Rhine River Cruise – AMAStella
Cruises. You either love them or hate them, but a River Cruise is in a category all it’s own. We are not traditional ocean-cruise people, but we loved what a river cruise could offer in terms of packing in multiple cities and countries into one 7-stop, 9 day vacation, all with only having to unpack our bags one time!
When it comes to River Cruises, most people think of Viking Cruises because they are a household name due to their strong TV advertising placements. We chose to go with AMAwaterways for our cruise, not only because an old friend/colleague of Brian’s works there but because AMAwaterways adds just a bit more luxury to their ships, and they also include alcoholic beverages and excursion costs right into the package price. Yes, it’s a little higher price tag, but we’d prefer to know right from the start our cost rather than ala cart pricing throughout the trip.
We already have 2 warm-weather group trips planned in 2020 and with our 10-year wedding anniversary in June 2020 we decided we’d use this trip to celebrate just the two of us. So while we did go in November which didn’t allow us to take advantage of the outdoor areas of the ship as much, we did get to experience some pretty awesome Christmas markets!
The ship we sailed on was AMAStella, she held 156 passengers and 51 crew so we quickly got to know our favorite bartenders, servers and passenger friends. Our stateroom included a French balcony and outside balcony but due to the temperature hovering at 40 degrees or below each day we didn’t spend much time outside. Our room was perfect, the bed and pillows were soft and the housekeeping was absolutely fabulous. She kept tabs on when we left in the morning for breakfast, swooped in for a quick straightening up, re-stocked our water and came back in the evening for turn-down service.
Speaking of breakfast, lunch, and dinner….even with trying not to overeat I ate way too much. Breakfast included a buffet as well as specialty menu items such as eggs benedict, or steak and eggs. Lunch always included appetizers, a cream and broth based soup, main course and dessert and while of course we didn’t have to eat all 4 courses we usually end up eating 3 of the 4. The soups were by far my favorite part of lunch and dinner. All meals were open seating so you could choose to sit with other passengers but most of the time it wasn’t crowded enough that you had to, and there was always a lighter option in the lounge if you weren’t hungry enough for a sit-down meal. Most nights we had to eat dinner on board because we left port by 7 or 8pm, but a few nights we ate local fare including the must-have in any German or Austrian city, wienerschnitzel!
Aside from the ease of travel and lack of packing and unpacking from city to city, the next best thing about River Cruise traveling on AMAwaterways are the included excursions. Each port offered a variety of excursions from walking, bike, boat or wine tours and in some cities there were day trips to nearby popular destinations. For anyone who likes self-guided, the excursions will appeal to even you because with only a day per city you don’t have time for aimless wondering or getting lost with your own map. The tour guides are also top-notch! They really enjoy what they do and for the most part are knowledgeable and passionate about their cities. Our only regret is not doing more bike tours, but with the temps close to freezing and rainy some days we thought the safer bet was to tour by foot. Each day upon arriving back on the ship after the excursion we were greeted by the friendly staff with warm towels and hot tea – a perfect treat after a cold afternoon.
Overall an amazing experience cruising down the Rhine! With 7 stops there is way too much to share in just one post, so we’ll be back soon to take a deeper dive into each destination we hit along the way:
- Amsterdam, Netherlands
- Cologne, Germany
- Rudesheim, Germany (Including scenic cruising through Rhine gorge with Castle views)
- Ludwigshafen, Germany (Including an excursion to Heidelberg)
- Strasbourg, France
- Breisach, Germany (Including a Black Forest excursion)
- Basel, Switzerland
Call us to have your next vacation booked stress-free, with no added fees and have every detail accounted for!