Imagine a luxurious magic bedroom, where every morning you wake up in a new land of splendor and adventure. This magic bedroom is superbly appointed with floor-to-ceiling windows, a nice deck to watch the world float by, and even all the latest movies loaded on your personal entertainment system. In this dream scenario, all the finest foods would be available at a moment’s notice. Attached to this imaginary floating bedroom, picture an area where you could engage in exercise classes with a personal trainer, or go to an exclusive spa to get a massage, perhaps swim in a pool under sunny skies, lounge in a hot tub under the stars, or even engage in a game of oversized chess on the massive roof. Well, this dream can become a reality – it’s called AmaWaterways river cruise. Our particular river cruise and land adventure was called “Rhine Castles & Swiss Alps,” where we visited 5 different countries in 10 days: The Netherlands, Germany, France, Switzerland and Italy (as a post-cruise land package) with the help of our vessel the “AmaMora”. Life doesn’t get much better than this.
The superb service begins before you even set foot on the sleek AmaWaterways ship. My knowledgeable travel consultant Dave Levine helped plan our luxurious journey down to every detail. AmaWaterways included a choice of 20 different excursions during our 7-night cruise making it easy to tailor the cruise to your personal preferences: whether you desire more laid-back times, a fitness-oriented activity, something family-friendly; or even a group tour where you ride a bicycle through three different countries in a single day! Whether you’re seeking a romantic escape or a fun-filled adventure, the Rhine River offers a perfect blend of both. Its stunning landscapes, historic castles, charming towns, and vibrant festivals make it a destination that caters to all interests and promises an unforgettable experience.
The cruise feels mostly designed for adults, yet is kid and family-friendly. We were traveling with our three boys and we all had the times of our lives. I will always cherish swimming in the pool as we floated down the Rhine with castles on either side of us. Exploring the world and different countries is amazing, but to do it on a luxury riverboat is a whole new level.
AmaWaterways carries a fleet of 25 bikes on board their ships and offers escorted hiking and biking tours to all guests but on our cruise there’s a large group from an American cycling club so there were even more shore excursions offered to suit their needs. This is a theme of the voyage: the clients’ every wish and whim is expertly catered to.
Day one begins in Amsterdam, “the Venice of the North.” We meet our Cruise Manager Marc Coll (“Marc with a C”), an incredibly vivacious, charming, and intelligent individual. A great leader affects the whole atmosphere of any situation, and we are fortunate to have an extremely experienced and charismatic tour guide at the proverbial helm. Just outside Amsterdam, we spend the morning visiting windmills, strolling through nature, and watching cheese, clogs, and chocolate get made (not all at the same time, although that would be a wild sight to behold). In the second half of our initial day, we toured through the city via canal boat – a mini cruise before embarking on our river cruise aboard the lovely 156-passenger AmaMora. There’s plenty of free time for shopping and dining. One never feels rushed during shore excursions.
We are welcomed on board the ship for our orientation talk and a fantastic welcome dinner. I notice little details that make the whole experience feel special: like each female being handed a rose as she steps on board, gifts in our room, and snacks and beverages available at all times. We meet most of the staff, and we count an astounding 59 crew members for 122 passengers traveling with us this particular week. Spoiled, we will be.
The next few days we sail along the Rhine through picturesque Germany. The Rhine River is a scenic waterway that winds through several countries in Europe, including Switzerland, Germany, France, and the Netherlands. Known for its stunning landscapes, charming towns, and historic castles, the Rhine River offers a romantic and fun experience for visitors. The Rhine River is often considered one of the most romantic rivers in the world. Its serene and scenic beauty creates a perfect backdrop for couples to enjoy a romantic getaway, or families to share the adventure of a lifetime. Our cruise scenery was filled with lush vineyards, rolling hills, picturesque villages, and of course many of the promised castles. Sunset views over the river were particularly enchanting, as the golden hues reflected off the water, creating a magical ambiance.
The first German city we visited was Cologne, where we took a city tour, and then in our own free time decided to walk up all 533 steps to the top of the world-famous Cologne Cathedral. The view was worth the burn! We then experienced the elegant shop where cologne and perfume are reported to have first been invented. Of course we bought a bottle, and our boys have proudly worn their cologne every day since. We end the day with a tour of the Lindt chocolate factory. It was a day full of delicious smells and tastes. The next morning we cruised through the Rhine Gorge with the ruins of 40 castles perched along its banks. This was perhaps my favorite day. Doug and the boys and I all sat on our river boat, deciding which castle we would want to live in and dreaming about what life would have been like back in time. Our riverboat had German music playing and pretzels being served, adding to the backdrop of an unforgettable memory.
