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AmaCello Review

4.0 / 5.0
43 reviews
See all photos
Editor Rating
Very Good
Dan Askin

Gliding slowly through the Amsterdam-Rhine canal -- we were, of course, obeying the canal's stodgy speed limit -- passengers idled on AmaCello's sun deck, one man sketching the passing half-timber homes and church spires, others discussing the cargo ships/mobile river homes that transport raw materials down Europe's industrial superhighways. A short time later, we pulled into our first lock. The dungeon door closed behind us, and as the water level began to rise, we felt ourselves becoming ever more buoyant.

It's easy to see how people fall for the river.

AmaCello, which debuted in spring 2008, is one of river cruising's most modern vessels, on par with the newest offerings from competitors like Tauck and Uniworld. There's the elevator, the fire-orange abstract art piece that greets you in the lobby, the in-cabin multi-function Web/TV system, one of the best cabin shower setups on the rivers (more on that below), the wireless audio systems used during guided tours, Wi-Fi in the lounges and a hydraulic bridge that can be lowered with the push of a button to squeeze under low-slung bridges. Clearly, as river cruising has gained popularity, the niche has moved beyond its more traditional roots: reading on the sun deck; long, multi-course dinners with just-met passengers; evening social nights in the lounge with the piano man playing tasteful background ditties. Of course those draws are still the crux of the experience, but AmaCello presents a hybrid -- a marriage between river cruise tradition and innovation.

If Captain Vlad is manning the wheelhouse, he'll let you in for a primer about life on the river. Or, you can follow his every move from the navigation channel on your in-cabin flat-screen monitor.

A cruise on AmaCello is nearly all-inclusive. Beyond the cruise-ship standards -- food, accommodations, entertainment -- there's wine and beer with dinner, unlimited Internet use and guided tours in each port. There are also about 20 bikes available for tooling around onshore if you begin to wince at the thought of another two-hour panoramic city tour. (The free excursions are mostly of that variety.)

But, while the inclusions were certainly appreciated and the scenery serene -- the Rhine Gorge is Brothers Grim source material, castles and ruins literally blanketing the landscape -- there were a few quirks that detracted from the harmony. We were left slightly crimson after the bar manager rudely dismissed our polite claim that our wine was well past its prime. (Was that a piece of cork?) "It's just very heavy and very dry," he said, irritated. And, though the food was ambitious -- a mishmash of colors and ingredients intended to approximate fine dining rather than serving as the real thing -- the indulgent buttery soups and rich, salty entrees had us craving lighter options. The problem is, on a ship of this size, there are no other options onboard.

Despite our gripes, it's clear that AmaCello provides an excellent, comfortable way to sample the Continental interior. And, unlike on a coach tour vacation -- the closest approximation to a European river cruise -- on AmaCello, you check in once, and it's a stress-free seven days of castles and strudels, medieval market squares and World War II history.


Passengers: 148
Crew: 41
Passenger to Crew: 3.61:1
Launched: 2008
Shore Excursions: 6

Sails To

Fellow Passengers

AmaWaterways' passengers tend to be 55 or older, experienced, well-educated travelers who've sailed on both big-ship lines like Celebrity or Holland America and smaller-ship luxury lines like Windstar and Seabourn. The largest contingent comes from North America, but other English-speaking countries like England and Australia were well-represented. Quite a few have cruised the big ships and are looking for a change.

AmaWaterways AmaCello Dress Code

Dress onboard is casual and practical. For dinner, it's collared shirts for men and blouses and pantsuits for women. There was also a smattering of jackets from the slightly more formal-minded. Folks do dress up a bit for the "Captain's Farewell Dinner," when you'll see dresses, jackets, suits and a bow tie or two. No shorts, swimsuits or open-toed shoes are allowed in the dining room.

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More about AmaWaterways AmaCello

Where does AmaWaterways AmaCello sail from?

AmaWaterways AmaCello departs from

Where does AmaWaterways AmaCello sail to?

AmaWaterways AmaCello cruises to Arles, Lyon, and Avignon

How much does it cost to go on AmaWaterways AmaCello?

Cruises on AmaWaterways AmaCello start from $2,849 per person.
AmaWaterways AmaCello Cruiser Reviews

Fantastic 1st Cruise Experience with AmaWaterways

After three days in Nice, we took a bus to the AmaCello in Arles. Check-in was seamless and everything was ready for us.Read More

oneFirst Time Cruiser

Age 50s

Amazing Experience - Don't rely solely on the CruiseCritic Editor's Review.

The boat this time was the AMACello. I will take it on faith that the boat was launched in 2008 but you'd never know it. The paint was fresh - everywhere! Even the winches.Read More

couple2-5 Cruises

Age 60s

Pleasant cruise, good tours and meals but wine - not so much

Given that this cruise was in world famous Burgundy for four outof seven days, we looked forward to having red burgundy (pinot noir) with our meals.Much to our surprise we were unable to obtain any red burgundy at all - even the nice bottle on the special wine list was not available.Read More

couple2-5 Cruises

Age 70s

Wonderful itinerary and wonderful crew

We joined a wine cruise sponsored by a California winery.The cruise director, Mariana, did everything she could to accommodate our little group, which was seven of the 75 in the winery group.Read More

couple2-5 Cruises

Age 60s

AmaWaterways Fleet
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