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All Ama cruisers!!! Share expierences and ideas


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JOHN, I didn't do the post-cruise with Ama, as I like to ad lib after my cruise.  I can tell you that Ama hotels are always top-notch.  As it turned out, the weather was crummy in early November, so I just took the train from Basel to Zurich.  Very easy to do.  If you're seasoned travelers it is easy to take train to Lucerne, spend a few days, then take train back to Zurich.  For me, it's a matter of budget as those pre and post cruise tours are expensive!  But you can be sure Ama will give you your money's worth.

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John, we did Medieval Treasures last year.  We live in Nova Scotia, Canada. We flew to Montreal and then had a flight to Zurich.  Upon arrival in Zurich, we walked across the street from the airport and booked our train ride into Lucerne.  We used an agent due to Language on the self buying machines.  We were a few hours on the train and arrived in Lucerne around 10:30 am.  Our hotel was Hotel Central Luzern.  One block or so from train station and a few blocks from the main area of Lucerne.  The hotel gives you a voucher for transportation.  Had a great hot and cold buffet breakfast.  Rooms were very modern and European.  We loved the location.  We took a bus to the gondola's for Mount Pilatus and did lots of walking and did a hop on hop on tour on the little train in Lucerne.  What a great way to start our trip.  Then we boarded train to Basil for 3 more days prior to leaving on the river cruise.  Basil was a wonderful city to walk around and once again, hotel gave us free vouchers for the transportation system.  We stayed at Hotel Restaurant Resslirytti , which was a great spot.  European rooms, you pay for your breakfast here but you can add a voucher to the cost of your hotel.  We were able to walk outside train station and get a van to our hotel, as there were 4 of us.  Near the hotel you can walk through a lovely park to walk to the river.  The scenery and walking here is amazing.  Lots of parks, etc and close to bistros and restaurants.  In this hotel in Basil there is a lovely Italian restaurant with faboulous food.  Don't have to leave the premises to get a fantastic meal.  We have taken two AMA river cruises so far and I book my own pre and post cruise hotels doing lots of research.  One thing to note, neither hotels were air conditioned but we went in April and May and didn't require it.  Highly recommend both locations and the train system in Switzerland.    Have a great cruise and hope that this information might be useful to anyone on this site.

 

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We just returned from a Rhine cruise of the Christmas Markets on AmaPrima, with the Pre-tour of Zurich/Lucern.  This is our 3rd AMA cruise (Bordeaux and Danube), but the first time we took the AMA extension trip, as we enjoy booking and traveling on our own before cruises.  There have been a few questions asked over the last few weeks, that I might be able to answer, or have an opinion.

 

The hotels AMA booked were:  Zurich Marriott.  Standard business hotel, with a great location.  Nice, clean, well maintained.   It was an easy walk to the train station, which was a bouncing off spot for touring the city.  Our luggage was lost at CDG airport, so we got to know most of the staff at the front desk, checking in about the courier arriving.  Every employee we interacted with was exceptional.  The breakfast was included, and a notch above the standard buffet food you see at Marriott and Hilton here in the US.   In Lucerne we stayed at the Hotel Schweizerhof.  It is right on the Lake, across from where the boats/ferrys dock, which is how you arrive from Zurich.  It is an easy walk to most of the sites in Lucerne, and they give you a transit pass, which works on all of the buses.  The hotel was beautiful.  We were traveling with 2 other couples, and we all received balcony rooms, overlooking the lake.  One couple was given a suite.  The rooms were the largest I have stayed in while traveling in Europe.  Buffet Breakfast was included, and the wait staff was attentive and quick with bringing coffee/tea.  One other comment about the Pre-tour is, the Cruise Director travels with you.  AMA typically has their Cruise Directors working two weeks on and then two weeks off.  They staff a desk at the hotels, so you meet them upon arrival, and if you are on the Pre-and Post tours, they are with you until you depart.  They hire local guides for the day trips, but the cruise director did attend several of the tours, to be able to stay in touch with the tour guides and the guests.  Ours was also very involved with our lost luggage issue, and working with AMA back in the US, to see if anyone could nudge Air France Lost luggage to get the suitcases to us, which by the way showed up 4 days later, as we were leaving Lucerne to Embark in Basel.  As others have mentioned, the extension tours are expensive, but when we calculated the cost of the hotels, tours, bus/luggage transfers we were happy with the decision.  

