Visiting stunning cities and villages while you do it on luxurious ships is like a dream! Start dreaming with us!
We’re bringing you some information about AmaWaterways with the help of Sandra Gardner from the brand itself and another travel agent, a close friend in the industry and “resident expert” of river cruises and Europe travel, Marilyn Baird.
During this Travel Talk Thursday we’d like to share what the river cruising experience is like and some of the options for getting your travel dreaming started.
Scroll down to enjoy the whole interview, recorded live!
Facing the new situation
AmaWaterways is the only U.S-based river cruise line that sailed in 2020 so they were able to implement all of the Covid protocols to perfection. They really got to experience what it’s like to cruise on the waterways in these unique circumstances.
When they started to cruise last year their staff and guests on board were masked in public spaces, they had barriers between each of the sections in the lounge, they carried a lower capacity of guests on board, and they had in-room dining services too.
With all that being said, they’ve suspended their cruises until the end of March 2021 and they are thinking about whether or not to suspend them through the end of April- for the latest details you can contact us at Travel Time – TPI.
They always wait about 45 days out before making a decision like that because their ships are all ready and they have a crew that they can bring on board quickly if needed.
Their booking trends are showing that clients really want to come on board with them starting around August. Based on their current bookings that’s where they’re seeing a real pickup.
Two of our favourite cruises are the Tulip time which we are offering on April 10th and Christmas Markets that we’re offering for December 1st. We are very excited about these great itineraries!
The Best Itineraries
Tulip Time Cruise
The Tulip Time cruise is for April 10th – 17th, 2022 and it means the prime time to be over in the Netherlands because the flowers are out in bloom. The tulips, when you go to Keukenhof, will either be up and just closed or they might just be starting to open up ever so slightly. Here is a run down on what you can expect from this experience.
You can go and explore and have a really nice time, maybe you’ll grab a chair on one of the canals and enjoy a pastry while watching the millions of bicycles go past. Amsterdam is well known for having more bicycles than cars.
After that, your first stop will bring you into Middelburg and this would be where you get to go and see Keukenhof, it’s just acres of incredible flora and you see so many beautiful things while you’re there.
What’s great too is that you can buy bulbs that are meant to bring home with you or they can ship them home for you as well. If you’re thinking about getting some tulips there are so many varieties that you can pick up.
Then they will take you into the beautiful village of Ghent which is really well known for its chocolate. You can go in and make your own chocolate with one of the famous chocolatiers and (of course!) you get to eat your chocolate when you’re done.
The next stop on the Tulip Time itinerary is Antwerp, the diamond capital, and while you’re there you can have a wonderful walking tour and visit a great cathedral. In this beautiful city, everything is within walking distance of the ship so if you’re doing the walking tour or the biking experience, they take you right from the ship and away you go.
In Antwerp, you could do the Belgian chocolate beer and waffle tasting which is all about the region’s gastronomy, culture, architecture, and history so it’s truly an immersive experience.
As you follow along the itinerary, for the next stop you’re going to Rotterdam which is an interesting community. You will see ships, barges and a lot of different things in this port. It’s a very popular destination. They have buildings that look like they’re leaning, and it has a little bit of a pirate feel to it which makes it even more interesting!
Then from there, you’ll cruise on and the next stop would be in Kinderdijk, home of all the windmills. It’s a Unesco Heritage site, so as with many other Unesco Heritage sites, you know it’s always going to be maintained and it will always show itself well- this destination is simply breathtaking!
Then you come back to Amsterdam and on this itinerary, in 2022 you’ll enjoy a very special festival that’s going to take place, it’s called Floriade, the world’s largest horticultural show. It happens every 10 years usually somewhere in the Netherlands and this year it’s going to be taking place in Almere. So 2022 is definitely the year to visit!
The unique experience on the AmaMagna
The AmaMagna is a one-of-a-kind riverboat that is on the Danube River and one of the things that makes it so special is that it is twice as wide as a standard riverboat. It has four different restaurants, six bars, many lounges, a big gym, a spa, a hair salon, and more.
It is an incredible ship to travel on and they’re having a lot of guests booking right now, some of them are guests that were ocean-going cruisers who have moved over now to river cruises, and they’re doing the AmaMagna because it has some similarities to an ocean vessel, particularly in the variety of amenities and activities available on board.
