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Sail Date: April 2013
I joined the AmaDagio after 10 days in Europe during which I broke my shoulder and hand  I am young enough (50), but was feeling fragile. When I saw the crew waiting at the train station to welcome me I nearly cried with relief. They took ... Read More
I joined the AmaDagio after 10 days in Europe during which I broke my shoulder and hand  I am young enough (50), but was feeling fragile. When I saw the crew waiting at the train station to welcome me I nearly cried with relief. They took my bags and my arm and I knew right then they would take good care of me and make this week a dream. And that they did. I travelled solo during this portion of my trip and the small, intimate environment made sure I met nearly all of my sailing mates. There were family groups of siblings, girls get-away groups, couples, a few singles and three wine clubs (this was a wine themed cruise). There are usually no children on this type of sailing but I did see one grandmother with her daughter and two teen granddaughters. They seemed to enjoy themselves and were well behaved. It was a wonderful mix of people and all were courteous, well educated and well traveled. Many owned their own businesses or were enjoying early retirement. This was NOT a bunch of elderly folks or people out for a cheap vaca and freebies cramming 4-6 into a cabin! No spring breakers or wild partiers, either. Most people were in the 40-60 age range. If you want a Water park, casino and disco, this is not for you. If you want family fun, this is not for you. I compare it like Vegas to Vienna. If you want culture, sophistication and class, this is for you. The wine lectures, the history and unique excursions are second to none. From the moment I stepped on board I was treated like a valued member of the family. The cabin was spacious, although not as large as my Med ocean cruise, but completely adequate. The bed was soft and had a fluffy duvet. There were plenty of pillows and the bathroom amenities and towels were excellent. There was an in-room entertainment system for watching movies and TV or using the internet. I had my own laptop and had no problem logging on each night and uploading pictures for friends. I was in the cabin one day when the housekeeper came to clean. I invited her to do so and was amazed by how thorough she was. She literally scrubbed the bath from top to bottom  floor, walls, glass, and fixtures until they shone. If they do that every day you could eat off those surfaces!! The French balcony was not as nice as a full one, but by sitting in the lounge chair next to the railing, it was an acceptable substitute. I really did not miss that at all. It is all about smelling the fresh air and being able to lean out over the water. The excursions. Wow. These were all included and the best I could have imagined. We visited a truffle farm  my favorite  and saw a little dog, Aimee, search for and retrieve the precious nuggets. Afterwards we tasted the truffle oil and had wine. We had a market tour and cooking class that was world class. We toured an olive farm and tasted the fresh oil and the tapenade. And there was the chocolate and wine pairing!! Need I say more? We saw villages where time has stood still, views beyond compare from hills over the river, and all of this done with the best guides ever. And I would be remiss for not calling out our Tour Manager, Elke. She was so kind and knew everyone of us by name. When a couple of us who were less mobile wanted to go on a market trip, she took us personally by taxi so we could skip the walking portion. Now that is customer service!! And speaking of service and thoughtfulness..I was on a trip over the Easter holiday. On Sunday we found an Easter Basket on the bed with a Godiva chocolate bunny. Later in the week it was a beautiful woven scarf thanking us for being their guest and inviting us to their new cruises on the Mekong  which I WILL be doing!! I will say the service was above and beyond anything I have experienced on an ocean cruise. I will be a river cruiser from now on! I am a fan of AMA! Entertainment. We had wonderful classical (a string trio that brought tears to my eyes) and regional (think Parisian cabaret singer) entertainment on board. There were also some silly fun things like a comic and a theme night with 60s music. Food. I cannot say enough about the wonderful food and wine. I never did get up early enough to enjoy the breakfast  I was on holiday!!  However, the other meals were divine. The lounge was always open with drinks and snacks. The wine was not complimentary in the lounge, but that was a choice for a more relaxed setting. A buffet style offering of some of the choices in the main dining area was set up in the lounge for those who preferred it. It was always possible to sit on the outdoor deck with a snack or drink any time of day. And the rooftop deck was also a site for gatherings and groups with bottles of wine and snacks. But the dining room.oh the wondrous things that they had there! I made it a point to go to the main dining room for every lunch and dinner. This is not my usual practice on the bigger ocean ships since I feel uncomfortable as a solo traveler with all the couples and the assigned seating. This was different. The tables were set up in twos, fours, sixes, eights and more and you could sit anywhere. Oftentimes people I had met during the day asked me to join them. Other times I sat at a small table by myself and read or chatted with others at adjoining ones. I felt very welcome and not at all alone. On the big ships I only dined in my room because the dining room was too formal and cold. This was so much nicer. So, the FOOD. Wow. The bread basket and daily assortment of spreads alone would have been worth the price. Sometimes it was flavored butters and sometimes a cheese spread or tapenade. All were excellent and there were always three different kinds. First course choices included a soup  always a broth for the weight conscious and a cream soup for those who were not. I had soups flavored with a variety of veggies, mushrooms and herbs. They often came with a dollop of cream and a breadstick artfully placed atop the bowl. Appetizers ranged from a simple salad (as if you could call the beautiful presentation simple) to a wonderful regional treat like marinated mozzarella pearls with tomato coulis and basil cream. The entrees were so special it was hard to choose. Often there was a fish dish or pasta. The choices reflected the area we were in. There was always an option for a steak, burger or vegetarian