AMA Waterways vs Uniworld


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#1
Dallas, Tx
285 Posts
Joined Jan 2011
Looking to book a Rhine or Danube cruise for myself and my 25 yr old daughter. We are locked into a particular date due to her teaching schedule, and so can choose from either a cruise with AMA Certo, Prima or Lea, or on Uniworld SS Antoinette or SS Maria Theresa

We have traveled before on the Katherine In France and just loved it. Thought the room, decor, food and other people on board were fantastic! There was a guide or two that weren't the most engaging but felt we had the option to just go explore on our own.

Just wondering how AMA compares? We really like active excursions and will choose them when available. AMA seems to get great reviews and wondering if we should try something new?

We may choose a suite if we go with Uniworld. What are the perks of a suite on AMA ?

I appreciate your opinions - thanks!
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Bella O

Past Cruises:
DCL Wonder 2001 Bahamas
Carnival Freedom 2007 NE/Canada
RCCL Radiance of the Seas 2011 Mexico
RCCL Allure of the Seas 2013 Western Carribean
Un-Cruise Safari Explorer 2013 Alaska
RCCL Vision of the Seas 2017 Arabian Gulf
NCL Getaway 2017 Baltic Seas
#2
FL
14,454 Posts
Joined Jul 2003
We have sailed with Uniworld twice (Catherine and JDV) and with AMA 8x (AmaDante, AmaVida, AmaCerto, AmaSerena, AmaSonata, AmaBella and AmaReina, AmaDagio).

While we enjoyed our Uniworld cruises, we do prefer AMA for the food, included excursions (we generally stick to active pursuits), evening entertainment and the warm and engaging staff and crew aboard their ships. While we experienced very good service with Uniworld (with the exception of a snotty sommelier on the Catherine), it was of a more formal nature. AMA feels like family, and that is what we prefer.

We generally book the twin balcony staterooms on AMA as we enjoy the private outdoor space, something Uniworld does not offer on their ships.

We did the Rhone with AMA and then again with Uniworld on the Catherine and I posted a detailed comparison here on CC of the two. It is our favorite all time itinerary. We enjoyed both but preferred the food, service, staff/crew, entertainment and excursion variety on AMA. We preferred the cabins, wines and spirits on the Catherine.

It all comes down to what is most important to you. AMA ships are not as ornate as Uniworld (which is over the top for us) but their newer ships are elegant, warm and lovely. The AmaLea has their newest design features, and we look forward to sailing with her or one of her sisters soon.
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143 cruises since 1964, 16 on the river.
Looking forward to:
MS Joy - Magic of Advent, December 2017

Amadeus Silver III, May 2018
AmaStella, Christmas Markets, December 2018
Scenic Eclipse, April, 2019

Our river cruising history:
Avalon Luminary B2B- Christmas Markets, 2009
Avalon Affinity - Christmas Markets 2010
Avalon Panorama - Danube New Years Cruise, 2011
AmaDante -Vineyards of the Rhine and Moselle 2012
AmaCerto - Budapest to Nuremburg, 2013
AmaBella - Tulip Time, 2014
AmaDagio - Provence, 2014
AmaReina - Holiday on the Rhine 2014
SS Catherine - Provence 2015
AmaSerena Christmas on the Rhine, 2015
Scenic Diamond, Bordeaux, April 2016, October 2017
AmaVida, Douro, August. 2016
AmaSonata, Romantic Danube - Oct. 2016
Joie de Vivre, Paris and Normany - April 2017

Recent ocean cruises:
Le Lyral, The Adriatic, September 2017
#3
Knoxville, TN
648 Posts
Joined Feb 2014
I can't comment on AMA but I have sailed in suites on both the Antoinette and the MT. In both cases the suites were outstanding. I really enjoyed the small balcony(it does cut into the room) where I could make a cup of coffee with the Nespresso machine and sit out on the balcony in the morning with either the window down to make it open air or up to make it more of an atrium. The bathroom with the double sinks were nice and at 300 sq ft it felt like a normal hotel/cruise ship room.

