We had never done a river cruise before, so my dad and I did some research on the best river cruise companies. Everyone has heard of Viking, but as we dug into the reviews we saw that AmaWaterways had excellent ratings. We knew we wanted ... Read More
We had never done a river cruise before, so my dad and I did some research on the best river cruise companies. Everyone has heard of Viking, but as we dug into the reviews we saw that AmaWaterways had excellent ratings. We knew we wanted to do a Danube tour and the AmaSonata ship sailed at the appropriate time. We flew into Budapest a few days early and spent some time in the city, and we also booked the Munich post-cruise land tour.
If I had to sum up my experience in one word, it would be WOW. My expectations were exceeded in every way on this river cruise. I am writing this review from home, but would do anything to rewind the past couple weeks and re-do my trip. Here are some of the details:
The ship overall was very elegant - nicely decorated, comfortable lounge areas, and a great sun deck with plenty of chairs. The lounge had a coffee/tea machine and a full bar with staff members always available to get you what you need. They also had snacks out in-between meal times and served light lunches there as well. The restaurant was a few decks down, but had plenty of windows to see outside during meal times.
We were lucky enough to get upgraded to a room with a full sitting balcony (complete we two chairs). The room was small, but comfortable enough for my sister and me. The bathroom is also pretty tight, but considering the space the shower was a good size. The cabin came with a computer (Mac) that had movies (which we didn't watch) and internet access.
* Breakfast - There was a wide variety of food at the buffet, complete with an omelet station that I ate at almost every morning. I'm also obsessed with the muesli in Europe, which was available in abundance each morning. Guests could also order things like eggs benedict and waffles off the menu. Juices, coffee, etc. were all available.
* Lunch - Lunch always consisted of a buffet of salads, sandwiches, and a special dish (curry one day, vietnamese soup another, etc.) However, you could also order soups and main courses from a menu which were also delicious.
* Dinner - Ama-zing. We had a 4-course dinner every evening, which I'm going to miss now that I'm back home. The soups were to die for; my favorite being the Parmesan soup. A few of the nights we had local-inspired food, such as wienerschnitzel or sausages in Bavaria.
Note: Beer and wine are unlimited and included with lunch and dinner. However, if you want a glass of wine to sit on the deck in-between meals, you will be charged.
Since my sister and I were some of the youngest on the ship (river cruises have a tendency to attract a 50+ crowd...or so I'm told), we really connected with the staff. From day one, they made us feel like we were at home. Everyone from the bartenders to our housekeeping crew were so cheerful and hard-working, it gave me a new perspective on working at a job, because they work all the time, but still manage to have a sense of humor and connect with their guests. Special shout-out to Cornel, Millos, Alex, Marius, Yanos, and Evo.
Ports and Shore Excursions
Most of the port stops and excursions were really great. We had the occasional dud when it came to tour guides (only 1 or 2), but everything else was great. The guided tours were informative, and they always gave us enough time to explore a place on our own. We didn't do a lot of the extra (as in additional money) excursions, so I can't speak to those, but the included tours were good. Each day there were usually 2-3 options for tours and they had a gentle walking group, which was nice for my parents who sometimes wanted to take it easy.
We traveled with four adults - my parents in their 60s and my sis/me who are 33 and 40. This cruise would NOT be good for children, in my opinion. As I mentioned above, most of the guests were 50+ and the tours/excursions are much more focused on history and things like wine-tasting. Although, Disney has partnered with AmaWaterways and I'm sure they'll create a much more kid-friendly option.
I would hands down, 100%, go on a river cruise with AmaWaterways again, especially on the AmaSonata. I would go again next week if I could get the time off from work.:) Read Less