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8 AmaWaterways Lyon Cruise Reviews

It was my first cruise with the AmaWaterways, but it will not be the last. I chose it because it was the only cruise that offered exactly the tour I wanted to take, including the possibility of spending three days in Paris partly on my ... Read More
It was my first cruise with the AmaWaterways, but it will not be the last. I chose it because it was the only cruise that offered exactly the tour I wanted to take, including the possibility of spending three days in Paris partly on my own, but always backed up by the AmaWaterways personnel in case of need; and talking of that, Sonja always kept me under her wings, whether I was a few meters or a few kilometers from her. Sure of that, I always felt safe and ready to explore. Everybody on the ship was a dream, including the Captain, who is an excellent dancer. Everybody had a smile and help to offer, including the other cruisers; in fact, I noticed that this company attracts a nice and knowledgeable crowd. Mr. Peter van Straaten, the Executive Chef, had no limits on how to provide excellent and exclusive repasts on a river cruise ship that, after all, must have some restrictions on how large a kitchen can possibly be. The choice of land excursions and guides was also excellent. When it seemed impossible to find a taxi in Lyon, the guide said that if the second taxi she called would also not show up, she would take me to the Musee de Tissues with our bus; fortunately, the second taxy arrived. Thank you for everything. Maria Villarreal Read Less
Sail Date September 2019
Wanted to see Provence when chance to see lavender in bloom. Chose AMAWaterways based on price. Travel solo and while still paid single supplement the promotion going was the best deal for the time could go. Did not do pre or post ... Read More
Wanted to see Provence when chance to see lavender in bloom. Chose AMAWaterways based on price. Travel solo and while still paid single supplement the promotion going was the best deal for the time could go. Did not do pre or post cruise package. Cruise only. Did pre-cruise time in Paris on own. Purchased transfer from Paris to Lyon from AMA. Worked great. Met group at hotel for transfer to train station and ride to Lyon. From that moment entire vacation great. First stop in Lyon was a cooking class. Lot of fun. Because visiting during heatwave the cafe/school geared lessons things that did not require lot of 'cooking'. Cabin on ship was fine. Had a single cabin. The bed was small/single but worked ok. French balcony. Service excellent all around. Had a good cruise manager in Dragan. Our captain was very personable and friendly. I enjoyed the quality and variety of the food presented. I liked that the walking tours offered different levels of activity. There were active walker groups and gentle walker groups. I joined gentle walkers and felt that saw enough of given sights without stressing about keeping up with the group. Appreciate that crew helped bring luggage to top of ramp when disembarking. Entertainment different as jazz dagen group had their own. The excursions offered were fun. The ones I attended: Walking tour of Vienn plus little train to panoramic view--Enjoyed the view. Interesting through trip to discover so many vestiges of ancient Roman influence Steam train--Beautiful scenery. Kind of short ride. Forgot the smell of burning coal and the cinders/soot. Still recommend because of beauty. Truffle farm--A Highlight. Owner Serge and his truffle hunting dog Aimee. Such personality. Beaujolais village and wine tasting Arles-light show in quarry-van Gogh plus asylum visit--Light show was fantastic. Arles- van Gogh featured walking tour Read Less
Sail Date June 2019
Background information: I picked this cruise because I wanted to revisit the places I had been on a trip I made in 1964, and I took my 18 year old granddaughter with me because she wanted to see France and practice her French. She had ... Read More
Background information: I picked this cruise because I wanted to revisit the places I had been on a trip I made in 1964, and I took my 18 year old granddaughter with me because she wanted to see France and practice her French. She had been on 2 cruises prior to this and I had been on 30 cruises. One of my prior cruises was on AmaViola which was a newer AmaWaterways ship with a pool. The AmaCello was an older ship. I use a mobility scooter because I cannot walk very far, and although the crew on the ships are most helpful, it is sometimes difficult to get on and off the ships with a scooter. The actual cruise on AmaCello went from Lyon to Arles, with two days in Paris at the start and an option of two days in Barcelona at the end. I decided to arrive in Paris four days before the tour. We flew in to Charles de Gaulle airport - arriving on 20 June, and our travel agent arranged for us to be picked up and taken to the hotel. HOTEL: We stayed in the same hotel as the AmaCello groups were staying in. Originally this was to be the Renaissance Arc de Triomphe but we