meal. Every single thing I tried was delicious and better that the finest Michelin restaurant in service. The wine boys kept the beverages flowing and made the meals fun with their smiling personalities. There was always a cheese board and variety of crackers and breads on a table in the center of the room. There was often a fruit plate as well. Lunch was less formal and could be served at your table or by visiting a spread in the center of the room. One thing I loved about the river cruising was that the scenery was right outside our window 24/7. During dinner, swans would swim up to the windows and castles would glide by. Amazing. We were never more than a few feet from shore. The intimacy of the ship and the ease in which it glided into the center of towns was perfect. You can get off and walk mere steps to the town centers. No lines, no big groups, no hassles getting on and off the ship. In fact, we were always welcomed Home with a beverage that suited the day. A fresh lemonade on a hot one or warm cider on a cold, blustery morning. This experience has changed my perspective on cruising forever. I will only be on river cruises from now on.   Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: May 2012
We had saved and prepared for over a year, and arrived in Paris May 14 for 3 days. Our taxi was there to pick us up on time, despite being an hour late, and check in at the Pullman Montparnasse went well. I have seen some criticisms of ... Read More
We had saved and prepared for over a year, and arrived in Paris May 14 for 3 days. Our taxi was there to pick us up on time, despite being an hour late, and check in at the Pullman Montparnasse went well. I have seen some criticisms of the hotel on the site, but our only complaint was we were totally unaware of the evening meet and greet and were only advised of the info package by way of a message on the tv after a day of touring the area. The AMA rep was REALLY annoyed. Much like the problem with the Grand Marina in Barcelona-hotels are always going to be an issue when they are somewhat outwith the control of AMA. Both hotels were well located(Any city with a good metro is easy to travel-(bite the bullet guys and go for it) The tours in Paris were very good-thank you Isabel!! The transfer to Lyob via TGV went well, and the cooking lesson to allow the crew to transfer luggage to the boat was well planned. Can't say enough about the cruise-weather did its best to disrupt things, but thw tours and culinary surprises were excellent. Food was totally fantastic, as were the wines. Crew were MORE than helpful. Yes there was a balls-up on the Perpignan to Barca bus, but hey $h!t happens Would be interesting to try another company to compare them with AMA.....but can't take the risk. Might be a few years, but we'll be back Read Less
Sail Date: May 2012
Our AMA Waterways tour of Provence and Spain started one day prior to departing Paris for Lyon and embarkation on the Amadagio. See link for information on this wonderful ship. http://www.amawaterways.com/ships/amadagio We wanted to ... Read More
Our AMA Waterways tour of Provence and Spain started one day prior to departing Paris for Lyon and embarkation on the Amadagio. See link for information on this wonderful ship. http://www.amawaterways.com/ships/amadagio We wanted to arrive one day early to recover from jet lag and as insurance not to miss the cruise. Our flight from the US on Air France was good. Air France is a good airline. We arrived in Charles de Gaulle Airport in the morning, made our way through passport control, found an ATM, collected some Euros, then signed up for the Air France Bus number four that took us to the Montparnasse Rail station, which was across the street from the Hotel Pullman Paris Montparnasse, the hotel we had booked with AMA for the one night. The Air France bus is a great deal for us at 16.50 Euros per person. http://videocdn.airfrance.com/cars-airfrance/index_en.html The bus did take a little over two hours to arrive at the hotel, but Paris traffic was heavy. We could have saved some money on booking our own hotel, but we had to be at the Hotel Pullman at 7am that morning. That would have let to a difficult morning, so we signed up for the one night at the Pullman. We didn't want to do Paris, since we lived in Germany for four years and had been to Paris before. We checked out of the hotel, and AMA's busses took us all to the Gare de Lyon train station to board the TGV high-speed train. The train was nice and our second class tickets were not bad. The train goes up to 190 MPH, but we were able to see some of the countryside. After arriving in Lyon, we had lunch (our bags were put on the bus so we only had to carry our important light bags with us. We then met in the main square of Lyon (Place Bellecour) for a short walk for a cooking demonstration. The demonstration was interactive and we had to assist in the cooking. We enjoyed the event and were able to sample our dishes. We were transferred to the Amadagio, where we had a welcome dinner. We found the ship to be more spacious than on our previous river cruise in Russia. The cabin was almost as large as some ocean cruise ship cabins. The ship looked very new, even though we knew it was built in 2006, but we discovered that it had been refurbished just two months ago. The Captains (Husband and Wife team), crew and staff were very nice and responsive. Many of the staff was from Hungary and Bulgaria. Service was excellent. The ship had a spacious dining area, separate, also spacious bar/lounge area, as well as the top deck. There was a beauty shop, small exercise room and small shop as well as a nice library. One of the advantages of river cruising is meeting a lot of people. There were 150 passengers and we got to know quite a few of them, much better than we would have on an ocean cruise. On the train down from Paris, we met Sue and Gary from LA and enjoyed their company during the cruise, especially at meals. Sue and Gary had travelled quite a bit and we were able to compare notes on places. I became more familiar with one of Gary's legs after he fainted during the cooking demonstration in Lyon and one of the passengers (a physician) told us to hold is legs up. Gary quickly recovered and seemed to have a good cruise. We found the cuisine on the boat to exceed our expectations for a river cruise. We had three choices for an entree, but frequently a waiter brought around more of the entrees and vegetables if you wanted more. Dear Wife, Ginny indicated that we seemed to eat every half an hour. That was not quite true, but eat we did, and eat well. Also, AMA