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2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: June 2015
We have been on several ocean cruises and had enough of the giant ships. We decided to give river cruising a try and were so happy we chose the AmaSonata. The whole experience, from the moment we got on, until our departure from the Prague ... Read More
We have been on several ocean cruises and had enough of the giant ships. We decided to give river cruising a try and were so happy we chose the AmaSonata. The whole experience, from the moment we got on, until our departure from the Prague extension, left nothing to be desired. The staff was incredibly friendly... A big shoutout and thanks to our waiters, Janos and Alex. They anticipated our every need. The food was delicious with many local touches and the wines kept flowing. The ports were very interesting and, with the exception of Linz, beautiful, historic and so "European". However Linz was also the starting point for the Alpine Lake Region tour..perhaps the most extraordinary scenery ever!! The cabins, though not huge, were spacious enough..(happy we had a balcony). Sitting on the huge sun deck on those lazy afternoons sailing between ports, was extremely pleasant and so interesting watching the process of moving through the locks. We thought that most of the excursions were very good, and liked having choices. A couple of small complaints..the small pool on the sun deck was way to hot to be refreshing on those very warm afternoons. It was a nice touch to have a swim-up bar in the pool, but I never saw anyone tending the bar. Finally, there was a small fire on the ship on evening when most were off the ship. While it was all handled smoothly Captain Hank and the staff, the should have kept the passengers better informed..especially when they sent us back to our cabins for the night..without telling us that the water in the cabins had been turned off..toilets included. However these very small complaints in no way lessened our cruise experience. We wouldn't hesitate to book anothe vacation on AmaWaterways!!! Read Less
Sail Date: June 2015
One of the things we liked the most about Ama is the way they cater to all activity levels. We prefer to be active, and they did a great job always having higher energy tour options from biking, hiking and walking tours. However, even if ... Read More
One of the things we liked the most about Ama is the way they cater to all activity levels. We prefer to be active, and they did a great job always having higher energy tour options from biking, hiking and walking tours. However, even if you prefer a slower pace, not a problem, there were excellent options. It certainly felt customized that way. Our cruise was the Gems of Southeast Europe (Budapest to Giurgiu), so it was different than other river cruise trips we've been on. Obviously you're not going to have the same level of sights, beauty and charming villages like you will elsewhere. But, if you are interested in this part of the world, the history and its current place in the world, you'll find it quite fascinating. Overall, the food was good, at times great, other times just good. They did a nice job incorporating some of the local cuisine depending upon where we were sailing. Shortcomings? In comparing to some other river cruises (and ocean) we've done, it would have been nice to have one more entree choice and one more appetizer. There were some meals where the choices were a bit limited. One meat, one fish, one veggie for mains. Also, desserts were not that indulgent. Maybe a good thing? But, there was a lot of ice cream. Hey, I love ice cream, but it seemed like it was the go to in almost half the meals. Some variation would have been welcome. The wifi is not that great. That is possible due to our location on the river but it was non-existent quite a bit, or horribly slow. I actually used a Glocal router and had better luck, but that was on my dime. Most of the staff were great. There might have been a couple of exceptions, but will say there was plenty of friendly, smiling, helpful faces. One thing to keep in mind. This was different than our other experiences. Ama does try to get you to interact with your fellow passengers. There are basically no 2 top, and very, very few 4 top tables at meals. You will likely be sitting with others. Not usually my choice but have to say, there were great people on our trip and we had plenty of nice conversations. Just know that going in. We would definitely sail Ama again. The number of excursions and choices of activity levels really won us over. Read Less
Sail Date: March 2015
My husband and I did the Danube River Cruise from Budapest to Nuremberg. Wonderful food, service and staff on the ship were outstanding. You didn't need to ask for anything; everything was well organized. The ship and cabin were ... Read More
My husband and I did the Danube River Cruise from Budapest to Nuremberg. Wonderful food, service and staff on the ship were outstanding. You didn't need to ask for anything; everything was well organized. The ship and cabin were clean; the cabin a good size and a great bathroom. Christan our cruise director payed attention to every detail. The tours were so organized and wonderful local guides, clean buses, and efficient. We couldn't have asked for anything more than AMA Waterways offered. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: December 2014
My husband and I just returned from a fabulous cruise on the Ama Sonata to the Christmas markets on the Danube. This was one of my "bucket list" cruises and it certainly met all my expectations. The ship is lovely and the service ... Read More
My husband and I just returned from a fabulous cruise on the Ama Sonata to the Christmas markets on the Danube. This was one of my "bucket list" cruises and it certainly met all my expectations. The ship is lovely and the service is excellent. Peter, the Cruise Director, was wonderful, caring for everyone's needs and quickly making changes when needed, always with good humor. There were many options along the way and plenty of opportunities for shopping at markets in Budapest, Vienna, Salzburg, Regensburg, Nuremburg, and Prague. The guides were knowledgeable and helpful. The food on the ship was very good and different wines reflective of the region were provided each night. There were some special Christmas activities on the ship. On Dec. 5 we put out our shoes outside the cabin door for St. Nicholas and received either a candy "Santa" or "Devil' the next morning. We also had a Christmas party with carols from the crew and a gift from Santa. The experience was superb and we definitely will go on another Ama cruise in the future. Read Less
4 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: October 2014
Cruising on the Amaprima was a complete delight. The staff were like a big family, inviting us as guests to thoroughly enjoy ourselves. The food was delicious, our cabin was quite comfy, and our visits on shore were well planned, nicely ... Read More
Cruising on the Amaprima was a complete delight. The staff were like a big family, inviting us as guests to thoroughly enjoy ourselves. The food was delicious, our cabin was quite comfy, and our visits on shore were well planned, nicely guided, and gave us a true taste of the regions we travelled through. Entertainment on board ship was also delightful, especially the gypsy music and the local folk dancing. dancing. Our group made several presentations with powerpoint and the Techies actually knew what they were doing! All in all, a memorable experience. Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: October 2014
After ocean cruising, I was ready for a smaller,easier, friendlier experience of a river cruise.While AMA Waterways is not inexpensive, it was well worth the excellent food,wine included,personable staff,music on board entertainment, ... Read More
After ocean cruising, I was ready for a smaller,easier, friendlier experience of a river cruise.While AMA Waterways is not inexpensive, it was well worth the excellent food,wine included,personable staff,music on board entertainment, choice of tours,handsome cabin design and general public area ambiance.The Danube River cruise began in Budapest and allowed us to unload our luggage before 3:00 pm boarding. We spent a fun morning in one of the oldest mineral baths that included a rapid water circular" human bumper car "experience. Everyone was laughing like a bunch of kids and it was a great start to our adventure.I particularly enjoyed docking right next to the small and large cities and not having commercial hawkers meeting you as you disembarked. Almost every tour included a head set and you could choose slow, medium or fast walk groups to join.Learned a lot about the history and culture of Eastern Europe. Several fun side trips to a local restaurant/wine tavern in impressive motor coaches. We added an optional end of the trip stay in Prague and I am so glad to have had the experience of traveling first class with AMA Waterways... Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: October 2014
We cruised on the AMASonata, Melodies of the Danube itinerary, from Budapest to Prague from October 22 to October 29 with a 3 day Prague extension through November 1. There were 5 of us - my husband and I and 3 single friends. My husband ... Read More
We cruised on the AMASonata, Melodies of the Danube itinerary, from Budapest to Prague from October 22 to October 29 with a 3 day Prague extension through November 1. There were 5 of us - my husband and I and 3 single friends. My husband and I have taken several large ship cruises so some of this review will compare that with our experience on a river cruise. We spent a couple days in Budapest on our own before the cruise started. The day of embarkation we found the whole process organized but far more friendly and welcoming than a big ship. Our rooms were immediately ready and our luggage followed us - no waiting until after dinner to hope the suitcases arrived! All 150 passengers fit in the ship's lounge for the orientation meeting. Our fellow passengers were a varied and friendly group - mostly Americans and Canadians but also some from Europe, South America and Australia. Overall, our ship experience was great - the ship is new, launched in 2014, so everything is in impeccable order. The crew were mostly from Romania and Bulgaria but all of them spoke English and were unfailingly cordial and helpful. They were a mix of veteran AmaWaterways employees and new hires. The cruise manager, Balasz, impressed us with his competence, maintained communication with us throughout and had a sense of humor that was very much appreciated. Captain Chirazica went out of his way to speak to passengers - one afternoon we heard about how he worked his way up to being a captain. While on a large ship cruise you may never see the captain, here you see almost all the crew every day and really get a sense of how they work together in running the ship. In the middle of the week heavy rains to the north caused Austria and Germany to close the Danube to ship traffic for about 2 days. As the situation developed the captain and cruise manager held several meetings with passengers, kept us informed of the situation and explained the possible, likely and then actual options they would use to keep us on track. (This is where the sense of humor helped a lot!) This involved staying in a port overnight, providing last minute evening entertainment on board ship, hiring buses the next day to transport us to the next port (Vienna) to timely meet our next day's tours and providing lunch money since the ship would not be available in Vienna for lunch that day. Yes, there was one evening program that had to be cancelled but it was apparent that everyone at AMA was working hard to reduce the disruption. I was very impressed with a crew and a company that communicated so well and truly made an effort. Ultimately, while I know there a lot of work was done behind the scenes, we, as passengers hardly noticed any disruption. We had a cabin midship on the Violin deck (220) which had a floor to ceiling window and a balcony. The weather was a bit cool to use the balcony, although exactly what we expected for mid to late October (highs in the low to mid-50s). When we wanted to sit outside on the upper deck, the crew brought out blankets and we quickly learned to also stop and get hot chocolate or coffee from the lounge. Compared to a large ship there was only a single lounge but it was very comfortably furnished and spacious. It was used for general meetings and evening entertainment. On the one afternoon we did not have an off-ship program, I took my Kindle up there and quietly read. There were other groups of passengers doing the same and there was plenty of room. I would imagine in summer the upper deck would also be a very comfortable place to spend time. We chose our cabin (category BA) to have a bit more room for the 2 of