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AMA Five Danube Cruises - Confusing


Tedferg
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Looking at first ever river cruise and thinking Danube is best first choice. When I look at AMA site there are five Danube cruises ! Is there an easy way to see what the differences are without studying each itinerary in detail ?

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It’s only 5…what’s so hard about looking at the differences?  Different directions can of course explain for some of them but careful study will help you choose the best trip for yourself.  Otherwise have your TA boil it down for you.  Is there a reason you’re only looking at Ama?  All the major lines ply those waters.  

Edited by Gourmet Gal
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26 minutes ago, Gourmet Gal said:

It’s only 5…what’s so hard about looking at the differences?  Different directions can of course explain for some of them but careful study will help you choose the best trip for yourself.  Otherwise have your TA boil it down for you.  Is there a reason you’re only looking at Ama?  All the major lines ply those waters.  

Thanks, I see there are differences in direction and also a few different stops. At first glance they look the same. I looked at AMA first but intend to look at other lines. Taking the Goldilocks approach, not necessarily the cheapest but also not interested in top of the line. I think Grand Circle is too basic and Tauck too expensive.

Edited by Tedferg
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Our first river cruise was on the Danube on AmaWaterways.  We were on a brand new ship and we were sold on river cruises.  I don't think you will be disappointed.  Just see which cruise fits the time frame you can go.  Some of them may have different start and ending points.  We did our pre and post cruise on our own.  You can save a considerable amount of money, if you feel comfortable with this.  Our cruise started in Budapest and ended in Prague if you took the extension.  We took the ship transfer to Prague, then made our own hotel reservations.

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We booked the equivalent of the Grand Danube on AmaMagna 26-MAR-2023 with the pre to Prague and the post to Brasov & Bucharest. This will be our 2nd (& 3rd) on Ama. There were some advantages for us to do them as 2 separate bookings. Very excited.

The Grand Danube is technically a single Ama booking for a b2b Magna on the Danube and Gems of Southeast Europe. So that might be part of the confusion. Not sure which year you are looking at, but in 2023, there are 3 Ama ships doing the Grand Danube.

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Yes I now see some cruises refer to a specific ship, so another reason for separate listing. AMA was strongly recommended as a good middle of the road company, that is why we started our search with them. AMA question, their website pricing just shows $4199 per person, it does not show pricing for various decks, balconies etc. It suggests getting a Quote. Am I missing something on their website ?

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6 minutes ago, Tedferg said:

. AMA question, their website pricing just shows $4199 per person, it does not show pricing for various decks, balconies etc. It suggests getting a Quote. Am I missing something on their website ?

 

I checked the Canadian site, and if you click on the "upgrades" button you will get a pop up box for the different suites.  Click on the "see deck plan" button, and a pop up will come up with the deck plan, and the room category will flash.

 

Hope that helps.

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28 minutes ago, Daisi said:

 

I checked the Canadian site, and if you click on the "upgrades" button you will get a pop up box for the different suites.  Click on the "see deck plan" button, and a pop up will come up with the deck plan, and the room category will flash.

 

Hope that helps.

Excellent, thank you. I thought that 'Upgrade' was for pre / post extensions etc. All the details I could ask for !!

Edited by Tedferg
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16 hours ago, texasstar said:

 Some of them may have different start and ending points.  We did our pre and post cruise on our own.  You can save a considerable amount of money, if you feel comfortable with this.  Our cruise started in Budapest and ended in Prague if you took the extension.  We took the ship transfer to Prague, then made our own hotel reservations.

Sounds like something we would do, does the pre-cruise include anything other than hotel / transfer ? What is Prague transfer ballpark cost ? Apologies if this is explained on the website.

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There are very good pinned posts at the top of the forum regarding comparing different agencies.  Definitely give those a look if you haven't already.

 

We just got back from a Prague to Bucharest 21 day trip with Avalon, who I'd definitely recommend.   We were actually going to book with AMA,  but our TA recommended Avalon as an alternative.  She felt the rooms were a bit more spacious.

 

Things to think about -

 

How much time do you want to spend on the boat in the evenings?  Port stops that leave late night or are overnight will give you the chance to go out into town for dinner (for a change from the ship) or drinks afterwards, or just to stretch your legs.  Some lines save money by leaving before dinner but that means you've got nowhere to go but your room or the lounge at night.  That can get old for some folks.

 

Are there any ports/excursions that are must sees for you?  Not every Danube cruise stops/offers the same ports or excursions.

