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5 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: May 2014
My husband asked me to arrange this cruise to celebrate our 46th anniversary. We were sure we wanted to cruise the Danube River; so the biggest decision was itinerary and date. I knew I didn't want to go later than September or ... Read More
My husband asked me to arrange this cruise to celebrate our 46th anniversary. We were sure we wanted to cruise the Danube River; so the biggest decision was itinerary and date. I knew I didn't want to go later than September or earlier than April. We arrived in Prague April 29. We took advantage of the 3 day pre-cruise package in Prague, staying at the Intercontinental Hotel, which we enjoyed...great breakfast buffet each morning. We were met by AmaWaterways at the airport in Prague at 9:30 in the morning and taken to the hotel where we met Rachel Coutos-Gomez, our Cruise Manager. Our room was ready for us. For the next almost 2 weeks, Rachel worked tirelessly! I don't know when she slept. She was always on the ball, arranging the city tours, buses, guides, optional tours, etc. And, her suitcase must be huge, because she changed clothes several times most days...and had an outfit to compliment each port, it seemed. She even arranged a special tour of the Doheny Street Synagogue in Budapest, at the request of fellow passengers. And, at the end of the cruise in Budapest, she escorted each passenger off of the ship...even those who left the ship at 3 a.m. She is a gem to AmaWaterways!! Hotel Manager Victoria was also wonderfully helpful and cheerful at all times, as was Maitre 'd Cipi. Captain Andreas had a great crew. He may be short in stature, but he knows how to run a “tight” ship...especially going through those narrow locks! Hats off to him! I thoroughly enjoyed Rachel's talk on the workings of the river lock system...very informative. The ship, itself, was wonderfully decorated. Our cabin had a French balcony, which allowed us to check out the river scenery when we were in the cabin. The cabin had plenty of storage area. We didn't feel cramped. Fahro, our cabin steward, was great! He was very pleasant and he kept our room straightened up, replenishing bottles of water each day. One evening, he had kissing swan towels on our bed, celebrating our anniversary. And, the dining room staff brought out a special dessert for us at dinner. The lounge had plenty of seating. It was nice to sit in there in the afternoon and read or watch the river scenery. After 3 days in Prague and a bus trip to Nuremberg, we began a wonderful cruise down to Budapest. The scenery was exquisite; and, even though it was a little windy and cool out on the deck, most days the sun was shining and the weather was beautiful! Some of my photos look like postcards! We thought all of the city tours did a good job of introducing us to the best that each city had to offer. We mostly had great tour guides in Nuremberg, Regensburg, Passau, Vienna, and Budapest. When we go back on another cruise, we'll know what to concentrate on...or what to see that we didn't get to see on this trip. In Regensburg, we had Henry (Helmut) Winkler....an older version of the Fonz! We only wish that we'd had a little more free time in most cities. It seemed like we were always in a hurry to make it back to the ship. We're not big shoppers; but we would have liked to have done a little more exploring...and eating! Speaking of eating...we thought the food onboard AmaLyra was very good and the waitstaff attentive and pleasant. Breakfast buffet was great! There were plenty of breakfast meats and fruits. We could special order eggs; or have a made-to-order omelet. It seemed there was a special each morning, whether it was grilled mushrooms, baked tomatoes, French toast, etc. The bread and pastry table was so wonderfully tempting. And, in addition to a selection of juices, a bottle of champagne was available to make mimosas! At every meal, there was also a selection of cheeses. For lunch, we could order from the menu...soups, sandwiches, entrees or partake of the buffet. There were plenty of salads and salad makings, meats, and cheeses. Then, there was usually a pasta dish of the day. There was either a cream based or broth based soup at lunch and dinner. Both were delicious; but, personally, I enjoyed the broth soups better. For dinner in the dining room, there was an option of 2 appetizers, 2 soups, 3 entrees, and 2 desserts. If none of the entrees suited you, we could order staples of salmon, steak, or chicken. One of the entree options was always vegetarian. At one meal, the 6 of us at the table made our entree selections and then asked to have the vegetarian entree served for the table to taste! Wine and beer were complimentary at lunch and dinner. On a couple of evenings, entertainment was brought onboard. While it was nice; we didn't think it was anything really outstanding. We did enjoy the piano player each afternoon and dancing in the evening. My husband took advantage of the 3 guided bicycle tours, which he enjoyed. We love river cruising. This is our second river cruise and we're ready to book another one. We like the intimacy. It's so much more easy to meet fellow cruisers. We made some wonderful friends, with whom we will keep in contact. We will definitely book with AmaWaterways again. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: April 2014
AMA Waterways Danube cruise was exceptional in every way. My husband and I and 10 other couples recently sailed the Romantic Danube itinerary from Vilshofen to Budapest. In every way the cruise exceeded our expectations. The staff was ... Read More
AMA Waterways Danube cruise was exceptional in every way. My husband and I and 10 other couples recently sailed the Romantic Danube itinerary from Vilshofen to Budapest. In every way the cruise exceeded our expectations. The staff was wonderful, there to assist, but not obtrusive....attentive to needs, but not smothering, very friendly, welcoming, and ready to accommodate. We all had Category A staterooms on the top deck...the rooms were very nicely arranged (but small, as expected) with huge windows and comfortable beds. The dining area was large and well arranged, the food was very good, and the staff here took care to meet everyone's needs. Breakfast and lunch were expansive buffets, dinner was by menu, with several choices. Wine and beer was complimentary at lunch and dinner. The shore excursions were included in the price and were handled well with the passengers being divided into smaller groups, mostly based on activity level. For the most part, the offered shore excursions were tours of the ports. There were a few optional tours offered...these, too, were handled efficiently and were wonderful. This was our first ever cruise and we highly recommend the river cruise experience, especially with AMA. It all was quite perfect. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: October 2013
We did our own pre-cruise trips. Loved Zurich, Lucerne, Basel. The Swiss trains, trams and bus system is amazing! People were friendly, welcoming, and most spoke decent English. The countryside, the Alps, the architecture = spectacular! ... Read More
We did our own pre-cruise trips. Loved Zurich, Lucerne, Basel. The Swiss trains, trams and bus system is amazing! People were friendly, welcoming, and most spoke decent English. The countryside, the Alps, the architecture = spectacular! Money: In Switzerland you can go to a bank for CHF. In our small cruise towns, banks did not exchange $s. You had to have an ATM card or go to the '"main bank,” or '"main post office” for EUR. The ship gave us the best rate $100= EUR 65. Cruise: First time River cruisers. Mother had a wonderful time! Itinerary and pace was perfect for her. The fact that '"everything was taken care of '"was a big plus. Most cruisers were from North America, with a couple from each; Brazil, Colombia and Argentina. Australia? Most were seniors. The people we met played a BIG part in our enjoyment of the cruise. Very compatible crowd. Ship: Nothing negative, clean and sparkling. It might be old but it was gold. Checked out the hot tub, exercise room, aft lounge and beauty salon, but never used them. Enjoyed the Lounge and Peter at the piano. Dining room was fine: tables for 2, 4, 6 very comfortable. Umbrellas and foldable stools at reception level for use, - besides umbrellas in room '" so no need to bring any for the cruise section. Captain Henk Klos aka Hunky Hank, big and well-liked. Staff come and stay because of him. Cruise Director: Reka Piros. Excellent. Has the right attitude, personality and tone for such a job. People were asking for her schedule to book future cruises with her. Weather was good for most of the trip. Scattered rain here n there. Fall colors everywhere. Cabin: 104 Piano deck, mother had no problem walking up and down stairs. Twin beds. Enough space. Bathroom was fine. Room steward Stephan kept our cabin spotless. Daily Cruiser delivered every evening during dinner. Bathrobes on the second night. Flat screen for information and internet. Bad weather or locks mean Wi-Fi was slow or unavailable. Tours: All enjoyable. Guides very knowledgeable, friendly and willing to help. Sometimes humor is lost in the translation, accents and smiles vary as their personalities. Levels: Active walkers, Gentle walkers, Limited mobility walkers, and bikes, something for everyone! Picked up a map and list of tips (sights, food etc.) from Reka/front desk before every tour. VOX boxes = fantastic! Warm towel and a glass of hot tea on returning from tours = perfect. Attention: Before every tour you collect a boarding pass and a colored ticket to show which bus you are on. On returning to the ship boarding passes MUST be returned so that they know you are back. (drop box) Staff: Mostly Eastern European (Romania, Bulgaria, Slovenia, Hungary etc. ) Their temperaments are different from the '"Latin” ones most North Americans are used to. We enjoyed ALL the staff we came into contact with, even when we thought a response was not quite suited to the service industry! It became our funny moments to remember  Restaurant Food: Attractive and many options. They tried to have local dishes at every port. Whether your palate appreciates such food is another matter. Wine and beer as much as one wished for during lunch and dinner. Lounge: Afternoon tea had cakes, cookies etc. Coffee machine = 24 hrs. milk, coffee, macchiato, cappuccino, hot chocolate packages, teas, iced water and iced drink. Improvement needed: Cookies were the same every day, and Late Night snacks were sometimes inedible or insufficient. Bar: Reasonable prices. People could drink their own wine in the lounge too. Cruise Ports: There are probably many port reviews, so nothing here. Suffice it to say: All get a thumbs up! In addition, you need to have a few nice surprises  Embarkation: Basel. At the main train station there is a Tourist Information office for maps etc. Tram 11 on Platform 5 took us to St. Johaan Tor. (8th stop). CHF 3.20 p/p. Exit and walk a few feet down towards the water. Staff saw us and came to get our suitcases. Mom had refreshments in the lounge whilst I walked the town. 3pm cabins ready. Passports are collected on arrival (for harbor authorities). Pick them up the next morning. Docking was never a problem -even if we had to walk through Uniworld! Someone asked for and got a tour  Bring comfortable walking shoes. Stairs (on ship and tours) especially during the wet season, need extra attention. There was always a biergarten or café in walking distance for a local '"one 4 the road” and some fun after the onboard entertainment. Gratuities guidelines: Cash or credit card. Crew (everybody but cruise director) E84/guest. Cruise Manager: E 21/guest or E 33/guest if pre-trip taken. Tip box at reception desk and envelopes in cabin. If someone has been especially nice '" an extra E1-5 may be given directly to the person/s. Disembarkation: Early Breakfast served. at 6.30am with Early pastries etc. in Lounge at 4.30am. Luggage out according to your tag time, then board bus. At airport, staff member will help you get a cart for your luggage and then you are off. Independent Travellers; you have preordered your taxi with Reka the previous evening. 9am All Cabins Vacated. The Lounge is available till transfer time. Sample of daily program: 6.30 am '" 7.30am : Early risers Pastries in Lounge 7.30am '" 9.30am : breakfast in Restaurant 9.30am '" 10.30am: Late risers Pastries in Lounge 10am: Reka gave a presentation on upcoming stops, briefings etc. 11.30am: lunch is served in Restaurant. Light lunch of soups, salads, in Lounge 1pm: Tours depart 4pm '" 5pm : Tea in Lounge with Peter playing music on piano @ 6pm ish: Tours return 7.30pm: Dinner 9pm: Entertainment 10.30pm: late night snack NO walking or jogging on Sun Deck before 8am or after 10pm. Shout out to Staff: Reka, Romeo, Stephan, Peter, Grumpy, Damien, Dorina, Boris…… THANKS for the memories to my fellow cruisers especially my Cali pals. Travel again with AmaWaterways? In a heartbeat!  Read Less
