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153 Budapest to Europe - River Cruise Reviews

The ship was everything it was advertised to be. We had a 300 sq ft Royal suite and it was very well designed. Breakfast and lunch was very good, but the dinners were so-so. The quality of the wine and beer with dinner was of good ... Read More
The ship was everything it was advertised to be. We had a 300 sq ft Royal suite and it was very well designed. Breakfast and lunch was very good, but the dinners were so-so. The quality of the wine and beer with dinner was of good quality. Personnel at the customer service desk were outstanding, as was the housekeeping lady. The waiters in the dining room were pleasant and helpful, except for a couple who acted like they were doing you a favor waiting on you. The Cruise Director (CD) was at times rude and arrogant. During the cruise we met some delightful gentlemen from California, and we were appalled when we told by them that the ship's Captain referred to them as queers. After 10 days into the cruise , the ship had engine problems, and we told at our daily 6:45 briefing to pack our bags and board buses in the morning. From a Royal suite to a bus and substandard accommodations, we felt like we were being herded around like a bunch of cattle. A good example of our Royal treatment was the Hotel in Amsterdam. There were no robes, no safe, an empty mini- bar, and the rugs were worn and stained. After one night we moved on our own to the Intercontinental Amstel Hotel. At least then we had some time in pleasant surroundings to erase the miserable times since we left the ship. Another unpleasant event was the baggage arrangement at the hotel in Cologne. When we arrived all the bags were placed in a room off the main lobby.We had to rummage through all the bags, find ours, and then get them to our room as best we could. After we found our bags we then were all jammed in the main lobby trying to hear if our name was being for our room assignment. This was an episode we will always remember. When we were getting ready to leave the ship we were told that our accommodations we be equivalent to what we had on the ship. Obviously, they weren't.After we left the ship, the Cruise Director acted like everything he did to accommodate the passengers was a big deal. It is interesting to note that the Cruise Director didn't seem to know much about anything until his daily 6:45 briefing in the cocktail lounge. So you were forced to go to the briefing to keep up on what's happening. I am sure the extra income Avalon made during the briefings was not a consideration in setting up the briefings. Read Less
Sail Date August 2011
Having researched all the European river cruise companies we decided on Ama Waterways believing it would be more upmarket than the most popular company Viking. The cruise was 14 days with 18 stops in five countries along three rivers.The ... Read More
Having researched all the European river cruise companies we decided on Ama Waterways believing it would be more upmarket than the most popular company Viking. The cruise was 14 days with 18 stops in five countries along three rivers.The first impression was the clientèle appeared to be older than the ocean cruising fraternity, although most of the passengers suggested they had been on other cruises. The majority of passengers were Americans, Canadians and Aussies, only two couples from Europe. It is clear the advertising budget for Ama in Europe is tiny as compared to their rivals, hence the profile of mainly North American passengers. The cabins as compared to Ocean cruising liners were very small, the boats have to be narrow to enable them to pass through numerous locks, there are over sixty on the journey from Budapest to Amsterdam. Similarly the balconies are Juliet balconies so no space there! The food was generally very good, the menu changed everyday. There would be a choice of 2/3 starters, main course and dessert. If you didn't fancy any of those there were standby options of salads, grilled chicken or steak. We could not complain about the quality or the choice. The drinks are free with dinner, they advertise wines from the various countries you travel through. In reality it was mainly cheap Austrian and German wines. There was no Hungarian Tokaj or German Franken wines, one assumes too expensive. However it was plentiful and the excellent waiters ensured you had as much as you could drink. Because there was only 140 passengers it was always dinner for everyone at the same time, sometimes at strange times. But for European tastes always too early whether it be lunch or dinner, 12 noon for lunch and 7.00p.m. for dinner, much too early! Most of the excursions are included in the price and thankfully there were different trips for the varying groups of people i.e. active, not so active and not active at all. The trips came to be known as ABC, (another bloody church), but you did have a choice, you do not have to go on them. The occasional one had to be paid for, again optional. The one worth while was in Vienna a concert in the Hofberg Palace, 70 euro each and well worth it. One very good feature was the availability of bikes, for the active you could take the bike and cycle to the next port of call along pathways at the side of the river to re-join the boat. Although in the rain it could be arduous. So to the downsides. The entertainment was generally second rate when compared to ocean cruising. The resident piano player was average at best. The dress code for dinner was very casual, no formal nights. Then there is the thorny issue of tipping. The Australian customers paid in the overall price, the majority were recommended by Ama to tip 12 euro per person per day for the crew and 3 euro per person per day for the Cruise Director. If you followed Ama's recommendation the cost was 420 euro per couple and the Cruise Director would benefit to the tune of just short of 6,000 euro all to herself! Needless to say that was not very popular and some said particularly relating to the Cruise Director, scandalous. The crew (mainly from Romania) were excellent, the Cruise Director average, the tipping recommendations are very controversial. Overall an interesting trip, very expensive when compared to other river cruise companies and ocean cruising. It is back to the large ships and the oceans for us. Read Less
Sail Date June 2011
