River cruising is an extraordinary way to see Europe—not to mention other legendary rivers around the globe.
Travelers appreciate the fact that river vessels are smaller; they typically cater to fewer than 200 guests and can slip into lesser-known ports and dock in the center of town. Because so many of Europe’s major cities were built on rivers, river cruising is now an essential mode of travel to explore the continent’s history, culture, architecture and cuisine more deeply.
Today we’re highlighting AmaWaterways as one river cruise line that provides exceptional value for your money. This small-but-mighty company is family owned, with its founders’ roots in Europe. They have worked many unique features into its river cruise experience, leading to a tailored feel for every traveler, every time.
An Overview of AmaWaterways
AmaWaterways prides itself on providing The Luxury of More. Included in your fare on any European river cruise:
- A diverse menu of shore excursions offered at different activity levels: for gentle, regular and active walkers, as well as guided hiking and biking tours. AmaWaterways includes up to 23 excursions on an 8-day cruise.
- All onboard dining, including the intimate Chef’s Table experience at least once per cruise per guest, and delicious tapas and snacks in the Main Lounge between meals
- Unlimited wine and beer with lunch and dinner, plus an evening Sip and Sail cocktail hour most nights.
- Entertainment on board, including local musicians, folkloric dancers and storytellers.
- Complimentary internet access and Wi-Fi on board.
Unique features and innovation
AmaWaterways creates a special ambiance for its guests, whether on board or ashore. Here are some unique features about its river ships and the overall experience:
- More spacious by design, with only 150 guests on the same size ships as compared to other companies that have 200 guests on board.
- More Views: Most staterooms include not one but two private balconies—a French balcony and a full outside balcony.
- AmaWaterways was the first to include bicycles on board with a broad selection of biking tours.
- AmaWaterways was the first river cruise line to include trained Wellness Hosts who lead small group activities, such as yoga on the sun deck.
- Thoughtful design in the main dining area, which is divided lengthwise and offers booths down the center, which allow for quieter conversations, as opposed to one long bank of tables, which is seen elsewhere. Traditional round and rectangular tables are also placed throughout the dining area.
- Unique ship design, with low drafts engineered for when river levels are low, and specially engineered wheelhouses if water levels are too high. AmaWaterways describes their draft as “very low” – good news even if water levels dip. They have additional practices to reduce weight the ship is carrying if needed, which helps keeps them higher in the water.
- If a river becomes unnavigable, AmaWaterways has a system in place where they may move guests between ships via motorcoach, essentially navigating “around” the low water. If a river is running slower due to low water, AmaWaterways takes this into account and builds in buffer time so they still arrive on time to their planned destination. Between the operations team in Europe, along with the head office in Calabasas, California, working hand in hand, it makes for a very well-organized experience for guests.
- Additional amenities on the ships include a sun deck on the top level with a heated pool and walking track, plus a fitness center and salon.
- Celebrate Oktoberfest year-round! AmaWaterways includes an exclusive Oktoberfest on many Danube River cruises in the quaint port of Vilshofen. Guests are treated to Bavarian beer or non-alcoholic drinks, delicious pretzels, and live music and entertainment by local entertainers.
- Renowned cruise managers: one of these valued staff members is present on each voyage and in some ways represents the heart of your adventure. They are friendly and knowledgeable destination experts, seemingly “everywhere” during your voyage, being visible, accessible and approachable—welcoming you back on board after shore tours, signing guests up for shore tours, and more.
- If you reserve a pre- or post-cruise land program, the cruise manager stays with the guests throughout the whole journey.
- AmaWaterways’ extensive air program is backed by a large air department so guests are well looked after from start to finish.
- 20 of AmaWaterways’ ships in Europe were honored with prestigious Green Award certification demonstrating high environmental and safety standards.
Most people who take their first river cruise head for either the Danube or Rhine Rivers. Both are excellent choices, and in our opinion, both are a must-do. The most common length of an AmaWaterways river cruise is seven nights, allowing ample time to become immersed in the destinations you’re visiting.
AmaWaterways offers a multitude of itineraries to explore Europe, especially for those who want to explore more in-depth. For example:
- The 14-Night Grand Danube, from Vilshofen, Germany, to Giurgiu, Bulgaria (or reverse)
- The 11-Night Rhine and Moselle Fairytales, from Amsterdam to Basel; allowing for several calls along the breathtaking Moselle River—much less explored than the Rhine
- 7-Night Magna on the Danube—this itinerary covers popular territory between Budapest and Vilshofen on board the one-of-a-kind AmaMagna, the groundbreaking river ship that is twice the width of other river cruise ships, allowing for additional onboard amenities, such as more dining venues, ultra-spacious suites, more places to relax and socialize, and more personal space.
AmaWaterways also cruises the Douro in Portugal and France’s Seine, Dordogne, Garonne, Rhône and Saône.
Beyond Europe, AmaWaterways cruises the Nile in Egypt, the Chobe between Botswana and Namibia, the Mekong in Vietnam and Cambodia, and starting in 2024—the Magdalena in Colombia.
What Do Travelers Say?
First-time river cruisers Mike and Geri shared comments with us after returning home from an AmaWaterways voyage in summer 2022. “River cruising really simplifies travel to Europe. We truly appreciated the complimentary shore tours in each port, and also found the small ship atmosphere lent itself to mingling with others. During the nightly Sip and Sail we got to know other travelers. As the cruise progressed, we enjoyed spending more time with the people we met and catching up with a drink or at dinner,” said Geri. The couple also “really appreciated being guided from the moment we landed at the airport in Europe until we were on our way back home.”
Several of our Cruise Specialists staff have personally cruised on AmaWaterways, and our entire Cruise Consultant team is well-versed in the ships and itineraries. We are ready to help you plan a trip you’ll never forget.