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11 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: December 2015
The AMA Serena was totally 5 star. Our upgrade to the cabin with the French balcony was a very nice touch, the beds were excellent as were the duvets. There was a running track/putting green and large hot tub/small swimming pool and a ... Read More
The AMA Serena was totally 5 star. Our upgrade to the cabin with the French balcony was a very nice touch, the beds were excellent as were the duvets. There was a running track/putting green and large hot tub/small swimming pool and a very nicely set up gym. Very very nice. Now let’s talk about the organization, the on board entertainment, the daily tours and docking locations.. Upon reaching Zurich (we had signed up for the pre tour getaway) we were greeted by the tour director Federico who was very pleasant and told us that there would be a short get together that evening. Check in at the Hotel Continental was swift and convenient and the staff were very pleasant as well. The hotel itself does appear to be an aging dowager duchess in need of some refurbishment. The large chairs in the lobby could do with an update both in colours and materials. They looked quite faded and there appears to be just an overall appearance of decay slowly happening. The rooms were quite nice and at one time I’m sure they would have been very elegant. While some of the elegance is still there in the marble counter tops in the bathrooms, one could not ignore the signs of aging. The door to the bathroom was quite scarred and edges were dusty as well and the door just didn’t quite shut properly unless given a “push”. The evening get together was quite pleasant (I seem to use that word quite a bit) and the wine was very nice (made especially for the hotel as it turned out). The tours in Zurich were quite good but as I did not partake of the ones with fees it would appear that they went over really well. . Breakfasts were plentiful and nicely laid out as well. The ride down to Lucerne went very well and the ride across Lake Lucerne was fine. Weather was heavy overcast but all in all was very nice. The Hotel Radisson Blu was a comfortable hotel with large rooms; the heated floors in the bathroom were a nice touch. Breakfasts once again were plentiful and nicely laid out. While the staff in Zurich appeared to be much more approachable the staff in Lucerne were efficient but not overly friendly. The bus ride from Lucerne to Basel was uneventful and the walk through the town was quite good. I have to admit that I did not find the Christmas Market in Zurich all that interesting as it was so incredibly expensive. And this was about the only Christmas market that was “on”. The one in Basal was being torn down and a lot of them had closed up early due to the uncertainties going on in Europe at the moment. There was one that we went to that was really nice though and that was the little town called Riquewihr in the Alsace region. Now that was an excellent tour. Boarding the ship in Basel. Very well organized and like I stated earlier the rooms were lovely. The welcome get together that evening could have been enhanced greatly with the addition of some “fondues” since we were still in Switzerland. They could have had the “ice breaker” with mulled wine and fondues. I felt this was a bit ‘flat”. The onboard entertainment was virtually nil. Yes there was the piano/guitar player and while he was good it was pretty bland. The only “entertainment” was a 2 girl (sisters) tribute band to Abba. The girls were okay but I really felt it was “sub standard” entertainment for the type of cruise it was. That was it for entertainment. I think this could vastly be improved by organizing a “strudel making” afternoon when sailing. Or bringing on board a historian who could talk about the history of the area and possibly about the recent migrant situation. There was very heavy promoting of the AMA Waterway tours which made one tune out at times. The docking situation was deplorable really. AMA will have to step this up somewhat to arrange docking closer to the city centre. I realize that the size (length) of the boat may prove to be an issue but when docked up beside other cruise boats there did not seem to be a lot of difference. A 15 minute walk to where the buses were really was not on the cards. Yes, they had a slow walker’s group but even so there were “in between” persons who may have had knee issues which did not necessarily put them into the “slow walkers” group and that 15 min walk both to and from the buses to the boat was not great. A couple of the tours ( a hike and a bike ride ) were very well received by the more fit of the group. These were excellent. There did appear to be a bit if disorganization when it came to having the buses arrive on time etc so AMA did not get full marks for that. The food was comparable to other river cruises I’ve been on but I have to say that Christmas dinner was a bit of a letdown. I’ll have to hand that one over to Viking River Cruises who did have an excellent Christmas dinner (Roast Goose) The “suggested” amount of tips per person per day did seem a bit high as well. Our daily cleaner would not have been worth that amount. Now I realize that shipping companies do not pay their staff a whole lot and depend on the tips to make up for a lot; one suggestion might be to have the tips included in the overall price and if a person wanted to they could tip individual persons who do a superlative job. Would I travel on AMA again? Hmmm probably not. I think I would hand that over to Viking who in my mind gave good value for the dollar. River cruising is not ocean cruising and should not attempt to be. I feel that the swimming pool/hot tub; running track and putting green were just a tad over the top but the gym was nice.. Read Less
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