Having never been on a river cruise before, I had no idea what to expect. My husband and I decided that an AmaWaterways Rhine River Cruise would be the perfect way to celebrate our 25th wedding anniversary. We thought a river cruise would make for a unique celebration trip and we were right!
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**We were guests of AmaWaterways for the purpose of this review. As always, opinions are 100% our own.**
What to Expect on an AmaWaterways Rhine River Cruise
AmaWaterways has been offering river cruises for over 20 years. Most of their routes are in Europe, but they also have offerings in Asia and Africa. Some routes have themes, like Tulip Time and Taste of Bordeaux, but many cover the major rivers like the Rhine, Danube, Mekong, and Nile.
The itinerary we booked was Rhine Castles and Swiss Alps. Our starting point was Basel, and we finished in Amsterdam, but you can take this trip in the opposite direction. Along the way, we stopped in Lucerne, Strasbourg, Heidelberg, Rüdesheim, and Cologne.
Every destination was a unique experience and AmaWaterways had customized excursions in each city, just for guests. If you’ve ever wondered if a river cruise is for you, read on as we share what to expect on an AmaWaterways ship.
One word: Convenience
My husband and I have traveled throughout Europe, starting with a 23-day honeymoon backpacking trip through 14 European cities. Since then, we’ve covered most of Europe with our kids with an annual family vacation. We’ve explored by train, bus, and car, and all of those options have something to offer, but a river cruise might be the winner for convenience.
Think about it. You arrive on board, unpack your luggage (once), and then head off on your journey. Each day you’re transported to a new destination, and AmaWaterways arranges for tours in each one (you don’t need to arrange your own). Most travel happens at night while you’re sleeping, and you never have to worry about finding the perfect place to eat because it’s on the ship.
Amenities include yoga and stretching classes, a fitness center, a spa, a walking track on the deck, as well as a small pool and hot tub.
Note: The track was not available some days due to wintry weather, but the pool was heated and used by many guests.
What’s not to love about having all of this in one place? This was our first river cruise, but we quickly realized it wouldn’t be our last.
Our ship, the AmaMora, offers eight different room categories. Our room was on the Cello Deck with 235 square feet of space, a French balcony, and a full balcony.
The room was comfortably appointed with two twin beds and a small couch (which could convert to a single bed). There’s also a large desk with a chair and storage. The closet has more than enough space for hanging and folded clothes for two people.
The bathroom was exceptionally large as far as cruise ship bathrooms go with a generous-sized single sink and a large walk-in shower. Honestly, the room was more spacious than many European hotels and most cruise ship rooms.
As I mentioned, there are multiple room categories on AmaWaterways ships. The lowest category on this ship is the Piano Deck with 160 square feet and fixed windows. Obviously, the rooms go up in price as they get larger and higher up, but there are only 3 floors of accommodations so many will offer similar views (with the exception of the non-balcony rooms).
Hands down, the staff of the AmaMora is second to none. From the moment we arrived on board and were greeted by the cruise manager, John Riley, to the second we departed with equal fanfare, we had amazing service.
This experience was not unique to us, many other river cruise guests had fabulous service. No matter who we interacted with, all of us had an amazing experience.
A special thank you goes to Alina and Alexandra who always went above and beyond in the dining room. No matter what you ordered or asked for they always served it with a smile. And be sure to engage with George the bartender, he’s lovely and had an amazing ability to show up with a fresh drink as soon as you finished the previous one (talk about attention to detail)!
Everyone else on the ship was so accommodating. The sweet young woman who cleaned our room (I have forgotten her name) took such good care of us. She came to the room several times a day and always straightened up and made sure we knew the daily schedule and had everything we needed.
Service on this ship was impeccable and I’ve never had anything quite like it.
**Note: the ship offers laundry service. Yes, you read that right. It is very reasonable, so don’t overpack and take advantage of this luxury.**
There are three meals per day served in the main dining room, but you can opt to take a smaller meal in the lounge and bar area.
Breakfast options in the main dining room included anything you can think of! There was a buffet breakfast laid out with yogurts and granolas, fruit, and bread, but you could order omelets, meat, scrambles, basically anything you wanted! Sparkling wine was complimentary with breakfast.
The upstairs breakfast options in the lounge included pastries, fruit, yogurt, hard-boiled eggs, and a chafing dish with rotating options (scrambled eggs, French toast, etc.). There’s a coffee machine available in the lounge 24 hours a day.
