I am a first time poster and I owe a great deal of gratitude to those who have posted before me.
We, two well travelled couples, joined the APT cruise on the AmaBella after a stint in Madrid, Cordoba and Barcelona. We travelled with good friends,which contributed greatly to our enjoyment. We left Australia on 17th of October and after our stay in Spain made our own way to the AmaBella on the 31st of October. Names tags provided by APT meant we soon learnt fellow travellers names. From the time we joined the AmaBella to the last day when we left the AmaPrima we were cosseted and cared for. Both ladies had minor mobility issues and were worried initially about having booked the “aquarium” cabins but it turned out not to be a problem. We were two among several with knee and mobility problems.. Several times two of us went on the gentle walkers excursions and found it was just a bit too fast and once or twice perhaps it was a bit too slow but no matter, we were able to change our mobility status on the tours daily as and when needed. Our fabulous waiters Aleksander and Yani often admonished us for carrying our own plates from the buffet and made sure to intercept us and carry our plates back to our table.
We were happy with our cabins and even although one couple could not fit suitcases under the bed (Very Large suitcases) it was easy to stand the suitcases in the corner for the duration of the trip and they were not in the way. Excursions,tipping, all meals and alcohol were included in the cost of the APT cruise. Wine flowed freely and inclusive alcohol was available from the time you embarked on the boat until we left it. Whilst not big drinkers it was nice not to have your hand in your pocket or be nickel and dimed throughout the trip. The only money spent by us during the two weeks were for an odd souvenir or coffee or beer whilst in towns and then only to try different flavoured beers.
Several times we went on the same excursions as our friends but with different tour guides and it was entertaining to impart additional information re the tour to each other when we met, and often we chose different tours to each other and learnt about the alternative when next we met. On our return from our excursions the staff welcomed us back to the boat each time with cups of hot flavoured teas and local treats.
Breakfast was buffet, My husband had the made to order omelettes each day and we all enjoyed the daily specials,fruit smoothies and pastries. Lunch also a had a buffet starter component with main course and soup courses ordered from our waiter. Different flavoured ice creams (3) each day and a selection of cheese completed leisurely lunches. Dinner was served by the waiters. Wine flowed freely. Going through the locks never paled, and Kristen's descriptions of the European Union, Wachau Valley and the Castles were informative and interesting. Our sightseeing on the top deck was enhanced by little titbits, cookies, onion tarts etc and interesting alcoholic drinks. Blankets were provided by the solicitous staff for those who feel the cold and I can't think of a more enjoyable way to spend an afternoon than sailing through the Wachau Valley sitting on a comfortable chair on AmaBella's top deck with a shawl around my shoulders drinking white wine spritzers and eating onion tart whilst listening to Kristen's commentary.
Having watched the water level conversations on cruise critic forums over the previous few months, thank you Notamermaid and co,we were aware that perhaps we may have to be bused for part of the trip as water levels were ridiculously low that summer/autumn. Our Kristen kept us informed of the possibility of a ship change and although at one time we were advised we would be able to stay on the AmaBella for the entire journey, it was not to be and we had a ship change for the final night in Budapest .Those who were going home from Budapest were grateful not to be trying to adjust travel arrangements,it also meant we were able to enjoy the Budapest evening golden buildings sail past, albeit on the Amaprima.
I have read all the time about making lemonade out of lemons and thought we were lucky to be sailing on two ships. I have to express a preference for the AmaBella over the AmaPrima. To my mind it is by far more waiter friendly. Our waiter on the AmaBella had a space to organise himself well away from the diners, not so on the AmaPrima, the small table area for the waiter is right next to the window and right behind the passengers back, not ideal to my way of thinking. The Buffet area on the AmaBella is better laid out,the food varied slightly between ships, but if you had been on the AmaPrima and changed to the AmaBella perhaps you would have different preferences.
We were extremely lucky with the weather, it only drizzled once or twice and the temperatures were almost balmy at times. Of course that meant low water but the ship change went smoothly and apart from a few passengers who did not know how to make lemonade from lemons the four hour bus trip and the brief stop at the petrol station did not detract from the trip. Our crew and Cruise director Kristen were fabulous, our Captain Arjen worked tirelessly to get the AmaBella as far as we did. All in all we had a once in a lifetime experience, one my husband has said just can't be improved upon, so I guess we will have to look for another APT trip, perhaps to Antarctica?
Several people were sick on our trip, must have bought the bug on board as the use of hand sanitisers were enforced when re embarking the ship and there were sanitisers in the entrance way to the main lounge and dining room, It is hard to watch those who pick up food in the buffet area with their hands but staff we always ready to catch those people out and whisk away those trays contaminated. Several times i watched staff gently admonish culprits.
We learnt of the Paris attack on disembarkation morning and the Russian fighter plane was shot out of the sky on the morning we left Istanbul, we live in frightening times, we wish all of our fellow travellers safe journeys.
good storage, basic toiletries for a luxury trip, comfy bathrobes, close to the stairs, quiet room, WIFI intermittent Kept clean, daily sheet and comforte cover change.,