 

Someone asked about noise on the boat.  As I recall, there are 12 locks on the trip from Basel to Amsterdam, and more than half were during the night, or late evening.  We were on the middle deck about 2/3s of the way to the back, and did notice a creaking in the ceiling several times during the week.  I can't really tie it to the locks, and seemed to be when the captain had the boat going full speed.  The times we were awoke  was more often when slowing down or speeding up, it wasn't as much noisy but riverboats have a gentle movement, compared to ocean cruises, so the stopping was a pulling motion, and we could sense it.  

 

The time in each port was provided on the sailing schedule (Itinerary Guide) that we did not receive until a few weeks before the trip.   The length of time was different for each port, and I suspect it matched to the tour times, and amount of time needed to get to the next town.  The ship didn't always adhere to the schedule.  If everyone was back onboard, the captain did take off early a few times.  

 

 

 

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A simple answer  To KNITTER  is NO!!  But if you like to get a little dressy by all means do so.  Not many men wear sport coats.  With all the weight restrictions on airlines this type of clothing is the first to be left behind.  No one will point a finger and say you are over dressed or underdressed.  Be true to yourself!!!

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Thanks for your insights everyone.  We've decided to go ahead and book the post-cruise 4-night Lucerne/Zurich package.  It will be simpler and probably better value than trying to book things independently.  We were looking at staying at the Grand Hotel in Lucerne for two nights ($700 per night per deluxe lake view room) plus the transfers from the ship to the hotel in Lucerne and to the Zurich airport from the hotel (about $800 total for the three of us) plus whatever the cost of the tours we did.

 

We were just concerned about doing four nights after doing the cruise, but I guess while you there you should see what you can see.

 

The hotels we ended up with were the Astoria in Lucerne and the Sheraton in Zurich.  In my opinion, these are not "similar" to the Schweiserkopf in Lucerne which is what Ama advertises but certainly are nice hotels.

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2 hours ago, knitter said:

I'm going on the Lyra in mid-March. Wondering how dressed up one needs to be for dinners?  Do men need sports coats/suits? Thanks.

Sandy

Hi, no need for a sportscoat. Dinners are casual. I usually change but many folks stay in the clothing they have been

wearing during the day. (it is just me--I prefer to change). Normally I am in jeans for touring and for dinner I would

put on pair of black pants and clean top. (for example)

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11 hours ago, JohninAult said:

Sue, did you do the post-cruise package in Lucerne & Zurich.  We're trying to decide whether to do that or arrange our own thing.  Most concerned about the hotels.  Thanks.

We book our pre and post on our own, as the cost is much less.  In Lucerne, we stayed at the Renaissance, and were very pleased.  It is about 3 blocks from the train station, so an easy walk, and an easy walk to all the sights in Lucerne.

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We have just booked a 2 week cruise on the Amavenita from Budapest to Amsterdam in May 2020 in a twin balconies cabin.

 

It's our 1st River cruise, previously we have only done ocean cruising. 

 

Any advice on topics such as dress code for evenings, excursions or must see places would be most appreciated.

Thanks  Jane

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3 hours ago, digger99 said:

We have just booked a 2 week cruise on the Amavenita from Budapest to Amsterdam in May 2020 in a twin balconies cabin.

 

It's our 1st River cruise, previously we have only done ocean cruising. 

 

Any advice on topics such as dress code for evenings, excursions or must see places would be most appreciated.

Thanks  Jane

Jane

The first thing I would tell you is DO NOT COMPARE ocean cruising to river cruising.  It will be hard but just don’t.

I will tell you river cruising is much more relaxed ,not formal .

Excursions are preset.  Just choose which one you want to do.  There are no big shows at night and no casino .  Relax and enjoy, it will be fantastic!!!!

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Hi Jane, I  echo the "Don't compare" post.  It really is not a fair comparison at all---they are 180 degrees different

from one another.   Besides the excursions being included in the price of the cruise, there are so many less

people on board!  It is so easy to meet other folks (if you want). The vibe is so relaxed. 

