My wife and I planned a vacation to France for our 35th anniversary. We wanted to spend a week in Paris and a week in the French countryside, but we didn't want to take a bus tour where we would be checking into and out of hotels every day. Our solution was a river cruise, where our "hotel" could travel with us. After reviewing a number of river cruises in France, we decided on the Ama Waterways Taste of Bordeaux, and we were very happy with our choice.
This was our first river cruise, and we found the intimacy of the AmaDolce a refreshing change from large ocean cruises. The food was wonderful, among some of the best meals we've had our lives. The service was impeccable. We grew quite fond of our ebullient Bulgarian waiter Nicolai.
The excursions were very good and, unlike ocean cruise excursions, almost all of them were included in the cruise price. True to the title of the cruise, we visited a number of wineries and sampled some good wines in the Sauternes, Pauillac, and St. Emilion regions. The guides and winery hosts were all very knowledgeable and helpful. There were also excursions to local chateaux and other historical sites, including Roquetaillade Castle, the Citadel at Blaye, the Château de Vayres and the Château de Montaigne. A high point for us was a weekend craft fair in the Blaye Citadel, where we got to talk to some very nice artists. We were also happy to spend some time in the city of Bordeaux.
Despite its size, the AmaDolce had both laundry service and a hair salon, both of which were surprisingly reasonable.
Since we needed to get back to Paris for our return flight, we decided to add the Loire Valley post-cruise extension, and we were happy with that tour as well. The chateaux we visited -- Chenonceau, Amboise, Chambord, and Blos -- were fantastic. It was a special treat to see Clos Luce, the last home of Leonardo Da Vinci, and his grave in the St. Hubert Chapel at Amboise. Our Sorbonne-trained guide Claude was excellent -- he gave us both the historical background and the juicy details of the French Renaissance kings. The cruise director Elia accompanied us on the extension and took good care of us.
The cabin was a bit smaller than an ocean cruise cabin but was sufficient for our needs. We had requested a cabin facing the river not the dock but were told that could not be guaranteed and might change from dock to dock. As it was, we were on the river side most of the them. The cabin was quiet and the bed was comfortable. The bathroom was compact but well organized. Toiletries were good. We had two big suitcases that took up a corner of the cabin but at the end I realized they might have fit under the bed. The one complaint was that the TV system was a bit difficult to operate, but that was of little interest to us.
Excellent wine museum with video exhibits and a wine store.View All undefined undefined Reviews