Amadeus varies from most river cruise lines as it does not include any shore tours in the fare (with the exception of certain group packages that include selected excursions). This makes the cruises good value-for-money and is a bonus for anyone who prefers to explore ports of call independently, pick and choose tours or simply spend more time onboard without feeling they are "missing out" on excursions that are included in the price by other lines. On most itineraries, a choice of three excursion a la carte packages is available. These range from a small number of tours dotted throughout the cruise to one or more daily excursions. Passengers can book packages in advance for a discount of 15 percent, or book packages or individual excursions once onboard.
Tours start from around 15 euros for a city walking tour; passengers can also expect museums visits, food tastings and bus tours to places of interest such as historic monuments and vineyards. Local guides are used for the excursions and are knowledgeable and happy to answer questions. All passengers receive personal earpieces and are given receivers when they leave the ship on excursions and these enable them to hear the guide clearly without having to gather around in a huddle
* May require additional fees
Amadeus has a good system in place for security and keeping track of passengers. Cabin doors on Amadeus Queen are opened by electronic tags attached to heavy keychains with tassels, rather than key cards, which can be easy to misplace. Every time passengers leave the ship, the keys are swapped for a personalized disembarkation card with the ship's telephone number.
Complimentary bottled water is not provided for excursions (with the exception of some group tours). It can be purchased onboard for 2.30 euros for 25cl.
Daytime and Evening Entertainment
River cruise entertainment is always fairly low-key, but Amadeus provides more than many cruise lines. In place of a resident pianist, which tends to be the norm, Amadeus Queen has an onboard musical duo providing a more extensive repertoire that includes easy-listening music during afternoon tea and songs for dancing -- on the small floor in front of the bar -- in the evening.
Most unusual for river cruises is a fun themed pirate night; an event that is exclusive to Amadeus. Passengers enter into the spirit of the occasion and pull together pirate outfits with scarves, bandanas and other accessories they might have on hand, while some repeat cruisers pack costumes. Crew members dress up in swashbuckling clothes and "ambush" passengers when they go into the restaurant for dinner. Tables are also dressed up to look as if they had been plundered, with chairs upturned on the floor, cutlery piled in a heap under napkins, glasses turned on their sides and the menu printed on "charred" paper. It is great fun and there is no obligation for passengers to join in if they don't want to.
There are also light-hearted games, including a treasure hunt, quizzes and a musical dance game.
Visiting local entertainers also come aboard at various points, including a lively seaman's band from Amsterdam, who performed rousing sea shanties, and classical musicians.
Each evening in the Panorama Lounge the cruise director gives an informative port talk and overview of the following day's activities. Additionally, a commentary is provided through the public-address system when sailing through places of special interest.
Panorama Lounge (Deck 3): The main lounge situated forward on the Mozart Deck is home to the ship's bar, which is located by the entrance. The horseshoe-shaped bar is surrounded by 12 barstools and remains open until the last passengers go to bed. The bar menu is reasonably priced, with no automatic gratuities added to the bill. Wines by the glass start at 4 euros, with beer from 3.50 euros. Cocktails are price at between 5 euros, for drinks such as kir royale, to 7 euros for drinks including mojitos and margaritas. There are also nonalcoholic "mocktails" that start at 4.50 euros.
The lounge, with its restful cream and blue decor, is large enough to accommodate all passengers and is the social hub of the ship with a variety of seating options, including settees and upright chairs next to card tables. By day, passengers sit and watch the scenery through the large panoramic windows and, in the evening, it is the gathering place for pre- and post-dinner drinks and nightly entertainment.
River Terrace (Deck 3): Situated directly in front of the Panorama Lounge, this is an alfresco area with a mix of cushioned rattan chairs and all-weather chairs and tables. It is a peaceful, sheltered spot to watch the passing scenery on sunny days. It is accessed through a set of double doors from the main lounge. This is another thoughtful design detail as it means that passengers sitting in the lounge near the door are not caught in a draught as people walk in and out.
Amadeus Club (Deck 3): Amadeus Queen's second lounge is a beautiful standout venue located aft on the Mozart Deck. Decorated in cream and gold tones, with comfy settees and tables set out with glossy books, it is an idyllic spot to sit and relax. Passengers can help themselves to hot beverages from the tea and coffee machine and there are jigsaw puzzles, board games and a small library of books in English and other languages to borrow during the cruise. Passengers can also leave any of their own unwanted books for future guests. There is a curved area, with stools, close to the entrance. The area is used for talks and movie shows and is also available for private cocktail parties, which can be organized on request for groups, and past-passenger gatherings.
