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We’re a late 50’s couple on the AmaSerena’s Oct 2-9 Vilshofen-Budapest sailing. Comments regarding the AmaSerena itself likely apply as well to the other AmaCerto-class ships. (AmaPrima/Sonata/Reina/Venita) Although not quite the youngest couple on this sailing, it appears AMA’s Danube appeals to a mainly retired yet affluent, cultured & fit 65-75+ Northeast US crowd. Notably, no one ever used the ship’s signature round glass elevator. No wheelchairs, walkers or scooters on this cruise! We partook of AMA’s flight bookings (JFK-PRG on DAL, BUD-AMS-JFK on KLM) and AMA’s 3-night pre-stay in Prague. While air and hotel can certainly be booked somewhat more cheaply oneself, we found that for our first foray to central Europe, all transfers & arrangements were flawless in execution. Particularly nice is that your Cruise Director, in our case the ineffably pleasant & witty Peter W., greets you at the pre-stay hotel (in our case the Prague Hilton Old Town), and maintains a desk in the hotel lobby to answer any questions of any kind regarding Prague or any other aspect of the cruise. The Hilton Old Town, as well as the other two Prague hotels employed by AMA, are within very short walking distance to Prague’s, well, Old Town tourist area and attractions. AMA’s included Prague-Vilshofen transfer, although a long bus haul, is punctuated by an interesting walking tour and plenty of free time in Regensburg, Germany. Do allow time to stand in line at the Regensburg Sausage Kitchen (Historische Wurstküche zu Regensburg) next to the Stone Bridge on your way back to the bus. The wurst on a bun w/mustard & kraut is well worth it. Absent AMA’s transfer to Vilshofen, the alternative is likely Prague-Linz-Passau-Vilshofen, by train. All bus rides for transfers and tours were on new, comfy full-sized european coaches, deliberately not filled to capacity. Many of them were in fact AMA Waterways-branded. Embarkation @ Vilshofen was flawless; luggage magically appeared in our cabin within 30 minutes. The embarkation evening “Mini-Oktoberfest” located in a tent outside the ship, was nicely done, with free-flowing beer and pretzels, including oompah & slap dancing in full lederhosen by a wonderful local band. We chose a Cat C. (French Balcony) cabin, starboard-side aft on the mid (Cello) deck. Although significantly smaller than the touted “Twin-FrenchDoor-Balcony” cabins (Cat BB & up), one exceptional feature of these is that the sole french door slides completely away, essentially leaving one entire side of the cabin, floor-to-ceiling, completely open. With a railing of course. Thus, do not dismiss these Cat C. cabins. If this is your first time on the Danube, avoid the Cat D & E Window cabins on the lower (Piano) Deck as you’ll mostly miss the endless scenery passing by, including the occasional middle-of-the night concrete lock-wall. Being at the aft end of the ship was not an inconvenience. No engine noise. Obviously, no waves. Also, up the rear stairs to the Violin Deck and in the Chef’s Table is the second, lesser-known, 24hr Coffee/Espresso/Cappuccino machine. The spacious bathroom features a sliding-door shower with both “rainfall” and hand-held showers. Both it and the cabin were kept spotless. I found the pillows to be a bit thin, perhaps worn, but a request for new ones was executed forthwith. Notable is the iMac-based en-suite infotainment system, easily the most sophisticated yet intuitive such system to be found on the water. When the batteries on the iMac’s Magic Mouse died, the ship’s engineer, doubling as its I.T. guy, instantly made things right. Printing boarding passes, or anything else, to the printer on the Hotel DIrector’s desk was super easy. Don’t forget your Euro-to-US plug adapter and an outlet strip to keep all your technology charged up. Free, fast & unlimited WiFi throughout the ship was an equally pleasant surprise. The minifridge was kept full of complimentary bottled water, which would also appear whenever disembarking for a tour, and on coaches. The “Quietvox” (radio) listening devices used during walking tours are brilliant and worked very well. Tip: Bring your own favorite corded earphones, they work better and are much more comfortable than the disposables provided. On our particular sailing, “rafting” at docks was less prevalent than we had feared, and not particularly an issue. When it did occur, it was often during mealtime and amusingly the staff closed the restaurant drapes against the adjacent ship, no doubt to forestall any jealousy from passengers on those lesser companys’ ships… Interestingly, when two river ships are rafted together at dock and the “inside” ship wants to leave, the “outside” ship pulls away briefly, then re-docks, usually then alone. No doubt a “river ship etiquette” thing. This being fall in central Europe, the Sun Deck and its pool & swim-up bar, and giant chessboard, remained unused, despite the pool kept full and usable. The exception was of course the evening cruise around the lit-up bridges and buildings lining the Danube in Budapest. Few things beat sitting out on the Sun Deck with blankets and spirits watching Budapest by night. The Chef’s Table, included, is definitely worth booking early to ensure you experience it on your desired evening. It is both a food and presentation experience, with each course being presented by the Maitre D’ , whose unfortunately fractured english made comprehension a bit challenging. As the menu, and overall experience, is identical each night, you won’t need or want to experience it more than once. Wines served at lunch & dinner, were generally local Austrian/German and quite decent, particularly the whites given the region. Speaking of evenings, one of the few extra cost excursions most worthwhile is the Mozart & Straus concert, the evening of the Vienna overnight. It’s actually fairly priced compared to the ticket face pricing, includes narrated coach tour to and from the venue, and a majority of passengers do book it. (Chef’s Table is thus closed that evening; the Main Restaurant opens for a simpler early buffet) (This is also why if you choose to forego the concert, it’s the perfect evening for a dinner out in Vienna) Our concert venue was one of the four halls in VIenna’s Kursalon Hübner, seating 200-300, and featured a 7-string, 4-wind, percussion & piano orchestra. “Sound of Vienna” featuring six Straus waltzs & polkas, with Mozart well represented, plus a dash of Lumbye & vonSuppé, with a ballet couple interpreting Straus waltzs, as well as arias, duets & operetta by a humorous tenor & soprano couple. AMA prints up and hands out a little program sheet, a nice attention to detail. Outstanding. Staff on AmaSerena, both navigation and hotel, were universally Romanian, with English skills ranging from passable to excellent. Notable exceptions were our Swedish-residing-in-New-Zealand Hotel Manager constantly attending to high levels of excellence, and of course our priceless Aussie-residing-in-Austria Cruise Director. The local land tour guides running the various walking and bus tours all had various levels of english language skills; which added the the authenticity of the experience. In the end, it’s really, really hard to nitpick anything regarding the AMA Danube experience, easily earning its consistent five stars in all respects.

