Last month I travelled from Prague to Budapest aboard AMA WATERWAYS AmaLyra river cruise. From start to finish this river cruise was terrific. We were even lucky enough to experience some of the famed Christmas Markets along our route!
Our Cabin, number 327, was a B Category with a comfortable 170 sq ft. The marble-appointed bathroom and large shower with three shower heads and six settings was very impressive. The complimentary in-room internet was much appreciated when the signal was strong. After a
little time to settle in, we met in the lobby to join our welcome Beer Fest excursion. The Mayor and the Beer Queen of Vilshofen came out to greet our group. Beer, music and dancing were enjoyed by all. Captain Henk Klos welcomed everyone back onboard with a complimentary cocktail before inviting all to the Restaurant for dinner. Staff introductions were made and all were friendly, accessible, and helpful throughout the voyage.
The food – from the buffet selections to the menu offerings, the warm and delicious soups on cold days, the light snacks in the Lounge, the breads made onboard, the wines at dinner, the desserts made onboard – was all excellent throughout the voyage!
Guides on all of my included and optional tours spoke very good English, were very clear regarding directions, the timing to return to the transportation, and what to do following the tour. The QuietVox audio guide system made it easy and convenient to hear even if you wanted to walk a short distance away to take a photo. Port briefings conducted each day by Cruise Director, Uwe Nitschke, were detailed, clear, and informative.
Monday, Nov 15
Uwe welcomed us at the InterContinental Hotel in Prague for our transfer to the AmaLyra river vessel via a tour in Regensburg, Germany. Our local guide conducted the brief walking tour of Regensburg then recommended the Historische Wurstkuche for lunch where we ate a small mountain of grilled sausages and sauerkraut with a nice Weizen beer. After some free time, we returned to our motorcoach to complete the drive to Vilshofen, Germany, to board the river vessel. The ship’s Captain and his staff greeted us at the gangway and embarkation was handled smoothly as guests were called by deck from the Lounge to be shown to our cabins.
Tuesday, Nov 16
After free time to explore Vilshofen in the morning, the ship departed for Passau, where we enjoyed a walking tour in the afternoon. Our port briefing included a brief lesson of useful German phrases taught by our Cruise Director before we enjoyed a Bavarian Dinner onboard.
Wednesday, Nov 17
We arrived in Linz, Austria, for a walking tour in the morning, followed by brunch onboard as our optional tours for the afternoon departed at 11:30am – Cesky Krumlov, Salzburg or Gmunden/Lake District made for difficult selection as we could only choose one. All three options were accommodated by car, van or motorcoach with most of the group opting to visit Salzburg. In Salzburg, our local guide showed us the major points of interest and made suggestions for activities during our free time.
Thursday, Nov 18
Multiple stops kept us busy on this three-tour day – a morning walking tour of Melk Abbey with some free time in the town afterwards, scenic cruising of the Wachau Valley, with Uwe narrating the points of interest as we cruised to Krems, a short trip back to Durnstein for a walking tour and tasting of local chocolates and apricot liqueurs, followed after dinner by an evening Wine Experience in Krems at the Winzer Krems coop.
Friday, Nov 19
We had a rainy day in Vienna, but still enjoyed the beautiful sights of the city. Our morning walking tour allowed free time for a quick stop at the Hotel Sacher to sample the original Sacher Torte and a hot chocolate as well as free time at the famous Naschmarkt. We chose free time in the afternoon to explore the city and visit one of the many art museums and one of the Christmas Markets that had already opened. Several of our fellow cruisers enjoyed the optional tour to Schonbrunn Palace. Most of the group, including us, also chose to participate in the optional evening concert tour performed at the Auersperg Palace by the Vienna Residence Orchestra. The Mozart and Strauss selections with the first violin playing on a Stradivarius and accompanying opera and dance performances were excellent. The tour was followed by a drive around the Ring Boulevard to see the illuminated landmarks on our way back to the ship.
Saturday, Nov 20
We enjoyed a relaxing morning as we cruised to Bratislava. The ship has a small fitness center, sauna, hair salon and massage staff. There is also a well-stocked gift shop with items from the local area as well as sundries, which came in handy. Our afternoon walking tour again accommodated the “gentle walkers” with alternative transportation – an earlier stop had a small sightseeing train and here it was an old-timer car for those with walking difficulties. Bratislava’s Christmas Market was already open, too. The atmosphere in town was lively and festive with locals and visitors both having a great weekend day sampling food and drink and shopping for handicrafts. A local folkloric group, the Aphrodites, performed popular music on classical instruments after the Captain’s Farewell Dinner.
Sunday, Nov 21
Our last stop was Budapest with a combination motorcoach and walking tour of both the Buda and Pest sides of the city. Fortunately, the Budapest Christmas Market was also open for our shopping and eating pleasure during our afternoon free time. Hungarian Folklore performers entertained us in the Lounge during our last evening onboard.
Monday, Nov 22
Disembarkation was very organized and personally overseen by Cruise Director Uwe, who made transfer arrangements for all guests who requested them. The entire voyage was terrific and I would highly recommend the AMA WATERWAYS product to any of our clients for a wonderful river cruise experience.