AmaWaterways AmaLea: Our Impressions

I’ll be honest, I had no idea what to expect going in to this cruise. It’s nothing like a mass-market experience, and frankly a part of me had bought in to the perception that river cruises were more the older crowd, that things would be slower, and that we might even be a little bored. I couldn’t have been more wrong. In fact, we had so much going on with excursions that I completely lost track of days pretty early on. I have no hesitation in saying this was one of the best cruises I’ve ever been on.

Before I go any further I should take a step back and add a little disclaimer here: I recognize that being a chartered sailing, things were sightly different from what we’d encounter on a normal one. That said, the excursions were the same, most of the crew are the same ones working on the ship with the guests that got on after us, so while some things are different, much of what we saw out of AmaWaterways is I would expect to encounter on a regular sailing.

Starting with the ship itself, it’s gorgeous inside and out. Three decks of cabins, with ours being a category AA located on Deck 3. The room was comfortable, is one of the few triples onboard, and had a pretty nice bathroom for a ship. We also had a normal balcony and a French balcony, but due to the amount of stuff we had in the room because there were three of us, we never really used the French balcony, that area became a holding area for some of Bayley’s stuff and a few of the larger trinkets we bought. Here you can take a 360 degree look around the room when not in triple configuration, as well as a look at the bathroom.

If you’d like to see what it looks like when is configured for the 3rd passenger, head on over here and move around the image.

Outside of the cabins, the ship also has the following areas available, as shown in the deck plan:

  • Deck 4 – Sun Deck: heated pool, lounge chairs, large chess board, bridge, forward sun deck, walking/running track
  • Deck 3 – Violin Deck: Chef’s Table (aft), Cruise & Hotel Manager desks (mid), guest services & gift shop (mid), main lounge & bar (forward), terrace & observation lounge (fwd)
  • Deck 2 – Cello Deck: main restaurant (forward)
  • Deck 1 – Piano Deck: massage/hair salon and fitness room (mid-ish)

Unlike the large ships, you can see everything this has to offer within 10 minutes of boarding, so after a quick walk to get the lay of the land, you can go hang out in the lounge and have a drink if your room isn’t ready. Frankly, I’m a little disappointed in myself for not getting enough video for a walk through, so I’ll send you over to another channel to check out the ship. This video (not shot during our sailing) is narrated by Kristin Karst, co-founder of AmaWaterways, who sailed with us all week, which was a very nice touch. She’s very friendly, down to earth, and was always willing to sit and talk!

One thing I haven’t mentioned yet, our itinerary. We were sailing Ama’s Melodies of the Danube journey, with a slight change halfway through. Instead of docking in Weissenkirchen on the 19th, we docked in Dürnstein, and while on our excursions, the ship headed to Ybbs, where we were bussed to later in the day to meet up with it. Once we were all back on, the ship then headed to Grein for an evening at Castle Greinburg, complete with an introduction from the owner himself, Prince Hubertus, The Hereditary Prince of Saxe-Coburg und Gotha!

In addition to those changes, the morning we were docking in Linz we also made an early stop at a shipyard to tour AmaWaterways newest ship, the AmaMagna. No pictures from that however, you’ll just have to take my word that she’s beautiful. We’d sail that ship in a heartbeat, and I honestly hope we do in the near future! Huge thank you to AmaWaterways for setting that up and allowing us to see her before she’s finished, and a special thank you to our captain for being our tour guide!

That same night in Linz, we were also been set up with dinner aboard one of Crystal Cruises ships to get a feel for the Crystal experience. We were split between two of their ships, the Mahler and Ravel, with us eating on the Ravel. I’ll do a piece on that one later, but suffice it to say that they were excellent hosts, and had some really good food and drink ready for us!

Back to the ship, we never did really use the sun deck, other than when we sailed past the Iron Curtain, when Martina gave us a history of this border location as we passed. I meant to hop in the pool one day, as the water was heated, but time just wasn’t on my side with all of our activities!

We also never used the gym or spa, but spent plenty of time in the main lounge enjoying a drink and meeting new people, having fun at a party, or even attending one of our conference sessions with the suppliers who attended.

The AmaLea is a beautiful ship, nothing like what we’re used to on the contemporary cruise lines, and I’m very glad we had the chance to finally experience something like this!

Next up on page 2, the food and service!

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