The butler service is outstanding. They truly meet every need you could possibly have from doing your laundry, making sure your mini bar is set up and kept exactly like you want it, to just checking on you throughout the day to see that you have what you need. I would be happy to answer any specific questions regarding the suite or butler service or either of the ships.
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Cruises booked:

Azamara Journey: Iberian Passage - Sept 2018
Norwegian Pride of America: Hawaii- Feb 2019
Oceania Rivera: Colors, Coasts, & Coves(New England/Canada)- Oct 2019

Past Cruises

Uniworld SS Antoinette Castles on the Rhine - July 2014
Uniworld Maria Theresa: Holiday Danube - December 2015
Royal Caribbean Oasis: Western Caribbean - Feb 2017
Uniworld River Countess: Gems of Northern Italy - June 2017
#4
Dallas, Tx
285 Posts
Joined Jan 2011
Thanks so much for your responses! I will definitely check out your review caviargal, so helpful. The AMA experience sounds like a good one, and checking their web-site I do like their choice of excursions. The Lea seems brand spanking new - do you think its a problem to book one of their first sailings?

Papa - The suite experience sounds amazing. If we decide to spring for a suite, we will definitely go with Uniworld.

I guess I just need to decide what's most important to us. I don't think there's a bad choice here, just need to make a decision!
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Bella O

Past Cruises:
DCL Wonder 2001 Bahamas
Carnival Freedom 2007 NE/Canada
RCCL Radiance of the Seas 2011 Mexico
RCCL Allure of the Seas 2013 Western Carribean
Un-Cruise Safari Explorer 2013 Alaska
RCCL Vision of the Seas 2017 Arabian Gulf
NCL Getaway 2017 Baltic Seas
#5
FL
14,454 Posts
Joined Jul 2003
Originally posted by Bella O
Thanks so much for your responses! I will definitely check out your review caviargal, so helpful. The AMA experience sounds like a good one, and checking their web-site I do like their choice of excursions. The Lea seems brand spanking new - do you think its a problem to book one of their first sailings?

I guess I just need to decide what's most important to us. I don't think there's a bad choice here, just need to make a decision!
We were on one of the very first sailings of AmaSerena and it was our best river cruise ever, hands down. AMA has a special team of their best people that brings out new boats. I personally would not hesitate.
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143 cruises since 1964, 16 on the river.
Looking forward to:
MS Joy - Magic of Advent, December 2017

Amadeus Silver III, May 2018
AmaStella, Christmas Markets, December 2018
Scenic Eclipse, April, 2019

Our river cruising history:
Avalon Luminary B2B- Christmas Markets, 2009
Avalon Affinity - Christmas Markets 2010
Avalon Panorama - Danube New Years Cruise, 2011
AmaDante -Vineyards of the Rhine and Moselle 2012
AmaCerto - Budapest to Nuremburg, 2013
AmaBella - Tulip Time, 2014
AmaDagio - Provence, 2014
AmaReina - Holiday on the Rhine 2014
SS Catherine - Provence 2015
AmaSerena Christmas on the Rhine, 2015
Scenic Diamond, Bordeaux, April 2016, October 2017
AmaVida, Douro, August. 2016
AmaSonata, Romantic Danube - Oct. 2016
Joie de Vivre, Paris and Normany - April 2017

Recent ocean cruises:
Le Lyral, The Adriatic, September 2017
#6
Dallas, Tx
285 Posts
Joined Jan 2011
Originally posted by papa B me
I can't comment on AMA but I have sailed in suites on both the Antoinette and the MT. In both cases the suites were outstanding. I really enjoyed the small balcony(it does cut into the room) where I could make a cup of coffee with the Nespresso machine and sit out on the balcony in the morning with either the window down to make it open air or up to make it more of an atrium. The bathroom with the double sinks were nice and at 300 sq ft it felt like a normal

The butler service is outstanding. They truly meet every need you could possibly have from doing your laundry, making sure your mini bar is set up and kept exactly like you want it, to just checking on you throughout the day to see that you have what you need. I would be happy to answer any specific questions regarding the suite or butler service or either of the ships.
We have decided (or I should say my traveling companion decided(!) on Uniworld's enchanting Danube
Itinerary- from Budapest to Passau. And we have decided to go for a suite, which makes me very excited.