 

Upstream vs downstream can make a difference in sailing time, or even which side of the ship you might want to be on.  We went downstream, and were on the port side of the ship.  This meant that afternoon sun really heated up our room, especially if we were in port for the day.  That wouldn't be anything I'd've thought of before, but you bet I'll consider it for another cruise.

 

Frequently, cruise sponsored add-on days feature excursions and transfers to/from the ship, with a cruise director on site.

 

 

 

 

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My advise since you are just starting to look, is to decide what river you want to go on, how long, when you want to go (summer can be busy as everyone is on holidays, whereas if you can go spring/fall it won't be so bad), and a budget.

 

Then look at the itineraries each line offers, so you can look at what places you wish to visit. That can help narrow it down quite a bit.  Also, you would have to compare what is and isn't included.  Most lines have 1 daily tour (and they all, from what I know, have good guides, and you aren't in large tours either as far as I know, even if you have over 200 on your cruise), with an optional one.  Morning is usually reserved for the included tour, the afternoon is the optional one, or you can wander around the town if you are in port.  Most lines have beer/wine for dinner & lunch included, and usually you can order "one to go" at night to enjoy in the lounge or up on the top deck (or your room).

 

Don't expect entertainment like you get on an ocean cruise...usually a keyboardist providing dance/background music.  Occasionally, entertainment will be provided - woodcarver for the Black forest, instrumental band along the Danube, wine/beer tastings etc, but usually it's just meeting up with your fellow ship mates.  We usually use the time after dinner to get caught up  with news from home, getting pictures downloaded etc - wifi is free, so it's nice that you don't have to worry about it.

 

River cruising isn't always a relaxing holiday...if you are touring morning and afternoon, it's non-stop all day. Breakfast is usually around 7:00, lunch around 12:00 and dinner 7:00 at night.  Between meals, you are out walking around towns.  Yes, there is the occasional bus trip to get you to somewhere  not on the river, but usually through scenic areas, and not long trips.  Fun, but if you pack everything in, you almost need a holiday to get over the holiday!  It is worth it though, and can become very addictive. 

 

Ask questions a lot, we are a patient bunch who like to share our experiences.  When you decide the river you wish to go on, search this forum for previous reports, they will give you and idea as to what to expect.  Most of all, be prepared for anything - low water, high water, Covid restrictions constantly changing, you name it. 

 

If you are willing to "go with the flow" you will probably love it.

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I was on the Crystal Mozart which is a double wide ship. The Amamagna is very similar in size - it is double the width of most river boats. That ship looks amazing. These 2 ships can only sail on the Danube due to their size. 

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@Daisi Thanks for a well thought out response. Initially we think the Danube Nuremberg etc. to Budapest with Prague pre cruise, is obvious first choice. Someone commented that Rhine - Moselle, I think with Avalon, is very scenic, does not have low water problems and limited rafting.

 

We are happy with your description of entertainment versus Ocean cruising and Spring or Fall are also good options for us.

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@Tedferg, We did our first cruise the 2nd week of May.  Weather was great (we like it when it's around 20C, warm enough you don't need jackets, but cool enough you can spend hours wandering and not be overheated.  We did the Rhine, as it was (at that time) the recommended 1st cruise.  We had a Danube tour booked for this May, put it off for May 2022, now are going to hopefully be going Sept 2023.  DH's sister & her husband sail end of Sept to October, and enjoy then.

 

Everyone will have a favourite line, so it's very important for you to look at the reviews (and tourist YouTube videos, not the company ones) and see what line will suit you.  I really don't think there is a "bad" line to go with, they all offer great service, food & things to see.  

 

As for rafting, you really don't notice it unless you have to go through another ship to get ashore.  Most times, you are out on tour while the ship is docked, so it's not as if you are sitting there all day looking at another boat instead of the scenery.  I think on our Rhine cruise in 2018, we only had others go through our ship, not the other way around.

 

Take your time and go through the "stickies" at the top of the forums, there are some good articles in there comparing lines, rivers etc.  Majority of passengers will be American, but you will probably get some from all over the world.  Our cruise had more from the Philippines than Canadians... 🙂 

 

As to your cabins, you usually are only in them to sleep, so size is good for all levels.  The lower levels have a fixed window and is at water level, so not always easy to see out of.  We enjoy the 2nd level as it's just over the water, and we had fun watching the swans cleaning off the ship.  The only main thing to think about is the balcony is counted as part of the room size, and on Viking, the corridor is off center, making the cabins with the french balconies actually smaller.  We loved our nearly room sized opening windows for our french balcony as we could sit in our comfortable chairs and still have the "outdoor" experience...but when we wanted to see anything, we were either in the front section or up top...views are on both sides of the river!