The lunch menu in the main dining hall had appetizers, soup, salad, and entrees, and there were always vegetarian options available. Unlimited wine, beer, and soft drinks are included with lunch and dinner. Lunch in the bar/lounge could be ordered as an alternative to a seated meal and was typically a wrap, burger, pizza, or salad.
Every day had a happy hour which featured a “special drink of the day” and well drinks were available at no cost. Premium drinks were available for an additional charge.
In the evening, the dinner menu had a section for “Chef’s Recommendations” or you could pick and choose what you wanted to eat. All drinks (wine, beer, and cocktails) were included with dinner.
When you arrive on the ship, be sure to make a reservation for the Chef’s Table. This is included with your cruise and it’s a special opportunity to dine in an intimate setting as the chef prepares a special meal. We did this on the last night of our cruise and the food was delicious.
Unique Excursions (Included with Your Trip)
If you regularly travel on cruise ships you know many excursions are not included in the cost. It is expected that you will book port day adventures once you arrive on board and pay extra for each one. With AmaWaterways, all of your excursions are included in the cost and you can choose them before boarding.
Each day a variety of tours are offered, and you can choose the activity that best suits you. If you are traveling with others, they can choose different excursions or the same, it doesn’t matter. There are activities for all types of fitness levels, everything from gentle walkers to active walkers. No matter your ability, you are sure to find a tour that works for you.
Some of the unique excursions offered on the AmaWaterways River Cruise on the Rhine included a bike ride through Strasbourg, a guided hike on the Philosophers Path in Heidelberg, Rüdesheim wine and coffee tasting events, a nighttime visit to the Gengenbach Christmas market, and a nighttime tour of Lahneck Castle. These were all very memorable experiences that were unique to the AmaMora Rhine Castles and Swiss Alps route.
Gorgeous Scenery on an AmaWaterways Rhine River Cruise
As I mentioned, most of our travel was done at night, however, the day we sailed along the Rhine River Gorge, we traveled mostly during the day. The scenery along the gorge is spectacular with over 40 different castles along the way. Our cruise manager John gave a delightful narrative as we made our way up the river. The landscape is dotted with small towns, churches, rolling hills, and castles of all shapes and sizes. If you’re looking for a river cruise through Germany, this would be the best route to take.
After the gorge we saw several cities along the river including Cologne and Dusseldorf, followed by Dutch fields and windmills. We had days with snow and bright blue sky days and they were all magical in their own way.
When planning a trip to Europe, the number of destinations can be overwhelming. Thankfully, AmaWaterways knows the rivers, they know the cities, and they know the best excursions for guests of all ages and abilities. By booking a river cruise, you’re taking the stress out of planning, and that is priceless.
Some of the places we visited on our AmaWaterways Rhine River cruise on the AmaMora were:
- Lucerne, Switzerland, is a beautiful city that sits on a lake surrounded by stunning mountains. Here we were able to take a city tour and enjoy the Christmas markets.
- In Strasbourg, France we had an idyllic postcard setting as we toured the stunning old town, cathedral, and markets in the snow.
- The town of Heidelberg sits along the Rhine River and has a castle that houses the largest wine barrel in the world and one of the oldest universities in Europe.
- We visited Gengenbach, home to the largest advent calendar in the world, and a charming Christmas market.
- In Cologne, we had a city tour and a kölsch beer tasting before exploring on our own.
- We opted for a city tour of the Jordaan district in Amsterdam which included sampling a slice of Dutch apple pie in a local restaurant.
All of these destinations were beautiful in their own way. The tour guides were locals who knew the destination inside and out which we appreciated. We usually had time to explore on our own, but you have to return by a certain time each day.
Your Own Personal Tour Planner
AmaWaterways can plan every aspect of your journey. They can book flight reservations, transfers to and from the ship, and hotel reservations for extra nights.
Many of their routes offer pre and post-cruise land packages. These allow guests to enjoy nearby destinations for an extended period of time organized by AmaWaterways. Every step of the way AmaWaterways makes the process easy. Why would you rather travel any other way?
AmaWaterways river cruises live up to the hype. They are exceptional at every turn, and we couldn’t have found a better choice for our celebratory trip. If you’re looking for a memorable experience that allows you to travel with ease and provides exceptional food, comfort, and service, book an AmaWaterways cruise. We promise it’s worth it!