We were on the Iconic Christmas Markets Cruise during Christmas Week, and purchased the additional two nights in Prague though Ama. We have traveled extensively through the years, including ocean cruises, but this was our first river ... Read More
We were on the Iconic Christmas Markets Cruise during Christmas Week, and purchased the additional two nights in Prague though Ama. We have traveled extensively through the years, including ocean cruises, but this was our first river cruise. To say we were completely pleased is an understatement. The entire experience was top notch from the moment we landed in Budapest until our departure from Prague. We traveled with our two children, who are in their 20s.
The Boat: Overall, the ship was extremely clean, and the rooms were comfortable. We had two rooms on the Cello Deck (mid-level) with a French balcony and outside balcony. It was too cold to use the outside balcony, but it made the room brighter. Our Housekeeper cleaned the room at least twice a day, including turn down service. The room was quiet and we slept well with nice linens and pillows. Since the boat is small, everything is a short walk and we never felt rushed to get to dinner or to the lounge.
The Food: Excellent! Breakfast was primarily buffet style with a great selection of meats, cheeses, fruits, juices, eggs to order, and a huge pastry table. There were a couple of menu options, like Eggs Benedict. There was also a light breakfast option, pastries, in the lounge for late risers. Lunch was primarily buffet too, with different soups and main courses available. We could also order some items off of the menu, like cheeseburgers, which were delicious. Beer and wine were included with lunch, along with different desserts. Dinner was the highlight of the day. Each night featured a different 5 course menu with a couple of choices for each course. The main courses varied from beef to fish to chicken to lamb. We had dinner one night at the Chef’s Table Restaurant, and it was awesome. Beer and different wines included at dinner.
Entertainment: There is only one lounge, and it was the meeting place at all hours of the day. There was a coffee/tea/chocolate maker that was available all the time. As far as I could tell, there was always a bartender on duty. People gathered in the lounge to read, socialize, and view the stunning countryside. At night there were some local entertainers, and there was a piano player/DJ to keep the guests entertained. In the rooms, the entertainment system didn’t always work, but it was not a problem for us. Wi-Fi was also spotty in some areas, but we enjoyed the views as we floated up the Danube. The gym is very small, but it was fine.
The Cities and Tours: In order, Budapest, Vienna, Melk, Passau, Regensburg, Nuremberg. The Illuminations Cruise in Budapest was amazing. Since it was Christmas week, we only had Christmas markets in Budapest and Vienna (also Prague, but more on that later). The Christmas Markets were fantastic, and having cash was preferable for smaller purchases, like food and drink. Each stop had its own magic and charm. The contracted tour guides in each stop were incredibly knowledgeable. Since this cruise was over Christmas, most shops in the towns visited from December 24th – 26th (Melk, Passau, Regensburg) were closed as Christmas was being observed. Regardless, each was still charming to walk through and some coffee shops and restaurants were open. Each location was also busy with locals out strolling. On Christmas Day, anyone wanting to attend Mass could do so at the Cathedral in Passau, about 10 minutes’ walk from the ship.
The Crew: Even though this group had been working for months and had encountered a couple of thousand guests and were almost done for the season, they were all amazingly friendly and helpful and patient. Every crew member I encountered smiled and greeted me and took the time to answer my questions graciously. The service was as good as any we have encountered in our journeys. Due to high water in Germany, the cruise was slightly modified, requiring us to spend the final full day at sail – no stops. The crew adjusted well, hosting a Bavarian themed lunch and ice cream party. We did not mind at all. The Captain and Cruise Manager provided briefings to the passengers on river conditions.
Post Cruise Tour: We purchased two nights in Prague for a reasonable price. We were transported by bus from Nuremberg, and were treated to a top hotel, the Cosmopolitan. The Cruise Manager accompanied our group, which was great. The hotel was located just a few minutes from the Christmas Market and historical center of the city. Even though it was after Christmas, the Christmas Market was still open as the holiday is celebrated through January 6th in Prague. The package also included breakfast in the very nice hotel restaurant, and a walking tour of historic Prague.
Transfer Service: We purchased from the airport in Budapest to the ship; and from the Cosmopolitan Hotel to the airport in Prague. Both experiences were great. In Budapest, we were greeted by Ama reps and transported in a roomy bus. They had bottled water, which was a godsend after the long trip. In Prague, our Cruise Manager greeted us as we left, even though it was 4:30 AM, and gave us a boxed meal to go. At the airport, an Ama rep met us and guided us through check in, which was much appreciated. Read Less