4 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: October 2013
This was our first river cruise and we chose AMARIVERWAYS at the suggestion of my travel agent. It was, by far, the best cruise in over 30 I've enjoyed. From start to finish, we were treated like royalty: the airport were a bit late, ... Read More
This was our first river cruise and we chose AMARIVERWAYS at the suggestion of my travel agent. It was, by far, the best cruise in over 30 I've enjoyed. From start to finish, we were treated like royalty: the airport were a bit late, but it could've been that we arrived in Amsterdam at 6:30 a.m. (an hour early!). On the cruise and post trips, we NEVER TOUCHED OIUR LUGGAGE! They were delivered from air to cabin, from cabin to bus, from bus to hotel room, from hotel room, to bus, to airline. The food was outstanding and the service was superb; our waiter Romeo became a friend and treated us with promptness, aplomb and generosity. The tours (walking and bus) were perfectly paced. I chose the "gentle walks" (still recovering from a broken ankle) but the others in my party went on the other walks. Each group used the very convenient "quietvox" apparatus, with which we could hear the guid without hovering around him/her. Most days we had free time to shop, walk, bike, or rest. For the first time I returned from a cruise satisfied and rested, rather than exhausted and frazzled. The passengers (140 of them) were of various age and very friendly. We made many friends with whom we'll keep in touch. Special kudos to Nick, our cruise manager/director: the essence of good humor, patience, compassion, and knowledge. We can't wait to take AMA again and recommend it without reservation! Peggy Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: September 2013
After a wonderful cruise on AmaLyra in 2012 to see the tulips in the Netherlands and Belgium we were enthused to go again on the same ship to travel on the Rhine River from Amsterdam to Basel, Switzerland.We traveled both times with a ... Read More
After a wonderful cruise on AmaLyra in 2012 to see the tulips in the Netherlands and Belgium we were enthused to go again on the same ship to travel on the Rhine River from Amsterdam to Basel, Switzerland.We traveled both times with a large group of folks from the midwest. Uwe was the Cruise Manager and did a fantastic job organizing all our tours and making sure all was going well, keeping his friendly spirit all along the way. Our room was just right, lots of room for storage, plenty of hot water in the shower. We had a french balcony so a lovely window to look out of , though most of the time you are not in your room. We loved the tours each day, led by well educated guides and the VOX devices made listening easy while photographing the sights. All the staff on the boat were friendly and willing to help in any way. We especially enjoyed being greeted when we returned from touring by warm towels to cleanse our hands and cups of lovely tea! The food was served very attractively and there were many options like having a light meal in the lounge instead of the dining room . I enjoyed the 'tea' in the afternoon :) . We took the post cruise option of 4 days in Switzerland and Uwe accompanied us on that portion as many took advantage of it. The weather was not the best, cloudy, rainy but we were glad we went anyway...loved the cities and the small towns in the countryside were beautiful. Hope to travel again with Ama Waterways! Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: August 2013
This was our first river cruise and our first time to central Europe. We did Prague 'on our own' and opted out of the pre-cruise through AMA. I initially booked the pre-cruise portion through AMA but after reading lots of not ... Read More
This was our first river cruise and our first time to central Europe. We did Prague 'on our own' and opted out of the pre-cruise through AMA. I initially booked the pre-cruise portion through AMA but after reading lots of not only cruise critic reviews but other sites as well decided we could do it on our own and I'm glad we made that decision. We flew Chicago-JFK- Prague in Delta's business elite. Since we were flying overnight & the new lie flat beds were a God send. My husband managed about 5 hours of sleep and I managed about 3, which is good for me on a plane. The business elite section was great, good food & wine, nice amenities. My only real complaint was the water in both lavs ran out prior to breakfast but I always carry handi wipes so for us it was a non-issue. One comment about business elite, I shopped and shopped as we don't have the luxury of frequent flyer miles. I found a fantastic rate at the 345 days out and grabbed it. Yes, it was pricey ($1850 ea roundtrip vs. $700 in coach) but as it turned out it was the best decision I made regarding this trip. Arrived in Prague and went through customs which was painless. We were anticipating a car that we booked through our hotel. No one was waiting so we waited, we waited and we waited. After 45 minutes we called the hotel and the man answering the phone said he would handle it and to call back in 5 minutes. After the 5 minutes was up I called back and he assured us the driver was on his way and would arrive in less than 30 minutes. After about 15 minutes the driver showed up, apologizing profusely and helped us along with our luggage out to his car. Nice drive into Prague and the views took our breath away. We arrived at The Archibald at the Charles Bridge Hotel and after more apologizing from the front desk about the car we were in our room for a quick freshen up. I won't go into great detail about Prague since we were on our own but I will say that if you have ANY travel experience, you can do it MUCH cheaper and in MHO better on your own. We bought the transfer to the ship in Nuremburg through AMA and we met the group Tuesday AM at the Intercontinental for the bus ride first to Karlovy Vary and then on to the ship. While the Intercontinental was a nice hotel, to us it was just another big western style hotel. I'm glad we chose a spot with a lot more charm and character. Prague is a lovely city with fabulous hidden gems. It's very walkable, we did however use public transport a lot, which as super easy, inexpensive and convenient. The transfer to the ship via Karlovy Vary was a bus trip, nothing more or less. While the buses were quite nice and not full, our guide was a little too chatty for my taste. Karlovy Vary is lovely however and we enjoyed our short visit there. After what seemed a very long time we were at the AMALyra docked outside Nuremburg. Our first impressions of the ship and the crew were fantastic. We were asked to wait for our cabin number to be called in the forward lounge. The bar was open and it was nice to off the bus and enjoy the lovely lounge with a drink while waiting. We only waited about 10 minutes before our cabin (212) was called. Our cabin was on the cello deck one level down from reception. We were shown to our cabin by a lovely girl who showed us around and explained how things operated. Then we had a little free time to unpack and get settled before a mandatory meeting in the lounge prior to dinner. I won't do a day by day review but I will tell you that in our opinion AMA waterways and the AMALyra exceeded our expectations in almost every way. The crew was friendly and helpful. They were always very efficient. I do think that perhaps there is a cultural disconnect with some staff members being very businesslike and perhaps not overly 'warm' but we never felt they were rude. I just think that they aren't overly demonstrative with their emotions. Again, we never felt that this distracted from our enjoyment on board. Plus, these people work HARD! Everyone does everything, they certainly seem a cohesive group. We liked the cabin and bathroom. We felt there more than enough space and what space there was well designed. Personally , I would like to see better lighting around the mirror area in the cabin since this is where I would do my hair & makeup. The French balcony was very nice and it was nice to open it and see the world go by while getting ready for dinner on the nights we weren't docked. It did seem that our side was tied up to other boats at almost every port (except Vienna) so we did have to keep our drapes closed but we were rarely in our room when we were in port so again, another non-issue for us. The ships public areas were very nice and very tastefully decorated. Even though the AMALyra is a older ship (2009?) everything was ship shape (no pun intended) and looked new. We enjoyed the back game room nightly after dinner to play backgammon. We also enjoyed the front and top decks where you could sit outside and enjoy the views. Which were spectacular. My husband has bad knees and the hot tub was a blessing but it was usually too hot or too cold but the engineer was very good natured about adjusting it for us. The onboard entertainment most nights was Peter on the piano and he was very good. They brought on entertainment in Nuremburg, Vienna and Budapest. All were very entertaining. We always enjoyed a few after dinner cocktails in the bar each night. Not too many on our cruise stayed up after dinner but those who did had a enjoyable time. The itinerary and guides were great. The 'quiet boxes' are the best- they enabled you to hear the guides without being on top of them. They made for easy picture taking while still listening to the tour. Make sure you remember to tip the guides if you think they did a good job. At most ports when we were docked until late or overnight we went ashore and enjoyed local food and drink instead of eating on the ship. If we had to choose one low point I guess the food on board would be it. There was a lot of food and it was fine but IMHO pretty uninspired. It was just food, nothing knocked our socks off. We