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104 AmaWaterways AmaCerto Cruise Reviews

Loved it!! This was our first experience with a river cruise, and we are already planning another. We flew into Geneva midst heavy rain, and traveled by train to Basel for 2 nights before the cruise. Basel is a beautiful very walkable ... Read More
Loved it!! This was our first experience with a river cruise, and we are already planning another. We flew into Geneva midst heavy rain, and traveled by train to Basel for 2 nights before the cruise. Basel is a beautiful very walkable city, expensive, but as it was Easter weekend, most restaurants were closed. Luckily the weather cleared up on our second day. We took public transport to the ship which was easy and convenient. At the ship we left our luggage, checked in, and then left for a walk around the dock area, although we could have stayed aboard in the lounge. The AmaCerto is a beautiful small ship and fairly new. Staff were all very professional and friendly, and all spoke English although with varying fluency. Most passengers were American, although there were a number of Canadians, British, and New Zealanders. We did notice a big difference in the type of passengers as compared to an ocean cruise. Generally speaking, most passengers were physically fit, interested in history, culture, and sightseeing, less likely to be interested in the buffet line, bar, or entertainment. There is only one dining room, and a single dinner time with open seating. As a couple, we generally joined a table with other couples travelling alone. Food was very good, although the choices were limited. Good quality wine was served freely throughout dinner, and lunch if you desired. Breakfast and lunch buffets were served in the dining room and we were able to order from a menu as well. Light breakfast, lunch and snacks were served in the lounge. Most shore excursions were available at either an active or slower level, or a late starter for those who sleep in. We always chose the active level, but noticed that there really didn't appear to be much difference between active and slower. There is a lot of walking with the excursions (or perhaps we simply did a lot ourselves). The tours were conducted with wireless audio guides, and the tour guides themselves were very good on the whole. A couple were exceptional (notably Heidelberg and Cologne) but a couple less so. We loved Riquewehr, Heidelberg and Strasbourg. The cruise through the Rhine Gorge was luckily in beautiful weather. We really didn't attend most of the entertainment (frankly after getting up very early and touring all day, and dinner and wine after, we pretty much crashed in our cabin and watched a movie). Disembarkation was a little chaotic - partly because we changed our minds at the last minute and decided to take a taxi to our hotel instead of public transit. In summary, we loved the river cruise. There was always something to catch our interest, if only watching Captain Jan dock the ship, to seeing the type of barges and other transport on the river. It felt like a small, personal experience where you didn't feel like just one of 2,000 passengers . Read Less
Sail Date April 2015
Overall a nice experience but thanks to the many new friends we made during the cruise. We booked this cruise soon after a cruise on the River Douro with AMA only 5 months earlier. The AMA Douro cruise was perfect. Sadly this cruise was a ... Read More
Overall a nice experience but thanks to the many new friends we made during the cruise. We booked this cruise soon after a cruise on the River Douro with AMA only 5 months earlier. The AMA Douro cruise was perfect. Sadly this cruise was a very different experience. My wife and I feel that the main things that led to our disappointment can be summed up by no one really in control or taking ownership; weak leadership; poor quantity of entertainment (not enough). Some of the general frustrations we experienced included: 1. No transfer from arrival airport arranged. Given a bottle of wine as an apology which we could have had anyway as wine is included with dinner. 2. Crew walking heavily on top deck in the middle of night numerous times 3. Drinks waiter rude - really offended that I had reported lack of mugs and milk and bar staff were not around. He made us feel uncomfortable making sarcastic comments 4. Towards the end of the week some of the drinks we had been enjoying stopped being available 5. Entertainment manager weak - nice person and tried hard but too young and lacked imagination 6. Poor entertainment - 3 nights we had no entertainment other than piano 7. Felt like no one in charge 8. Given food with gluten in chefs table restaurant despite them knowing and no care shown We already have 2 other AMA cruises booked for 2015 so I hope they will be better than this one. Suggestions for others considering AMAwaterways. 1. Avoid the last week of the season 2. Check to see if entertainment is planned for every night on winter cruises 3. Ask if one of the AMA directors will be on board Read Less
Sail Date December 2014
We had made many ocean cruises before this river cruise. We were amazed with all of this cruise. Hospitality, comfort, food, tours; everything was beyond expectations! Every cruise member were always going out of their way to help, to ... Read More
We had made many ocean cruises before this river cruise. We were amazed with all of this cruise. Hospitality, comfort, food, tours; everything was beyond expectations! Every cruise member were always going out of their way to help, to cheer, to make our experience the best one possible. The fact that we are about 168 passengers on board makes it a very intimate atmosphere. Our room wich was a few feet above water level had 2 sliding patio doors wich we could open wide; the feeling was awsome! The itinerary was great; remember, you're on a river. You're always close to great scenerys without the motion of the ocean. Always nice and calm. I could go on and on! You just can't go wrong with this kind of cruise.We will be back and tip of the hat to AMA for offering such a great product! Read Less
Sail Date September 2014
This was my first river cruise and I honestly don't feel it could have been better. We were treated like royalty from the moment we boarded. John, the cruise manager, was so well organized that we never had a doubt about where to go ... Read More
This was my first river cruise and I honestly don't feel it could have been better. We were treated like royalty from the moment we boarded. John, the cruise manager, was so well organized that we never had a doubt about where to go or what was available to us. the local guides were great and the on-board entertainment just right. In addition, the food was amazing, especially in their very fine restaurant which you can book once during the trip. I also enjoyed the free-flowing local wine and beer and found a few I hope to get here in the states. The only suggestion I would have is to try to make a reservation at least a year in advance so you can get a bigger room. The ones on the first floor are very small. I didn't really care about that because I was only there to sleep and change clothes. All in all, this was a great trip (Melodies of the Danube). Read Less
Sail Date September 2014
We loved our second AMA cruise at least as much as our first one, which was from Nuremberg to Luxembourg. But the countryside and culture are entirely different and less visited, so this is a special trip. We learned a great deal about the ... Read More
We loved our second AMA cruise at least as much as our first one, which was from Nuremberg to Luxembourg. But the countryside and culture are entirely different and less visited, so this is a special trip. We learned a great deal about the history of Romania, Bulgaria, Serbia, and Croatia, from the times of the Ottoman empire right up to the present -- the conflicts arising from the breakup of Yugoslavia and the Soviet Union. I was impressed that AMA scheduled a tour of Vukovar (Croatia), where terrible atrocities where committed – not your typical visit to architecture landmarks and cultural icons. The Vukovars have created a sobering, respectful memorial to the many who were outright murdered, and the war victim cemetery with it row of empty plots for those still missing is a stirring visit too. They have also left the shell-pocked water tower as-is, an always-visible reminder. This optional excursion should not be missed. I went on all three optional bicycle tours, which as always were guided by local knowledgeable and personable guides. I liked all three, but particularly recommend the one to Ada Ciganlija & its lake in a park in Belgrade, and most of all the one in Hungary to the White Stork Museum in Kolked, from Mohacs where we were docked. This little museum really is out-of-the-way, but the passionate naturalist who guided our tour made it memorable. The third was through downtown Novi Sad and was another eye-opener about life in Communist and post-revolution Balkans. We were treated very well by everyone on and off the ship in every place we visited. Our fellow passengers were a great bunch, and we had good times with quite a number of them. Dining was like going to a top ranked restaurant every evening. The only possible complaint we had was that early birds using the jogging track on the top deck – above us – disturbed our sleep-in. Passengers were asked to curb this, but AMA should just outright ban running there before 8am. Early birds can run onshore. We cruised upriver, so docked in Rousse, Girugiu, near Bucharest, Vidin, Belgrade, Novi Sad, Ilok, near Vukovar, and Mohacs. We opted to take the Istanbul pre-tour extension which is pricey but was worthwhile, partly because to get from there to the Danube, you go by bus through rural Bulgaria, a fascinating trip, including an overnight stop in Plovdiv and visit to Veliko Tarnovo. I also recommend tours to Belogradchik / Baba Vida, Belgrade city, and of course Bucharest. You will encounter many currencies on this trip ... just go with the flow, obtain some when you first enter each country, and use what you don't spend, for tips when you leave for the next country.   Read Less
Sail Date September 2014
The AMA Certo is a beautiful new ship in the AMA fleet. It is bright and well maintained. We had a category BB cabin on the Cello Deck. At 210 sq. ft., the cabin was compact; the bathroom was even more so. Our cabin had both a French ... Read More
The AMA Certo is a beautiful new ship in the AMA fleet. It is bright and well maintained. We had a category BB cabin on the Cello Deck. At 210 sq. ft., the cabin was compact; the bathroom was even more so. Our cabin had both a French balcony and an outside balcony. The use of the outside balcony was very limited when we were docked because there were so many other riverboats and they tied up alongside each other. It was not uncommon to have to walk across one or two other boats to get to shore. This meant that our balcony was only 6” from another balcony or boat so it was often of no use in port. But very little time was spent in the cabin so this was not bothersome. The dining room is nicely laid out with a double row of booths down the middle and tables on the outsides. There are two smaller separate areas with a large table in each which were used by two of the groups on our trip. It is very noisy during mealtimes due to the low ceiling and high number of people. The food was uniformly good. Breakfast was a bountiful buffet. Lunch was buffet with some menu choices and table service. Dinner was off a menu with multiple choices. Any time you did not care for a dish, the waiter would offer to replace it with something else. Beer, wine and soft drinks were unlimited at lunch and dinner. You literally had to put your hand over your glass or it would be regularly refilled. The sundeck is a plus. There were several parts of the cruise when it was essential to be up there. The departure evening included a tour up the Danube to the beautifully lighted Parliament building. Get a blanket early from the storage boxes. There were not enough to go around that cool evening. The day touring the iron Gorge was sunny and warm. There were plenty of seats and most were shaded. The staff spoke excellent English and everyone was cheerful and ready to assist. Our cruise director, Nicola, was probably the best one we have had on any cruise anywhere. He delivered his daily briefings with a lot of comic genius. We were most impressed that he accompanied the pre-cruise tours to Vienna and Budapest as well as the post-cruise tour to Istanbul instead of passing us off to someone else. This was a winning point in our minds. We did the pre-cruise part on our own. We flew into Vienna, stayed at a hotel a half block from the Opera and easily saw all of the main sights without needing a guide. We took a train to Budapest and checked into the gorgeous Sofitel hotel where the AMA pre-cruise tour also stayed. This location is right next to the Chain Bridge, on a tram line, near a metro, included an incredible breakfast buffet and our room was upgraded to a view of the river. From here, we could walk or use the public transportation to see everything. Nearly every guide in each port spoke English well and filled us in on the history of the town/country as well as often giving personal insights into local life. AMA offers a ‘gentle walkers’ tour plan where those who might wish to walk slower but see a little less are given their own group guide. Pecs was our first port. The morning walking tour included a church and some underground Roman ruins. It ended in a city square where we had time to explore a bit more or shop. During lunch we cruised to Mohacs. This was the first chance to take a bicycle tour. The ship carries 20 well-maintained 7-speed bikes suitable for both men and women. The tour went about 5 miles down the flat riverside levee path to a small town where we toured the Stock Museum and then biked back. It was a great way to get out in the country and take an easy, refreshing ride. If you have ridden a bike within the last several years, this is for you. The rest of the port stops were equally well done as the first. We had very nice buses and informative guides. Many of the other countries we visited were Communist ruled up until recently and the poorly built apartment blocks, incredible snarls of exterior wires, and stressed economy were evident. We heard many stories about the hardships of Communist rule and visited several sites with heartbreaking stories. My personal favorite excursion was a visit to a Bulgarian home where we learned to make banitsa. The lady was very welcoming and opened her home completely. The lunch in Bucharest was also unique. The restaurant endeavored to recreate a dining experience in the golden years of the city. Waiters in long black aprons delivered soup served in individual large pewter tureens. The décor was like a movie set. We were serenaded by a violin player and then an opera singer. My husband and I elected to take the Istanbul extension. We were very surprised at how modern the city suburbs are … modern malls and architecturally stunning buildings. The center of this city of 16 million has buildings mixing a broad span of history and there is also evidence of abandoned buildings from their fairly recent earthquake. There were both morning and afternoon tours which covered everything on our bucket list. We felt that we had enough time at each site such as the Topkapi Palace and mosques and weren't rushed. Our guides also led those who wanted help through the Grand Bazaar and Spice Bazaar while the rest of us could wander alone. The hotel was the Istanbul Intercontinental which was in a great location for strolling and eating. Overall, I would rate this AMA Waterways trip highly. We visited countries that we would not have traveled through independently and saw off-the-beaten path areas which all had interesting stories.   Read Less
Sail Date August 2014
A fantastic river cruise. Love every minute. The food was really good, the cabin was wonderful and the shower was the best I have had on a cruise line. First river cruise and loved the small number of people and you were treated like a ... Read More
A fantastic river cruise. Love every minute. The food was really good, the cabin was wonderful and the shower was the best I have had on a cruise line. First river cruise and loved the small number of people and you were treated like a person not a number as you are on the large ocean cruise lines. I do not drink but it was nice to have wine at each meal and you did not have to pay extra. The cruise line did not nickel and dime to death like on the large cruise ships. We were on Princess in March and they automatically add tip to a bar charge even if I walked up to the bar and bought a bottle of water. I did not mind giving a tip when they brought water to my room or my table but when I got it myself I did not like that and I did not hear anything from Princess Cruise line when I gave my review regarding this. On the AmaCerto we have complimentary water in our cabins each day and they gave drinks and cool towels when we returned from the tours (which were included in the price of the cruise not like to ocean cruise). The big ocean cruise ships could get a lot of good ideas from these river cruises. The free Internet with ships computers were great we need this on all cruise ships. It was wonderful and the staff the best I have ever had on a cruise. LOVED IT. Thanks AmaWaterways. Read Less
Sail Date July 2014
This was a first river cruise for us. Loved it! We were on the Amacerto, the entire crew was wonderful. We loved our cabin with the french balcony, we were even able to sleep a couple of nights with the sliding door open, so relaxing ... Read More
