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uktog

Join us for a ride on Ama along the Danube

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Today we have woken to this view. 0cb99224b2976adccbd4d8e6d09dd375.jpg

 

We are, after 60+ ocean trips, half on Azamara, embarking on an adventure, an experiment, a holiday.

 

First we’d like to thank the patient responders to our newbie questions- this board has a lovely feel and is delightfully missing the less friendly behaviour that’s emerged from time to time on the Azamara board in the last year.

 

So we will try and do a photo journal noting things as the new kids on the block just at retirement age and ready to test more adventures.

 

We have made many good friends both staff and passengers onboard Azamara and the name Ama always came up for river trips. Inspired by an officers holiday snaps from last year we booked.

 

Our first change, we did our flights through Ama as there was an included flights offer on. Out of our comfort zone right away and a second curved ball we were not booked on BA but on Jet2. First learning of the holiday change is good. Really impressed by Jet2 our flight left Edinburgh on time and arrived in Budapest 20 minutes early. We had more legroom in an ordinary seat and better service than BA.

 

We made our own hotel arrangements for one night and as I used IHG a lot for work decided on a points stay at the Intercontinental and it’s one of the best we’ve stayed in.

 

Yesterday’s walk was chosen knowing where Ama’s included tour will go, so we visited the Parliament building

 

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The moving Shoes on the Danube memorial

 

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and St Stephen’s Cathedral

 

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It’s 26 years since I was last in this beautiful city, I’d forgotten how lovely it was.

The sunset was glorious

 

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And they never floodlit buildings then. Our dinner view last night was special

 

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At one point our home for the next seven days the Amaviola floated past on its evening cruise. Now we cannot wait to continue with our experience and find out what’s different on a river cruise and share these experiences from our perspectives.

 

 

 

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Edited by uktog

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Following!! We will be boarding the AmaCerto in Budapest next Saturday. Have a great cruise.:)

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Uktog

 

Great to see you posting on the River Cruising boards - I follow your posts on the Azamara boards - they are on my bucket list to sail on one day! Will be very interested in your thoughts / posts on your river cruise experience - from an Azamara cruiser perspective! We absolutely loved our AMA cruise last year. Enjoy!

 

Bob

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Looking forward to the rest of your review. Enjoying your photos and narrative very much!

 

Robin

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Welcome to the River Cruising board! Which itinerary are you sailing? We are considering AMA for a Danube cruise next year.

 

I felt the service on our Uniworld cruise was even better than Azamara, along with the "family" feel. Hope you experience the same!

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We are on the Melodies of the Danube and so far we are very impressed.

We arrived around 1330 but to be honest unlike Ocean cruises there seemed very little merit in being so early. Check in was officially 1500.

It was impressive as soon as we came out of the cab one of the navigation team introduced himself and took our cases. There were sandwiches soup and cakes available all high quality. A little investigation showed us how much space there was to sit out. It feels so light and spacious much more than an ocean ship

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So far we are finding the staff even more attentive than Azamara- more perceptive and much less scripted in how they introduce themselves and explain things.

 

Not yet sure of the passenger dynamic. There are three groups onboard making up 50% of guests. We’ve not found the non group guests yet.

 

Dinner tonight was beautiful though we were at a table for six on our own. Wee Billy Nomates. They were seating guests tonight and no one else was brought to our table. As you cannot converse with other tables it was lonelier than on an ocean cruise. But hey that’s first night.

 

The dinner was fantastic think speciality on ocean - Aqualina plus in Azamara language I’d say!

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Two examples- crab cake starter

 

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And perfectly cooked sea bass

 

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We are currently enjoying an evening sail as we move from one dock to the others to enjoy the evening illuminations. The commentary by the cruise manager is very clear on the top deck well timed and just the right level of information.

 

So very different to ocean but great

 

 

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Edited by uktog

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We've been on four Ama cruises & love them. Next month we'll be cruising on the Danube with Avalon for the first time. I'm already looking forward to what tomorrow brings for you!

