REVIEW: I am back from my May 23rd, AmaDolce Taste of Bordeaux. Lets just say I'm glad I sailed on AmaStella and AmaPrima previously. If this was my first Ama sailing I would never have sailed her again.
The food offerings were far different from my previous experience. There were two main entrees in the evening to chose from, one fish and then one meat. Then had the always available burger, chicken breast or steak. I can honestly say that neither the steak or meat options was ever tasty. I recall their meat dishes melting in your mouth. This wasn't the case. The service was terrible. They would bring french fries, disappear and when you finally get their attention to bring ketchup it would take 15 minutes and usually a second request. Same with the drink service during dinner. One night we sat and there was no butter (normally there were three types), one was missing and again, after asking we had to ask again after 15 minutes it was brought. Two nights prior to disembarkation, we decided to sit in a different section and did receive good service, so shame on us for not changing servers sooner. (although service should be the same throughout). Keep in mind this ship that normally sails with 146 only had 115 passengers on board. There were many empty cabins.
Being in wine country we expected to have more tastings and such on the excursions. It just seemed a lot of time was spent trying to kill time. Overall, in a day we may have actually visited one winery a day and received three small tastings.
The good: Love the new Wellness coach on board who held fitness stretches, yoga, to high intensity classes each day. Love the Sip and Sail cocktail hour each night. Their complimentary wine offerings are very tasty.
My own tips: If you need a hotel prior/after the cruise in Bordeaux, I highly recommend Hotel Vatel. It is part of the international hospitality school and the service is excellent, the room large for a European hotel and it was very reasonable ($150). You can walk to the river cruise from there. They actually saw us walking towards the ship and a staff ran up to take our bags. We did our own pre-cruise in Tours & Amboise. It was very easy. From Paris CDG we took the high speed rail and in 1 1/2 hours you are in Tours (St. Pierre des Corps station) we stayed in an airbnb nearby. Took a train for $1.30 to tours one day and Amboise another on our own, recommend the Le Petite trolley in both towns to give you an overview then return to the areas your like. One day we did a full day excursion to three Chateaux out of Tours. We got back on the high speed rail and continued onto Bordeaux. Very easy as that is the same train whether we would have taken if directly CDG-Bordeaux. Our travel agent knew we would stay one night in Bordeaux before embarking. He advised us to pick up our Cit du Vin tickets the day we board and arranged that and recommended booking lunch in their rooftop restaurant Le7. We dropped our bags off at around 10 am with Ama who gave us our tickets (for all passengers this Cit du Vin excursion is done (for our cruise) the last day after arriving back in Bordeaux). Cit du Vin is an interactive museum (personally my daughter nor I cared for it) and many passengers we spoke with the last day did not either, but it is hyped up to be great. You will be left on your own and an audiovox to do it at your own pace. You can spend an hour to half a day if you want. We did enjoy the glass of wine up top (part of your ticket) and then we proceeded to have lunch at Le7 (i booked this months in advance on my travel agents recommendation. We really did enjoy doing this. My daughter did do the city tour of Bordeaux with the excursion but when the rest continue to Cit du Vin she returned to the boat. I had taken a bicycle from the ship and did my own thing. Probably my favorite day as it was always the best weather day we had.
The ship itself is older and now 10, hopefully will be replaced. It shows her age. I guess I didn't research enough but we paid a high premium to have a french balcony as we enjoyed so much on the AmaPrima. The Taste of Bordeaux cruise doesn't really go so far in between ports. Lets just say our tour guides everyday live close enough that we had the same guides show up each day. This meant we didn't really sail all that much and when we did it was typically at night. Every single time we docked, it was our side that was dockside and most time completely blocked any type of view. So having a french balcony was useless. Maybe only one day did we have the opportunity to open our window, however, unlike the Stella and Prima, the Dolce window only slides half way. Basically its not at all the same as the new Ama ships. Disappointment all around with our cabin choice. Wish we had chosen a lower cabin and saved a couple of thousand dollars.