On this episode of Travel Talk, you’ll discover the hidden gem of luxury river cruising with AmaWaterways, a company founded on love and family values. Our podcast delves into what makes AmaWaterways stand out among river cruise lines. From impeccable service that begins at the airport to exceptional food that celebrates local flavors, this cruise experience leaves no detail overlooked. AmaWaterways’ inclusive excursions, led by passionate local guides, offer diverse activities tailored to your pace.
What truly sets AmaWaterways apart is the sense of community fostered on board, where fellow travelers become friends and family. Have a listen as Allison invites you to join in her experience to explore Europe’s rivers and cultures through AmaWaterways’ unique lens, where rivers take you through countries and create unforgettable memories.
Three families came together and founded AmaWaterways in 2002. “Ama” means love and it shows with this river cruise line. They wanted a cruise line their families would love and when you cruise with Ama you become a part of the Ama family. It is easy to love Ama because of their service, food, excursions, and mostly the people you meet onboard. Currently, AmaWaterways has ships sailing the rivers of Europe, Asia, Africa, and South America.
From the smiling faces that greet you at the airport to the enthusiastic staff that takes your luggage on board to the bartenders and servers that are happy to get you what you need, you’ll find the service above and beyond. Every crew member onboard is there to help you and make every bit of your journey along the river memorable.
AmaWaterways provides a cruise manager for every sailing. Cruise managers are not just crew members. They start the journey at the pre-tour, stay with guests throughout the river cruise, and continue with the post-tour. They ensure a seamless experience every step of the way, including coordinating all the excursions, answering questions, making accommodations, and troubleshooting any changes. Our cruise manager, Nicoletta, was unbelievable.
On our river cruise, we were not able to dock in Cologne as scheduled. From time to time this happens on river cruises due to water levels. The change was seamless for guests though. Nicoletta informed us of the change and offered us options. They arranged for buses to take us to Cologne, so we could still visit and do the tours we had selected. In addition, she arranged several new tours in Dusseldorf, where we were docked, for those that didn’t want to bus to Cologne. All you had to do was let her know if you wanted to change to one of the Dusseldorf tours and you were set.
On the last day of the cruise, she put together a board with all the travel arrangements for the guests and your departure times. It made the departures seamless. She was even with us at our 6:30 a.m. departure with a breakfast bag and walked us to our car with our luggage to say goodbye.
This is just a taste of the service we had onboard. It really was outstanding!
The food onboard was also amazing. The chef took such time to craft each plate, so that it looked and tasted amazing. All the meals, even breakfast, were served at the perfect pace, so you were not rushed, but also not wondering what happened to your meal. At breakfast you could order a custom omelet and it came right away, so you could head out to your excursions without having to sacrifice a nice breakfast.
The menu always included a local specialty to the location we were visiting that day along with another option or two and the food was always different. In addition to the house wines, there was a new red and white wine each day that was also local to the port. It was wonderful to taste our way through the countries we were visiting. For less adventurous eaters, there were a few standards at lunch, such as a cheeseburger or margarita pizza. At dinner, there was the standard option of salmon, steak, or chicken.
The food is elevated at the chef’s table. The chef’s table is included in your cruise, but you need a reservation. It’s a special seven-course meal prepared by the chef for this special seating. You can view the menu if you have dietary needs or a less adventurous pallet. They offer it every night of the cruise, but we recommend doing it the first night as a way to kick off your vacation.
Another experience that sets AmaWaterways apart is the excursions. All of the excursions are included in your cruise. Before you travel, you select your excursions, but you can make changes to them once you are onboard. There are excursions each day and they depend on your cruising schedule. Sometimes there are morning and evening excursions and other times there are buses you can take into the city for free time.
Excursions include activities, such as hiking, biking, and walking city tours and tastings. Once onboard, you select an activity level for the tours that involve walking. You choose from an active, regular, or gentle pace. Active tours cover more ground on foot while the regular and gentle pace cover more information on the bus and drop you off closer to the main destination, so you can walk at a slower pace.
Everything is included in the excursion. If you are visiting a castle and there is a cost, they will have your ticket ready for you. Taking a gondola ride? They have your round trip ticket ready for you. The only costs you need to be prepared for is your personal shopping and a cash gratuity for your guide and driver.
Excursions are mostly in small groups and the guides are usually locals that were born and raised in the area you are visiting. They have a passion for their city and share stories about their family and the city’s history. AmaWaterways has a Quietvox in your room, so you bring it with you each day to hear the guide during the tour.
One of the best parts about an AmaWaterways river cruise is the people. I already mentioned our amazing cruise manager, but there were lots of people onboard that were amazing. We had a server named Alex, who had a sense of humor and provided excellent service.
The local guides were great. As you learn about their personal history and families, they feel like a part of your journey and family. The guides make the tours that much more enriching.
Then there are the other cruisers. Our ship had about 140 people and since there are a small number of people onboard you get to know them. All the dining is open seating allowing you to eat with your new friends. If you tend to do the same activity level on the tours, you will meet the same people frequently. I made friends from all over the United States and England. The last night when everyone was saying their goodbyes, it felt like leaving a family reunion. Some people on the ship were traveling with others that they met on a previous river cruise.
AmaWaterways says, “Oceans take you to countries, but rivers take you through them.” I couldn’t agree more! On our river cruise on the Rhine, we visited four countries and learned so much history, connected with the people, and experienced the culture. With so much to do, I feel I need to do this itinerary again! If you are thinking of a river cruise, lean on the expert advise of a travel advisor and take a look at AmaWaterways.