Papa B Me, I read your review of the Maria Theresa, very helpful! Was there a reason you picked rm 407? Is there any reason for a preference port or starboard, closer to the middle or closer to the lounge? I'm thinking there's no real differences here like on an ocean cruise ship but thought I'd ask. Any other tips or suggestions with a suite would be great!

We are spending the weekend prior to boarding in Budapest, which we've never been too. I love the idea of seeing a show in the Opera House if one is available on my dates. Any other suggestions appreciated!
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Bella O

Past Cruises:
DCL Wonder 2001 Bahamas
Carnival Freedom 2007 NE/Canada
RCCL Radiance of the Seas 2011 Mexico
RCCL Allure of the Seas 2013 Western Carribean
Un-Cruise Safari Explorer 2013 Alaska
RCCL Vision of the Seas 2017 Arabian Gulf
NCL Getaway 2017 Baltic Seas
#7
Knoxville, TN
648 Posts
Joined Feb 2014
Congratulations on your choice! I think you are right that you can't go wrong with either AMA or Uniworld. I do think the Butler Service is worthwhile.

As far as picking a room. I didn't pick it. It was assigned to me. In my opinion there really isn't much difference in location as all 10 are midship and the ships are so small you are maybe talking 20-30 steps from a suite on one end to the other. Also since the cruise lines really don't know in advance how/where they will dock as it is up to the local authorities I don't think port or starboard makes a difference. I do find that you can google some of the suite numbers and see the colors/décor. 407 was in blues and we really liked it.

Below are some recommendations on suite service that are just small touches that enhance the trip:

#1 Make sure you get full use of the unlimited laundry service. Since you are doing a pre cruise in Budapest I would turn your laundry in the first evening. You will most likely have it back the next morning. Then we always have all our laundry done 2nd to last day of the cruise then we go home with most of our clothes clean. We are NOT light packers so going home with clean laundry is a nice feature.

#2 Go the first morning to breakfast buffet and get a good feel for what is available then utilize the Butlers room service for mornings that you have an early excursion. This is really a great feature if you have an 8:00 excursion. You can just tell them what you like and what time and it will be there.

#3 Have them bring afternoon tea to the room if you are tired or if you have a good view from the balcony. They often have afternoon tea service in the lounge but we found we really enjoyed it in the room instead.

#4 Make sure you are very detailed about what you like in the mini bar. My wife is a tea drinker so once she told the Butler they have always brought a great number of different teas for her to try. Same way if you are a beer drinker. Typically they stock it with one or two varieties but if you ask they may bump that to 4 or 5.

#5 Take the time to get to know them personally. Frequently they are from one of the areas you will be visiting. One of ours on the MT was actually from Budapest. It was nice to hear about their city from them. They can also make recommendations of things to do that might be a little off the beaten path.

#6 There will be 2 butlers for 10 suites. So if there is something I know that we would like I try to ask them as early as possible so they can work it into their schedule accordingly. For instance, if I want breakfast from room service I will always ask if they are already swamped at a given time. So I will say, we were thinking about 7:15 but if you are already really busy then 7:00 or 7:30 would be fine. Now I have never had them say great I'm too busy. But when they see you are aware that you are not their only customer and that you are flexible its amazing the look on their faces and they will really appreciate it. I've been on cruises where there were people in suites that felt the butlers were the personal service and treated them as such. These are wonderful people and I think it is a must to treat them with the utmost respect and courtesy and I've found they have always done the same for us.

