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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
34 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: June 2016
Let me begin by saying that I've never written a review on a cruise until now even though we've taken many wonderful cruises over the years all over the world. We decided to try a river cruise for the first time and after ... Read More
Let me begin by saying that I've never written a review on a cruise until now even though we've taken many wonderful cruises over the years all over the world. We decided to try a river cruise for the first time and after reading many reviews settled on AmaWaterway and the ship AmaCerto for a Rhine river cruise. First the positives: The ship is nice and the rooms were good with a good layout and nice balcony. The crew was very nice and did their best to accommodate the passengers to the degree the company would allow. Now the rest of the review: if you enjoy a lot of amenities and good food with many choices this is not the cruise for you. You have one dining room that serves average food at best. ( not sure where people who say this is high cuisine have eaten before) but this is not anything close to what you will get on cruises like Oceana or Crystal, etc. they have one lounge area crowded with chairs and occasionally put out snacks but take them up quickly after a short while. As far as beer and wine, you will get this included only at lunch and dinner with limited choices and then pay the rest of the time. Don't let the advertisement fool you into thinking all drinks are included. To top off our experience one of our guests got food poisoning after the first dinner and was ill most of the trip. After this we decided to eat many meals off the ship as we found the food in the towns to be much better! Your cabin is nice but to our surprise you will find yourself docking in between boats many times with a view of another boats room within touching distance overnight! This is the case about 90% of the time, so don't think you will be looking at a view while docked. As far as the cruise, just realize that the idea of a romantic cruise down the Rhine with incredible views is a myth. You will have maybe two half days of incredible views and the rest of the time your looking at industries going down a small canal that was built to accommodate these larger ships. ( Not really the Rhine)! This was very disappointing! We saw castles one afternoon for about 3 hours and the rest was average or poor at best. The tours that are included are pretty good and they last about 3 hours at each stop. The rest of the time you explore on your own which we enjoyed more. I've come to the conclusion that it's hard for these river cruise companies to make the financial numbers work with so few guests.( 130-160) per cruise. I think this is why they really can't afford to give the extra luxuries other types of cruises offer but rather depend on the attraction of small crowds and off shore experiences to make up the difference. The reality is that you actually feel more crowded because theirs so little room on these ships in the lounge area. Nothing they can do about it, it's just the reality of the situation. I realize this doesn't paint a great picture of what people think river cruises are but had I read a review like this it may have helped me avoid wasting thousands of dollars on a trip I couldn't wait to end! As far as river cruises are concerned we are ONE AND DONE! Read Less
8 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: May 2016
I chose the Amawaterways Rhine River based on a recommendation from a travel agent and friend who had sailed with Amawaterways before. We cruised on the Nile about 5 years ago but this was our first cruise in Europe. We boarded the ... Read More
I chose the Amawaterways Rhine River based on a recommendation from a travel agent and friend who had sailed with Amawaterways before. We cruised on the Nile about 5 years ago but this was our first cruise in Europe. We boarded the ship in Amsterdam. The next morning we toured the city and went on a boat cruise through the canals. There was also an optional garden tour that day. There were at least two excursion options every day. Each day we recived a detailed itinerary for the next day and lots of useful information on the excursions with pictures, weather forecast, shopping opportunities, etc. Having that information the evening before helped me maximize my activities. We also received "USA Times", news highlights from America so we felt a little connected to home. Every aspect of the cruise, from check-in, to the excursions, dining, on board activities, local transportation, disembarking and the optional land tour of Switzerland was well planned and executed. We hit a bit of a snag due to heavy rains upriver and had to spend an extra night in Mannheim. Without missing a beat our Cruise Manager, implemented Plan B and bussed everyone to Strasbourg so we didn't miss our tour of the city. Because we were so far away from the ship Martina arranged for all of us to have lunch together at a restaurant in town, Le Gruber, the food was fantastic! What a fun day. The day we cruised down the Rhine Gorge was also a very memorable day. We were given a map with all the castles and ruins along the gorge. In the common areas a running commentary on the history of each point of interest was broadcasted over the PA system so you didn't miss anything. It was cold outside but there were plenty of blankets & hot chocolate to keep us warm. The ship's staff and local tour guides were all friendly, helpful, and pleasant. We got to know many of our fellow travelers during excursions, lounging in the common areas, and while dining. That part was a little unexpected, and greatly added to our overall enjoyment. Overall our trip was excellent but I especially want to thank our Cruise Manager, Martina, for all her help. My husband hurt his knee playing with the dog a day or two before we left for Amsterdam. He thought it would get better but instead, it got much worse. The trip could have been a disaster but it wasn't thanks to Martina. Soon after we checked in she was able to get him crutches and moved us to a cabin that was much more conveniently located to the dining and lounge areas. She shopped for an Ace bandage and included a little chocolate to make him feel better. She also arranged for a someone to meet us with a wheel chair at the airport; she was just wonderful. I would love to do the AmaWaterways Douro River cruise next! Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