really enjoyed the regional stuff they did offer-sausages in Germany at cocktail hour but it was only once. After the 7 days we were pretty tired of the menu and we were glad we chose to eat ashore when we could. A lovely beer garden in Linz was a highlight as well as some outstanding schnitzel in Vienna and of course sausage in Passau. We also stopped by Hofbrau in Passau and had delicious Sauerbraten with great beer in a beer garden. We would highly recommend eating ashore if your budget allows. Disembarkation was easy and painless- we arranged for a taxi through the cruise director (Matyias) he set up a fixed rate at rush hour to the main train station for us, 15 euros. We needed to get back to Prague for our return flight home. Since we got such a great deal on airfare we had to fly in and out of Prague. We took the train, which was supposed to be 6 hours but turned into 7.5 hours. While it was worth it to fly business class I wouldn't choose this mode of travel again. I have traveled in Europe using high speed rail before and this experience was NOTHING like those experiences. Not horrible, the train was clean and nothing bad happened but it was LONG and the scenery was lacking. This was my error. I thought this would be a fantastic way to travel, but in reality, not so much. Took the airport express from train station to Prague airport and stayed overnight at the Courtyard by Marriott right outside terminal 2. Had a good night's sleep but we both woke up with colds. At that moment the idea of flying seemed pretty unappealing but with along travel day ahead we were once again glad we chose business class. We were able to rest/ sleep the whole way home. One thing I'll mention in closing, there was a large group (40) on board. While this didn't detract from our good time aboard, it certainly raised the average age to 80 I'd say. We picked AMA because it had the youngest demographic, we are 55 & 62. Like I mentioned before most folks were in bed after dinner and there was a fair amount of cliques. They were very unfriendly to others on board, saving seats in the lounge, expecting tables together at meals. I know that AMA cannot control this and like I said it didn't damper our fun but I think it would have been a better cruise without such a large group of folks. We really enjoyed our cruise and booked a deposit on a future cruise our return. Our travel agent was able to call AMA and get the 'on board' deal for us. We hope to cruise the Rhine in 2015.   Read Less
Sail Date: August 2013
This was our first river cruise. What a great surprise. Cabins are well appointed but smaller than Ocean Cruises. You don't spend that much time in the cabin so the size is not that important. The Cleaning girls were fantastic and ... Read More
This was our first river cruise. What a great surprise. Cabins are well appointed but smaller than Ocean Cruises. You don't spend that much time in the cabin so the size is not that important. The Cleaning girls were fantastic and their towel art was a great delight The two cities of Buda and Pest were very different but the architecture and people were fantastic. We were in Budapest when they were celebrating St. Stephens day. Many stores were closed but the city was crowed with tourists having a great time. We were held for departure until a fantastic fireworks display was completed. Captain and Tour Director were very knowledgeable and made sure that we were on the proper excursion. The food was excellent. With only 148 passengers on board, we were able to meet almost everyone on board. The stops along the way were very educational and interesting. I am not a great walker, but they made sure I saw almost everything that my wife saw, except for the stores. Every port had great attractions. We wish we could have spent more time in Vienna. Prague must be seen. AMA gets a five star rating from us. Read Less
Sail Date: August 2013
The August AMA Waterways Danube Discovery cruise aboard AmaLyra was underwhelming even though AMA Waterways is supposed to provide a higher end experience than its competition. The AmaLyra was built in 2009 & therefore does not have ... Read More
The August AMA Waterways Danube Discovery cruise aboard AmaLyra was underwhelming even though AMA Waterways is supposed to provide a higher end experience than its competition. The AmaLyra was built in 2009 & therefore does not have all the "bells & whistles” of more modern ships (e.g. it has French balconies which allow passengers to open a sliding door to the outside but not a true balcony which permits passengers to actually sit outside on a balcony). It carries fewer passengers (ca. 143) than most (ca. 160-190) of its competition. Cabins: Although there was plenty of closet & drawer space, mid priced cabin floor space felt somewhat cramped. The bathroom was remarkably spacious with a modern fully enclosed shower. Linens were high end. The bed was uncomfortably hard even with two duvets used for cushioning. There was good climate control & soundproofing. The TV, which provided entertainment & information, was small, ornery & navigation was not user friendly. The free internet/Wi-Fi in one’s room, & throughout the ship, was, to be kind, not state of the art. Capturing & maintaining a usable signal was frustratingly slow and not as reliable as it should have been even while docked in a reasonable large port city where one would have expected a better signal. And, at speeds of 9 mph the ship doesn’t cover huge swaths of geography that might account for such problems. River cruise ships often do not have their own berth in port. In nearly every port, 2-3 ships from the same cruise line tied up to one another. When nested in this manner, one had to walk across one or more ships in order to get to your ship. Depending upon where your ship is docked in the nest (outside or inside), cabins of different ships are across and within a few feet of one another privacy concerns requiring closed curtains and therefore no view and limited natural light. Public Space: When relaxing on deck was undesirable (too dark or weather issues), there was little interior quiet space. Other than a multi-purpose lounge (bar, entertainment, dance space &/or lecture hall), the one interior space that could have been used for reading was also used for games and socializing as well as adjoining a tiny fitness area with an extremely noisy fitness machine. Too often one’s cabin was the only place for quiet space. At those times, a true balcony was missed. Dining: Everyone was required to eat at the same time. Seating was comfortable and tables were well spaced. One did not have the feeling of being crowded as friends have described on other river cruise lines. Menu choices were much more limited than on ocean cruising. Food was generally mediocre with occasional flashes of "good.” We found at least one of the meal time wine offerings was good. Bar prices were on the high side. After some just adequate service, we discovered, & stayed with a waiter, who was excellent. Although tips were pooled, passengers were advised that it was acceptable to tip additionally. Waiters (and cabin attendants) understood what was required & behaved appropriately. With one or two exceptions, the entertainment brought onboard was forgettable. Unfortunately, the one man keyboard/vocalist who was supposed to provide in house music for dancing and general entertainment was musically challenged in addition to having some language issues. Ports: The slow pace of river cruising (about 9 mph) means that not much distance is covered in a 24 hour period. The ports are relatively close together and notwithstanding significant differences among them, one has a greater sense of homogeneity (architecture, food, general culture) compared to ocean cruising where ports are generally much farther apart exposing one to much greater diversity. Tours: Free bus or walking tours gave an overview of each port. The bus tours were mostly drive-by’s. Tour guides were knowledgable with lots of esoteric commentary & forgettable detail. Optional tours were limited and marginally interesting.   Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: August 2013
My husband and I have cruised many times on all sizes of ocean liners but this was our first river cruise. We chose the itinerary as it specified that it was a Jewish Cultural Cruise and we wanted to see the WW11 sites of those who ... Read More
My husband and I have cruised many times on all sizes of ocean liners but this was our first river cruise. We chose the itinerary as it specified that it was a Jewish Cultural Cruise and we wanted to see the WW11 sites of those who suffered so greatly. We flew to Prague from Miami via Frankfurt. We had arranged to take the pre-cruise package offered by AMA Waterways. Meeting us at the exit were representatives from AMA and we were taken to the Hotel Intercontinental right in the middle of Olde Town. It was a perfect location. Our cruise director Lisi who would stay with us on the ship for the entire cruise greeted us in the lobby, gave us much info as to tours in Prague. Lisi turned out to be a gem. she was the most organized person we have ever met. We opted for the included tour of the Jewish area of town. The following day we had hired a guide to show us the Palace and other sites. We did a walking tour with him and covered 9 miles. On day 3 we were taken by bus to Nuremburg to board the ship. It was a long ride with a stop at Karlovy Vary. Embarkation was a whiz and we went directly to our cabin. The cabin was on the small side but very compact and for the 7 days we would be on the ship it was extremely comfortable. The bathroom was excellent with a wonderful glass enclosed shower. We did not enjoy most of the dinners served onboard. Maybe we are spoiled by other cruise lines. the food was not hot and very tasty. Lunch was good with a large salad bar. The excursions were the highlight of the cruise. We visited Regensburg, Melk, Linz, Salzburg, Vienna and Budapest. Every guide we encountered spoke flawless English and all were extremely knowledgeable. The silent box system was used whereby one did not have to be near the guides to hear them. A small box connected to headphones afforded excellent relay of information. Most excursions were included. We attended the Vienna Orchestra on an optional excursion (well worth the price). Disembarking was easy and After staying overnight in Budapest we went on a van (organized by Lisi because 22 of us were going to the same hotel) to the Sofitel Budapest. This turned out to be a great choice as the hotel was perfectly situated and it was beautiful. We had a beautiful room with a view of the Danube. This turned out fortuitous as on the day we were there was a major national holiday (All Saint Day) with thousands in town for the celebrations. We had dinner (arranged by the concierge) at the Radkakas restaurant serenaded by strings while we enjoyed a delicious Hungarian meal. The flight home was on Swiss Air through Zurich. We will always remember this beautiful part of the world! Read Less
12 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: August 2013
After reading all of the glowing reviews of the AMA Waterways European river cruises, we made reservations for the Legendary Danube cruise from Prague to Budapest on the AMA Lyra. We reserved a modestly priced cabin with a French balcony ... Read More
