There was a change in itinerary which we only found out after we paid, checked in online, and received our cruise paperwork: instead of arriving in Mohacs in the morning, we arrived in the afternoon, so there was no opportunity to walk ... Read More
There was a change in itinerary which we only found out after we paid, checked in online, and received our cruise paperwork: instead of arriving in Mohacs in the morning, we arrived in the afternoon, so there was no opportunity to walk around Mohacs before boarding our tour bus. On the last day, we arrived at Rousse for our excursions into Bulgaria, instead of Guirgui, which according to the letter, made immigration easier. The excursion to Bucharest actually arrived back at Guirgui, instead of Rousse., after the ship had moved across the river.
Pre-Cruise- Arrived two days prior. Stayed at the Hilton City Center which is conveniently located on the Pest side of the river. We purchased a 24 hour travel card at the BKK desk at the Airport. With the 24 hour travel pass you do not need to validate the pass, since it is valid from time of purchase. The BKK desk is in the arrivals area to the left immediately after exiting customs in either Terminal 2A or 2B. You can also buy other travel passes here for museum discounts, etc. From there we took the 200E bus which stopped right outside the doors to the left. This takes you to the Kőbánya-Kispest M3 train station and then took the M3 directly to the Nyugati Palyaudvar station. Hilton is up the escalator next to the mall entrance or you can walk outside, turn right and it is about a half block to their entrance on Vaci Ut (street). It was easy to get around from here on the M3 subway which went into downtown.
Embarkation- -We still had an hour left on our 24 hour travel pass at 3pm so we used the aforementioned M3 from the Hilton and transferred to the 2 Tram at Jaazai Mari ter, and got off at the Zsil Utca stop. AmaCerto was docked at Mahart #2 and the ship was only about 30 yards away down the sidewalk close to the Erzsebet hid (Elizabeth bridge). We walked on and our bags were immediately taken to the room. We were in our room less than 5 minutes after walking on board.
We were scheduled for a scenic Danube cruise around Budapest but due to the FINA swim meets scheduled later that week, we were unable to do this. Cruise Manager Florentin arranged a bus tour of Castle Hill in Buda instead. This worked great for us, because we had not made it to the Citadel or Liberty Statue.
Room-In the room there is a Fridge, European power plugs (you will need an adapter if coming from UK or US), and there was a three-way splitter in the drawer under the TV. Also in the same drawer was a corkscrew. (You can bring wine on board as long as it is opened in the room). Bathrooms were typical size, although the shower was slightly larger than a typical Ocean Cruise cabin and had both overhead rain and hand held shower heads. Toiletries were a bar of soap, bottles of conditioner, shower gel, and shampoo, Vanity kit, and a shower cap. The toilet paper could be categorized as both less soft and less pliable than standard paper towels.
Note- Keep your curtains closed when in port. Other ships pull in alongside to dock and you might be playing peekaboo with another cabin whose windows are lined up with yours the next morning. One towel animal on one night.
On the TV, there was a good selection of movies, plus a bow cam, recorded versions of TLC, Discovery, plus live TV- CNN, Euro news, and several European sports channels.
Two water bottles were provided each night for the next day, plus water was also available at the gangplank before leaving on excursions.
Free Wi-Fi, but extremely undependable. One minute at 5mps, then cuts out entirely. This is regardless of where you are on the ship, room, public, deck, in port, or traveling down river. More typically slow (1mps). It’s good for checking emails or pulling up info on the next City, but not much else.
Fellow Travelers- I would guess 90% of passengers were over 60 but with a good mix of nationalities. Many passengers were still spry, which is good, because after the first day there were no "active" walking tours. Every tour was the same with a number of “average walker” tours plus one “gentle walker” tour.
On board activities- Not much- A few treadmills in the gym, and a small spa and beauty parlor. Native dancers entertained after dinner in Belgrade and Rousse. There is a very small pool on the top deck good for soaking that was used maybe twice during the Tipping was not automatic. Sign up on last day via Credit Card and use recommended guidelines or tip cash in envelopes. (or both depending on your preference)
Itinerary- the Countries on the itinerary were not in the Schengen zone, so there were Customs formalities. Except for Serbia this occurred behind the scenes. Serbian Customs required each passenger to personally show their passport to the Customs officials at 10:30pm at night. This also caused the only delay as these same passports were taken away and not brought back by Customs until late the next morning, an hour after the official excursion start times.