us and were glad that we did. The cabin does have less space than a large ship but it was well designed. There was a long desk with a chair and a small seating area with a second chair and table. The bed takes up most of the rest of the space with just enough room to walk around it. There is a large 2 tier closet and a large built-in cabinet with top to bottom shelves, a safe and a small refrigerator. I did miss the usual bank of drawers you have in a large ship, but the shelves held just as much. If weather had permitted us to sit on the balcony, we would have appreciated the space. The bathroom was small but had shelves were needed and plenty of toiletries. The shower was easy to use with plenty of water pressure. Our single friends were in somewhat smaller cabins without balconies at the back of the ship. Their rooms were slightly different and slightly smaller than ours but they reported that they had plenty of room for one person. They also greatly appreciated that AMA offers a single supplement, unlike some other river cruise lines. We noticed that perhaps for that reason there were other groups of singles traveling together on this cruise. Overall, the location of the cabin in the ship was much less important than on a big ship. It really didn't matter if you were on one deck or the other, front or back - the movement is the same and it only takes a few minutes to get anywhere on the ship. Each room had a Mac desktop computer that had the ship information system and could be used for internet access. We did not use any of the available entertainment features. We did use the wifi with our iPad and iPhones - my only complaint. Wifi was unpredictable and slow even to check email or download newspapers, especially in the afternoons when everyone returned to the ship. If you wanted to download or stream a movie, you would have been waiting a long, long time. On the other hand, it was great to have free wifi rather than having to pay extra for access! The quality of dining on the ship was appreciably better than we have had on the big ships. There was one dining room and there was no assigned seating - you are seated at available tables as you arrived for meals. Since we had a party of five, we would always get one round table. If we had been a couple or a single, we could have been seated with different people every night. Full breakfast was available between 7:30-9:30am - there was a generous buffet with made to order omelets, offering usual American fare and more European choices plus amazing fruit pastries. Lunch was served beginning at varying times between 12 and 1pm, depending upon the timing of tours. There was a buffet or you could order from 2-3 menu choices. Dinner was at 7 or 7:30pm and was 4 courses, with 3 or 4 choices for each. We did not have a bad or even mediocre meal the whole week. There was great variety, usually including local specialities. At lunch and dinner, wine and beer were included. The wines changed each evening and came from the local vineyards in the areas we visited. We had some very good and interesting wines! One evening, a dinner in the smaller chef's dining room was included - it was a truly special meal! When we planned this cruise we thought the great advantage was the ability to have a moving home base that followed you while you visited many different cities and countries along the Danube. In that sense, a river cruise is less about having a vacation and entertainments on a boat and more about the cities and countries that the boat is taking you to. The AMASonata was a great home base but as this trip unfolded, I realized that the tours and excursions arranged by AMA off the ship were just as important as the ship itself. Unlike a big ship cruise where you pay extra for most activities in port, on our cruise almost all the tours and excursions were included. During the cruise we paid extra for only one tour. For every port, you had choices of what to see and do. For every walking tour, there was a gentle, regular or active group. They also offered bike tours - my husband, who is a regular rider enjoyed riding 20 miles along the Danube from Durnstein to Melk and another shorter bike ride in Passau. On every tour we had local guides, hired by AMA who were uniformly excellent. I can't emphasize enough how much the quality of these tours affected our cruise experience. Every guide was interested in sharing their home town's history and culture with us. We did not feel that we were on "canned" tours - each guide had their own personality and approach that made each day's tour a bit different. If I had any frustration, it was that the guides engaged us and showed us so much to explore that I found myself wishing that we had more hours and days to spend in each city. Our disembarkation from the ship was quick and organized - based on our extension to Prague, we had a time to place suitcases in the hall and we were asked to confirm it was all there before it was loaded on the bus. The extension in Prague also included a city tour and we took an optional tour to Terezin as well. The cruise manager travelled with us to Prague, gave us an orientation tour from our hotel and was available for help. Our Prague tours were of the same quality as those from the ship but we also enjoyed the leisure of extra days in the city to return to interesting sites and to do some shopping. The hotel in Prague (Old Town Hilton) was a bit of a disappointment after the brand-new ship but it was in a good location, included breakfast and had free wifi (if you went down to the lobby). In summary, I would highly recommend the AMASonata And by extension AMAWaterways for a river cruise on the Danube. If you can spend additional time at the beginning or the end in Budapest or Prague, those extra days are well worth it. 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
This was my first river cruise and I honestly don't feel it could have been better. We were treated like royalty from the moment we boarded. John, the cruise manager, was so well organized that we never had a doubt about where to go ... Read More
This was my first river cruise and I honestly don't feel it could have been better. We were treated like royalty from the moment we boarded. John, the cruise manager, was so well organized that we never had a doubt about where to go or what was available to us. the local guides were great and the on-board entertainment just right. In addition, the food was amazing, especially in their very fine restaurant which you can book once during the trip. I also enjoyed the free-flowing local wine and beer and found a few I hope to get here in the states. The only suggestion I would have is to try to make a reservation at least a year in advance so you can get a bigger room. The ones on the first floor are very small. I didn't really care about that because I was only there to sleep and change clothes. All in all, this was a great trip (Melodies of the Danube). Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: September 2014
We had made many ocean cruises before this river cruise. We were amazed with all of this cruise. Hospitality, comfort, food, tours; everything was beyond expectations! Every cruise member were always going out of their way to help, to ... Read More
We had made many ocean cruises before this river cruise. We were amazed with all of this cruise. Hospitality, comfort, food, tours; everything was beyond expectations! Every cruise member were always going out of their way to help, to cheer, to make our experience the best one possible. The fact that we are about 168 passengers on board makes it a very intimate atmosphere. Our room wich was a few feet above water level had 2 sliding patio doors wich we could open wide; the feeling was awsome! The itinerary was great; remember, you're on a river. You're always close to great scenerys without the motion of the ocean. Always nice and calm. I could go on and on! You just can't go wrong with this kind of cruise.We will be back and tip of the hat to AMA for offering such a great product! Read Less
5 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: August 2014
The AMA Certo is a beautiful new ship in the AMA fleet. It is bright and well maintained. We had a category BB cabin on the Cello Deck. At 210 sq. ft., the cabin was compact; the bathroom was even more so. Our cabin had both a French ... Read More
The AMA Certo is a beautiful new ship in the AMA fleet. It is bright and well maintained. We had a category BB cabin on the Cello Deck. At 210 sq. ft., the cabin was compact; the bathroom was even more so. Our cabin had both a French balcony and an outside balcony. The use of the outside balcony was very limited when we were docked because there were so many other riverboats and they tied up alongside each other. It was not uncommon to have to walk across one or two other boats to get to shore. This meant that our balcony was only 6” from another balcony or boat so it was often of no use in port. But very little time was spent in the cabin so this was not bothersome. The dining room is nicely laid out with a double row of booths down the middle and tables on the outsides. There are two smaller separate areas with a large table in each which were used by two of the groups on our trip. It is very noisy during mealtimes due to the low ceiling and high number of people. The food was uniformly good. Breakfast was a bountiful buffet. Lunch was buffet with some menu choices and table service. Dinner was off a menu with multiple choices. Any time you did not care for a dish, the waiter would offer to replace it with something else. Beer, wine and soft drinks were unlimited at lunch and dinner. You literally had to put your hand over your glass or it would be regularly refilled. The sundeck is a plus. There were several parts of the cruise when it was essential to be up there. The departure evening included a tour up the Danube to the beautifully lighted Parliament building. Get a blanket early from the storage boxes. There were not enough to go around that cool evening. The day touring the iron Gorge was sunny and warm. There were plenty of seats and most were shaded. The staff spoke excellent English and everyone was cheerful and ready to assist. Our cruise director, Nicola, was probably the best one we have had on any cruise anywhere. He delivered his daily briefings with a lot of comic genius. We were most impressed that he accompanied the pre-cruise tours to Vienna and Budapest as well as the post-cruise tour to Istanbul instead of passing us off to someone else. This was a winning point in our minds. We did the pre-cruise part on our own. We flew into Vienna, stayed at a hotel a half block from the Opera and easily saw all of the main sights without needing a guide. We took a train to Budapest and checked into the gorgeous Sofitel hotel where the AMA pre-cruise tour also stayed. This location is right next to the Chain Bridge, on a tram line, near a metro, included an incredible breakfast buffet and our room was upgraded to a view of the river. From here, we could walk or use the public transportation to see everything. Nearly every guide in each port spoke English well and filled us in on the history of the town/country as well as often giving personal insights into local life. AMA offers a ‘gentle walkers’ tour plan where those who might wish to walk slower but see a little less are given their own group guide. Pecs was our first port. The morning walking tour included a church and some underground Roman ruins. It ended in a city square where we had time to explore a bit more or shop. During lunch we cruised to Mohacs. This was the first chance to take a bicycle tour. The ship carries 20 well-maintained 7-speed bikes suitable for both men and women. The tour went about 5 miles down the flat riverside levee path to a small town where we toured the Stock Museum and then biked back. It was a great way to get out in the country and take an easy, refreshing ride. If you have ridden a bike within the last several years, this is for you. The rest of the port stops were equally well done as the first. We had very nice buses and informative guides. Many of the other countries we visited were Communist ruled up until recently and the poorly built apartment blocks, incredible snarls of exterior wires, and stressed economy were evident. We heard many stories about the hardships of Communist rule and visited several sites with heartbreaking stories. My personal favorite excursion was a visit to a Bulgarian home where we learned to make banitsa. The lady was very welcoming and opened her home completely. The lunch in Bucharest was also unique. The restaurant endeavored to recreate a dining experience in the golden years of the city. Waiters in long black aprons delivered soup served in individual large pewter tureens. The décor was like a movie set. We were serenaded by a violin player and then an opera singer. My husband and I elected to take the Istanbul extension. We were very surprised at how modern the city suburbs are … modern malls and architecturally stunning buildings. The center of this city of 16 million has buildings mixing a broad span of history and there is also evidence of abandoned buildings from their fairly recent earthquake. There were both morning and afternoon tours which covered everything on our bucket list. We felt that we had enough time at each site such as the Topkapi Palace and mosques and weren't rushed. Our guides also led those who wanted help through the Grand Bazaar and Spice Bazaar while the rest of us could wander alone. The hotel was the Istanbul Intercontinental which was in a great location for strolling and eating. Overall, I would rate this AMA Waterways trip highly. We visited countries that we would not have traveled through independently and saw off-the-beaten path areas which all had interesting stories.   Read Less
