By Hank Schrader, USMA ’71, Europe Destination & Europe River Cruise Expert
Good things keep happening at AmaWaterways, our favorite Europe River Cruise Line. We have been sailing on this family owned and operated line since 2009—this November we made our 14th voyage with AmaWaterways. For 15 years (they started their business in 2002), this company has provided what we think is the best value in Europe river cruises.
In 2018, AmaWaterways will add 6 new itineraries in Europe, a new rivership and enhance its emphasis on wellness during their cruises. Before we explore these new features, a quick reminder of what you can expect on a 7 day river cruise from AmaWaterways will help us better understand how these new enhancements will improve your vacation experience. I will also tell you about some of my favorite features of an AmaWaterways river cruise. So, let’s explore these topics together.
What to Expect on an AmaWaterways Cruise—3 Thoughts from our Clients
We just had a new client sail for the first time on AmaWaterways. Completely new to river cruising in Europe, he just couldn’t stop talking about how good the experience was. The meals, the accommodations (staterooms), the service, and the included tours exceeded all of his expectations. But, he was most impressed with the tours and the guides. He was especially impressed with the Cruise Manager, Camille. As an Air Force Academy graduate, who is a military history buff, he was astounded at the level of knowledge of the guides. Since this cruise was on the Seine and covered the D Day sights, I think it is high praise indeed. So one really positive feature of AmaWaterways (as seen through the eyes of one clients)–the tours.
One of our other clients is the former general manager of a California winery. He also is a foodie. He is the most knowledgeable guy I personally know about wines. He can go toe to toe with any wine host on AmaWaterways or a vineyard owner, either as a technical expert or just a down to earth guy who describes the characteristics of a wine to help you discover what wines you might like best. His winery actually hosted an AmaWaterways wine cruise in 2014–this guy is the real deal! His thoughts are—the included regional wines are of very high quality. They change each day, but if you really liked the previous days offering, they are glad to serve it, if you ask and any still remains on the ship. He just sailed on his 6th AmaWaterways cruise this month—when clients do repeated voyages on the same line, you know it has good products, especially a guy with his knowledge of food and wine. His lovely wife also agrees with their choice of river cruise lines. They are great traveling companions, and a lot of fun. So, another positive feature—complimentary high quality regional wines.
Another long term client couple, love food and wine. They really like the variety and quality of meals served on the AmaWaterways ships. The emphasis on fresh, regional cuisine paired with the two quality wines of the day, is one reason they love to river cruise on AmaWaterways. However, their favorite dining experience is the Chef’s Table in the stern of the vessel. This specialty restaurant features a tasting menu that is perfectly paired with some high quality wines. The 32 seat venue, included in your cruise fare, is a memorable experience and just one other reason why AmaWaterways is different. So a third reason, the included Chef’s Table.
Instead of listening to my thoughts, their impressions of their vacation experience, says volumes—it is an exceptional vacation that is safe, fun, luxurious, and life changing.
A New Ship—the AmaLea
In 2018, AmaWaterways will christen their 20th vessel in Europe. It will start on the Tulip Time (Netherlands) in the spring and then move to the Danube, sailing from Vilshofen to Budapest or the reverse. It is a 135 meter ship (443 ft) with 78 staterooms and has a capacity of 156 passengers with a crew of 51. In my opinion, AmaWaterways has expanded in a smart fashion—they bring on one or two new ships in Europe each year, make sure they are properly staffed and maintain their exacting standards. Having sailed on 14 different AmaWaterways cruises, the standards never change—it is a consistent brand.
6 New Itineraries in Europe
4 of the new itineraries will be on the Rhine. 3 are on the Rhine and Mosel Rivers. One is on the Rhine and one of its tributaries the Main. Here are the new sailings:
Rhine & Mosel Splendors is sailed by the AmaDante from Luxembourg to Basel.
Rhine & Mosel Delights Basel to Amsterdam is sailed by the AmaPrima.
Rhine & Mosel Fairytales, is sailed on the AmaPrima from Amsterdam to Basel.
Medieval Treasures is sailed by the AmaDante from to Basel to Nuremburg or reverse.
There are 2 new itineraries on the Danube. They are:
Danube Serenade, is sailed by 3 Ama ships—the AmaCerto, the AmaSerena and the AmaSonata on the Danube River from Nuremburg to Vienna or reverse.
Magical Christmas Markets is sailed by the AmaCerto, the AmaSerena and the AmaSonata from Nuremberg to Vienna or reverse.
An Enhanced Emphasis on Health and Wellness
In keeping with the theme of this blog, I thought I’d like to share some comments from another client about the enhanced wellness offering onboard the AmaLyra. He is on his 5th river cruise with AmaWaterways. His wife and he are very active and like the bike offerings and exercise opportunities on AmaWaterways. Here are his thoughts:
“They had a pilot program with a fitness instructor (Selina). She provided stretching, core workout, exercise band, hiking, etc. classed and events. It was great. She will implement this on another six boats for next year, hiring and training the new personnel. It is a great addition to the AMA activities.”
My Favorite Changes
Although AmaWaterways does not include unlimited alcohol beverages in the fare, they are starting a new program called Sip & Sail Daily. It is a cocktail hour just before dinner with complimentary wine, beer and spirits. This is a great addition and will reduce clients’ onboard bills, as most folks really enjoy a cocktail prior to dinner and used to pay for it—now it is free!
Another feature I like is the continued emphasis on Exclusive Special Interest Tours. Usually free, they may be capacity controlled to 20 guests, as most places they tour or eat at often just can’t handle more folks. For cruisers who have previously visited some of the ports on the cruise, this adds options to enhance your cruise experience.
Finally, the continued emphasis on wine themed cruises just improves the vacation experience for many guests. They are up to 50 now a year—a lot of good choices all throughout Europe. The wine cruises include a wine host. These folks are wine industry experts who want to share their knowledge and passion for wine both onboard the vessel and at the local wineries during the cruise. The best part—there is no additional charge for their services—another free enhancement for you to enjoy.
My Final Thoughts
We are river cruise experts. We know our products and the vendors who sell them to you. We can tell you the advantage and disadvantages of each of the 8 cruise lines that market to the US consumers. For most individuals, AmaWaterways is usually the best choice and value for their vacation dollars. This doesn’t mean the others are not good—on the contrary, they all provide good vacations. But there are subtle differences and after all our experience and personal study, AmaWaterways is often the best choice. From this blog, you can see that 4 different clients found 4 different aspects of the AmaWaterways experience that was their favorite.
When you are spending around $10,000 or more for a vacation, you want an advisor who can match you with the right trip. It is especially true for a Europe river cruise vacation.
Whatever your Dream Destinations are, we are here to help you get the best possible vacation based on what is important to you! We will provide you high quality, expertly planned travel. Please give me a call 713-397-0188 (Hank) or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. We want to help you: Savor life…make memories…Visit Dream Destinations! Your journey begins here!
HANK is a certified Western European Destination Specialist (DS) who has been traveling to Europe for 45 years. He is also an Accredited Cruise Counselor (ACC), conferred by the Cruise Line International Association (CLIA). This recognized expert in cruise and leisure travel is a retired Army Officer, and taught World Geography for 8 years. He is a `71 graduate of West Point and has earned 2 master’s degrees. His other Certifications:
- AmaWaterways River Cruise Specialist
- Viking River Cruise Specialist
- Scenic River Cruise Specialist
- Emerald Waterways Specialist
- Avalon Waterways Specialist
- Brit Agent