After reading all of the glowing reviews of the AMA Waterways European river cruises, we made reservations for the Legendary Danube cruise from Prague to Budapest on the AMA Lyra. We reserved a modestly priced cabin with a French balcony on the upper (Violin) deck. With a three day pre-cruise extension in Prague, the cost, not including airfare was close to $9000. We had great expectations and were so disappointed. In Prague, we stayed at the Intercontinental, an older hotel that has been nicely updated. The included breakfast there was excellent. We had a city tour on the first day, and it was fair, at best. The tour guide was difficult to understand due to her accent. We were rushed from site to site, a pattern that persisted through the trip. The following day we took the optional tour of Terezen. The bus ride was tiring, but the tour was excellent. The following day, we left by bus for our embarkation from Nuremberg. On the way we stopped for lunch and a brief tour of Karlovy Vary. The guide on our bus had such a pronounced accent that we understood very little of what he said. Our embarkation was smooth and the cabin, although small, as others have noted, was acceptable and adequate for our purposes. The housekeepers were friendly and did a excellent job of keeping it clean. We were promised bath robes; After numerous phone calls, they finally arrived 36 hours later. There were not enough electrical receptacles in the cabin, and the ones there were under the bedside tables, making access to them challenging. At the reception dinner, our disappointments escalated. Everyone was instructed to arrive simultaneously, so there was a delay finding seating. We met the waiter, who like most of the dining room staff was somewhere between surly and unhelpful. Requests were either denied or ignored. Smiles were nowhere to be seen. We finally found a pleasant, helpful water serving a corner table, so we managed to sit at his table throughout the remainder of the cruise. The staff in the lounge were similarly inadequate. We were never offered the opportunity to purchase a beverage. To get a drink, one had to walk to the bar and put in an order. We were never offered any beverage service on the sun deck. The bartender could be nasty. One day we returned from a late bus tour in the late afternoon. The afternoon tea was scheduled to open at 4 PM. Since we had missed lunch, we were anxious to have something to eat. The buffet was partially set up, and sandwiches were accessible. As I tried to take one, the staff person told me that food could not be touched until 4 o'clock. We were disappointed by much of the food. Breakfasts were adequate, although slow moving lines were common at the buffet and the omelet station. They did have lox and bagels, which I enjoyed. Lunches were poor. There was a salad bar with the usual slow moving lines. When I arrived at the food, several items had been consumed and were never refilled. The waiter rook orders for soups and entrees. Soups were excellent, the best of the food we had on the boat. Entrees were mediocre, at both lunch and dinner. Each meal included an offered fish dish. For seven days, it appeared that we were served the time fish with a different description, trout, bass, etc., all identical. Beef was similar. We were daily offered a different beef entree that seemed to always be the same dry tough cut of meat. Chicken dishes were similarly disappointing. The salad bar was often closed before we had finished our meals. We had daily bus tours on this "all inclusive" cruise. They seemed to consist of interminable bus rides with tour guides who were fair to good. We rapidly tired of rushing to get on a bus, riding to a site, having a brief tour, and then rushing back to the bus. The promised slow walker and strong walker tours never materialized, so with everyone walking at differing rates, the group was stretched out and the faster walkers had to wait for the slower ones. Even the fellow passengers on our tour were a problem. Many were form a large group, and as another reviewer has noted, many were brusque and unfriendly. The worst problem was our cruise director. She had an excuse as to why any request could not be fulfilled. She was constantly making announcements over the PA system, often in the early morning and late evening, announcing things that had already been clearly outlined in out daily hand-outs. Our impression was that she was always trying to impress us with how hard she was working and how important she was for our cruise.We cringed every time we heard her voice. Unfortunately, any question to the ladies at the reception desk were simply referred to the cruise director. Disembarkation presented another issue. We were offered a cab to our hotel in Budapest, where we pent another five days.What we received was a car service, which was very nice. We only later found that the fare was triple that of a taxi! We are experienced cruisers, but our disappointment (I keep using that word) with this cruise really turned us off toward river cruising. There were so many issues that I have not mentioned, but between brusque crew, poor food, and a terrible cruise director, AMA Waterways has lost our respect. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: June 2013
We took a Danube river cruise on AmaWaterways ship AmaLyra in early June. We arrived in Budapest on the day the Danube crested during the worst floods in 500 years. Nothing was moving on the river, and on the day of departure the AmaLyra ... Read More
We took a Danube river cruise on AmaWaterways ship AmaLyra in early June. We arrived in Budapest on the day the Danube crested during the worst floods in 500 years. Nothing was moving on the river, and on the day of departure the AmaLyra was marooned several hundred miles away on the wrong side of the Rhine-Danube canal. Our extraordinary cruise manager and the company made herculean efforts to keep us informed of alternative arrangements; we went to Bratislava by bus and were accommodated in a very comfortable Sheraton, so the Bratislava tour went off as scheduled. Then another bus to Vienna, and on to Ybbs, where we picked up the company's newest ship, the AmaPrima. Three glorious days on the AmaPrima took us to Wesenhufer, where we were again bused to Passau, then Regensburg, where we got on the AmaLyra at last for the last three days to Nuremburg. The company thought of everything; when we were unable to eat lunch on board (because there was no ship!) every passenger was given a substantial cash allowance for lunch. And the additional packing-and-unpacking chores were handled cheerfully by the crews of both ships. Staterooms were spotless, the food first class on both ships; and every crew mamber went out of his/her way to make the cruise a great experience for the passengers. On top of everything else, AmaWaterways gave every passenger a substantial credit - good towards any cruise through 2016 - for the 2 days that were missed on shipboard. Altogether a first class experience! Read Less
5 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: June 2013
I just returned from sailing on the Amalyra, Europe's Rivers and Castle Tour (Paris to Prague, 6-25-13) with my sister and mother. Easiest way to describe the journey - a fabulous experience - a five-star hotel set on top of a very ... Read More
I just returned from sailing on the Amalyra, Europe's Rivers and Castle Tour (Paris to Prague, 6-25-13) with my sister and mother. Easiest way to describe the journey - a fabulous experience - a five-star hotel set on top of a very quiet barge that glides down beautiful rivers. I'm in the hotel business, so I can be pretty critical. First off, the ship was absolutely spotless. You could literally eat off any surface on this ship. Cabins are small compared to a hotel room, but plenty of space to unpack and stow belongings – you’re not in the room that much anyway. French balcony, the ceiling-to-floor sliding door/window, made the room seem plenty spacious. Bathrooms were tiny, but laid out very well. Showers were wonderful (long hair needs good pressure.) I would suggest putting in memory foam mattresses - beds were a bit hard with the scaled-down mattress depth and no box spring. Ratko, the hotel manager, ran a very tight operation. At no point during the time on the ship did we experience ANY half-hearted or poor service. Having the crew made up of mostly couples obviously keeps the morale and service culture thriving. The aft lounge was beautiful, but they had just refinished the floor so it needed a lot more airing out - maybe windows that could open? Housekeeping staff was excellent and we absolutely loved the towel surprise and the little touches each night. The captain, Hank, and the very small contingent of sailors performed what seemed to me a miraculous feat of moving this floating hotel down the rivers and through the 55 locks. The nautical crew never seemed to be off shift; and yet they always smiled when the passengers pestered them with questions. We saw a Viking ship sailing in the opposite direction one day and it had peeling paint and a run-down appearance. The Amalyra sparkled in comparison with gleaming paint and polished wood. The crew never rested between sailing and sprucing. Again, the entire ship was spotless. Be warned - the sun deck does close down often (high water - low bridges), but there was always seating around the wheel house. The food service on board takes into account that people are waking at different times. The early bird offering in the lounge is a great idea - loved the 24-hour coffee machine. Having 2 options for lunch - lighter fare in the lounge rather than table service in the dining room was also a great feature. The culinary team was excellent. The menu each night was varied and the food beautifully prepared and presented. The menus for both lunch and dinner offered plenty of options. I heard some grumbling about wanting more regional fare. However, 7 nights of unfamiliar German food would have caused massive complaints. It is a great mix of cuisines. We were a party of 3, so the table arrangements caused us to seek out new dinner partners. Some large groups ran to the dining room and "hoxied" tables - sort of rude. Free flowing wine and beer during meals were served by the bartending staff, who always had a smile and a very generous pouring hand. Bar service is not included, but the prices were very reasonable and, again, very generously poured. Entertainment was provided most nights, variety of styles. Some got people dancing - Oh, my 82-year-old mother and those spiked heels! Visions of hospital trips and casts abounded but she had a blast because the atmosphere was fun and festive. The final artist of the cruise was a bit of a diva apparently and actually stopped her performance to shush the passengers. Since this was the last night of the cruise, maybe a band-type of entertainment would have been more appropriate when people were enjoying conversing with each other before leaving the next day. Amawaterways advertises that the ship docks at small towns which you can disembark and stroll to the town center. Be warned that this is true for only SOME of the docking sites. Your excursions are included (with the exception of Rothenburg) but you are bussed to most locations. Some local guides were better than others (a small complaint that a few talked way too much), Keeping us tourists together is probably akin to herding cats. Almost lost someone in Heidelberg, but the guy just didn't get on the right bus. Local guide was in a panic until all the guides added their numbers