This was our first time on AmaWaterways, but our second river cruise. We did the Gems of Southeastern Europe which started in Budapest, Hungary, went through Croatia, Serbia, and Bulgaria, and ended in Bucharest, Romania. The ship was very ... Read More
This was our first time on AmaWaterways, but our second river cruise. We did the Gems of Southeastern Europe which started in Budapest, Hungary, went through Croatia, Serbia, and Bulgaria, and ended in Bucharest, Romania. The ship was very nice, very well maintained and clean, with plenty of spots in the lounge to sit and relax. Our cabin was just enough room and laid out very well. The food was fantastic, although not reflective of the local regions we were visiting (we had that experience on another cruise line, they served food local to where we were cruising to). But, they did serve local wines from Romania, Bulgaria, and Hungary. The service was excellent, top notch, and even the cruise director, hotel manager, and other prominent folks were often visible and completely approachable.
Our excursions were also amazing. Everything was extremely organized, the tours were jam-packed with things to see and do (we were out all day, every day), and the local tour guides were all amazing. They were very friendly, informative, had great English speaking skills, and were very patient with us. The only thing I wish I had was more free time in each town. We barely had a chance to buy souvenirs, much less relax at a café or just stroll around on our own. But, I'm one who wants to see as much as possible of a city, so that matters more to me.
The itinerary change was quite unexpected and gave us cause for concern before we left, but I want to say that Ama handled it in the best way possible. A week before our sailing, we were told that a bridge in Serbia was being repaired, blocking all ships from getting up the Danube from Serbia to Hungary. This meant that we could not actually sail out of Budapest. Within one week, Ama rearranged our itinerary to stay overnight in Budapest in a 5-star hotel (instead of getting on the ship), complete with a wonderful local buffet dinner in the hotel's restaurant and a private sailing around Budapest that night. The next day, we took a bus to Serbia--which I actually thought was awesome because we got to stop at a gas station and buy fun local food, and get our passports stamped in person by Hungarian and Serbian border controls! Then we were treated to a wonderful local meal in Novi Sad, Serbia, complete with a local band playing, and a short tour of town.
Sure, it was most of the day on the bus, but it didn't feel like it. There was a guide with us who was very informative and talked about both Hungarian and Serbian lifestyles, cultures, and histories. We still got to take a short walking tour of Novi Sad, but we missed going to the fortress because we had to still drive to Belgrade that night, where our ship was docked. Driving through Belgrade at night was pretty cool.
The rest of our itinerary shifted up one day as a result--we missed out on going to a couple of Hungarian towns before going to Serbia, and missed out on a little half-day excursion to a town in Croatia. BUT, for the last day of the cruise, we spent the day in Costanta, Romania, on the Black Sea--an excursion that Ama had never done before. We had a wonderful, long tour of the town, went to museums, saw the Roman mosaic boardwalk, went into the cathedral, and even put our hands in the Black Sea!! I felt really privileged to be able to do this, and was extremely appreciative of the Cruise Director literally whipping up this new stop and excursion within one week's time!
After returning home, we also received a letter from Ama giving us nearly $2,000 in credit towards a future cruise as reimbursement for the messed-up itinerary. Woah! I was just happy with this new itinerary, and was delighted that I got to go to a seaside town in Romania. The cruise credit was just the icing on the cake and shows how well Ama treats their customers. We will certainly return to Ama to use our credit on a future cruise! Read Less