We have done several river cruises up and down the Danube with different providers and APT was by far the least luxurious. A pleasant experience but not the luxury cruise we were expecting for the price charged and from our prior experience.
AmaBella is badly in need of refurbishment, some of the upholstery in the lounge is dirty and the dining room and lounge are dingy, with poorly placed seating. The “silver butler” we were expecting wasn’t actually a person, in order to get the silver butler service we had to call reception and they then sent the housekeeper to see what we wanted. We got the impression we were being annoying when we used the service so stopped.
Many times the drink mixers were flat because the bar uses large plastic bottles of fizzy drinks rather than having a proper soda mixer and once opened they went flat fast, and don’t expect to have an Aperol Spritz on board, the whole of Europe might be drinking them but not on the AmaBella.
There is only one coffee machine for the whole ship and it serves mediocre coffee. There was often a queue.
Whilst our cabin was large and the double balconies excellent, the TV in the cabin was the smallest I have seen since in accommodation for years, you could barely see it from the bed and there were no on-demand movies. Bathroom toiletries, shampoo etc were only replaced once the empty container was put in the bin – I have never come across this before and it felt very penny pinching, if the body wash was in the shower you had to retrieve it to use at the basin. The bed was very small and hard and there was a lot of rattling and shaking when sailing at night. Take ear plugs.
Tours are scheduled to suit the ship not the passengers. We found that often we were dropped off at one port and then bussed to the tour and onwards to the next port. This meant that there were too many long coach trips, for example when visiting Bucharest we were put ashore and taken on a 4 hour coach ride to the city while the ship continued to sail. The return ride to pick up the ship was only an hour because it was then at the closest port. The guests who were disembarking and being taken to the Bucharest airport or onwards also had to endure the 4 hour coach ride. This was completely unnecessary and made for a tedious and unpleasant day. On this same tour lunch was provided at a tourist restaurant and the food was absolutely dreadful, a most disgusting budget meal and not the fare we were paying a substantial amount of money for.
One tour was advertised a “wine tour” but failed to mention the ¾ hour we would spend in a museum and the 20 minutes we would spend in a church before one session of wine tasting.
When crossing the border at Mohacs the entire ship was woken at 6am for a passport check where we were forced to queue up in a long line in our pyjamas. I’m sorry but this is not luxury, and it did not happen with the other carrier we used on the same route.
On arrival back in Budapest at the end of the tour we were told that the AmaBella would not be cruising up and down the Danube through the city to show us the city lights, but instead we were to be taken on a tourist boat along with the guests from the Ama ship parked alongside us (a much nicer, newer ship incidentally). So 2 shiploads of guests were crammed onto a tacky tourist boat with little outside viewing, a very inferior tour indeed.
The best thing about the cruise was the staff who were exceptional. The food ranged from fabulous to dreadful but was on the whole pretty good.
So to sum up I think APT are relying on repeat custom from prior APT guests (with an average age of “very old”) who do not realise that there are far better river cruising options available. If APT want to compete they need to lift their game significantly and stop the penny pinching, when people pay for luxury they expect to receive luxury.