This was a first river cruise for us. Loved it! We were on the Amacerto, the entire crew was wonderful. We loved our cabin with the french balcony, we were even able to sleep a couple of nights with the sliding door open, so relaxing listening to the sounds of the water. We were celebrating our 30th anniversary, my 70th birthday and upcoming retirement. They helped us celebrate with beautiful cakes on separate evenings and our cabin girl, Alexandra, did a beautiful pair of swans forming a heart made out of towels, also rose petals spelling 30 scattered on the bed and a heart banner across the head of the bed. She was also the masseuse, and gave a great massage! During the cruise we had other towel critters and on the night of the retirement celebration, we came back to a full sized towel person seated in one of our chairs with a pink balloon head and shower cap, crossed legs and rubber glove hands. Dining was great as there were no assigned seats and you could sit where ever you wanted ( we always tried to sit in Diana's section as she was a little ray of Romanian sunshine!). Lot's of good food and the wine was flowing like water. Petar, from Bulgaria usually was pouring where we sat and he was very patient and right there to refill your glass. Loved some of the entertainment, a group of Hungarian musicians and dancers were great and a group of girl musicians "The Aphrodite's" were wonderful too. Most of the shore excursions were good, most of the guides were good. we were fortunate enough to have good weather as the cruise before us had rain every day. I think another impressive thing was the camaraderie of the crew and the captain was right in there pulling ropes and helping his crew. We would highly recommend AMA Waterways and hope to cruise with them at some future date. Read Less
Sail Date June 2014
We decided to celebrate our retirement with a river cruise in April-2014. After analyzing different options of companies and itineraries, we decided to take a cruise by AMAwaterways from Prague to Budapest, through the Danube romantic ... Read More
We decided to celebrate our retirement with a river cruise in April-2014. After analyzing different options of companies and itineraries, we decided to take a cruise by AMAwaterways from Prague to Budapest, through the Danube romantic itinerary. The whole experience was wonderful. We were friendly welcomed from the very first moment we meet the ship at Vilsholfen, although it was still few hours before the formal horary for the embarkation. The ship was extremely comfortable and our balcony cabin very cozy. We enjoyed sitting by the balcony to view the passing scenery. The bed was comfortable and there was enough space in the wardrobe for accommodating clothes. The bathroom, although small, had some natural light and a good shower. Surprisingly, a desk top computer was provided in the room and Wi-Fi available in the whole ship whenever the travelling area allowed signal. Other nice little treats, as umbrellas in the wardrobe, small chocolates on the beds, which were remade at bed time, have spoilt us. The lounge had comfortable chairs and snacks were available all the day long, such as cookies, small sandwiches and ice tea. A 24 hour coffee machine provided tea, cappuccino and other hot drinks. The food was superb. A huge buffet for breakfast was served with also light options for early starters. Lunch and dinner were served in the restaurants and included salads, fish, chicken, beef and vegetarian dishes. As a fun of lamb dishes that had the chance of trying them in different regions of world, however, we were surprised by the exceptional quality of lamb meet served in one of the dinners. The whole staff was very attentive, well humored without being intrusive and supportive. Chance to check this came with a crisis of toothache, when we had consistent support. The daily excursions were very well organized, with plenty of information provided. Different groups were formed considering the level of walking capacity. The disembarking was also well organized when we had the chance to stay in the lounge of the ship till the time of the check-in in our hotel in Budapest. All the things considered, we strongly recommend this wonderful experience of being in a cruise in the AmaCerto ship of Amawaterways.   Read Less
Sail Date April 2014
We had a great time on our first river cruise. We sailed from Nuremberg to Budapest.The AMA Certo crew was fantastic. They were friendly and their service and attention to detail was impressive! After the first day, most of the staff knew ... Read More
We had a great time on our first river cruise. We sailed from Nuremberg to Budapest.The AMA Certo crew was fantastic. They were friendly and their service and attention to detail was impressive! After the first day, most of the staff knew our names. Our cruise director, Peter, was superb! He had a great sense of humor and he was always willing to help. Embarkation was a breeze. We were treated to snacks in the lounge while we waited for our room to be ready. There was no standing in line like on ocean cruises. The AMA Certo is a beautiful ship. The cabins were smaller than on an ocean cruise but efficiently designed. There was room beneath the bed to store luggage, and there was sufficient closet space. The shower seemed larger than on an ocean cruise, probably due to the corner design. Morning tours of each port were included. The audio headsets allowed us to listen to the guides even when we were wandering away to take pictures. All of the guides were informative and interesting. We felt that the food was excellent. We enjoyed trying the local specialties, but there were also some standard dishes that you could choose. Wine and beer were included with both lunch and dinner. We also enjoyed meeting and chatting with new people at mealtime. The Christmas markets made us feel like we were in a Christmas wonderland. The Thurn and Taxis market was our favorite due to the old Medieval feeling it provided (open fires, stalls covered in branches, old-fashioned ovens,etc.) Our favorite market to see in the evening, though, was the market in Vienna. The setting is beautiful at night. Overall, we were extremely pleased with our cruise. We will definitely do another river cruise. In addition to the top-notch crew, I think what I really liked about the river cruise was the freedom. We could do the tours in the morning or skip them. We could do half the tour, and then skip out on the rest if we wished. We could get on and off the boat at will. We never had to wait in lines. I really enjoyed the smaller setting, getting to know the other passengers, and the camaraderie between the crew members and the passengers. AMA is a class act. Read Less
Sail Date December 2013
Just returned from Christmas cruise on the Danube from Nuremberg to Budapest with a 2 day pre-cruise stay in Prague. A fabulous trip. Sightseeing: Daily walking tours with excellent tour guides.....and of course the Christmas markets. A ... Read More
Just returned from Christmas cruise on the Danube from Nuremberg to Budapest with a 2 day pre-cruise stay in Prague. A fabulous trip. Sightseeing: Daily walking tours with excellent tour guides.....and of course the Christmas markets. A nice mix of scheduled and free time. All the cities were fabulous, but I particularly liked Regensburg and Vienna. I am a cathedral "buff" so really enjoyed the free time we had to explore. Melk Abbey is not to be missed. Also recommend St. Stephan's in Budapest. My favorite though was St. Lorenz in Nuremberg. AMA staff: The AMA team was very organized, down to the smallest detail. As a solo traveler I really appreciated that. Peter our cruise manager was awesome. The guy could do stand-up. Optional activities: I did a Christmas concert (on my own) in Prague and optioinal tours of Salzburg and Schonbrunn palace. Loved Salzburg. Salzburgers seem to think Americans are enamored with The Sound of Music movie. Many shops played the soundtrack and had SoM souvenirs, which I found humorous. But the city is absolutely beautiful. Schonbrunn was nice but very touristy, even in December. We were prodded along like cattle. Could not take photos inside the palace and the Christmas market was very crowded. Not something I would do again. Christmas markets: Each market we visited had its own unique flavor. Some items were obviously mass-produced, but it was also possible to find unique and hand-crafted items. The decorations, sounds, and smells were fabulous and just as magical as I hoped. I sampled nearly everything, including the requisite gluwein. As for the ship: I had a mid-range priced cabin with a sliding glass door and small balcony. It was perfect for winter as I would not have used the (more expensive) larger balcony. I had a solo cabin with plenty of storage space. The shower was a little snug. Would have been tough for a tall (or wide) person to access, but a very minor thing. The Amacerto staff was exceptionally friendly and very helpful. Every need was met. For the most part I really enjoyed the food. But as others have mentioned, I would suggest AMA consider a "light" dinner option. After touring and shopping all day, I often didn't feel like sitting through a four course meal. Would have been happy with a cup of soup and a sandwich. Otherwise the quality and taste of the food was excellent.....particularly the soups. Yum! Breakfast was buffet style and always plentiful. I usually opted for casual lunch in the lounge rather than more formal in the dining room. Often would eat in town or at the markets. Entertainment: Something was offered every evening, such as a local folk or singing group. Very pleasant and made for a nice end to the day. Overall: I would definitely do a river cruise with AMA again. And would highly recommend to others. Read Less
Sail Date December 2013
We really enjoyed our Christmas Market Cruise on the Danube. We are planning to book for the Rhine Christmas Market Cruise next year as well. Our family of three (myself, husband and 12 year old son), found the cruise to be quite ... Read More
We really enjoyed our Christmas Market Cruise on the Danube. We are planning to book for the Rhine Christmas Market Cruise next year as well. Our family of three (myself, husband and 12 year old son), found the cruise to be quite enjoyable. We had a suite and a AA room diagonally across the hall for our son. The suite layout is different than in the brochure and online. This was a bit off-putting at first, but it ended up working out ok. There is less space in the living room area since they have made the balcony larger. This eliminates the sofa in the room. We did find that you really needed to use the bed for relaxing. The two small chairs in the entry were always in the way so we moved one to the desk area and the other by the bed in the corner. Our son's room had plenty of space. The rooms were quite comfortable and well maintained. We had a large bathtub in our bathroom, but we did not use it. The shower with multi shower heads was nice. We did participate in some of the tours (Melk, Budapest, part of Salzburg), but we found it much more fun when we went out on our own. The guides were all nice and knowledgeable, but sometimes as a family we like to see more or different things than what are offered. In Vienna, we took a carriage ride, shopped, and went to the Dremel chocolate place as well went to Schonbrun Palace. I get quite seasick on typical cruises. I had no issues with a river cruise. The cruise was highly relaxing, we loved reading and watching the world go by as we sailed up the Danube. The food was mostly very good. The standout for us was shepherd's pie for lunch. It was the best we'd ever tasted. Out omelets at breakfast were quite good. The only food complaint was that it is impossible to get a meal or a snack outside of tea, breakfast, lunch or dinner. There were times we weren't hungry for a big dinner, but knew if we got hungry later we would be out of luck. The bar should offer sandwiches or something simple with the drinks for a small cost. There are simple offerings at lunch and dinner in you don't like the set menu (minute steak, chicken sandwich, french fries, etc.). I would be nice if you could get those things outside of meal times for a fee. Our server was terrific. In fact, we loved all of the staff.   Read Less
Sail Date November 2013
Ama Certo Christmas Markets - Danube River Cruise (November 2013) This was our first river cruise on AMA and it won’t be our last! We really lucked out choosing AMA. The cruise was basically faultless and we had a wonderful Christmas ... Read More
Ama Certo Christmas Markets - Danube River Cruise (November 2013) This was our first river cruise on AMA and it won’t be our last! We really lucked out choosing AMA. The cruise was basically faultless and we had a wonderful Christmas Cruise with 156 other passengers (ages 6 to 80) traveling from Budapest to Nuremberg with about 45 staff members. We met lots of great people (Peggy and Jim (Canada), Billy and Ruth-Ann (Canada/Florida), Bart and Carolyn (Virginia), Fred and Terry (Edith) (California), and Mervin and Judy (Canada)) are just a few of the great couples we met. Open dining with tables from 4 to 8 or 10 means you can be as sociable as you wish at mealtimes. The food is top quality. In particular, the dinners were superb. Afterwards we could relax in the lounge to piano music and other entertainment until about 10.30. Our cabin was really well designed with ample space. Linen and towels are changed after each use and like the entire ship it is kept immaculately clean. Our cabin was quiet and the heating worked well. Full height French doors, and full-size patio doors, and mirrors make it feel larger and it would be lovely to open the doors in the summer. The majority of passengers were from the USA and Canada, all spoke English. There were about 40 or so travel agents on the ship. Most seemed to well-travelled and interesting crowd and we all mixed and made new friends. The cruise was not cheap but so much was included in the price (including most of the shore excursions, quality wines with dinner and teas and coffees all day) that we spent little extra while we were away. Prices at the bar seemed fair to me; 6 euros for a good sized Martini. Embarkation Embarkation could not have been easier. We flew from Boston on Lufthansa via Frankfurt into Budapest 2 days early and stayed a short cab ride away from the ship. We checked out of our boutique hotel(http://www.gerloczy.hu/?Lang=en) at 11 and were quickly delivered to the ship. The taxi stopped a short distance away from the gangway (he could have been ticketed 100 Euros if he parked right at the gangway) and there were AMA staff there to take the luggage on board. We just walked on board and felt like royalty .We were able to board, give them our bags to hold, and then spent a bit of time in the lounge. We met the cruise director Monika before we headed out to see one of the local markets. We each purchased new hats in the markets as we quickly realized we had come un-prepared for the cold weather ahead of us. We returned to the ship around 2:15 and had to wait in the lounge until 3 at which time they call you in groups by cabin #’s. I think it took less than 15minutes to service everyone. They have you leave your passports (so they could make copies for immigration purposes) at the front desk, give you your room key and then escort you (white gloves) to your room. They asked that you pick up your passports the next day. They also ask for a credit card swipe if you plan to settle your on-board account with that card. To unlock your room door, all you need to do is hold the card next to the door lock and it unlocks. This is slightly different than most hotel cards in that you do not need to put it in a slot etc. This is great because you could keep it in your walled and just hold the wallet up to the door and it unlocked. ALWAYS remember to take your key. The Room (AA310) The AMA Certo is new (only about 1.5 years old) so the rooms and public areas were immaculate. We booked a large cabin which was about 235 square feet. That being said, the room was spacious and our outside balcony was big enough for two chairs, and a small table. We did not use the balcony as much as we would have if the sailing had been in the summer but it was still nice to have for those evening times to enjoy the sights before bed. Our room also had a small 2 chair sitting area in front of the French balcony with a small round table. The bed was comfortable but on the semi-hard side. There is a box on casters under one of the beds to store things which we didn’t use. There was plenty of room under the other bed for two full-size suit cases. There were small nightstands on either side of the bed both each with 2 drawer and lamp. There were small LED lamps for reading and not bothering your spouse/partner. There was a small alarm travel clock for your use. Overhead lighting and cornice lighting and the full wall of windows during the day allowed for a bright experience. Our cabin had one TV which is connected to a mouse and keyboard and worked well as a PC but can be used as a television. The television offerings were good with regular TV being CNN International, Sky News, BBC 1 as English stations. They also had a channel that showed the camera feed from the front of the ship. Made for great viewing, especially through the 28 or so locks!! This channel also transmitted the PA of the ship. You were not disturbed in your room by the general PA system. They also offered movies on-demand with 10-15 newer