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My ocean experiences recently are on Azamara built around 2000 and we are now on a riverboat built in 2016 so comparison on the vessels and their features may be a little unfair. However ships do get refits and I wish some of the features in onboard the river boat were standard on all ocean ships.

 

The room although square footage larger on paper feels smaller. I think it’s because the mini balcony is included in the calculation. At first with less drawer space and a really difficult angle to try and get cases under the bed we struggled but some different thinking and hey it all fitted.

 

I love the bathroom, modern well layout and spacious and I think the movement sensitive night light when someone goes in there at night is genius.

 

Today we do our first included tours and will be interested in how it all works as ship tours have often been a disappointment. We are however beginning to set higher and higher hopes for things. After all with an evening illumination cruise as we moved to a mid town dock with attentive crew with blankets and local drink it was a memorable start.

 

 

 

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UKtog - enjoying your posts. We ended our AMA Melodies of the Danube in Budapest - what a great way to start a sailing! Following along with great interest on your perspectives. Enjoy!

 

Bob

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Hi uktog, glad to see you contributing here on Azamara as you do on River Cruising. The comparison of Azamara to AMA is spot on, based on our experiences. Your [increasingly raised] expectations are quite likely to be met on this cruise!

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Today we did our first included walking tour in Budapest. Mother Nature has answered the prayers of those wishing rain, though selfishly we’d like those prayers only answered between 2200 and 0600. So there were no clear blue sky photos today.

 

The Quiet Box system was a revelation- why can’t all cruise tours be that way. Ama was really good, even the ear pieces were far better than any I have tried to persuade to stay in my ear before. Three hours in it was still attached without worry- a silly little thing but important. We’ve done several ocean cruise walking tours but the calibre of this one was far higher.

 

So far because of the large groups plus family groups onboard it’s still not been easy for us to connect with other cruisers. We hope this changes.

 

Tonight as we progress to Bratislava the room seems much noisier (and we are on top deck) from the engines than we’ve ever had before. Maybe we should go back to the bar for some more sleep inducement.

 

Some final pictures from today’s walking tour and tonight’s excellent dinner.

 

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St Matthias Church

 

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At Fisherman’s Bastion

 

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Budapest panoramic

 

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Onboard entertainment a folklore show - very good.

 

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Such an evil dessert

 

So far we can see pluses and less positives about river cruising but the pluses are well ahead.

 

 

 

 

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Hi UKtog, just browsing the river cruising thread and here you are.

 

We are on Scenic Basel to Amsterdam on 15th October and have been closely following the river levels on this board. We are also praying for overnight rain rather like in Camelot.

We did the Danube from Passau to Budapest last year on a charter arranged by our TA. It was excellent and despite it being in March we had great weather and loved some new destinations. I had never previously been to Vienna, so that was a treat. We loved Bratislava also.

I used to work with an Hungarian airline so it was great to become reacquainted with Budapest, which is a fantastic city.

I agree about the Quiet vox system which we had on our Viking Ocean included excursions. They are excellent.

Hope you find some like minded dinner guests soon. Its one of the things we love about Azamara.

Will be so interested to follow your trip vicariously.

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We took this cruise...opposite direction... in August of 2017. We were lucky to meet many new passengers. Our cruise had a large cycling group, and one other semi-large family group. The family group (I believe from Brazil) were very loud and did take some of the enjoyment out of the cruise for others. The cycling group kept to themselves, were up early and out riding during the day. They also retired early. Never a problem.

 

I will be following this thread. Your photos are beautiful!!! Thank you for the memories. ;);)

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Thank you for your postings! I am planning to cruise with AMA in Europe next year, when and where tbd. Will be going with my two sisters and our husbands. We can’t decide on late spring or a Christmas market cruise.

Loving all your comments, pictures, etc. much appreciated, keep them coming!

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Have you signed up for the Chef's Table yet? That might be another way to meet other cruisers who could become dinner companions on other nights.

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We did but because of the groups it’s not until the last evening- the only other space clashed with the Vienna evening

 

 

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Today we arrived in Bratislava right in town.

