A few weeks ago, AmaWaterways sparkling new river cruiser, the 164-passenger AmaCerto departed Amsterdam for its maiden voyage and I tagged along for the ride. The seven-day sailing through the Netherlands and Belgium – my first river cruise – opened my eyes to the perks and realities of river cruising. Here’s a wildly incomplete list.
The ground covered: We visited ten ports in seven days, spending as long as a full day or as little as a couple of hours in each, and had the freedom to explore at leisure, join large group tours, opt for smaller tours on foot or by bike, or just lounge on board. It’s doubtful that I could have seen so much, so effortlessly, and in so little time traveling by land.
The all-inclusive pricing: The price of the cruise included all meals, almost all excursions, and unlimited wine at dinner. My cabin, like 49 others, also included butler service (perfect for the first espresso of the day).
The ease: The trip was such a breeze that it almost felt like cheating. Just show up at the ship at the appointed day and time, unpack, and let the capable staff handle the logistics.
Company of strangers: On such a small ship, one dinner seating is necessary, and dining in the company of strangers is the norm. The smallest table in the dining room seats four, so each night I met a new set of dinner companions.
Group tours (or not): Most offered were either large walking or bus tours, of the audio-headset, follow-the-tour-guide’s-sign variety. However, if that wasn’t to your taste, you could easily do your own thing. AmaWaterways has introduced a series of more “boutique” touring options, which ranged from a genever (Dutch gin) tasting in Amsterdam to a viewing of the Rubens House in Antwerp.
And one travel tip:
My flight into Amsterdam arrived at 8:30 a.m. Rather than trying to kill the hours until 3 p.m. boarding while battling jet lag, I booked a day room Hotel de l’Europe in the center of the old city. One nap, one shower, and one jaunt around the city later, it was time to go aboard.
Look for more on this trip in the July/August issue of Virtuoso Life!