movies as well as a handful of classics. They also had music available through the TV. As for internet access, you need to keep in mind the technology for ground level moving vehicles can be difficult. There were many times when there were obstructions where the satellites are that prevented internet access and TV reception. This was especially true in locks and when going under bridges. There were a few times when everyone was getting frustrated by the lack of connectivity. We then remembered we were all on vacation and all needed to relax!! Additionally, the WiFi seemed to work better in the lounge and the restaurant than in our room. And in our room, it seemed to work better closer to the front of the ship than the back. Again, having appropriate expectations is the key. If you absolutely have to have access, your best bet is to make sure you have your own hot spot or some other arrangement. Otherwise, if you are a casual user that just checks e-mail and the weather, etc., what they have is fine. We were able to use our iPhones to access the web if we wanted to but we didn’t. Just remember to set up your calling plan so you can make/receive calls/texts overseas and turn off cellular data on your phone. If you are a casual user, you really shouldn’t need a separate international data plan because you can use the ships WiFi. Not turning your cellular data off and not having a data plan is where you could cost yourself hundreds of dollars in fees that you will not see until you get your next bill. The bathroom in our cabin was beautiful (and spotless) with granite and white marble everywhere with a good sized shower (the shower floor was a bit slippery and they didn’t have rubber mats (due to health cleanliness reasons)). Lighting was perfect! It did have both a rain shower head and a regular European shower head that you can take off the hook. It had a good sized sink and good counter/storage space. The toilet is actually like one on a plane. It flushes mostly using air compression. Also, the venting seemed to work real well so that steam and smells dissipated quickly. The amenities were first-class and always quickly restocked with shampoo, conditioner, body gel, lotion, soap, bath salts, shower caps, nail files, Q-tips and cotton etc. There was also hair dryer. There is this window between the bathroom and the bedroom/sitting area that is clear (you can look right into the bathroom) but we quickly found the switch that fogged up the window so you couldn’t see in. The room is tended to at least 2 times a day with fresh towels, bed made, cleaning and bottled water replenished (6 bottles come standard and I am sure you could get more if you really wanted!). There is a mini-fridge in the room that is for your use. You are free to bring your own alcohol on board (not like the big companies who confiscate it if you try to do so!). We hardly ever saw our cabin stewardess in our room as she almost magically knew when you had left our room for breakfast and dinner and we always came back to a clean room. They also are masters at the art of folding towels into animals and other things. It was always fun to see what new creature would be in our room on our return!! The hotel staff was incredible and did everything you asked and were always friendly. Just some additional notes about the room: There was plenty of closet space with two good sized closets, one with rods, both low and high and a top shelf and the other with shelves and the safe. The safe is a standard hotel type safe where you type in a four digit code. It is big enough for your jewelry and several small laptops etc. The desk was a good size work area and had an outlet for recharging items. Don’t forget to bring your adapters and converters if you need one. There were also several plugs near the bed, one near the French patio and one in the bathroom. The room comes with two large umbrellas, two robes and two sets of slippers. The laundry service is reasonably priced ($2 for washing a pair of jeans). Depending on the when you get the laundry in, you will either get it back the same day or the next day. We put the jeans in at 1 and they were back before dinner! You just bag it up, fill out the form and leave it in your room so the steward can see it. They will take care of the rest. AMA Certo Common Areas The lobby is very nice and the desk is staffed 24 hours a day. There is an elevator that goes from the Violin (300 Level) Deck, pass the Cello (200 Level) Deck to the restaurant. It does not go to the Piano (100 Level) deck and this is because the elevator shaft cannot go from the waterline to the roof, in case of flooding. Just forward of the lobby on the port (left) side of the ship is a small library area with books & magazines as well as games. On the starboard (right) side of the ship is the small shop. It has some AMA logo items as well as gift items from the areas that you are traveling through. The inventory seemed to change throughout the cruise as we sailed through different areas. They stocked some generic toiletry items as well as batteries, memory cards etc. They had a small selection of over-the-counter medicines for minor allergy/cold issues. However, the product descriptions were mostly in other languages so you may want to make sure you bring what you need, especially if you allergies. The staff can usually help translate, however. In the rear portion of the lounge as you enter, you see a push button coffee machine that makes great coffee drinks and is available 24/7. Tea and hot chocolate are also available. There is a full bar as well and is usually staffed after noon until well into the evening. You do have to pay for all alcoholic drinks, including soft drinks, at times other than lunch and dinner. At the very front of the ship, there is a small sitting area that is fronted by glass that is great for viewing in the outdoors. The Sun Deck can be accessed through stairs on either side of the lobby or stairs on the port side of the outdoor sitting area in front of the lounge. At the very front is a sitting area with great outdoor couches, chairs and tables. This area is low enough that even if the rest of the Sun Deck is closed due to low bridges, it is open. Just aft of this sitting area is the Captain’s bridge which raises and lowers as needed. They did several tours one day where the young Captain (his father is also a Captain for AMA) showed how the ship works which was fun. Right behind the Captain’s bridge is the pool. It is small but has several fun extras. There are stools to sit on, kind of like a swim-up bar. There is also a jetted system that can be used to swim laps against a current. It would be nice in warmer weather! The entire rest of the Sun Deck is devoted to lounge chairs, a walking track and a large chess board game for those so inclined. Some of the chairs are covered by overhangs to keep you out of the sun if you prefer. Finally, the back portion of the Sun Deck is the smoking area and has some tables and chairs. This is the only smoking area on the ship. On our cruise, most of the Sun Deck was unavailable for about 2 days or so as we were on the Main/Danube canal. This was not because of high water; it is just that the bridges and locks are lower than on the Danube. They actually take down all of the safety railings and any other tall stuff. Finally, as our room was on the deck just below the Sun Deck, you could hear people walking over our room. The staff supposedly tries to discourage use of the area by passengers between 10:00 pm and 8:00 am but it can be used by staff if they are helping doc the boat and in locks so just know that ear plugs can be a good thing. It is not bad but for a light sleeper, ear plugs might become your friend!! The exercise room had 2 bikes, a treadmill and a universal machine as well as some other items. We did not use it because we were getting plenty of exercise on the included tours. We did not use the beauty shop or the message either but we did talk to some folks that did and they seemed to like the results. Dining You will NOT go hungry on the AMA Certo. I can’t say enough good things about the kitchen and wait staff. The sense we got was that you could basically order anything and they would try to accommodate you, regardless of the menu. The dress is casual. Some dress up a little for dinner but we also saw jeans and they did not seem out of place. The only two meals where folks dressed-up more was the Captains Dinner toward the end of the cruise and our night at the Erlebnis Restaurant (our first night, the Restaurant Manager recruited us while we were waiting in the lounge to be escorted to our cabin). Overall, the food was excellent and there are almost too many choices at every meal. In the main dining room, for all meals, seating is open and there is a range of times when you can come down. Breakfast was usually 7:30 to 9:30, lunch usually started around 1:00 and dinner was normally at 7:00. The dining room has many different seating options with 2 semi-enclosed small rooms at the front that can seat 10-12 each. In the main dining room, there are booths (4 persons), round tables (6 people), booth/table combos (4 persons) and a large table near the front that seated 10-12. There is a Captain’s table (4 persons) but it is really for the captain and senior staff to eat. The last night the Captain and the Cruise Manager Monika did use one of the big tables and I assume the guests were returning AMA guests. For breakfast there is a large self-serve buffet with scrambled eggs, bacon, sausage, beans, hash-browns, omelet bar, several different breakfast meats, cereals, fruit, yogurt, bagels, etc. They also have a traditional European breakfast of lunch meats, cheeses and a huge bread and pastry table. The bread is baked freshly on the ship. There is also a menu you can order from that was the same throughout the cruise and had things like eggs benedict, waffles etc. The funny thing was that there were passengers that did not know that there was a menu for breakfast until well into the cruise because the buffet was so good!! For lunch, again there was an extensive buffet of salads and small lunch items but don’t fill up on this because it is only the first course. There is a more extensive menu for lunch that includes 2-3 soup choices, 2-3 regional entree choices as well as offering hamburgers, cheeseburgers, and another specialty burger every day. Beer, wine and soda are free (ok, not free but you don’t pay extra for it!) at lunch and they will keep pouring wine, often when you are not looking so beware of the bottomless glass!! For dinner in the main ding room, it is an all menu affair with a 4 course meal. Again, you will have 2-3 choices of appetizers, salad/soup, main course and dessert which changes daily. They also have steak, chicken and fish (plus French Fries) every day as well as a Caesar salad option and a dinner salad option that changes. Assorted cheese and crackers are also always available. Again, beer and wine (both red and white) is free at dinner and the wine selection changes daily as they try and bring different wines in based on the region they are sailing through. We did not have a bad wine the entire cruise. One of the friends we met had a nut allergy and the staff always tried to meet his needs. Supposedly the kitchen knew about the nut allergy, but it is my opinion that this didn’t get relayed to the serving staff. On our ship, the also have a second option for dinner at the Erlebnis Restaurant which is on the Violin Deck at the rear of the ship. This is a glass enclosed area that can seat about 28 people. Most tables are 4 people with one big 10-12 person table. For our cruise, you could sign up once per week. I would highly recommend reviewing your detailed itinerary and try and select evenings when the ship is sailing. It makes for a great view. I would also recommend you sign up as soon as you can because times fill up fast! Like the main dining room, the menu is a four/five course meal that is fixed except you usually have 2 choices for the main course. The menu is the same every night of the week the cruise. This dining room at the stern of the ship was also a quiet place to go to during the day to read and relax, seeing the activity on the River Danube. Finally, the lounge serves food throughout the day. They have an early-risers continental breakfast buffet usually starting at 6:30. They also serve what they call a light lunch buffet that has many of the same things as the restaurant, just not as much variety. The rest of the day, the lounge has iced tea, water, and an assortment of cookies and brownies. These are all at no extra cost and are in addition to the coffee/tea available 24/7. One morning around 11 we had a break where they served assorted sausages and rolls (with very good mustard) and keg beer. Monika, the cruise manager was dressed in festive German attire. For lunch that day we ate much less than normal. Entertainment As you might expect, because of the small size of the ship, all of the entertainment is basically in the lounge area. They have an on-board piano player/singer (he really didn’t sing) who did a great job of entertaining us in the afternoons and evenings. AMA also brought on several local entertainers about 3 times during our cruise. One night it was a singer with songs of Europe, another night it was three entertainers who sang songs of Austria. Near the beginning of the trip St. Nicolas came to visit and gave all the passengers a free gift. Another night, we left our shoes outside our cabin and we received 2 large hollow-chocolate figures the next morning. The second night we received a plate of candy/fruit which we were able to enjoy for a few days. There was always a small chocolate on your pillow after you returned from dinner/entertainment. Tours/Communication Daily, usually before dinner, the Cruise Manager will host a briefing in the lounge to inform the passengers on the next day’s port and any other important information. I really found them useful for planning what we would do the next day. It also gave us a great excuse to come to the lounge and have a pre-dinner drink with some of our new friends. Also, every evening when they make up your room during dinner, they leave on your bed the next day’s printed schedule with contact information as well as information about the ports/towns/tours. You should take this with you as it has all the pertinent phone numbers just in case you need to contact the ship. Your cruise director will give you her card. It is suggested you program her cell # and the ship’s phone # into your cell phone. I will not specifically review the individual tours. However, I do want to let you know about the process and comments in general. Suffice it to say, you will have plenty to do and your toughest decision may be to not do all of it!! Overall, the tours were informative and educational. It really depended on the tour guide. In your cabin there are two audio devices that will be used on almost every tour. It is a 4 inch by 6 inch by ½ inch thick and has an earpiece for one ear (left only! It doesn’t take regular earpieces. It has a cord to put over your neck but also fits easily into a front shirt pocket. It is up to you to bring the device and to plug it back into the charger after the tours to get recharged. Daily, you will go to the reception desk and be assigned a group and they will give you a corresponding colored card. This card corresponds to the group you will be with and helps determine which bus or walking group you should be with. Also, every time you leave the ship, you should get your boarding cards from the reception desk that has your cabin number. It is very important to take your boarding cards out when you leave and return them when you come back to the ship because it helps the staff know that everyone is back on board. There were several times where the Cruise Director announced over the PA if cabin so-in-so was aboard because they wanted to leave the port and had not yet received all of the cards. There was one time when the ship had to leave and the 4 missing passengers caught up with the ship about 4 hours later up the Danube. When you are with your group, the tour guide will turn on their transmitter and it should automatically sync with your receiver. You need to stand as close to the guide as possible otherwise you may get synced to another group’s receiver. They have a range of 100 or so feet so once you are synced, you should be fine. However, there was one time when our guide needed to go get some tickets for a tour and we somehow got hooked to a Viking tour on the same frequency and did not realize it for several minutes. And yes, most of the other companies use the same technology so it can happen but there are many frequencies so it seemed rare. For almost all town tours you had a slow walkers group, several normal walkers groups and a quick walkers group. You are able to start off on the tour and found something if you liked you could leave the tour. Please let your guide know when you wish to leave the group, especially if the tour is ending with a bus ride back to the ship, so they do not think they lost somebody. Just know that if you do go off on your own, know when you need to be back to the ship. Every time you returned to the ship from a day tour you were warmly welcomed by the staff and then given warm towels and warm gluhwine (mulled wine). AMA also offers Culinary Delights and Bike Tours. These tours are capacity controlled and you can actually sign up on-line on the AMA website under the Already Booked menu and select Explorer Tours. Our tour was a sausage tasting beer tasting. The local tour guide was a bit of a flake (we never