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
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: October 2018
We had previously taken an AMA river cruise on the Rhine from Switzerland to Amsterdam and found it wonderful, so decided to take another the Danube. We were actually on the same ship, AMACerto which is very nice. We had a great crew. ... Read More
We had previously taken an AMA river cruise on the Rhine from Switzerland to Amsterdam and found it wonderful, so decided to take another the Danube. We were actually on the same ship, AMACerto which is very nice. We had a great crew. Our Cruise Director, Hotel Manager, the Captain and crew provided us with wonderful service, great cuisine, safety, and comfort on our stay. This wonderful group of people worked beyond expectation to ensure that all guests were treated with exceptional courtesy, professionalism, and service. Please understand that the crew had nothing to do with the problems we encountered, and in fact, did everything possible to help ensure that our onboard experience went as smoothly as possible. Our concern, is only with upper levels of AMA Waterways management and their lack of transparency about communicating river level problems. After being told, we did our own research to better understand the problem. It was extremely disappointing to read an article published in Travel Weekly dated August 1st (two months prior to our cruise) quoting the President of AMA that the river levels were known to be low and causing diversions from scheduled itineraries. Cruise guests weren’t made aware of these problems until just prior to our departure from Prague. The resulting low water levels allowed us only two days of actual cruising on the Danube. Our first cruising day on the river was from Vilshofen to Passau and Linz on October 9th. The second cruising day was from Linz to Melk and Vienna on October 10th. Once again, we weren’t notified about the low waters down-stream until we arrived in Vienna. This again would interrupt our expected final leg to Budapest. AMA management obviously knew of these problems at least two months prior to our cruise. Had we been aware of this in a timely fashion, we could have opted to either cancel or postpone our trip to a different time. Obviously, AMA management used the tactic of keeping cruising guests in the dark and “dropping the news” on everyone just prior to our planned departures, both in Prague and Vienna. This we feel was deceptive on the part of AMA Waterways management. Cruise guests were bussed from Prague via Pilzen to Vilshofen rather than Nuremberg. The two and a half hour stop in Pilzen was very marginal. We had hoped to visit the Pilzen brewery, but it was packed with Germans celebrating the last days of Oktoberfest which excluded AMA guests any opportunity to tour. Our out-of-pocket lunch stop allowed limited choices, and the only excursion options in Pilzen were a loud band in the square that was of no interest to AMA guests, and a beer garden that opened just as it was time to depart. The stop did, however, provide us with a bathroom break. Vilshofen was a very pleasant town. For those who desired to see Nuremberg, guests were required to take a long, tiring bus trip providing minimal time in the city, and then back to Vilshofen. The option of visiting Regensberg was the same issue with another long bus ride. We opted to take a shorter excursion for a walking tour through the charming village of Scharding. Our only highlight in Vienna was a very nice Strauss/Mozart concert, again paid out of pocket. The Vienna city tour was an overly fast and somewhat confusing bus excursion, after which, we were left on our own on a shopping street. On Saturday, October 13, we disembarked AMACerto in Vienna and were bussed to the Budapest Sofitel Chain Bridge Hotel. This bus trip was long and unfortunately without a pitstop. When we arrived at the hotel, there was a rudimentary reception for AMA guests with mediocre food and drinks. Immediately after, the AMA concierge team seemed to disappear and was unavailable to aid guests for the remainder of our stay or provide guidance about transportation to the airport. To complete our extra days in Budapest, we, and another AMA couple, arranged our own in-town excursions. We hired a driver and guide for a very nice city tour and arranged for an evening illumination cruise. Both of these were scheduled to occur as part of our cruise package that we didn’t receive. This was disappointing because we all incurred additional unplanned out-of-pocket expenses. After returning home, our travel agent, called us and forwarded AMA’s letter of apology, with an offer of credit on future cruises. This may seem generous on the part of AMA Waterways management, but it doesn’t help those of us who will not be considering future AMA cruises. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: November 2018
We chose the Magical Christmas markets to see Vienna, Salzburg, and Nürnberg, to enjoy some Christkindlmarkts, and to acquaint ourselves with river cruising. Ama has work to do. The cruise administration as we approached our travel ... Read More