Sail Date: July 2014
A fantastic river cruise. Love every minute. The food was really good, the cabin was wonderful and the shower was the best I have had on a cruise line. First river cruise and loved the small number of people and you were treated like a ... Read More
A fantastic river cruise. Love every minute. The food was really good, the cabin was wonderful and the shower was the best I have had on a cruise line. First river cruise and loved the small number of people and you were treated like a person not a number as you are on the large ocean cruise lines. I do not drink but it was nice to have wine at each meal and you did not have to pay extra. The cruise line did not nickel and dime to death like on the large cruise ships. We were on Princess in March and they automatically add tip to a bar charge even if I walked up to the bar and bought a bottle of water. I did not mind giving a tip when they brought water to my room or my table but when I got it myself I did not like that and I did not hear anything from Princess Cruise line when I gave my review regarding this. On the AmaCerto we have complimentary water in our cabins each day and they gave drinks and cool towels when we returned from the tours (which were included in the price of the cruise not like to ocean cruise). The big ocean cruise ships could get a lot of good ideas from these river cruises. The free Internet with ships computers were great we need this on all cruise ships. It was wonderful and the staff the best I have ever had on a cruise. LOVED IT. Thanks AmaWaterways. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: July 2014
Loved, loved, loved our cruise along the Danube River. The Ama prima was beautiful, new, clean. The crew was delightful, helpful and always cheerful. Our cruise director, Czaba, was patient, helpful, friendly and enjoyable. Cruising a ... Read More
Loved, loved, loved our cruise along the Danube River. The Ama prima was beautiful, new, clean. The crew was delightful, helpful and always cheerful. Our cruise director, Czaba, was patient, helpful, friendly and enjoyable. Cruising a river is wonderful--even when traveling during the day, the views are beautiful. Lots to do or you can choose to just relax. The Lounge was nice, comfortable and had great views if you didn't want to go outside. The Chef was fabulous. All meals, but especially dinner, were delicious. My husband and I enjoy trying new and innovative restaurants and our dinners on the Amaprima were as good as any we have had at 5 star restaurants. I liked the "gentle" tours which suited by knee problem situation.(but there were certainly "active" tours for those with more stamina). I would highly recommend this trip to anyone. I wish I were there now! Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: June 2014
This was a first river cruise for us. Loved it! We were on the Amacerto, the entire crew was wonderful. We loved our cabin with the french balcony, we were even able to sleep a couple of nights with the sliding door open, so relaxing ... Read More
This was a first river cruise for us. Loved it! We were on the Amacerto, the entire crew was wonderful. We loved our cabin with the french balcony, we were even able to sleep a couple of nights with the sliding door open, so relaxing listening to the sounds of the water. We were celebrating our 30th anniversary, my 70th birthday and upcoming retirement. They helped us celebrate with beautiful cakes on separate evenings and our cabin girl, Alexandra, did a beautiful pair of swans forming a heart made out of towels, also rose petals spelling 30 scattered on the bed and a heart banner across the head of the bed. She was also the masseuse, and gave a great massage! During the cruise we had other towel critters and on the night of the retirement celebration, we came back to a full sized towel person seated in one of our chairs with a pink balloon head and shower cap, crossed legs and rubber glove hands. Dining was great as there were no assigned seats and you could sit where ever you wanted ( we always tried to sit in Diana's section as she was a little ray of Romanian sunshine!). Lot's of good food and the wine was flowing like water. Petar, from Bulgaria usually was pouring where we sat and he was very patient and right there to refill your glass. Loved some of the entertainment, a group of Hungarian musicians and dancers were great and a group of girl musicians "The Aphrodite's" were wonderful too. Most of the shore excursions were good, most of the guides were good. we were fortunate enough to have good weather as the cruise before us had rain every day. I think another impressive thing was the camaraderie of the crew and the captain was right in there pulling ropes and helping his crew. We would highly recommend AMA Waterways and hope to cruise with them at some future date. Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: May 2014
AmaWaterways was our honeymoon and we could not have asked for a better experience! This was our first river cruise (we've cruised Caribbean and Alaska on larger ships). The ship is small, as are all river cruises, which makes it ... Read More
AmaWaterways was our honeymoon and we could not have asked for a better experience! This was our first river cruise (we've cruised Caribbean and Alaska on larger ships). The ship is small, as are all river cruises, which makes it perfect to get to know people on board, the staff, etc. Embarkation: We didn't realize when we arrived that we were about 3 hours early for check in. There was no one collecting bags from early arrivers, though they did provide transportation from the airport, so they knew we were coming. They were in the midst of disembarkation and cleaning from the previous cruise. Just think things could have been smoother for early birds. We went for a walk and came back at check in time to a full complement of staff greeting people, almost intimidating. Room: small - what else would you expect. But the bed was at least a queen, if not a bit bigger. The bathroom was huge in comparison to what I was expecting. Definitely not closet sized. We opted for a "french balcony" and I am VERY glad we did. While not a full balcony, there is a railing and the sliding door opens all the way into the wall. We slid the two chairs and table so we were basically sitting outside. Food: Amazing. Every night there was a chef's recommendation, which paired app, salad, dinner, dessert, and wine together. Or you could choose from the menu. Dietary restrictions were easily accommodated. Met friends on the ship and she was brought a dish, which she assumed had gluten in it so she did not eat it. The maitre'd brought the Chef out to explain that they remembered her and her plate had no gluten. Seating is one time and is open every night. The ship had the main dining room and a restaurant, which each guest could book one dinner during the cruise. While the food was always amazing in the main diningroom, the restaurant presentation was just a step above. Drinks: included at meals. Beer selection was poor for cruising through Germany. Wines were always great and you can take your glass from the dinner table. Entertainment: Usually cruising at night. There were a few bands/quartets and when there weren't the cruise director came on the loudspeaker to narrate the sights. Excursions: Do the bike ride from Durstein to Melk, gorgeous! All excursions are included except for the concert. You can skip some of the city tours if you have sights you want to see. Our tour in Vienna was so-so. But the rest were good to excellent. Unless you're handicapped or struggle to walk at a normal pace do the "fast walkers." The tours see the same things but because people walk faster from point to point you finish sooner, so more free time! BIKES! There are bikes on board and don't be afraid to use them. Some excursions use bikes, but once they're back or if there's no excursion you can sign them out. Disembarkation: also a little hectic. You had to tag your bags then go outside and check that they were in the right pile (airport, excursion, hotel, etc). Others... top deck was great for after dinner drinks. Take advantage of nights in port. We overnighted in Vienna, so after dinner we went ashore to check out the city. The second deck bow was a favorite spot of hours, but everyone wants to sit there! Wifi all over the place and there's internet in the infortainment, so you don't really need a phone if you have email/facebook. They do special events. My husband and I got a flaming honeymoon cake. Aboard the 50+ crowd we became known as the honeymooners (we weren't even 30 on the cruise). Need european adaptors for jacks on board Overall: FANTASTIC We met people who had cruised on Viking and they would cruise AmaWaterways over Viking. Viking is a step down or two. They only had one pitch for future cruising... one was Paris to Barcelona... sign me up! Read Less
Sail Date: November 2013
We really enjoyed our Christmas Market Cruise on the Danube. We are planning to book for the Rhine Christmas Market Cruise next year as well. Our family of three (myself, husband and 12 year old son), found the cruise to be quite ... Read More
We really enjoyed our Christmas Market Cruise on the Danube. We are planning to book for the Rhine Christmas Market Cruise next year as well. Our family of three (myself, husband and 12 year old son), found the cruise to be quite enjoyable. We had a suite and a AA room diagonally across the hall for our son. The suite layout is different than in the brochure and online. This was a bit off-putting at first, but it ended up working out ok. There is less space in the living room area since they have made the balcony larger. This eliminates the sofa in the room. We did find that you really needed to use the bed for relaxing. The two small chairs in the entry were always in the way so we moved one to the desk area and the other by the bed in the corner. Our son's room had plenty of space. The rooms were quite comfortable and well maintained. We had a large bathtub in our bathroom, but we did not use it. The shower with multi shower heads was nice. We did participate in some of the tours (Melk, Budapest, part of Salzburg), but we found it much more fun when we went out on our own. The guides were all nice and knowledgeable, but sometimes as a family we like to see more or different things than what are offered. In Vienna, we took a carriage ride, shopped, and went to the Dremel chocolate place as well went to Schonbrun Palace. I get quite seasick on typical cruises. I had no issues with a river cruise. The cruise was highly relaxing, we loved reading and watching the world go by as we sailed up the Danube. The food was mostly very good. The standout for us was shepherd's pie for lunch. It was the best we'd ever tasted. Out omelets at breakfast were quite good. The only food complaint was that it is impossible to get a meal or a snack outside of tea, breakfast, lunch or dinner. There were times we weren't hungry for a big dinner, but knew if we got hungry later we would be out of luck. The bar should offer sandwiches or something simple with the drinks for a small cost. There are simple offerings at lunch and dinner in you don't like the set menu (minute steak, chicken sandwich, french fries, etc.). I would be nice if you could get those things outside of meal times for a fee. Our server was terrific. In fact, we loved all of the staff.   Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: November 2013
Ama Certo Christmas Markets - Danube River Cruise (November 2013) This was our first river cruise on AMA and it won’t be our last! We really lucked out choosing AMA. The cruise was basically faultless and we had a wonderful Christmas ... Read More
