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About Needzavacation

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  1. On our river cruise earlier this summer, they switched to single-serve boxed water on excursions - a good middle-of-the-road alternative.
  2. We've stayed at Banks Mansion 3 times - can't fault a thing. Great location, close to everything. Hospitality is second to none, and the afternoon wine-and-cheese reception is a great way to top off the afternoon. If you like fresh seafood, take a look at the restaurant John Dory. It's two canals over - a little over a 5-minute walk - with beautifully presented dishes in a comfortable, casual atmosphere.
  3. One consideration when booking hotels in Copenhagen (and Northern Europe) is that not all hotels have air conditioning, because the weather is typically more temperate in that region. So if A/C is important to you, read the descriptions carefully when choosing a hotel.
  4. We've done 7 cruises on AmaWaterways, including my 80+ year-old mother. She uses a cane, and can generally get around fine, but stairs and hills can cause challenges. In our experience, Ama and its tour guides have always proactively offered a helping hand on and off buses, and has even provided shuttle buses or taxis for passengers to get up certain hills. I imagine Scenic does the same. One other thing to keep in mind is that ships sometimes "raft," or dock side by side in some ports. In some cases, the ships line up and, if you're on the outside ship, you walk directly through the other ship and onto the pier or dock. But in other cases, you have to walk up to the sun deck, and then over to the sun deck of the other ship, and then down to the lobby of the other ship and then onto the pier. So that can be challenging. Ama's new ship, AmaMagna, however, has an elevator that reaches the sun deck, and that was a huge help for mother on our cruise last month.
  5. One other consideration to keep in mind: Unlike ocean cruising, there tend to be more variables with river levels. At certain times of year, water levels can be unusually high or low, which can affect how the boats can move (or not) on the rivers. So it's a good idea to read reviews of the two lines to see how they each handle water issues, and more specifically, how they treat passengers when issues arise.
  6. Evening options are very different than an ocean cruise. But unlike ocean cruises, there are no sea days, so the daytime is pretty full, and a lot of people wind down early to get ready for the next morning's excursion. But in a couple of cases, you may be in port late or overnight, so you can always go back into the village or city for your evening options. And in any case, sitting on the sun deck in the evening with an adult beverage as you glide down the river is a really nice way to end the day.
  7. There are two surcharged excursions: The first is the evening concert in Vienna. It's billed as a "classical concert," but it's really one of any number of tourist-focused concerts around the city every night - light classical, a little opera, and some comedy (believe it or not). If you search on Google, you'll find a number of reviews of these types of concerts. The other surcharged excursion is a visit to Schonbrunn Palace in the afternoon in Vienna. So in Vienna, there's an included morning excursion, then the two optional excursions. If you do all three, it makes for a long day. It's not hard to get a bike excursion. There are a LOT of bikes on AmaMagna compared with the other ships. I can't recall any of the bike excursions turning anyone away. Dress for the Captain's Gala is the same as for every other night, which I'd describe as smart casual or country-club casual. In reality, attire was across the board every night. No one ever got really dressed up. On men, you'd see a couple of sportcoats, but mostly anything that's a step above a t-shirt and jeans will do. The Chaine des Rotisseurs dinner was very nice, but I wouldn't say it was remarkably all that different from dinner on most nights. The food on board is a step up from what you'd experience on a mass-market ocean cruise, but not quite up there with the food on Regent or Crystal or the like. I do have a handful of schedules - most of the photos were taken of the excursions, not the ship. If you want to ping me with your email, I'll be glad to copy and send them.
  8. Before Fatal Boat Crash in Budapest, Safety Warnings Went Unheeded https://www.nytimes.com/2019/06/11/world/europe/budapest-danube-crash.html?action=click&module=News&pgtype=Homepage
  9. There's one seating time for all the restaurants, typically around 7 pm, although the alternative restaurants tended to open 15 minutes later.
  10. The restaurants typically open at 7, sometimes a little earlier and sometimes a little later, depending on evening activities. For example, when docked outside Vienna, they offer an optional evening concert in Vienna, so there are two dinner seatings that night - one earlier for those opting for the concert, and one later for those staying on board.
