River Ambassador Entertainment & Activities
Almost all shore excursions are included in the price and sometimes there's a choice, so the ship empties during the day. Uniworld uses the Quietvox portable lightweight audio headset system, through which the tour guide communicates via microphone to individual headphones, which means you can wander around and still hear. The excursions were of excellent quality and often included extra treats –- ice creams in Koblenz, a tasting in a local sausage shop, a wine tasting in a winery attached to a castle.
Every evening, the cruise manager gave a talk about the following day and took the time to make sure everybody was happy with their plans. One day, we had a trio come onboard to play light classical tunes after dinner, which was well attended – the only evening people really stayed up.
During the day as the ship was sailing, various events were laid on; informal German lessons one day, and a kaiserschmarrndemonstration on another, the chef assembling a vast pan of pancake pieces fried in butter, tossed in icing sugar and served with plum jam. It's a classic dessert in Germany and Austria. One cabin had been turned into a Wii room for the children on board, with a steady supply of chocolate bars and fruit. On the sundeck, people played giant chess and shuffleboard and on one cloudy afternoon, we lounged in our cabin watching movies from a vast selection.
River Ambassador Public Rooms
The ship's reception is a light, airy space where you can sort out tours, borrow bicycles or chat to the tour manager, whose desk is in the corner. It leads to the Lounge, the hub of the ship's social scene, with a bar and dance floor, and a piano. A coffee machine offers free espresso and cappuccino, as well as a steady supply of mini muffins, popular among those who had slept in and wanted to grab a quick bite before departing on tour. There's a small library and board games, as well as internet access from two terminals. Wifi is also available – either way, internet is €15 a week. A shop area in the reception sells Uniworld branded clothing.
On the upper deck, there are plenty of comfortable, squashy sun loungers as well as a giant chess set and shuffleboard. The Sky Bar, a glass-enclosed structure in the middle of the deck, is occasionally used for drinks receptions and activities like cookery demonstrations, although it doesn't see much action when the weather is bad.
River Ambassador Spa & Fitness
As on most Europe riverboats, River Ambassador's gym facilities are token and compact, featuring a couple of machines and a fitball. Yoga was offered each morning on the sun deck.
The ship has a tiny spa, in a converted cabin, offering surprisingly adventurous treatments; a display in the reception promised massages using chocolate or honey products, for example. A 50-minute massage costs €60.
The ship carries a fleet of bicycles which are lined up in port for individual use; on one occasion, a guided bike tour was offered and was quickly over-subscribed, so more bikes were quickly hauled in from a local rental shop. There are Nordic poles, too, for keen walkers.
There is no pool or whirlpool on River Ambassador.
River Ambassador For Kids
There are no special facilities for kids but families are welcome; our cruise was, in fact, designated a family special, with separate family excursions, a kids' menu and a Wii room, but River Ambassador won't necessarily be the ship allocated for these itineraries in future. Although the family departures were new when we sailed, the crew coped brilliantly, interacting with the kids, the galley laying on special menus and the cruise manager even conducting a ‘behind the scenes' tour, with no adults allowed. For multi-generational families, or those seeking a cultural experience geared to all ages, these departures are highly recommended.
But kids who need a lot of entertainment and can't sit still through dinner might be better suited to a cruise on a large, ocean-going ship.