Outstanding. All those 5-Star Reviews Are Well Earned.

AmaSerena Cruise Review by pgaddict

7 people found this helpful
Trip Details
  • Sail Date: October 2017
  • Destination: Europe River
  • Cabin Type: Stateroom with French balcony
We’re a late 50’s couple on the AmaSerena’s Oct 2-9 Vilshofen-Budapest sailing.

Comments regarding the AmaSerena itself likely apply as well to the other AmaCerto-class ships.

(AmaPrima/Sonata/Reina/Venita)

Although not quite the youngest couple on this sailing, it appears AMA’s Danube appeals to a mainly retired yet affluent, cultured & fit 65-75+ Northeast US crowd.

Notably, no one ever used the ship’s signature round glass elevator. No wheelchairs, walkers or scooters on this cruise!

We partook of AMA’s flight bookings (JFK-PRG on DAL, BUD-AMS-JFK on KLM) and AMA’s 3-night pre-stay in Prague.

While air and hotel can certainly be booked somewhat more cheaply oneself, we found that for our first foray to central Europe, all transfers & arrangements were flawless in execution.

Particularly nice is that your Cruise Director, in our case the ineffably pleasant & witty Peter W., greets you at the pre-stay hotel (in our case the Prague Hilton Old Town), and maintains a desk in the hotel lobby to answer any questions of any kind regarding Prague or any other aspect of the cruise.

The Hilton Old Town, as well as the other two Prague hotels employed by AMA, are within very short walking distance to Prague’s, well, Old Town tourist area and attractions.

AMA’s included Prague-Vilshofen transfer, although a long bus haul, is punctuated by an interesting walking tour and plenty of free time in Regensburg, Germany.

Do allow time to stand in line at the Regensburg Sausage Kitchen (Historische Wurstküche zu Regensburg) next to the Stone Bridge on your way back to the bus. The wurst on a bun w/mustard & kraut is well worth it.

Absent AMA’s transfer to Vilshofen, the alternative is likely Prague-Linz-Passau-Vilshofen, by train.

All bus rides for transfers and tours were on new, comfy full-sized european coaches, deliberately not filled to capacity.

Many of them were in fact AMA Waterways-branded.

Embarkation @ Vilshofen was flawless; luggage magically appeared in our cabin within 30 minutes.

The embarkation evening “Mini-Oktoberfest” located in a tent outside the ship, was nicely done, with free-flowing beer and pretzels, including oompah & slap dancing in full lederhosen by a wonderful local band.

We chose a Cat C. (French Balcony) cabin, starboard-side aft on the mid (Cello) deck.

Although significantly smaller than the touted “Twin-FrenchDoor-Balcony” cabins (Cat BB & up), one exceptional feature of these is that the sole french door slides completely away, essentially leaving one entire side of the cabin, floor-to-ceiling, completely open. With a railing of course.

Thus, do not dismiss these Cat C. cabins.

If this is your first time on the Danube, avoid the Cat D & E Window cabins on the lower (Piano) Deck as you’ll mostly miss the endless scenery passing by, including the occasional middle-of-the night concrete lock-wall.

Being at the aft end of the ship was not an inconvenience. No engine noise. Obviously, no waves.

Also, up the rear stairs to the Violin Deck and in the Chef’s Table is the second, lesser-known, 24hr Coffee/Espresso/Cappuccino machine.

The spacious bathroom features a sliding-door shower with both “rainfall” and hand-held showers.

Both it and the cabin were kept spotless.

I found the pillows to be a bit thin, perhaps worn, but a request for new ones was executed forthwith.

