We had previously taken an AMA river cruise on the Rhine from Switzerland to Amsterdam and found it wonderful, so decided to take another the Danube. We were actually on the same ship, AMACerto which is very nice.
We had a great crew. Our Cruise Director, Hotel Manager, the Captain and crew provided us with wonderful service, great cuisine, safety, and comfort on our stay. This wonderful group of people worked beyond expectation to ensure that all guests were treated with exceptional courtesy, professionalism, and service. Please understand that the crew had nothing to do with the problems we encountered, and in fact, did everything possible to help ensure that our onboard experience went as smoothly as possible.
Our concern, is only with upper levels of AMA Waterways management and their lack of transparency about communicating river level problems. After being told, we did our own research to better understand the problem. It was extremely disappointing to read an article published in Travel Weekly dated August 1st (two months prior to our cruise) quoting the President of AMA that the river levels were known to be low and causing diversions from scheduled itineraries. Cruise guests weren’t made aware of these problems until just prior to our departure from Prague. The resulting low water levels allowed us only two days of actual cruising on the Danube. Our first cruising day on the river was from Vilshofen to Passau and Linz on October 9th. The second cruising day was from Linz to Melk and Vienna on October 10th. Once again, we weren’t notified about the low waters down-stream until we arrived in Vienna. This again would interrupt our expected final leg to Budapest.
AMA management obviously knew of these problems at least two months prior to our cruise. Had we been aware of this in a timely fashion, we could have opted to either cancel or postpone our trip to a different time. Obviously, AMA management used the tactic of keeping cruising guests in the dark and “dropping the news” on everyone just prior to our planned departures, both in Prague and Vienna. This we feel was deceptive on the part of AMA Waterways management.
Cruise guests were bussed from Prague via Pilzen to Vilshofen rather than Nuremberg. The two and a half hour stop in Pilzen was very marginal. We had hoped to visit the Pilzen brewery, but it was packed with Germans celebrating the last days of Oktoberfest which excluded AMA guests any opportunity to tour. Our out-of-pocket lunch stop allowed limited choices, and the only excursion options in Pilzen were a loud band in the square that was of no interest to AMA guests, and a beer garden that opened just as it was time to depart. The stop did, however, provide us with a bathroom break.
Vilshofen was a very pleasant town. For those who desired to see Nuremberg, guests were required to take a long, tiring bus trip providing minimal time in the city, and then back to Vilshofen. The option of visiting Regensberg was the same issue with another long bus ride. We opted to take a shorter excursion for a walking tour through the charming village of Scharding.
Our only highlight in Vienna was a very nice Strauss/Mozart concert, again paid out of pocket. The Vienna city tour was an overly fast and somewhat confusing bus excursion, after which, we were left on our own on a shopping street. On Saturday, October 13, we disembarked AMACerto in Vienna and were bussed to the Budapest Sofitel Chain Bridge Hotel. This bus trip was long and unfortunately without a pitstop. When we arrived at the hotel, there was a rudimentary reception for AMA guests with mediocre food and drinks. Immediately after, the AMA concierge team seemed to disappear and was unavailable to aid guests for the remainder of our stay or provide guidance about transportation to the airport. To complete our extra days in Budapest, we, and another AMA couple, arranged our own in-town excursions. We hired a driver and guide for a very nice city tour and arranged for an evening illumination cruise. Both of these were scheduled to occur as part of our cruise package that we didn’t receive. This was disappointing because we all incurred additional unplanned out-of-pocket expenses.
After returning home, our travel agent, called us and forwarded AMA’s letter of apology, with an offer of credit on future cruises. This may seem generous on the part of AMA Waterways management, but it doesn’t help those of us who will not be considering future AMA cruises.
Didn't take the long bus ride to Nuremburg from Vilshofen - Water too low to embark there, so we were bussed from Prague to Vilshofen.
Didn't go there. Again another long bus ride to and from Vilshofen.
Again, the ship never made it to Budapest. There were bus trips available, but very long, so we stayed in Vienna. Once the cruise was over, we spent a couple of extra days and had a fantastic time, even though it was paid "out of pocket."View All 353 City Tour Reviews
Night time river cruise seeing the lighted city. This was a beautiful trip and very enjoyable.
We shared a personal guide and driver with another couple who spent 2 extra nights in the city. Wonderful experience to see not only the Castle District, but also other highlights in the city. Again, this was paid on our dime. It was a real highlight of the trip.View All 70 The Castle District Reviews