River Cruising In Europe
Oceans take you to countries. Rivers take you through them! ⚓️ 🌎 🏰
I had the pleasure of river cruising along the Danube River from Germany to Austria in July 2018 and then cruising the Rhine River from Switzerland to Amsterdam in August 2019. River cruising is truly an amazing experience and an epic way to tour Old World Europe as you let the melodious Danube and mystical Rhine serenade you.
If you are asking yourself whether a river cruise is the same as an ocean cruise, the answer is no. If you aren’t quite a fan of ocean cruises, you may find yourself saying quite the opposite when it comes to a river cruise. Instead of cruising in the middle of the ocean, you are literally moving along the river viewing the sites and sounds of the beautiful cities. Cruising is seamless with without the big waves. It’s enjoyable and quite peaceful. For all of you curious about river cruising, here’s a little summary of my personal experience. I’m already planning my next one for 2019!
The River Boat: I chose to sail with Amawaterways because of several reasons. First, while the boats are a similar size to other river cruise companies, they hold fewer passengers. On my sailing we had 124 people on board....and over 60 staff. This means the service was extraordinary and lots of one on one attention. Unlike ocean cruises, this river cruise had a more inclusive pricing structure. What does that mean? Well, there are no mandatory charges once on board. Included in the price are wine and beer and non-alcoholic beverages, meals on board and guided tours and excursions daily. The activities were broken out into all sorts of activity levels and you could choose your activities prior to boarding the river cruise. And if you opted to change your mind and explore on your own one day, that was no problem. You were never pressured into having to do one thing or another. You made the decision how you wanted to explore each spectacular city. Plus, the average age of people sailing on Ama is lower than many other cruise lines! Oh and did I mention there is an on board wellness coach offering fitness classes and activities daily. This is something new and a great addition to river cruises. It truly filled my cup of travel + total wellness. Now I can truly get on board with that!
The ship itself was Amasonata. It is a newer ship (only a few years old) and is decorated very elegantly. All of the areas of the ship are comfortable and there was room for everyone. In fact, you never felt crowded on board this ship at all. The rooms are various sizes from the cute cozy library to the lounge to the sun deck. The various locations on the sun deck were perfect for afternoons of sailing while sipping some vino. There are chaise loungers and tables everywhere (with bar service) and a pool too.
The Ports: This particular Danube tour was a 7 day sail from Neurenberg to Vienna. Ports visited were Regensburg, Passau, Linz, Melk, Durnstein, Krems and ending in Vienna. Prior to departing the states, I received a fantastic booklet which contained some important tips to help everyone prepare for the trip and what to expect on the excursions too. The itinerary was a balance between small little towns and larger cities. We boarded in Passau, Germany (a few hours away from our original starting point) due to low waters on the river. Unlike an ocean cruise, you aren’t sailing on the water for a couple of days without seeing land. There always seemed to be a great balance---morning in the towns, back on board for lunch and then a few hours of free time to explore the surrounding areas. To say it was like taking a step back in time and seeing the medieval castles and building in so many areas was extraordinary.
Excursions: Ama offered several choices each day for excursions. From walking tours to hiking and biking in each city, there was always a chance to explore and learn. That was the nice part of river cruising---there are excursions and guides if you want them or you can go off and explore on your own. Not to mention, there were bikes on board the ship that you could use as well.
Food & Drinks: The price of the cruise includes meals and drinks. Breakfast is served buffet style or you can order off the menu. The magnificent chef is available daily for cooked to order eggs benefit and omelettes daily. Bloody Mary’s and mimosas are always offered with breakfast too. There are sliced meats, cheeses and various breads (European style). From hot entrees to made to order salads and soups, you were never without options. And of course there was a Social Hour daily in which any sort of beverage of your choice was served at no additional cost. All the top shelf brands were offered and the bartenders knew everybody practically by name by the end of the week. Dinner was a seated service with 4+ courses (appetizer, soup, main course, and of course dessert). The cuisine on board was top notch with delicious choices. And, the wines and beers were changed daily accordingly to the region we were sailing through. Room service was also available all day. The sommelier on board chose the red and white wines daily too. In fact, the wine was always flowing and I guarantee nobody was ever without an empty glass.
Staff: The staff to guest ratio was exceptional. The wait staff always seemed to know my preferences, and had a fresh plate of blueberries and strawberries (my favorite) waiting for me at breakfast every morning when I sat down. The state rooms were cleaned daily and there was even a fun gift left at turndown service one evening too.
Staterooms: The ship had several different categories of rooms. There are the rooms that don’t really have a view, just a window to let some light in on the bottom deck. There were the rooms with a sliding door that allowed the fresh air in. And there were rooms with a balcony. The suites were the highest category with an open seating area and plenty of light.
Cruising: Spectacular sites and sounds around every corner. Truly a breathtaking experience and an amazing way to explore Europe. The size of this river cruise allowed us to get to know one another more intimately. You saw the same faces daily and truly got to learn more about one another. I learned so much from the local guides and took every opportunity to participate in the guided tours. The balance between free time and planned time was spectacular and there were always options for everyone.
If river cruising has been on your mind or you are curious to see what river cruise works best for you, reach out to explore options. From the Rhine to the Danube within Europe to other parts of the country, there is truly something for everyone with river cruising. Let’s dream together and customize a getaway that works best for you!
As always, encouraging and inspiring you to always Live Well + Travel!