We met our guide at 0930, zapped our Quietboxes to connect to her system and off we went to explore. I am a huge fan now of these included walking tours. I have not enjoyed ocean ships walking tours but the quality of these included tours is in a different league. Why oh why can’t lines like Azamara invest in these systems and adopt these quality standards.

 

For less able walkers there was a separate group who went around on a little train which we heard was very enjoyable. The other two tours a hike up to this castle

 

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And a food tasting tour were also popular. So far my advice to river cruise newbies is don’t worry don’t think of the included tours as being like those on ocean trips. No need for private guides.

 

There is no stops at shops or timing issues.

 

So our pleasant walk took us round tiny streets

 

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Passed their town hall 6a1b506f0285f8eb6cbabb199848aee9.jpg

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It’s a town of quirky statues

 

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And the most delicious drinking chocolate shop. A nice recommendation by the Cruise Manager which was genuine good advice not a product placement.

 

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So we continue to enjoy this experience, the group thing is an issue we expected more independent travelers to dine with but we are finding the general food and service standards to be much higher than ocean cruises.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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And the most delicious drinking chocolate shop. A nice recommendation by the Cruise Manager which was genuine good advice not a product placement.

 

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Best hot chocolate I’ve ever had there. Like a bowl of chocolate soup!

 

 

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Thank you for posting.

 

I will be doing my first River Cruise in a little bit over a month from now on the Avalon Panorama Danube for Wine Lovers. Still hoping for rain!!

 

Will keep following your tips!

 

 

 

 

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I am on Ama for a December Danube cruise from Vienna to Nuremberg. I know the weather will be vastly different, but your impressions of the ship life are nicely done. I'll be reading along.

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Last night sleep quality was not great, sadly the second night in a row it’s been meh. Between Budapest and Bratislava we discovered the issue was the river levels. Indeed we we’re lucky to get the trip, we are now told beneath the keel was only 60cm so the engine sounds are amplified- it certainly was noisy and not a problem we’ve met on big trips.

 

Last night the issue was the wind was blowing around furniture on the deck above us. We were tied up in Vienna. Bizarrely we now learn this noise issue was because the sailors hadn’t followed the captains instructions re tying things down, on ocean ships we believe instructions from the master are followed 100%.

 

So a tired person set of on the included City walking tour. Again a good tour only marred by the failure of guests on tour to do as you are told - a perennial cruise line issue.

 

It was a good tour, we saw the Riding School horses (its Monday so no performances)

 

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and the lovely streets in Vienna.

 

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We did the afternoon added cost tour to Schönbrunn Palace. We thought the cost was very fair given the published entry cost, yes a profit in it for Ama but not the level of profit loading on an ocean cruise.

 

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The trip included a visit to the carriage museum and free time in the gardens

 

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Both tours, same good guide with good explanations

 

Last night there was an optional concert tour we did not do because we’ve done it before.

 

The weather has been somewhat cool, everyone is dressing warmly including in the dining room - no one notices what anyone is wearing probably because everyone arrives at the same time, the path to the table is narrow so no one can “parade in”. I’d read a lot before coming about what should be packed but honestly anything goes. They do ask men not to wear shorts- it’s not been shorts weather so I cannot tell if that would be enforced but something tells me it wouldn’t.

 

Today we have woken to see Mr Sun is back. I think it will be chilly but the sail to our next stop for Melk is beautiful

 

 

 

 

 

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This morning the common statement heard is “this is what I expected from river cruising”. We disembark at a tiny village beside the road and head off to Dürnstein and Melk.

 

It’s simple but some folks can’t (won’t) follow instructions. You go to reception, you get a coloured card for the tour you want (there may be several trips going so if you’re wanting to go with others one goes gets enough cards the same colour) head ashore, find your guide zap your quiet box onto the code device she is carrying and you’re set. There is no checking by the guide that you should be in their group and you hand back the coloured ticket for reuse to reception later in the day.

 

It all goes wrong when people join trips without cards so there’s not enough seats or change colours/bus half way though.

 

It is good to see the Cruise Manager makes her way into town and pops up just checking all is well and eavesdropping on the guides. This is a level of quality assurance ocean lines should put in place.

 

Some shots of Dürnstein

 

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