RIVER CRUISING ON THE DANUBE
Oceans take you to countries. Rivers take you through them! ⚓️ 🌎 🏰
Cruising along the Danube River from Germany to Austria in July 2018 with Amawaterways was a fantastic experience and an epic way to tour Old World Europe as you let the melodious Danube serenade you.
If you ask 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 regarding a river cruise. Instead of cruising in the middle of the ocean, you are moving along the river, viewing the sites and sounds of the beautiful cities. Cruising is seamless without the big waves. It’s enjoyable and relatively peaceful. For all of you curious about river cruising, here’s a little summary of my experience. I’m already planning my next one for 2019!
The River Boat: While the boats are similar in size to those of river cruise companies, the Amawaterways boats hold fewer passengers. On my sailing, we had 124 people on board....and over 60 staff. This means the service was extraordinary and had 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. The price includes wine and beer and non-alcoholic beverages, meals on board, and guided tours and excursions daily. The activities were divided into various activity levels, and you could choose your activities before boarding the river cruise. If you opted to change your mind and explore independently one day, that was no problem. You were never pressured into having to do one thing or another. You decided how you wanted to explore each spectacular city. Plus, the average age of people sailing on Ama is lower than that of passengers. There is an onboard wellness coach offering fitness classes and daily activities. This is something new and a great addition to river cruises.
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 boat were comfortable, and there was room for everyone. You never felt crowded on board this ship at all. The rooms are various sizes, from the cute, cozy library to the lounge and sun deck. The multiple locations on the sun deck were perfect for afternoons of sailing while sipping some vino. There are chaise loungers, tables, and a pool (with bar service).
The Ports: This Danube tour was a seven-day sail from Nuremberg to Vienna. Ports visited were Regensburg, Passau, Linz, Melk, Durnstein, Krems, and ending in Vienna. The itinerary balanced small towns and larger cities. We boarded in Passau, Germany (a few hours away from our original starting point) due to the low waters on the river. Unlike an ocean cruise, you aren’t sailing on the water for a few days without seeing land. There always seemed to be an outstanding balance---morning in the towns, back on board for lunch, and then a few hours of free time to explore the surrounding areas. It was extraordinary to say it was like stepping back and seeing the medieval castles and buildings in many areas.
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 to cook and order eggs and omelets. Bloody Marys and mimosas are always offered with breakfast, too. There are sliced meats, cheeses, and various breads (European style). You never had options, from hot entrees to made-to-order salads and soups. And, of course, there was a Social Hour daily in which any 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 dessert). The cuisine on board was top-notch, with delicious choices. The wines and beers were changed daily according to our sailing region. Room service was also available all day. The sommelier on board chose the red and white wines daily, and the wine flowed constantly.
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 staterooms were cleaned daily, and a fun gift was left at the turndown service one evening.
Staterooms: The ship had several different categories of rooms. Some rooms don’t have a view, just a window to let some light in on the bottom deck. The rooms had 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. It was indeed a breathtaking experience and a fantastic 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 learned 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 and planned time was spectacular; everyone always had options.
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 something for everyone with river cruising. Let’s dream together and customize a getaway that works best for you!
As always, I encourage and inspire you to Live Well and travel!