did get to the chocolate store promised). It is no problem to change at the last minute if you decide you don't want to bike in the rain etc. The Cruise Director just asks that as soon as you know; let him/her know so they can offer your spot to those on the wait list. On our cruise, they did have several optional tours that were extra cost. We did several, like a concert in Vienna and a full-day trip to Salzburg. For the day in Salzburg, the ship kept moving after dropping us off and we met up with it at the next port. As with their other tours, AMA does a great job of coordinating these so if you are so inclined, I would not hesitate to spend the extra money. Just know that 90% of your tours are included in the price you paid. In advance through our TA, we made arrangements to use AMA’s transportation from Nuremberg to Prague. The morning involved a more detailed tour of Nuremberg than we received the day before, more time at Nuremberg’s Christmas Market and the afternoon involved a 4 hour bus trip from Germany into the Czech Republic and eventually to Prague. The morning local tour guide was great but the tour guide that was with us from Nuremberg to Prague was basically useless. We learned basically nothing during this part of the trip. We heard that the other 3 busses had good experience during their time from Nuremberg to Prague. Collecting our bags in Nuremberg at the hotel with the other passengers were staying was very disjointed. As for docking, most of the time we docked directly next to the dock either using the ships gangway or a gangway on the dock. Only 1 time did we dock next to another ship that we had to go through and/or over. This will probably only get worse as more and more river ships are launched but it was not that big a deal. Just follow the Cruise Manager's advice and that is when you open your curtains in the morning, you might become shocked looking into another cabin on the next ship. Most of the time we docked close enough to town to be able to walk to the main part of town. However, there were several times where we docked a ways a way and they always offered some motorized transportation to get us to the start of the tour and then back to the ship. Disembarkation This was very easy. The day before, there is a briefing that AMA asks to be attended by at least one person per cabin. They explain the disembarkation process including explaining the process for those with AMA transfers, those needing a cab, and those on their own. If you need a taxi, the Cruise Director will schedule it for you, including ordering a larger cab if several groups are going to the same place at the same time and don't mind traveling together. The day before disembarkation, you are given a summary to-date of your on-board charges. The bill is in Euros and you can pay either by cash or credit card. You are also given tip envelopes for the crew and Cruise Manager. Tips are not automatically added to your bill so you must put cash in the envelopes or fill out the credit card form of what you want to pay and it will be added to your final bill. The cruise line recommends 20 Euros (3 for the Cruise Director and 17 for the other crew members) per passenger per day. Tips may be paid in any currency, including US $’s, foreign currency you wish to dispose of, etc. Obviously, everyone has their own tipping philosophy. We also gave an additional tip directly to the Cabin Stewardess for their special attention to detail. I heard from one staff member that 70% of their earnings come from tips. Depending on when and how you are leaving you are asked to pick up the appropriate corresponding colored luggage tags. They ask that you put your large luggage in the hallway an hour before you are to leave but no later than 9:00 am since you are supposed to be out of your room by then so they can clean the room for the next cruise. The do serve a normal breakfast and it is OK to stay later in the common areas as long as the boat is still in port. Summary During the last evening on the ship I found out that the only AMA employee on the ship is the Cruise Manager. At first I thought this was a bit strange, but then realized this is quite smart of AMA. Subcontract the needed services and get the best you can and not have the headaches of being an employer. When we first started looking for a river cruise, we knew nothing and we decided to depend on a TA that specializes in river cruises. I had done some research and found that the timing and the reviews of AMA was the way I wanted to go. I contacted AMA who put me in contact with a TA for Avoya Travel. Bart specializes in cruises and in fact he was on our ship. We were leaning toward Viking because of their marketing. After listening to our wants and needs, our TA suggested AMA and we are very happy he did. It is often the little things that make the difference and this cruise was no exception. On almost any itinerary, you will be touring with and around the other major companies. (Viking, Tauck, Avalon, Uniworld, Grand Circle etc.) It seemed like the AMA tour groups were smaller allowing for better access to the guide. Overall, we could not be happier with AMA and highly recommend them to anyone. You could see from observing the other cruise lines that they offered a high value for the price. I also believe the AMA Certo is the best ship out there right now and if you add the service and attention to detail of the AMA staff, the combination is among the best, if not the best in the industry. Monika worked very hard for us all and she is a real credit to AMA. Everyone will have different experiences but ours could not have been better and I would not hesitate to recommend the AMA Certo. Bruce and Betsy (baby boomers from Boston)   Read Less
Sail Date November 2013
We had a wonderful time on this cruise. There was a problem with a lock between Budapest and Bratislava. We were notified of this prior to leaving home. We were bussed to Bratislava. We had a very knowledgeable guide on the bus and the ... Read More
We had a wonderful time on this cruise. There was a problem with a lock between Budapest and Bratislava. We were notified of this prior to leaving home. We were bussed to Bratislava. We had a very knowledgeable guide on the bus and the trip went smoothly. Our cabin had great storage space. We booked late and could only get a cabin on the lowest level. It was quite small, but fitted out nicely. There was a lot of good storage space. The bed was quite comfortable. I was concerned about the windows being small and located high in the wall, but it was fine. It also provided a small ledge where you could store things or put wet laundry on the ledge to get the sun and dry. There was no elevator service to this level, which was OK with us, but the stairs were narrow on one side, so traffic was pretty much one way, but it worked out. Crew were friendly and professional. Tours that we took were very informative and guides always had a good grasp of English. Our first night we were able to each in the specialty restaurant - it was wonderful. Entertainment was on board for three nights and each of them were fun and enjoyable. Food was good. All in all a wonderful experience. We will do a river cruise again and the first company we will research will be AMA Waterways. Read Less
Sail Date October 2013
We went on our first river cruise in August choosing the Amerceto as it had a small plunge pool and sit on private balcony. The ship is very smart and immaculately kept by the hard working staff. The cabins were well thought out, the ... Read More
We went on our first river cruise in August choosing the Amerceto as it had a small plunge pool and sit on private balcony. The ship is very smart and immaculately kept by the hard working staff. The cabins were well thought out, the shower the best I have had on a ship. We had the top floor thinking that there would be less noise from above which is inevitable if cabins are above you. However the running track is just above and although a not before 8am is a rule, an afternoon nap is difficult. Also as the staff are not allowed to use the corridors so they have to use the top deck to reach the rear of the boat for their coffee breaks, does not seem much but as there is little white noise, its significant. The breakfast and lunch were ok if a bit of a scrum, the dinners were disappointing and of bland motorway services quality. The waiters did a stirling job but were overworked and stressed and did not make for a relaxing time. Trying to take orders, serve food, clearaway without the help of an assistant. One day the salad course was 8 pieces of iceberg lettuce tomatoes and cucumber in a pool of wet, it made me laugh as it took me back to the 70s when my Mum made it and salads were still basic. I thought they could open the specialist restaurant for breakfast, say for the suite cabins or for a fee, so that breakfast could at least be a bit more relaxed. People would also have an alternative place to eat if they so wished. For those who like to do a bit of gym work, there is one rowing machine, two recumbent bikes, one running machine, a ball and 2x1kg weights and 1x5k- hardly adequate for the amount of people on board. Get the food right and extra staff to serve it then you are on to a winner, otherwise I think we will stick to Azamara where each meal is an occasion. Read Less
Sail Date August 2013
We just cruised from Budapest to Vilshofen on board the relatively new ship Amacerto. By booking in March for an August vacation, we surely thought we would get a cabin with a balcony, but this popular cruise sold out fast, and we were ... Read More
We just cruised from Budapest to Vilshofen on board the relatively new ship Amacerto. By booking in March for an August vacation, we surely thought we would get a cabin with a balcony, but this popular cruise sold out fast, and we were sent down to the Piano deck where the cabin only has two windows. The cabin was small, very small. But there was everything we needed: Flat screen TV with free WiFi, a safe for our valuables, a fridge for the gin, ample wardrobe space, room under the bed for suitcases plus more storage, a tiny bathroom with the best shower we have ever had on any ship. Showering on a ship is usually like going into a closet with a wet dog who shakes itself, but this shower was a real rainshower that made you want to stay in there all day... The ship was lovely, clean and modern. But, the artificial flowers that decorate the lobby and outdoors need a lot of help. Get a designer, quick! The lounge was roomy, and the little library was nice and cozy with its fake fireplace. The dining room was intimate but with large windows to admire the landscape as we sailed by. The food was sometimes very good, sometimes good. The breakfast buffet was maybe more European than some Americans liked, but with food enough to choke a horse, there was always something for every taste. The waitstaff was always eager to please although some of them were not fully trained. The wines for lunch and dinner were simple, some of them very good, though. Included in the price were tours of the various cities we visited, and the ones we took, had wonderful guides and went at a comfortable pace. The entertainment was a bit skinny, but with so many stops and so much to see, who needed to be entertained anyway. All in all, the trip on the good boat Amacerto was a pleasure from beginning to end. And when an unlucky waiter spilled a little red wine on my pants one night, I was given a cleaning and pressing free of charge as fast as they could possibly manage it. Read Less
Sail Date August 2013
Our group decided on an expensive trip on a river cruise. we thought it would be a peaceful and sedating trip as most of us are in retiring ages. Thus we choose the Amacerto river cruise. the good points: the ship is manned by very ... Read More
Our group decided on an expensive trip on a river cruise. we thought it would be a peaceful and sedating trip as most of us are in retiring ages. Thus we choose the Amacerto river cruise. the good points: the ship is manned by very polite and service oriented staff . we always have the feeling that they are in fact over burden with too much tasks that we oftentimes are reluctant to ask for service. but we can always see their smiles and efforts to help. all around an outstanding job the tour is ably handled by the lady tour manager whose equanimity apparently is often stirred but never shaken. no matter what the issues or disasters, she always have the time for all. she deserved her big tips. rooms are adequate and service is efficient. the baker indeed makes fantastic breads on board. the free flowing wines during meals are truly appreciated now for the bad points: the food seemed to be focused on nutrition: you get carbohydrates, protein , and fats, as prisoners are fed carbohydrates , protein and fats.for our breakfast, dinner and lunch the food is the same. no taste, not looks, and no change.and the soup which comes out of instant soup powder ,is as clear as diced carrots on water. after the 3rd day, Mcdonald's is a treat. Worst point: apparently there was an ongoing intestinal flu epidemic that infected the passengers and crew in increasing numbers. no precautions were issued nor extra hygienic measures made. by the 4th day, one from our group got the runs . the runs and throw ups were so severe we called the attention of the cruise director. there we found out the ship has no Doctor,no Nurse, no Medicine, no hydrating liquids. this is a ship that caters to primarily seniors citizens. by the 10th day, another of our group got the same horrible symptoms. on the 9th day, we noticed the ship was surrounded by officious looking people on the port of Vienna. an ambulance pulled up. a passenger had died.they carried the corpse out in a coffin from the ship to a hearse ! we got the news that many passengers were infected with the runs. this is evident as there was increasingly room service. this is a ship which officially has no room service unless you're unwell. in sum: if you are thinking of taking this ship. think again. and think again.save your money, protect your health,don't take this cruise. Official Response from AmaWaterways: "Our deepest condolences to the family of the guest who passed away. His unfortunate passing was due to a preexisting health condition. We are saddened by the loss of a guest who we consider a part of the AmaWaterways Family". via LauraS at community@cruisecritic.com   Read Less
Sail Date May 2013
The Amawaterways "tulip cruise" was very good, but not exactly what I expected. The waterways of Holland and Belgium are heavily industrialized and the landscape is flat. Therefore, there was not much scenic cruising to be ... Read More
The Amawaterways "tulip cruise" was very good, but not exactly what I expected. The waterways of Holland and Belgium are heavily industrialized and the landscape is flat. Therefore, there was not much scenic cruising to be done. In fact, the boat mostly moved from one location to another during the night, which I think was the right choice. Although the brochures make it seem that the entire country of Holland is blanketed with flowers and windmills, these are actually clustered in a few spots, and due to the harsh winter, most tulips were still dormant although we were there at what is usually the peak time (April 20th). Every day, we had an opportunity to tour very interesting towns, either as part of a group or on our own. I enjoyed them all. The tours used wireless earphones, so you did not have to be right on top of the tour guide to hear what was being said. The trip built to a nice conclusion. On the final three days, we went to 1) Brugges, then 2) Willemstad and the Kinderdijk windmills, and finally the 3) Keukenhof Flower Gardens. (You spend the first and last nights at the dock in Amsterdam, within walking distance of the historic district). I was worried that there would not be many flowers at Keukenhof, but I was not disappointed. The outdoor displays were not in full bloom, but some parts were quite pretty. However, the flowers in the indoor pavilions were in full bloom. You cannot imagine how many varieties of tulips were in one of the pavilions. Another pavilion was devoted to orchids, and another to other flowers. It was quite amazing. If I had to choose between seeing the flowers in full bloom in the pavilions or outdoors, I would choose the pavilions. We were forced to get up early to go to the gardens to avoid the worst crowds. Good call. The AmaCerto is a great ship. We had one of the smallest cabins (Cat. C), but it was all we needed. The next step up would have given us a larger bathroom and shower, but for $1000 extra I think I would pass. It helps to be on the top deck because some of the docks blocked the lower decks' windows. I liked being near the rear end of the boat because not many people walked past us at night or in the morning. The beds were comfortable, the water pressure was good. A nice amenity is free movies. However, we were so busy that it took us three nights to watch one movie. Most useful if you get stuck on the boat for a day due to illness or weather. The food was very good. The service in the restaurant was exceptional. The wine flowed freely at dinner (and lunch if you were inclined) and, if you did not care for the wines they were serving that day, they would find you something else. The specialty restaurant, Erlebnis, was not worth the trouble. Neither the food nor service was as good as in the main restaurant. Of course, that can change from week to week, depending on the menu and the chef. Each evening there was some entertainment in the lounge. Not world class, of course, but usually fun. The ship has a small, but nice heated pool with a swim up bar, but it was not used by anyone due to the chilly weather. The exercise room was larger than I expected, but I never saw anyone use it. My one gripe is that when we arrived at the ship in Amsterdam around 3:30, we learned that we could have boarded as early as 10 AM, and they would have provided sandwiches, etc. for lunch. The cabins were not ready until 3:00, but it would have made our day a lot easier and more enjoyable if someone had told us about the early boarding option. Read Less