Ama Certo Christmas Markets - Danube River Cruise (November 2013) This was our first river cruise on AMA and it won’t be our last! We really lucked out choosing AMA. The cruise was basically faultless and we had a wonderful Christmas Cruise with 156 other passengers (ages 6 to 80) traveling from Budapest to Nuremberg with about 45 staff members. We met lots of great people (Peggy and Jim (Canada), Billy and Ruth-Ann (Canada/Florida), Bart and Carolyn (Virginia), Fred and Terry (Edith) (California), and Mervin and Judy (Canada)) are just a few of the great couples we met. Open dining with tables from 4 to 8 or 10 means you can be as sociable as you wish at mealtimes. The food is top quality. In particular, the dinners were superb. Afterwards we could relax in the lounge to piano music and other entertainment until about 10.30. Our cabin was really well designed with ample space. Linen and towels are changed after each use and like the entire ship it is kept immaculately clean. Our cabin was quiet and the heating worked well. Full height French doors, and full-size patio doors, and mirrors make it feel larger and it would be lovely to open the doors in the summer. The majority of passengers were from the USA and Canada, all spoke English. There were about 40 or so travel agents on the ship. Most seemed to well-travelled and interesting crowd and we all mixed and made new friends. The cruise was not cheap but so much was included in the price (including most of the shore excursions, quality wines with dinner and teas and coffees all day) that we spent little extra while we were away. Prices at the bar seemed fair to me; 6 euros for a good sized Martini. Embarkation Embarkation could not have been easier. We flew from Boston on Lufthansa via Frankfurt into Budapest 2 days early and stayed a short cab ride away from the ship. We checked out of our boutique hotel(http://www.gerloczy.hu/?Lang=en) at 11 and were quickly delivered to the ship. The taxi stopped a short distance away from the gangway (he could have been ticketed 100 Euros if he parked right at the gangway) and there were AMA staff there to take the luggage on board. We just walked on board and felt like royalty .We were able to board, give them our bags to hold, and then spent a bit of time in the lounge. We met the cruise director Monika before we headed out to see one of the local markets. We each purchased new hats in the markets as we quickly realized we had come un-prepared for the cold weather ahead of us. We returned to the ship around 2:15 and had to wait in the lounge until 3 at which time they call you in groups by cabin #’s. I think it took less than 15minutes to service everyone. They have you leave your passports (so they could make copies for immigration purposes) at the front desk, give you your room key and then escort you (white gloves) to your room. They asked that you pick up your passports the next day. They also ask for a credit card swipe if you plan to settle your on-board account with that card. To unlock your room door, all you need to do is hold the card next to the door lock and it unlocks. This is slightly different than most hotel cards in that you do not need to put it in a slot etc. This is great because you could keep it in your walled and just hold the wallet up to the door and it unlocked. ALWAYS remember to take your key. The Room (AA310) The AMA Certo is new (only about 1.5 years old) so the rooms and public areas were immaculate. We booked a large cabin which was about 235 square feet. That being said, the room was spacious and our outside balcony was big enough for two chairs, and a small table. We did not use the balcony as much as we would have if the sailing had been in the summer but it was still nice to have for those evening times to enjoy the sights before bed. Our room also had a small 2 chair sitting area in front of the French balcony with a small round table. The bed was comfortable but on the semi-hard side. There is a box on casters under one of the beds to store things which we didn’t use. There was plenty of room under the other bed for two full-size suit cases. There were small nightstands on either side of the bed both each with 2 drawer and lamp. There were small LED lamps for reading and not bothering your spouse/partner. There was a small alarm travel clock for your use. Overhead lighting and cornice lighting and the full wall of windows during the day allowed for a bright experience. Our cabin had one TV which is connected to a mouse and keyboard and worked well as a PC but can be used as a television. The television offerings were good with regular TV being CNN International, Sky News, BBC 1 as English stations. They also had a channel that showed the camera feed from the front of the ship. Made for great viewing, especially through the 28 or so locks!! This channel also transmitted the PA of the ship. You were not disturbed in your room by the general PA system. They also offered movies on-demand with 10-15 newer movies as well as a handful of classics. They also had music available through the TV. As for internet access, you need to keep in mind the technology for ground level moving vehicles can be difficult. There were many times when there were obstructions where the satellites are that prevented internet access and TV reception. This was especially true in locks and when going under bridges. There were a few times when everyone was getting frustrated by the lack of connectivity. We then remembered we were all on vacation and all needed to relax!! Additionally, the WiFi seemed to work better in the lounge and the restaurant than in our room. And in our room, it seemed to work better closer to the front of the ship than the back. Again, having appropriate expectations is the key. If you absolutely have to have access, your best bet is to make sure you have your own hot spot or some other arrangement. Otherwise, if you are a casual user that just checks e-mail and the weather, etc., what they have is fine. We were able to use our iPhones to access the web if we wanted to but we didn’t. Just remember to set up your calling plan so you can make/receive calls/texts overseas and turn off cellular data on your phone. If you are a casual user, you really shouldn’t need a separate international data plan because you can use the ships WiFi. Not turning your cellular data off and not having a data plan is where you could cost yourself hundreds of dollars in fees that you will not see until you get your next bill. The bathroom in our cabin was beautiful (and spotless) with granite and white marble everywhere with a good sized shower (the shower floor was a bit slippery and they didn’t have rubber mats (due to health cleanliness reasons)). Lighting was perfect! It did have both a rain shower head and a regular European shower head that you can take off the hook. It had a good sized sink and good counter/storage space. The toilet is actually like one on a plane. It flushes mostly using air compression. Also, the venting seemed to work real well so that steam and smells dissipated quickly. The amenities were first-class and always quickly restocked with shampoo, conditioner, body gel, lotion, soap, bath salts, shower caps, nail files, Q-tips and cotton etc. There was also hair dryer. There is this window between the bathroom and the bedroom/sitting area that is clear (you can look right into the bathroom) but we quickly found the switch that fogged up the window so you couldn’t see in. The room is tended to at least 2 times a day with fresh towels, bed made, cleaning and bottled water replenished (6 bottles come standard and I am sure you could get more if you really wanted!). There is a mini-fridge in the room that is for your use. You are free to bring your own alcohol on board (not like the big companies who confiscate it if you try to do so!). We hardly ever saw our cabin stewardess in our room as she almost magically knew when you had left our room for breakfast and dinner and we always came back to a clean room. They also are masters at the art of folding towels into animals and other things. It was always fun to see what new creature would be in our room on our return!! The hotel staff was incredible and did everything you asked and were always friendly. Just some additional notes about the room: There was plenty of closet space with two good sized closets, one with rods, both low and high and a top shelf and the other with shelves and the safe. The safe is a standard hotel type safe where you type in a four digit code. It is big enough for your jewelry and several small laptops etc. The desk was a good size work area and had an outlet for recharging items. Don’t forget to bring your adapters and converters if you need one. There were also several plugs near the bed, one near the French patio and one in the bathroom. The room comes with two large umbrellas, two robes and two sets of slippers. The laundry service is reasonably priced ($2 for washing a pair of jeans). Depending on the when you get the laundry in, you will either get it back the same day or the next day. We put the jeans in at 1 and they were back before dinner! You just bag it up, fill out the form and leave it in your room so the steward can see it. They will take care of the rest. AMA Certo Common Areas The lobby is very nice and the desk is staffed 24 hours a day. There is an elevator that goes from the Violin (300 Level) Deck, pass the Cello (200 Level) Deck to the restaurant. It does not go to the Piano (100 Level) deck and this is because the elevator shaft cannot go from the waterline to the roof, in case of flooding. Just forward of the lobby on the port (left) side of the ship is a small library area with books & magazines as well as games. On the starboard (right) side of the ship is the small shop. It has some AMA logo items as well as gift items from the areas that you are traveling through. The inventory seemed to change throughout the cruise as we sailed through different areas. They stocked some generic toiletry items as well as batteries, memory cards etc. They had a small selection of over-the-counter medicines for minor allergy/cold issues. However, the product descriptions were mostly in other languages so you may want to make sure you bring what you need, especially if you allergies. The staff can usually help translate, however. In the rear portion of the lounge as you enter, you see a push button coffee machine that makes great coffee drinks and is available 24/7. Tea and hot chocolate are also available. There is a full bar as well and is usually staffed after noon until well into the evening. You do have to pay for all alcoholic drinks, including soft drinks, at times other than lunch and dinner. At the very front of the ship, there is a small sitting area that is fronted by glass that is great for viewing in the outdoors. The Sun Deck can be accessed through stairs on either side of the lobby or stairs on the port side of the outdoor sitting area in front of the lounge. At the very front is a sitting area with great outdoor couches, chairs and tables. This area is low enough that even if the rest of the Sun Deck is closed due to low bridges, it is open. Just aft of this sitting area is the Captain’s bridge which raises and lowers as needed. They did several tours one day where the young Captain (his father is also a Captain for AMA) showed how the ship works which was fun. Right behind the Captain’s bridge is the pool. It is small but has several fun extras. There are stools to sit on, kind of like a swim-up bar. There is also a jetted system that can be used to swim laps against a current. It would be nice in warmer weather! The entire rest of the Sun Deck is devoted to lounge chairs, a walking track and a large chess board game for those so inclined. Some of the chairs are covered by overhangs to keep you out of the sun if you prefer. Finally, the back portion of the Sun Deck is the smoking area and has some tables and chairs. This is the only smoking area on the ship. On our cruise, most of the Sun Deck was unavailable for about 2 days or so as we were on the Main/Danube canal. This was not because of high water; it is just that the bridges and locks are lower than on the Danube. They actually take down all of the safety railings and any other tall stuff. Finally, as our room was on the deck just below the Sun Deck, you could hear people walking over our room. The staff supposedly tries to discourage use of the area by passengers between 10:00 pm and 8:00 am but it can be used by staff if they are helping doc the boat and in locks so just know that ear plugs can be a good thing. It is not bad but for a light sleeper, ear plugs might become your friend!! The exercise room had 2 bikes, a treadmill and a universal machine as well as some other items. We did not use it because we were getting plenty of exercise on the included tours. We did not use the beauty shop or the message either but we did talk to some folks that did and they seemed to like the results. Dining You will NOT go hungry on the AMA Certo. I can’t say enough good things about the kitchen and wait staff. The sense we got was that you could basically order anything and they would try to accommodate you, regardless of the menu. The dress is casual. Some dress up a little for dinner but we also saw jeans and they did