provides free wine with the dinner meal and a waitress was constantly making the rounds of all 150 passengers, filling up partially empty wine glasses. On another point, this cruise should be called a wine cruise, not just due to the free dinner wine, but because we visited so many vineyards and wineries on our cruise. We enjoyed the wine; after all, it was France. The next day we had a tour of Lyon that included a drive around the city and visit to the Basilica of Notre-Dame, as well as the ruins of a Roman theater. Lyon was called Lugdunum when controlled by the Romans. Emperor Claudius was actually born in Lyon. The views of the city below were worth the trip to the top of the hill alone. Lyon lies between the Saone and Rhone rivers (Saone is a tributary of the Rhone, but runs parallel to the Rhone for some distance. Lyon is the third largest city in France, and has spilled over both banks of both rivers. Also, walking we were taken to the "traboules" or houses in the old city that originally were workshops for silk workers. Later converted to homes, many of the homes (like interconnected townhouses with interior courtyards and passages) allowed resistance fighters to avoid capture by the Gestapo during WWII. After the Lyon tour, we returned to the ship and enjoyed a lecture on wine on our way to the small village of Trevoux. The city is on the East bank of the Saone, and was independent of France until recent centuries. We enjoyed going to a small village with its medieval ramparts and hillside Chateau. We were to discover several wonderful villages, towns and cities on our way down the Saone and Rhone to Arles. Also, in Trevoux we learned about the Provencal game of petanque (Bocce). The game is played with hollow balls the slightly smaller than a softball on a flat sandy surface. A player tries to place his balls close to the small target ball. I was one of the volunteers that played an abbreviated game. The next day, our bus tour departed from the ship at Trevoux through the beautiful Beaujolais wine region, often called the land of golden stones, after the limestone of the houses and villages. After a visit to a winery, where we sampled the Beaujolais wine and learned more, first hand, about its wine, we wound through the hills to the medieval hilltop village of Oingt. Oingt was like a mini-Rothenberg (walled city in Germany). The city was one of many historical walled or not cities that we visited on this trip. We returned to the ship and continued downriver past Lyon toward Vienne. Vienne was one of my favorite cities on this cruise. It was loaded with Roman history and medieval sites as well. We visited the Roman Temple of Augustus and Livia, the ruins of a Roman theater and the medieval churches of St. Andre-Le-Bas and Abbey St. Pierre (the ancient abbey was loaded with Roman sculptures, mosaics, amphorae, etc. ) and rode on the mini train to see a wonderful panorama of the city, river and surrounding areas. After the Vienne tour, the ship departed for Tournon, where we visited another winery. The wine from this winery was better than what we had in Beaujolais. The wine from this region is named after the region: Cotes du Rhone. We had another wine lecture on this ship that helped us to understand the different regions of France. The next morning we visited Tournon and its 16th Century castle, which is now the town hall. Tournon was another French town with character. We returned to the ship and sailed to Viviers. We had the choice of a nougat tour or the ghost tour of Viviers. The "ghost walk" through this the medieval town, was enjoyable, due to the setting and the acting of the Day 10. We learned of the story of Nol Albert, who was beheaded when he ran afoul of the authorities. His ghost still lives in Viviers. The tour was interesting, but we were not able to enjoy the city very much at night. Still, when you consider all the cities and villages that we visited, I can see why a night visit was in the works. Viviers was another remarkable stone medieval city. It only has about 3000 residents, one it had more than ten times that much. Still, we were told that the city fills up in the summer. The next day, we visited a farm that cultivated truffles. We learned that truffles take over ten years to grow. Trees are planted with truffle seeds in the roots. Dogs are used to find the truffles (pigs were once used, but they ate the truffles). We sampled some shavings of truffle, which were very tasty and watched the dogs (two blonde labs) in action. Then we visited Grignan, a village perched upon a hill surrounded by lavender fields, including a Renaissance castle. Again, we had a great view of the beautiful countryside. In the afternoon, our bus arrived in Avignon. After lunch, we visited the ancient Roman aqueduct of Pont du Gard, which is the highest in Europe and you can find its image on the five Euro bill. We chose the aqueduct rather than the walking tour of Avignon, since we were coming back to Avignon on an excursion from the Norwegian Epic (another cruise we were to take after the AMA tour ended in Barcelona). The aqueduct was awesome; it was made of stones fitted together. Apparently, it had survived some massive river flooding until modern times the river was controlled by a dam. Later, the ship's Captain took the ship past the partially destroyed bridge connected to Avignon's walls on a short mini cruise. Avignon's walls still surround the old city and are quite impressive, even though there are many modern building inside the walls. The next morning, we arrived in Arles, our final port. Our morning excursion first visited an olive farm, where we learned about how olive oil is made, as well as how it once was made. Then we proceeded to the village of Les Baux de Provence. This village was a fortress and Protestant stronghold during the French Wars of Religion until destroyed by Louis XIII and Cardinal Richelieu in 1633. Some took the "Van Gogh" tour which took them to the Saint Paul de Mausole Asylum. Later in the afternoon, took a walking tour of Arles that started with the Roman Amphitheater that is still used for many events, including occasional bullfighting. Also, we saw the Romanesque cathedral, site of the old Roman Forum and places frequented by Van Gogh, including the site of the house in which he once lived. The house was destroyed by bombing in WWII. I haven't mentioned much about the entertainment on the ship. AMA provided entertainment every night. We had a piano player in the bar/lounge area that provided entertainment, but we also had special shows most every night. We had a classical trio; French