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3 AmaWaterways AmaCello Cruise Reviews

This is our third cruise with AmaWaterways which must tell you that we like the Ama experience. Our first cruise was on the Danube on AmaSonata - and I rave about that elsewhere. Our second cruise was on the Rhine, on AmaSonata by ... Read More
This is our third cruise with AmaWaterways which must tell you that we like the Ama experience. Our first cruise was on the Danube on AmaSonata - and I rave about that elsewhere. Our second cruise was on the Rhine, on AmaSonata by coincidence. I was less happy with that trip - mostly because I did not like the Rhine as much as the Danube which was not Ama's fault and there were too many Asian flavours in each meal - which was Ama's fault. It would still have been 5 stars even then. This year we searched for a new Ama European cruise that provided the right balance and type of activities and came up with the Rhone - Colours of Provence aboard the AmaCello. Coming from the UK, we flew to Lyon from Heathrow and back to Heathrow from Marseille booked through Ama. The flights were not fun - proper cattle truck flights - and that seems a huge shame as they top and tail what was a luxury cruise. If I was doing it again, I would investigate the train services which were used by other guests on the cruise and reportedly were excellent. Our transfer to the ship from the airport was handled well, though the traffic was bad so we only arrived at 1810 to find we were invited to the Captains Table for Dinner starting in 20 minutes - no time to unpack or shower so we were the scruffy pair at the table. Oh well - at least the Captain - Philippe Stypa was a really good host who managed not to notice. He was the most pleasant and affable captain we have sailed with. He remembered us throughout the week, gave tours of the wheelhouse to those of us who wanted to know how the ship operated and greeted each on-shore excursion as it returned. An excellent captain. AmaCello is an old ship by Ama standards. Compared to AmaSonata, the cabins are smaller, have French Balconies rather than twin balconies and the en-suites are smaller. Those are not necessarily minus points. I prefer the French balcony as I get more uninterrupted window space and my wife preferred the en-suite - mostly because it did not have the unnecessary window into the cabin the illumination from which woke her when I used the bathroom at night on the AmaSonata. Although small, the cabin was perfectly adequate for the two of us. So score one to AmaCello. The restaurant and lounge were different but similar to those on the Sonata - generally very adequate though the air-conditioning struggled in the very high temperatures experienced during the cruise when the rooms were full - at mealtimes or during briefings for instance. The food in the restaurant was a pleasure to eat. There was a good variety, it was well presented, tasty and much more appropriate to the region than on our Rhine cruise. The quantity was generous - we were encouraged to have second helpings of desserts for instance and our glasses kept getting refilled as long as we continued to allow it. The excursions were good, the coaches comfortable though the journeys sometimes seemed long in relationship to the time at the destination. The guides generally spoke good English, many were really excellent. They all knew their subject though occasionally it sounded as if they were bored to be giving the commentary to yet another group. I enjoyed the Steam Train in Tournon, the Pont du Gard visit and the Truffle Farm visit. We had been doubtful about the latter but a truly excellent guide made it totally hysterical fun. You would be lucky if you had the same guide visiting the same Truffle Farm. I am slightly less enthusiastic about the onboard entertainment. The resident musician played Spanish style guitar mostly. Maybe if I had concentrated on listening it would have been excellent but as a background noise it could be jarring. The evening entertainers were all impressively skilled but I was too tired by the day's activities to really appreciate them; my loss I suspect. So that brings me to Service and the "but....". Every member of the crew greeted us whenever they saw us. Initially I thought that was excellent but it did begin to sound a little bit overdone by the last day. Our cabin was kept beautifully clean and organised by our room steward. I thought the housekeeping on the previous cruises was excellent but this was just that little bit better, more thoughtful. The receptionists were brilliant, very professional. The cooks must have suffered greatly producing excellent food in a small kitchen area that I guess was like an oven what with the cooking and the sun's heat. The restaurant and bar staff worked very hard - they were always rushing on some errand or another. But.... - two of the waiters seemed totally untrained. I doubt that either of them had worked at anything before much less coped with the huge pressures of serving a complex menu to customers who all descend on the restaurant within minutes of it opening. They did not have a clue - forgot to serve courses that had been ordered, mixed up the orders, gave people courses they had not ordered. Some guests gave up and left the restaurant without finishing their meal. Other waiters tried to help but had plenty to do themselves. I am NOT picking on those two novices; they should not have been put in such a situation. Many of the guests will not even have noticed these problems especially if they sat at the other end of the restaurant and were served by hard working and competent waiters. Some guests who were effected took it all lightly but it should not have happened on a cruise that claims to be a luxury cruise specialising in a superb eating experience. On our first cruise, the waiters were impressive. I do not remember them putting a foot wrong. The second cruise was slightly less impressive and this one was poor; not in terms of the effort put in by the staff but in terms of the failure of Ama senior management to employ trained staff or to train them before letting them loose on guests. Therefore, I deduct one star due to a failure by Ama senior management. The AmaCello's reputation suffers but that is really collateral damage, it seems that Ama Waterways have put business growth above quality of service. Read Less
Sail Date July 2018
This was our first river cruise - we (my wife and I) have been on several ocean cruises with HAL in the past. Overall we would give this cruise an 8-10 rating. Pros: Generally well organized and well run. However, some people ... Read More