We chose the Magical Christmas markets to see Vienna, Salzburg, and Nürnberg, to enjoy some Christkindlmarkts, and to acquaint ourselves with river cruising. Ama has work to do. The cruise administration as we approached our travel date was disrupted by the Woolsey Fire in the San Fernando Valley, where Ama is headquartered. Ama needs better contingency plans if they are going to stay in the Valley. Fires in Calabasas, from my youth in Woodland Hills, are NOT uncommon. We were impacted by the water levels of the Danube. Our cruise was shortened from Nürnberg to Vilshofen, and, after we boarded, to Passau. We missed one of the best Christkindlmarkts in all Europe. I recognize Ama is a hotelier, a restaraunteur, and a ship line, but they need better decisionmaking on how to make the traveller's experience the best possible. That includes leaving ship if need be. The sailing plan? OMW. On Monday, for reasons known only to Ama, we left Vienna for Tulin. Guess what? Everything was closed. DUMB. Then, at 11 at night, we sailed back to Vienna to berth in the nest of ships again. Better to have spent another day in Vienna, and help us see more of that great city. Speaking of bad calls, let's talk about Sunday. There were three ships abreast at Handelskai that morning. Three sets of busses, and no one on shore to direct us to which group of busses. We showed our color coded ticket, and the guide said "This is your bus." Welllllll .... no it wasn't. It was the bus of another ship to Bratislava. You need passports for that tour. Turned out a third of the people on that bus were from our ship, misdirected to it instead of the bus for the Eisenstadt tour. It's late fall, early winter. It was raining most days, so the upper outdoor deck was unusable. The lounge was a hospitable place, with free coffee and tea at all hours. I discuss our cabin elsewhere. The dining? Superb. An advantage Ama has over Windstar and their ocean sailings is the free wine and beer at mealtime. I liked that! Service? Superb. Yes, I paid the expected crew's gratuity, and then some, but I also gave some to my cabin housekeeper and two of the waiters. They deserved it. Vienna and Salzburg are grand cities, worthy of much more time than the cruise could provide. We will be back. Overall, this COULD HAVE BEEN A FIVE BUBBLE CRUISE. The administrative and logistics decision cost it points. Read Less
Sail Date: July 2018
Have traveled on a few large ocean ships so wanted to try a riverboat for comparison. A friend asked me to join a group of 15 on this Danube adventure. I knew little about the countries on the route but was game to go along. We added 3 ... Read More
Have traveled on a few large ocean ships so wanted to try a riverboat for comparison. A friend asked me to join a group of 15 on this Danube adventure. I knew little about the countries on the route but was game to go along. We added 3 days prior and after week cruise in Bucharest and Budapest, respectively. The countries visited were pretty depressing as still suffering from communist control 30+ yrs ago. The worst was Bucharest. Filthy dirty, massage parlours everywhere. Had to skip a western port in Serbia and the one in Croatia so cannot comment on thise two. AMA said Danube water level too low due to drought in Germany and Hungary. As a compensation for this, they brought hungarian dancers to boat to dance for 45 minutes one night and provided a tour in Budapest. As a result, the only nice city we saw was Budapest..perhaps the two we missed would have shown a better transition from war torn, communist controlled towns to modern, clean Budapest. People raved about the food...i thought average as breakfast and lunch pretty much the same buffet choices every day. Soups were excellent. Dinner choices minimal, food presentation excellent. Always seemed rushed. No time to relax and chat as servers seemed extremely intent to get us in and out of dining room. Of all the international travels i have done, both by cruise and otherwise, i have zero interest in returning to this part of eastern Europe. Part of what i like about larger ships is the chance to meet others. Our trip only had 140 passengers, with 90 from one group so meeting others pretty nonexistent. Tour buses were nice, only one guide worth his salt, rest poor to pretty boring. Should i ever go on another river boat, would try different line than AMA. 50 on staff so both the hair dresser and massage woman also cleaned our room. They are completely overworked. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: December 2016
Our Rivercruise started in Amasterdam on the 22nd of Dec 2016. We wanted to experience Christmas Markets in Europe without the hassle of packing and unpacking if we were flying or driving from one town to another.. OUR CABIN on Violin ... Read More
Our Rivercruise started in Amasterdam on the 22nd of Dec 2016. We wanted to experience Christmas Markets in Europe without the hassle of packing and unpacking if we were flying or driving from one town to another.. OUR CABIN on Violin Deck 301 is AWESOME !!! The first day of tour was a bit inconvenient as the Tour Director failed to arrange appropriate transport and tour for the "Disabled" passengers. We tried to be in the Bus front seat, only to be asked to move a few seat back as a "disable passenger" came to join our bus. The food was nothing to rave about.... the wines was a disappointment (although repeatedly announced as specialty of whichever region we were.) THEN..there were days when we are very tired and chose to have a relaxing afternnon "siesta" , unfortunetaly we missed the Captains cocktails . Our Tour Director was not on the INTERCOM to remind the passengers...So we told her about our disappointment :( ...her reply .. "she doesn't normally remind passengers as she give the days activity sheet before we retire the previous night "... Fair enough.. The thing is she is constantly on the intercom telling stories about silly old fables ..like we were children!! How hard is it to remind us of the coming "Captains Cocktail"!!... THEN WORST OF ALL....we could have arranged our own tour and accomodations after the cruise BUT we chose to get the extended package from AMA, thinking that we will have great accommodations based on what we paid and what we saw in AMACERTOs cabin. Our hotel in Lucerne is average...then a disgusting little hole in Zurich. The timing of the cruise suits our schedule..its a bonus when I saw it discounted .. but DOES IT MEAN THAT SOME ASPECT OF THE CRUISE IS AT DISCOUNTED LEVEL TOO? Read Less
4 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: October 2016
Chose this cruise solely based on recommendation of knowledgeable travel agency insider.Including airfare, was approx $4,800 for single occupancy and air fare for 8 days and 7 nights. My overall experience has been about average especially ... Read More