Our next stop was Rüdesheim, which is a quaint village of almost a Disneyland version of Germany, where everything is perfect and every day is Christmas. One of the highlights is a gondola ride to the top of a picturesque mountain, affording spectacular views of the whole surrounding valley. Our boys headed back to the boat for dinner, while Doug and I decided to try the local Rüdesheim coffee, which was accompanied with a serenade of an Elvis impersonator with a hint of a German accent.
We entered the home stretch of our river cruise with stops in the village of Ludwigshafen where you can take an excursion to Heidelberg and then on to a day in the splendid city of Strasbourg, France before reaching the storybook village of Lucerne, Switzerland, which was a personal highlight for me. Everything in the town is so picture-perfect – from the beautiful medieval buildings and bridges to crystal-clear lakes, to boutique shops and bohemian cafes, all set against the stunning backdrop of the Swiss Alps. Everything in Switzerland is so perfect and well organized, that I often feel as if I am in some sort of fantasy movie, rather than just being a simple tourist.
Alas, all good things must come to an end. We disembark our beloved AmaWaterways ship on Day 8 and begin our adjunct trip with AmaWaterways post-cruise land package to incredible Lake Como, Italy; a marvelous locale of marble palaces nestled amongst cypress trees, where the rich and famous vacation and live. Lake Como feels like a mashup between all the best parts of Switzerland and Italy- the architectural beauty, cultural friendliness, and excellent cuisine of Italy overlaid by the cleanliness and organization of the Swiss. 48 hours at this magical ending point didn’t feel long enough, just as the whole trip seemed to sweep by in a blissful blur. Time flies when you’re having fun and all that. Hence, time races by when you’re having the best time of your life.
To speak more generally, a luxury river cruise offers a heightened level of elegance and sophistication compared to a standard cruise. Several factors contributed to the AmaWaterways experience being “a cut above:”
Spacious and beautifully designed staterooms or suites with high-end amenities. These accommodations featured luxurious bedding, well-appointed bathrooms, and panoramic views of the river. The private terrace in my suite was a highlight, allowing me to enjoy the passing scenery for hours on end, in a relaxed and exclusive setting.
AmaWaterways prides itself on providing exceptional service. The staff-to-guest ratio mentioned ensured personalized attention and a more intimate experience. From the moment we stepped on board, we were greeted with warm hospitality by a dedicated crew that caters to every need.
Fine dining is a hallmark of luxury river cruises. Exquisite meals were prepared by talented chefs using the locally-sourced ingredients. The menus showcased regional specialties and were paired with carefully selected wines. The dining experience is enhanced by elegant table settings, attentive service, and stunning views of the river. A surprise and exclusive Bavarian beer and sausage celebration when we entered Germany was an unexpected treat.
Our spacious ship featured an onboard spa, beauty salon, fitness center, swimming pool, and lounges. Wi-Fi was complimentary, and onboard entertainment was provided nightly. Our Cruise Manager Marc spearheaded enrichment programs including informative lectures and a fun trivia night.
Luxury river cruises offer less-traveled itineraries, allowing guests to explore hidden gems and unique destinations. These itineraries include visits to lesser-known ports, private tours, and exclusive access to attractions and cultural experiences.
The smaller passenger capacity of our cruise created a more intimate atmosphere. With fewer guests on board, there is more space to relax and enjoy the amenities without feeling crowded. This intimate setting allows for a more personalized and tailored experience, and we connected with several other passengers and forged lasting friendships.
Attention to Detail:
Every aspect of an AmaWaterways luxury river cruise is meticulously planned and executed. From the elegant decor to the carefully curated excursions, every detail is thoughtfully considered to ensure a seamless and unforgettable experience. The crew anticipates guests’ needs and goes above and beyond to create an elegant ambiance.
Overall, AmaWaterways offered a refined and elegant experience. If you seek a higher level of comfort, sophistication, and indulgence, you will never forget the exceptional service, culinary excellence, and immersive shore excursions these unforgettable cruises offer. The only unanswered question that remains is: Which AmaWaterways river cruise will we book next?