cabaret singer; 50s/60s music with got us all dancing; and a Latin singer with a limbo contest, which Ginny won The next day, Thursday, we disembarked the ship in Arles and loaded up on three busses for Barcelona. About three-fourths of those on the cruise were along for the post-cruise three day trip to Barcelona. We had a guide on the bus, on our way to Perpignan, France (near the border with Spain). We left the bus and our luggage, carrying our important hand baggage (not suitcases) and had a nice lunch in Perpignan. We did not see much of the city, but an old gate, built by the Count of Catalonia. At one time this small part of SE France was a part of Catalonia. The people there still speak Catalonian (a Romance language similar to Spanish and Italian). Some persons sat nearby and did not get their food into to meet the busses. We just had time to eat and pay our check in a two hour time period. The food was great, but eating in this part of the world is not a fast food exercise. Our trip to Barcelona brings us another interesting item. Our busses from Arles switched our luggage with the busses from Barcelona that brought up the next river cruisers from Barcelona. We switched busses. It seemed a bit strange that our French busses did not take us all the way to Barcelona, but I suppose it was a cheaper for AMA to switch. It could be something to do with paying overtime for the bus drivers for an overnight. The trip to Barcelona was somewhat interesting, since we could see a little of the Pyrenees mountains in the distance. We saw the high speed train line that was partially complete from France to Barcelona, but also the incomplete portion. Our Spanish guide told us that the new Government in Spain said there was no more money to complete the project. Upon arrival in Barcelona, we checked in to the Grand Marina Hotel, which was a five star hotel close to the cruise port, Las Ramblas and the Bari Gothic area (old town). The next day, we had the option of a full city tour, or a short tour that included a tapas and boqueria excursion. We chose the tapas excursion, since we had been to Barcelona in March 2011 and seen all the sites on the city tour. The tapas excursion took us back to the Bari Gothic area, which included the old Roman area, Cathedral, palace and historical area. Closer to lunch, we visited two tapas restaurants for tasty dishes. We had 3 or 4 tapas at each restaurant, as well as wine. One of the restaurants is located on the corner of a large market about 100 yards east of the Cathedral Square, across the street from the Gothic area. The name of the restaurant was Cuines Santa Caterina. After our tapas excursion, we left the group and found the hotel where my Son Jack and his friend, Jason were staying, while in Barcelona, prior to our next cruise on the Norwegian Epic in a couple of days. They had just checked into the hotel and we arranged to meet them at a restaurant later than evening. They wanted to nap, due to jet lag, so we departed and visited the City Museum in the Bari Gothic area prior to walking back to our hotel to change clothes. The City Museum is a must see in Barcelona. It is located close to the Palace and Cathedral. The museum largely displays underground ruins from the Roman era, along with some centuries later. The museum had an audio hand set that opens up the history for visitors, as well as a show movie that rotates in several languages. After walking back to our hotel, we had to hurry to meet the guys for dinner, so we took a cab, even though it was a short distance. The cab ran about 8 euros, due to all the red lights and circuitous manner of getting to a hotel on Las Ramblas. Jason had been in Barcelona on business for 9 days within the last year and was familiar with restaurants there. We had dinner at ATN, which was located close to a Roman excavation of tombs just off Las Ramblas on Canuda Street. The restaurant was open, even though it was about early by Spanish dinner standards. We had a wonderful meal with great service. Separate checks were not a problem with a party of six and credit cards were accepted. The next day, we had dinner at small tapas restaurant near the Plaza Sant Just on Palma De Sant Just. That restaurant, Bodega LaPalma, was not modern like ATN, but small and rustic. The tapas were excellent, with large servings for very reasonable prices. I highly recommend both restaurants. On the Saturday prior to our Sunday embarkation on the Epic, we had a free day of tours from AMA. We decided to take the train to Tarragona. That city was once the Roman capitol of Eastern Spain. I could have purchased the rail tickets prior to leaving the US, but was not sure which train we would take and different trains had different prices. We took the Metro to the rail station and on arrival there located several ticket booths serving those buying tickets. We waited about half an hour get to a booth and were told we were at the wrong counters and to go to ticket counters 1-7 at the other end of the station. We did so and found a line twice as long as the one we had waited for half an hour. We decided to give up our plans and walk back to Las Ramblas, which was about 3 miles away. We walked off our frustration. We had lived in Germany for four years and ridden European trains in Germany, Italy, Austria, etc. encountering nothing like this kind of delay. I love Spain, but this kind of thing would not happen in Germany. After reaching Las Ramblas, we walked down to the sea coast and found another great museum, The Museum d' Historia de Catalunya. It provided artifacts from different periods of Catalonian history with explanations in some depth. We spent about 2.5 hours there and only got up to the late 18th Century. The next day was Sunday, May 27th and time to check out of our hotel and board the Norwegian Epic with Jack, Jason, Nick and Joel for our seven day cruise of the Western Med. That story to follow. Read Less
Sail Date: October 2010
This was our first river cruise; we have completed 20 ocean cruises. The Amadagio is a fairly new river boat. It is well-maintained both inside and out. Embarkation/debarkation was a breeze with only 140 guests on-board. Cabins were ... Read More
