Last year one of our Senior Cruise Consultants, Sarah Weatherall, enjoyed a wine-themed river cruise along the legendary Danube with AmaWaterways. The voyage was Sarah’s first with AMA so we invited her to share her experience and to tell you why five days with AmaWaterways just isn’t enough…
The AmaCerto debuted in 2012 and has been popular with AMA Waterways guests from the very beginning. The moment I stepped onboard I could see the clever design that was behind her, she was stylish, modern and everything was tastefully appointed. It was easy to see why others loved her so much.
The lobby was incredibly spacious, far bigger than you would imagine and the magnificent circular glass lift servicing all guest floors was a real visual treat. Either side sat a sweeping staircase, adding a glamorous touch to something that was already rather impressive.
After being totally blown over by the beauty of the lobby I couldn’t wait to see my suite. I was shown towards Cello Deck on which I had an AB category stateroom and it was beautiful! The décor was a pale green mixed with creams and a subtle hint of gold, every inch modern yet not over the top. As I made my way further into the room I was immediately drawn to the outside view, WOW! That was all I could say at the time. The floor to ceiling curtains opened perfectly against the huge twin balcony doors and I could literally see for miles.
The bathroom was yet another treat. Crystal clean gleaming white tiles edged at the top and bottom with tiny abalone shell coloured opalescence mosaic made the room feel alive and larger than it actually was. The attention to detail was superb.
I have to admit I have sailed on many river cruise ships since I first started cruising and even at this short point in my AMA Waterways journey, AmaCerto was proving to be one of the most luxurious and spacious of those ships, given her overall size.
After the full exploration of my suite was complete it was time to investigate more of the ship. I made my way down towards the main bar area and again noted the stunning panoramic view. Here I found delicious pastries and freshly made biscuits and the coffee from the dispenser was actually pretty good too. They also offer a selection of teas and this station is open 24 hours a day.
I had arrived in time for lunch, it wasn’t planned at all, honestly. The dining room can accommodate all 164 guests quite comfortably. As you walk through there are tables of all sizes and four seater booths run down the middle until you get to the buffet section which is rounded and services both sides of the restaurant.
Loading a hearty plate of goodies I sat down and was quickly greeted by one of their charming 40 members of staff. He told me about the wines on offer that day and also asked if I had looked at the menu. Oh, I had thought the buffet was it, I replied. ‘No madam that is just the cold buffet’ he said. He brought me some incredible food to try and as I dined we set sail without a shudder or a noise disturbing us, it was a wonderful moment. I was quite content, sat looking across the river and her misty autumnal banks that were steeped in colour from the fallen leaves and in a moment as I sipped my crisp Grüner Veltliner, I wondered how far away Krems was for our next mooring and what the day would have in store.
Once we had reached Krems the cruise director, Kriss Stallabrass addressed guests in the bar/lounge – she was a very engaging and funny lady who incidentally had a selection of the most amazing skirts! We had an early supper at 6. 30 pm and my fish was cooked to absolute perfection. That evening we boarded the bus to the Winzer Krems Winery for the most fabulous tour and wine tasting experience. In every room a new wine was offered with the finale being a 3d cinematic experience that included smellavision! Then it was back to the ship to sink into my Egyptian cotton bed for a well-deserved rest.
Saturday morning we had arrived in Vienna and I was pleased to find that the daily programme offered many tour options. In the morning for example; the Hidden Vienna tour and also a Vienna City Tour. This second option was split into ability – pink gentle, blue and green regular and red active. So we split into groups picked up our boarding passes, “Quiet Vox” ear pieces and off we went! It was a fantastic and informative morning in this most beautiful city and we were back to the ship in time for lunch.
There was so much going on throughout the day, as you would expect, and the staff had managed to festively decorate the whole ship whilst I was on the Schonbrunn Palace tour! That evening we were treated to dining in the Chefs Table, a wonderful space at the back of the ship with 4 or 5 tables and a glass fronted kitchen. We arrived to a Vodka Martini and then the evening slipped away over 7 exquisite courses each introduced and once more the wine was free flowing; the sommelier knew his stuff.
Sunday morning came far too quickly and after another delicious breakfast (best Eggs Benedict I have had for a while) and a disembarkation briefing we settled down for the last wine lecture. “ABC of Tasting with Focus on Balance and Minerality” hosted by Vic Poulos; a very clever chap and not only a prolific wine blogger but also the owner of Zin Valle Vineyards winery and an Attorney.
After our last supper we listened in the lounge to a Hungarian Folklore Show consisting of a violinist, double bass player, an accordion player and dancers in traditional dress, they were all incredibly talented and got most of the guests up dancing.
The atmosphere tonight was only topped by the Illuminated Budapest river cruise. Our captain, Lukas took the ship down and back up the main stretch of the centre of Budapest to see the city lights whilst playing Mozart – we were served schnapps to keep warm! I will admit that I did stifle a little tear it was all rather moving.
Breakfast on the last day was served until 09.00 and the disembarkation process was smooth. As we left for the airport it began to snow which marked the end to a most perfect trip.
I have left out so many little touches that made this sailing so memorable, like the towel animal I found in my sink wearing sun glasses, the recipe cards corresponding to the dishes we had enjoyed from each area we had visited and the disembarkation gift and note. Nothing was too much trouble and if in doubt about anything all you had to do was ask.
In all I had a wonderful time on my river cruise with AmaWaterways and can genuinely say that for guests who enjoy 5-star plus ocean cruising, it is the perfect partner for those wishing to sample river cruising.
If you would like more information on AMA Waterways or to find out more about our river cruise collection then please call one of our cruise experts on 0800 008 6677. Alternatively, please take a look at our latest AmaWaterways Deals.
By Sarah Weatherall, Senior Cruise Consultant for The Cruise Line.