were switched to the Renaissance La Parc Trocadero. I think the switch was because there was a large Jazz group on this cruise and they filled up the first hotel. The hotel had three steps up to the lobby - they had a small lift for wheelchairs but it was awkward because I had to have staff assistance to use it. It had to be unlocked both at the top and bottom. Normally I went in to my room through the garden (which was a cool relaxing space) because there were no steps. The hotel had handicapped rooms (with a shower instead of a tub) but they were all doubles. I didn't want to sleep with my granddaughter, so I got a rollaway bed Breakfast was included and it was more than adequate, and we also got room service twice and ate in the restaurant which had delicious food. Our travel agent (who was with Vacations To Go) also arranged a private tour of Paris, a trip to the Louvre and the Catacombs, and a Riverboat cruise dinner. On our own we visited the Musee d'Orsay and L'Orangerie, and I booked a walking tour of the Left Bank with a company called Discover Walks. The rest of the group came in on June 24th. We had a meeting with our Cruise Director Dragan Reljic that evening. Paris was in the middle of a unusual heat wave where the temperature would be over 100 deg. F. EMBARKATION was 27 June. We were to take the high speed train from Paris to Lyon. Initially I was told that I would have to ship my scooter with the luggage and that I would have to walk to the train. After I flatly refused to do that, they figured out that there were elevators in the station, and Dragan took us (my granddaughter and me) to the elevators. In Lyon we got on a bus and there was an arrangement for us to cook and eat some food and then walk or take a shuttle to the ship in Lyon. But it was way too hot to do that, so most of us just went directly to the ship. At the ship, they had a buffet for us while we were waiting for our rooms, and quite quickly, we could get into the room and unpack. We had a meeting to do the safety briefing - the Captain kept us laughing and then Dragan talked to us about the schedule. When the meeting was over, all the women got roses. There was a vase in the cabin for us to put the roses in DINING: The dining room is on the lowest deck. For awhile the door to exit into the dining room would not open and this was a problem for me. After a day or so they figured out a manual override, but I always had to wait for someone to let me out (or for the person with the key to let me in). The food at dinner was excellent. Breakfast and Lunch were mainly a buffet. I absolutely cannot do a buffet. There's no room for the scooter, the food is almost too high for me to see, and if I get something, I can't carry it. If my granddaughter was with me, she could sometimes bring me food from the buffet, and sometimes the waiters would help me. The food was good, it was just hard for me to get. ACTIVITIES and ENTERTAINMENT There was a gym and Alex was the guy doing the exercise classes. There were nightly concerts, which in the case of this cruise were often Jazz performances. Neither the ship nor any of the hotels had a pool, which was a big disappointment to me. I normally do my exercises in a pool for a hour three or four times a week. My health deteriorates when I can't get into a pool. This ship only had a hot tub. I did go up on the Sunshine Deck once and sat there in the shade and enjoyed the breeze. SERVICE: In all aspects, excellent. PORT and SHORE EXCURSIONS PARIS: Most people arrived on 24 June. On June 25th, we had two tours. First an overview of Paris in the morning. And in the evening we had an evening illumination tour - first they took us up to Sacre Coeur where we could have dinner on our own. Then we went down the funicular, and got back on the bus. We got to the Eiffel tower a little before 11:00 - just in time for the sparkling light show. The next day (June 26th) we had on our own but then our cruise director Dragan Reljic had arranged an optional visit to a dinner show cabaret up on Montmartre. This was really a terrific show and a lot of fun. LYON: There was a Bike Tour, but my granddaughter can't ride a bike, and a City Tour which my granddaughter took. They went up to the Basilica and did some of what my granddaughter called "secret passageways" (Traboules) She enjoyed this tour. It was too hot for me to go BEAUJOLAIS: Neither of us took this excursion because we are not interested in wine tasting. VIENNE: The Mount Pipet hike was my granddaughters favorite tour. She said: The view of the city was spectacular. Vienne is definitely my favorite of the places we have visited so far. It’s beautiful and quiet with more story to it than it seems. Vienne is the underdog city. TOURNON: Steam Train RIde: This was the first tour that I did, and it was a really nice ride up the gorge and back. We went through tunnels, and then at the top, the engine turned around and went to the other end of the train to pull us back down the mountain. I went to the little museum at the end of the train trip. AVIGNON: My granddaughter