together. Buses were also spotless, drivers amazing (although a few us saw death coming going up to Bernkastle - thank goodness we backed up - LOL.) Vox system for tours is excellent. I saw many other tour groups huddled around their guides trying to hear instead of being able to enjoy the experience. System was easy to use and pretty flawless. Our cruise manager Kata was very knowledgeable, but seemed a bit stressed at times. I think they need to give them an assistant on the cruise. Organization is excellent, but sometimes info was presented in such a way that it was a bit confusing. Language was never an issue - English was spoken by all the crew and staff - accents could be heavy however. The daily "newspaper" which explained where, what and when was a great feature. Be aware that if you do the land portion - hotel in Paris was in the middle of the left bank (we chose to stay elsewhere and meet the tour for the transfer) and didn't scream "I'm in Paris!" Also passengers were a bit upset when they realized Prague was a four-hour bus ride from Nuremberg. It wasn't that bad, small rest stop break in between. Intercontinental in Prague was beautiful and extremely close to where you want to play tourist. The price for the entire tour was expensive - be prepared. You are not nickel-and-dimed to death - so it was very relaxing when on board (loved the warm towels and tea when we returned from an outing) - but this is not a cheap way to see Europe. You are pampered, wined and dined, entertained and astounded by the beauty of the land, buildings and sheer history of the area. Would I do it again? In a heartbeat - as soon as I pinch my pennies and save up for it. Amawaterways hits every note with precision, excellent service and top-notch accommodations.   Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: December 2012
AmaLyra was a small ship, we had 120 passengers and sailed from Nuremberg to Amsterdam hitting small towns in Germany. It was an intimate setting where the captains were always around. Great entertainment in a relaxed environment. If ... Read More
AmaLyra was a small ship, we had 120 passengers and sailed from Nuremberg to Amsterdam hitting small towns in Germany. It was an intimate setting where the captains were always around. Great entertainment in a relaxed environment. If there is a slide show, get there early as 1/2 the seats can't see the screen. Great guides in the small German towns. Christmas markets were fun. Free internet in room and on demand movies where we could start a movie and finish it in 3 different installments. There is a printer available in a lounge for your boarding passes. Friendly staff. Seating is open for all meals but people seem to get situated and enjoy their waiters. Same waiters for all 3 meals. The cabin. loved the shower! French balcony means there are some balcony planks in the room and there is a sliding glass door that opens so when you open it you might feel like you are on a balcony. The ship has to be pretty narrow to get under the bridges. Water bottles provided, 6 per room per day. TV/Computer monitor on desk for you to use. This was faster than my laptop so I used it. plenty of drawers, small desk, 2 night stands with a drawer each. luggage goes under the bed. There is an underbed free wheeling drawer for more storage. Good dark privacy curtains The locks, and cruising so close to shore was particularly interesting to us who have river cruised on the Amazon, Yangtze and Volga but most recently have gone on ocean liners. We had 4 of us and brought some card games with us, there are games on board. Every week day they had a small 2 sheet USA news paper. They had great lectures and we enjoyed all the entertainment on board. We liked the English speaking ship. No children's programs available. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: July 2012
We loved everything about the cruise. Four highlights include; !. The cruise manager Nick Hartog. Nick was outstanding. Friendly with all the guests and efficient. He arranged terrific onboard entertainment. He made it a point to ... Read More
We loved everything about the cruise. Four highlights include; !. The cruise manager Nick Hartog. Nick was outstanding. Friendly with all the guests and efficient. He arranged terrific onboard entertainment. He made it a point to be available to guests who needed special attention and kept everyone informed about the daily events. 2. The cabin layout was good and the storage was great. We appreciated the ample bottled water which was provided daily and the in-room computer. We had a wonderful feeling of light, space and comfort. 3. The food and dining room was wonderful. The service staff was attentive to all requests and were very friendly. The 24 hour coffee service was a big plus. 4. The excursions were well organized and the local guides were terrific. The buses were never over-crowded and the group sizes were very reasonable. Read Less
Sail Date: June 2012
This was our first River Cruise and it will not be the last with AMA. From start to finish it exceeded our expectations. This review really has to be done in two parts, the ship and then the ports of call. The ship and crew is easy, it ... Read More
This was our first River Cruise and it will not be the last with AMA. From start to finish it exceeded our expectations. This review really has to be done in two parts, the ship and then the ports of call. The ship and crew is easy, it was outstanding. Everything and everyone was top notch. The staff could not do enough for you. The food, from the morning breakfast buffet to the dinner was delightful. Our Cruise Directer, Sebastian, was everywhere,doing anything he could to make things better. At times we thought he had to have a twin, he was doing so much. On board the one man band and singer entertained each evening, and local performers were brought on board to share the regional music and dance with us. The ship is well maintained, clean and warm. Each cabin has it own TV and wifi center. When the system failed a technician was flown in to correct it. We began our trip with an optional start in Vienna for two days.We also took the extension at the end to Istanbul. Both were wonderful. We think this route would be preferable to the reverse. The excitement of Istanbul was a wonderful ending to the trip. The other ports of call were not ones that you would normally think of going to. That being said the local guides were of such good quality they made them all interesting and worthwhile. We were always in small groups, with individual ear sets to hear the guide. The ship had about 140 guest and a crew of 42 ... which made it easy to meet and mingle with almost everyone. This is truly an all inclusive trip. You are not nickeled and dim-ed to death. From the simple thing of always having bottles of FREE water available to surprising the women with a rose at the first dinner, or paying the small fee for toilets on a tour and making a donation for our visit to a Mosque. Tipping was additional for the crew and tour guides. We ended our tour in Istanbul and were housed at The Ritz-Carlton. A little service they provided was almost expected after the attention provided by AMA. When we called for a 2 am wake up call the operator offered us free complimentary coffee at 2:10 am. What more could you want. Read Less
Sail Date: November 2011
My husband & I had a wonderful time on this cruise! We're burned out on ocean cruising - too crowded, too cheesy, that feeling that they're trying to make money off of you at every turn. The Amalyra was wonderful. ... Read More
My husband & I had a wonderful time on this cruise! We're burned out on ocean cruising - too crowded, too cheesy, that feeling that they're trying to make money off of you at every turn. The Amalyra was wonderful. Small beautiful ship (only about 150 passengers). All the staff were friendly, professional, and gracious. Food was excellent. Wine was better than expected - some was really good. Ports were beautiful, and tours were excellent. I'd never gone through locks before, and found them fascinating. Our cruise was from Budapest to Nuremberg. The ship had about 20 bikes on board that you could use, so after our tour of Vienna, we took a couple & rode through the city - highly recommend that - it's very bicycle-friendly with good bike paths. We also went on a group bike ride from Durnstein to Melk (Austria) - about 3 hours. Not too difficult (except 1 hill!). Gorgeous scenery. Days were pretty full with tours, etc. - something for everyone - more active & less active. Took a couple extra days in Budapest before the cruise started - great city! And stayed an extra day in Nuremberg. Our fellow passengers were from all over the globe, and mostly very nice. Age group was mainly 40-50-ish, but younger & older, too. No children. People we met at all the stops were nice, too. Tour guides were friendly & knowledgeable. This was a comfortable, classy cruise, without all the hoopla. If you want rock-climbing walls, bowling alleys, & rowdy partiers, this is not for you. If you want an interesting, relaxing, and active trip - this is it. Read Less
Sail Date: August 2011
The Amazing Amalyra We just returned from a most memorable trip on the Danube with additional days in Budapest and Prague and all I can say is WOW! I don't want to discuss the ports which you can read about anywhere but focus on ... Read More
The Amazing Amalyra We just returned from a most memorable trip on the Danube with additional days in Budapest and Prague and all I can say is WOW! I don't want to discuss the ports which you can read about anywhere but focus on the features that made Ama special to us. We picked Ama because their itinerary tied in best with our nephew's wedding in Prague. The entire process of booking, flights and transfers couldn't have gone more smoothly. We have done at least 18 ocean cruises and never had the type of treatment we received with Ama. We were met at the airport and transferred to the Sofitel at the Chain Bridge in Budapest where we met our cruise director, Lilo Lehmann. The second time she saw us, she knew our names and always greeted us with a smile. The hotel was well located and very comfortable. The breakfast was quite elaborate with every imaginable thing you could want except for a good cup of coffee. Sixty of us took part in the entire trip and Lilo was there every step of the way. She made sure that our luggage was put away and with every more it traveled with us. On embarkation day we met the other 40 passengers for our week long cruise. There were a total of 106 passengers out of a capacity of 144. We were greeted by the Captain with a glass of sparkling wine and escorted to our cabins where our luggage was awaiting. On first impression, the cabin seemed small but it was very well appointed. There were plenty of electric outlets which is unusual for a ship. The current was 220v but most of our gear was dual current so all we needed were adapters. The desk would lend them if necessary. Despite the size, we had no difficulty putting everything away and the suitcases easily fit under the high beds. What impressed me was the bathroom and what was a good sized shower with it's triangular layout. And the shower-head was fabulous. The only criticism I had was that the mattresses were a bit hard for me. We then set out to explore the ship. We went to the Sun Deck where lounge chairs and tables with chairs were plentiful. A small hot tube was located behind the