This was our first river cruise; we have completed 20 ocean cruises. The Amadagio is a fairly new river boat. It is well-maintained both inside and out. Embarkation/debarkation was a breeze with only 140 guests on-board. Cabins were smaller than the smallest cabin we ever had on a ocean cruise ship. It was comfortable, especially the bed. Service was outstanding both in the cabin and dining room. Free internet was offered in each cabin...a nice feature. Additionally, the ship mailed postcards for guests free of charge. Entertainment was provided by local talent during port stops and was every bit as good as that offered by cruise ships. The food ranged from standard cruise fare to much below average. For example, a optional choice of a steak was tough and barely edible. Breakfast was much of the same thing for the seven days. Wine and beer were complimentary during the dinners but expensive if purchased on board. A large negative for us was that dinner was served between 6:30 and 7:00 every evening. This is much too late for us as it disturbs our sleep pattern if we go to bed on full stomachs. Port tours were excellent. Our program director was outstanding. One caution: we were assigned a cabin near the front of the boat. There was so much noise from the common areas that I was forced to wear ear plugs each night! Do not accept cabins near the common areas unless you don't care about the noise. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: October 2010
This was our first ever river cruise. We have taken about 10 ocean cruises, so we wanted to see how a river cruise compared. What's nice about cruising on a river is the fact that you can always look out and see something and not just ... Read More
This was our first ever river cruise. We have taken about 10 ocean cruises, so we wanted to see how a river cruise compared. What's nice about cruising on a river is the fact that you can always look out and see something and not just open ocean. Plus you stop a lot, sometimes twice in one day. And since the river boats don't hold as many people (ours had 140 passengers), it's easy to get on and get off. And the ships are designed to hold the required number of passengers. In other words, there is a seat for everyone - in the lounge, in the dining room, etc. Our trip was the 7-day Blue Danube Discovery from Budapest to Nuremberg with a pre-cruise extension in Budapest and a post-cruise extension in Prague. All we can say at this point is that we are really glad we went on this trip. It was very enjoyable. Would I say it's better than an ocean cruise - in some ways yes, in some ways no. Each has it's pros and cons. Would we do a river cruise again, you bet. With AMA? YES! The hotel in Budapest was the Sofitel Hotel sitting about 200 feet from the Danube. Our double room overlooked the river and the beautiful castle/fortress on the hillside on the other side of the river. The bridge over the river and the this castle/fortress were lit up at night giving an impressive view out the hotel room window. It was a very comfortable hotel and we were in want of nothing. The room package included a big buffet breakfast each morning. Usually we ate enough at breakfast that we only needed a snack during the day to keep us going until dinner. Food in Budapest is what we called rather spicy because the Hungarians seem to like putting paprika in everything and in every conceivable way. But you still have to try it just for the experience. We tried the Hungarian Goulash which is different from Czech Goulash in that the Hungarian variety is like a soup served in a bowl and the Czech Goulash is meat and dumplings served on a plate and not as spicy. The included city tour of Budapest was quite good hitting all the highlights of Budapest with its rich history. Of course, the bus doesn't have time to stop everywhere, but the guide points out the sights of interest to most visitors and you can always go back somewhere with your free time of which there was plenty. We're not going to go into all the details of every stop we made on this 7-day trip down the Danube, but what we will say is that you should take advantage of all the included excursions as they are quite informative and enjoyable and you did pay for them. As for the optional excursions, we would suggest the evening concert in Vienna for those who do not normally have the opportunity to attend such classical events. We think it was probably the best of all the excursions we took. Another one that was fun is the optional Folklore dinner in Prague. It was a different experience than anything we have seen before. The food was good, the beer and wine flowing freely, and the entertainment very enjoyable from the Czech/Slovakian musical players, singers and dancers. As for the cruise itself, the ship was comfortable and the crew outstanding. One thing we did notice is that during our 7-day cruise, the ship never once rocked from side to side or bumped or anything else. It was a very, very smooth ride! Everyone was so very friendly. We upgraded our cabin by one category so that we would have a large window and sliding door so as to see the scenery as we cruised along the Danube. We're glad we upgraded after seeing the inside of one of the lower cabins. You would have to be at least six feet tall to see out of one of those windows. I think they're simply designed to let in light as opposed to offering any kind of view because they are high and small. Our cabin was quite comfortable with a queen size bed, lounge chair, ottoman we used as another seat, a flat-screen TV/computer, makeup desk, in-room safe, and plenty of closet space. The bathroom was well-equipped and modern. We were very comfortable during our week long journey. Internet in your room is included with your cruise. We only used the internet when we were in ports as the reception was always better. There is a large lounge and bar on the main deck with enough seating for everyone. This is also the entertainment area when performers come aboard for evening entertainment of which there was a lot. And it was all good. The dining room is directly below the lounge area at the front of the ship. There again there is enough seating for everyone at the one and only dinner service at 7:00 p.m. -- dinner has no assigned seating. There is no alternative restaurant or eating venue on these ships, but they do offer a number of different dinner choices each evening. The dinner choices are normally things from the country or area where they are transiting that day. As are the included wines. It was amazing how many different wines they served on a 7-day cruise. And they always had both red and white wines at dinner. If you are not a wine drinker, you can have beer or soft drinks if you like at no charge. They also had main course staples each evening - steak, chicken, fish, chef salad - for those not wanting to brave the local cuisine. A vegetarian dish was also on the menu each night. We had the chicken one night and it was very good. Breakfast was always buffet style