Sail Date April 2013
My wife and I took the Tulip Time cruise on AmaCerto. It was the first tulip time cruise of the 2013 season. Unfortunately, the weather was unseasonably cold, and the tulips had not bloomed. Still, the cruise was delightful. The crew was ... Read More
My wife and I took the Tulip Time cruise on AmaCerto. It was the first tulip time cruise of the 2013 season. Unfortunately, the weather was unseasonably cold, and the tulips had not bloomed. Still, the cruise was delightful. The crew was top notch and took care of every need. This was our second cruise with AmaWaterways. Our previous cruise was the Blue Danube Discovery in 2011. We much preferred the Danube River itinerary over the Tulip Time itinerary. Nonetheless, we enjoyed all aspects of the cruise. Our Cruise Manager, Maddy, was informative and readily available. The dining and bar staff were friendly and efficient. The room was immaculately cleaned each day. The stateroom's TV, Wi-fi, and free movies were welcome amenities. The laundry service is quick and reasonable and eliminates the need to take too many clothes. The excursions were well done. The shuttles to and from the airport were quick, professional, and courteous. Breakfast was a choice of pastries in the lounge or buffet in the dining room. We tried both but went mostly to the buffet. Lunch and dinner came with complimentary beer or wine. The dinner menu offered several entrée selections. As someone with Celiac disease, I was very pleased with the easy access to gluten free meals including bread cookies. The dining staff were knowledgeable and accommodating to my gluten free needs. This attentiveness to my food allergy was improved over two years ago. (I should point out to anyone with Celiac disease, who is considering this or other cruises, that I am not highly sensitive to cross-contamination, so your experience may be different.) We extended our cruise at the end with two nights in Amsterdam. We recommend that, if you're interested in an extension, you do it before the cruise rather than the end. Flying trans-Atlantic, we were fairly well exhausted by the time we came aboard the ship. We haven't river-cruised with any other line, so we can't offer comparisons. We can assure you, however, that you cannot go wrong with AmaWaterways. Bon Voyage. Read Less
Sail Date March 2013
We recently completed a 14 night trip to Europe, structured around a 7 night sailing on AmaCerto from Budapest to Nuremberg. This was our 6th river cruise and our favorite so far. As much as we enjoyed our cruise on AmaDante last year, ... Read More
We recently completed a 14 night trip to Europe, structured around a 7 night sailing on AmaCerto from Budapest to Nuremberg. This was our 6th river cruise and our favorite so far. As much as we enjoyed our cruise on AmaDante last year, AmaCerto managed to top even that experience. More on that shortly. We arrived in Frankfurt on a Sunday and decided to overnight in Mainz, due to a schedule change by Lufthansa that created a 6 hour layover. We stayed at the Hilton Mainz and very much enjoyed the town and the hotel. Early the next day we flew from Frankfurt to Budapest and checked into our home for 3 days, Marriott Millennium Court Apartments. We were very pleased with our choice as the hotel was perfectly located and the apartments spacious and well appointed, as well as an excellent value. We explored the city the first day and had a casual and tasty dinner that evening at Vapiano, a favorite of ours in Europe for fresh and reasonable fare when we are not in the mood for a sit down dinner. Early the next morning we met our guide, Andrea MkKay, and spent a very enjoyable morning exploring the city. Andrea is very good and I recommend her for those looking for a private guide. Our tour helped us get the lay of the land and we had her drop us at the central market, where we had a forgettable lunch and spent about an hour, picking up a few things to take back to the apartment. We also stopped in at two of the famous public baths of Budapest as we were very curious and wanted to make a decision as to whether we would return. That afternoon we spent at the Christmas markets, which we found to be of very good quality compared to many locations in Europe we have visited. Dinner was at Cafe Bouchon, which was outstanding and reasonable. The next day we started off with a visit to the Terror Museum, which we all found both moving and educational. For any with an interest in how Hungary and its people were affected by the war (we found this insightful as to the overall personalities and temperament of today's residents) I recommend visiting this museum. We made our way back to our hotel and had a snack at the markets. Then, four of us walked to Magnolia Day Spa and enjoyed several hours at this lovely spa. It is a great value as well as a luxurious experience and the cost is so much less than at home. Later that afternoon, we did laundry at the hotel (such a convenience) and then walked the riverfront, enjoying the views as the lights came on around the city. I think that Budapest is at its best in the evenings, when the buildings along the river are truly spectacular. Dinner that evening was at Bottega la Famiglia and was very good. This place was hard to find but worth the effort. We opted out of the Marriott breakfast and enjoyed the lovely, small cafe across the street for a light breakfast each day. The last morning we walked over the Charles Bridge and took the funicular up to the castle to explore the area. We had visited briefly during our tour but wanted to spend more time there and were pleased that we did. We stopped at a place that was supposedly famous for strudel but the consensus among those who indulged was that it was quite average and not worth the calories. We also visited the Hilton while in the area which is a lovely hotel, but too isolated for our tastes. We were very happy that we had chosen to stay instead at the apartments. We headed back and packed our bags and walked to the boat for embarkation. It was about a 10 minute walk and some of our group opted instead for a taxi as they had more luggage. We boarded the AmaCerto and were immediately dazzled - she is gorgeous! The design is eclectic and mostly contemporary, with rich fabrics and a surprising mix of colors and textures in the public areas that worked perfectly together. The small library with its gas logs was cozy but could benefit from glass partitions separating it from the main lounge, as it was not always as quiet and cozy as it appeared, depending on what was happening in the main lounge. Our group had 6 cabins in various categories, ranging from the cheapest Aquarium Class to the truly lovely AA twin balcony. That room was spacious, well laid out and the bathroom was the nicest I have seen on a river boat. There was lots of natural light, enhanced by the use of light colors and rich fabrics. Our friends in Category E were thrilled with their room, which was quite spacious and very comfortable. We explored the ship, unpacked and then got ready for the welcome aboard talk and cocktail party. We quickly got to know the excellent lounge staff, including Tamas and Ivo. Dinner that evening set the standard for more to come. The food on AmaCerto was very good to excellent. Dinner was an event and we received consistently excellent service. Special mention to Bogdan (aka Beau) and Ivo, who were our waiters each evening as we sought out their stations. Our only dinner disappointment was the evening in Vienna. I had called AMA prior to the cruise to find out if dinner was going to be earlier due to the optional excursion in the evening. I was assured that those of us not going to the concert would be able to have dinner at the usual time so we did not reserve to have dinner in Vienna. The reality was that dinner was at 5:30, which is far too early in my opinion. This has happened to us on two lines now that stopped in Vienna and I personally feel that there should be an option for those of us opting out of the optional concert and preferring not to have dinner at such an early hour. Had I been given accurate information, we would have planned dinner out at a restaurant but with a larger group, it was not practical to make last minute plans. The specialty restaurant was a truly 5 star experience. Food and service were top notch and it was a highlight of the cruise for all of us. Breakfast and lunch were very good as well. The omelet station was new enhancement that many in our group enjoyed (thank you, Adrian, the "Omelet Whisperer") and most lunches offered a specialty hot food station as well. We really enjoyed the curry and pasta stations. Included wines were mostly good and always plentiful. Drink prices were fair and selection good. It would be nice to see an expanded selection of wines by the bottle, which is how we prefer to order. Csaba, our Cruise Manager, was young, personable, and very good. He had a great personality, endless patience and was always accessible. The entire staff of AmaCerto was wonderful. Veli, our room attendant, was excellent. The dining staffs hailed from many areas but were uniformly warm and professional. Angela and Alex at reception were always available to help. The head chef, Gino, was very visible and friendly and his staff put out exceptional meals on a consistent basis. The Captain and his crew were also very visible and professional and ran a tight ship. The crew was the best we have experienced on the river so far and that says a lot, as we were so impressed by the crew on our last AMA cruise. Entertainment was very good. Matthias, the house pianist, had a good selection of music and also acted as DJ. Many nights there were people on the dance floor until well past midnight. The 60s party was a blast and the cruise staff that participated ensured that all had a great time. We enjoyed local acts included La Strada (different members from last year), the Aphrodites, and a female vocalist on the last night was excellent. Port talks were information and not bland as we have experienced on some other river boats. In room infotainment system offered free internet and a good selection of movies. Laundry service was reasonable and very good. The demographic on our cruise was quite young, with about half of the guests under 50 and a good percentage under 40. No kids or teens. For us, this was really a perfect mix as things were lively and fun, something we have not always experienced on other lines. We did several of the included excursions, opting for the "Active Walker" pace, which was just right for us. Bike tours had good participation and the bikes also got taken out by a good number of guests to use on their own. We most enjoyed Nuremberg and Regensburg this trip, and felt that time was too short in both. We enjoyed the tour least in Vienna, where we opted for the "Hidden Secrets" tour and had a guide that could not operate the equipment properly, making her difficult to follow. We joined Csaba that evening for a visit to the opening of the main Christmas market, which was a mob scene but fun anyway. At Durnstein, several in our group walked all the way to the top of the castle and enjoyed spectacular views. I found the port to be too touristy for my tastes with not enough to do. Other stops included Melk, where we explored the quaint town center as we had previously visited the abbey, and Linz, where we did a DIY day in Salzburg, which was sunny and pretty. In the evening, we walked through Passau on our way back to the boat. This is a lovely town and we would have preferred more time there than stopping in Durnstein, which caters primarily to tourists. At the end of our cruise, we headed to Prague on our own, using a private transfer with Prague Airport Transfers. That was the only disastrous part of the entire trip, as they sent a vehicle very much under sized for our group, even though I specifically advised them of the exact number of people and bags. We were forced to sit with luggage around and on top of us, which was not only unsafe but also far less than comfortable. This was compounded by the first snow storm of the season and a highway accident that resulted in a three hour delay where we sat still on the highway in the snow. Next time I will go with my instincts and stick with DB public bus, as we would have had much more room as well as a bathroom, a necessity when you are driving for almost 8 hours. In Prague we stayed at the lovely Barcelo Old Town Praha, a small hotel ideally located. Rooms and staff were both very good and we would definitely stay here again, much preferring it to the Hilton Prague where we stayed previously. In Prague, we had an excellent day with Andrea Rezníckov' [Andrejka2002@seznam.cz] and the afternoon with Jana. I highly recommend this for Prague, as there is so much beneath the surface to understand. We had two great dinners in Prague; one at Ambiente Pasta Fresca and the other at Cszenka, a sister restaurant. Our meal at Vino il Vino was disappointing and quite average. All in all, this was one of best trips ever and the wonderful staff and crew of AmaCerto had a lot to do with this. This cruise will be a tough act to follow. Read Less
Sail Date November 2012
We have taken several ocean cruises and are avid boaters ourselves but this was our first river cruise and it was perfection. We chose AmaWaterways on the advice of a travel agent, as well as because of the itinerary and timetable and we ... Read More
We have taken several ocean cruises and are avid boaters ourselves but this was our first river cruise and it was perfection. We chose AmaWaterways on the advice of a travel agent, as well as because of the itinerary and timetable and we could not be happier with our choice.The three days in Prague were absolutely amazing. This is a beautiful city not to be missed. I would advise doing the time in Prague before the cruise, as you will be very tired after the cruise and likely won't be able to appreciate this wonderful city. We stayed at the Intercontinental-a beautiful hotel that is centrally located. We were able to walk everywhere we wanted to go, although we did take the included city tour and it was very helpful in orienting us to the city. The fairly long bus ride to the ship was broken up by a stop in Regensburg, Germany and it was a lovely little town. The ship itself is new and couldn't be nicer. The cabins are not huge, but the bathrooms are nicely appointed and the shower is large and has both a regular and rain shower head. We had both the french and veranda balconies and didn't really need both but definitely enjoyed being able to step out onto the veranda to check the weather. Our cabin attendant was wonderful. The first night I left a note for her as we went to dinner, asking for more hangers. When we returned, not only were the hangers there, but she had folded all the clothes I had left on the chair! Wine and beer are included with dinner and they are not at all stingy with this-our wine steward NEVER let our glasses go empty! Our waiter quickly became familiar with our likes and dislikes and, though there is no reserved seating, the same table seemed to be available for us every breakfast, lunch and dinner! The food was absolutely outstanding.here was not a single dish that disappointed. We stopped in many small towns on the Danube, each older, more interesting and lovelier than the other. All of our tour guides except one were very fluent in English, all were fountains of information and most had delightful senses of humor. There was local entertainment most nights and it was of the highest quality. Our last night in Budapest included an evening cruise and this city is heartbreakingly beautiful at night. The procedure for disembarking was flawless and our awesome cruise manager Rachel was with us every step of the way, including waving us off at 5:30 in the morning with her perpetual smile. We cannot think of a single thing that we would have changed (maybe the weather but for late October, it was quite nice) and we are already planning our next river cruise.We won't even consider another cruise line as AmaWaterways met and exceeded all our expectations. Read Less
Sail Date October 2012
Having been on 7 Windstar cruises, and this cruise costing twice as much as any of those I was expecting great food. I was very disappointed in the dining on this ship. The breakfasts and lunches were practically the same every day. ... Read More
