Rolling on the River
I’ve sailed several seas aboard colossal cruise ships and each time - whether with a friend, my entire family and as a solo traveler - I was the first in line to disembark at the end of the trip. I could pop a Xanex and still shove elderly people and toddlers out of my way to get off of the massive can. I didn’t like the manufactured “fun,” the endless eats the tee-shirt and tchocke hawkers salivating at the sight of sunburnt tourists waddling down the gangway; and generally having to follow a schedule, kind of like high school, with a port of call serving as the proverbial adolescent lunch hour getaway.
I fully expected I would also hate a river cruise. The opportunity to see Amsterdam, Bruges and Belgium, however, at tulip time with absurdly colorful flowers blanketing the countryside was enough impetus to give it a go. I came, I saw, and I want to go on another river cruise. Why?
The AmaWaterways vessel, the Amacerto, long and squat as opposed to a nuclear-sized ocean cruiser, maxes out at 164 passengers, lessening my ever-growing list of phobias (crowds, germs and being forced to make small talk, chief among them). The stateroom was less the size of a college dorm room but you’re in it for a week, not nine months and there’s an outside balcony which is a pleasant extra for reading and watching the flat, tidy Dutch countryside breeze by.
Since there are fewer guests aboard, by the end of the week, you’ll be in love with the lumpy Australian, his accent and fascinating life’s story. You begin to recognize couples and families, their odd interactions and interesting gaits. Everyone is in a generally joyful state anticipating a new adventure every day and enthusiastic to hear your take on Ghent or the square in Bruges or what you ate while poking around Amsterdam.
When you’re on a massive metallic ocean liner, you expect wall-to-wall vittles and you get that. The Amacerto cruise offered breakfast, lunch, dinner and, although you can have as much as you want, quality reigns over quantity. Wine and beer choices at lunch and dinner are exceptional. It’s like the difference between going to a college kegger with unlimited red Solo cups of Bud or trying a new craft beer or two.
In addition, AmaWaterways is the only river cruise line invited to partner with La Chaine des Rotisseurs. a prestigious culinary organization founded in 1950 Paris. Every AmaWaterways vessel cruising in Europe is part of the club because the kitchens have achieved a world-class level of culinary excellence. Breakfast is buffet-style but there are selections available from the menu as well. Lunch is also buffet-style with salads, soups and a selection of hot buffet items, hot entrees and desserts. Dinner is a multi-course meal with a choice of delicious entrees, including a vegetarian option. Dishes are prepared with fresh, locally-sourced ingredients whenever possible. There’s also tea time in the lounge with the onboard musician tickling the ivories while you sip and snack on sweets and fractions of sandwiches.
The river ship is for sailing, relaxing and dining but the real action takes place on daily excursions which are lively, active, immersive and educational. There’s a fitness area on board, but honestly, walking on excursions suited my muscles and I gained nary an ounce during the cruise.
A sightseeing tour, walking, motor coach, or a combination of the two, is included in each city or town you visit, and you’re afforded free time to poke around yourself. Choose a gentle, regular or active pace. AmaWaterways was the first river cruise line to carry an entire fleet of complimentary bicycles on board, too, so you can bike the countryside or city streets stopping for Belgian chocolates or waffles along the way. Our guides during tulip time were charming, walking English-speaking encyclopedias.
AmaStella, AmaViola and AmaKristina are some of AmaWaterways' newer ships that feature connecting cabins that are perfect for families and multigenerational groups. Imagine treating your children to the stuff of fairy tales and film: views of castles and stops in medieval towns seemingly untouched by time.
It seems as though AmaWaterways offers deals on a perpetual basis like discounts on staterooms and waiving single supplements. In addition to Europe, the line also cruises Vietnam, Cambodia and Africa. The following promotions are currently being offered: and Early Booking Bonus that can save you up to $1,500 per stateroom.Reserve a 2019/2020 Africa Safaris & Wildlife cruise by April 30, 2018 and receive up to $1,000 savings per stateroom. Check out www.amawaterways.com.