Chose this cruise solely based on recommendation of knowledgeable travel agency insider.Including airfare, was approx $4,800 for single occupancy and air fare for 8 days and 7 nights. My overall experience has been about average especially considering the premium price for the Rhine River cruise.For example, had to request for bottled water to be replenished, and for toilet paper to be refilled. Room was very clean and all service people were very polite.It was really convenient to get on and off the ship for excursions except there was insufficient free time to shop and also the tour guides gave bad information -- for example, were told that certain shops would be open on Sundays in Heidelberg but the shops were actually closed. Food was delicious but limited in choices and times. Some servers were very friendly and accommodating but others wouldn't bring drink refills in a timely manner. We learned who the good servers were and tried to get in their section. Other issues, when we were on the upper deck, no servers were assigned to get our drink orders. So we would have to go downstairs and get it ourselves. There was only 1 outlet in the bathroom which made it difficult to plug in a blow dryer and flat iron for example. Wifi was very spotty but we were forewarned to expect it. Read Less
4 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: June 2015
After 40 ocean cruises I was looking forward to this experience. We spent several days precruise after flying from Los Angeles. We packed light for us but had to check our luggage anyway on Delta. We began in Brussels, went to Bruges and ... Read More
After 40 ocean cruises I was looking forward to this experience. We spent several days precruise after flying from Los Angeles. We packed light for us but had to check our luggage anyway on Delta. We began in Brussels, went to Bruges and Ghent and then to Amsterdam for another 2 nights in a hotel before embarking. We covered all the major sights and then some. We embarked at 3pm as suggested and went right to our cabin to unpack. We had cabin D105 downstairs (very narrow stairway). The room was quite nice with a large comfortable bed, good closet area, 2 chairs, shower with a rainshower, a TV with movies and a computer which worked best when in port. At dinner we met some people from California whom we ate with several more times. Dinner was a menu but breakfast and lunch were buffets. We made a reservation for the Chefs Table which I recommend you do right away as large groups traveling together had reserved for several nights. The meals were pretty good, some very good, could have had a better lunch selection. We enjoyed the CD, Peter Whitehead. He had a great sense of humor and was very knowledgeable. The ship itself was beautiful, we enjoyed dunking in the shallow pool on 2 occasions, there was lots of room on the deck during sailing periods, the lounge was lovely. Included wine was just okay and the bar service was spotty. We had a busy itinerary with very good guides. However there were times we were far from the sights and had to walk long distances just to get on the buses. The entertainment was weak at best. The castles were just a 1/2 day of sailing but we had pretty great weather until Basel. We got off there to catch a plane to Berlin. Not sure I would do another river cruise as I found it to be very expensive and exhausting. Pack for every weather. I had 4 pairs of pants, 2 capri types and 1 shorts with as many tops as I could squeeze in and 3 pairs of shoes. I had a Scottevest, light coverup, a sweater and a packable puffy warm jacket and a scarf. I wanted to burn my clothes about halfway through. We washed stuff out constantly. Read Less
4 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: August 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 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
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: April 2019
We have cruised the the Danube many times and this was our second time with AMA on this particular section, but with some different stops than our previous cruise which was a 'Wine Cruise'. We had chosen cabin 203 on the ... Read More
We have cruised the the Danube many times and this was our second time with AMA on this particular section, but with some different stops than our previous cruise which was a 'Wine Cruise'. We had chosen cabin 203 on the Cello deck [middle] which has the unique AMA double balcony design with an open balcony for good weather and a 'French balcony' when the weather is not so pleasant. This is our prefered level and position when River Cruising, towards the front to avoid engine noise when overnight sailing and middle to avoid noise from overhead from either crew or passengers walking about. New for this year AMA have a full time fitness instructor onboard giving a variety of exercises to suite all levels and even those with disabilities and the Instructor Romen set the instruction to suite the guest. These group instruction was part of the package, but Romen was also available for individual instruction at a fee charged per hour. Another new for this year was free Cocktail hour every evening generally around 5-6pm but could vary depending on excursion times. Every day there were multiple included excursions to suite all levels of physical ability including cycling & hikes. Our two most enjoyable tours were to 'Cesky Krumlov' which is a fascinating pedestrianised small town which has Bohemia's largest castle. Our other favorite stop was Bratislava with its amazing 'Old Town'. Durnstein is always a favorite stop and on this occasion we opted for the Apricot tasting tour where apart from the general tour of the village we got a private tasting with a producer of Apricot Brandy's and liqueurs, some of his chocolate products and his world famous 'Rabbit S--t' ( it only looks like that and is infact a roasted nut coated in chocolate) and it tastes great. Food and drink every day was great with good service from all the staff with local delicacies being served every night with complimentary 'Paired' wines and we found that the wine staff thought that a half empty glass was offensive to the eye and would keep topping it up till you collapse or placed a napkin over the glass. Ship and cabins were kept 'Squeaky Clean' by a great crew. We used the 'Pool' one afternoon while cruising and it was very pleasant in the heated water and screaning from the wind. Overall a very enjoyable cruise and we met many people who have now become friends, mostly from North America, but a few from Israel, Cuba, Australia and Hawaii, we were the only people from the UK. The reason I have not given the cruise an 'excellent' was that we and others found some of the local 'Guides' were not particularly great [We fed this back to the cruise manager who assured us it would be dealt with and the Tour Bus in Bratislava was not suitable for the less able guests. Read Less