not seem out of place. The only two meals where folks dressed-up more was the Captains Dinner toward the end of the cruise and our night at the Erlebnis Restaurant (our first night, the Restaurant Manager recruited us while we were waiting in the lounge to be escorted to our cabin). Overall, the food was excellent and there are almost too many choices at every meal. In the main dining room, for all meals, seating is open and there is a range of times when you can come down. Breakfast was usually 7:30 to 9:30, lunch usually started around 1:00 and dinner was normally at 7:00. The dining room has many different seating options with 2 semi-enclosed small rooms at the front that can seat 10-12 each. In the main dining room, there are booths (4 persons), round tables (6 people), booth/table combos (4 persons) and a large table near the front that seated 10-12. There is a Captain’s table (4 persons) but it is really for the captain and senior staff to eat. The last night the Captain and the Cruise Manager Monika did use one of the big tables and I assume the guests were returning AMA guests. For breakfast there is a large self-serve buffet with scrambled eggs, bacon, sausage, beans, hash-browns, omelet bar, several different breakfast meats, cereals, fruit, yogurt, bagels, etc. They also have a traditional European breakfast of lunch meats, cheeses and a huge bread and pastry table. The bread is baked freshly on the ship. There is also a menu you can order from that was the same throughout the cruise and had things like eggs benedict, waffles etc. The funny thing was that there were passengers that did not know that there was a menu for breakfast until well into the cruise because the buffet was so good!! For lunch, again there was an extensive buffet of salads and small lunch items but don’t fill up on this because it is only the first course. There is a more extensive menu for lunch that includes 2-3 soup choices, 2-3 regional entree choices as well as offering hamburgers, cheeseburgers, and another specialty burger every day. Beer, wine and soda are free (ok, not free but you don’t pay extra for it!) at lunch and they will keep pouring wine, often when you are not looking so beware of the bottomless glass!! For dinner in the main ding room, it is an all menu affair with a 4 course meal. Again, you will have 2-3 choices of appetizers, salad/soup, main course and dessert which changes daily. They also have steak, chicken and fish (plus French Fries) every day as well as a Caesar salad option and a dinner salad option that changes. Assorted cheese and crackers are also always available. Again, beer and wine (both red and white) is free at dinner and the wine selection changes daily as they try and bring different wines in based on the region they are sailing through. We did not have a bad wine the entire cruise. One of the friends we met had a nut allergy and the staff always tried to meet his needs. Supposedly the kitchen knew about the nut allergy, but it is my opinion that this didn’t get relayed to the serving staff. On our ship, the also have a second option for dinner at the Erlebnis Restaurant which is on the Violin Deck at the rear of the ship. This is a glass enclosed area that can seat about 28 people. Most tables are 4 people with one big 10-12 person table. For our cruise, you could sign up once per week. I would highly recommend reviewing your detailed itinerary and try and select evenings when the ship is sailing. It makes for a great view. I would also recommend you sign up as soon as you can because times fill up fast! Like the main dining room, the menu is a four/five course meal that is fixed except you usually have 2 choices for the main course. The menu is the same every night of the week the cruise. This dining room at the stern of the ship was also a quiet place to go to during the day to read and relax, seeing the activity on the River Danube. Finally, the lounge serves food throughout the day. They have an early-risers continental breakfast buffet usually starting at 6:30. They also serve what they call a light lunch buffet that has many of the same things as the restaurant, just not as much variety. The rest of the day, the lounge has iced tea, water, and an assortment of cookies and brownies. These are all at no extra cost and are in addition to the coffee/tea available 24/7. One morning around 11 we had a break where they served assorted sausages and rolls (with very good mustard) and keg beer. Monika, the cruise manager was dressed in festive German attire. For lunch that day we ate much less than normal. Entertainment As you might expect, because of the small size of the ship, all of the entertainment is basically in the lounge area. They have an on-board piano player/singer (he really didn’t sing) who did a great job of entertaining us in the afternoons and evenings. AMA also brought on several local entertainers about 3 times during our cruise. One night it was a singer with songs of Europe, another night it was three entertainers who sang songs of Austria. Near the beginning of the trip St. Nicolas came to visit and gave all the passengers a free gift. Another night, we left our shoes outside our cabin and we received 2 large hollow-chocolate figures the next morning. The second night we received a plate of candy/fruit which we were able to enjoy for a few days. There was always a small chocolate on your pillow after you returned from dinner/entertainment. Tours/Communication Daily, usually before dinner, the Cruise Manager will host a briefing in the lounge to inform the passengers on the next day’s port and any other important information. I really found them useful for planning what we would do the next day. It also gave us a great excuse to come to the lounge and have a pre-dinner drink with some of our new friends. Also, every evening when they make up your room during dinner, they leave on your bed the next day’s printed schedule with contact information as well as information about the ports/towns/tours. You should take this with you as it has all the pertinent phone numbers just in case you need to contact the ship. Your cruise director will give you her card. It is suggested you program her cell # and the ship’s phone # into your cell phone. I will not specifically review the individual tours. However, I do want to let you know about the process and comments in general. Suffice it to say, you will have plenty to do and your toughest decision may be to not do all of it!! Overall, the tours were informative and educational. It really depended on the tour guide. In your cabin there are two audio devices that will be used on almost every tour. It is a 4 inch by 6 inch by ½ inch thick and has an earpiece for one ear (left only! It doesn’t take regular earpieces. It has a cord to put over your neck but also fits easily into a front shirt pocket. It is up to you to bring the device and to plug it back into the charger after the tours to get recharged. Daily, you will go to the reception desk and be assigned a group and they will give you a corresponding colored card. This card corresponds to the group you will be with and helps determine which bus or walking group you should be with. Also, every time you leave the ship, you should get your boarding cards from the reception desk that has your cabin number. It is very important to take your boarding cards out when you leave and return them when you come back to the ship because it helps the staff know that everyone is back on board. There were several times where the Cruise Director announced over the PA if cabin so-in-so was aboard because they wanted to leave the port and had not yet received all of the cards. There was one time when the ship had to leave and the 4 missing passengers caught up with the ship about 4 hours later up the Danube. When you are with your group, the tour guide will turn on their transmitter and it should automatically sync with your receiver. You need to stand as close to the guide as possible otherwise you may get synced to another group’s receiver. They have a range of 100 or so feet so once you are synced, you should be fine. However, there was one time when our guide needed to go get some tickets for a tour and we somehow got hooked to a Viking tour on the same frequency and did not realize it for several minutes. And yes, most of the other companies use the same technology so it can happen but there are many frequencies so it seemed rare. For almost all town tours you had a slow walkers group, several normal walkers groups and a quick walkers group. You are able to start off on the tour and found something if you liked you could leave the tour. Please let your guide know when you wish to leave the group, especially if the tour is ending with a bus ride back to the ship, so they do not think they lost somebody. Just know that if you do go off on your own, know when you need to be back to the ship. Every time you returned to the ship from a day tour you were warmly welcomed by the staff and then given warm towels and warm gluhwine (mulled wine). AMA also offers Culinary Delights and Bike Tours. These tours are capacity controlled and you can actually sign up on-line on the AMA website under the Already Booked menu and select Explorer Tours. Our tour was a sausage tasting beer tasting. The local tour guide was a bit of a flake (we never did get to the chocolate store promised). It is no problem to change at the last minute if you decide you don't want to bike in the rain etc. The Cruise Director just asks that as soon as you know; let him/her know so they can offer your spot to those on the wait list. On our cruise, they did have several optional tours that were extra cost. We did several, like a concert in Vienna and a full-day trip to Salzburg. For the day in Salzburg, the ship kept moving after dropping us off and we met up with it at the next port. As with their other tours, AMA does a great job of coordinating these so if you are so inclined, I would not hesitate to spend the extra money. Just know that 90% of your tours are included in the price you paid. In advance through our TA, we made arrangements to use AMA’s transportation from Nuremberg to Prague. The morning involved a more detailed tour of Nuremberg than we received the day before, more time at Nuremberg’s Christmas Market and the afternoon involved a 4 hour bus trip from Germany into the Czech Republic and eventually to Prague. The morning local tour guide was great but the tour guide that was with us from Nuremberg to Prague was basically useless. We learned basically nothing during this part of the trip. We heard that the other 3 busses had good experience during their time from Nuremberg to Prague. Collecting our bags in Nuremberg at the hotel with the other passengers were staying was very disjointed. As for docking, most of the time we docked directly next to the dock either using the ships gangway or a gangway on the dock. Only 1 time did we dock next to another ship that we had to go through and/or over. This will probably only get worse as more and more river ships are launched but it was not that big a deal. Just follow the Cruise Manager's advice and that is when you open your curtains in the morning, you might become shocked looking into another cabin on the next ship. Most of the time we docked close enough to town to be able to walk to the main part of town. However, there were several times where we docked a ways a way and they always offered some motorized transportation to get us to the start of the tour and then back to the ship. Disembarkation This was very easy. The day before, there is a briefing that AMA asks to be attended by at least one person per cabin. They explain the disembarkation process including explaining the process for those with AMA transfers, those needing a cab, and those on their own. If you need a taxi, the Cruise Director will schedule it for you, including ordering a larger cab if several groups are going to the same place at the same time and don't mind traveling together. The day before disembarkation, you are given a summary to-date of your on-board charges. The bill is in Euros and you can pay either by cash or credit card. You are also given tip envelopes for the crew and Cruise Manager. Tips are not automatically added to your bill so you must put cash in the envelopes or fill out the credit card form of what you want to pay and it will be added to your final bill. The cruise line recommends 20 Euros (3 for the Cruise Director and 17 for the other crew members) per passenger per day. Tips may be paid in any currency, including US $’s, foreign currency you wish to dispose of, etc. Obviously, everyone has their own tipping philosophy. We also gave an additional tip directly to the Cabin Stewardess for their special attention to detail. I heard from one staff member that 70% of their earnings come from tips. Depending on when and how you are leaving you are asked to pick up the appropriate corresponding colored luggage