I just returned from my first AMAwaterways river cruise and I can proudly say, it won't be my last! I already booked another cruise for next March, and perhaps I will even sail again before then!
I had been on MANY ocean cruises but this was my first river cruise. The biggest difference was the ease in which you can dive into the destination. I could walk on and off the ship at my leisure, like a floating luxury hotel!
I will admit that initially I was a little concerned about the apparent structure of the itinerary. It appeared at first glance that everyone onboard would be moving as a unit. But as I experienced the cruise, I was pleasantly surprised at the amount of flexibility I could exercise. I choose to eat on the top deck to enjoy lunch in the outdoors and I was accommodated by the staff who were happy to bring my plate to me where ever I wanted to sit.
While the food in the dining room was very good and offered something for everyone, I opted to eat dinner in town, to further experience the culture of each city we visited. The cruise staff were very accommodating and even provided recommendations for local restaurants to try. It was a great way to taste the local cuisine and also mingle with locals to learn more about their way of life. I highly recommend this option for anyone looking to get a true taste of each destination.
The AMAviola is a beautiful ship. The décor was elegant yet understated, and the cabins were comfortable. There was a plug on each side of the bed, which we very much appreciated when we needed to charge our phones overnight. Wifi is included and the signal was strong. The bathroom was spacious and robes were provided. We saw some guests making good use of their robes as they exited the heated pool in the chilly evenings!
My favorite part of a river cruise is the amount of time I was able to spend in each port. I was really able to get to explore the destinations. AMAwaterways includes excursions at every port, from gentle to active there is something for everyone. I choose the active excursions which were usually a hiking or biking tour. Bring comfortable shoes because there is plenty of walking - I averaged about 10 miles a day! Of course there are plenty of opportunities to take a less active approach if that is more your speed.
I saw many forts and castles and learned a lot about the rich history and culture of the Danube region. Some of the highlights included the shoes on the Danube bank, The Great Synagogue in Budapest, the architecture and musical history in Vienna, and the hike up to the medieval Durnstein Castle. Every port was an opportunity to explore a new city, meet new people and create lasting memories.
In the evenings, I was usually pretty tired from so much walking, but the ship did have local entertainment come on board which was very nice. I was generally in the room pretty early since most of the tours begin around 9am. Breakfast and wellness activities started as early as 6:30am. I am not an early riser so I took advantage of the 'late riser' breakfasts in the lounge and usually just grabbed some food on a plate and took it back to the room! The views are stunning from the balcony, which is always a must for me. The balcony in our stateroom was half inside and half outside. I was able to witness the landscape while sitting outside on a beautiful sunny day and also sit inside and still see the shoreline on a rainy day. The balcony was a little small, but it served its purpose of providing a gorgeous view.
Overall, I had an amazing experience onboard the AMAviola and can't wait to river cruise again. The staff was phenomenal and the flexibility made it easy to enjoy the destinations at my own speed. I was able to take advantage of both the organized tours with plenty of time to roam and explore on my own. I highly recommend this river cruise to anyone looking to explore the Danube region (or other river destinations such as France or Egypt) in style and comfort and immerse themselves in a new culture.
I love working with seniors! I thoroughly enjoy guiding clients through the planning process, from finding the right destination to organizing the logistics to hearing about the trip upon their return. I am a strong advocate for my clients when it comes to price, quality and service. Trust and building lasting relationships along with continuing education are all extremely important to my business.