did the Pont du Gard (aqueduct) tour and then the visit to the Truffle farm, both of which she enjoyed. Dragan arranged for me to get a taxi, and the taxi took me up to Las Baux, and to the Les Remy Antiquities, to King Rene's palace and then around to the Pope's Palace ARLES: We went on the Camargue and Aigues-Mortes tour and this was a disappointment. For some reason I thought we would see some of the Camargue horses, and we did, but just through the bus window. We did see lots of sunflowers and the bus stopped so we could get out and take photos. Then my granddaughter went on the Van Gogh walking tour. She felt that she knew more about it than the guide. Also it was very hot. BARCELONA: I have been to Barcelona before, but I had not seen the old city nor had I been into the Sagrada Familia. So we made a reservation for the Sagrada Familia for 12:15 which I thought would be at the end of the "Best of Barcelona" tour. Be the tour had been rearranged so after we saw the Gothic Quarter, we got a taxi to the Sagrada Familia. It was an amazing experience. The following day my granddaughter did the Mountains and Abbey of Montserrat excursion, which I think she enjoyed. DISEMBARKATION: Some people got off the ship in Arles but we were going on to Barcelona. So first we went to Nimes, where we had a nice tour, and some free time so we could buy lavender honey. That part of the day was good. We got to the train station and first we had to change platforms for the train and then we had maybe 6 minutes to get everyone and their hand luggage (and the scooter) onto the train. The train had two levels, and I was blocked getting to my seat in a timely manner because someone was getting another person settled and wouldn't get out of the aisle. We finally got to our seats which were facing another couple which means you have no room for your feet like in a regular seat. Although you have someone to talk to. There was no real provision for lunch, but my granddaughter went and got me a sandwich. I ate it, but it was soggy. I hate soggy bread. Then the train stopped in a station and just stayed there for a hour. The A/C was not keeping up. It was hot. We got to Barcelona about a hour late. HOTEL in Barcelona - It was another Renaissance. Other people got handicapped rooms with a shower, but I did not. They had to scramble around to find one that had a shower, and, as before it had a double bed. I got a rollaway. My granddaughter loved this hotel. She said it was fancy. The bathroom has one of those rain shower heads and a button IN the mirror that turns on this LED light around one part of it. At one point it got really really cold in the room, and I had to turn off the A/C and the fan because it was blowing cold air on me. I opened the window and let the sun warm up the room a little. SUMMARY: It was very hot, but that (and the non-working bow camera) was almost the only flaw in this cruise. The cruise director was great, the service was excellent, the food was good, and there was a good variety of excursions and things to do. When I didn't go on an excursion I could sit on the bow and take photos (until it got to hot, and then I could go to my room and take photos) Read Less
Sail Date June 2019
We had a wonderful time on the AmaCello in the south of France. The ship, cuisine, crew, staff, excursions, and scenery were excellent. This was only our second river cruise, the other being with Crystal, and we found Ama to be very ... Read More
We had a wonderful time on the AmaCello in the south of France. The ship, cuisine, crew, staff, excursions, and scenery were excellent. This was only our second river cruise, the other being with Crystal, and we found Ama to be very good, with the Crystal cruise being better in most every way, but of course, at a higher price point. This Ama cruise was just a notch below Crystal, but a better value, and every element was fantastic, so you can't go wrong with Ama. SHIP: I had read that the AmaCello was older, but there were no signs of that at all. It was clean, modern, classy, spacious, functional, well laid out, very nice. River cruise rooms are smaller than ocean ships, and these were smaller than Crystal's, but again, at a lower cost. I am 6'-8"/203cm, so I could not stand up in half the ship, especially the shower (which was tiny), but I was expecting that and an average or tall person will have no problems. Everything on board was comfortable and luxurious. There wasn't a big screen TV in the cabin, but there was a Mac computer that doubled as a screen, so that was a win/win. A little small, but we actually watched a couple of on-demand movies and it was fine. Bed & linens were comfy, french balcony was nice- good to be able to open it from floor to ceiling and sit there admiring the view and breeze while cruising the waterways. The fitness room was adequate and it even had a sauna that my wife used a number of times. There were a few cardio machines and just a few free weights. The heaviest weight was so light I had to put two dumbbells in each hand to get a sufficient weight