Sail Date: August 2018
room too small for 1 much less 2! hated carpet in cabin vs wood floors lots of complaints from other ppl. Crew not too friendly as was amadera crew who was at your beck and call. Certo looked very cold and uninviting. Lacked ambiance. ... Read More
room too small for 1 much less 2! hated carpet in cabin vs wood floors lots of complaints from other ppl. Crew not too friendly as was amadera crew who was at your beck and call. Certo looked very cold and uninviting. Lacked ambiance. Certo was too sterile! the pool had no privacy greenery just plexigliglass. The girl pouring wine was very pushy even ppl who didn't want more she insisted. don't try to reinvent the wheel. Serious down grade from beautiful Dera. What a disappointment from last year sailing with Dera. No balcony and those annoying were computer screens. Another complaint by others. We put towels to cover I that didn't work. At The recommendation of other guests we disconnected the computer. This computer thing mad me feel I was being watched all the time very bazaar. No i wouldn't go sailing again. The scheduling of excertions was tight. No time to get ready for dinner another complaint from others. Barbara Milloit sailing with Tim Rada. Read Less
11 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: October 2017
This was our first time on AmaWaterways, but our second river cruise. We did the Gems of Southeastern Europe which started in Budapest, Hungary, went through Croatia, Serbia, and Bulgaria, and ended in Bucharest, Romania. The ship was very ... Read More
This was our first time on AmaWaterways, but our second river cruise. We did the Gems of Southeastern Europe which started in Budapest, Hungary, went through Croatia, Serbia, and Bulgaria, and ended in Bucharest, Romania. The ship was very nice, very well maintained and clean, with plenty of spots in the lounge to sit and relax. Our cabin was just enough room and laid out very well. The food was fantastic, although not reflective of the local regions we were visiting (we had that experience on another cruise line, they served food local to where we were cruising to). But, they did serve local wines from Romania, Bulgaria, and Hungary. The service was excellent, top notch, and even the cruise director, hotel manager, and other prominent folks were often visible and completely approachable. Our excursions were also amazing. Everything was extremely organized, the tours were jam-packed with things to see and do (we were out all day, every day), and the local tour guides were all amazing. They were very friendly, informative, had great English speaking skills, and were very patient with us. The only thing I wish I had was more free time in each town. We barely had a chance to buy souvenirs, much less relax at a café or just stroll around on our own. But, I'm one who wants to see as much as possible of a city, so that matters more to me. The itinerary change was quite unexpected and gave us cause for concern before we left, but I want to say that Ama handled it in the best way possible. A week before our sailing, we were told that a bridge in Serbia was being repaired, blocking all ships from getting up the Danube from Serbia to Hungary. This meant that we could not actually sail out of Budapest. Within one week, Ama rearranged our itinerary to stay overnight in Budapest in a 5-star hotel (instead of getting on the ship), complete with a wonderful local buffet dinner in the hotel's restaurant and a private sailing around Budapest that night. The next day, we took a bus to Serbia--which I actually thought was awesome because we got to stop at a gas station and buy fun local food, and get our passports stamped in person by Hungarian and Serbian border controls! Then we were treated to a wonderful local meal in Novi Sad, Serbia, complete with a local band playing, and a short tour of town. Sure, it was most of the day on the bus, but it didn't feel like it. There was a guide with us who was very informative and talked about both Hungarian and Serbian lifestyles, cultures, and histories. We still got to take a short walking tour of Novi Sad, but we missed going to the fortress because we had to still drive to Belgrade that night, where our ship was docked. Driving through Belgrade at night was pretty cool. The rest of our itinerary shifted up one day as a result--we missed out on going to a couple of Hungarian towns before going to Serbia, and missed out on a little half-day excursion to a town in Croatia. BUT, for the last day of the cruise, we spent the day in Costanta, Romania, on the Black Sea--an excursion that Ama had never done before. We had a wonderful, long tour of the town, went to museums, saw the Roman mosaic boardwalk, went into the cathedral, and even put our hands in the Black Sea!! I felt really privileged to be able to do this, and was extremely appreciative of the Cruise Director literally whipping up this new stop and excursion within one week's time! After returning home, we also received a letter from Ama giving us nearly $2,000 in credit towards a future cruise as reimbursement for the messed-up itinerary. Woah! I was just happy with this new itinerary, and was delighted that I got to go to a seaside town in Romania. The cruise credit was just the icing on the cake and shows how well Ama treats their customers. We will certainly return to Ama to use our credit on a future cruise! Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: July 2016
We have made 4 river cruises with AMA Waterways and have talked with many people who have cruised with other cruise lines. It seems all river cruise lines are very good. However, from our own experience and from discussions with ... Read More
