River Cruising as Usual, Well AlmostIt almost feels like a pre-COVID-19 river cruise, really. When embarking, the ship is no longer the only one on the river, as it was just a few weeks ago.Sometimes there are five or six ships in town at the same time, like in beautiful Cochem on the Mosel River.(On land it's a different story, as neither Americans nor Asians can travel to Europe. So even a popular place like the Drosselgasse in Ruedesheim is almost empty.)But still, COVID-19 is an ever-present concern. So how much does this affect the overall experience?At several occasions I totally forgot about the face mask requirements, figuratively speaking as well as literally, and the crew were always around to give me a prompt but friendly reminder. Crew always wear face masks, and always as mandated -- I never saw the mask of a crew member below the nose.AmaWaterways has found a great solution for keeping appropriate distance between passengers in the lounge: seating areas are separated by non-glare plexiglass partitions that are almost invisible.When I took my photos of the lounge, I only recognized the plexiglass after really looking for them as I knew they were there. Two sofas left and right of a table plus two armchairs allow three couples to sit at one table with sufficient distance. That also means solo travelers do not suffer from social distancing as they will probably not sit in a corner on their own.Large plexiglass panes at the guest services desk as well as the desks of the hotel manager and cruise director allows them to take of their face masks safely while talking to guests.Body temperature is checked every morning before breakfast, hand sanitizing is expected when entering the ship and the restaurant, face masks are required at inside public spaces, except after sitting down at the lounge or restaurant.While COVID-19 rules are being handled strictly, the atmosphere is still very relaxed. For example, there is no explicit capacity control at the pool which is actually pretty big for a river cruise ship.People were frequently using the pool but took care of social distancing by themselves. It's just too bad that the swim-in bar can't open due to coronavirus restrictions.
Here's What's MissingHere's what is missing or has changed from a typical AmaWaterways cruise, which looks like a long list, but eventually, it's all not really important stuff in these time:
- Champagne reception at the beginning of the cruise;
- the Captain's dinner;
- buffet and food station in the restaurant;
- fewer choices on the menu (but not noticeably so);
- swim-up bar in the pool;
- fitness studio, hair salon and massage available by appointment;
- entertainment is limited to a pianist, who is not even allowed to sing(!); no show acts from local guest entertainers;
- bar service only at lounge tables or on the sun deck;
- no self-service at the specialty coffee station at the lounge, but you can ask crew to serve you at any time;
- specialty restaurant "Chef's Table" is being used as overflow space for the main restaurant.