Food on the ship was pretty solid all week. Breakfast is a pretty standard buffet; eggs, meats, a bread table, a made to order omelette station, typical stuff. Lunch is also a buffet, but has a couple of stations that change every day. The bread table from breakfast becomes where you get whatever meat or other specialty item they have, and the omelette station becomes a rotating specialty station with things like made to order pasta. In addition to that, breakfast and lunch also feature a small menu of things you can order from the kitchen. My favorite breakfast item was easily the waffles, available on that menu:
The burger on the lunch menu was equally as good, but I think my favorite thing at lunch was the dessert table. A day or two in, they started serving up homemade ice cream, so that became my favorite table come lunch time. On St Patrick’s Day they even served up an ice cream sundae bar in the lounge during the day, and yea, I might have had more than one serving 🙂
Gotta say, that was some good ice cream :).
Dinner all week was really good as well, plenty of selection each night, but my favorite meal on board may well have been the Chef’s Table. This is a space at the back of the ship on deck 3 housing a small handful of tables. You sign up for this after boarding at no additional cost, and on our sailing you had 4 nights to choose from, if I recall, so we chose the second night. This is a small plate experience with a set menu, and after signing up we realized that a couple of the dishes were fish, something Bayley and I don’t really eat. We approached the front desk preparing to cancel, explained why, and they immediately said they could accommodate us, and switched out the fish options for chicken. I love that they could be accommodating for this! All in all the experience took around 3 hours, typical for high-end small plate dining. In the post I’m linking below, you’ll see the menu we had, along with a picture of each dish. Be sure to scroll through each picture to see everything!
If you’re sailing on an AmaWaterways ship, I highly recommend trying the Chef’s Table. It’s included, so what have you got to lose?
Service-wise, we were happy with all of it, start to finish. The crew was always smiling, asking how you were, and if you needed something, all you had to do was ask. I can’t think of a single instance of bad service from anyone from our cabin steward to the bar or dining staff. I’d like to send a special thank you to the staff at the main desk, as well as the hotel manager, as they went out of their way on multiple occasions to make the trip special. On day 1 the hotel manager learned that Bayley would be celebrating her 23rd birthday during the final night of our cruise, and ensured that a full cake was delivered to the table we were eating at. It’s little things like this that put service over the top, and AmaWaterways certainly knows how to excel here.
My highest praise on service from our sailing is reserved for Martina, our Cruise Manager. She was amazing all week, always had a handle on what we were doing, and somehow managed to appear at some point during a majority of our excursions, even thought she didn’t leave the ship with whatever group we were in most of the time. I don’t know when she finds time to sleep, but it seemed like she was always around ready to assist with anything you needed. That really became apparent our final morning on the ship as we were supposed to be leaving for Prague.
We’d booked a private transfer with a reputable company, and were supposed to meet our driver outside the AmaLea at 9am on debark day. Well, 9:30 came and went, no driver. Jen called her contact at the company, and they hadn’t heard from him either, so they worked to find out what happened. Tuns out the driver had been in a wreck the day before and was hospitalized, and while the owner of the company was willing to send another driver, it meant waiting three hours for him to arrive. While that was happening, we decided to head back on board to see if guest services had any ideas for faster transportation to Prague, as we wanted to avoid as much of a delay as possible due to the short time we’d have there.
The AmaWaterways transfer to Prague had already left, and were on their way to their first stop in Regensburg, and so the front desk staff had to call Martina on her cell to see if she could assist, as she was on the bus with this group. She immediately went to work to find options, with the first one being a ~500 euro taxi to Prague, which we all agreed was a bit too much, so at that point I think we’d decided to wait for the new driver. Martina didn’t stop working on it, however, she checked on rail options for us, but that would put us in Prague later than our new transfer driver would, so we scrapped that. While she was working, one of the other agents on the bus overheard the conversation and suggested that maybe we could meet the bus in Regensburg and ride along from there to Prague, which she thought was a good idea, so she checked on taxi costs to Regensburg, which turned out to be much more reasonable than one to Prague, so we decided to go this route.
Aside from a couple small hiccups with the taxi driver getting a little lost in Regensburg while looking for our bus, and me having to jog a bit to find an ATM to get more Euros to pay him, everything worked out, and we successfully met the bus and made it to Prague. Another agent in our group had been given an extra pizza (order confusion apparently) at the place they ate in Regensburg, so he and his wife brought it to us to eat on the bus, figuring we hadn’t had time to eat (we hadn’t), a very nice gesture! We got in later than planned to Prague, obviously, but we got there, and we owe Martina for that, she worked tirelessly to get us set up with a way to get there, even though we’d booked our transfer outside of AmaWaterways. The level of customer service she and the desk staff showed in making this happen were above and beyond anything we’ve seen on past trips, something we won’t soon forget. Thank you Martina!
If you’re getting the impression that we loved our time on the AmaLea, you’d be right! I realized early on that my assumptions about river cruising were wrong, and while this was a bit of a controlled sailing, being a charter, I’d go back in a heartbeat for a non-chartered sailing.
Bayley’s insight was important for us too, being in her early 20s, and was something she was also asked for all week by other agents on the ship. Her response was always the same, that she was loving it and having fun. You don’t have the level of onboard entertainment you do on a regular cruise for sure, but we never felt like we were missing out on anything or bored. We were so busy during the day that even during our downtime we were happy to rest and enjoy the scenery, meet new people among the passengers and crew, or even turn in a little early some nights in preparation for the following day’s activity. I honestly don’t feel like I’m doing this trip justice, it was that good!
Well, I think that about covers our experience with the ship and crew. Next up, we’ll look at the stuff that kept us so busy, the excursions!