with a lot of choices, but you could also order eggs cooked to order, omelets, pancakes, etc. Food is served just about every 3 hours. Coffee and tea are available 24-hours. Early risers can nibble on pastries and toast until the breakfast room opens (times vary but usually by 7:30). A cookie tray is put out about 10:30. A light lunch (soup, salads, one hot menu item, and dessert) can be eaten in the lounge or you may partake of the full lunch in the dinning room. After lunch the cookie tray appears and around 3:30 finger sandwiches and small pastries appear. We had some laundry done on the ship because we didn't want to pay the airlines $90 for another suitcase. The cost to have roughly a week's worth of underwear washed for two of us was 24 Euros (about $34). They picked it up at 8:00 p.m. and it was back the next morning by 10:00 a.m. The boat also had a very nice aft lounge that always had fresh fruit and water available. Board games and a computer with a printer were also available in the lounge. Just off the lounge was the exercise room. Although small, it had something for everyone -- sauna, free weights, treadmill, and bike. Bottled water was also available. For nice days, the sun deck had a walking track, sun chairs, small Jacuzzi, and large chess board. Our cruise ended in Nuremberg, Germany where we stayed overnight on the ship and then boarded motor coaches the next morning for our trip to Prague. Each motor coach had a local Czech tour guide on board who provided narration on our journey to Prague. The trip to Prague was pretty much an all day affair with a restroom stop at the German/Czech border and then another stop for lunch in the beautiful little town of Karlovy Vary. It's a picturesque little spa town with a river running through it. There is a fancy hotel there where some of the scenes from the movie Casino Royale with Daniel Craig were shot. After a short tour of the town, our Czech tour guide suggested a local restaurant for lunch. That's where we sampled the very good Czech Goulash along with a good Czech beer. Our lunch stop was two hours and then the rest of the trip to Prague lasted about another one and a half hours arriving at the hotel about 3:00 p.m. Our hotel in Prague was the Intercontinental Hotel located right in the old town area and just a couple blocks from the Charles Bridge and five minutes from the central plaza. The hotel is a 5-star hotel with all the amenities we could want. The room included a large breakfast buffet each morning. There are too many items to mention, but suffice it to say they have everything - meats, cheeses, eggs to order, pancakes, cereals, breads, juices, fruits, etc. Prague is a beautiful old city. It's easy to walk to most of the tourist attractions, shopping areas, and restaurants of which there are many. Prague is where we did the optional Folklore dinner. We had two full days to explore, but it wasn't enough so we'll have to go back someday. Our cruise director, Csaba, from Budapest was absolutely outstanding. He was there at the hotel when we first arrived and stayed with us all the way through to Prague. He was very professional, knowledgeable, and most of all he was very friendly. He's a 36-year old single guy who loves his job and you can tell by the way he goes about his business. We'd love to see him again on another cruise. Csaba also used his computer to check everyone in 24-hours before our flight departed Prague. He could not print out boarding passes, but you could get your seat assignments and do pre-check-in. Although you may initially be taken aback by the price of a river cruise, you must remember that a lot of things that may not be included in an ocean voyage are in included here such as local tours with transportation provided and local tour guides. You are also given an audio box with ear pieces so you can hear the guides as they take you through these old towns without having to be two feet from the guide in order to hear something. They really work quite well. They also have three different paced tour levels - fast, regular, and slow. Join whichever group you want. Free bottled water is also provided in your stateroom each day. Postcards are mailed for free by simply dropping them off at the front desk on the ship. It doesn't matter where they are going - U.S., Europe, etc. All in all, we were very pleased with our first river cruise and would not hesitate to do another one. Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: April 2009
  Our AMA Waterways cruise began in Minneapolis/St. Paul on Saturday April 18, 2009, at 7:30 PM on Northwest Airlines. The flight was non stop . We each had a window seat because the plane was full and could not get seats together. ... Read More
  Our AMA Waterways cruise began in Minneapolis/St. Paul on Saturday April 18, 2009, at 7:30 PM on Northwest Airlines. The flight was non stop . We each had a window seat because the plane was full and could not get seats together. When we got to Amsterdam at 10:30 AM the next day, we cleared customs and then looked for the AMA Waterways representative. Because we purchased the air separate from the cruise line, it was less cost to take a taxi then purchase the transfers from the cruise line.  The agent, Paul, helped Bob get a taxi and some Euros. The taxi ride was 52.00 Euros. He was pleasant and ready to help. This was our first experience with AMA Waterways and a nice one. The taxi ride was about 30 minutes. Guests who purchased air with AMA Waterways had transfers included.   When we got to the port, there were about 6-8 river cruise ships at the port. To get to our ship, we had to go into the lobby of the Amadeus Princess, up the stairs to the sun deck and then across to the Amarelle sun deck and then down the steps to the reception desk. The ships were connected to each other in many places we visited. We went to the sun deck to wait because the cabins were not ready. I found our cabin and the door was open and went into it a couple of times to take some pictures. We waited on the sun deck and also in the small lounge near our cabin. There are 4 decks on the ship.   