  11. There are six booths for two, but if they're taken, you can take a booth for four (there are six of those) and sit in the outside seats. Unless the dining room fills up, you'll have it to yourself. I will say, though, that you can meet some delightful people when someone asks to share. We generally prefer our own table, but always had a good time when asked to share. In the Chef's Table restaurant, there are tables for four, but if you reserve early in the cruise, they'll book it for two. In Jimmy's, all the tables are large (think "family"), but it wasn't full when we dined there and every couple had their own table. In terms of dining times, the daily program says you can arrive for dinner within 90 minutes after the doors to the dining room open, but in reality, most people arrived within the first 20-30 minutes.
  12. Since there aren’t a lot of comments about AmaWaterways’ new AmaMagna, I thought I’d start a thread with some highlights based on our sailing in late May/early June. We’re multiple cruisers on Ama, having now sailed on all three generations of their ships. Overview: The ship is stunning in general, and the double width gives it a much more spacious feel. The quality of the staff equaled the impressive spaces – every member of staff in every area provided top-notch service in a professional, yet friendly, manner. Staterooms: We were in a category SA, which is categorized as a suite, but is really like a large stateroom on an ocean ship. Lots of storage space, and a large bathroom with a big shower. The toilet was actually in a separate area off the stateroom entrance (akin to a European water closet), but without its own sink. The beds seemed unusually high, but maybe that was to ensure space for luggage underneath. Air conditioning was great – as cold as you want! Unlike the previous generation of ships, AmaMagna is not “divided,” with stateroom corridorss up or down a few steps from the reception area. As a result, noise from the lounge traveled into the stateroom corridors; our stateroom was very noisy at night until the late-night revelers closed down the lounge. If you’re a light sleeper, choose your stateroom carefully. This category included laundry service, which was very convenient, although it was very basic laundry service (clothing sometimes came back damp-to-wet). There were also two free washers and dryers on the bottom deck for those without included laundry service. Main Dining: The main dining room was very comfortable, with booths for 2, 4 or 6, as well as larger tables. I’m not a fan of large booths (I hate getting trapped!), but the seats were comfortable. Menu choices always included a fish and meat, as well as a vegetarian option, and was certainly of a higher standard than a mass-market cruise line. During breakfast and lunch, the layout of the various buffet areas could get a bit congested. Alternative Dining: The Chef’s Table was a superb experience, but we prefer the location in the earlier ships, with the larger windows and natural light. On the first deck, it was a bit dark. We ate at Jimmy’s one night, which occupies a space next to the Chef’s Table. Again, it’s a bit dark, but it fits the wine bar atmosphere. The menu, though, is the same as the menu in the main dining room, although they serve everything on the menu family style (no choices – they serve everything). The third alternative venue, Al Fresco, was a nice spot for a quick snack, but we never ate there for dinner. It seemed too casual, almost cafeteria-like, for a nice dinner, but that’s just our opinion. Services: The larger ship provided more space for spa services, rather than just a single room for hair and massage. AmaMagna has space for a hair salon on the bottom deck, and then two massage rooms and a manicure space at the end of the third deck. Wellness: We never used any of the wellness facilities, but they looked fairly basic. The outdoor exercise bikes overlooking the wake of the ship was a nice touch. The pool (very shallow) didn’t seem a lot bigger than previous ships, and we never saw anyone use it, but that might have been a function of the weather. The pop-up elevator that goes up to the Sun Deck is a nice option, although the elevator is very slow (incentive to use the stairs!). No mention was ever made of the Sundowner dock that folds out of the back of the ship, which we thought was a bit odd, since it was highlighted during construction. Entertainment: Entertainment consisted primarily of the piano player, who was good. Local entertainment came onboard a couple of times. On previous cruises, we seem to recall local entertainment on board almost every night, so we missed that aspect of the experience. In Summary: The size of the ship had its pluses and minuses. The extra space was nice, but the overall experience seemed less intimate than cruises on the “smaller” ships. There seemed to be a more congenial atmosphere on the prior ships, with passengers getting to know one another as the voyage progressed. Not saying it’s better or worse, but even though we tend to like our privacy, we enjoyed the experience on prior cruises a bit better. Happy to answer any questions.
  13. If you want a killer view of the Eiffel Tower, take a look at Hotel Brighton, across from the Tuileries Garden.
  14. We'll be on AmaMagna in late May - our seventh AmaWaterways cruise!
  15. Another vote for the Aria Hotel. We always stay at the Aria in both Budapest and Prague. Service, facilities, and location can't be beat.
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