Should have been a holiday of a lifetime, sadly it hasn't been (and I can't get off yet). I accompanied an elderly aunt :), even though she's lovely and very active, the bulk of the passengers despite being very nice people are simply not. I'm 60 and wanted a river cruise experience but didn't realise even paying a top end price doesn't buy you a better experience. The Amabella I'm told is 10 yrs old. I feel like a captive on a very boring cruise (there are some younger people, even a young honeymoon couple but they are with each other or travelling with a group of friends. Lots are unhappy but they plan to complain at the end of the cruise in the feedback form (not helpful really as that will go nowhere). Emese (cruise director) makes no bones about it that I should have understood that it is mainly "Older people" the cruise is orientated to, which was not my understanding before agreeing to come on this much more expensive than other river cruise ships. Our shared cabin was "UPGRADED" hate to see what we'd have stayed in otherwise as this is tight but at least has a small outside balcony that can be used when the weather permits. Don't get excited about having a butler...we never saw him just other staff when something had to be fixed or you requested something to the cabin. Air was not a problem in the cabin apart from the airconditioning we also can open a large window or go onto the little balcony. When travelling at night especially, the cabin groans and there are many noises, sometimes bumps during the nights. A newer ship may be more buffered from these but this cabin #317 doesn't handle it well (light sleepers may need a tablet or to drink more). The cruise highlights off the ship both featured classical entertainment which were really exceptional. One evening was held in a privately owned castle, the other in a private palace which were both places we'd probably not have gotten to otherwise but to be fair other cruise ships may have similar I didn't look into it. Onboard entertainment otherswise was a very lacklustre experience, with the exception of the night of a visiting UK performer (APT brought in a couple of performers I only heard one as the other was country music but this lady was excellent) sh performed a mixed caberet style show (had an exceptional voice) and injected a much needed change to the usual offerings. Three - four evenings during our cruise was not enough to make the difference though. Some of the staff were terrific especially good was Plamen (barman upstairs, who knew each passengers name - without badges and what they liked to drink). The day we travelled to Salzburg was terrific the train was a special charter, which enjoyed the decor of bygone days - each carriage a little different to the others. Representing the culture well was some operatic/caberet type entertainment on the return journey along with refreshments each way. Accomodation in Amsterdam at the Marriott hotel prior to our cruise was very good. If you need a firm pillow however bring your own (I wish you luck getting one otherwise) they don't understand the need. Onboard they had to reach out to another ship to find me one firm pillow as their ship only caters to people who like hard beds and very soft large square pillows. We were told our laundry was included (and it was only one bag per cabin per week) the drinks were free except if you unwittingly ask for a top shelf item as I did one night . I asked for a Cointreau and had to pay 5.50 euro for it, depite others drinking very heavily and not paying for cocktails etc. seems unfair really (drinks are either free or they are not). The food on the first day or so seemed very nice. After the first couple of days it all seems same, same not very spicy they cater for people with very bland taste, vegetables are mostly just for garnish as they're so hard they fly off your plate when you try to eat them. Overall it's like a small RSL club on the water to me and the staff couldn't care less as I've already paid.....LET ME OFF!
The cabin initally looked good, however I had trouble getting a firm pillow, top sheet and softer mattress. The airconditioning seemed to get a bit hot during the night, so I had gottent the top sheet so I could throw off the doona when that happened and even though my aunt didn't request one I know she was unhappy with the termperature at times and wished she had. We had twin beds and found one used slipper under one at the outset and the bathroom sink badly needed a clean out as it smelled bad. There is no ventilation in the bathroom, so we had to leave a towel in the door so as it didn't fog up so badly and we could do our hair/ makeup after a shower. All things were discovered one at a time during our cruise but by the first eveing we discovered the safe didn't work, nor did the clock or the shelf in the bathroom or the TV. These issues were all fixed quickly but each was found at separate times, so we had a myriad of people bringing batteries and fixing things.