Live From the AmaLyra: Recapping our Christmas Time Cruise
“The world is a book, and those who do not travel read only one page.”
– St. Augustine
As the saying goes, all good things must come to an end, and such is the case today aboard AmaWaterways’ beautiful AmaLyra as we disembarked in the wonderful Hungarian city of Budapest and begin our long journey back to Canada.
Leaving any trip is a bittersweet moment, but particularly moreso after a cruise aboard the AmaLyra. I felt the same way when I disembarked from my Windstar and Silversea voyages, but with this, that feeling seems magnified. After being surrounded by smiling faces, friendly people, amazing destinations, and wonderful local guides, my seat on my flight home seems, well, lonely.
I always feel that it’s the little things that sometimes speak the loudest, and while many aspects of travel suffer from cost-cutting and reduction of amenities, it’s nice to see AmaWaterways was so willing to go the extra mile for their guests on so many levels.
Some of my favorite little touches aboard the AmaLyra:
- Personalised Service: the crew here took my nut allergy very seriously, as all cruise lines have. But here they went so far as to prepare special night-time treats for me, from chocolate-covered strawberries to white chocolates filled with fruit and raisins. All without asking. All without prompting. Truly exceptional.
- Unexpected Amenities: from the toothpaste and shaving kits included in the stateroom bathrooms to the use of umbrellas, bicycles, onboard WiFi internet and complimentary bottled water, there’s a lot to like here – and not a lot to worry about when the final bill comes.
- Regional Specialties: Not everyone will agree with me, but when I travel, I love to sample the local food, and AmaWaterways has a great thing going with their onboard wines and local specialties on the menu each evening, interspersed with more accessible North American fare for those who are more comfortable with that. The complimentary wines are regional and are as good as those found onboard any deep-ocean luxury line.
But a ship without a crew is just that – a ship. Without a crew, it simply ceases to function. In order to take on the form of this elegant, sleek vessel sailing the waterways of Europe, it needs to have a heart, and the spectacular crew aboard the AmaLyra is most definitely the heartbeat of the ship.
They are always helpful to a fault, and have gone out of their way for the passengers so consistently that it just amazes me. Even today on disembarkation day (a typically service-less day on mainstream ocean cruises), the crew were chatting and visiting with us while welcoming their first new guests onboard. Captain Pols made time for every passenger who approached him, and even invited a taxi driver there to pick up passengers to join him and some other crew in the lounge for tea while he waited.
If you haven’t river cruised before, you owe it to yourself to give it a shot. Personally, I don’t think I want to travel in Europe any other way. Forget those boring land vacations where you’re stuck on a bus for eighteen hours and forced to wake at 6am every day, checking into and out of hotels. Sail the waterways of Europe. Unpack once. Meet new friends. Experience amazing things together. And enjoy this amazing experience for every second that it lasts.
I realized today that it is exactly one week until Christmas. But for me, my Christmas lasted for seven wonderful days that I will remember forever. And for that, I have the spectacular, dedicated team aboard the AmaLyra to thank.
Our Live Trip Report from aboard AmaWaterways AmaLyra has sadly come to a close, but look for a complete ship tour and some fascinating video from the trip in the coming weeks!