workout, but I did it. There was a spa for massages, but we never got one. CUISINE: All the meals were top notch and wonderfully presented by the hard working and friendly staff. River ships have smaller galleys and staff than ocean ships so there is a more limited selection of what they can do, so the cuisine lacks the wow factor of ocean ships, but everything was gourmet and delicious. Compared to Crystal, which has a larger galley and more staff on their river ships, Crystal was a significant notch better, but Ama's food was wonderful and we were very pleased with every meal, drink, and snack. Crystal offers more sugar-free and gluten-free options, however. ama was very accommodating with my wife's food allergies. STAFF: The AmaCello staff were wonderful, friendly, delightful, and helpful in every way. Compared to Crystal, which has a much higher staff to customer ratio, I sensed that everyone was spread more thinly and had to work harder, but they did that all with aplomb. Where Ama exceeded Crystal was with their marvelous cruise director Cesario Santos who was with the group in the hotel in Paris before the cruise, took us on the train to Lyon, then on the ship, and then traveled with the guests on the train to Barcelona for the extra days after the cruise. This was a very nice touch that other cruise lines do not offer and it was very welcome. Cesario worked day and night, hammering out details, serving the customer, he was truly excellent and made me want to travel with Ama again. I had even left my coat in the hotel in Paris and Cesario immediately had it shipped to our next stop for me. Truly excellent service. CAPTAIN/PILOT: Our captain or his pilot did manage to bang the ship into a few pilings or river locks on the trip, in fact, they smashed into someone's room breaking the window and denting the whole french balcony. That couple had to be moved down to a below water level room. I think the captain got removed from the ship at the end of the cruise judging from his farewell speech. No one was hurt and the cruise was not impeded, and everyone was amused by it except the displaced couple. ENTERTAINMENT: There's not much entertainment on a river cruise due to space and staff issues, and that's fine. Compared to an ocean cruise where there is so much it can be exhausting, the river cruise model is more laid back. The AmaCello had nice pianists and DJs and such, and some musical guests, all who were good. EXCURSIONS: From the trip from Paris to the ship and all the excursions during the week (all the cruise excursions were included in the price), every one was fantastic, seamlessly integrated with the ship, informative, interesting, luxurious, really great. The Rhone Valley and Provence are simply beautiful, and the cities and towns are wonderful. They would be even more spectacular in the summer when the lavender blooms, but everything was so picturesque, we were delighted. The village of Grignan is a must-see, simply the most picturesque village I can remember anywhere. The Papal Palace in Avignon is well worth it, and the Carrières de Lumières show in Arles in an underground rock quarry is an amazing and mesmerizing experience that you shouldn't miss. If you continue on to Barcelona, the Basílica de la Sagrada Família is one of the most spectacular sights in all the world and is a must-see. So, we would highly recommend the AmaCello. Everything was top notch without breaking the bank. A highly enjoyable, luxurious vacation with all the details taken care of by a superb staff. We will definitely go on another Ama cruise. Read Less
Sail Date May 2019
This is our third cruise with AmaWaterways which must tell you that we like the Ama experience. Our first cruise was on the Danube on AmaSonata - and I rave about that elsewhere. Our second cruise was on the Rhine, on AmaSonata by ... Read More
This is our third cruise with AmaWaterways which must tell you that we like the Ama experience. Our first cruise was on the Danube on AmaSonata - and I rave about that elsewhere. Our second cruise was on the Rhine, on AmaSonata by coincidence. I was less happy with that trip - mostly because I did not like the Rhine as much as the Danube which was not Ama's fault and there were too many Asian flavours in each meal - which was Ama's fault. It would still have been 5 stars even then. This year we searched for a new Ama European cruise that provided the right balance and type of activities and came up with the Rhone - Colours of Provence aboard the AmaCello. Coming from the UK, we flew to Lyon from Heathrow and back to Heathrow from Marseille booked through Ama. The flights were not fun - proper cattle truck flights - and that seems a huge shame as they top and tail what was a luxury cruise. If I was doing it again, I would investigate the train services which were used by other guests on the cruise and reportedly were excellent. Our transfer to the ship from the airport was handled well, though the traffic was bad so we only arrived at 1810 to find we were invited to the Captains Table for Dinner starting in 20 minutes - no time to unpack or shower so we were the scruffy pair at the table. Oh well - at least the Captain - Philippe Stypa was a really good host who managed not to notice. He was the most pleasant and affable captain we have sailed with. He remembered us throughout the week, gave tours of the wheelhouse to those of us who wanted to know how the ship operated and greeted each on-shore excursion as it returned. An excellent captain. AmaCello is an old ship by Ama standards. Compared to AmaSonata, the cabins are smaller, have French Balconies rather than twin balconies and the en-suites are smaller. Those are not necessarily minus points. I prefer the French balcony as I get more uninterrupted window space and my wife preferred the en-suite - mostly because it did not have the unnecessary window into the cabin the illumination from which woke her when I used the bathroom at night on the AmaSonata. Although small, the cabin was perfectly adequate for the two of us. So score one to AmaCello. The restaurant and lounge were different but similar to those on the Sonata - generally very adequate though the air-conditioning struggled in the very high temperatures experienced during the cruise when the rooms were full - at mealtimes or during briefings for instance. The food in the restaurant was a pleasure to eat. There was a good variety, it was well presented, tasty and much more appropriate to the region than on our Rhine cruise. The quantity was generous - we were encouraged to have second helpings of desserts for instance and our glasses kept getting refilled as long as we continued to allow it. The excursions were good, the coaches comfortable though the journeys sometimes seemed long in relationship to the time at the destination. The guides generally spoke good English, many were really excellent. They all knew their subject though occasionally it sounded as if they were bored to be giving the commentary to yet another group. I enjoyed the Steam Train in Tournon, the Pont du Gard visit and the Truffle Farm visit. We had been doubtful about the latter but a truly excellent guide made it totally hysterical fun. You would be lucky if you had the same guide visiting the same Truffle Farm. I am slightly less enthusiastic about the onboard entertainment. The resident musician played Spanish style guitar mostly. Maybe if I had concentrated on listening it would have been excellent but as a background noise it could be jarring. The evening entertainers were all impressively skilled but I was too tired by the day's activities to really appreciate them; my loss I suspect. So that brings me to Service and the "but....". Every member of the crew greeted us whenever they saw us. Initially I thought that was excellent but it did begin to sound a little bit overdone by the last day. Our cabin was kept beautifully clean and organised by our room steward. I thought the housekeeping on the previous cruises was excellent but this was just that little bit better, more thoughtful. The receptionists were brilliant, very professional. The cooks must have suffered greatly producing excellent food in a small kitchen area that I guess was like an oven what with the cooking and the sun's heat. The restaurant and bar staff worked very hard - they were always rushing on some errand or another. But.... - two of the waiters seemed totally untrained. I doubt that either of them had worked at anything before much less coped with the huge pressures of serving a complex menu to customers who all descend on the restaurant within minutes of it opening. They did not have a clue - forgot to serve courses that had been ordered, mixed up the orders, gave people courses they had not ordered. Some guests gave up and left the restaurant without finishing their meal. Other waiters tried to help but had plenty to do themselves. I am NOT picking on those two novices; they should not have been put in such a situation. Many of the guests will not even have noticed these problems especially if they sat at the other end of the restaurant and were served by hard working and competent waiters. Some guests who were effected took it all lightly but it should not have happened on a cruise that claims to be a luxury cruise specialising in a superb eating experience. On our first cruise, the waiters were impressive. I do not remember them putting a foot wrong. The second cruise was slightly less impressive and this one was poor; not in terms of the effort put in by the staff but in terms of the failure of Ama senior management to employ trained staff or to train them before letting them loose on guests. Therefore, I deduct one star due to a failure by Ama senior management. The AmaCello's reputation suffers but that is really collateral damage, it seems that Ama Waterways have put business growth above quality of service. Read Less
Sail Date July 2018
We had not cruised the River Rhone before and were interested to see this part of France. We were not disappointed. The boat was just the right size, pristine and welcoming. The crew were all friendly, from the Captain, Cruise Manager and ... Read More