Notable is the iMac-based en-suite infotainment system, easily the most sophisticated yet intuitive such system to be found on the water.

When the batteries on the iMac’s Magic Mouse died, the ship’s engineer, doubling as its I.T. guy, instantly made things right.

Printing boarding passes, or anything else, to the printer on the Hotel DIrector’s desk was super easy.

Don’t forget your Euro-to-US plug adapter and an outlet strip to keep all your technology charged up.

Free, fast & unlimited WiFi throughout the ship was an equally pleasant surprise.

The minifridge was kept full of complimentary bottled water, which would also appear whenever disembarking for a tour, and on coaches.

The “Quietvox” (radio) listening devices used during walking tours are brilliant and worked very well.

Tip: Bring your own favorite corded earphones, they work better and are much more comfortable than the disposables provided.

On our particular sailing, “rafting” at docks was less prevalent than we had feared, and not particularly an issue.

When it did occur, it was often during mealtime and amusingly the staff closed the restaurant drapes against the adjacent ship,

no doubt to forestall any jealousy from passengers on those lesser companys’ ships…

Interestingly, when two river ships are rafted together at dock and the “inside” ship wants to leave, the “outside” ship pulls away briefly, then re-docks, usually then alone.

No doubt a “river ship etiquette” thing.

This being fall in central Europe, the Sun Deck and its pool & swim-up bar, and giant chessboard, remained unused, despite the pool kept full and usable.

The exception was of course the evening cruise around the lit-up bridges and buildings lining the Danube in Budapest.

Few things beat sitting out on the Sun Deck with blankets and spirits watching Budapest by night.

The Chef’s Table, included, is definitely worth booking early to ensure you experience it on your desired evening.

It is both a food and presentation experience, with each course being presented by the Maitre D’ , whose unfortunately fractured english made comprehension a bit challenging.

As the menu, and overall experience, is identical each night, you won’t need or want to experience it more than once.

Wines served at lunch & dinner, were generally local Austrian/German and quite decent, particularly the whites given the region.

Speaking of evenings, one of the few extra cost excursions most worthwhile is the Mozart & Straus concert, the evening of the Vienna overnight.

It’s actually fairly priced compared to the ticket face pricing, includes narrated coach tour to and from the venue, and a majority of passengers do book it.

(Chef’s Table is thus closed that evening; the Main Restaurant opens for a simpler early buffet)

(This is also why if you choose to forego the concert, it’s the perfect evening for a dinner out in Vienna)

Our concert venue was one of the four halls in VIenna’s Kursalon Hübner, seating 200-300, and featured a 7-string, 4-wind, percussion & piano orchestra.

“Sound of Vienna” featuring six Straus waltzs & polkas, with Mozart well represented, plus a dash of Lumbye & vonSuppé,

with a ballet couple interpreting Straus waltzs, as well as arias, duets & operetta by a humorous tenor & soprano couple.

AMA prints up and hands out a little program sheet, a nice attention to detail.

Outstanding.

Staff on AmaSerena, both navigation and hotel, were universally Romanian, with English skills ranging from passable to excellent.

Notable exceptions were our Swedish-residing-in-New-Zealand Hotel Manager constantly attending to high levels of excellence, and of course our priceless Aussie-residing-in-Austria Cruise Director.

The local land tour guides running the various walking and bus tours all had various levels of english language skills; which added the the authenticity of the experience.

In the end, it’s really, really hard to nitpick anything regarding the AMA Danube experience, easily earning its consistent five stars in all respects.
pgaddict’s Full Rating Summary
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Cabin Review

Stateroom with French balcony
Cabin C 232
We chose a Cat C. (French Balcony) cabin, starboard-side aft on the mid (Cello) deck.
Although significantly smaller than the touted “Twin-FrenchDoor-Balcony” cabins (Cat BB & up), one exceptional feature of these is that the sole french door slides completely away, essentially leaving one entire side of the cabin, floor-to-ceiling, completely open. With a railing of course.
Thus, do not dismiss these Cat C. cabins.
If this is your first time on the Danube or on a river cruise, Avoid the Cat D & E Window cabins on the lower (Piano) Deck as you’ll mostly miss the endless scenery passing by,
including the occasional middle-of-the night concrete lock-wall.
Being at the aft end of the ship was not an inconvenience. No engine noise. Obviously, no waves.
Also, up the rear stairs to the Violin Deck and in the Chef’s Table is the second, lesser-known, 24hr Coffee/Espresso/Cappuccino machine.

The spacious bathroom features a sliding-door shower with both “rainfall” and hand-held showers.
Both it and the cabin were kept spotless.
I found the pillows to be a bit thin, perhaps worn, but a request for new ones was executed forthwith.

Notable is the iMac-based en-suite infotainment system, easily the most sophisticated yet intuitive such system to be found on the water.

Don’t forget your Euro-to-US plug adapter and an outlet strip to keep all your technology charged up.

Free, fast & unlimited WiFi throughout the ship was an equally pleasant surprise.

The minifridge was kept full of complimentary bottled water, which would also appear whenever disembarking for a tour, and on coaches.
Violin Deck Balcony Cabins, Suite Cabins