A door leads to a small outside deck wrapped around the back of the ship, which is set out with tables and chairs. Stairs lead up to the Sun Deck (which can also be accessed from the midship and forward section of the vessel).
The expansive Sun Deck runs the full length of the ship and has simulated wood decking material. Situated throughout the deck are plenty of tables and reclining chairs, along with sun shades and wind breaks. There is a shuffleboard area and although there is no designated walking area, many passengers stretch their legs and take in the fresh air by walking circuits of the deck.
In the center of the deck are glass panels, providing natural light to the atrium, and these are surrounded by decorative containers of moss.
The main doors on the Strauss Deck lead into a light, airy lobby and reception area that has comfortable couches and high-backed easy chairs and tables. Every day, summarized newspapers -- in English, German and French -- are put on the reception desk, along with maps and information on the day's port of call, the weather forecast and sunrise and sunset times. This area is part of the atrium that spans all three passenger decks and is connected by an open plan staircase with striking "porthole"-style design features and circular mirrors that give a real feeling of space.
On the Mozart Deck, at the entrance to the Panorama Lounge, there are display cabinets stocked with jewelry, local souvenirs, Amadeus-branded gifts and everyday essentials. If passengers want to buy something, they can go to the reception desk.
Wi-Fi is available throughout the ship and is included in some vacation packages. If it is not included in the package, Wi-Fi access is priced at 8 euros per day or 35 euros per weeklong cruise. During our cruise, the signal was strong and there was good connectivity, but it should be noted that Wi-Fi on river cruises can sometimes be intermittent and there can be times when it is unavailable.
Cleaning and pressing services are available for an additional fee. Laundry bags are left in the closet and collected by cabin stewards. Prices for pressing range from 3.80 euros for a shirt or blouse to 8.50 euros for a ladies' suit. Washing is priced from 2.20 euros for underwear to 5.90 euros for skirts, pants, blouses and shirts. Items are returned within 24 hours and there is a 50 percent surcharge for an express 10-hour service.
The ship has an elevator that serves all three passenger decks. The Sun Deck can only be accessed by stairs.
Smoking is allowed on the Sun Deck.
A standout feature on the vessel is the line's first indoor swimming pool, which is a lovely area situated at the back of the ship on the Mozart Deck. The rectangular blue mosaic-tiled pool occupies the rear section of the Amadeus Lounge and can be accessed at either end by five steps and is large enough to swim a few strokes.
The line has other excellent facilities -- a massage room and hair salon -- that are normally found on more expensive lines. The onboard massage therapist works from a serene room located at the foot of the stairs leading to the Haydn Deck. The spa menu comprises Swedish, aromatherapy and reflexology massages -- which are priced at 45 euros for 25 minutes and 70 euros for 50 minutes, with no automatic gratuity added. The hair salon is next to the massage room. Accommodating one passenger at a time, it offers haircuts and styling for men and women. Prices range from 12 euros for a men's dry cut to 39 euros for a women's shampoo, cut, blow out or set. Appointments are booked at the reception desk.
Unlike most ships that have a fitness room, this facility is not buried in a dark room on the lower deck. Although small, the gym is light and airy and an inviting space for passengers that like to work out and burn off onboard calories. It is situated aft on the middle Strauss Deck with a floor-to-ceiling window on the river side and a mirrored wall, which give it an airy feel. Open 24/7, it is equipped with one recumbent bike, a rowing machine, two upright bikes, free weights, a Swiss ball and exercise mats. A TV is mounted on one of the walls and towels are provided.
Every morning, usually at 7:30 a.m., the massage therapist leads a gentle half-hour stretching class, which is suitable for all abilities and free of charge. Weather permitting, it is held on the Sun Deck and on other days it takes place in the gym.
Amadeus Queen carries a small fleet of bicycles, which are available for passengers to use on a complimentary first-come, first-served basis. Helmets and locks are also provided.
In common with most river cruise lines, Amadeus attracts mature passengers, generally 55 and older, and itineraries are not suitable for very young children as there are no facilities or activities for youngsters. Sailings might appeal to older kids and teenagers with a keen interest in European history and culture. Children aged 12 years and older can sail onboard Amadeus Queen and any under the age of 18 must be accompanied by, and share a cabin with, a parent, legal guardian or responsible adult over the age of 21. Amadeus also reserves the right to limit the number of under-18s onboard.