This was our first river cruise - we (my wife and I) have been on several ocean cruises with HAL in the past. Overall we would give this cruise an 8-10 rating. Pros: Generally well organized and well run. However, some people need more detailed instructions which would help things move a bit smoother. Food was good but not outstanding - compared to HAL they have a long ways to go. We primarily choose this line over others for their gym on board - we didn't expect much but it did meet our needs. Cruise director (Rachael) was excellent. We were surprised to find some tables for 2 in the dining room which we appreciate as I am not always wanting to have a conversation with others at meals. We didn't expect much for entertainment - the classical music trio was excellent - otherwise a boring keyboard player most of the time. Best parts: Rhine river castles and optional excursion in Switzerland - Mt. Pilatus Cons: Internet access is really horrible - even when the ship is docked in the cities. They warned us of bad service on the north end of the cruise approaching Switzerland, but it really was bad - but their bad internet was free. They like to blame the local phone company service - but I was constantly being dropped from the ships network. Instructions for transfers to the airport were confusing to most people - there was a lot of issues with the process of gathering luggage from rooms and then having it loaded correctly on the buses. We generally choose to take our own down (as opposed to leaving outside the room) - which was an acceptable option to AMA. This way we were able to ensure we stayed with our luggage. Overall: We would travel with AMA Waterways in the future. This cruise is beautiful. NOTE: check store hours if you plan on shopping - in Zurich the stores are not open on Sundays - except at the train station. WARNING: Switzerland in not a place to shop - except for Swiss chocolate - yum. Their prices are almost 75-100% higher that anywhere else (but so are their salaries). Just one example: a big mac sells for 11.70 Swiss Francs ($11.90). Read Less
Sail Date July 2015
Amacello review- seven nights Romantic Rhine (June 4-11, 2015): Day 1- Amsterdam (embark) Day 2- Amsterdam canal tour, then bus to meet up with ship at first lock. Day 3- Cologne (morning walking tour of city), Koblenz (evening ... Read More
Amacello review- seven nights Romantic Rhine (June 4-11, 2015): Day 1- Amsterdam (embark) Day 2- Amsterdam canal tour, then bus to meet up with ship at first lock. Day 3- Cologne (morning walking tour of city), Koblenz (evening walking tour) Day 4 morning cruising Rhine gorge, (Rudesheim (afternoon and evening tours), Day 5- Speyer or bus to Heidelberg (afternoon walking tours), Day 6- Strasbourg (morning walking tours, afternoon explore city on your own), Day 7- Bresach/Riquewihr (bus to city then afternoon walking tours), Day 8- Basel (disembark). Post cruise extension possible I have taken over 20 ocean cruises on 8 cruise lines. I wanted to try a river cruise and this one worked out with my schedule. I arranged my own air transportation and pre and post cruise hotels. I traveled solo. Good 1) The ship is nicely appointed. Cabins are compact but with loads of not easily accessible under bed storage. Closets were perfect for one person, but would be much tighter with two. Nice bathroom, with a good-sized shower with glass door, but limited bathroom storage. 2) The staff is very nice and repeatedly stated that “all you have to do is ask”. I did ask for and get pants hangers, and asked and paid for a cabin up grade from lower deck to one with a French balcony. 3) Free Internet is included, although cell coverage is spotty due to cruising on border regions. The in cabin media system had a range of European and American TV channel coverage, and recent movies on demand. 4) Wine/soft drinks/beer are included with meals. Cocktails are ~$7. 5) Food was generally very good. Eggs, waffles, pancakes MTO, fruits, all breads baked onboard. 6) Excursions are included, generally a bus tour followed by a walking tour with several types of tours for active and gentle walkers and also biking tours. Have to read closely to differentiate between see (drive by) and visit (get out of the bus). Use the quiet boxes, so I could wander away from the group and still get the commentary. 7) Lots of small groups (2, 4, 6, 8) travelling together- no large groups on this particular cruise, but I has head from fellow passengers that large groups (30-40) have occurred on previous cruises which dramatically changed the dynamics. Most passengers are 60-90 retirees, with one group of 40-ish travellers, and several extended family groups. 8) Local entertainment brought on to the ship was mostly good to excellent. Bad, 1) Ship is small (146 pax maximum, 112 for this voyage). The beds were European and very hard. Would have liked to have a choice of pillows. Really no place to hang out to read. Often the only room (Lounge) is in use for port talks or entertainment. So I spent a good deal of time in cabin watching movies, the scenery, or reading. 2) When I asked for sweetener other than “sweet and low”, the answer was that knew there were other kinds, but they did not carry them. So much for “All you have to do is ask”. Feel free to ask, but the answer might be no! 3) Nothing bad to add about media- They can’t control the cell coverage 4) Wish wine was available all the time, not just at meal times 5) Everyone ate at the same time. Lunch 11-1 pm depending on excursions, and generally 6-7 PM for dinner and you are asked to come within 20 minutes of those times. Didn’t like that, but it is a small ship so they have limited staff and kitchen space. 6) The excursion had limited choices. Some local guides ere excellent others not so good. 7) No accommodations made for solo travelers. Walking into the dining room brought back the horrors of high school lunchroom with lots of little cliques that formed immediately. Most nights I just asked around to sit with people, sometimes “seats were being held”, other times I met lovely fellow passengers. Sometimes if I sat down at a table then when the late arriving member of the “clique” arrived that acted put out. Really-I travel to meet new people, not sit with the same people every day. I am more used to ocean cruises were there are tables of solo travelers. On this ship there were only two solo travelers. This was my least favorite aspect of the cruise. Would I recommend this cruise? Yes for couples and small groups, definitely not for solo travelers. I might try another river cruise in 10 years, but I did not consider this a luxury experience. Read Less
Sail Date June 2015
AmaCello Ratings
Category Editor Member
Cabin 5.0 N/A
Dining 3.0 4.5
Entertainment 4.0 3.9
Public Rooms 5.0 4.6
Fitness & Recreation 2.0 N/A
Family 1.0 3.5
Shore Excursions 3.0 N/A
Enrichment Activities 4.0 N/A
Service 3.0 4.8
Value for Money 5.0 N/A

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