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10 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: October 2015
Just back from an AMA Waterways river cruise from Paris to Prague. In summary, it was a great cruise and AMA certainly took care of its passengers. The cruise itself is seven nights from Luxembourg to Nuremburg and then we added on ... Read More
Just back from an AMA Waterways river cruise from Paris to Prague. In summary, it was a great cruise and AMA certainly took care of its passengers. The cruise itself is seven nights from Luxembourg to Nuremburg and then we added on extensions in Paris at the beginning and Prague at the end. Overall I would give the 14 days a 4+ Rating. We are Elite plus Captain Club members with Celebrity but this would be our first river cruise and we were somewhat apprehensive on what to expect. Talk about first impressions, we made our flight arrangements through AMA so transfers were included. We arrived in Paris at 6:30 a.m. and when we cleared customs there was our private driver picking us up to escort us to our hotel, the Pullman Montparnsse...and to top it off he drove us in a 2014 Jaguar...beautiful car...so far, oh so good. Check-in at the hotel was a breeze and even at 7:15 a.m. we were able to get right into our room....not everyone was so lucky as they had to wait until 3-4 pm to check-in. Big room pretty good location near a metro stop and restaurants. One complaint from people -- the shower was located in a very high step in tub...difficult to get in and out of. It was great to visit Paris again and after the city tour arranged by AMA we stayed downtown to walk on our own. Next big event was a high speed train (not a bus) to Luxembourg to pick up our river boat but first we boarded a bus in Luxembourg, did a city tour and stopped by the American Cemetery where General George Patton is buried and other soldiers from the Battle of the Bulge. We have been to Normandy before and this was just as impressive. Come to find out there was a lady on our trip (accompanied buy her daughter) whose first husband died in the Battle of the Bulge and was buried here. She met with the cemetery superintendent who escorted her to the gravesite where she placed flowers on the grave.....very moving. Grounds are immaculate. We then boarded the ship and there are only 139 of us. The one big thing about a river cruise vs. ocean cruise is with so few people, you practically get to know them all. Of the 139 who cruised, close to 100 were at the pre-cruise function in Paris and 110 ended up in Prague. Mostly Americans but others from Japan, Malaysia, Canada, and Brazil. Ages 40's to 90's with majority between 65-75. Food very good along with excellent service. Chef's table offered at no cost and everyone is afforded at least one opportunity to eat there...Entrees were lamb chops or wild salmon along with other tidbits pre and post main course. The wines offered (as well as beer) at NO CHARGE during lunch or dinner were German whites, French Cabernets or a French Bordeaux which easily would have cost $80-100 on a cruise ship...wines were outstanding. Cocktails (pre dinner) typically cost $7-8....two nights were on the captain. You would not leave hungry on one of these cruises. Staterooms were very nicely adorned and set up like a very nice hotel room....not opposite side sofas that converted to beds at night. Bathrooms were small but hot water plentiful, room cleanup always there, including nightly turndown. All crew members were very polite and helpful. English is the language of all AMA Waterways Ships. Internet and TV are offered in each cabin. Evening entertainment....(here's where we were really skeptical), but here is what was offered, a resident piano player is on board, classical group one night, a Mama Mia dance group another night, trip to a local coffee house or a local museum another. These were actually fun nights and offered something for everyone. Our group was very lively so we enjoyed the Mama Mia dance group and then the piano player filled in playing polkas and other dance songs on the off nights. Much much better than expected. City tours.....Tour guides: You you have to understand Europeans have a very historical insight/perspective into every city and monument and sometimes it can become overwhelming for most Americans. If you did not want the city bus tour one thing that AMA offers is a bike tour using 10-speed easy shifting bikes. Now these tours have 2 guides, one in front and one in back, and the easiest was 26km or about 17 miles taking 4-5 hours. Prague...Outstanding first class hotel Intercontinental only a five minute walk to city square. Breakfast provided at the hotel but lunch and dinner were on your own but the food was very reasonable in cost and very good. Had some rain and cold weather in Prague which did put a damper on the city activities. Attended an evening dance/local custom show in Prague...very good. Leaving for home, AMA had escorts greeting some people off from the hotel as early as 330 a.m. and then someone at the airport making sure you got to the right check-in terminal. Your hotel departure was based on your scheduled air flight home, so you were NOT all required to get up at hauled to the airport in one big bus . AMA was a first class act!! 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
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