tags. They ask that you put your large luggage in the hallway an hour before you are to leave but no later than 9:00 am since you are supposed to be out of your room by then so they can clean the room for the next cruise. The do serve a normal breakfast and it is OK to stay later in the common areas as long as the boat is still in port. Summary During the last evening on the ship I found out that the only AMA employee on the ship is the Cruise Manager. At first I thought this was a bit strange, but then realized this is quite smart of AMA. Subcontract the needed services and get the best you can and not have the headaches of being an employer. When we first started looking for a river cruise, we knew nothing and we decided to depend on a TA that specializes in river cruises. I had done some research and found that the timing and the reviews of AMA was the way I wanted to go. I contacted AMA who put me in contact with a TA for Avoya Travel. Bart specializes in cruises and in fact he was on our ship. We were leaning toward Viking because of their marketing. After listening to our wants and needs, our TA suggested AMA and we are very happy he did. It is often the little things that make the difference and this cruise was no exception. On almost any itinerary, you will be touring with and around the other major companies. (Viking, Tauck, Avalon, Uniworld, Grand Circle etc.) It seemed like the AMA tour groups were smaller allowing for better access to the guide. Overall, we could not be happier with AMA and highly recommend them to anyone. You could see from observing the other cruise lines that they offered a high value for the price. I also believe the AMA Certo is the best ship out there right now and if you add the service and attention to detail of the AMA staff, the combination is among the best, if not the best in the industry. Monika worked very hard for us all and she is a real credit to AMA. Everyone will have different experiences but ours could not have been better and I would not hesitate to recommend the AMA Certo. Bruce and Betsy (baby boomers from Boston)   Read Less
Sail Date: October 2013
We had a wonderful time on this cruise. There was a problem with a lock between Budapest and Bratislava. We were notified of this prior to leaving home. We were bussed to Bratislava. We had a very knowledgeable guide on the bus and the ... Read More
We had a wonderful time on this cruise. There was a problem with a lock between Budapest and Bratislava. We were notified of this prior to leaving home. We were bussed to Bratislava. We had a very knowledgeable guide on the bus and the trip went smoothly. Our cabin had great storage space. We booked late and could only get a cabin on the lowest level. It was quite small, but fitted out nicely. There was a lot of good storage space. The bed was quite comfortable. I was concerned about the windows being small and located high in the wall, but it was fine. It also provided a small ledge where you could store things or put wet laundry on the ledge to get the sun and dry. There was no elevator service to this level, which was OK with us, but the stairs were narrow on one side, so traffic was pretty much one way, but it worked out. Crew were friendly and professional. Tours that we took were very informative and guides always had a good grasp of English. Our first night we were able to each in the specialty restaurant - it was wonderful. Entertainment was on board for three nights and each of them were fun and enjoyable. Food was good. All in all a wonderful experience. We will do a river cruise again and the first company we will research will be AMA Waterways. Read Less
Sail Date: August 2013
This was our first river cruise. What a great surprise. Cabins are well appointed but smaller than Ocean Cruises. You don't spend that much time in the cabin so the size is not that important. The Cleaning girls were fantastic and ... Read More
This was our first river cruise. What a great surprise. Cabins are well appointed but smaller than Ocean Cruises. You don't spend that much time in the cabin so the size is not that important. The Cleaning girls were fantastic and their towel art was a great delight The two cities of Buda and Pest were very different but the architecture and people were fantastic. We were in Budapest when they were celebrating St. Stephens day. Many stores were closed but the city was crowed with tourists having a great time. We were held for departure until a fantastic fireworks display was completed. Captain and Tour Director were very knowledgeable and made sure that we were on the proper excursion. The food was excellent. With only 148 passengers on board, we were able to meet almost everyone on board. The stops along the way were very educational and interesting. I am not a great walker, but they made sure I saw almost everything that my wife saw, except for the stores. Every port had great attractions. We wish we could have spent more time in Vienna. Prague must be seen. AMA gets a five star rating from us. Read Less
Sail Date: August 2013
The August AMA Waterways Danube Discovery cruise aboard AmaLyra was underwhelming even though AMA Waterways is supposed to provide a higher end experience than its competition. The AmaLyra was built in 2009 & therefore does not have ... Read More
The August AMA Waterways Danube Discovery cruise aboard AmaLyra was underwhelming even though AMA Waterways is supposed to provide a higher end experience than its competition. The AmaLyra was built in 2009 & therefore does not have all the "bells & whistles” of more modern ships (e.g. it has French balconies which allow passengers to open a sliding door to the outside but not a true balcony which permits passengers to actually sit outside on a balcony). It carries fewer passengers (ca. 143) than most (ca. 160-190) of its competition. Cabins: Although there was plenty of closet & drawer space, mid priced cabin floor space felt somewhat cramped. The bathroom was remarkably spacious with a modern fully enclosed shower. Linens were high end. The bed was uncomfortably hard even with two duvets used for cushioning. There was good climate control & soundproofing. The TV, which provided entertainment & information, was small, ornery & navigation was not user friendly. The free internet/Wi-Fi in one’s room, & throughout the ship, was, to be kind, not state of the art. Capturing & maintaining a usable signal was frustratingly slow and not as reliable as it should have been even while docked in a reasonable large port city where one would have expected a better signal. And, at speeds of 9 mph the ship doesn’t cover huge swaths of geography that might account for such problems. River cruise ships often do not have their own berth in port. In nearly every port, 2-3 ships from the same cruise line tied up to one another. When nested in this manner, one had to walk across one or more ships in order to get to your ship. Depending upon where your ship is docked in the nest (outside or inside), cabins of different ships are across and within a few feet of one another privacy concerns requiring closed curtains and therefore no view and limited natural light. Public Space: When relaxing on deck was undesirable (too dark or weather issues), there was little interior quiet space. Other than a multi-purpose lounge (bar, entertainment, dance space &/or lecture hall), the one interior space that could have been used for reading was also used for games and socializing as well as adjoining a tiny fitness area with an extremely noisy fitness machine. Too often one’s cabin was the only place for quiet space. At those times, a true balcony was missed. Dining: Everyone was required to eat at the same time. Seating was comfortable and tables were well spaced. One did not have the feeling of being crowded as friends have described on other river cruise lines. Menu choices were much more limited than on ocean cruising. Food was generally mediocre with occasional flashes of "good.” We found at least one of the meal time wine offerings was good. Bar prices were on the high side. After some just adequate service, we discovered, & stayed with a waiter, who was excellent. Although tips were pooled, passengers were advised that it was acceptable to tip additionally. Waiters (and cabin attendants) understood what was required & behaved appropriately. With one or two exceptions, the entertainment brought onboard was forgettable. Unfortunately, the one man keyboard/vocalist who was supposed to provide in house music for dancing and general entertainment was musically challenged in addition to having some language issues. Ports: The slow pace of river cruising (about 9 mph) means that not much distance is covered in a 24 hour period. The ports are relatively close together and notwithstanding significant differences among them, one has a greater sense of homogeneity (architecture, food, general culture) compared to ocean cruising where ports are generally much farther apart exposing one to much greater diversity. Tours: Free bus or walking tours gave an overview of each port. The bus tours were mostly drive-by’s. Tour guides were knowledgable with lots of esoteric commentary & forgettable detail. Optional tours were limited and marginally interesting.   Read Less
Sail Date: August 2013
We just cruised from Budapest to Vilshofen on board the relatively new ship Amacerto. By booking in March for an August vacation, we surely thought we would get a cabin with a balcony, but this popular cruise sold out fast, and we were ... Read More
We just cruised from Budapest to Vilshofen on board the relatively new ship Amacerto. By booking in March for an August vacation, we surely thought we would get a cabin with a balcony, but this popular cruise sold out fast, and we were sent down to the Piano deck where the cabin only has two windows. The cabin was small, very small. But there was everything we needed: Flat screen TV with free WiFi, a safe for our valuables, a fridge for the gin, ample wardrobe space, room under the bed for suitcases plus more storage, a tiny bathroom with the best shower we have ever had on any ship. Showering on a ship is usually like going into a closet with a wet dog who shakes itself, but this shower was a real rainshower that made you want to stay in there all day... The ship was lovely, clean and modern. But, the artificial flowers that decorate the lobby and outdoors need a lot of help. Get a designer, quick! The lounge was roomy, and the little library was nice and cozy with its fake fireplace. The dining room was intimate but with large windows to admire the landscape as we sailed by. The food was sometimes very good, sometimes good. The breakfast buffet was maybe more European than some Americans liked, but with food enough to choke a horse, there was always something for every taste. The waitstaff was always eager to please although some of them were not fully trained. The wines for lunch and dinner were simple, some of them very good, though. Included in the price were tours of the various cities we visited, and the ones we took, had wonderful guides and went at a comfortable pace. The entertainment was a bit skinny, but with so many stops and so much to see, who needed to be entertained anyway. All in all, the trip on the good boat Amacerto was a pleasure from beginning to end. And when an unlucky waiter spilled a little red wine on my pants one night, I was given a cleaning and pressing free of charge as fast as they could possibly manage it. Read Less
Sail Date: July 2013
We just returned from one of the most enjoyable vacations we have ever taken. It combined an AMA Waterways Danube cruise with a pre-stay in Budapest and a post-stay in Prague (both pre-stays booked on our own). The itinerary was a little ... Read More
