This is our third cruise with AmaWaterways which must tell you that we like the Ama experience. Our first cruise was on the Danube on AmaSonata - and I rave about that elsewhere. Our second cruise was on the Rhine, on AmaSonata by coincidence. I was less happy with that trip - mostly because I did not like the Rhine as much as the Danube which was not Ama's fault and there were too many Asian flavours in each meal - which was Ama's fault. It would still have been 5 stars even then.
This year we searched for a new Ama European cruise that provided the right balance and type of activities and came up with the Rhone - Colours of Provence aboard the AmaCello. Coming from the UK, we flew to Lyon from Heathrow and back to Heathrow from Marseille booked through Ama. The flights were not fun - proper cattle truck flights - and that seems a huge shame as they top and tail what was a luxury cruise. If I was doing it again, I would investigate the train services which were used by other guests on the cruise and reportedly were excellent.
Our transfer to the ship from the airport was handled well, though the traffic was bad so we only arrived at 1810 to find we were invited to the Captains Table for Dinner starting in 20 minutes - no time to unpack or shower so we were the scruffy pair at the table. Oh well - at least the Captain - Philippe Stypa was a really good host who managed not to notice. He was the most pleasant and affable captain we have sailed with. He remembered us throughout the week, gave tours of the wheelhouse to those of us who wanted to know how the ship operated and greeted each on-shore excursion as it returned. An excellent captain.
The cabin is smaller than on more modern ships and the design reflects ideas current a few years ago. However it is comfortable and there is enough space for two reasonably well organised people. I found it easier to see out of this cabins French balcony than I did in a cabin with a twin balcony as there are less obstacles - so a plus point to AmaCello. The bed was comfortable, the air-conditioning worked well and was no noisier than any other. The en-suite was small but in an excellent state of repair. The lighting could have been slightly better to aid shaving (or make-up application).
We moored almost alongside the town square which lies along the river and is surrounded by the main shops and restaurants - very normal, run of the mill ones though so mainly interesting for the atmosphere of the town.
We chose an excursion to an old train line that travels up the gorge of the River Doux. The ride was sufficiently exciting and the scenery sufficiently spectacular for me to think it a morning well spent.
Note that it is a steam train with open carriages so the smoke does get to you - black dots on clothes and a strong smell in the air. All great fun and part of the experience as long as you are not in best clothes and do not have breathing difficulties.
Avignon had two features for us. The first was the Pont du Gard - which is not really Avignon but some way outside. It is a remarkable aquaduct slightly spoilt by the modern bridge in front of it - but better from the upstream side. The Museum is excellent with a good explanation of how it was built.
The second feature was a cruise up to the bridge of Avignon. For us, the cruise was only a few hundred yards but the Captain held the boat just off the end of the bridge for several minutes allowing us all to have a good view.