We cruised the Legendary Danube itinerary for one week on AMA Waterways’ Amalyra. This European river cruise was brilliant - I really loved every minute of it - it was such a great experience and a terrific way in which to travel.
We arrived in Nuremberg via Rail Europe on November 9th - took a cab from the rail station to where the ship was docked - about 10 minutes away. The Captain and some crew were on the gangplank, ready to greet us. We went to the Main Lounge & Bar for the ‘Welcome Aboard' festivities . The Amalyra was christened in April of 2009 - and is a beautiful river cruise ship.
The Main Reception has an attractive print of a Gustav Klimt painting- whose works are part of the collection in the Belvedere Museum in Vienna. On one side of the reception is the small gift shop - which sells nice local handicrafts. On the other side of reception is the Main Lounge & Bar.
The Main Lounge & Bar really sparkles - very comfortable seating arrangements in blues, brown, gold color schemes - and floor to ceiling windows for great views any direction you gaze. Next to the small bar is a 24-hr coffee/tea self-service area, which also always had fruit and cookies available.
The Vista Lounge is located aft. The lounge has floor to ceiling windows, with Rattan furniture, a couple of tables, games to choose from…we spent some time here playing Scrabble (and no one else ever came into the room while we were there). The Fitness Room was next door– the equipment was great, there were complimentary water and towels and a bathroom. Across from the Fitness Room was the Massage & Hair Salon.
In the front of the ship, on top is the Observation Deck, behind which is the Navigation Bridge. We were fortunate enough to spend some time in the Bridge with the Captain one afternoon - he was very gracious and it was very interesting. There is a small Whirlpool on the Sun Deck - which a couple of guests were brave enough to enjoy - as it was REALLY cold on this trip! The Sun Deck was a terrific space - but we did not get to spend much time up there - due to the weather. The Panorama Restaurant is on the 3rd Deck - in the front of the ship - with a nice mix of seating arrangements. The buffet area is in the center of the dining room, which accommodated breakfast and lunch (although they serve anything you want off the menu as well). The food was very good quality, with a variety of choices at every meal - and high marks go to the selection of ‘fresh' fish - daily. AMA Waterways makes sure to bring on fresh fish every day from each port they are in…so the selection was terrific. The soups, cheeses, breads, desserts - everything was delicious. AMA also had some very fun-themed lunches and dinners. Also - if you were an early riser- they always had pastries in the Main Lounge beginning at 6am, and they served a light lunch in the Lounge as well. Afternoon tea snacks were served in the Lounge, and a late-night lite buffet until 10:30pm.
While our stateroom was relatively small (170 sq ft) - it was nicely appointed and quite comfortable. We had a room with a French Balcony, which makes the room feel larger. The bathroom had a glassed-in shower, space above and below sink for toiletries, and a hairdryer. Staterooms also come with bathrobe and slippers. Plenty of room under the bed for luggage storage. A wonderful feature was the flat screen TV/Computer. The internet was complimentary, but they charged 2 euros for movies - and old movies at that. The internet was spotty, as when the ship goes through locks (25 of them), the satellite must come down, and there is no internet service available.
There was onboard entertainment 3 of the 7 nights, and one afternoon a professor came on board and gave a great talk about the EU. The entertainment was very good - especially the four-man choir in Regensburg - (they had met while they all sang in the Regensburg Boys Choir, which was at that time led by the current pope's brother.)
The tours ashore, included on the trip, were all very good - all of the guides we had were excellent and spoke very good English. The individual Audio-Vox system works well - if you want to wander off a bit away from the guide you can do so and still hear his commentary. Most of the tours were by foot. As the ship docks in or near town center, in most stops one starts the tours right off the ship. The pace was great- not too ambitious, as you felt like you were given enough time to take in all that was around you. Every port also had some free-time built in. The Legendary Danube is a terrific itinerary, especially for first-time river cruisers, as not only do you get the excitement of the big cities - Prague, Nuremberg, Vienna, Budapest - you also get a wonderful sense of the small, distinct villages/towns - Regensburg, Passau, Linz, Melk.
The crew was fantastic - everyone was very accommodating and always ready to help, and always with a smile. Our cruise director (Peter Whitehead) was absolutely brilliant. He was very funny, full of information and always available. The last night the crew did a ‘Variety Show' - which was lots of fun - I guess they were worried about what they would do, but put together some really fun skits- and had a great time once they started performing.
River cruises could be difficult for anyone with mobility issues. Overall, the entire experience was awesome - my 12 year old son loved it as well. He really liked all of the tours, the food, exploring the ship and especially loved that we could so easily walk off the ship and be off exploring a new city. So yes, a river cruise can make for a good family cruise vacation.
Destinations included Nuremberg (seeing the sites of Hitler's Party Rallies was very interesting, as was the Castle and older part of the city), Regensburg (beautiful city, cobblestone streets full of shops - the best was a hat shop!), Passau, Linz, Melk, Vienna (a jewel) and Budapest - all of which were very interesting.