 

Hope you have a great cruise:classic_biggrin:

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@digger99 we recently did that trip on the Amavenita. We very much enjoyed. The trip and choices of excursions are as described in the brochure. It’s a leisurely trip. We did get off the boat everyday, but with the exception of Vienna and a day trip to Cesky Krumlov or Salzburg, it was more usual to have roughly a half day on shore and half day on boat. There were activities in the lounge on the mornings and afternoons while cruising too (eg lecturer or cooking demo) but we mainly chilled out and enjoyed the scenery from our balcony. Evening entertainment mainly by a duo. Great cruise Director and crew all of the arrangements went like clockwork. Local guides in ports who were all good. No pressure to do every included tour, we quite often just ventured off on our own. With less than 200 passengers, it’s very social and people easily get to know each other. Absolutely everything is included, hard to spend another $ on board (perhaps laundry is extra in some categories). There’s of course much less choice for dining and bars than ocean cruising and it’s all set up for shared dining at fixed times. Alcohol is free flowing at the bar and restaurants, and we enjoyed the local wines.

Amavenita is very casual, no need for a jacket for men on board, some did wear one to the ‘special’ evenings out, but I’d say only about 1/3. Those events are only for passengers and held in venues that are just open for that purpose, not public events, so not feeling out of place amongst locals who might be dressed for a concert. On board, we found the dining room/lounge quite warm so just wore shirt/dress. If you have any specific queries, let me know.

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On 12/26/2019 at 6:22 PM, flyingron said:

I think I brought a sports coat (we were in early spring) but as pointed out, it wasn't necessary.   Most of the meals I just did in nice trousers and either polo or button down shirt.    

Thanks to everyone for the info in dress for dining room. DH is happy not to have to lug a sports coat.

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On 12/26/2019 at 4:19 PM, Cellagirl said:

A simple answer  To KNITTER  is NO!!  But if you like to get a little dressy by all means do so.  Not many men wear sport coats.  With all the weight restrictions on airlines this type of clothing is the first to be left behind.  No one will point a finger and say you are over dressed or underdressed.  Be true to yourself!!!

Thanks for your response. Just saw you are in Chalfont- we are on the other side of 309! Sandy

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We are looking at a first river cruise in the fall '20. AMA has caught my interest, not by itinerary but by boat. Specifically the Magna, very intrigued by this beauty. Love the fact it is double wide (and assorted dining venues) but high pricing for this boat in particular upgrading to a AB category seems like a stretch for a 7 day cruise.

 

Perhaps one of the other longboats might offer offer better value.

 

 

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1 minute ago, need2cruisesoon said:

We are looking at a first river cruise in the fall '20. AMA has caught my interest, not by itinerary but by boat. Specifically the Magna, very intrigued by this beauty. Love the fact it is double wide (and assorted dining venues) but high pricing for this boat in particular upgrading to a AB category seems like a stretch for a 7 day cruise.

 

Perhaps one of the other longboats might offer offer better value.

 

 

The Magna is the flagship of the Ama fleet and was new last year.  It was named Best River Cruise Ship by several different groups.  So, I'm sure there is a premium for sailing on her.  While you may get a cheaper rate (although I doubt it would be significantly cheaper) you won't find a better ship.  Although almost all of Ama's ships are rated very high.  

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The Magna can work where there aren't locks.   Most of the river locks are only 12m wide and the other Ama boats are like 11.45 wide where the Magna is 22.    The Magna does have more amenities and the rooms are about 30% larger (and boast real as opposed to "french" balconies in many cases).   On the other hand, the dining options, while all in the same room (other than the chef's table) is pretty diverse in any particular meal on the smaller boats.

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11 minutes ago, flyingron said:

The Magna can work where there aren't locks.   Most of the river locks are only 12m wide and the other Ama boats are like 11.45 wide where the Magna is 22.    The Magna does have more amenities and the rooms are about 30% larger (and boast real as opposed to "french" balconies in many cases).   On the other hand, the dining options, while all in the same room (other than the chef's table) is pretty diverse in any particular meal on the smaller boats.

 

Actually there are four separate dining options:

Choose from the Al Fresco Restaurant with its refreshing outdoor space and vegetable-forward menu, as well as Jimmy’s, a family-style restaurant, in addition to The Chef’s Table and main dining room – all included in the price of your cruise.

 

Screen Shot 2019-12-29 at 9.38.07 PM.png

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