Thursday, October 9, 2014

Goldring Travel's 2014 Food & Wine River Cruise - AmaWaterways AmaCerto (Amsterdam to Budapest) – Part II

I arrived at the AmaCerto docked right near the Passenger Terminal in Amsterdam at 2:30 p.m.  She was hidden behind a number of riverboats, but it quickly became apparent that AmaWaterways was a cut above the rest. There was no confusion as to who was going to assist me, as four smiling AmaCerto staff quickly approached the taxi and whisked my luggage away.

I boarded the ship and was led into the main lounge…along with everyone else who arrived before 3:00 p.m...struggling a bit to find a seat.  But I did, eventually meeting up with most of my group.  Note:  It makes far more sense to arrive after 3:00 p.m.  As with any small ship, even the smaller Seabourn (now/soon to be Windstar) ships, the staff needs time to ready the ship after the disembarking guests. 


AmaWaterways AmaCerto Lounge

AmaCerto Lounge
AmaCerto Bar
During my time in the lounge, despite the crowd of about 150 people, I could immediately see the quality of the ship with many little details from creative lighting to marble finishes to fabric insets in the walls to very comfortable truly “living room” furnishings.

AmaCerto Library
Once released from the lounge, I made my way to my French Balcony stateroom and my luggage was already there.  Because I am traveling solo I am staying in one of the smaller accommodations (Category C – 170 square feet).  It is a fairly compact, but very well designed, space; perfect for a single traveler but I feel a bit cramped for two, though adequate storage space (closet and shelving is supplied; especially if you are taking a more common seven day cruise).  My clients are in the larger (BB, BA, AA and Suite) accommodations all of which are quite spacious with combination French and Standard balconies, larger living spaces and bathrooms.

AmaWaterways AmaCerto Category C
French Balcony Stateroom
AmaWaterways AmaCerto Category C
French Balcony Stateroom

I immediately noticed such stateroom touches as elegant white wallpapers, marble bathrooms with just a touch of iridescent tiling, proper hairdryer, makeup mirror, Bogner hand cream, coffered ceilings with inset lighting (and many lighting options including actual bedside table lamps and a true desk lamp), a refrigerator and two smaller (but comfortable) chairs, plush bathrobes and thick towels. Note:  Only European 220 volt outlets are provided.

Compact but functional with a makeup mirror to the right
and a proper hairdryer stored below
AmaCerto Category C Shower
with Rainfall and Handheld Showerheads
I know.  I know.  Because of its massive marketing efforts, Viking River Cruises is obviously a point of comparison…and there is no comparison.  The Viking “longships” (which are the same size as every other river cruise lines newer ships…which is regulated as to maximum size) have French balcony staterooms measuring a mere 135 square feet; 20% smaller.  That means little things…like being able to get out of either side of the bed…is not an option.  It means listing things like being able to store your luggage under your bed is a feature of the cabin and bathrobes are only upon request. (Yes, Viking needs to list these things in order to have a list of features!)  You should also note that every other category is also larger on AmaWaterways than Viking…and, among other things, you get two chairs in your stateroom rather than one on Viking (I guess the bed is supposed to be where the less fortunate “guest” is to sit.)

After unpacking , while some of the guests wandered out to explore Amsterdam and others – who had just flown in – slept, I took a wonder around the ship.  The Sun Deck is quite attractive with a small pool, covered and uncovered seating, lounges and a jogging track.  There is a comfortable smoking area aft so it cannot bother other guests.

AmaCerto's heated pool

AmaCerto's Sun Deck
AmaCerto's Sun Deck
There are two dining rooms with one being designated the Chef’s Table (located on the stern on Deck 3), which actually has a number of tables seating 26 and a show kitchen, that you have the option of dining in at least one time during your cruise (though multiple reservations does not seem to be a problem on this cruise).

AmaCerto's Chef's Table
with a beautiful view off the stern of the ship
The main dining room, which has set seating times, basically has two mirrored sides with tables and also banquets.  There are no tables for two and it is truly open seating.  There is also a buffet midline and a cooking station forward. I will talk more about the dining experiences in another article.

AmaCerto's Main Dining Room

The Captain's Table

AmaCerto's Private Dining Room (There are two.)
As we are overnighting in Amsterdam and I have been here for a while, I am taking the opportunity to regroup and relax.  Interestingly, I don’t believe many, if any, ventured into town for dinner, but rather stayed on board. 

Tomorrow there is a canal and bus tour of Amsterdam.  I am electing to stay onboard and enjoy the 3 hour cruise up the Rhine River to the meeting point as we begin our two week river cruise.

Next up, some first impressions.