The ship has two lounges, a small one aft and the Grand Lounge on the Violin Deck. This lounge had plenty of soft chairs for seating, to read, relax or have a conversation with new and old friends, a dance floor, a piano, some round tables at the back of the lounge and where we had the wonderful entertainment. This was a place to sit and have a nice view as we sailed and went through the locks. The lounge also has coffee (espresso, cappuccino, regular), cocoa, tea and ice water available at all times. There was always something to eat like a light lunch, cookies, desserts or a light breakfast. The aft lounge was smaller and had a computer, games to use (cabinets not locked), some tables and chairs; it is a nice place for a group to meet. There was a very small exercise room that had weights, a treadmill and a stationary bike. There was small beauty shop and also a sauna (I did not see that) which was at the back of the ship. The ship has a library and a chair to use on the Violin deck. There was selection of books including a world atlas and books on Europe; I left a paperback I had finished. The cruise director had his desk here also. The gift shop was small but had a nice selection of gifts and postcards; it was near the reception desk. Boarding passes are used for passengers getting off and on the ship. They are small laminated cards (1/2" by 2") that have your cabin number; passengers are to take them when they leave and return them when they return so the ship knows when you have returned from shore. There is a bar in the main lounge and a drink special of the day. Peter was our cruise director. He was really good about his job and took the time to answer questions from anyone, anytime. He was on all the excursions and was quite knowledgeable about the area. He was pleasant and always helpful. The dining room was on the Cello Deck has plenty of room for the one sitting for dinner and your choice of where to sit. Breakfast and lunch were buffet but you could also order optional items such as Eggs Benedict and a hamburger off the menu. The variety of food could please everyone: eggs, cereal, sweet rolls, croissants, cheeses, cold cuts and more were always available. Lunch has a variety of hot and cold and also buffet. There was a light lunch of soup, sandwiches and desserts in the main lounge daily. We ate there 3 out of the 7 days. The dinner also had a variety of choices, usually 3 entrees. The meat was always tender and flavorful; some of the best of any cruise line I have sailed. I never heard one complaint about the food. The food was fresh and hot. The maitre d always offered more servings of vegetables during the dinner by going table to table. Wine, beer and soft drinks were available for dinner for no extra charge. The wine was from a local area in most cases. I personally liked the red wine ( I normally drink white) because it was not a heavy red wine; some guests from California thought the red wine was not "bold " enough. Personal opinions. There were quite a few birthdays, including mine. My husband asked about something for me and they said it was already done; the ship must have checked the birth dates for the passengers and celebrated the birthdays automatically; this was another quality feature of AMA Waterways. They brought a nice cake. It was Turkey Independence Day while we were on the ship and they brought a large cake for the group of Turkish guests on board the ship to celebrate.   In Germany, the Southern part of Germany are mainly Catholic, the Northern area Lutheran and the middle section of Germany is a mixture of religions.   The words "berg" and "burg" in names have two different meanings. Berg means a hill and burg is fortress. The Piano Deck is the lowest deck of the Amacello and has 2 windows instead of the French balcony that are almost level with the water; The elevator does not go this far and so guests who stay there, have to walk down steps. The crew also lives in this area. There is a window sill on the windows and a guest bought some flowers and put them in their cabin; her husband always buys her flowers for their Sabbath.   The ship has an audio headset system which allowed us to hear the guide using ear pieces without having to be next to the guide. We were given ear pieces the beginning of our cruise for us to use and keep, the receptive boxes we had were color coded and this was the same color as our guide used for the frequency so each group would hear their own guide; the color code was also the bus and guide we would use of that specific tour.  The system can work a distance of 1 mile, so we were told not to go too far from the guide. I have never had this on a tour and it was so easy to take in the sights, take a photo and listen at the same time.   Our first port was Amsterdam; the ship did not depart until the second day. Our city bus tour and a canal cruise were included excursions in the cruise fare as are all excursions on the cruise portion of the trip. This is the way to see Amsterdam, the Venice of the North. The canal boats are covered and also has a restroom on board. The first night we were entertained by fun Dutch Folklore dancers in the main lounge. There was the Captain's welcome cocktail party and a Gala Welcome Dinner. On Day 2 we left at 12:15 PM to sail along the Rhine River. Day 2 also had a safety drill on the sun deck. The entertainment on the second day was La Stada, a group that had 2 violinists and a guitar player. Their music was fitting for this river cruise and offered us some wonderful entertainment. Day 3 we were in Dusseldorf, the capital of Germany, and the excursion was a panorama bus tour of Dusseldorf of about an hour; we then had free time of about 45 minutes to shop, sit or walk back to the ship which was docked about 1 kilometer ( 0.6 miles). We departed for Cologne at 11:15 AM; we had a bus tour of Cologne as soon as we arrived and then some free time; this is where I purchased some 4711 original Eau de Cologne and the Dom Liqueur.  At 7:00 PM we departed for Frankfurt.   Day 4 we arrived in Frankfurt. Peter gave us a briefing on the upcoming excursion. At 11:30 AM, "Fruhschoppen" was served in the main lounge which was beer and sausage (no charge); I was told this must be served before noon. A Bavarian lunch was served in the dining room for lunch. We arrived at 2:30 PM and left for a walking tour of Frankfurt and the Cathedral. We walked back to the ship. Most of these tours are not handicapped accessible. This evening we had a trio called the Pitchfork who sang for us. They began with the song "Down by the Riverside" and had the audience hooked. We left this port at 3:00 AM the next day to sail to Mainz.Day 5 we arrived in Mainz at 7:15 AM and had the choice of 2 excursions, Mainz or Heidelberg; we chose Mainz as I wanted to see the Gutenberg Museum where the first printed copy of the Bible was printed. The museum has old books which were interesting and an original copy of the Bible. No pictures allowed except for the area where the printed a page for us on an old press. This level has printers all types and you were allowed to use the camera here. Mainz had a small area that did not have any car traffic; this was done about 20 years ago. There were bakeries, a church, coffee shops. 