Having been on 7 Windstar cruises, and this cruise costing twice as much as any of those I was expecting great food. I was very disappointed in the dining on this ship. The breakfasts and lunches were practically the same every day. Dinner had few options and choices compared to the Windstar. The execution and preparation of the food was mediocre at best and bland at worse. The dining service was fine as long as you didn't want anything exceptional. I did not find the service to be accomodating of special requests. Whenever they had late night snacks if the food ran out too bad. They would not replenish it. There was a feeling of the cruise being frugally managed and cheap when it came to dining and food. Not generous. The itinerary was superb and I would recommend it. Since this was a charter we had two days in Vienna which was fantastic. The room was wonderful expecially the bathroom and spacious shower. We had a twin balcony cabin which in retrospect was not necessary as a french balcony would have been just fine. The point is to have the open view and to be able to open the balcony to let in fresh air. We practically never sat on the balcony because most of the day time we were in port and docked. Our cabin steward was excellent as was the cruise manager Cheri. She was the highlight of the trip. Too bad the rest of the staff did not measure up to her standard. Bottom line: If you want to try a River cruise you would enjoy this ship but be forwarned that the dining does not compare to Windstar or other luxury ocean ships. So my feeling is why pay twice as much for less? Read Less
Sail Date August 2012
The bathroom is very well designed- lots of surface and great,easy to use shower. Only needs some ventilation. The stateroom is VERY poorly planned- basically- NO storage that works- 5 VERY small drawers that are large enough for about ... Read More
The bathroom is very well designed- lots of surface and great,easy to use shower. Only needs some ventilation. The stateroom is VERY poorly planned- basically- NO storage that works- 5 VERY small drawers that are large enough for about two pancakes each- and- they do not pull out all the way- completely useless. Lots of hanging closet space- and some shelves- but- not enough and very difficult to maneuver around doors that get in the way. Large roll out flat box under the bed for ???- so- no room for second suitcase- we had to put the two terry robes and the extra blankets in it to give us closet space.The TV should be wall mounted to add to the desk surface space. The decor of most of the ship is quite nice- light, bright and pleasant.The dining is very gloomy and heavy, especially there are many times when the curtains have to be closed when docked- so no natural light. The lighting in the dining room is very bright and glaring. The furniture configuration in the dining room is very cramped and the six person banquettes are impossible to get into and the waiters cannot reach the farthest diners. FAKE orchids everywhere- I mean everywhere- in a dark gloomy color. Also- there are bud vases in the rooms but- no flowers.Well- fill em or take them away.Very tacky detail. The dining staff is attentive but you are continually rushed to leave- no casual chatting over dinner with newly made friends. Dessert is served to one diner while others are still having their entree. Plates removed before you are finished.And- if you ask for additional food you are treated like you did something wrong.Then- the food- it is not very good at all. Poor quality ingredients, blandly prepared with very little variety.The breakfast buffet was the same every day- no variety- the HOT food was never HOT.The bread was good- the jams,jellies were very low quality- lots of sugar and corn starch.I had a very hard time choosing what to eat at most meals.Our cruise which was a charter had great entertainment. Do not know what it is like when Ama arranges it. The general feeling I got was that everything was done on the cheap. The food was not good, the service was not very good and when we were told of a supper upon our return at 10:00 pm from Vienna - well- when I arrived in the lounge it was a very few sandwiches, hot dogs in boiling water, some bread ,cheese and a few pastries- and when they were gone they were not replenished- I asked a waiter when they would bring more food and he was amazed that I should consider more food being put out. They did bring up a plate with 8 slices of ham and cheese. Our cabin steward was very nice and did a superb job. My overall feeling about the boat was - it was all done on the cheap-charge high and skimp on as much as you can. No quality, no fine detailing. Very ,Very, disappointing. Would not recommend this cruise line. Read Less
Sail Date August 2012
"Picture yourself on a boat on a river with tangerine trees and marmalade skies." John Lennon The trees may have been green and the skies almost always were blue, but ever since my wife and I returned from a week-long Danube ... Read More
"Picture yourself on a boat on a river with tangerine trees and marmalade skies." John Lennon The trees may have been green and the skies almost always were blue, but ever since my wife and I returned from a week-long Danube cruise on AMA Waterways' newest river ship, Amacerto, along with a 3-night pre-cruise extension in Prague arranged by AMA Waterways, I can't get that Beatles tune out of my head. And as a youthful product of the 1960s and a huge Beatles fan, my sentiment should be taken as a harbinger of a very positive cruise review to come. For the record, this was our very first river cruise after more than 30 ocean cruises dating back to the mid-1990s. This was also the sixth time we have cruised in Europe since 2002, but obviously the first time the port stops included areas not accessible by ocean cruises, such as southeastern Germany, the Czech Republic, Austria, Slovakia, and Hungary. Still another first for us among our Europe cruises: we did not book the travel with a group of friends (in the past ranging from 6-25 people), but just the two of us. We decided to take the cruise because we had been invited to spend a few days with a family in Germany and we thought this was an excellent opportunity to see how the other half cruises, and also to celebrate our 40th anniversary with this summer cruise. The reason I mention this here will become evident as the review progresses. Because this was our first river cruise, many of the comparisons will inevitably be with ocean cruises. I realize, however, that it is unfair to limit the review to such comparisons because that is somewhat akin to comparing apples and oranges, and so I hope to be as straightforward as possible in assessing this cruise experience. Be forewarned that I am trying to cover this topic in some depth and so the review is not likely to be brief. [I just proofread this and it is nearly twice as long as any other review I've written. My profound apologies; hope you stick with it to the end.] Rather than providing a chronological run-through of the vacation let me focus on several areas of analysis: overall cruise experience; the ship; accommodations; dining; onboard facilities and activities; and the staff and crew. I will then cover the itinerary -- each of the places visited (port stops do not really fit here) -- and conclude with some personal thoughts about this particular river cruise experience. Overall Cruise Experience: Having never experienced a river cruise, my first and greatest concern prior to the cruise was that I would be bored on a ship with only one lounge and what I presumed would be very limited onboard activities -- something anathema to a person like me who spends sea days on ocean cruises with a full schedule of activities day and night. I was also concerned that we would run into the same problem that one of the few couples we know who has taken a river cruise in Europe experienced: low water levels on the river that caused half the cruise to be spent on buses and in hotels. My concerns, however, proved completely unfounded; our days and evenings on the ship were so full of activities that we found ourselves sometimes with precious little time to take a breath. It was wonderful!! We were also fortunate to be able to complete our cruise from Bavaria to Budapest without interruption due to low water levels on the river even though we experienced virtually no rain throughout the week-long cruise and our captain did a masterful job of avoiding sand bars between Bratislava and Budapest. A second concern going in was that the price of the cruise was considerably higher than what we paid for balcony staterooms on other European cruises lasting from 12-14 nights. But then I did the calculations and realized that although this was not a completely "all inclusive" vacation (i.e., airfare and gratuities were not included in the pre-paid price), many extras ARE included -- such as at least one guided tour at each port stop, wine and beer at dinner (and, as it turns out, during so many other occasions that one had to sort of go out of their way to actually purchase a drink), and a host of small touches covered later in this review, so that when factoring in the 3-day extension at a 4-star hotel in Prague and the transfer from Prague to the cruise ship in Vilshofen (with a guided tour stop in Regensburg on the way), the cost of this vacation package certainly proved comparable to those we have taken on ocean cruises in Europe. When you add to that the many intangibles we experienced each day, this vacation turned out to be a truly excellent value in every respect. My final concern while contemplating booking a river cruise was that with a full ship's passenger complement of 164 people, there was a risk of being "stuck" with fellow passengers who could make the experience pretty unpleasant. On our most recent ocean cruise experience -- a 12-night sailing on the beautiful Celebrity Silhouette to the Caribbean last December -- on a ship holding more than 3,000 passengers and providing some of the largest available passenger space of any cruise ship, we found examples of rude and obnoxious behavior on the part of many passengers, a problem so severe that it became the topic of heated discussion on this website! What would we do if something similar happened on a river cruise where there was literally no public place to hide? Fortunately, no such problem existed on this cruise. In fact, we discovered that it is the very nature of the intimate river cruising experience that brings passengers, staff and crew together; that fosters and promotes personal interaction so that by the end of the vacation everyone felt like part of one extended family. More than anything else, we savored the intimacy of the river cruise experience on Amacerto over the inevitably more impersonal experience on a large ocean going cruise ship. By all accounts this was a fabulous cruise and land vacation that far exceeded our already lofty expectations in virtually every respect. In fact, although we have experienced many wonderful cruise vacations, I would say this one ranks among our top 3 all-time. Most of the credit for this goes to AMA Waterways for consistently going the extra mile not only to deliver a wonderful cruise vacation, but to ensure that every passenger was completely happy 24/7. The personal touch they provided, right down to the most minor detail, and the effort that each member of the cruise staff and crew made to accommodate the needs of each passenger, far surpassed not only our past experience on some very fine cruise lines but went beyond our own highest expectations. The rest of the credit goes to our fellow passengers, with whom we shared this unique cruise experience (at least unique for us), and who provided the best possible companionship we could have hoped for. More on this point will come later in the review. The Ship: Amacerto is the newest in AMA Waterways' fleet of modern river ships that ply the rivers of Europe during most the year. Launched in April 2012, Amacerto introduced staterooms that have both a French balcony and a full balcony. About half the passengers opted for this new and somewhat larger than standard size stateroom; but more on that in a bit. By any standard, Amacerto is a beautiful ship, impressive for its functionality, modern decor, and airy feel all very much reminiscent to me of the Solstice class of the Celebrity fleet. The two-deck forward section features the Main Dining Room on the lower level in a room with table configurations seating mainly 4 or 6 people. The upper level features the Main Lounge, a large room surrounded on three sides with lots of glass providing wonderful views, lots of comfortable chairs and sofas, a bar, a table for food service, and a counter for coffee service. In this room it was possible to have hot and cold drinks and cookies pretty much all the time. I like to refer to this lounge as "Cruise Central" because it was the site of virtually all the indoor activities throughout the cruise. The room included a digital piano and dance floor, which saw surprisingly extensive use during the cruise, and not only from entertainers provided by AMA Waterways. Directly aft of this forward section is a very functional central area that includes the front desk, the main entry and exit point on the ship, a modest library and gift shop, and an elevator that saw surprisingly little use during the cruise (perhaps because folks in our group preferred the exercise, or maybe because each level serviced by the elevator was just a few steps from each other). The Hotel and Cruise Manager's desks were located on the highest passenger deck overlooking the front desk area one-half deck below. As with many river cruise ships, the aft portion of Amacerto is primarily devoted to the passenger and crew staterooms, in this case spread over three decks, generally with the largest and priciest staterooms on the top passenger deck; staterooms with both balconies and the slightly smaller staterooms with French balconies were located on both the top and middle passengers decks; and the lowest passenger deck -- situated mostly below the water line -- contained staterooms with windows located at the top of the room, as well as the crew and staff quarters. Directly aft of the staterooms -- virtually at the very back of the ship -- are a number of additional facilities. On the top passenger deck there is a small fitness center including a couple of recumbent bikes and a treadmill; the middle passenger deck holds a new specialty restaurant for AMA Waterways called Erlebnis with room for 28 passengers in a single seating each night but with no fee; and there is a small aft lounge outside on the lowest passenger deck. Amacerto is one of the longest of the river ships, and the entire top deck (Sun Deck) provides a number of seating and activity options. These include a set of tables and chairs far aft for smokers; a central section of lounge chairs with retractable awning used for shade but lowered when the ship encounters a low bridge. There are also about 20 bikes stowed up here that are used by some passengers during portions of the cruise. There is a small pool and an oversized chess board and pieces up here as well just aft of the wheelhouse (the bridge on larger cruise ships). The forward section of the Sun Deck has tables and chairs for eating breakfast or lunch al fresco; this area was especially popular with the photographers, anxious to capture what the next bend in the river revealed, or what it looked like to experience one of the 14 locks encountered during the cruise. There is also a small area of tables and chairs one deck below forward of the Main Lounge that served the same purposes, but provided some shade. Accommodations: It had been my intention to book the slightly larger combined balcony and French balcony stateroom but by the time we purchased the cruise early last March they were gone, and although we were first on the waiting list for this category of stateroom for more than 4 months, the room never came available and we took the French balcony stateroom instead. At 170 square feet with a queen-plus sized bed, the stateroom was a little cozy compared with many of the ocean cruise ships we've sailed on, but it was eminently functional in every way, with features not usually found on mainstream ocean cruise ships -- even in the suites. Besides a double closet with 2 levels for hanging clothing, there's a third closet with floor to ceiling shelves. Even so, we took so much with us that we would have been a little cramped for space until we discovered the two rolling shelves under the bed. Even with our luggage stored under there, we could get to everything easily, and the two rolling shelves down there proved very handy. The bathroom was larger than most standard bathrooms on mainstream cruise lines, with a large and very functional shower, a full array of bath products, hair dryer, and shelving both above and below the sink. The stateroom comes equipped with a pair of bath robes and slippers, a pair of umbrellas, a safe and mini-fridge stocked with complimentary water bottles (replenished daily). There is also an infotainment system that includes a TV that can be switched to internet mode -- and an accompanying keyboard and mouse. The TV provides a satellite feed from networks in multiple languages, as well as music channels and movie options, and there is free wifi on board the ship. Each stateroom also comes equipped with "silent voice boxes" used by passengers to hear their tour guide without having to stand within earshot of the guide. With a standard adapter, one can use up to 3 electric sockets in the room to charge cameras, smart phones, and electric razors. In sum, we found the French balcony stateroom to be highly functional and comfortable, with plenty of extras included -- at a price considerably less than the larger double balcony stateroom. Dining: Having read hundreds of reviews and comments on Cruise Critic, the subject of dining always seems to provoke great debate. Frankly, everyone's taste in food is different and so I try not to engage in value judgments or argue about favorite dishes. Having said that, I must acknowledge I was more than impressed by the quality of both the menu selections and of the food on Amacerto. We Americans have a lifestyle that often prevents us from having a good breakfast; I think Europeans are far more civilized