By Emma Krasov. Photography by Yuri Krasov
The incredible amount of amazing historic places in Europe you’ll visit in just one week is reason enough to embark on AmaWaterways river cruise. Other reasons—you’re treated like a dear friend and served like royalty by the excellently trained international staff and crew employed by this very special company.
“Leading the way in river cruising” is AmaWaterways motto, and that’s exactly what the company does on all its routes known for enticing itineraries and outstanding service. Every aspect of every river cruise with AmaWaterways is honed to perfection. Onshore site seeing excursions are geared toward all types of travelers with various activity levels from athletic hikers and bicyclists to mobility-impaired and those who prefer to sleep in and have a shorter and easier walking tour. Food and drink onboard prepared by the acclaimed chefs, mixologists and sommeliers. Air conditioned staterooms with double balconies, comfy beds with snow-white linens, spacious shower cabins, mini-fridges with bottled water, workstations and TV sets.
Chef’s Table Restaurant is an upscale addition to the Main Restaurant where the guests are fed three times a day for breakfast, lunch and dinner; Main Lounge, where snacks and fruit are available between meals, with fresh pastries served as early as 6:30 in the morning, and a self-serve coffee/tea station.
Since Chef’s Table requires reservations for its set five-course tasting menu with wine pairing every night of the cruise, all passengers are encouraged to select a night of their choosing for dinner. Chef’s Table dinners feel very special, kind of like going out on your birthday or anniversary, and many passengers indeed celebrate their special occasions on feel-good river cruises. After all, AmaWaterways cruise is a festive affair suitable for a celebration, so there are usually some guests on every cruise celebrating their big dates.
Launched in 2002, AmaWaterways with its substantial fleet of upscale vessels, several levels of walking tours, guided bicycle tours, and award-winning culinary program is rightfully considered the best in river cruising.
The company’s truly wonderful ways of providing unforgettable experiences to its guests come through in always warm, helpful, attentive, personable staff. Your every wish is met with kindness, understanding, and a genuine desire to please.
AmaKristina, one of the newest additions to the ever-growing fleet of upscale vessels, is strikingly beautiful with streamlined exterior in white and navy blue and festive floral and gilded patterns in the interior design. This phenomenal, award-winning ship offers exquisite experiences every step of the way. Kristin Karst, the company co-founder and the godmother of AmaKristina, who grew up on the Elbe River, likes to say, “River is in our blood. We love what we’re doing, and we love sharing our passion for river cruising with our guests.”
With only 78 staterooms and maximum 156 passengers, the journey on AmaKristina is refreshingly intimate, yet provides enough company for fast friendships and boisterous, themed parties.
Engage in a friendly chat at a swanky lounge with cocktails and hors d’oeuvres and sing along to the live pianist’s Broadway tunes, or relax in your sparkling, air-conditioned stateroom on the Cello deck or in one of the four super luxury suites on the Violin deck that have added features, like a larger sitting area and a spacious bathroom with a bathtub and a separate shower.
There’s a jogging track and a heated pool with a swim-up bar on the Sun deck and a well-equipped fitness room, a massage parlor, and a hair salon on the Piano deck.
The “Captivating Rhine” cruise on AmaKristina is filled with fascinating sites in four different countries. It starts in the Netherlands with heartfelt greetings upon embarkation, a champagne reception, and individual chaperones who accompany arriving passengers to their staterooms to freshen up before the beautifully served welcome dinner presided by the ship’s captain.
The next morning, a mesmerizing tour of Amsterdam’s canals makes a great introduction to the “Venice of the North” with its narrow 16th century buildings and 1,500 bridges, including the famous Skinny Bridge originally built in 1691.
From the Netherlands to Germany, AmaKristina docks in 2,000-years-old Cologne. Visit historic City Hall decorated with statues of the rulers, starting from ancient Romans, and the 13th century Gothic cathedral that has a replacement stained glass window created by the contemporary German artist Gerhard Richter. The city tour ends up with traditional local Kölsch beer and reibekuchen—potato pancakes with the name characteristic to Rheinland area.
Passing through the picturesque, UNESCO-designated Rhine Gorge, keep your camera ready for dozens of medieval castles and fortress ruins on hilltops. Don’t miss Lorelei Rock with a statue depicting a mermaid who lures sailors with her enchanting song.
Taste wonderful German Riesling in a wine cellar in Rüdesheim am Rhein, then marvel at the centuries-old, whimsical automatons at Siegfried’s Mechanical Musical Instruments Museum.
In Heidelberg, one of Germany’s oldest university towns, marvel at the famous medieval castle and its 18th century Great Vat which holds 49,000 gallons of wine.
On to France, AmaKristina’s next stop is “the Gem of Alsace,” home to the European Union Parliament and the fascinating Cathédrale Notre-Dame of Strasbourg with its unique astronomical clock. Taste some fragrant Alsatian wines from bright and fruity to crisp and spicy at Le Gruber, the Alsatian brasserie in one of Strasbourg’s most beautiful houses.
Next, tour adorable Riquewihr that inspired Disney to create Beauty and the Beast’s village. It looks just the same as it did in the 16th century.
The cruise disembarks in Basel, Switzerland, where you can visit the art museum Foundation Beyeler and eye-catching, red-painted City Hall and dine at Kunsthalle restaurant, decorated with paintings and sculptures.
Find more information at www.amawaterways.com