AmaWaterways go the extra mile!
Love is all around when you step on an AmaWaterways river cruise. From the warm welcome by the staff that go the ‘extra mile’, nothing is too much trouble. The staff quickly remember your name and what you like to drink from your breakfast to your night cap. This floating luxury hotel has beautiful state rooms, the restaurant is first-class and the lounges comfortable and decorated to a high standard.
Picking a river cruise is difficult, lots of choices, lots of prices, it can be a ‘minefield’, there are so many ships to choose from. My suggestion is to pick the one that goes to the places you want to see and check the small print to see what is included – don’t be put off by the price. River cruises can seem expensive but if you work out what is included, it is very good value. This was our first trip with AmaWaterways, and it won’t be our last.
The information and flight tickets all came well within time before our departure and the seamless transfers worked very well. AmaWaterways have representatives meeting you at the airport and a bus to transport you to the ship. The cruise started from Amsterdam on a cool, wet day, but the reception on board was welcoming, warm and friendly and our cabin was ready for us, but if you arrive a little earlier the reception will look after your luggage and take you to the lounge where drinks and snacks are provided. Nothing is too much trouble for the Cruise Director who at the end of the trip organised a short walking tour plus a light lunch on board the ship before we were transferred back to the airport as our flight was late afternoon – excellent service.
Walking to our stateroom was like going through a first class hotel from the beautiful reception along a tastefully decorated corridor. Our stateroom was situated on the middle deck and one of AmaWaterways’ designs are the exclusive twin balcony cabins. This comprises a French balcony which is an ‘enclosed’ balcony but next to it is a traditional outside balcony with a table and two chairs.
The new ships that AmaWaterways will be launching soon have connecting staterooms that will be suitable for friends and family. The whole ambiance of the stateroom was of luxury and others on the ship are just as well appointed. From the suite staterooms with the bath and extra ‘his and hers’ sinks to the cabins on the bottom deck with smaller windows and a corner shower. Prices do decide which staterooms you pick, but I must say I was very impressed with all the AmaWaterways offerings from the lowest price to the highest.
AmaWaterways do not have single cabins, they have double occupancy cabins that are available with no solo supplement on selected cabin grades. The stateroom furnishings included a flat screen TV/computer, safe, bathrobes, air conditioning that you can control yourself, lots of wardrobes and drawer space plus the en-suite with luxury toiletries provided and the walk-in shower is ideal for any disabled or limited mobility traveller. The free high speed internet could be accessed throughout the ship plus a good selection of music, TV channels and up to date movies in your stateroom.
The lounges on AmaWaterways ships are comfortable and luxurious. The lounge is the hub of the ship where people gather for light snacks or just a drink, a place to sit and watch the beautiful scenery go by through the panoramic windows or having a conversation with fellow passengers who would soon become friends. If you prefer to have a late breakfast or light lunch the lounge area has tasty treats to fill the gap until your evening meal. In the evening, this area is used for entertainment and dancing. The entertainment is mixed from pop to classical, and the fun and laughter that our Cruise Director Cesario brought to the evening was special for all the guests. The ship was mainly American tourists but people from Mexico, Hong Kong, Canada and Great Britain joined the party. There is a charge for the bar in the lounge for all drinks but the tea and coffee machine is free and is open for 24 hours. In the late evening snacks are brought out from the kitchen for the hungry ‘night owls’!
Health and Fitness
All the AmaWaterways ships have a small gym on board plus a swimming pool/jacuzzi to help you work off the excesses! There is also a walking track around the top deck which is rather good after a large lunch, and you also get amazing views as you walk the length of the ship. On the top deck are lots of tables and chairs for sunny days but on cold days they double up as seats with blankets to wrap around you as you drink the local coffee and brandy or wonderful gluhwein in the winter months. For the super-fit, bike riding is becoming popular and when the ship docks, complimentary bicycles are set out on the shore by the staff. Helmets are provided plus a competent local guide to show you the beauties of the area. AmaWaterways have also joined forces with the adventure company called Backroads, and this is appearing on the Ama ship itineraries and will feature custom titanium bikes, support vans and flexible itineraries with a range of cycling routes ideal for all abilities.
For those who enjoy being pampered, a well-designed Hair and Beauty salon can be found aboard all the ships, and if you want a good massage after your fitness regime this is the place for you.
Restaurant – food glorious food
AmaWaterways was founded in 2002 by Rudi Schreiner, Kristin Karst and Jimmy Murphy who are all passionate about the quality and excellence of their ships. Food and wine are a large part of an excellent holiday and AmaWaterways do not disappoint.
Imagine a top-class hotel with excellent food and wine from the local area, well this is it. AmaWaterways is the only river cruise line to be personally invited to join the prestigious brotherhood ‘La Chaine des Rottiseurs’. Membership is by invitations only and is only given to those demonstrating an exceptionally high level of cuisine. A sample menu from the Chef’s Table follows at the end of this article.
There is complimentary unlimited fine wine, beer or soft drinks and speciality coffee served with every lunch and dinner plus sparkling wine. As you go into the restaurant you can sit in a booth for four/six people – this is unique to AmaWaterways, and offers the highest comfort for you to sit with friends for your meal.
Alternatively, you can sit on round tables that are set for five or six people and when I asked the maitre d’ why five seats, he said it was for solo guests, which is a lovely idea, so that travellers can share an evening with company and not sit on their own. However, if you prefer to be alone than tables for two are available. The evening ambiance in the restaurant is buzzing, but if you want a special evening you can book the intimate Chef’s Table which is an area set off the restaurant which is ideal for a special celebration, birthdays or anniversaries for you to share with friends. There is also a conference room for group entertaining or this is used for meetings and lectures.
Plus local wines and coffee or tea
AmaWaterways have won the Cruise Critic editors pick award for 2016 Best River Cruise Company in the USA. There are 21 ships sailing in Europe, Africa, Cambodia, Vietnam and there is the same quality and attention to detail on all ships.
The AmaDara is on the Mekong in Vietnam/Cambodia, the AmaPura sails on the Irrawaddy river in Myanmar, the Zambezi Queen sails on Botswana’s Chobe River, so the world is your oyster so do it in style.
Whether you are a group of bikers, walkers, hikers or a church group AmaWaterways will facilitate and endeavour to cater for all your requirements. Wine cruises, garden cruises and art cruises are already in place (art cruises will discontinue in 2017). The Disney Adventure group who are partners of AmaWaterways have cruises designed especially for families (not in the UK); lots of activities are planned for the children and further activities for the parents or grandparents.