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4 hours ago, Tedferg said:

. Someone commented that Rhine - Moselle, I think with Avalon, is very scenic, does not have low water problems and limited rafting.

 

 

 

Here is a thread notamermaid started about the Moselle.  It does sound like a great river to sail.

 

https://boards.cruisecritic.com/topic/2268619-the-river-moselle-infos-and-river-cruising-experiences/

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Hi Tedfurg!

We are actually just boarding an AMA cruise this Sunday from Vilshofen to Budapest.

This is our 3rd River cruise.. first on Avalon, second on Viking and now AMA since they have a very generous and appreciated "Front line worker" discount that was offered last year in the depths of the pandemic.

We left the Danube as our third choice due to flights.

Even though we live in NY there are no nonstops on Delta to the Vilshofen or Budapest.

Since we can only go away a week at a time because my husband is still working the rivers with nonstop embarkation and debarkation were the first two choices for us.

On the Rhine we can fly nonstop to Zurich and then nonstop home from Amsterdam.

On the Seine we can fly nonstop in and out of Paris.

Now that we cruised those two rivers the Danube was our next logical choice even though we have to connect going and coming.

We loved our cruises on both Avalon and Viking and I'm sure we will love our upcoming one on AMA.

When we booked the AMA one we wanted to make sure the cruise spent a day in Budapest and the one we chose (The Romantic Danube) did. Some of the other AMA Danube cruises leave from Budapest but don't spend any time there.  If you are flying to Budapest a day or two before and can see the city on your own then that's great but if you can't you will want to book a Danube cruise that spends a day in Budapest which is a wonderful city.

I plan to write a trip blog on our AMA cruise as I did with Viking and Avalon.

If you want to see my trip blogs here are the links.

They will give you a good idea of what river cruising is all about.. it's awesome!

https://boards.cruisecritic.com/topic/2337363-the-romantic-rhine-on-the-avalon-imagery-ii-full-trip-report-with-lots-of-pix/

 

https://boards.cruisecritic.com/topic/2474162-paris-and-the-heart-of-normandy-captured-our-hearts-full-trip-report-viking-rolf/

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Hi!

I'm so glad you are enjoying the reviews and that you find them helpful.

It was a few years ago but I think we chose to cruise on Viking the second time because we needed a Seine cruise that left on Saturday instead of Sunday and Avalon didn't offer one that week.

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AMA solves the Danube low water problem by starting in Vilshofen rather than Nuremberg.  And while they are not all inclusive on alcohol or gratuities, they are outstanding on excursions—often two slots  a day, several choices, lots if active and bike tours, rarely any extra charges. 

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28 minutes ago, Host Jazzbeau said:

AMA solves the Danube low water problem by starting in Vilshofen rather than Nuremberg.

Indeed they do. Vilshofen coming up again and again - being mentioned on CC or seeing it in brochures - I checked this in detail yesterday (that may go in the Danube thread for general interest's sake) and found AmaWaterways, Viking and Crystal very much making use of Vilshofen these days. Regensburg has much turned into an excursion and Nuremberg into post-cruise experience. But not all itineraries with AmaWaterways are like that. The "Legendary Danube" still starts in Nuremberg.

 

@Tedferg The embarkation port when looking at river levels is only of importance in drought, not in flooding, as all ships whether they start in Nuremberg or Vilshofen need to go through Passau with its low bridge problem.

 

Drought may be a problem from August till October (short and intermittent or for weeks), flooding a more temporary one between March and June (exceptions always possible).

 

 

22 hours ago, Tedferg said:

Someone commented that Rhine - Moselle, I think with Avalon, is very scenic, does not have low water problems and limited rafting.

The Moselle is very scenic and quieter (less river traffic) than both Rhine and Danube. The Moselle is controlled by locks so has no drought problems. The Rhine does occasionally in autumn.

 

Rafting can happen anywhere, but by nature of the less frequent river cruise traffic, the Moselle has less than Rhine or Danube.

 

I love the Moselle and the Rhine is "my" river so I am biased. I loved the Danube river cruise I did and I do think you will really enjoy it as your first.

 

notamermaid

 

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Thanks for informative responses, CC truly is a great resource and the Stickies with A versus B answered all of my other questions. Prague and Budapest seem to clinch Danube for first River cruise.

 

One last question, I lean towards ending in Budapest but see comments about beautiful night time sail with buildings illuminated. Does this impact choice of direction ? 

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