We just returned from one of the most enjoyable vacations we have ever taken. It combined an AMA Waterways Danube cruise with a pre-stay in Budapest and a post-stay in Prague (both pre-stays booked on our own). The itinerary was a little exhausting but thoroughly enchanting. More on those stays in a bit but I'll focus on the cruise portion first. To preface the review, we consider ourselves "veteran cruisers" having taken about 15 trips (I've lost count!) with Princess, Royal Caribbean, Holland America, NCL, and Carnival. Itineraries have included both the Caribbean and Mediterranean. We had wanted to take a river cruise for a couple of years but were held back by the cost (both cruise and airfare) and the concern that river cruises were only for seniors (we're in our 50's). Once we decided to take the plunge, I began to research cruises via Cruise Critic and Trip Advisor. It became quickly apparent that river cruise reviews are few and far between. Especially for newer ships. Therefore I was determined to post this review as soon as we returned. For those who don't want to read the entire review, I'll simply say that our experience was excellent and AMA Waterways is a first rate cruise line. We absolutely would sail with them again. And more specifically, the AMA Prima is a beautiful river ship with a crew that is second to none. From the moment we first approached the ship to the final farewells (including hugs), they worked tirelessly to provide a first-class experience for every guest. From the outside the AMA Prima is attractive, though after seeing many cruise ships on the river, none of them will win a unique design award. The limitations imposed by low bridges and locks pretty much dictate a low, squat profile--very different from the big cruise ocean liners. AMA Prima is a little different in that the bridge (or wheelhouse) is large and modern-looking. When needed, it hydraulically lowers almost flush with the top deck. The top deck also includes a small pool--just enough for a dip to cool off on hot days. One interesting treatment was the deck floor covering. While most ships we saw had bright blue or gray indoor/outdoor carpet, the AMA Prima has a brown carpet with stripes that makes it look somewhat like teak flooring on ocean liners. The outdoor furniture was either cushioned wicker or teak deck chairs. The overall effect was contemporary and upscale. Once inside, the ship's beauty became instantly apparent. Materials were higher end and it felt like an upscale hotel. Off of the lobby/front desk was a very large lounge with a variety of comfortable (and colorful) seating groupings, a dance floor and piano, a bar plus a breakfast/snack area and separate coffee station. In one side area they had electric fireplaces and a small library--likely a great spot on a winter's day/Christmas market cruise. On the deck below the lounge was an attractive dining room. The rest of the ship was mostly cabins and crew areas with a few exceptions. A small exercise room, beauty salon and in the very rear, a 20+ person restaurant were aft. As a point of comparison, we had the opportunity to go through one of the new Viking ships on the way to our ship. While it looked very nice and had a larger lobby, the decor seemed rather stark, modern and monotone compared to the AMA Prima. Our cabin was in steerage (as one of our traveling companions called it). Located on the lowest deck, the cabin was very nice and had two small windows just above the waterline. While we missed having a balcony (those cabins were sold out when we booked), I have to admit that I was happy we did not spend the extra money on one. As other reviews have mentioned, often the ship is docked next to other ships making them unuseable, and the fact that you are on the go so much, I think we would have made little use of it. Plus the seating areas on the top deck are so comfortable and offer a panoramic view not available on a balcony. The cabin layout was a little tight compared to large cruise liners but is so well designed that almost everything fit without a problem. The only complaint would be in the bathroom. Storage is very tight and an extra shelf would help to hold toiletries. Despite that, the bathroom is like the rest of the ship...well done with upscale materials. Floors and shower were marble (or a faux marble tile).The shower was fantastic. It is angled and has real sliding glass doors (no more sticking/blowing shower curtain!). It offers a choice of rainshower or handheld shower heads. Countertops in both bath and cabin vanity were stone. One very slick feature was the closet clothes rod. Instead of an overhead light, the rod has a strip of LEDs built in the rod that downlights the clothes hanging below. The same feature is used on some of the stair railings elsewhere in the ship. Another interesting (and convenient) feature was the cabin door lock. A simple touch of the key card to the handle unlocked the door. We found the beds and duvets to be very comfortable despite a few reviews that said AMA's beds were on the hard side. Room service was impeccable, with twice a day cleaning and restocking. Meals were near gourmet (at least for us) and they tried to use local recipes/favorites for all of the dinners. Overall I felt the food was superior to normal cruise ship dining. We did eat one evening in the Erlenebis specialty restaurant. It was a fun experience and a great way to meet fellow passengers in an even more intimate setting. Service and food were great. I will say, however, that we thought the main dining room food and presentation were so nice that the specialty restaurant was really not needed. Service was very good in the main dining room at every meal. And AMA's free flowing wine and beer policy with meals is just that--free flowing. They are generous with the pours and glasses never went empty. While I am not a wine connoisseur, my wife and our friends "know their stuff" and found the quality of the wines to be very good. What really set the ship apart, however, was the crew. They were really outstanding. Most cruise ships have staff that are pleasant and polite, but to a person the AMA Prima's crew seemed to be genuinely happy to have us aboard. I'd guess there were only about 25 or so and they were all very friendly...from the head chef (Gino Guadagni) stopping me several times to ask how the meal was and truly interested in my reply... to the captain (Josef Olaj) saying hello all the time... to the cruise director (Reka Piros) who appeared to be on call about 20 hours a day and never lost her enthusiasm and infectious attitude. A little more on Reka. Obviously the cruise director tends to be the best known of any staff on a cruise ship. On a river ship the CD is even more visible because of the small number of passengers. Reka is the consumate cruise director. A real "people person", she was constantly on the go, whether it was introducing onboard entertainment, organizing tours or flagging down busses! Every conversation with her made you feel like you were an old friend. And her skills were certainly put to the test when the lock situation happened. She was wonderful at providing updates and reassuring us that they were working to guarantee that we had a great experience no matter what happened. Reka is one in a million and certainly helped make the cruise a memorable experience! Despite my initial concerns, the ship had a very nice mix of passengers (140+ in all)--most from the US and Canada, the rest from Australia, UK and a few from Europe/Japan. Ages ranged from about 12 (only one kid on the trip) to over 90. We had a group of about 18 guys from the US/Canada- all of whom were personable and a lot of fun- that booked through a gay travel agency. AMA's tours were well done and most of the guides were professional, well-prepared and entertaining. Tour busses were modern and spotless. The bike rides were great... bikes carried on board were in good shape and the crew was happy to adjust seats and handlebars to accommodate the various riders. We weren't sure what the difficulty level would be and were pleased to find that the rides were at a comfortable pace and not hard for the average rider. As for "glitches"...the only thing that happened was that for the last 3 days there was a lot of uncertainty as to whether we could reach Nuremberg on the ship. German lock keepers had gone on strike and they didn't know if they could make it through all of the locks we needed to pass. The situation changed hour by hour. As a result, we sailed faster in some spots. In the end we made it to about 45 minutes outside of Nuremberg. The ship docked at a stone/gravel yard and they provided buses to get us into the city and return for an overnight. We didn't get as much time in Nuremberg as planned due to a late bus arrival (I was disappointed). But on the good side, Reka offered to have us travel with ship extension passengers going to Prague on cruise line buses at no cost (it saved us over $500 collectively instead of traveling on the planned German Railways bus). They had an excursion planned to a spa town, Karlovy Vary, in the Czech Republic that we also were able to go on as we traveled to Prague. We enjoyed all of the stops, though Budapest was probably the highlight. The city suffered much destruction in the war yet they had rebuilt it exactly as before (also in Nuremberg and Prague). Absolutely beautiful public buildings, bridges, castle, etc. A very young city....lots of 20/30 somethings. One friend went to the mineral baths (the other 3 of us chickened out) and said it was a great experience. Many of the most impressive buildings are on the riverfront and they light them at night. As we sailed away, the captain did a riverfront cruise by. It was really spectacular, the whole city by the riverfront was golden light. If you haven't been there and get the chance, go! The rest of the places were all worth the visit. Probably the least charming was Bratislava, where you could really see the remnants of Soviet control and they are just catching up with many of the other cities. Had a great 18 mile bike ride in Austria right along the Danube, took a current-powered ferry across the river with the bikes and even stopped for a beer at a beer garden on the way. Vienna was huge and sprawling with so many beautiful buildings. Took a tour to Salzburg (inland from the river). The scenery was breathtaking. It is called the Lake district and is surrounded by mountains and lakes. People come from all over Europe to bike from town to town. We are all fans of the Sound of Music and on the trip to Salzburg stopped at the town where they filmed the wedding scene at the local church and had time in the church. In Salzburg itself we saw the gardens where they filmed several of the movie scenes in the Royal garden. Ate lunch in an old part of the cathedral. One of our friends and I took the bike ride to Valhalla. It is a place that looks like the Parthenon in Greece and is dedicated to famous Germans. It was 400 steps up the mountain to the summit (harder than the bike ride!!). In Nuremberg we did a WW II bus tour of the Nazi Zeppelin grounds where Hitler gave many party rally speeches. There is also a colossal building near it (never finished) that was to be his party congress hall. It is the only major Nazi building still remaining. Rode by the courthouse where the Nuremberg trials were held (closed on the day we were there). One final note, we booked our hotels in Budapest and Prague ourselves. In Budapest we chose the Continental Hotel Zara based on Trip Advisor reviews and great rates . We were not disappointed. The hotel is located in a large renovated building that had once been a mineral bath. Rooms were contemporary, clean and very pleasant. The hotel manager Zoltan Geher and I had corresponded beforehand via email and he made a point of sending us a bottle of wine in the room and coming to meet me before we left. I can highly recommend the hotel. While a little ways from the city center attractions, it is still within walking distance of the sights. In Prague we chose the Louren Hotel based on recommendations in Rick Steves "Prague" tourbook. Again a great choice. The Louren is a small (20 room) family-owned hotel. It had a charming lobby and bar/breakfast room. Our rooms were large, nicely decorated with new bathrooms and spotless. Best of all, the staff were very welcoming and helpful. Even to the point that when we asked for a recommendation to a local bakery to buy a birthday cake, they sent a chilled bottle of sparkling wine for our friend's birthday. While the hotel is a subway ride away from the city center, the metro station is close by and easy/cheap to ride. All in all, it was a wonderful trip and AMA provided a first-class experience. while we had initially considered Viking, I am very glad we chose AMA in the end. Our next river cruise will almost certainly be with AMA!   Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: June 2013
We took a Danube river cruise on AmaWaterways ship AmaLyra in early June. We arrived in Budapest on the day the Danube crested during the worst floods in 500 years. Nothing was moving on the river, and on the day of departure the AmaLyra ... Read More
We took a Danube river cruise on AmaWaterways ship AmaLyra in early June. We arrived in Budapest on the day the Danube crested during the worst floods in 500 years. Nothing was moving on the river, and on the day of departure the AmaLyra was marooned several hundred miles away on the wrong side of the Rhine-Danube canal. Our extraordinary cruise manager and the company made herculean efforts to keep us informed of alternative arrangements; we went to Bratislava by bus and were accommodated in a very comfortable Sheraton, so the Bratislava tour went off as scheduled. Then another bus to Vienna, and on to Ybbs, where we picked up the company's newest ship, the AmaPrima. Three glorious days on the AmaPrima took us to Wesenhufer, where we were again bused to Passau, then Regensburg, where we got on the AmaLyra at last for the last three days to Nuremburg. The company thought of everything; when we were unable to eat lunch on board (because there was no ship!) every passenger was given a substantial cash allowance for lunch. And the additional packing-and-unpacking chores were handled cheerfully by the crews of both ships. Staterooms were spotless, the food first class on both ships; and every crew mamber went out of his/her way to make the cruise a great experience for the passengers. On top of everything else, AmaWaterways gave every passenger a substantial credit - good towards any cruise through 2016 - for the 2 days that were missed on shipboard. Altogether a first class experience! Read Less