Food- Open seating, but after the first night passengers tended to gravitate towards the same tables and table-mates. We always sat somewhere different to meet new people so I am sure we upset a few table plans. All wait staff, as well as everyone on the ship, were personable and extremely friendly and helpful. Many of the waiters had distinct personalities, (“the jokester”, “the mother”, etc.) as opposed to the sometime robotic waiters on many ocean cruises, and it was easy to pick your favorite and sit in their area. Dress for dinner is “country club casual” which is to say slacks, knit shirts and button down oxford shirts, and the occasional sweater for men, and a wide range of preferences for the ladies. Breakfast and lunch wear matched the upcoming excursion or outside weather.
Complimentary Champagne was available on the buffet for breakfast, and one type each of red or white wine was served for lunch and dinner as well as one beer (Bitburger on draft). There were also Coke products.
Breakfast- typically 7am-9am: Bacon, Sausage, hash browns, plus a rotating entrée such as eggs Benedict, in addition to breads, cheese, sliced meats, and an omelet station for eggs any style. There is also an option of ordering a meal from your waiter: Minute steak; eggs; hash browns; baked beans; toast; or Waffles, eggs Benedict, or oatmeal. Wait Staff would also bring any items from the buffet to your table upon request.
Very light breakfast was available from 6am-7am in the lounge consisting of bread, croissants, and donuts/pastries
Lunch- I only had one lunch on board and I can’t remember exactly what was served- Salad, lunch meats, two soups, and a choice of three entrees on the hot bar plus a carving station. Every other day ice cream was also available and on the cruising day through the Iron Gates there was an “ice cream social” on the upper deck after lunch.
Light lunch was also available in the lounge- This would be one of the lunch entrees plus salad and bread.
Tea time 4pm-5pm- Wraps, finger sandwiches, pastries – ate snack at 1030pm- one snack items such as chicken fingers, short ribs, etc.
Snacks were always available in the lounge- two types of cookies and a gluten free cookie option- Cookies and all the bread are baked on board.
Dinner- Typically 7pm. Four courses that usually took about two hours. While dinner started at 7, late arrivals would be expedited through their service until they caught up with their table mates. Several appetizers, two types of soup, entree, and dessert.
Sample Dinner menu:
Appetizers- Fois Gras with Walnut Brioche, Fig Chutney, and a Port Wine confit OR Mixed green salad with grilled Asparagus, fresh Beets, Goat cheese, Candied Walnuts, with Raspberry Vinaigrette OR Pear cocktail with Grand Marnier
Soups- French Onion with Cheese Crouton OR Foamed Cream of Potato with Salmon
Main Courses- Grilled Filet of Sea Bass, with Sun Dried Tomatoes, Capers, Creamy Chardonnay foam, Sauteed spinach and Truffle flavored Mousseline potatoes OR Medallion of Lamb, lemon pepper crust and natural Jus, Broccoli, ratatouille and Potato Gratin OR Spinach-Boletus Quiche, Chives, sour cream, sauteed Tomato, and Vegetables
Desserts- Molton Chocolate Baby Cake with Vanilla cream with Greed apple Sherbet OR Vanilla Ice Cream, with poached Pear, Raspberry Coulis and whipped Cream OR a selection of cheese and fresh fruits
Service: Top notch. Everyone on the ship were personable, friendly, and were always helpful and ready to do whatever was necessary to assist passengers.
Disembarkation- Bag tags were available based on post-cruise preference. Place your bag(s) outside your cabin the morning of departure, and they will be taken out to the dock for identification and loading prior to boarding your transportation. Cruise Manager Florentin was available for everyone to assist with any needs. This even included arranging a taxi or alternate transportation for those not taking an AmaWaterways extension. We used the AmaWaterways transfer to Bucharest but not the tour. This was a private car that drove us right to the Hotel. The post-cruise Hotel in Bucharest was the Athenee Hilton. We booked this separately but was the same Hotel was used by AmaWaterways for the post-cruise extension, so we saw Florentin each day in the Lobby. He was always available for anything we needed even though our part of the cruise was over. In my oh-so-humble opinion, this is the type of exceptional service that marks AmaWaterways far and above any other cruise line.