#7 I have never felt the butlers expect a tip but I always tip them at the end of the cruise. One thing I started doing is tipping them in their local currency if they are from a country we are visiting. So since one was from Budapest on the MT, I tipped him in Forinths. Obviously most are on the Euro so I tip them in Euros. They seem to really appreciate the gesture as opposed to the US dollar as most on Uniworld are from the US. Keeps them from having to go exchange and lose in the exchange rate. Obviously this is a personal preference and they by no means expect that or a tip at all.

That's all I can think of for now(plus I need to go back to work before my boss has a fit- oh wait I own my own business so I guess he won't be too upset). Let me know if you have any other questions.

Brian
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Cruises booked:

Azamara Journey: Iberian Passage - Sept 2018
Norwegian Pride of America: Hawaii- Feb 2019
Oceania Rivera: Colors, Coasts, & Coves(New England/Canada)- Oct 2019

Past Cruises

Uniworld SS Antoinette Castles on the Rhine - July 2014
Uniworld Maria Theresa: Holiday Danube - December 2015
Royal Caribbean Oasis: Western Caribbean - Feb 2017
Uniworld River Countess: Gems of Northern Italy - June 2017
#8
Dallas, Tx
285 Posts
Joined Jan 2011
Thanks Brian,
So helpful! Just screen shot your response, thanks again!
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Bella O

Past Cruises:
DCL Wonder 2001 Bahamas
Carnival Freedom 2007 NE/Canada
RCCL Radiance of the Seas 2011 Mexico
RCCL Allure of the Seas 2013 Western Carribean
Un-Cruise Safari Explorer 2013 Alaska
RCCL Vision of the Seas 2017 Arabian Gulf
NCL Getaway 2017 Baltic Seas
#9
Knoxville, TN
648 Posts
Joined Feb 2014
Originally posted by Bella O
Thanks Brian,
So helpful! Just screen shot your response, thanks again!
You''re Welcome!! Let me know if you have any other questions. I've received so much help on these boards that I like to do the same for others.
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Cruises booked:

Azamara Journey: Iberian Passage - Sept 2018
Norwegian Pride of America: Hawaii- Feb 2019
Oceania Rivera: Colors, Coasts, & Coves(New England/Canada)- Oct 2019

Past Cruises

Uniworld SS Antoinette Castles on the Rhine - July 2014
Uniworld Maria Theresa: Holiday Danube - December 2015
Royal Caribbean Oasis: Western Caribbean - Feb 2017
Uniworld River Countess: Gems of Northern Italy - June 2017
#10
New York
8,412 Posts
Joined Aug 2011
Originally posted by Bella O
Thanks Brian,
So helpful! Just screen shot your response, thanks again!
Another tip: You can click on the Number of a post which will open a new window with just that post, then print to PDF. This is (at least for me) much more readable than a screen shot.
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Email me: [email protected]
Blogs: Jazzbeaux Blogs

I am not an employee of Cruise Critic and I don't speak for Cruise Critic. All opinions are mine alone. Also, I'm only a Host on the various River forums -- everywhere else I'm "just plain Jazz."

Booked:
Azamara Quest Costa Rica 1-2018
AMA Discover Africa 5-2018
Viking Sun British Isles Explorer 8-2018
Celebrity Edge Caribbean B2B / Celebrity Equinox Caribbean B2B 1-2019 [will choose one!]