We have made 4 river cruises with AMA Waterways and have talked with many people who have cruised with other cruise lines. It seems all river cruise lines are very good. However, from our own experience and from discussions with others, AMA is the best. . AMA's food and service seem to be a real differentiator. However, our most recent experience was certainly exceptional. We did a Rhine River cruise from Basel to Amsterdam this June. Due to high water the ship was unable to sail. This happens sometime, too high or too low. So we were bused to the various sites and ate and slept on the ship for 5 nights. The last two nights were too far from the ship so we stayed in a hotel in Cologne, Germany and then Amsterdam. We were treated very well but it was a disappointment not getting to cruise and having a lot of bus time. However, when we got home we got a very nice surprise from our travel agent. AMA had contacted them and gave us 100% credit towards another cruise. They certainly did not have to do that based on the agreement you sign but AMA is very concerned with Customer Service. We have heard that this is not the norm. So we will stick with AMA for our next cruise. AMA is the best in our opinion. Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: October 2015
This was our first river cruise - the Rhine River from Amsterdam to Basel. We spent 4 days in Amsterdam and I definitely recommend a few days before embarkation. Jet lag is tricky and we pay so much for the cruise we wanted to truly ... Read More
This was our first river cruise - the Rhine River from Amsterdam to Basel. We spent 4 days in Amsterdam and I definitely recommend a few days before embarkation. Jet lag is tricky and we pay so much for the cruise we wanted to truly enjoy it. We stayed in the Marriott by the docks and loved. We are the type of couple who like to just wander around and we did. Our only scheduled events were the Van Gogh museum (get your tickets online ahead of time) and a dinner cannal cruise (also got tickets ahead of time and we loved it.). Second only to Paris I think Amsterdam is beautiful. Take time to appreciate it all. The Amercerto We had an AA stateroom (314) with French and real balcony. It was worth it for us. There was plenty of room, plenty of storage, and we are not tiny people. Be smart and think ahead. We went in October and took lots of UnderArmor. It was the perfect selection. We had jeans washed and laundry was ultra reasonable. We took black pants or black jeans for dinner with long sleeves, collars, and fancy scarves. No fancy clothes necessary. We spent a lot of time on our own. Our first excursion - Cologne- we went with the guide. Because of low water we were late and missed going into the cathedral. That was a huge disappointment. Other than our Heidelberg Tour, we went off on our own and had a fabulous time. Our guide on Heidelberg was great. We also decided that if something was important, like the Cologne Cathedral we were doing it on our own. We never had trouble finding our way back to our motor coaches to return to the ship. We loved the Chef's Table, eating there twice. The other dinners were just mediocre to us. Our favorite nights were when we had cheese, crackers, and fruit in our room and watched a movie. Great down time and togetherness. Our cruise director was very good. We liked his lectures every night. We also found that people who did not know were really at a loss the next morning. One irritating factor were the guests who did not take the QuietVox systems for the tours. The rest of the guests who did listen to the CD and remembered theirs had to wait up to 30 minutes while these others were taken care of. The staff were unbeatable. One night my husband had back problems and we were staying in out room. I was in sweats getting hot chocolate and at least 4 staff members asked if we were eating dinner and if not going to the dining room could they send a try to our room. And remember there is no room service on AMA! I also loved talking Spurs basketball with the Purser Christian. He was a delight. My husband has already booked the Douro cruise for next year. What a surprise! I made us go on this cruise and it turns out he loves the life. Believe me when I say you can be as social or antisocial as you want. The cruise is to make of it what you want. Oh, and before I forget, the Rhine Gorge might be the most unforgettable thing I will ever experience! Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: December 2014
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
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: May 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
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: May 2019
We chose this cruise on the recommendation of our travel agent. He is well traveled and told us this line was the best. We have been on many ocean cruises but the river cruise is better. We loved every moment. The staff is amazing. ... Read More
We chose this cruise on the recommendation of our travel agent. He is well traveled and told us this line was the best. We have been on many ocean cruises but the river cruise is better. We loved every moment. The staff is amazing. Our favorite bartender was Misha. We loved seeing her every day. She was always smiling and kept us smiling too. Nothing is too much to ask. The food is gourmet at every meal and again the staff makes every meal memorable. The cruise director was everywhere. I don’t remember any cruise director from other cruises but Florentin is in forgettable. He made sure everything was perfect. I had the best massage ever thanks to Rumena who was wonderful. Each port of entry had at least thee choices and we enjoyed each place. The weather was terrible but we still had a great time. We would choose this line again. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: April 2019
This was our first river cruise, or cruise of any kind, and we picked AMA based on a review of various materials that reviewed cruise lines.The cruise was easy to book through a travel agent. The embarkation was smooth , the ... Read More