Mohacs/ Pecs- Docked at Mohacs. We did the Pecs City Tour- Took a bus to Pecs – There we visited a Greek Orthodox church, a historical area near the church with Roman graves, a Synagogue, and then 30 minutes in Pecs on our own. The downtown area has a pedestrian street, but not much shopping.
Vukovar in the morning/ Novi Sad in the afternoon- Docked in Vukovar long enough to let everyone off, then the ship left for Ilok, Croatia. Here we did the Yugoslav Civil war tour, with about 30 minutes to walk around Vukovar. We took the bus to Ilok to meet the ship and re-board. After lunch we docked in Novi Sad for a walking tour of the downtown pedestrian street. Saw the inside of a Greek Orthodox church, then free time in city. We felt we could have skipped the tour and just walked downtown. There is a a large number of outside cafes in this area along with the usual souvenir shops. Buses were available back to the ship or you could walk 15 minutes. In the evening we took a night-time tour of the Fortress via the underground tunnels.
Belgrade- Docked at the port between Bronka bridge at the Fortress. The pedestrian shopping area is about a 15 minute walk up two large flights of steps. Did the Belgrade walking tour in the morning, and the Quburich Brandy tasting in the afternoon. Before the brandy tasting, we went to the TV tower, which was a good thing, because the Brandy was really strong and many did not even finish their first glass, although glasses were filled often . There were also some substantial snacks served consisting of Strudel, Salami's, and several other Serbian snacks.
Iron gates- Cruised the Iron Gates all day with some nice sights. Perhaps I am a jaded traveler, but there are more scenic passages in Alaska, Norway, and New Zealand. Going through the two locks provided the most excitement.
Vidin- Docked right at downtown which was maybe a five minute walk from the Ship. Several souvenir stores and many lively outdoor café/bars near the port. Really wanted more time in town. The chosen tour was the Belogradchik Fortress and Baba Vida fortress tour which arrived back at the ship at departure time. Luckily we toured the downtown walking area the night before. There wasn't much in town, but it is a very nice unspoiled city. It felt like iron curtain just fell. We left the tour when it arrived at Baba Vida and walked 15 minutes into town to use the 30 minutes we had left to do some quick souvenir shopping. This evening was also the Captain's Gala dinner.
Rousse- Docked in a commercial port area . Here we did the Veliko Tarnova Fortress tour- This was my lone complaint on the Cruise. This is full day tour of Velinko Tarnova and the Fortress which is described as “..a visit to the ancient capital of Bulgaria, Veliko Turnavo. Here you will tour Tsarevets Hill, the old citadel of the city. You will see the old fortress walls, the Royal Palaces and the Patriarchal church, and the Baldwin’s Tower”, what we really did was tour two Greek Orthodox churches, with singers at the first church followed by hawking their CD’s. Then spent 30 minutes at a Rose oil retail store. We did get lunch of traditional Romanian dishes at a nice local restaurant. After this, we went to the Fortress but then were given only 10 minutes to look around or climb up to the Fortress before returning to the bus and going to the shopping district with 30 minutes for further shopping. In my view, the Fortress and town were the highlights, and more time should have been scheduled here. While the churches and tour of town were nice, the 30 minutes should have been scheduled for the Fortress, and only 10 minutes at the retail shop.
Guirgiu- No time to see town as we arrived at 6:30pm and the town was 30 minute walk from ship, plus this evening it was raining.
Bucharest- We used Mr Tripp for the post-cruise excursion. This was a 12 person Mini-Van with Hotel pickup. We drove to Peles (with a gas station/ bathroom break halfway. Then Brasov for a tour of downtown and one hour for lunch and time on our own, followed by a visit to Bran Castle. This was a 12 hour scheduled trip, but took 12:45. Timing is tight so every delay (such as waiting ten minutes for late arrivals or extra time for restroom breaks) should be added to the return time.
A Taxi from the Athenee Hilton to the Airport was only 25 Lei. The Concierge called a taxi at 4am and the taxi was there in three minutes. It only took 25 minutes to get to the Airport. Read Less