PORTS OF CALL: Luxembourg City, Luxembourg ; Schweich, Germany; Bernkastel, Germany; Alken, Belgium; Rüdesheim, Germany; Wertheim, Germany; Würzburg, Germany; Bamberg, Germany; Nuremberg, Germany
EMBARKATION/DISEMBARKATION: Most of AmaWaterways’ ships operate in Europe, with others based in South America and Asia. Boasting a great deal of owner involvement, the smaller, family-owned river cruise line excels at the personal touch and allows passengers to take any excursion at no additional charge. Our voyage on AmaPrima, following the Europe’s Rivers & Castles Wine Cruise (Luxembourg to Nuremberg) itinerary proved a special cruise as both owners, Rudi Schreiner and Kristin Karst, sailed with us, celebrating the 20th anniversary of AmaWaterways and adding incredible insight into their vision.
Rudi is known as the “grandfather of river cruising,” the catalyst for the industry after the Rhine-Main-Danube Canal opened in 1992. Rudi launched many of the river cruise brands that currently sail, lending his Viennese background to the ships and onboard menus. Kristin embodies the brand through her charming German personality, her kindness, attention to detail, and focus on fitness and lighter cuisine options on river cruises and excursions.
We flew from Newark on United’s Polaris to Amsterdam, where we connected to a KLM regional jet to Luxembourg. Ama ensures a seamless trip, arranging transfer from airport to ship. We met a wonderful couple at the airport, Blaine and Dianne Austin. Blaine made a point of searching the airport for missing guests and directing them to the shuttle. Once on our way, it took little time to arrive at AmaPrima, docked on the river in the small town of Wasserbillig in Luxembourg.
We swiftly checked in, but it was too early to enter the rooms, so our luggage was held while we sat in the lounge and enjoyed refreshments and light tea sandwiches. This allowed time to get to know fellow passengers better. Our rooms were soon ready, and rather than taking the dreaded jetlag nap, we walked around town, stopping in a few stores.
GUEST QUARTERS: Various room types are available, including suites. Our twin balcony featured an inside “French” balcony and an outside balcony. It also included in-room temperature controls, Egyptian linens, down pillows and duvet, large bathroom with multijet showerheads, full-length mirror, hair dryer, safe, flat-screen TV with on-demand entertainment, fantastic and fast WiFi, and daily complimentary water bottles. Our room was complete with a queen-sized bed plus a desk and chair where I caught up with nightly emails.
SERVICES/AMENITIES: Meals are served in the main dining room by a wonderful staff; seating is open, and we dined with various passengers through the cruise. Two groups sailed on our cruise: a wine club from Napa, California, and a meeting of oral surgeons led by the preeminent expert in this field, Dr. Robert Marx of Miami. I found this group most interesting, and I wish I had attended some of their meetings covering the response to COVID-19 and updates on oral surgery.
Chef ’s Table Restaurant sits at the back of the ship; much smaller and intimate, it is included in the cruising package but requires reservations. Beer and wine are also included, and mixed drinks are reasonable at a few euros each. The cruise also features great live entertainment nightly.
PORTS OF CALL: Excursions and visits to small cities and towns sit at the heart of the Ama experience. Options accommodate all activity levels and include hikes, bike rides, historical tours or just walking around a small European town to soak in the local culture.
Stops in Germany included Trier, one of the four Roman capitals; Zell (Moselle); Mainz; Wertheim; Würzburg; Bamberg; and finally ending in Nuremberg, where we spent a day touring before our return departure. Make sure you attend the evening sip and sail in the lounge for the cruise director’s briefing of the following day’s activities.
Space does not allow me to cover all the fun and exciting educational and strenuous excursions, such as hiking up to castles and a pretzel-making demonstration in Wertheim by a shop owner whose family has owned the bakery for 13 generations.
- Great fitness center, sundeck and pool, and even a salon
- Expect exceptional and friendly service along with tasty cuisine.
- Fantastic cruise director Balázs was ready to answer any questions and take care of every need.
Two and a half hours beyond Ho Chi Minh City, via a newly constructed highway, Azerai Ke Ga Bay in Vietnam’s Binh Thuan province opens the gate to a corner of the country waiting to be discovered. The careful planning and sustainable development of Azerai Ke Ga Bay has already made a strong impression as an award-nominated and -winning pioneer of 5-star boutique hospitality in this emerging destination, drawing in an adventurous new generation of affluent international guests.
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In Europe, Asia and North America, rail travel for touristic purposes is becoming more popular than ever. Earlier this year, Railbookers, which offers a collection of independent rail vacation itineraries featuring sought-after destinations in the United States and around the world, announced its upscale Around the World by Luxury Train itinerary, which will take travelers across the globe to 13 countries, four continents and more than 20 cities as they enjoy the best accommodations, dining and sightseeing by train for 80 days, all onboard the finest rail accommodations on the world’s most luxurious trains.