This was our first river cruise, or cruise of any kind, and we picked AMA based on a review of various materials that reviewed cruise lines.The cruise was easy to book through a travel agent. The embarkation was smooth , the disembarkation was well handled and included transportation from the ship to the airport. The price would have included free airfare had we wanted to fly to coincide with the ship's day of depature, But since we wanted to spend a few days in Europe prior to sailing, we had to have that booked separately, but we were given an airfare that was very inexpensive for the route taken. The ship was beautiful . Our room was surprisingly spacious at 230 sq. ft. and had both French and outside balconies.The bathroom was large with a great rain shower, thick, comfortable towels and high quality grooming products. It was serviced twice every day by a professional,conscientious, helpful, abd friendly staff. The food service could not have been better. The breakfast and lunch were buffet, although there were always choices available to be served from the kitchen. The dinners were four courses with several options, including vegetarian and gluten free. The wines were high quality (and free flowing).. The waitstaff was attentive to every need. Cocktails were available for free for an hour before dinner, but also available all day long. there were also early risers' breakfast t available later in the morning. Lunch was also available as just soup and sandwich in the ship's lounge. In addition, every person had access to a special dinner at the Chef's Table dining room one night during the cuise. As for activities, there was stretching and Yoga every day and other fitness activities available throughout the day. Bicycles were available all the time and there were scheduled bike trips as shore excursions. There were also several strenuous hikes. And the standard city tours had both active and less active itineraries so every person had access to a pace with which they could be comfortable. The staff was wonderful from captain on down . The cruise director was tireless in her efforts to insure that all was perfect and did her job with boundless energy and humor. In short, we would gladly sail with AMA Wayerways again and give them our highest recommendation. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: April 2019
We chose this trip for our 39th Wedding Anniversary and the wish to experience a river cruise on the Danube. The Romantic Danube itinerary seemed to catch our eye and booked this cruise with the 2 night Hotel option in Munich Germany. ... Read More
We chose this trip for our 39th Wedding Anniversary and the wish to experience a river cruise on the Danube. The Romantic Danube itinerary seemed to catch our eye and booked this cruise with the 2 night Hotel option in Munich Germany. After clearing customs/immigration, we exited the baggage hall and were met by our AmaWaterway transfer driver. He whisked us away to our Hotel located in the heart of "old" Munich and easy walking distances to any restaurants, market plaza's and old cathedrals. The Hotel room was ready upon arrival and the staff took good care of us. There was a very helpful AmaWaterways representative in the Hotel Lobby who gave us information related to our stay, the included walking tour and departure time to meet the ship at Vilshofen. The Hotel was wonderful, the local tour guide Annette gave our group a wonderful tour full of history and background of the area. The Sunday departure to meet the ship was flawless. It left on time, picked up additional passengers at the airport and arrived at the ship safely and on time. The embarkation to the AmaCerto was smooth, we were welcomed aboard by the tour manager Camille, reception had everything organized well our cabin was ready, luggage in room and times for some important briefings and safety demonstrations. The cabin we picked was nicely appointed, clean and comfortable. The washroom/shower was very adequate for our needs. We had a balcony and French balcony in our cabin. We used our balcony quite a bit. The food was fantastic, service was friendly and spot on and we really liked the open seating policy. The cruise manager arranged a host of talented singers, musicians and folk dancers for the evening entertainment. There were various fitness activities each day put on by the Wellness Coordinator. Camille had all the shore excursions organized, offered different fitness levels and had good local guides. All the excursions we attended went smoothly and added a lot of depth to the cruise. Final disembarkation to the airport was well organized and went smoothly. It was sad to leave as we had a excellent time, met many interesting people. We would definitely do this again!. Read Less
Sail Date: March 2019
I had always been curious about river cruising, but had been reluctant to commit. However, this particular cruise up the Danube was too good to refuse, and I am so glad I did it. The initial draw was that the entertainment on board would ... Read More
I had always been curious about river cruising, but had been reluctant to commit. However, this particular cruise up the Danube was too good to refuse, and I am so glad I did it. The initial draw was that the entertainment on board would be the Alan Doyle Trio; my friends and I are big fans, and the chance to see 4 shows in one week and to interact with them on shore excursions and on the boat was once in a lifetime. Turns out that the vast majority of the passengers were of like mind: ready to have fun and connect with new people. From the first notes of the first show, we were all fast friends. And, even the passengers who had booked the trip independently quickly became fans and were really happy they had chosen this particular trip. Every element of this cruise was top notch. Embarkation was so easy, and the crew made me feel like I was coming home right from the beginning. Every need I had was met almost before I even asked. From housekeeping (wonderful Stephanie who cleaned and set up my room at least twice a day) to the bartender Misha who seemed to be always working (I don't know when she slept), and always with a smile on her face no matter what time of the day or night, to Roman the Wellness Director, who took the time to get to know me and my physical limitations and develop a program for me while on the boat. Our cruise manager was unbelievable. I think he must have had a "time turner", like Hermione Granger from Harry Potter, because he was literally everywhere all day, making sure shore