wheelhouse. There was minimal shade available. This area was popular when traveling through locks, 26 between Budapest and Prague mostly at night, and was the scene of a few parties. One deck down was the location of the main lounge which was the center of activity with a bar and plentiful seating. This is where the shows would take place. A piano player entertained most nights. We had a very nice show by Aphrodite, a group of 4 girls who were very talented. Another show was with La Strada, a string group, also very talented. A cabaret singer also performed one night. These shows were short but filled out the evening. The Reception Desk was outside the lounge and was the site of the excursion organizing and other business matters. Half a deck up was Lili's little desk which she staffed frequently. Next door was the shop which was rather well equipped for such a small vessel. The rear of this deck contained the small Aft Lounge and tiny fitness center. Deck 2 contained the most important area of all, the dining room. All meals were at relatively fixes times and seating was as you desired. Maybe with the sailing not being full, we never had any difficulties finding a table of any size. Overall, the ship was very nicely decorated. What impressed me was the cleanliness of the ship. I saw our stewardess on her hands and knees scrubbing our bathroom floor on more than one occasion. It was nice knowing that we would return to a clean and tidy cabin. Excursions were broken into 3 groups with active, regular and easy. Active was never a strain. Our local guides were great and very informative. Some could have been stand-up comedians especially in the former Soviet block where there were often jabs made of their former occupiers. We would be walking around and, all of a sudden, Lilo would pop up to make sure everything was going well. As to the issue with the quality of the food, we enjoyed every meal. Breakfast was the usual with hot and cold items in usual buffet style as well as hot items from the kitchen ordered from the menu. Lunch was ordered from the menu with a salad bar as well. The burgers were awful as everyone has stated. Dinner included a meat, fish or vegetarian choice as well as always available steak, chicken or salmon. My wife had the chicken and salmon which were surprisingly very good. I had fish which was fresh and good. Presentation was always very well done. What I thoroughly enjoyed was the cheese tray with all 3 meals. I chose cheese or fruit cocktail for dessert most nights although our dining mates enjoyed the desserts. Wines were free-flowing and generally very good. They would fill our glasses at the end of dinner so we could enjoy them in the lounge. At the end of the cruise, Lilo made sure EVERYONE had their luggage going to the right destination and that people were transferred where they were supposed to be going. Taxis were ordered, buses were loaded and off to Prague we went. The bus trip was long and we welcomed the stop at Karolvy Vary. We had a little tour and then went for lunch. We left the tour a little early before the crowds attacked the restaurants. Then off to our final destination. The chosen Old Town Hilton was well located but a disappointment. The rooms were dirty and very dated. Carpets in the room were stained and we had lots of cobwebs. Conrad would roll over in his grave if he saw it. But it is a logistical problem finding hotels for these large groups and there were plenty of groups staying with us. I don't fault Ama but do pass the blame Hilton. All in all, I am very impressed with Ama and especially with our good friend Lilo. When we returned home, it was nice to find a personal postcard from Lilo in our mailbox. I would not hesitate to sail Ama again. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: August 2011
This started out just wonderfully with being met at the airport in Budapest, taken to the Hotel Sofitel, where we were greeted by the lovely and charming Pili, our cruise director. She has a way of getting along with everyone, and I know ... Read More
This started out just wonderfully with being met at the airport in Budapest, taken to the Hotel Sofitel, where we were greeted by the lovely and charming Pili, our cruise director. She has a way of getting along with everyone, and I know she had some challenges on this trip. We had a lovely suite because there was not another room available when we arrived. The hotel is in a great location on the river at the beautiful Chain Bridge. Breakfast at the hotel was a buffet with everything one could want, except--the coffee left a lot to be desired. When the afternoon to board the Amalyra came, we were taken across the river to the boat and welcomed aboard and shown our rooms. We were quite happy with the size, especially the bathroom, for such a small ship. After we boarded we had the usual lifeboat drill, and Pili gave a talk on procedures on the boat and introduced the captain, hotel manager, and restaurant manager. As we left Budapest that night, the captain took the boat down the river a bit and turned around to head north. What breathtaking sights and photo-ops we all had. We had all breakfasts and lunches on the boat in the lounge area, because we learned the first night that the dining room was a helter-skelter rushed and loud affair--more later on this. All of the stops were most interesting, and we had terrific guides. They set up walking groups for active, medium and slow. The active suited us, and was not rushed--we just didn't take as long at each place so we could have time to revisit those we were really interested in. The active groups started out small, but as more people learned that they were hearing more than they needed, they joined the active group. By the end of the trip, the active group was really too large. We ould have used another day in Vienna. We took the optional side trip to Salzburg, and were so glad we did. On the way we visited the little town of Monsdee--quite charming with an ultra baroque cathedral. We had one day of just cruising the river. This was fun and relaxing, with everyone upstairs and listening to Pili give the history of the places we went by. Whenever we met another river cruise boat everyone waved in a happy shared experience mood. When we got to Nuremburg, we had our interesting tour, and it was the only town we visited that we didn't think was impressively clean. The next morning we boarded buses for the long (about 5 hours) trip to Prague--but it was a beautiful trip, with a stop in the resort spa of Karlovy Vary. We had lunch and beer there--our first experience with how much the Czechs love beer--good stuff. The Olde Town Hilton was our hotel. It was in a very good location with lots of nearby restaurants, and was within walking distance to the castle, the Charles Bridge, and all the good things to see in Prague. Now as to the Dreaded Dinners: First, the boat was at full capacity. Secondly everyone eats at the same time. This means a busy dining room. It is small with a low ceiling and tables are close together. There was a group of about thirty traveling together who were extremely and I mean extremely noisy. Wine is complimentary at dinner so as the meal progressed, their noise level progressed--upward. We learned quickly to sit at the back away from where they congregated for dinner. this put us by the kitchen doors which were constantly banging open and shut with the manager RUNNING--not walking--in and out of there. It just plain was not relaxing at all. The food was ok at best, and sometimes it took a long time even for the menu to arrive. I think a more spread out dining situation--timewise--would help this situation. Why can't they set dining seating from 6:30 until 8? I asked someone this question, and was told that the crew would have to work too much. We did meet some travelers from another AMA boat in PRAGUE. They told us that their dining was wonderful...so I just don't know what to think. Was it the manager not being able to handle things, or was it the noise and demands of the passengers? Read Less
Sail Date: April 2011
This was our first river cruise. It is unlike ocean cruising. The maximum passenger capacity on AmaLyra is 148. It is easy to get to know a number of the other guests. AMA Waterways has every detail covered, even getting a dentist for my ... Read More
This was our first river cruise. It is unlike ocean cruising. The maximum passenger capacity on AmaLyra is 148. It is easy to get to know a number of the other guests. AMA Waterways has every detail covered, even getting a dentist for my wife's emergency treatment on a holiday. The food was excellent as was the generous offerings of complimentary wine during dinner. All of the employees on the AmaLyra were professional and courteous and did everything to make our trip a pleasant one. The AmaLyra was built about 2009. The room had ample space. The bathroom was also roomy enough. The Internet connection was hit and miss but a nice amenity when it had reception, which was often enough. There was a TV with a nice selection of English speaking stations to choose from. This room was immaculately clean when we arrived and cleaned exceptionally well each day. Laundry service was top notch and reasonable. Items were returned in less than 24 hours. If you are considering a river cruise, I would highly recommend AMA Waterways. Read Less
Sail Date: August 2010
My husband's and my 12-day AMA Enchanting Rhine land/cruise began in Zurich, Switzerland, where we spent 2 nights at the Marriott. Peter Whitehead, our outstanding Amalyra Cruise Director, was in the lobby when we arrived (we booked ... Read More
My husband's and my 12-day AMA Enchanting Rhine land/cruise began in Zurich, Switzerland, where we spent 2 nights at the Marriott. Peter Whitehead, our outstanding Amalyra Cruise Director, was in the lobby when we arrived (we booked our own air and took a taxi to the hotel--CFH46.80, paid by cc, no tip required) and directed us how to begin exploring Zurich as the day was free. We found no ATM at the airport nor did the Marriott have one, but Peter directed us to the train station, where we got CFH100, which was plenty to get us through our time in Switzerland. Zurich is a lovely, easily-walked, clean, and quite enjoyable city, as well as having clean (and free) public toilets. We found Switzerland to be rather expensive but did have some lovely meals at not too exorbitant prices. The Marriott's full breakfast was included and very good. The first day we had a delicious bratwurst from a stand in the train station for lunch and that night a wonderful dinner in the Marriott's Thai restaurant, White Elephant. That may sound crazy, but we were bleary-eyed from our overnight flight and following exploration of Zurich on foot. The next morning we had a very nice city tour which began on buses through the University area and Lake Zurich Marina and ended with a walking tour of the Old Town. We had the afternoon to ourselves and had a very nice inexpensive buffet lunch at Limmatblitz near where the Limmat River, which divides Zurich, spills into Lake Zurich. That evening we had a nice dinner at Ruden Bar along the river walkway not far from the hotel. I should stop here and say that throughout we were blessed with nice weather in the 70's, mostly sunny with a shower here and there only. We were told along the way that it had been terribly hot in June and July had been awful, but August arrived with glorious weather. Weren't we lucky?! The next morning we