in this respect, and I very much appreciated the onboard full breakfasts that offered a good variety of options from the buffet, plus omelets and other special egg dishes prepared fresh on the spot in the dining room. The same is true at lunchtime, where regional dishes were available both on the buffet and specially brought to you by one of the waiters. A "light" lunch consisting of mini-sandwiches, a soup, a pasta dish, salads, and desserts, was available daily in the lounge for folks who preferred to eat quickly and move on to something else. We took advantage of the light lunch on two occasions, bringing it upstairs to the Sun Deck to enjoy cruising down the river from a forward table rather than from a dining room window. At dinner there were always three daily entree options (one of which was vegetarian), including the Chef's recommended specialty, and these were usually a local or regional specialty. There were always a couple of daily appetizers, soups, salad, and dessert options. The quality of the food, based on my own experience and what I heard from our dining companions, was quite good. If the daily choices were not appealing, there was always the option to have steak, chicken, salmon, or a dinner salad as a substitute entree. The first night welcome aboard dinner and the Captain's Farewell dinner (held on the next to last night) were a bit more special both in menu selection and in the festive atmosphere. Although I uniformly enjoyed the dinners and only chose from the "standard" entree options once, I was especially impressed with the quality of the creamed soup selection each night. One of the waiters told me that "all" of the creamed soups were good, in case I was ever undecided about the soup choice. He was right -- all 7 that I tried were delicious! We did not opt to try Erlebnis, the specialty restaurant. One reason for that was that reservations filled up within 2 hours after everyone boarded the ship and we were placed on a wait list. We probably could have eaten there if we pursued it, but chose not to because we enjoyed eating in the dining room and saw no reason to go out of our way, even though several of the folks who ate there enjoyed the experience -- at no extra charge, by the way -- although the menu had significantly fewer choices than the Main Dining Room. As mentioned earlier, the Main Lounge had a constant availability of coffees and teas, iced tea and water, and cookies. I particularly liked the chocolate macaroons. These snacks came in most handily during the late afternoon upon returning from a shore excursion and late at night after working up an appetite from the dancing. Also available in a free-flowing form and at no extra charge was a selection of a white wine and red wine at dinner -- a different selection each night -- as well as Bittburger Pilsner beer. For the most part I enjoyed each of the wine selections and the beer. In sum, although I cannot speak for all river cruise lines or other cruise ships, I was more than impressed with the quality and selection of food on Amacerto. In fact, I would say that dinner, in particular, was a highlight and something I looked forward to each night, and only the fact that dining was one of so many outstanding features of the cruise experience prevents me from speaking more glowingly about it. Onboard Facilities and Activities: One might have assumed that the general lack of activity venues on a river ship compared with the giant ocean cruise vessels would have caused passengers to be bored. Nothing was further from reality aboard Amacerto. For one thing, there were only 4 occasions when the ship was at sea during the day, and in each case that lasted only a brief 2-3 hours, and so passengers were more often sightseeing for the better part of each day. For those passengers who chose to remain on board, the modest but nicely upheld library provided a pretty good variety of reading materials, as well as games and puzzles. The fitness center, although small, was ample for this cruise, as most passengers had precious little time to compete for use of the exercise equipment. Again -- from my own experience -- with each day packed with shore excursions that involved pretty significant walking, and two optional bicycle tours, there wasn't much need for additional aerobic exercise. Likewise, although the weather was generally sunny (but sometimes on the cool side), I noted few times when I saw anyone using the pool on the Sun Deck -- again, probably from lack of available time more than anything else. During those few stretches when the ship was sailing during daylight hours, many of the passengers seemed more preoccupied with capturing the incredibly beautiful scenery on film than doing anything else. I know that I spent as much time forward on the Sun Deck waiting for what the next bend in the river would reveal! During the evening -- mostly after dinner but sometimes before -- AMA Waterways provided some form of guest entertainers who performed mainly in the Lounge. Each act was unique, and all offered a flavor of the country and locale where the ship was docked. Performers would come aboard, do their show, and then depart the ship. One exception occurred the first evening on board; we were treated to an Oktoberfest celebration in Vilshofen just outside the ship, replete with an oompah band, folk dancing and singing, and other forms of Bavarian entertainment. And let's not forget the free flowing Bavarian brew accompanied by those delicious pretzels. The performers ranged in age from 6 to 60. It may seem a bit hokey reading this here, but I think most of us found the townspeople's enthusiasm and joie d'vive (how's that for a description of eminently German entertainers?) charming. Some of us chatted with the performers and their families who accompanied them and we found them to be engaging and friendly. It was a truly great sendoff. Samples of entertainers who performed in the lounge included ensembles playing Austrian music and tunes from the Broadway show, Sound of Music (the movie, of course, was filmed in Salzburg); a classical ensemble; Slovakian dancers; and a folk troupe performing Hungarian music and dancing. Several of the ensembles got the audience up to join in on the dancing. The one night there was no guest entertainment was when the ship docked in Vienna. Most passengers took advantage of an optional AMA excursion to a professional performance of Mozart and Johann Strauss musical pieces performed at one of the concert venues in the city (for a fee). The venue was the former Stock Exchange -- a characteristic ballroom with an added stage -- and it was quite enjoyable, especially for me because by luck we were sitting in the front row near the steps to the stage and I was summoned to play the triangle during one of the numbers. Playing the triangle is a lot harder than it looks -- especially since the whole thing was rigged for laughs -- of which there were plenty at my expense! My point about the activities is that it is impossible to compare the kind of Broadway or Vegas-style acts and guest headliners you see in the main theaters of ocean going cruise ships with the entertainment on a river cruise. Nor did we miss those big shows (which we usually like to see, by the way). The kind of guest entertainment provided by AMA Waterways on this river cruise was ideal for the intimate setting and provided an excellent supplement to the cruise line's efforts to give passengers a real taste and feel of local culture and life. In this the entertainment succeeded, and it certainly exceeded my pretty demanding expectations. One final note regarding the onboard activities: each day before dinner and later at night after dinner and the local entertainment, the resident musician -- Matthias -- provided piano music for easy listening, and he was always gracious about taking requests. On several nights, the easy listening segued into dance music, and pretty soon Matthias the musician became Matthias the DJ and the ship really rocked. It shocked me to discover that I wound up leading a Conga line one night early in the cruise. Later in the cruise, many passengers got up and danced with each other as if it were a wedding reception. This, probably more than anything else, surprised me about the cruise and pleased me beyond any possible expectations that I had. Staff and Crew: An intimate river cruise ship with 164 passengers means an intimate experience with a relatively small staff and crew. The Captain had a crew of about 8-10 officers and sailors. Unlike on most large cruise ships, Captain Jan -- the senior caption in the AMA Waterways fleet -- was almost totally accessible. He and his crew had an opportunity to demonstrate their professionalism during and after an incident in the lock shortly after we left Vienna. A small hydrofoil passenger boat occupied the space next to Amacerto in the lock. Occasionally ships bump each other or the siding of the lock a bit when entering or leaving a lock because it usually is a very tight fit. But the hydrofoil had a protruding wing and its captain exited the lock so fast that the wing bumped Amacerto quite forcefully several times near the port side forward galley and broke one of the windows in the galley. Once both ships exited the lock, they had to stop and report the incident to the local maritime authorities. Captain Jan supervised the lowering of a boat so that a crew member could take photographs of the damage. We were delayed about an hour, but even though the incident was quite minor, it was handled with the utmost professionalism by the Captain and his staff. The other senior officer on Amacerto is the Hotel Manager, and for the first part of our sailing this was a wonderful gentleman named Radko. His opening briefing on safety was one of the most entertaining I've witnessed. Each day he was at the entrance of the ship to offer a helping hand or a wish for an enjoyable tour -- and he was waiting to welcome each person back on board after the tour. The hotel manager is responsible for virtually every non-crew member of the staff, which includes such departments as dining, bartending, housekeeping, and administration. In this regard, the housekeeping team of about 8 staff members performed their duties with the utmost competence. Staterooms were cleaned and replenished twice daily but it was a rare occasion when you saw your room steward, so efficiently and stealthily did they perform their jobs. The dining staff of a maitre d' and about 8 waiters were equally efficient, and very engaging and friendly. Although there is but one seating and no assigned tables, I felt as if each waiter treated you as if you were longtime acquaintances. Of the many waiters we personally encountered on this cruise, one in particular, Lazslo, was very special. I know that we singled him out for praise on our passenger questionnaire and so did several other passengers on this cruise. The team of three bartenders not only worked the bar during the afternoon and after dinner hours, but also served drinks during dinner. They were friendly and competent, especially Tomasz, the chief bartender. Finally, we were thoroughly impressed with the team of 3 staff members responsible for handling the front desk and all the business aspects of the cruise: paperwork; boarding passes; issuing tour group colors according to passenger's wishes and also as equitably as possible to ensure balanced-sized tour groups; billing matters; and even printing out airline boarding passes. Unlike ocean cruise ships, where the Cruise Director is responsible for all onboard activities and entertainment and must manage a fairly sizable team of cruise staff, on river cruises there is a Cruise Manager who works virtually alone. The Cruise Manager is responsible for the passengers when they are not on board ship -- that is, from the moment a passenger arrives at a pre-cruise hotel until they leave a post-cruise hotel (when applicable). The Cruise Manager arranges and organizes all the tours, including those offered during pre-and post-cruise extensions as well as all included and optional tours during the cruise. And the Cruise Manager is responsible for the onboard local guest entertainers throughout the cruise, and for the daily program provided to the passengers. Because the Cruise Manager follows the passengers for a given sailing and extensions, they move from ship to ship rather than have postings on a particular ship -- and that is why they tend to work alone (in busy extension locations the Cruise Manager sometimes has assistance from local contractors). Our Cruise Manager, Rachel Couto, was exceptional in every conceivable way. She was the person who greeted us with a friendly smile upon arrival at our hotel in Prague for our pre-cruise extension, and the last AMA Waterways person we saw when she held open the door of the taxi she arranged to take us from the ship to our hotel in Budapest at the end of the cruise. In between, her vivacious personality, enthusiasm, professionalism, and constant attention to every detail and the interests of the passengers endeared her to just about everyone. Some of the passengers had very early flights out of Budapest the last morning of the cruise (that means they had to leave the ship before 5 a.m.) Rachel was there to bid them a safe journey come. What more could one ask for in a Cruise Manager? Happy will be those of you who are fortunate enough to sail with AMA Waterways and have Rachel as your Cruise Manager. In sum, I would have to say that the performance of the relatively small staff and crew of the Amacerto not only far exceeded our expectations for this river cruise, but ranks among the best we have encountered on any cruise vacation. As an example of the almost inconceivable level of teamwork in which they performed their work, we noticed upon returning from a walk through the town of Vilshofen that Amacerto was taking on supplies for the voyage. On most ocean cruise ships, these are loaded by longshoremen with forklifts. On Amacerto, virtually the entire staff, including the front desk personnel and the Hotel Manger, Radko, were lined up helping each other load provisions on the ship. It was a scene I will always remember, and may have been the first of many moments during the week-long cruise that I was thankful we had decided to do this cruise vacation. Itinerary: Prague (3-day pre-cruise extension): I've always wanted to visit Prague and so taking this pre-cruise extension, although not inexpensive, was a must. We were not disappointed. AMA Waterways booked us into the Intercontinental Hotel. Our room faced the river and had all the amenities; the included full breakfasts set us up wonderfully for each day of sightseeing. The hotel is perfectly situated along the river adjacent to the old town and particularly the Jewish Quarter. It is an easy walk to many of the most important sights. AMA Waterways provided a morning city tour that included a bus ride up to the Castle, a walk around (but not actually in) the Castle complex, and a guided walking tour down the hill to the Charles Bridge and across the bridge to the Old Town Square. The afternoon was free for sightseeing on your own and we chose to visit the Jewish Quarter. The second day AMA Waterways offered two optional tours (for a fee): one to a castle in town that included a concert; the other a bus trip and tour of Terezin, site of the infamous "model" concentration camp during World War Two. We took the second option. It was a little disappointing that what remains of the "model" camp is mainly a very nicely designed museum and the site of a secret synagogue, but for the most part the area that constituted the camp is basically the town of Terezin. People live there, and so it was difficult to picture conditions there during the war. Earlier in the day we spend our limited free time at the wonderful Alphonse Mucha Museum -- a gem in a city of gems. Except for breakfast, you are on your own for meals, and we enjoyed two excellent meals but did have a problem, in of all places, the hotel's own fancy rooftop restaurant, where the food was delivered partly cooked. The view from up there, however, especially at night when the city is lit up, is spectacular! My advice is to have dinner elsewhere and go up there for an after dinner drink and the view. Transfer -- Regensburg: After breakfast on the third morning in Prague, everyone confirmed that their luggage was there, boarded their assigned bus (using the color system), and off we went to Vilshofen and the Amacerto. On the way, we had a two-hour break in Regensburg, a medieval town in the heart of Bavaria, which included a one-hour guided tour. Regensburg itself was quite interesting, with many people dressed in colorful local garb. Each busload had its own tour guide -- as we had already become accustomed -- with similar colored lollypops the tour guides held to keep the group together. I found the tour itself not especially illuminating, and I think most people felt a little pressed for time to both have lunch and explore on their own during the second hour. I would have preferred to skip the guided tour and explore on our own in this instance. Day 1 -- Vilshofen: Upon arrival at the ship around 3:30 p.m., we were greeted on board with a welcome glass of champagne and pastries and ushered into the Lounge for introductions to the senior staff and crew (while the remaining staff delivered our luggage to our staterooms. After having a little time to unpack and settle in, we were asked to head outside to the dock for the aforementioned "Oktoberfest" welcome celebration. It was a perfect start to our first river cruise experience. Day 2 -- Vilshofen and Passau: There was time