I have done 13 ocean cruises, all in North America, but I love land travel to Europe and this seemed like a great way to see many different countries/cities. I was not wrong!
The AmaMora is a gem of a small ship. From the moment you step onboard you’ll be enchanted with its fixtures. We stay at the Venetian and Bellagio in Vegas frequently, and my biggest complaint when spending more on hotel rooms is that they don’t compare. This ship, though scaled down in size from the ocean liners, is chock full of beautiful fixtures. The only issue I noticed was a strange smell of sewage that seemed to emanate from the public bathroom near the main dining room. It was potent and lingered to nearly the day of debarkation. It was puzzled by this, as the ship and staff were absolutely first class. Oh, well, the AmaMora was only a few months old so I guess it had a technical issue to work out.
The cabin had the French/regular balcony. It was tiny. I mean TINY. But the fixtures and amenities were luxurious. My friend, Karen, and I simply coordinated the times we used the bathroom to get ready for the day, and absolutely kept our clothing and “clutter” to a minimum. Also, their lighting system was super high tech. So high tech that we had difficulties with it (we were too excited to listen to our steward when he checked us in the first evening). So we would plunge the place into darkness or light up everything on a random basis. haha
Dining: simply the BEST food I have ever had on any cruise, hands down. The main dining room was so delicious that the “chef’s table” experience was not that much better to me, which says a LOT! And the wine...did I mention the wine? The waiter in the dining room kept it flowing at all times, and I am pretty sure no one on board had ever had that much to drink in one week before in our lives. I would caution those who have had or do have a drinking problem here. Ama does include alcohol with all meals and does a pre-dinner cocktail hour. I love that (I hate being nickel and dimed on the bigger ships), but anyone with alcohol issues should come up with a plan prior to sailing and stick to it. For instance, speaking with the dining room staff about your preference, which they will respect. Attention to detail on this journey was second to none. That said, there were some evenings the staff seemed a tad harried (“in the weeds” is restaurant lingo) and service was slow. That seemed to be towards the end of the trip, though, and everyone had made friends by then and could certainly overlook a lengthy dinner.
Entertainment and activities in the evening were less than what you would expect on an ocean vessel, with their gigantic show venues, multiple bars, and casinos. However, the company and intimacy were first class. The DJ, Petah, on this trip loosened up the second night and after the first sedate evening the lounge was jumping with (usually) retro disco tunes and even a country music night (which wasn’t as big a hit). I feel sure all the wine at dinner contributed greatly to this, as well as new friendships. Gah, I truly miss some of my friends from this adventure. Fabulous people! One word of caution: if you are older and like to retire early, I would recommend a cabin towards the aft of the ship. I can imagine the sound coming from the lounge would keep you up late if you were nearby. Some nights they shut things down *well* after midnight. Our cruise included Halloween, and the staff brought out complimentary hats, masks, etc., for the guests which was fun for all.
The service on this ship was literally second to none. I am NOT a morning person by any stretch of the imagination, and I don’t drink coffee. On morning one, in order to get down to breakfast in enough time to eat prior to getting on the bus for our excursion, I had a desperate case of jet lag. My friend and I had to get up by 6:30 a.m. in order to get showered and to the dining room. I was cranky and half asleep, and asked for two Coke Zeros (included) for their caffeine. The next morning, as I was getting ready and Karen had coffee, one of the dining room staff came to my cabin to deliver two Coke Zeros! Wow!!! I was both touched and impressed. The same could be said for the entire staff. Could not say more about their attention to detail and wonderful attitudes, from the cruise director to the cabin stewards. Ama shines in customer service.
Ports and shore excursions: First off, a choice of 2-4 were available daily at nearly every port. All were included in the cruise fare (yay!). However, even on the days they had “late risers” excursions (meaning 10:00 a.m. departures versus 9:00 a.m.), the dining room shut down at 9. Yes, there were cold danishes and offerings in the lounge, but I love “real” breakfast. So, every day, we had to get up at 6:30-7:00 a.m. in order to make breakfast and meet the buses. This seemed like a LOT of work on vacation, not going to lie. Unlike an ocean cruise, there are no sea days. You’re in a new city every day, so you get up early every day. Ugh. Did I mention I am not a morning person? Pair that with jet lag and it wasn’t my favorite part of the trip. Most of the excursions are a bus ride from port, as you’re on the river, but points of interest may be a ways from it. Without fail, each tour guide on the various buses felt it his/her duty to give information non-stop from the time you sat down on the bus until you got back on the ship. This became too much for me, so I resorted to headphones on the morning bus rides. I am super independent, and I don’t like having the Audio Vox in my ear while following a guide with a “lollipop” waving in the air. I like free exploration time. Towards the end, I skipped an excursion (Cologne) and took in the city on my own, at my leisure that day. Also, one of the neat things about river trips is if you overnight in a city at the city center (Cologne and Amsterdam), you can get off the ship and check out the city by yourself or with small groups of friends you met onboard. I used Uber in Cologne to go to the cathedral at night, then met some locals who were in town for a hockey game. We became fast friends and shut down a pub. I had fun learning what they thought of ‘Merica, and learned about their worlds. Best night of the trip! Only problem is that when I left the ship I didn’t think about where to go back. The Rhine is, err, a long river with many places to dock. Fortunately, I had the ship’s number on the back of my room key and between the concierge and my taxi driver, we managed to figure out where to go. Funny part of that was I don’t speak German, taxi driver didn’t speak English (rare), Google Translate failed me, but he and I both spoke SPANISH and it saved the day! haha Such a “tourista,” I am. Who knew four years of high school Spanish would come in handy decades later with a German taxi driver?
I didn’t take my teens, and I think they might have been a tad bored at night. Wifi can be spotty on the river, and the entertainment (Petah and, sometimes local musicians) would not have appealed to the younger crowd. However, if your kids love history and food, there was enough to do during the day/early evening to make it worthwhile.
After the trip was over, I would say one word about it: INTENSE. Seeing a new city every day, and getting up early to boot, was a lot to take in. I could not have loved a trip more than that one, despite a few small drawbacks. I would go again at the drop of a hat! I would definitely stay loyal and cruise with AmaWaterways every time. When you find the best, you don’t have to go anywhere else. I even made the deposit on this cruise for my next one, which allows you to book up to two years out at a slightly lower “loyalty” rate. I would probably choose a different itinerary, just because I’d experienced the Rhine, but would certainly go back on another Ama cruise. This company knows how to treat its guests. Well done!
My favorite port: a charming blend of German and French architecture. Only caution: I was targeted by pickpockets in Petite France while on walking tour. Fortunately, the thieves could not open my drawstring backpack, which I wore on my back.View All 79 Le Petite France Reviews
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I had a better time exploring on my own than my travel companion did on the walking tour. She said it was rushed. I went at my own pace.