If you’ve ever considered a holiday on water, chances are you’ve been overwhelmed by the variety of choices. Maybe you’ve considered a large, ocean-going cruise ship, only to balk at the number of passengers. Or perhaps you’ve looked into an intimate, island-hopping yacht, but have fretted about the amount of space. The endless options can be confusing. Yet one cruise line proves a sure thing time and again. Whether drifting amidst the Rhine’s castle-studded hills aboard AmaLucia, or cruising the Danube on doublewide AmaMagna, AmaWaterways delivers water-based travel experiences that exceed expectations.
There is no doubt that the locations to which AmaWaterways ventures makes the brand so desired. Each sailing features an itinerary over which to swoon: the splendid colors of Provence via the Rhone; the Netherlands via Dutch and Belgian canals and rivers during tulip season; the vine-covered hills and dales that line Portugal’s Douro. Daily excursions immerse passengers in the culture and cuisine of the regions. Yet, it’s the onboard experience that allows AmaWaterways to stand out from the crowd. Here are my six additional reasons to cruise with AmaWaterways:
1: The Ships. Whichever of AmaWaterways’ 29 ships one chooses, and in whichever region of the world, be it Europe, Latin America, Asia, Africa, or Egypt, every AmaWaterways ship promises a stress-free, eventful, delicious, and more than memorable journey. AmaWaterways co-owner Kristin Karst has a hand in the selection of each ship’s furnishings and décor; she helps to create a warm and welcoming balance between cozy and elegant. Each ship has a spacious lounge in which all passengers find a cozy seat during cocktail hour and evening entertainment. Each also features a small library filled with books and games. Staterooms and suites range from cozy to capacious, and each is tended to twice daily by an attentive housekeeping staff that gladly fulfills special requests. Down-filled pillows rather than synthetic? Cotton blanket rather than duvet? No problem. Evening turn down includes a pillow-placed chocolate, bottled water and soft illumination. Most ships feature a three-door wardrobe with plenty of hanging and shelving space for clothes. There is also a personal safe to store valuables, as well as storage in the bathrooms for toiletries and makeup bags. Most also feature a mini-fridge, umbrellas, and bottled water.
AmaLucia Library. Photo by Fran Miller
AmaLucia Stateroom. Photo by Fran Miller
2: The Cuisine (and Cocktails). Every AmaWaterways meal is redolent of a fine dining experience. Breakfast, lunch, and dinner feature a la carte menus, white table cloths, attentive service, and a bevy of quality entrée choices each beautifully plated and Instagram-worthy. Choices are so plentiful that no meal entails repeats, though I adored and oft-ordered the always available and perfectly prepared salmon filet…with French fries. (Vacation necessitates a bit of indulgence.) Allergies or diet restrictions are personally handled by the experienced waiters and attentive kitchen team. On AmaMagna, for instance, guests have their pick of four different restaurants. AmaLucia guests can dine in the main restaurant, in the more casual Al Fresco Restaurant, or in the reservation-only Chef’s Table Restaurant where a seven-course meal with wine pairings begins with a celebratory Kir Royal—all included in the cruise fare. And every dinner is preceded by the festive, complimentary “Sip and Sail” cocktail hour in the main lounge where the bartender serves-up a menu of wine, beer and spirits, including the cocktail of the evening, such as a Cubra Libre, a French Martini, a Blue Rhine, or a Margarita. (Our AmaLucia bartender quickly learned my evening preference of a Manhattan, nodding knowingly each evening as I approached.) Additionally, every ship features a 24/7 coffee/tea station featuring a state-of-the-art coffee machine that serves-up espresso, lattes, cappuccinos and hot chocolate.
Chef's Table Restaurant, AmaLucia. Photo by Fran Miller
3: The Wellness Activities. Often with cruising, there’s a misconception that the form of travel equates to overindulgence and immoderation. And if that’s one’s idea of a vacation, then AmaWaterways certainly fulfills. Yet, due to AmaWaterways’ focus on wellness, guests often leave their cruise with a renewed sense of vigor, myself included. Each ship features a dedicated Wellness Host whose daily programming might include line dancing to current hits, resistance band classes, core-strengthening, and early morning wellness walks around the sundeck “track.” AmaLucia’s Wellness Host Tiago served as my personal trainer, coaching me through my pickleball-addled shoulder, providing suggested stretches and inspiring me to continue self-care at home. And with nearly every port-of-call featuring walking/hiking/biking excursions, and each ship featuring a small gym, it’s nearly impossible not to work-off any excess calories gained from the glorious and plentiful culinary choices.
AmaWaterways Ships Feature a Variety of Wellness Activities
4: The Onboard Entertainment. AmaWaterways works with local talent (musicians, singers, and dancers) in each port-of-call to provide post-dinner, regional entertainment. Staterooms and suites feature Entertainment-On-Demand with English-language programming, music and movies. Each ship has a library with book and game-lined shelfs. AmaLucia features a giant, sundeck located chess board and corn hole set. The AmaMagna features a small onboard theatre featuring movies and video games.
AmaLucia Sundeck Games. Photo by Fran Miller
AmaLucia Sundeck Swimming Pool. Photo by Fran Miller
5: The Friendships Made: It’s nearly impossible not to bond with others during a 21-mile bike ride along Germany’s Neckar River, or while sampling Grüner Veltliner within Austria’s Wachau Valley. AmaWaterways ships and excursions naturally encourage camaraderie. Inclusive, open, and friendly, the convivial atmosphere is contagious, and it’s not uncommon for new friends to plan their next cruise together. At the least, emails and phone numbers are often exchanged amongst guests prior to disembarkation.
6: The Staff and Service. The heart and soul of AmaWaterways is its professionally trained staff. From the captain who hands-out red roses at dinner, to the waitstaff who remember everyone’s name and specific coffee orders, to the congenial cruise manager who organizes daily excursions and patiently answers each and every query, theirs is a team to which others aspire. It’s no secret that the hospitality industry has suffered a bit in recent years; staffing has been an issue worldwide. But AmaWaterways seems not to have missed a beat with its attentive crew who make every guest feel welcome and appreciated.
Photos courtesy of AmaWaterways unless otherwise noted.