I once had an enquiry about a river cruise from a customer who wondered how many decks on a river cruise ship were under the water. It turned out that he had cruised many times on ocean going ships and thought that all of the amenities provided on large resort ships one were somehow housed below the water line on river cruise vessels. I’m not sure where he thought the zip line or the surf simulator might be but it was conversation that got me thinking about why you might be tempted to go on one given that there obviously wasn’t very much happening on board.
Someone, somewhere had the perfect response, which I wish I had known at the time, which was to say that the big difference between the two types of ship is that Ocean going ships take you to countries and river cruise ships take you through countries.
I took a short cruise recently on AMAPrima the number one rated river cruise ship in Europe and at first glance there isn’t really too much to it. OK there are the luxurious rooms, some with twin balconies (one you can sit out on and one that brings the outside in – think Romeo & Juliet) and the main restaurant serving superb food and wines in relaxed and luxurious style. There is also the Captain’s Table where you can enjoy a taster menu with wine alongside a small number of lucky guests (“That’s one of the best meals I’ve ever had” said a well travelled cruise agent on my table). Even the drinks with meals are free flowing and included in your fare with AMAWaterways.
There is the lounge are where you are entertained daily by high class local artistes, a small fitness room and a sun deck which has a running track and even a pool with a swim up bar.
In short, the best way to describe the AMAPrima is an exclusive luxury hotel that just happens to float along some of Europe’s most beautiful waterways. Just imagine waking on a sunny morning right in the heart of one of the World’s most beautiful cities or alongside on a river deep in the heart of Europe with the whole day in front of you during which you can explore the surrounding area on an organised tour, take advantage of the bicycles that the ship carries for guest’s use or just explore on foot. Back on the ship you can relax on the aforementioned sun deck, drink in hand, whilst beautiful scenery glides past as you look forward to a relaxing evening when you can enjoy the highest standards of food and service.
One aspect of a river cruise in Europe for UK based guests is that you don’t have to fly to join your ship. Various options are available by road and rail to take you to your embarkation port and with most ships starting and finishing their itineraries in the heart of major cities, finding your vessel under you own steam is simple. We chose to travel by air to Amsterdam Schipol airport and make my way to the ship by rail although AMA Waterways do provide transfers for guests arriving there. The whole process took about 20 minutes with a fast train service whisking us direct to Centraal station in Amsterdam where the ship docks, almost directly outside. It couldn’t be simpler.
AMA Waterways cruises the Rhine, Danube, Seine, Main, Moselle and Rhone rivers in Central Europe as well as the Douro in Portugal and around Bordeaux in France. In addition you can enjoy a Christmas Market cruise and ply the waters of the Mekong in Vietnam & Cambodia, the Ayeyarwady in Myanmar (formerly Burma) and if you fancy a safari and wildlife adventure, why not try the Chobe in Africa.
Is there a better way to holiday?
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