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AMA Waterways Questions for Newbie

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Hello,  my wife and I are about to put a deposit on a AMA Waterways river cruise.  We have never been on one; but our friends say they are great and close to all the action.  They told us they are pretty much inclusive with everything except gratuities; and some booze.  My question to all those who have been; what can we expect;  we are nervous since we have only been on  the Big Cruise Lines; such as Royal Caribbean; NCL, and Princess.  We are looking to Book Ama Serena for a 7 night Enchanting Rhine river cruise; with four days in Zurich and Lucerne prior to Sailing.  Any feedback and tips would be much appreciated.  Thanks All.  We plan on going 6-17 May 2020.  We are working with a travel agent; but have not put the deposit in yet.  We are going to book french balcony with outside balcony cabin.  BB on Cielo deck.  Our agent is getting us about $400 off the Ama brochure price plus a $300 gift card.  

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This is a great choice for a first river cruise, and that is one of the cabins I would favor [although we would prefer the extra room in an AB cabin].  You are correct about AMA's inclusiveness.  The wine and beer at meals covered almost all my alcohol needs [especially since they are eager to top up your glass as you leave the dining room], and AMA also has a complimentary happy hour each afternoon if you want a pre-dinner cocktail.  There is a good range of excursion options – all included in the fare.  And the quality of the food and wine is rated by the Berlitz guide as the best in the industry.

 

The one thing to warn you about – and this would be true for any river cruise line, not just AMA – is that the river cruise experience as a whole is very different from ocean cruising.  And this will be especially true since your frame of reference is the large resort ships of Royal, NCL and Princess.  You will love the absence of 'nickel and diming,' but you may miss [or you may not – we don't!] the non-stop activity and noise.  Evening entertainment will be low-key [a piano player every night in the lounge; local entertainment brought onboard a few times during the cruise].  No casino, no waterslides, no hairy legs contests.  But the days will be packed with sightseeing, so you will probably be too tired after dinner to miss these things.

 

For more information about this itinerary, check our my blog from our cruise in the reverse direction on AMACello in 2013.

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AF-1

Agree completely with Jazz.

As many others will tell you - read as much and as many stickies at the start of this section and read others reviews and posts (and keep an open-mind!). A well informed cruiser whether ocean or river cruiser (in my opinion) is the best cruiser in terms of managing ones expectations! Our first river cruise was on AMA as well - and I am completely hooked on river cruising now. Would sail on another (vs an ocean sailing) in a heartbeat.

Just as ocean cruising is not for everyone - river cruising is the same.

Specific questions - ask away - the boards are extremely helpful as I am sure you know !

 

Bob

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I just read your blog.  Thanks for sharing; it gives me a little extra info 

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My husband and I have been on 46 Ocean cruises and love them very much.  So we were apprehensive when presented a last minute opportunity to cruise on the AMA Viola down the Danube.  At first, we were shy at the intimacy of the ship.  However, we soon made friends and thoroughly enjoyed ourselves.  We were never bored because we like a slow pace.  We liked that we did not have to plan much on-our-own.  Most everything was taken care of by AMA.   We look forward to sailing with AMA again and cruising the Rhine in the near future.

 

Are you staying 4 nights each in Zurich and Lucerne... or 2 nights each?   We just returned from a trip where we started in Barcelona and ended in Zurich.  We spent 2 nights in Lucerne, and 1 night in Zurich.  We found the 3 nights sufficient, especially for our short stay in Zurich.  Perhaps it was because we were ready to head home, but we did just about all we could do and see while there.  We even spent most of one day getting to/from and exploring Mt. Pilatus.  

 

Another tip.  When we sailed with AMA, we did not buy their pre or post package stays through them.  Much less to book transportation and hotels separately.  

 

Edited by Iamthesea

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Hello. We are looking to book the pre cruise 2 nights Zurich at the marriott and 2 nights Lucerne; this is thru ama. The cost is $1560 per person and it includes pick up at the airport and drop off at the ship. Hotels in both cities plus a guided tour and breakfast everyday.  I don’t think the price is that bad.  We would do the Basel to Amsterdam route. 

Edited by AF-1

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34 minutes ago, AF-1 said:

Hello. We are looking to book the pre cruise 2 nights Zurich at the marriott and 2 nights Lucerne; this is thru ama. The cost is $1560 per person and it includes pick up at the airport and drop off at the ship. Hotels in both cities plus a guided tour and breakfast everyday.  I don’t think the price is that bad.  We would do the Basel to Amsterdam route. 