excursions were going as planned, that everybody was safe and accounted for, and that we all had the information we needed to make our daily activity decisions. The ship was terrific. Plenty of room for finding moments of privacy, and great spaces for hanging with people. The thoughtful touch of having blankets available on deck for those cool days allowed us all to be outside as much as we wanted to. The fitness room had a treadmill that was non-functional for our cruise which was a disappointment to some of the passengers, but there were plenty of opportunities for vigorous training on the bike or rower, we well as on land if desired. The food was incredible; the dining room was lovely, and the servers were fantastic. There was no assigned seating, which allowed us to sit with a whole variety of different folks over the week. We made so many friends, and it was wonderful to share our day and our adventures with these new friends. The food ranged from multicourse meals with flexible options to a light breakfast in the lounge. You could have whatever you wanted, and mix and match from the menu or the buffet or the preparation station. And, if you didn't like that, you could order a burger or any number of routine options. The menu included local specialties at every country. I particularly liked the late night snack, for which I was always ready. The shore excursions were plentiful and varied; each day offered a terrific journey at any number of levels, from intensive biking to "gentle walkers" for those with mobility challenges. We primarily did the regular walking tours, and were impressed by the local tour guides on every one. I learned so much, and then had plenty of time for independent exploration. The entire week was low key and no-pressure. You could really do whatever you wanted on any given day. I am definitely planning to do a river cruise again, and will not travel with anyone other than AMA Waterways. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: March 2019
This was our first River cruise. The Maitre D, Nicolette, on board the Prague to Budapest route was phenomenal. She bent over backwards to review menus daily with me, and my husband who is vegan. Every moment ran smoothly on the ship ... Read More
This was our first River cruise. The Maitre D, Nicolette, on board the Prague to Budapest route was phenomenal. She bent over backwards to review menus daily with me, and my husband who is vegan. Every moment ran smoothly on the ship including embarking/disembarking, tours, and meal schedules. The AMAcerto ship cabins are immaculate. Breakfast and lunch buffet choices are plentiful and fresh daily. Dinner entrees are artfully presented when you order from the menu. On-shore tours allow for all levels of physical ability. There were no glitches or disappointments except for a tour in Vienna in which the guide was not very well-informed about local history. We are experienced travelers who have hiked, driven, and gone by train throughout Europe. However, AMA waterways is perhaps the very best way to experience the Danube because included in the price are amazing tours of gothic churches, castles, Abbeys, medieval villages, and a Vienna concert as well. There is perhaps not enough time to explore a city on your own, hence you may want to stay for more days at the end of your trip in Budapest. Read Less
8 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: December 2018
We have had the Danube on our bucket list for quite a while. We chose the Magical Christmas Markets cruise because we knew our son--currently in graduate school--would be available between academic semesters to join us. Although we were ... Read More
We have had the Danube on our bucket list for quite a while. We chose the Magical Christmas Markets cruise because we knew our son--currently in graduate school--would be available between academic semesters to join us. Although we were excited about the trip and expected to see many wonderful sights, everything about our AMA Waterways experience exceeded our expectations. Every single meal--breakfast, lunch and dinner--was a five-star experience. But that's not to say it was stuffy or pretentious. It's just that the chef, baker, waiters, and other employers were amazing. There were always multiple options--eat a so-called "light" meal in the lounge upstairs, but the choices laid out were the types of hors d'oeuvres and finger food you might expect to find at an expensive wedding reception, plus assorted fruits, breads, and desserts. Meanwhile, in the main dining room, we could always choose to order off the menu or select items from a more extensive buffet. Or both, by which I mean that our waiters were quite fine with us mixing and matching anything we wanted. There was always a special table filled with a variety of fresh breads from the bakery chef, with desserts added to supplement what was featured on the menu. Local specialties were highlighted, as were local wines and beers. Our staterooms were clean and convenient. Towels were thick and spotless. Our housekeeper was friendly and honest to a fault. For example, we threw away an old pair of gloves that were falling apart. (We had found a new pair at a Christmas market and wanted to save space in our luggage.) The next morning, when she saw us in the hall, she expressed concern that if we were missing a pair of gloves, she had found a pair in the garbage. In fact, everyone on the AMACerto seemed to be concerned about our happiness and welfare. There were choices of tours at every stop--a "gentle" tour, a regular tour, a strenuous hike, and bicycle options. Bus tours to Salzburg, Melk Abbey, and other nearby sites were available, all most all of which were included in the price. Before, during, and after these tours, heads were carefully counted to ensure that nobody got lost. When it came time to settle the bill, everything was exactly as I had expected it to be. I could go on, but you get the point. Read Less
AmaCerto Ratings
Category Editor Member
Cabins 5.0 4.8
Dining 4.0 4.5
Entertainment 4.0 4.0
Public Rooms 5.0 4.8
Fitness Recreation 4.0 3.9
Family 1.0 3.9
Shore Excursion 5.0 4.6
Enrichment 4.0 4.5
Service 5.0 4.8
Value For Money 5.0 4.4
Rates 4.0 3.6

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