AmaWaterways has an ambitious schedule of themed cruises on topics ranging from Jewish heritage to craft beer, and on those trips passengers will find a number of lectures, workshops and tastings as part of their cruise. Otherwise, there is very little enrichment offered beyond the cruise director's nightly briefings, and as passengers are often busy in port, evenings, aside from music performed by local groups, is pretty low-key.
In most cases, AmaDolce docked very close to small towns and villages along our route (including in the heart of the city of Bordeaux itself) and there was typically ample time to explore these places independently. The heart of its shore excursion program typically went further afield via a fleet of motor coaches. There was always a group dedicated to gentle walkers, along with tours that moved at a quicker pace. QuietVox headsets, which allow passengers to hear the guides without crowding around them, are provided to all. Typical groups ranged between 30 to 40 people.
* May require additional fees
AmaDolce offered a nice range of shore excursions that showcased the Bordeaux region's famous wine chateaux and also its cultural and artistic destinations. As noted, cycling tours in many ports attracted a varied age group and were designed as engaging tours of areas we visited, with adequate rest and guided sightseeing. Most tours are included in cruise fares; on our trip, just one, a daylong jaunt to Cognac, was offered as an extra-fee option.
Reservations can be made ahead of time though we waited until we got onboard and didn't come across any "sold out" lists.
Every cruise has a program director who coordinates tour briefings and excursions throughout the entirety of the cruise (ours was also a talented opera singer who performed for us one evening in the lounge!).
Daytime and Evening Entertainment
On most cruises aboard AmaDolce, daytime entertainment, especially when in port, is limited as most passengers are off exploring on shore. At night, following multicourse feasts, the after-dinner crowd is fairly light in the Lounge though there were some special events that were absolutely worth staying awake for. The most memorable? On our last night of the cruise, docked in Bordeaux, the captain took us out for a spin in the harbor after the sun had gone down and the lights of the city shown brilliantly.
While there is plenty of information provided on the tours you'll take beforehand -- via briefings from the cruise director and information in the Daily Cruiser, the ship's newsletter -- there typically isn't an emphasis on guest lecturers.
The Lounge: This is the primary spot for entertainment onboard. It's got a horseshoe-shaped bar, a handful of tables for playing games or working on laptops and lots of cozy armchair/loveseat configurations. There's a small stage and a piano, whose pianist plays at lunchtime, tea and before dinner. One of our favorite tucked-away places in the Lounge was actually the small, forward-facing alfresco deck with a table and chair setups.
The expansive top deck is the outdoor place to gather. There are plenty of chair/table configurations, including some under a shaded canopy, along with a set of comfortable wicker-like sofas and settees. On warm days, the whirlpool tub drew a lot of fans; freshly washed towels were stacked nearby.
There's a life-sized chess board set.
On AmaDolce, all services are directed from the reception desk, located between cabin decks and the Lounge. Supporting it, located just a half deck above, the cruise director's desk, where there are also displays of maps and other information pertinent to the itinerary. Here as well is a library; one series of shelves had books on the region, the other was a repository for passengers who'd finished the books they'd brought and wanted to pick up another. Games are here, too, for borrowing.
Wi-Fi is complimentary on AmaDolce and worked throughout the ship, from cabins to the Lounge.
A half-a-passenger cabin-sized room onboard AmaDolce has been outfitted with a full-length massage table, and a salon chair. You won't find anything seriously creative in terms of services but the basics are here and well-provided. Massage options include mood therapy with essential oils and Swedish styles; you can choose between 30 and 60 minutes. Treatments are more moderate than we've experienced at big ship spas; plan to pay about $1 a minute for massages. Haircuts, washes and blow-drys are available for both men and women; prices start at about 20 euros.
There's a walking track on the ship's top deck.
AmaDolce's fleet of more than 20 bicycles is always available in port (save for when there's an official cycling tour) and there's no fee to use them -- nor is there a charge for bike locks or helmets, the latter of which is required attire. There are also Nordic walking sticks to borrow.
AmaDolce is not setup for families, particularly for those with small children. There are no special facilities for entertaining kids, no connecting cabins and nary a child-centric menu. On our trip, there were a handful of families with older kids and they participated fully in the life of the ship (the cycling tours were particularly popular with both parents and kids).