Completed:
Crown Princess Classic Canada & New England 10-2017
Norwegian Pride of America Hawaii 10-2016; Azamara Quest Norwegian Fjords 8-2016; Celebrity Constellation Greek Isles 5-2016; AmaDagio Provence 9-2015; Celebrity Xpedition Galapagos 5-2015; Celebrity Eclipse Southern Carib 3-2015; Fresco Tours A Kinder Camino walking tour 9-2014; Crystal Serenity Mediterranean 5-2014; Coral Princess Panama Canal 1-2014; AmaCello Rhine 8-2013; Coral Princess Alaska 6-2013; Ireland Fly-Drive 9-2012; Norwegian Dawn Caribbean 3-2013 / Celebrity Summit Caribbean 1-2012 / Oceania Insignia Mediterranean 5-2011 / Fair Dinkum (Erie Canal bareboat) 7-2003 / Costa Italia Caribbean 5-1974
#11
Dallas, Tx
285 Posts
Joined Jan 2011
Originally posted by Host Jazzbeau
Another tip: You can click on the Number of a post which will open a new window with just that post, then print to PDF. This is (at least for me) much more readable than a screen shot.
Ahhh, brilliant! I've been a member for years and never knew this trick. Thanks so much,
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Bella O

Past Cruises:
DCL Wonder 2001 Bahamas
Carnival Freedom 2007 NE/Canada
RCCL Radiance of the Seas 2011 Mexico
RCCL Allure of the Seas 2013 Western Carribean
Un-Cruise Safari Explorer 2013 Alaska
RCCL Vision of the Seas 2017 Arabian Gulf
NCL Getaway 2017 Baltic Seas
#12
McKinney, TX
68 Posts
Joined May 2009
Originally posted by Bella O
.......

We are spending the weekend prior to boarding in Budapest, which we've never been too. I love the idea of seeing a show in the Opera House if one is available on my dates. Any other suggestions appreciated!
I suggest if you have some extra time in Budapest you shuold consider hiring a local guide for a day. We spent a few extra days in Budapest and loved the day we spent with Melinda K. whom we contacted through Tours by Locals. She took us on an eight hour tour norht of Buda to Esztergom and Szentendre. Melinda showed us places we wouldn't see on the cruise line's tours and we so enjoyed seeing the countryside and they charming little towns. Our day with her was a highlight of our cruise.

Paul
#13
Albany, NY
4,432 Posts
Joined Jul 2009
Originally posted by Bella O
We have decided (or I should say my traveling companion decided(!) on Uniworld's enchanting Danube
Itinerary- from Budapest to Passau. And we have decided to go for a suite, which makes me very excited.

Papa B Me, I read your review of the Maria Theresa, very helpful! Was there a reason you picked rm 407? Is there any reason for a preference port or starboard, closer to the middle or closer to the lounge? I'm thinking there's no real differences here like on an ocean cruise ship but thought I'd ask. Any other tips or suggestions with a suite would be great!

We are spending the weekend prior to boarding in Budapest, which we've never been too. I love the idea of seeing a show in the Opera House if one is available on my dates. Any other suggestions appreciated!
Great itinerary! We did this on River Beatrice last April.

We also had the weekend prior to the cruise in Budapest. I did a detailed review of what we did in Budapest pre-cruise. The link to the review is in my signature. I'd be happy to answer any specific questions about the sights, how to get around, etc.
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JP and Chris

Last: Silver Explorer - Along the Humboldt Current, Guayaquil to Valparaíso - Oct 2017 (review)

Future bookings - come join us!
Silver Wind - #2828, Copenhagen to Tower Bridge - Sept 2018
Silver Cloud Expedition - #1918, Reykjavik to Reykjavik - August 2019

Past:
Ganges Voyager II (Uniworld) - India's Golden Triangle & the Sacred Ganges - Feb 2017 (review)
River Beatrice (Uniworld) - Danube - April 2016
(photo review)
SS Catherine (Uniworld) - Burgundy and Provence - March 2015 (review)
Silver Cloud - Eastern Med - Istanbul to Athens - October 2014 (photo review)
Silver Cloud - North Atlantic - Tower Bridge to Reykjavik - August 2014 - (photo review)
SS Antoinette (Uniworld) - Castles on the Rhine - Basel to Amsterdam - April 2014 (photo review)
Silver Explorer - Central America - Colon to Puerto Caldera - October 2013 (photo review)
MS Sun Boat III - Nile River - November 2012 (pics1) (pics2)
Silver Wind - Athens to Rome - June 2012 (report) (Greece pics) (Italy pics)