55% of the people in Mainz are Catholic, 35 % other religions.  In Mainz, the ship was docked about 1/4  mile from the city; this was a walking tour of about 45-60 minutes. The tours were in 3 categories; one was  gentle for slower walkers, again with the different color codes.   The passengers who chose the Heildeberg tour had a bus ride of about one hour and 15 minutes. The ones who went said it was a wonderful tour to the old city. We sailed to Koblenz where we overnight. Peter took about 75 people on a night walk in Koblenz. Day 6 we arrive in the fairy tale village of Cochem on the Mosel River (Mozelle is French and English spelling); one of the most scenic wine growing villages in the Mosel Valley. This is where we get to see the Reichsburg Castle. The minibuses drove us to the castle almost all the way. Because of construction, we had to walk up the rest of the hill to the castle. The walk down was not as bad as I thought it would be. What a beautiful view of the area. Lots of steps in the castle also. We saw several rooms of the castle. The trophy room had a door key for guests of the castle that had a little too much wine.; it was a V shape and the key could be slid down the opening and open the door. There was lots of waking on this stop and lots of steps. We had to dock across the river and then walk about 2 blocks, up stairs and across the bridge and down the stairs. There again, they had 3 groups for walking. People who wanted to take photos as well as slower walkers chose these groups. Bob and I shared a strawberry pie (good!!) at a cafe and I had a glass of local wine and Bob his coffee at a cafe before walking back to the ship.   Day 7 had us in Berkastel-Kues; a favorite of many passengers as well as for me. This was a village of half-timbered houses and lots of side streets as well as the medieval market square. This village is friendly, clean and really takes you back into time.  The square is surrounded by many well preserved half-timbered houses as well as the Renaissance city hall built in 1608. Especially well-known is the very small and narrow so-called "Spitzhäuschen" (the "Pointed House") which dates back to 1416. At the center of the market square lies the fountain of St. Michael (St. Michaelsbrunnen). Day 7 also took us to Trier, the oldest city in Germany. We again did a bus and city walking tour and using the Vox system so we could hear the guide. The bus took us to the top of the hill top to a city view and photo stop, and what a view it was. After the bus tour, we parked and did a walking tour of the town area. It was Saturday and there were lots of families shopping,eating and visiting the market square. The market had lots of fresh fruits and vegetables; they are known for white asparagus and they looked like nice stalks. Trier was founded in 16 BC under Augustus and today has the same population during the Roman Era, approximately 100,000 residents. We saw the Roman Baths, Roman Amphitheater and Porta Nigra Gate. The Porta Nigra Gate (Latin for black gate) dates from 180 BC and is the last remaining gate of the city; it is the symbol of the city. Trier is a city that would be nice for an overnight if you are flying in or out of Frankfurt which is 120 miles from Trier. We were there during the Holy Robe Days (April 24- May 3,2009) and were unable to go to The Cathedral of Trier, the oldest church of Germany, which was originally built by Constantine the Great, the first Christian Roman Emperor; The Cathedral of Trier houses great works of art and a holy relic that draws many pilgrims: the Holy Robe, the garment said to be worn by Jesus when he was crucified. We were docked at a small village called Piesport our last night and walked through the village to get to the ship which was waiting for us after the Trier bus tour; we again walked to the buses to go on the trip to Paris; The busses could not travel the narrow streets. Our cabin faced the Village Church and the cemetery. There was a walking path next to us and adults and children and biked along this area. It was quiet and peaceful.   This was a wonderful cruise. I have been on the Mississippi Queen but this is my first European river cruise. I have been on many cruises and have done most of the world but this is a wonderful way to travel to Europe and other parts of the world. ( AMA Waterways has many sailings.) I have seen many of the large cities of Europe, and this is a chance to see the smaller villages and countryside. The Rhine River was busy with cargo traffic; the rivers are their highways. The river was flowing quickly and had lots of locks. The people are friendly and most spoke English. We used the Euro for currency, even on the ship, throughout the trip. I am look forward to other river cruise sailings in the world. This has become so popular, there are more cruise lines and ships being built. The hotel in Paris was the Crowne Plaza Republique at Republique Square. A 19th-century Neo-Baroque style building with a striking facade than had been renovated and was a nice 4 star hotel. We were near the Metro station. The rooms were good sized, a double sized bed, a large bathtub with a high side that you had to climb into, amenities in the bathroom, a table in the room and our room was at the front of the hotel. We were able to see part of the Eiffel Tower from our large window. Breakfast buffet was included in the rate of the room and there was a nice variety of food and drinks for any nationality. We found quite a few places to eat within waking distance including KFC and McDonalds. The city tour the next day, included in the cruise package, was about 4 hours and took us all over the city including a visit to Notre Dame. Paris is large with many old structures and gardens. We bought a Metro day pass and this allowed us to use the train and bus, getting off at the Louvre (closed Tuesdays), the Eiffel Tower and Old Opera House.   Our trip ended with a Delta flight from Paris to Minneapolis/ St/ Paul on April 29, 2009; the plane was not full and so many people were able to lay on the seats and sleep; Delta served us a good dinner and also pizza before we landed. We got through customs, cleared and headed home.   This was a memorable trip for me and I look forward to my next river cruise.There was so much more I could have added but thought I had written enough so if anyone has questions, please email me at mncruise@aol.com. Read Less
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