We had not cruised the River Rhone before and were interested to see this part of France. We were not disappointed. The boat was just the right size, pristine and welcoming. The crew were all friendly, from the Captain, Cruise Manager and Hotel Manager, through dining room and kitchen staff, to cabin staff and the engine room and maintenance staff. We were introduced to them all. Our Chef was inspirational, producing four-course lunches and dinners with ample choices at each course, all to an extremely high standard. Wine and soft drinks complemented each meal and were included in the cost of the cruise. There was a choice of on-shore excursions from each port, depending on our interests and abilities, and we travelled in modern coaches to reach the further destinations. There were guided walking tours from the boat at each port and some tours by bicycle. We would highly recommend cruising with Ama Waterways. Read Less
Sail Date June 2018
We were invited to a wine cruise by our wine club. We have been contemplating a river cruise for years. This cruise offered a three day end in Barcelona which is a destination we both were excited about. I t was everything and more we ... Read More
We were invited to a wine cruise by our wine club. We have been contemplating a river cruise for years. This cruise offered a three day end in Barcelona which is a destination we both were excited about. I t was everything and more we than we were expecting. The staff was amazing! The food was delicious. Our chef and his staff were so professional and the food was a work of art. Our cruise director Andre was a person who has such a love of his career and the people that handled the excursions were amazing. The whole experience was unforgettable. As a side note, we arrived in Barcelona 40 minutes after the terrorist attack which happened 100 feet from our hotel. Andre kept us safe. He moved us to another hotel within an hour and we were safe . I love him for all of his skills. Great experience!!!! Thanks to AMA for a perfect experience! Read Less
Sail Date August 2017
My daughter, mother and I just returned from cruising on the AMACello last week and wanted to commend AMA on an overall fabulous experience. This was a wine cruise and we found the Cave B Estate Winery representatives, Freddy and Carrie, ... Read More
My daughter, mother and I just returned from cruising on the AMACello last week and wanted to commend AMA on an overall fabulous experience. This was a wine cruise and we found the Cave B Estate Winery representatives, Freddy and Carrie, to be extremely knowledgeable and we enjoyed the lectures and tastings. Also, a French sommelier came onboard and they compared and contrasted French wines with American wines. One night they even paired each meal course with a specific wine. My daughter and I were on the Violin deck, while my mother was on the Piano deck, and both of our cabins were kept immaculate. We felt the food was excellent with multi-course meals for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Sorin, the dining room maitre d', brought our table our own large piece of walnut cheese that was not displayed on the cheese plate at the time, but we had previously had it and enjoyed it so much we wanted more. The ice cream party was lots of fun as well. The variety as well as the quality of the tours offered was excellent. AMA arranged for local guides and they were outstanding. We were provided with multiple choices of tours each day with different difficulty levels that catered to the passengers' personal activity levels. My daughter and I biked alongside the river and through several smaller towns in Vienne and loved it. We would have enjoyed biking more often, but if you choose to bike, you will not experience as much of the city, and if it's a city you haven't visited before, I would recommend the walking tour over biking. In addition, we loved visiting an olive farm, truffle farm complete with lavender fields, a wine and chocolate tasting at a chateau, the Valrhona Chocolate Factory, and the hike through the Chapoutier vineyards with gorgeous views. The cruise director, Andre, was particularly outstanding - he literally stopped what he was doing and went over in detail the entire itinerary to help us make choices for tours. Throughout the cruise I saw different times where he demonstrated an infinite amount of patience with passengers. He also helped arrange a transfer to Marseilles Airport at a MUCH more reasonable rate than we had previously set up. Captain Tony was a lot of fun and even gave us a tour of the wheelhouse! Marchetta, our hotel manager oversaw every detail and was always available and friendly. A special shout-out to our dining room wait staff, Damir and Julian, who treated us like three princesses. The only area we felt could be improved upon was upgrading the fitness equipment. I look forward to cruising with AMA again in the near future - next time I'm bringing my husband!! Read Less
Sail Date June 2017
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