down to inquire of my plans at the cruise conclusion. I had reserved a car to drive from Trier at the cruise end to Frankfurt (MUCH less expensive and considerably more flexible than taking the train), where our flight departs the following day. Obviously, with the Amalyra no longer continuing to Trier placed my car reservation in jeopardy. The next day, Elke informed me they had contacted my car rental company and rearranged my reservation to allow me to pickup my car in our final port of call at no additional cost. Moreover, since the car rental office was about 20 minutes away, AMA paid for the cost of the taxi. Clearly, AMA bent over backwards to accommodate its passengers throughout the cruise -- even with the unexpected complications from Mother Nature. From the hallway comments I heard from the other passengers, they felt the same. And when you consider that AMA assisted 120 passengers or so in making alternate concluding cruise arrangements, that's a lot of work for the Amalyra crew 24 hours before the cruise ended. In the end, I heard no disgruntlement from any other passenger. One final note. I do like good wine. And I was especially thrilled at the prospect of going through a German wine experience of visiting Riesling vineyards and wineshops. The unexpected change in the cruise itinerary prevented this opportunity. But as I stated earlier, I cannot blame AMA as this was due to rising river water levels. In the event, though, any AMA personnel reads this critique, I encourage you to incorporate such an experience in future cruises in a more pronounced way. I thoroughly enjoy historical and cultural sights and museums. But incorporating alternative visits, such as wineries or beerhalls which are so endemic to German lifestyle, to the standard sightseeing fare I believe provides a richer holiday experience. BOTTOM LINE: Only superlative comments for AMA. Read Less
Sail Date: July 2009
From the moment we got on the Amalyra, we knew we had made the right choice. The boat was amazing, the food was absolutely excellent and the staff was the best ever. The price of your ticket includes almost all land tours and they are ... Read More
From the moment we got on the Amalyra, we knew we had made the right choice. The boat was amazing, the food was absolutely excellent and the staff was the best ever. The price of your ticket includes almost all land tours and they are top notch. The quiet boxes you wore to listen to your tour guides were a real bonus in all the towns & villages we visited. All of the wine & beer served at dinner was also included in your fare. The wines were always local to where you were sailing and they were great. The locals came on board to provide entertainment and sometimes it was a lecture on beer with tastings, or a lecture on wine with tastings. We were never bored, in fact the days weren't long enough. The cabin was smaller than a regular cruise ship but the shower was larger. Beds & bedding are first class. They provide slippers, robes and there is an umbrella in the closet to use if it should rain. There are sliders but no balconies as the boat must fit through the locks. Free internet in your own stateroom is such a bonus. The captain gives each lady a long stemmed rose on welcoming cocktail party and there is a bud vase in each room to hold the flower. Your room is kept stocked with 6 bottles of water, daily. All complimentary. Beer & wine with dinner is all complimentary too, and they just keep pouring. Having free internet service in your own rooms was such a bonus too. Being able to keep in touch with home, at no cost, was a bonus. We took advantage of extra time in Budapest before the cruise and we went on to Paris at the end for 3 days. The tours provided in these cities were excellent too. A tour guide is with you the whole time so there is someone to help you when things don't go quite right. We are saving to take another AMA Waterways cruise, can't wait to go again. Read Less
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