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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 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
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