River cruises have rocketed in popularity over the last ten years; offering slow travel in intimate surroundings, right into the heart of historic and cultural destinations. There are a plethora of great river cruise companies, but who better to test the water than with AmaWaterways, who hold the enviable title of ‘Best River Cruise Fleet in Europe’ in the latest edition of the Berlitz: River Cruising in Europe and the USA, travel guide.
We were lucky enough to enjoy a short trip on board Ama Kristina, one of the newer ships in the 23-strong fleet, last November. One of the first things we learned after coming aboard was that the word Ama is derived from Latin, meaning LOVE! So, here are four things we loved about river cruising with AmaWaterways.
L for Light – Lying in bed with light streaming in through a wall of glass, as the surrounding countryside passes by, really is a delightful way to start your day. Most staterooms feature not one but two balconies, a French balcony and an outdoor balcony with seating, with floor to ceiling windows that flood the room with light. There are also French balcony staterooms that are light and spacious as well as a handful of lower deck cabins with picture portal windows, but our advice would be to go for a twin-balcony suite, pull back the curtains and let there be light!
O for Off-Ship – River cruising is perfect if you yearn for total relaxation but also love to explore. Ama offer a menu of experiences with something for everyone in each port of call, and they are all included in the price of your cruise. First-timers can chose a city tour designed to show you the highlights, returners can pick a special interest tour providing a closer look at local life or a taste of regional specialties, from beer and bratwurst to praline and pretzels, and those looking for something active can bike or hike around the area with a guide. Amsterdam by canal boat was a great way to see the city for the first-time and biking around Cologne taught us about its Roman beginnings and magnificent cathedral, while burning off some calories. Central moorings mean you’ll be right at the heart of the action, too.
V for Vast – It’s not just the cabins that are spacious, the whole ship is light and airy, and the lounges, restaurants and top deck never felt crowded, despite our cruise being full. Ama carry fewer guests than many other river cruise ships of similar size and you can really tell. The sun deck runs the whole length of the ship and has plenty of seating, not to mention a heated plunge pool with swim-up bar. There is also plenty of indoor space in the lounge and bar area to find a comfy corner and enjoy a good book or board game.
E for Eating – Holidays are all about eating and Ama doesn’t disappoint. You can pretty much eat from dawn till dusk, with breakfast, lunch, afternoon treats and dinner all included. Breakfast is fit for a king with a plentiful buffet, as well as an al a carte menu. Be sure to squeeze your own fresh orange juice and try one of the freshly prepared muesli and yoghurt pots. The main restaurant is carefully designed, with open seating and booths, so that you don’t feel like you’re in a huge open expanse. If you’re celebrating a special occasion or make friends during your cruise, ask if you can be seated in one of two private wine rooms, which can sit up to 12 people. The Chef’s Table speciality restaurant is also included for one night during your cruise, and its seven-course tasting menu with local wine paring is not to be missed.