to sleep in a little the first morning, and after breakfast we took a little walking tour of the very quaint village of Vilshofen. During lunch Amacerto departed for a very short cruise down river to Passau. There was time to photograph the experience of going through the first of 14 locks on our way to Budapest. We arrived in Passau mid-afternoon and immediately departed on a guided walking tour of the town. Parts of Passau are pretty, especially in the area where we were docked, adjacent to a bridge, directly across from a fortress high above, and located at the confluence of the Danube and another river. The tour guide provided some interesting historical information over the course of an hour, left us at the Cathedral and we were free to wander on our own. But away from the immediate location of the ship, I found Passau to be a rather ordinary medium sized Bavarian town (unlike Regensburg, which oozed with personality and a very obvious Bavarian vibe), and so we cut off our wandering and headed straight back to the ship to prepare for what turned out to be a truly fun and surprising night of dancing. Day 3 -- Linz and Cesky Krumlov: There's no question that this was always going to be a highlight day. The early morning guided tour of Linz revealed a pretty interesting city -- very much involved in the arts (a modern art gallery was located along the river within steps of our ship). There was a Saturday morning flea market going on in the town's main square, where we saw the balcony from which Hitler addressed a crowd of 60,000 in 1938 after the Anschluss -- interesting stuff for a historian of the Second World War such as I am. AMA Waterways offered 3 long, afternoon tour options -- one to Gmunden and the Alpine Lakes; another to Salzburg; and a third to Cesky Krumlov (medieval castle town in southern Bohemia (Czech Republic). We had always planned to go to Salzburg because I had never seen it and was quite interested in going. But several colleagues had suggested that Cesky Krumlov would be more interesting. In the end we decided to take the Cesky Krumlov excursion. This trio of excursions, by the way, is usually considered optional and the listed fee is 70 euro per person; but on this sailing there was no charge for the afternoon excursions, and so off we went by bus to Cesky Krumlov. The place turned out to be striking: a massive medieval castle atop a hill, with the Vltava River winding around it and the adjacent town below. The bus left us at the top near the Castle gardens, and our tour guide walked us quickly by the gardens and down the hill to the castle, pointed out at each courtyard that there was a museum here and a gift shop there -- but relentlessly continued down the hill beyond the castle and into the town -- stopping every so often to count us like sheep. On we walked through much of the town, and the tour came to an end near the town square where we were finally set free to explore on our own for about 90 minutes. We had learned little, especially about the castle, and there was not sufficient time to climb the steep hill to visit even one of the museums on the castle grounds. In retrospect I think it would have been better for the tour guide to show us the meeting place on the map as soon as we arrived, tell us a meeting time, and allow us to explore everything on our own. I do recommend that future tours of Cesky Krumlov be reconfigured to allow more time in the castle or at least allow passengers the option of breaking off to spend time on their own. Although the sightseeing turned out to be somewhat of a mess, our tour guide's heart was in the right place: it was packed on that Saturday, and he was concerned about losing someone in the group so far away from the ship. The afternoon, however, was still wonderful. Cesky Krumlov is a very special place not to be missed if you are in the vicinity. In the end we stopped for a beer and absolutely the best strudel I've ever tasted during our free time before leaving. For his part, the tour guide redeemed himself by playing Dvorak's New World Symphony on the bus ride to Cesky Krumlov, and Smetana's symphonic poem The Moldau (Vltava) as we drove back a different way, following the winding path of the Vltava and passing beautiful castles and other sights almost until we reached the Austrian border. In all, it was a lovely, memorable visit to Cesky Krumlov. Day 4 -- Melk; Durnstein; Krems: The day began with a guided tour of the historic Abbey in Melk, Austria. The tour guide was very knowledgeable and our one-hour visit through the museum portion of the monstrous Abbey was very enjoyable, with great views of the surrounding countryside from the terrace of the library. We decided to walk back through the main street of the small town and through some wooded areas to the ship. We -- and many other couples -- decided to forego the formal lunch in the dining room and grab the "light" lunch and bring it up to the forward Sun Deck as the ship sailed from Melk to Krems, passing through the Wachau Valley, one of the most beautiful stretches along the famed Danube. Beyond every turn appeared one spectacular vista after another, with the hills on either side of the river laced with vineyards. We arrived in Krems after 3 p.m., and buses came by to take us on a guided tour -- mainly a walking tour of nearby Durnstein, a beautiful riverside village on a hill where for those hearty sorts with sufficient time, one can climb to the partially eroded fortress where Richard the Lionhearted was held captive. Unfortunately, our tour guide was more interested in having us visit a children's playground and couldn't quite seem to keep her comments focused. We -- and others -- decided to see the town on our own. The main street was lined with stores selling apricot products, the local specialty (didn't much care for the apricot schnapps I tasted, however). It was a lovely, short visit, and soon we returned to the ship by bus. After dinner, most of the passengers piled back on the buses for a visit to a winery and a sampling of the products. Several of us, however, preferred to chill on board and forego the bus excursion to the winery. I can't remember how we spent the 2 hours most of the passengers were gone, but I do remember enjoying a drink in the lounge when they returned. Day 5 -- Vienna: This was at once a wonderful day -- one we had looked forward to for a long time -- and a frustrating day. Why? Because there's no way anyone can see enough of a city such as Vienna in one day; one can barely begin to see it, which just whets your appetite for more. The morning guided city tour did just that. We enjoyed a bus ride around the Ringstrasse that sets off the inner city from the Danube Canal. We passed the museum complex; historic palaces and other buildings passed by; a quick glance and they were gone. But at least we had time to see many of them. The walking portion of the tour took us to the Dom (cathedral), one entrance to the Habsburg Palace complex, and we even saw some of the Lipizzaner stallions in their stalls. Following the walking tour, we decided not to return to the ship but stay in town and take one of the ship's shuttle buses back later in the afternoon. We walked through the historic center, visited a couple of museums, had an ice coffee and Sacher Torte in lieu of lunch, and did a little shopping. There was an early dinner that night so that most of us could attend the optional (for a fee) concert in the city (described earlier), followed by a night tour of the Ringstrasse, notable only for the few number of buildings actually lit up. In the end the day was enjoyable but, as mentioned, a little frustrating because there was so much to see without the time to see it, and a little disappointing because much had been said in advance about how the Ringstrasse was so beautiful at night all lit up when the city was hardly lit up at all. Day 6 -- Bratislava: After breakfast we enjoyed the morning sail down river from Vienna to Bratislava, capital of Slovakia. Of course, we did arrive about an hour behind schedule because of that minor incident with the hydrofoil in the lock outside of Vienna that I mentioned earlier. Nevertheless, there was ample time after lunch to enjoy a one hour walking tour of the old town, located adjacent to the place where Amacerto was docked. Our tour guide not only had lots of information about the history of his country, but offered plenty of personal observations about life in a country that had so recently begun to enjoy freedom. There was a very upbeat vibe to the old town, almost exclusively limited to pedestrian traffic. I very much enjoyed the couple of hours we had to explore this interesting small city. Day 7 -- Budapest: The day began with one of the most beautiful sights I have ever experienced: sailing the Danube into the historic city of Budapest. In this town almost all the most striking scenery is along the river, and many of us hurried through breakfast to get to the Sun Deck to photograph our entry into Budapest -- which in my experience compares very favorably with our entry by cruise ship into Venice in 2009. Upon arrival in Budapest we loaded into the buses and off we went on the half-day city tour, a very interesting tour that took us along the main boulevard in Pest to Heroes' Square and the museum district and then past Parliament and across the Danube to the hilly Buda side where we passed the castle on the hill, several monuments, and stopped at Fisherman's Bastion, where the cathedral was located and from which you can enjoy magnificent vistas of the city. The tour ended at the market -- a block-length, three-tiered structure housing probably thousands of stalls. There was a little too much to deal with there, and so we walked back to the ship, had some lunch, and spent the part of the afternoon walking and doing a little shopping along the pedestrian streets nearby the ship. Then we returned to the ship to begin packing. After dinner, the Captain waited until it was dark and took us on a one-hour sailing tour of Budapest by night, sailing the Danube from Margaret Island all the way east past the Freedom Bridge. It was the perfect ending to our river cruise. Unlike Vienna, every building and bridge along the river was beautifully bathed in light. We took in this magnificent city, sipping farewell drinks provided by the staff, taking photographs of the city and river, and also of each other, because many passengers would be leaving before the crack of dawn the next morning. All in all, our week-long cruise itinerary, with the 3-night pre-cruise extension in Prague and visit to Regensburg during the transfer to the ship, proved to meet and very often exceed our very high expectations. Was every place we visited an A? No, but certainly none was an F or even less than a C. Was every tour guide superlative? Not really; some were very good and others less so. With regard to the tour guides, it was certainly a bit of the luck of the draw, since at each stop there were probably somewhere between 4 and 7 guides and inevitably some passengers were going to have better guides than others. I thought overall we came out very well in that department. The guides didn't make or break the port stops, but the good ones certainly enhanced them. The only down side to such a busy touring itinerary is that we were almost always on the go. I sometimes missed having a sea day to just kick back and rejuvenate the aching muscles from all that walking. In any event, I thought the itinerary and sightseeing selections by AMA Waterways was very balanced with a fair amount of variety; certainly organizing so many people on so many tours was a monster responsibility for one person, and Rachel handled all of this with great skill and good cheer. Final Thoughts: For those of you still with me on this article-length journey, I think it is important for ocean cruise enthusiasts to realize, as most of us first time river cruisers did, that taking a river cruise has very little in common with taking an ocean cruise. It may not be for everyone; for a long time I wasn't certain it would be for me. I know differently now. Getting to see parts of the world not readily accessible on ocean cruises is only the tangible outer core of all those intangibles I've recounted herein. A river cruise is more than just another cruise, it is a life style; it is an opportunity to stop and smell the flowers -- to immerse yourself in cultures only available from a distance on an ocean cruise; it is an opportunity to get to know and enjoy the company of people each day that you may not even glimpse from afar on an ocean cruise. It is an experience that I think no cruise enthusiast should deny themselves. I think it is fair to say that we discovered a great deal about river cruising on this vacation and a lot about ourselves as well. We probably discovered our cruising cohort -- a group of passengers mostly in their mid-50s to early 70s, educated, fun-loving, each with their own story, and each with a keen interest in meeting others. In that sense I think we were all part of the Beatles generation, even if the psychedelic back story of "Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds" never really resonated with all of us. Towards the end of the cruise one of our newly found buddies asked me what the most memorable highlight of the cruise was. I took but a nanosecond to think about it, and visions of Prague, and Cesky Krumlov, and me butchering that triangle at the concert in Vienna all flashed through my mind before I said: "it's us -- all of us getting to know each other and sharing this wonderful, intimate cruise experience; that's what I'll remember most about this cruise." Would I recommend the AMA Waterways Romantic Danube cruise -- on Amacerto or any of their other modern river ships? Yes -- a hundred times yes! If it's your first experience with a river cruise, it may change the way you think about vacations forever -- and for the good. It did for me. Read Less
Sail Date August 2012
We decided to try a river cruise and selected AMA due to its reputation and well as its offering of bike tours on the Danube. We have extensively traveled by ocean liner and wanted this new experience. We were very pleased with ... Read More
We decided to try a river cruise and selected AMA due to its reputation and well as its offering of bike tours on the Danube. We have extensively traveled by ocean liner and wanted this new experience. We were very pleased with everything! It is, with the exception of very few optional tours, totally inclusive. All tours are included in each city/village visit, the length of each stay more than enough (with the exception of needing more time in Vienna), wine and beer are included for dinner (in fact, unless you bring onboard your own wine, there aren't even any other offerings). The cruise director, John, was wonderful, catering to each person's needs and wants as well as informative regarding regional history. At most ports where we spent the night, a local talented group was brought on-board for entertainment and were very good. At every port, we were docked in the center of town. Many times, after dinner, my husband and I just walked off the ship to walk around a bit before heading off to our cabin. The positives of the food was that it was regional. Each day there was a highlighted menu suggesting local regional specialties (something that I find really lacking on our ocean cruise lines that don't take where we are cruising into consideration with menu planning). The first night's menu was a wow, but the selection and variety kind of went downhill after that. Presentation was always good, but variety was lacking, although the fish every night was excellent. The boat itself has lots of room with both an indoor area for sitting & relaxing as well as lots of tables and sofas topside. A small pool that was unused due to the unusually cool weather we experienced. Although we upgraded to a room with a veranda, whether it was the cool weather or the busy schedule, we never sat out there and probably wouldn't go with a veranda for a 7-day trip again. The two biking tours we participated in were wonderful. A front and back guide, many of the 20 participants were only occasional riders. It was good exercise (around 15 miles each time) but flat, on paved paths and beautiful scenery. Although they indicated that there are usually few people interested in biking, all bikes were taken during both tours. On the other extreme, for those who can't or don't want to walk much, each tour also offered a "gentle walker" tour that was either shorter, slower and/or motorized. All of the other guided tours were good, although the tour guides, while funny and entertaining while we waited for the group to get organized, went on route with dates/times/architecture/etc once the tour started. The ship offers "quiet talkers" so you can tune in electronically to your guide and not have to be too close. AMA hires many guides so groups are never more than 10 or so persons. Likewise, they use probably more buses then they need to keep the groups small. The highlight of the trip was the last evening when, although already docked, the Captain took us all on an evening river trip so we could enjoy the amazing spender of Budapest at night. It was magical! John and the AMA line really try and offer a great experience to all.   Read Less
Sail Date June 2012
AmaCerto Ratings
Category Editor Member
Cabin 5.0 N/A
Dining 4.0 4.5
Entertainment 4.0 4.0
Public Rooms 5.0 4.8
Fitness & Recreation 4.0 N/A
Family 1.0 3.9
Shore Excursions 5.0 N/A
Enrichment Activities 4.0 N/A
Service 5.0 4.8
Value for Money 5.0 N/A

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