There’s a wonderful itinerary available on the AmaMagna which starts in Budapest with the gorgeous markets and the enchanting castles, it’s just a stunning and beautiful historic city. From Budapest, it then goes along to Vienna which is full of history and music.
Next, you’ll go to Dürnstein which is a fascinating little town where you can hike or take advantage of AmaWaterways’ free bicycles. It’s beautiful biking along the river there.
After that, the itinerary goes to Linz and Passau which are two other beautiful places to stop, all very unique in their own way. Linz is where they take the guests to enjoy the Sound of Music tour of Salzburg.
Christmas Markets on the Rhine
The Christmas markets are well known for the bustling activity, special holiday drinks, trinkets and decorations, and fine artwork. They take place starting December 1st. These markets are featured in the AmaWaterways cruise itinerary Christmas Markets on the Rhine, which is a seven-night cruise from Basel to Amsterdam.
Basel is very walkable so if you’re not doing a pre-land program with them and you’re coming into Basel you can take your bags right to the ship, and then go and explore the village, the city center, and more.
From Basel, your first stop would be in a beautiful community called Breisach. One of the favorite excursions there, apart from Christmas markets, is visiting the small village of Riquewihr in France, where the fairy tale the Beauty and the Beast came from.
The next stop is going to be in the city of Strasbourg where a tour would have you going into the heart of the city and to The Petite France district. You will enjoy visiting the beautiful Cathédrale de Notre Dame and checking out its astronomical clock.
Another nice thing about Strasbourg is that they have a lot of the Christmas markets scattered throughout the city and they choose countries to represent these certain squares where the markets are.
Then the next stop, from there, is Ludwigshafen. This is an interesting destination because when they dock the ship you have the option to explore two of Germany’s stunning cities:
- The Heidelberg tour: it’s a historic university town that has a castle fortress.
- The Rudesheim tour: a great place to enjoy the wine tasting and Christmas markets. You can also visit the Siegfried’s Mechanical Music Museum or take the gondola up a hill to the monument where you can overlook the Rhine River below.
From there they’re going to take you and do one of the AmaWaterways exclusive experiences, sailing along the Rhine River Gorge and enjoying the view of many castles, and hearing about the legends that shroud them in mystery.
Next, you can expect to experience a unique tour at the Burg Lahneck Castle in Lahnstein. They do tours in the daytime and at night. Sometimes they have performers that are there playing music when we’re going through.
The next city stop is Cologne, where they have biking experiences and walking tours to see the magnificent cathedral. The markets are all around the front of the cathedral so they’re beautiful.
Another option in Cologne is to visit a tavern where all the locals come and they’ll give you a taste of Germany, you will be served different beers from the area, especially Kölsch beer paired with pork knuckle and potato pancakes and all those culinary delights that are authentic local specialties in this region.
Now it’s time to return to Amsterdam where you’ll have a tasting tour around the city.
Now, with everything we’ve shared so far, you’ll be forgiven if you think it’s exclusively about the onshore experiences, but this is not at all the case!
With these AmaWaterways itineraries, the onboard experience is important too because their cruises are even decorated for Christmas, both inside and out. They even do caroling with the crew and they have a tree decorating competition!
One of the funny things is that the crew gets to determine if you’ve been naughty or nice and you will have a gift left for you in a shoe outside your room the next day depending on your behaviour! What would you get!?
Why river cruises are so much in demand
One of the big things that people enjoy and experience on river cruises is that everything is included and packaged together. That makes it a truly relaxing experience while you’re on an adventure and you get to focus on all the flavours and experiences to enjoy along the way.
A great piece of advice that we always give to clients considering a river cruise is to book well in advance, while there’s still space on a given itinerary and for the date that you wish to travel. These river cruises often fill up and that’s an important issue that you need to plan ahead for.
Planning a trip and knowing that you have something to look forward to, no matter how far ahead, is almost as exciting right now as the trip itself.
So again, 2022 is selling like crazy and we have no doubt we’re going to have an extraordinary year. Reach us out for any details on any of the options that we’ve talked about, we would love to help you out with that and get you booked before it’s too late and space is all gone.
If you’re interested in the Tulip Festival or the Christmas markets, we’d love to share more details with you and help you look at options for planning your next trip!