Sail Date: May 2013
Our first river cruise turned into a bus trip. Fortunately we were booked with AMAwaterways, a first class company. The team on the AMAprima and AMAwaterways moved mountains to make our cruise the best experience possible in spite of ... Read More
Our first river cruise turned into a bus trip. Fortunately we were booked with AMAwaterways, a first class company. The team on the AMAprima and AMAwaterways moved mountains to make our cruise the best experience possible in spite of floods and cold weather. The ship is brand new and is very well laid out with two beautiful dining spaces and a large lounge. The staff in the dining room was very friendly and many knew us by the third day on the ship. The service was excellent. The cabin decor was very tasteful and the shower was great as was the bed. The French balcony was private and very well designed. There was always an AMAwaterways representative in the lobby of our two hotels (Prague and Budapest). Our guides were typically excellent and we loved the QuietEar head sets so we could always hear the guide. When floods prevented the ship from continuing on the Danube, our amazing cruise director managed to reschedule on the fly and find guides and buses to allow us to follow our itinerary. We were booked into a 5-star hotel in Budapest and arrangements were made for all our meals and tours. Any of the ports that we could not visit because of the floods were covered by bus trips. We would highly recommend AMAwaterways and would travel with them again. Read Less
Sail Date: November 2012
We recently completed a 14 night trip to Europe, structured around a 7 night sailing on AmaCerto from Budapest to Nuremberg. This was our 6th river cruise and our favorite so far. As much as we enjoyed our cruise on AmaDante last year, ... Read More
We recently completed a 14 night trip to Europe, structured around a 7 night sailing on AmaCerto from Budapest to Nuremberg. This was our 6th river cruise and our favorite so far. As much as we enjoyed our cruise on AmaDante last year, AmaCerto managed to top even that experience. More on that shortly. We arrived in Frankfurt on a Sunday and decided to overnight in Mainz, due to a schedule change by Lufthansa that created a 6 hour layover. We stayed at the Hilton Mainz and very much enjoyed the town and the hotel. Early the next day we flew from Frankfurt to Budapest and checked into our home for 3 days, Marriott Millennium Court Apartments. We were very pleased with our choice as the hotel was perfectly located and the apartments spacious and well appointed, as well as an excellent value. We explored the city the first day and had a casual and tasty dinner that evening at Vapiano, a favorite of ours in Europe for fresh and reasonable fare when we are not in the mood for a sit down dinner. Early the next morning we met our guide, Andrea MkKay, and spent a very enjoyable morning exploring the city. Andrea is very good and I recommend her for those looking for a private guide. Our tour helped us get the lay of the land and we had her drop us at the central market, where we had a forgettable lunch and spent about an hour, picking up a few things to take back to the apartment. We also stopped in at two of the famous public baths of Budapest as we were very curious and wanted to make a decision as to whether we would return. That afternoon we spent at the Christmas markets, which we found to be of very good quality compared to many locations in Europe we have visited. Dinner was at Cafe Bouchon, which was outstanding and reasonable. The next day we started off with a visit to the Terror Museum, which we all found both moving and educational. For any with an interest in how Hungary and its people were affected by the war (we found this insightful as to the overall personalities and temperament of today's residents) I recommend visiting this museum. We made our way back to our hotel and had a snack at the markets. Then, four of us walked to Magnolia Day Spa and enjoyed several hours at this lovely spa. It is a great value as well as a luxurious experience and the cost is so much less than at home. Later that afternoon, we did laundry at the hotel (such a convenience) and then walked the riverfront, enjoying the views as the lights came on around the city. I think that Budapest is at its best in the evenings, when the buildings along the river are truly spectacular. Dinner that evening was at Bottega la Famiglia and was very good. This place was hard to find but worth the effort. We opted out of the Marriott breakfast and enjoyed the lovely, small cafe across the street for a light breakfast each day. The last morning we walked over the Charles Bridge and took the funicular up to the castle to explore the area. We had visited briefly during our tour but wanted to spend more time there and were pleased that we did. We stopped at a place that was supposedly famous for strudel but the consensus among those who indulged was that it was quite average and not worth the calories. We also visited the Hilton while in the area which is a lovely hotel, but too isolated for our tastes. We were very happy that we had chosen to stay instead at the apartments. We headed back and packed our bags and walked to the boat for embarkation. It was about a 10 minute walk and some of our group opted instead for a taxi as they had more luggage. We boarded the AmaCerto and were immediately dazzled - she is gorgeous! The design is eclectic and mostly contemporary, with rich fabrics and a surprising mix of colors and textures in the public areas that worked perfectly together. The small library with its gas logs was cozy but could benefit from glass partitions separating it from the main lounge, as it was not always as quiet and cozy as it appeared, depending on what was happening in the main lounge. Our group had 6 cabins in various categories, ranging from the cheapest Aquarium Class to the truly lovely AA twin balcony. That room was spacious, well laid out and the bathroom was the nicest I have seen on a river boat. There was lots of natural light, enhanced by the use of light colors and rich fabrics. Our friends in Category E were thrilled with their room, which was quite spacious and very comfortable. We explored the ship, unpacked and then got ready for the welcome aboard talk and cocktail party. We quickly got to know the excellent lounge staff, including Tamas and Ivo. Dinner that evening set the standard for more to come. The food on AmaCerto was very good to excellent. Dinner was an event and we received consistently excellent service. Special mention to Bogdan (aka Beau) and Ivo, who were our waiters each evening as we sought out their stations. Our only dinner disappointment was the evening in Vienna. I had called AMA prior to the cruise to find out if dinner was going to be earlier due to the optional excursion in the evening. I was assured that those of us not going to the concert would be able to have dinner at the usual time so we did not reserve to have dinner in Vienna. The reality was that dinner was at 5:30, which is far too early in my opinion. This has happened to us on two lines now that stopped in Vienna and I personally feel that there should be an option for those of us opting out of the optional concert and preferring not to have dinner at such an early hour. Had I been given accurate information, we would have planned dinner out at a restaurant but with a larger group, it was not practical to make last minute plans. The specialty restaurant was a truly 5 star experience. Food and service were top notch and it was a highlight of the cruise for all of us. Breakfast and lunch were very good as well. The omelet station was new enhancement that many in our group enjoyed (thank you, Adrian, the "Omelet Whisperer") and most lunches offered a specialty hot food station as well. We really enjoyed the curry and pasta stations. Included wines were mostly good and always plentiful. Drink prices were fair and selection good. It would be nice to see an expanded selection of wines by the bottle, which is how we prefer to order. Csaba, our Cruise Manager, was young, personable, and very good. He had a great personality, endless patience and was always accessible. The entire staff of AmaCerto was wonderful. Veli, our room attendant, was excellent. The dining staffs hailed from many areas but were uniformly warm and professional. Angela and Alex at reception were always available to help. The head chef, Gino, was very visible and friendly and his staff put out exceptional meals on a consistent basis. The Captain and his crew were also very visible and professional and ran a tight ship. The crew was the best we have experienced on the river so far and that says a lot, as we were so impressed by the crew on our last AMA cruise. Entertainment was very good. Matthias, the house pianist, had a good selection of music and also acted as DJ. Many nights there were people on the dance floor until well past midnight. The 60s party was a blast and the cruise staff that participated ensured that all had a great time. We enjoyed local acts included La Strada (different members from last year), the Aphrodites, and a female vocalist on the last night was excellent. Port talks were information and not bland as we have experienced on some other river boats. In room infotainment system offered free internet and a good selection of movies. Laundry service was reasonable and very good. The demographic on our cruise was quite young, with about half of the guests under 50 and a good percentage under 40. No kids or teens. For us, this was really a perfect mix as things were lively and fun, something we have not always experienced on other lines. We did several of the included excursions, opting for the "Active Walker" pace, which was just right for us. Bike tours had good participation and the bikes also got taken out by a good number of guests to use on their own. We most enjoyed Nuremberg and Regensburg this trip, and felt that time was too short in both. We enjoyed the tour least in Vienna, where we opted for the "Hidden Secrets" tour and had a guide that could not operate the equipment properly, making her difficult to follow. We joined Csaba that evening for a visit to the opening of the main Christmas market, which was a mob scene but fun anyway. At Durnstein, several in our group walked all the way to the top of the castle and enjoyed spectacular views. I found the port to be too touristy for my tastes with not enough to do. Other stops included Melk, where we explored the quaint town center as we had previously visited the abbey, and Linz, where we did a DIY day in Salzburg, which was sunny and pretty. In the evening, we walked through Passau on our way back to the boat. This is a lovely town and we would have preferred more time there than stopping in Durnstein, which caters primarily to tourists. At the end of our cruise, we headed to Prague on our own, using a private transfer with Prague Airport Transfers. That was the only disastrous part of the entire trip, as they sent a vehicle very much under sized for our group, even though I specifically advised them of the exact number of people and bags. We were forced to sit with luggage around and on top of us, which was not only unsafe but also far less than comfortable. This was compounded by the first snow storm of the season and a highway accident that resulted in a three hour delay where we sat still on the highway in the snow. Next time I will go with my instincts and stick with DB public bus, as we would have had much more room as well as a bathroom, a necessity when you are driving for almost 8 hours. In Prague we stayed at the lovely Barcelo Old Town Praha, a small hotel ideally located. Rooms and staff were both very good and we would definitely stay here again, much preferring it to the Hilton Prague where we stayed previously. In Prague, we had an excellent day with Andrea Rezníckov' [Andrejka2002@seznam.cz] and the afternoon with Jana. I highly recommend this for Prague, as there is so much beneath the surface to understand. We had two great dinners in Prague; one at Ambiente Pasta Fresca and the other at Cszenka, a sister restaurant. Our meal at Vino il Vino was disappointing and quite average. All in all, this was one of best trips ever and the wonderful staff and crew of AmaCerto had a lot to do with this. This cruise will be a tough act to follow. Read Less
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