Posted July 6th, 2008, 11:43 AM
My mother and I just returned from the Blue Danube Discovery on the Amacello, and I just can't say enough good things about it. For over a year I have been reading this forum, and I have to say that my experience was even better than I imagined. I had never taken a cruise of any sort before.
Amacello is a beautiful ship; it is clean and new. The rooms are comfortable, and we especially loved the french balcony which we often opened to watch the beautiful scenery roll by. My favorite place on the ship was the very front where you can sit outside in the shade. There is a nice little sauna and exercise room. At the back of the ship is a small quiet lounge. There is a cupboard full of great board games, and I have fond memories of playing Scrabble while cruising.
The food was impressive. Dining was like being in a posh restaurant without the pretension that is often the case in expensive restaurants. I was surprised that we had a choice of 3 appetizers, 2 soups, 3 entrees and 3 desserts. They always had regional specialties. The wine was good and unlimited during dinner. They were generous with wine. Even breakfasts were amazing with European choices (muselie, fruit breads), American choice (eggs, bacon etc), lox and bagels and even more. American coffee, an expresso machine, water and assorted teas were always available in the lounge.
The service blew me away. The staff seemed to anticipate our every need. From transferring our luggage to the ship to transferring our luggage to the taxi to leave, we got outstanding service. Our rooms were kept immaculately clean, and tables were served and bussed constantly. I know that there was a thread on this forum about tipping, but honestly I was HAPPY to tip the full amounts because the ship's crew worked their tails off for us. Also, they never really gave us any sort of bill, but just suggested daily amounts and gave us an envelope.
I enjoyed our shore excursions. The cruise director always had a city tour and gave maps and/or directions to other places of interest. I especially appreciated the "gentle walker" tours for my 80 year old mother. It gave her the opportunity to take tours she could not have walked. We had daily ship entertainment and several interesting lectures (on locks, the EU, and wine).
I would be hard pressed to come up with any criticisms, but a couple who had done ocean cruises complained that we couldn't eat 24 hours a day as you can on a cruise ship and that there wasn't a variety of tours planned in port. However I feel that with a ship of less than 150, you just can't offer things like that. The only little thing I would say is that with the European bedding, if you like a top sheet, you might consider bringing one as the lovely feather duvet they have is too warm at night.