were transported by bus toward Lucerne with breathtaking scenery along the way. We stopped at gorgeous Brunnen on Lake Lucerne, where we had a sandwich lunch (on our own) on the waterfront. We then boarded a ferry that took us across Lake Lucerne to our hotel (Radisson Blu) in Lucerne. (Luggage had been brought by the buses.) After settling in at the hotel, we struck out to explore Lucerne. What a lovely place! The Chapel Bridge is amazing! Again, very walkable, clean and just gorgeous with the Lake's blue water and surrounded by the Alps. That night we had a delicious dinner outdoors at Fritschi, a restaurant with a colorful fresco facade. I would suggest, however, if you go there, make a reservation as we saw them shooing people away for no apparent reason to us. The following morning after breakfast (included) there was a walking tour of Lucerne, then a free afternoon. We had a delightful and inexpensive lunch of Swiss "canapEs" at Baeckerei Hug, a sort of deli place we discovered while walking around. After lunch we continued exploring areas we had not been to before and ended up on the Lake's waterfront park opposite the hotel, where we were treated to a really fun rock concert at the bandshell by the JayCee's. We had a fondue dinner that night at Hirschen, once again, a place we discovered while walking around earlier in the day. The next morning we left by bus to head toward Basel, where we would board the Amalyra. On the way, we made a stop to see Lucerne's emotional Dying Lion deep relief carving in the sandstone cliff above the town, a tribute to the Swiss Guard who died in 1792 trying to save the life and honor of Marie Antoinette. (Note: Do NOT use the public toilet at this site! Gross!) We arrived in Basel in time for a walking tour before lunch, after which we had a wonderful wurstwegge (sausage roll) from one of the carts in the Marktplatz. The thing I enjoyed most about Basel was watching the ferry cross the Rhine (from the bridge near the museum). The ferries are hand-operated by tiller, crossing the river by tacking against the current, held in position by a rope suspended above the river. We met the buses at the Kunstmuseum, which took us to the ship after a stop at the Switzerland, France and Germany crossroads monument. Check-in was a breeze and our luggage was already in our room 214, which was 170 sq. feet with French balcony, well-located, nicely appointed, with ample storage space, lovely toiletries, and a very comfortable bed. We did, however, ask for a top sheet rather than the heavier duvet provided (too much for us). That evening was the Captain's Welcome, at which all the ladies were given a long-stemmed red rose, perfect for the budvase in every cabin, and which remained fresh throughout the cruise. The next morning we had the choice of an included tour to Colmar, France or Freiburg, Germany. We chose Colmar and can't help but think it was the right choice! We started at an Alsatian wine tasting at La Cave Wolfberger in the village of Equisheim, which proved to be an unexpected gem! What a whimsical and delightful place! We then moved on to Colmar, which also was a delight--colorful, picturesque medieval town dating back to 823 with canals throughout, and the birthplace of Bartholdi, sculptor of the Statue of Liberty. The next day we had a wonderful canal cruise and walking tour of beautiful Strasbourg, the capital of the Alsace region of France. The afternoon was spent cruising to Speyer, one of Germany's oldest towns, where we had an evening walking tour after dinner. The next morning we toured the Castle and Old Town in Heidelberg, and in the afternoon Worms (full of ancient history as well as the Reformation), then cruised to Rudesheim overnight, where the following morning we visited Siegfried's wonderful music museum, filled with his collection of fascinating music boxes. Do not miss doing this! After Siegfried's we went into the hillside vineyards for a wine tasting, after which we walked around the charming town of Rudesheim on our own. This afternoon we cruised through the scenic Rhine Gorge, which is lined with innumerable castles. That night we arrived in Koblenz, where we had an evening tour after dinner. The following morning we continued cruising to Cologne, where we had an Old Town walking tour after lunch including the magnificent Gothic cathedral. Afterward we walked around on our own and had a glass of Kolsch, Cologne's beer specialty, at an outdoor cafe. Cologne was under construction everywhere it seemed (building a subway!) but was still an enjoyable place to visit. That night we were treated to the excellent La Strada trio, whom we had fallen in love with on our AMA Danube cruise last year, as the evening's after-dinner entertainment. We cruised overnight and the following morning into the Amsterdam-Rhine Canal, arriving in Amsterdam midday. After lunch we had an afternoon canal cruise through the heart of Amsterdam followed by a bus tour of surrounding areas. We left the bus near the flower market for free time. We chose not to return to the boat by bus but rather to walk around on our own and then walk back to the ship (easily doable). The main thing we did while on our own was to walk through the Red Light District. Very interesting indeed! We flew home the following morning. Peter pre-booked a taxi to the airport for us, for which we paid €35, tip included. It was a truly wonderful trip from beginning to end. I would say that with the exception of the Rhine Gorge, the scenery along the Rhine was not as generally gorgeous as the Danube, but the ports were truly wonderful. I highly recommend this trip and I can't say enough about AMA! My husband and I are completely "hooked" on their excellence. As after our Danube cruise, a few days after coming home we received a thank you postcard, handwritten and signed by Peter (CD), Oliver (hotel manager) and Rein (Captain). Nice touch, don't you think! I would be happy to answer any questions you might have by e-mail - jgarrett@hlcapital.com. Note: You might also be interested in reading my review of our August 2009 AMA Legendary Danube on the Amadante. Read Less
Sail Date: December 2009
Just got back from the cruise. I've been on many ocean cruises, including a couple of times in the Mediterranean. But overall, this was the best. Even though river cruising and this particular cruise line caters to the retired ... Read More
Just got back from the cruise. I've been on many ocean cruises, including a couple of times in the Mediterranean. But overall, this was the best. Even though river cruising and this particular cruise line caters to the retired "blue-hair" crowd, my 2 college age children agree this was their best cruise experience. To be honest, even though I have been on a 3-day Yangtze River cruise exploring the 3 Gorges, this was really my first river cruise. So, as a river cruise neophyte, the comments I make may or may not reflect the typical European river cruise line. Please remember this important point as you read. This cruise appeals to a leisurely-paced crowd interested in culture and history. If high energy cruises with Vegas shows,hairy-chest competitions, and drunk, obese nymphs stuffed into bikinis and gatoring on the dance floor is your shangri-lai ideal of a cruise, look elsewhere. Original ports of call included Nuremberg, Bamberg, Wurzberg, Heidelberg, Rothenberg, Koblenz, Cochem, Bernkastle and Trier. Prague and Paris pre and post cruise excursions were available at additional cost. Amalyra's personal service and attention were fantastic. I am a travel agent, and this particular cruise was marketed to attract a number of travel agents (about a dozen out of approx 120 passengers were agents). Although the president and VP of AMA were on board, I sensed the service we received from the crew was the norm. I definitely will travel AMA again and see if this is the case. The cruise started in Nuremberg, Germany and was originally scheduled to end in Trier traveling the Main, Rhine and Mosel rivers. However, due to the high water level of the Mosel, the ship was forced to avoid Bernkastle (which I was most looking forward to due to the local wine country) and Trier. Instead, we went to Koln. The food and port tours were the highlights of the cruise. The food for the most part was as good as many 5 star restaurants I've experienced with a couple of choices in each stage of the meal. I usually went with the "chef" recommendations in the evening. Dinner included free sodas and all u can drink wine. I expected the wine to rival "2 Buck Chuck" or "Yellowtail," but was surprised to find most of the wine selections from local regions quite good. Cocktails incurred a charge at all times, along with wine during the day. Only one night was my food selection typical of the usual cruise mediocrity. Breakfast was a buffet. Lunch a combination of buffet and a couple of menu entree selections. All u can eat cheese selections accompanied each meal. Afternoon tea with sweets and hors-d'"uvres were served every afternoon. A coffee/cappucino/expresso/hot chocolate machine was available 24/7. Since the ship was less than a year old, the cabins were top-notch. Clean & comfortable decorated in the IKEA motif. Although the square footage was only a little bigger than the standard ocean cruise ship cabin, the layout of the furniture allowed more room to manuever than any other ship on which I've traveled. Thus, my wife and I were able to avoid constantly stepping over each other as what usually happens. The bathroom was larger than on other ships. The shower actually had a door (instead of a mere curtain) and actually had enough room to allow 2 people (not that we did that, mind you!) TVs were LCD flat screens and contained free internet (albeit very slow and available only when the ship was stationed in port. While cruising, the antennae was removed to allow the ship to manuever under bridges.) Complimentary bottle water was in the room. Since we received a complimentary room upgrade, our room had a "French" balcony. This is not a balcony in the true sense (since the ship must pass through locks with just a few inches maneuvering room on either side, real balconies would unwisely reduce the living area of the ship). Instead, "French" balconies are merely sliding glass doors that allow you to stick your head out the door for a 180 degree viewing. Protective bars prevent you from falling out. The exercise room was practically non-existent. It had a few dumb bells and a couple of tread mills. AMA's market niche of retirees (think arthritic joints) along with the ship space limitation I assume are the likely reasons. Tour guides and bus transportation were gratis at all ports. All guides were good except one. The one in Heidelberg was outstanding. In fact, she was key to my family's unanimous opinion that Heidelberg was our favorite city. She even provided us with locally made chocolate. Due to space, I won't elaborate on the actual sights of each port as they don't deviate from what you can learn about them from any guide book. AMA usually offered each local port tour in 3 segments: fast, medium and slow paced. My family always selected the fast pace in order to pack more tourism into our time slot. Each person received ear phones and a radio transmitter to clearly hear the guide. AMA sent us a small, multi-color guide book of the regions we visited 4 weeks prior to the cruise. Reminiscent of a Fodors or Frommers guide. Nice touch. Details about the service.......on