We did an extension with Ama and were very pleased. No doing homework or worrying about logistics. Plus there is an Ama rep to assist you at the hotel. Now back to your original question concerning the balcony. We tried the full balcony and quite frankly didn’t feel that we utilized it enough to warrant the extra cost. We love the top deck with the 360 degree view. That’s us, you might enjoy spending more time in your room but bear in mind it might be rafted to another river ship. We now prefer to use the money saved by not using a balcony and spend it on the pre and post extensions and upgrading our air to business or at least premium economy. 

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Got2Cruise,  did you think the breakfast buffet had lots of choices. My wife likes omelettes but i like pancake and waffles. Are these available everyday?   Is there outside eating for breakfast on Ama. Thanks. 

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1 hour ago, AF-1 said:

Hello. We are looking to book the pre cruise 2 nights Zurich at the marriott and 2 nights Lucerne; this is thru ama. The cost is $1560 per person and it includes pick up at the airport and drop off at the ship. Hotels in both cities plus a guided tour and breakfast everyday.  I don’t think the price is that bad.  We would do the Basel to Amsterdam route. 

 

We stayed the 3 nights (2 nights at the Hotel Schweizerhof Luzern...very nice!  1 night at the Radisson Blu in Zurich...convenient to trains and airport, and equally as nice, but less expensive), 3 meals a day, one guided tour in Zurich, and train tickets from Luzern to Zurich.  Total for the 2 of us for those 3 days was around  $1400. ;)

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1 hour ago, AF-1 said:

Got2Cruise,  did you think the breakfast buffet had lots of choices. My wife likes omelettes but i like pancake and waffles. Are these available everyday?   Is there outside eating for breakfast on Ama. Thanks. 

Yes the breakfast buffet is extensive. You’ll have many delicious choices. There was no outside eating of breakfast on our ship. 

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Another difference between river cruising and ocean is that there are so few passengers on each sailing, and probably a lower proportion of whom will be CC members, that roll calls don’t work in the same way so don’t worry if there isn’t one for your sailing. If there’s one covering your itinerary on your line (or all sailings on your line if it’s one of the smaller lines) join that thread as you’ll be able to compare notes with others who’ve already sailed and those still in the planning and anticipation stage. 

 

That said, there’s nothing to stop you creating a roll call for your sailing but don’t be downhearted if nobody joins it. 

Edited by kentchris

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kentchris;  thanks for the feedback.  I appreciate it; have a great day

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47 minutes ago, kentchris said:

Another difference between river cruising and ocean is that there are so few passengers on each sailing, and probably a lower proportion of whom will be CC members, that roll calls don’t work in the same way so don’t worry if there isn’t one for your sailing. If there’s one covering your itinerary on your line (or all sailings on your line if it’s one of the smaller lines) join that thread as you’ll be able to compare notes with others who’ve already sailed and those still in the planning and anticipation stage. 

 

That said, there’s nothing to stop you creating a roll call for your sailing but don’t be downhearted if nobody joins it. 

One more reason for lack of roll calls is that excursions are included. Much of the conversation on roll calls usually relates to organizing excursions.

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gnome12;  good to know;  thanks for chiming in.  Let me ask you this;  I see by your signature block you have been on river cruises;  I have not.  What do you like most about river cruises; and what don't you like

Edited by AF-1

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2 minutes ago, AF-1 said:

gnome12;  good to know;  thanks for chiming in.  Let me ask you this;  I see by your signature block you have been on river cruises;  I have not.  What do you like most about river cruises; and what don't you like

I have only done 2 European river cruises, as well as 2 in Asia. The big difference between river cruising and ocean cruising is that river cruising really developed from the land tour, as a way to take your hotel with you. I love being able to board, unpack, and get to the places that I would like to see. (I have been lucky to avoid issues with ship swaps.) I also hate crowds, and the number of people on river cruise ships is manageable. I like the QuietVox systems that let you hear the guide from a distance; you don't have to be right beside the guide (although you can also lose the group). Most of my tour guides have been very good; there have been a few that I would have preferred to avoid.

 

Generally, people are very friendly, however, on my trip to Vietnam and Cambodia, there was one group of almost 50 people that was very insular; they really stuck to themselves and didn't really want to socialize with others; since they were about 1/3 of the passengers that takes a lot of people out of the mix.

