By the time my husband and I thought of a river cruise for a wedding anniversary we already had enough of ocean liners gigantomania and clearly knew each drawback of a sea voyage. Though, we find it very exciting to see different places at one go - that’s a huge advantage of any water travel. Applying value for money approach to the desired dates (12.11-19.11) and destination (Basel-Amsterdam) we made our choice - Amawaterways. The ship meant to carry us along the route was AmaStella, if not the low water level on the Rhine, due to which we later moved to AmaKristina.
Getting ready for our maiden river voyage was full of doubt - will a small ship be comfortable enough? shall we need to share a table with some fellow passengers during meals? what if we in our early 40s feel a bit too young for such cruise? In fact, there were dozens of people younger than we, including passengers and staff members - thus, we are not too young. Never we had to share a table with anybody else. Surprisingly, I had much more private space onboard AmaWaterways ships than I ever had on any ocean cruise liner, - needless to say that sun deck in November is a paradise for misanthropes.)
Food onboard Amawaterways was of rather good 4* quality. I cannot share negative opinions - with rare exceptions it was perfectly acceptable. I wonder how can one expect to have a truly high-end cuisine onboard a cruise ship, if presumably all fish and meats are defrosted? We did not seek Michelin stars experience and were completely satisfied.
Dress code issue. Misled by the popular messages about the very casual style of clothing on river cruises, I witnessed quite the contrary. Many passengers elegantly dressed up for dinner. Compared to them we personally felt a bit underdressed. Obviously, this is a wrong place for a floor length evening gown. But I do recommend to bring with you some semi-formal pieces to be well dressed. And, a pair of high heels;-)
Our stateroom (309 on both ships) with French and outside balcony is very rationally designed, very clean and comfortable, even though it doesn’t have much space. All public places are also very well maintained. In general, with regard to the small size of the ship onboard living conditions and facilities are perfect.
And a few words about the “relocation”. When you get to know your cruise will go wrong... you feel frustrated. But later on you accept it - what else can you do? And when you arrive there appears the most thrilling thing - you do not know what exactly is going to happen to you just in a few days - it really enhances the sense of adventure, doesn’t it? They say: “Every problem has a gift in its hand”. The one for us was Luxembourg! We for sure would not go there, unless it was right on the relocation way. And it was a short but truly great impression, rated #2 on the whole trip. An extra surprise was to see Kristin Кarst on our bus - she herself expressed apologies for itinerary changes before we moved on to Antwerp - honourable. Busing? Well, it was inevitable... Probably tiresome for the elderly people, but for us - not at all. On the contrary, the scenic ride through Belgian pastoral countryside on a strikingly beautiful day was nothing but fabulous.
In Antwerp there was the other ship, AmaKristina. Even though it is a bit newer copy of AmaStella, I still found the latter one more appealing. The team? May be. A prototypical what-he-should-look captain, a highly hospitable hotel manager, very attentive head waiter, excellent barman, as well as the rest of the staff - they all deserve special thanks. Which certainly does not diminish the value of AmaKristina’s team - they too did a great job!
Pau, the cruise manager, such a nice guy - easy going, smart and tolerant - accompanied both parts of the cruise and left the best impression possible.
The only thing our cruise seriously lacked was, of course, daytime sailing! This is the main reason to choose river cruise for. Taking a look at the Enchanting Rhine cruise map we clearly see how little we have sailed - hardly a third part of the route length. Was it really a cruise? Rather a very good travel... Well, AmaWaterways could treat the issue as a force majeure and bypass any responsibility. Instead they have voluntarily offered a generous compensation - a big discount for a future cruise which I can’t help but already dream about.