This was our first River Boat Cruise (though not our first ocean cruise) .. however it certainly will NOT be our last! We found it just delightful! In our opinion and for our taste .. FAR superior and FAR more interesting than ocean ... Read More
This was our first River Boat Cruise (though not our first ocean cruise) .. however it certainly will NOT be our last! We found it just delightful! In our opinion and for our taste .. FAR superior and FAR more interesting than ocean cruising! We found the smaller AMA Amalegro ship of 75 cabins and open dining seating to be much more conducive to a very friendly outgoing atmosphere onboard. Now to details .. good but uneven service and staff.. Some with great attitude, always ready with helpful suggestions, answers and smiles .. others .. with an actual response to a courteous request .. "I only have two hands.". This said .. we especially were impressed with the professionalism and fun attitude of the restaurant's Maitre de, Mr. Gabor Lukacs .. he made up for a lot! The same could not be said of the Second Captain, Ludovic Schrepf, .. I do believe I never once saw him smile on the entire trip! I was shocked to see a smile on his "gallery of staff" photo .. my goodness .. he DOES know how to smile. Quite a sour .. or shall I say dour personality for a ship of this type. To progress in the travel industry I think he needs to be sent to "Charm School"! The food itself needs improvement .. not in quantity but in quality. From chatting with the other guests (and the fact that we are seasoned travelers ourselves) it is obvious the ship is dealing with some fairly well developed palates. For such a small ship there is no excuse not to be putting out a cuisine to astonish .. this experience was pedestrian to be honest. Sounds good on the menu but so so on delivery most often. Quite frequently overcooked vegetables and meats, soups that taste primarily of stock .. could hardly tell one from the other, horrific cookies presented in the Lounge in the afternoon that were an insult to the taste buds! Just no excuse not to have excellent pastries available in this area of the world! I was shocked at the lack of creativity, imagination, flair in terms of the taste .. all presentation and no taste! The waffles I had the last day for breakfast would be a perfect example. I swear you could have taken a photo of the plate for a food magazine! Darling heart shaped waffles surrounding a mound of whipped cream with a beautifully carved strawberry in the center .. all dusted with powdered sugar .. truly a wonder to behold! Yuck! Dry .. tasteless .. like eating cardboard. I had two bites and left the rest .. what a disappointment .. again .. all presentation and NO FLAVOR! I will be frank with you .. we spoke with several couples who said they would NOT consider another AMA Waterways River Cruise based on the food experience of this cruise. Since you are essentially a "captive audience" onboard and food is an important component of any cruise .. PLUS since a River Cruise is not exactly cheap compared to an ocean cruise .. they are going elsewhere. One couple said they have been very happy with Avalon River Cruises .. we are going to check into them next. I don't know if the food problem is with the lack of imagination with the current Executive Chef or poor decision making in upper management but it really is too bad. Just because they are running a business with a "full ship" .. word gets around if you take advantage of people and don't deliver as expected. Clean cabin, adequate storage space, good bedside reading lamp, #322 had a lovely view of passing sights, one very comfy easy chair (would be nice to have the space for 2!) however the space is SO tight that to even uncover your duvet at night is a struggle .. not a half inch of spare space, small but adequate bathroom with an electrical outlet which was nice, very nice shower with 3 heads. Only downsides were the free internet NEVER worked in our room and only occasionally in the Lounge .. but most of all .. the beds were TERRIBLY hard! Merely a thin mattress on wood slats! Upon the ship's next remodel they MUST do something about the mattress situation. Anyone with a shoulder/hip/back would be in trouble! Housekeeping was very helpful in accommodating me by adding 2 duvets to my mattress .. that helped immeasurably for my back but onboard the supply of duvets would be grossly limited so ask EARLY if you have such a limitation! We felt the land Day Trips in total were excellent. We especially liked the method of individual earphones connected to the Tour Guide Leader .. didn't miss a word of any guided tour. I'm sure most of you know .. but prepare for all kinds of weather! The last week of August on this cruise .. many didn't prepare with the weather rainy and in the low 50's to barely 60's. Layer .. Layer .. Layer .. bring at least one turtle neck sweater and jacket. Also be VERY careful stepping down at all times .. we had several twisted/bruised people after wet slippery steps were misjudged! AND quite a few colds .. bring cold medicine and wash hands frequently! Sure enough my 2nd night dinner companion (delightful fellow!) gave me a bad cold bug that I am still fighting! EXCELLENT onboard entertainment and organized activities upon arrival at some ports! We really enjoyed many of them .. very well done! Especially the local talent in port towns! The Tour Director, Lilo Lehmann, could not have been better. While quietly VERY efficient and professional .. she was just so friendly, helpful and outgoing .. making everyone feel welcome and a part of the happy little group. Just perfect for the job .. I'm sure they don't pay her enough! Overall we were delighted with our first experience and it will not be our last! We have fallen in love with the concept and may even rearrange future travel plans to accommodate more River Cruises .. just probably not with the AMA because of the quality of the food .. unless we read on TripAdvisors.com that they have improved it GREATLY! If it is at all possible for you .. fly into Prague EARLY! It is a GORGEOUS city! We flew in 9 days early and it could have been longer .. we just LOVED it! We stayed at the Hotel Paris and it was a delight .. book directly for a good rate with a WONDERFUL buffet breakfast (room #307 is VERY quiet and a small but nice balcony)! http://www.hotel-paris.cz/ Read Less
Sail Date August 2010

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