 

What I don't like is that there isn't enough time to really explore most places; Except for Vienna and Amsterdam I haven't spent a night onboard while docked. However, I travel solo, so being able to get to places and have people to do it with is very important; I will do pre- and/or post-cruise locations on my own, but getting to out of the way locations is something that I have generally chosen to avoid. (I have never rented a car in Europe to explore on my own.)

 

Sorry, I'm sort of rambling, but the question was really open-ended.

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Your answers were great;  this gives me a lot of info that I will need before I finalize my booking.  Do you feel one river line has better options than others; or have you only used one specific line?  Thanks again and you can say as much as you want;  I am hear to absorb it all in

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1 hour ago, AF-1 said:

Your answers were great;  this gives me a lot of info that I will need before I finalize my booking.  Do you feel one river line has better options than others; or have you only used one specific line?  Thanks again and you can say as much as you want;  I am hear to absorb it all in

I have used 3, but only one in Europe. However, I travelled with UniWorld before it went all-inclusive; as a virtual non-drinker that means that I am subsidizing drinkers. I also haven't travelled on the UniWorld super ships, I have only been on the River Queen and River Countess. The UniWorld decor is really quite over the top; it is not to my taste, but I can live with it for a while. Try to look at pictures of your cabin grade; each is decorated differently, and some I don't think I would be able to sleep in. Mine were reasonably muted.

 

Many people love the Ama twin balcony cabins; I had one on the Mekong, and found it just about useless; the inside part was tiny, as was the outside. I much preferred the panoramic window (French Balcony) on Avalon.

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On 6/17/2019 at 6:26 PM, AF-1 said:

Hello,  my wife and I are about to put a deposit on a AMA Waterways river cruise.  We have never been on one; but our friends say they are great and close to all the action.  They told us they are pretty much inclusive with everything except gratuities; and some booze.  My question to all those who have been; what can we expect;  we are nervous since we have only been on  the Big Cruise Lines; such as Royal Caribbean; NCL, and Princess.  We are looking to Book Ama Serena for a 7 night Enchanting Rhine river cruise; with four days in Zurich and Lucerne prior to Sailing.  Any feedback and tips would be much appreciated.  Thanks All.  We plan on going 6-17 May 2020.  We are working with a travel agent; but have not put the deposit in yet.  We are going to book french balcony with outside balcony cabin.  BB on Cielo deck.  Our agent is getting us about $400 off the Ama brochure price plus a $300 gift card.  

Just back from AMA Bordeaux cruise-our 3rd. AMA is beyond excellent in terms of food & service. Cabins were immaculate. Shore excursion well planned. Other than laundry, tips & shopping you should not have any additional $. NB: There are mimosa stion @ breakfast, wine, beer, soft drink @ lunch & dinner as well as "sip & sail" cocktail hour included every day. 

We are looking @ a Rhine/Moselle for our next cruise. Relax & enjoy

Carole

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CaroleLee,  thank you for your feedback.  Do you know if breakfast buffet serves waffles or pancakes?  Thanks

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On 6/28/2019 at 12:05 PM, AF-1 said:

CaroleLee,  thank you for your feedback.  Do you know if breakfast buffet serves waffles or pancakes?  Thanks

It varies- some days there were waffles, some days pancakes and some days french toast. Beside the buffet there is a menu you can order from- husband loved the eggs Benedict, You will not starve.

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Ahoy, all,

 

We will be taking our first river cruise. This will be a seven night cruise on Amawaterways from Paris to Normandy.

 

A few questions for anyone who can provide some information for us:

 

1. Which of the seven nights is the Chaine des Rotisseurs dinner? (Is it the same on each one week sailing, or does the timing vary?)

 

2. We have heard that the Farewell Dinner is actually on the next-to-last night as opposed to on the last night of the cruise. Is this true?

 

3. Does the air conditioning keep the indoor areas of the ship cool? France, especially around Paris, has been having some exceptionally warm weather this summer.

 

Thanks for your help with these queries.

 

Have a great evening.

 

Cheers! 😎 🍷

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We have done four river cruises and love them.

We are looking at cruises for the Bordeaux region of France.   It seems that fewer cruise lines have cruises there.

AMA, Grand Circle and Viking appear to be the better choices.  Does anyone have a recommendation.  We usually do Vantage World Travel, but they don't have this cruise.

 

Also, want to visit the Basque region of Spain before or after our cruise.

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