cruises, I'm used to being constantly accosted to buy stuff -- port tours, alcohol, souvenirs, pictures (a camera being shoved in my face at every turn), massages, beauty treatments, etc. Not so on AMA. What a relief! Of course, a river cruise is considerably more expensive on average than an ocean cruise. This reflects the fact of having 150 passengers as opposed to 3,000 -- more passengers allow more distribution of fixed costs, even with bigger, more expensive ships. Nonetheless, perhaps the profit margins of river cruising forego the necessity to harass passengers with additional purchases. Our airline lost my daughter's suitcase. Upon boarding, my wife asked the ship's purser to make contact with US Airways to ascertain if they found the suitcase to deliver it at a future port of call. Though the suitcase never materialized, the next day the cruise director (whose name is Elke. She's from Belgium and deserves meritous recognition) offered us free laundry service. Please note, we did not request this. The ship merely volunteered to do this in light of our lost luggage, saving us over $200. As I mentioned earlier, due to a rising river water level, the ship was diverted from the originally scheduled last 2 ports. No problem for my family, but it caused a minor level of hysteria for some of the older passengers set in their ways. They were disturbed about making their connections with flights, continuing with their holiday, etc. Elke tracked me down to inquire of my plans at the cruise conclusion. I had reserved a car to drive from Trier at the cruise end to Frankfurt (MUCH less expensive and considerably more flexible than taking the train), where our flight departs the following day. Obviously, with the Amalyra no longer continuing to Trier placed my car reservation in jeopardy. The next day, Elke informed me they had contacted my car rental company and rearranged my reservation to allow me to pickup my car in our final port of call at no additional cost. Moreover, since the car rental office was about 20 minutes away, AMA paid for the cost of the taxi. Clearly, AMA bent over backwards to accommodate its passengers throughout the cruise -- even with the unexpected complications from Mother Nature. From the hallway comments I heard from the other passengers, they felt the same. And when you consider that AMA assisted 120 passengers or so in making alternate concluding cruise arrangements, that's a lot of work for the Amalyra crew 24 hours before the cruise ended. In the end, I heard no disgruntlement from any other passenger. One final note. I do like good wine. And I was especially thrilled at the prospect of going through a German wine experience of visiting Riesling vineyards and wineshops. The unexpected change in the cruise itinerary prevented this opportunity. But as I stated earlier, I cannot blame AMA as this was due to rising river water levels. In the event, though, any AMA personnel reads this critique, I encourage you to incorporate such an experience in future cruises in a more pronounced way. I thoroughly enjoy historical and cultural sights and museums. But incorporating alternative visits, such as wineries or beerhalls which are so endemic to German lifestyle, to the standard sightseeing fare I believe provides a richer holiday experience. BOTTOM LINE: Only superlative comments for AMA. Read Less
Sail Date: September 2009
We just returned from AMA Europe's Heartland Cruise. We sailed on the new Amalyra and did the reverse itinerary from Prague to Paris. I sailed with my DH and another couple. We had all been on ocean cruises, but this was our first ... Read More
We just returned from AMA Europe's Heartland Cruise. We sailed on the new Amalyra and did the reverse itinerary from Prague to Paris. I sailed with my DH and another couple. We had all been on ocean cruises, but this was our first river cruise. A few general remarks about AMA and the Amalyra. First class all the way. The ship was beautiful, the staff was wonderful, the tour guides in every city were knowledgeable, and we enjoyed our trip very much! Food - despite several reviews I had read on these boards which criticized the food on AMA, we found the food to be fantastic, actually considerably better than on our ocean cruises. Admittedly I am not hard to please, but one of our traveling companions is a gourmet cook and a "foodie" and thought the food was outstanding. We especially loved the daily soups. Everything was fresh, cooked to order and hot when it was supposed to be hot, cold when it was supposed to be cold. The presentation was really well-done and the chef was very inventive. Breakfasts were not particularly creative, but had something to please everyone. Both breakfast and lunch were also served in the lounge, in a more limited way, for those who slept in or who didn't want to eat in the dining room. Dress was casual, except for the Captain's Dinner on the last night. I was actually surprised that a lot of people dressed up quite a bit. However, there were still several men (including my DH) who did not wear a tie or sports coat, just nice pants and a button-down shirt. We were in cabin 205 on the Cello Deck and had a French balcony. I have to admit, however, that we barely used it. When we were sailing through the Rhine Gorge or on the Moselle River, we were always on the top deck enjoying the panoramic views. The cabin was small, but well organized. We were able to put all our clothes away and slide the suitcases under the bed. The bed was very comfortable and the cabin was kept spotless. We flew into Prague on our own and were there for just a day and a half (2 nights). If we had it to do all over again, we would have flown in a few days earlier. Prague is beautiful. There were a lot of things we did not have time to see and we would like to go back. AMA put us up in the Hotel President, which was a very nice hotel, right on the river and close to everything. It included free breakfast. In Paris, we stayed at the Crowne Plaza Republique, which was ok. It wasn't situated in the best spot for sightseeing, but the rooms were ok and the free breakfasts were very good. When I saw how much the normal rates were for the hotels there, I was satisfied with the accommodations. A couple of thoughts about the pros and cons of doing this itinerary from Prague to Paris instead of the other way round: Coming into Paris, which is so bustling and hectic, would have been difficult as jetlagged as we were at the beginning of our trip. Prague was much more laid back and this made it easier to adjust. However, we would have liked more time in Prague as well. Another drawback was sailing through the Rhine River Gorge very late in the afternoon, which meant that we missed some of it when darkness fell. The Gorge is absolutely stunning, with castles at almost every bend in the river, so we wished we could have sailed through it earlier in the day. As mentioned earlier, all our guides were very knowledgeable and informative and the audio head sets really added to the experience. I did not see other tour groups with these head sets. We went on almost all the included tours, but note that this left us with little free time in most towns. But this was our choice and we could have gone off on our own if we had wished. We did take the bikes for a ride along the river one day when we had extra time. It was very enjoyable. One caution about internet availability. Internet access is available in all cabins for free. However, because the ship went through many, many locks and under low bridges, the satellite dish had to be lowered and internet was not available at these times. When it was available, it was very slow. So do not rely on this mode of communication to keep in touch with family members, etc. Thoughts on river cruises in general - as has been said before, do not go on a river cruise expecting fancy entertainment or casinos. The ships are small and intimate and there is not a lot to do onboard. However, if you like personal service, the opportunity to really get to know the other passengers, and visiting wonderful towns and villages and enjoying spectacular scenery, you will like this trip. We enjoyed it very much and would love to travel AMA again! Read Less
Sail Date: August 2009
This was a very nice way to travel. The ship was comparable to any sea-going vessel only more intimate. There was excellent food and service. The staff was so knowledgeable that getting to any site was well organized and easy. The ... Read More
This was a very nice way to travel. The ship was comparable to any sea-going vessel only more intimate. There was excellent food and service. The staff was so knowledgeable that getting to any site was well organized and easy. The itenerary took you to the large cities of Vienna, Budapest and Prague as well as the smaller more rural ones of Durnstein, Bratislavia and Melk. The side trip to Salzburg was absolutely beautiful! We have taken eight or so large ship ocean cruises and this was just as good OR BETTER than any. Food was much better! The service and organization was MUCH better! It could be as slow paced and leisurely as you desire; or it could be cities, tours and excursion packed. Europe in general and the cities were not really handicapped friendly as there were many cobblestone streets and small steps. As we were two 45 year old guys, we had no trouble at all. Read Less
Sail Date: July 2009
From the moment we got on the Amalyra, we knew we had made the right choice. The boat was amazing, the food was absolutely excellent and the staff was the best ever. The price of your ticket includes almost all land tours and they are ... Read More
From the moment we got on the Amalyra, we knew we had made the right choice. The boat was amazing, the food was absolutely excellent and the staff was the best ever. The price of your ticket includes almost all land tours and they are top notch. The quiet boxes you wore to listen to your tour guides were a real bonus in all the towns & villages we visited. All of the wine & beer served at dinner was also included in your fare. The wines were always local to where you were sailing and they were great. The locals came on board to provide entertainment and sometimes it was a lecture on beer with tastings, or a lecture on wine with tastings. We were never bored, in fact the days weren't long enough. The cabin was smaller than a regular cruise ship but the shower was larger. Beds & bedding are first class. They provide slippers, robes and there is an umbrella in the closet to use if it should rain. There are sliders but no balconies as the boat must fit through the locks. Free internet in your own stateroom is such a bonus. The captain gives each lady a long stemmed rose on welcoming cocktail party and there is a bud vase in each room to hold the flower. Your room is kept stocked with 6 bottles of water, daily. All complimentary. Beer & wine with dinner is all complimentary too, and they just keep pouring. Having free internet service in your own rooms was such a bonus too. Being able to keep in touch with home, at no cost, was a bonus. We took advantage of extra time in Budapest before the cruise and we went on to Paris at the end for 3 days. The tours provided in these cities were excellent too. A tour guide is with you the whole time so there is someone to help you when things don't go quite right. We are saving to take another AMA Waterways cruise, can't wait to go again. Read Less
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