Celebrity Xpedition - Galapagos - November 2011 (Peru pics) (Galapagos pics)
Silver Explorer - Longyearbyen to Tromso - August 2011 (report) (Svalbard pics) (Tromso pics)
Silver Wind - Cape Town to Cape Town - Feb 2011 (pics)
Silver Cloud - London to Nice - September 2010 (France pics) (Spain and Portugal pics)
Silver Wind - Black Sea - June 2010 (pics)
Silversea PAII - Antarctica - Dec 09 (pics)
#14
Dallas, Tx
285 Posts
Joined Jan 2011
Thank you Paul and JP. Just started reading your blog of the trip and I'm thinking I would need you there JP to use the punlic transport - wow! I'm the type who when faced with a choice of direction, will inevitably pick the wrong way! Lol, my daughter is better than I as she navigates the streets of Moscow on a daily basis, but the guide sounds really good. Especially the opportunity to see some of the surrounding area. Trying to fit as much as possible in 3 days - a guide could really help. I'll check that out, thx
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Bella O

Past Cruises:
DCL Wonder 2001 Bahamas
Carnival Freedom 2007 NE/Canada
RCCL Radiance of the Seas 2011 Mexico
RCCL Allure of the Seas 2013 Western Carribean
Un-Cruise Safari Explorer 2013 Alaska
RCCL Vision of the Seas 2017 Arabian Gulf
NCL Getaway 2017 Baltic Seas
#15
Albany, NY
4,432 Posts
Joined Jul 2009
Bella O, don't be scared of using public transport in Budapest (or elsewhere, for that matter). It's no big deal. Everyone else does, and we found it was an easy way to get around.

Budapest is a sprawling city, so many sights are too far away to walk to. But there is certainly something to be said for having a guide too. Have fun either way!

When we were there, I think that some opera performances were in the afternoon but most were in the evening.

Sent from my SM-G930T using Forums mobile app
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JP and Chris

Last: Silver Explorer - Along the Humboldt Current, Guayaquil to Valparaíso - Oct 2017 (review)

Future bookings - come join us!
Silver Wind - #2828, Copenhagen to Tower Bridge - Sept 2018
Silver Cloud Expedition - #1918, Reykjavik to Reykjavik - August 2019

Past:
Ganges Voyager II (Uniworld) - India's Golden Triangle & the Sacred Ganges - Feb 2017 (review)
River Beatrice (Uniworld) - Danube - April 2016
(photo review)
SS Catherine (Uniworld) - Burgundy and Provence - March 2015 (review)
Silver Cloud - Eastern Med - Istanbul to Athens - October 2014 (photo review)
Silver Cloud - North Atlantic - Tower Bridge to Reykjavik - August 2014 - (photo review)
SS Antoinette (Uniworld) - Castles on the Rhine - Basel to Amsterdam - April 2014 (photo review)
Silver Explorer - Central America - Colon to Puerto Caldera - October 2013 (photo review)
MS Sun Boat III - Nile River - November 2012 (pics1) (pics2)
Silver Wind - Athens to Rome - June 2012 (report) (Greece pics) (Italy pics)

Celebrity Xpedition - Galapagos - November 2011 (Peru pics) (Galapagos pics)
Silver Explorer - Longyearbyen to Tromso - August 2011 (report) (Svalbard pics) (Tromso pics)
Silver Wind - Cape Town to Cape Town - Feb 2011 (pics)
Silver Cloud - London to Nice - September 2010 (France pics) (Spain and Portugal pics)
Silver Wind - Black Sea - June 2010 (pics)
Silversea PAII - Antarctica - Dec 09 (pics)