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Cruise Ship Information
In 2013, AmaWaterways took delivery of the 164-guest, 443-foot long AmaPrima, sister ship to AmaCerto, launched in 2012. Designed to resemble the classic oceangoing yachts, AmaPrima continues AmaWaterways’ long tradition of building comfortable, spacious and elegant river cruise ships, but with a few new twists that were introduced on AmaCerto.
 
Those innovations include a stunning glass elevator, a heated swimming pool with swim-up bar, and an aft-facing specialty restaurant where magnificent views and an intimate dining experience are always on the menu. AmaPrima also features AmaWaterways’ “Twin Balcony” concept in many staterooms. These rooms and suites contain a standard French balcony and a full, step-out balcony.
 
Atmosphere on board
If you’ve sailed aboard AmaWaterways’ other vessels, you’ll find plenty to like about AmaPrima’s public areas.AmaPrima’s sun deck features a jogging/walking track, lounge chairs, and tables under umbrellas.
The Sun Deck features a jogging track and plenty of viewing space to admire Europe’s beautiful waterways, along with a pool and hot tub area. Both covered and uncovered seating options are also available here, along with an additional seating are forward of the Navigation Bridge.
 
Other delightful features on AmaPrima make it such a welcoming ship. On the sun deck, a splash pool (with swim-up bar) and its deep, comfy wicker-like sofas are popular gathering spots. The small gym is well stocked with state-of-the-art equipment, and the sprawling lounge features a library nook with a faux fireplace.
 
It's important to note, though, that the ship's gorgeous decor and creature comforts are a backdrop to the experience you'll have on land. AmaWaterways features a nice range of possibilities in each port (most of which come in the complimentary category) that target a variety of travel styles. Highlights include standard tours, themed experiences geared toward interests in areas like art, food and wine, and recreationally oriented expeditions on the bicycles.
 
AmaWaterways offers terrific value-for-money extras on its cruises; these include free and unlimited Wi-Fi (with an unusually fast connection for a cruise ship) and complimentary beer, wine and sodas at lunch and dinner.
 
Rounding out a superb cruise experience, the crew on AmaPrima were outstanding. Warm, efficient and personable, the tone was set on the first night onboard, when a couple, having traveled all day, arrived well after mealtime. They and plaintively asked the bartender if there were snacks available. Instead, she went down to the kitchen and assembled them a full meal.
 
Family with Kids/Teens
AmaWaterways cruises are primarily designed for the adult traveler. Children are allowed; however, there are no child-specific programs or child-minding facilities.
Minimum age to sail on AmaWaterways is 4 years. Children 4-17 must be in a cabin with an adult.
 
Past Passenger Programs
Blue Members: Qualify on your 2nd Cruise! Benefits include:
An exclusive $100 per person savings on the cruise price
A private AmaWaterways guest reception on board
 
Silver MembersSilver Members: Qualify on your 3rd Cruise! Benefits include:
An exclusive $100 per person savings on the cruise price
A private AmaWaterways guest reception on board
Dinner with a senior crew member
A delightful welcome amenity
Complimentary coach transfer to and from the airport
A 50% discount on a one-category stateroom upgrade (excluding suites)
 
Gold MembersGold Members: Qualify on your 4th Cruise & Onward! Benefits include:
An exclusive $100 per person savings on the cruise price
A private AmaWaterways guest reception on board
Dinner with a senior crew member
A delightful welcome amenity
Complimentary coach transfer to and from the airport
A complimentary one-category stateroom upgrade (excluding suites)
 
Fitness &Spa
A fitness center, beauty salon, spa area, aft lounge, observation lounge, swimming pool and open air top sundeck give passengers choices of activities while on board. Fitness And Spa. A fitness center, beauty salon, spa area, aft lounge, observation lounge, swimming pool and open air top sundeck give passengers choices of activities while on board.
 
Food & Dining
Guests are able to mix and mingle in the open seating format on this elegant riverboat. All the announcements are made in English and the staff is well versed in English. The staff to passenger ratio is about one-to-three guests, affording personal service. There is a lot of walking, so comfortable shoes are a must. Layers of clothing are also advised as temperatures vary. Riverboats park on the river adjacent to other ships and passengers often have to walk through other boats to disembark the vessel, sometimes climbing steps between ships providing challenges for those with disabilities.  The main competition is Uniworld and Viking Cruises which provide similar itineraries.
 
AmaWaterways is the only major river cruise line to be part of the Chaine Des Rotisseurs, a culinary society, so we expected the food to be better than average. Indeed, it was superb. All meals are open seating within specified meal times (quite generous, allowing for the schedules of all types of passengers, including those who skipped tours and lazed around onboard). Breakfast generally is served from 7:30 a.m. to 9:30 a.m., lunch from 12:30 p.m. to 2 p.m. and dinner at 7 p.m. Most tables were sized for groups of four or more (just a few two-tops), and a handful of booths were always quickly occupied.
 
Menus typically reflect the region in which the ship is traveling. In our case, on a Danube cruise from Budapest to Vilshofen, items included Hungarian goulash, Bavarian sausages and Viennese schnitzel, along with comfort foods like steak, salmon, chicken and salad.
 
The restaurant located on the deck below the lounge offers open seating and good views of the port and starboard. The dining room has spacious booths that seat up to six guests as well as large round tables and tables for four. Tables for two are scarce. Dinner is casual with women wearing skirts and slacks and men wearing sport shirts, while some get more dressed up for the final captain’s farewell dinner. Breakfast is served buffet style. A salad bar and dessert bar is served buffet style at lunch and a menu is provided for the main course. Dinner is served by the wait staff and includes four courses, wine, beer and soft drinks. European regional dishes are served. The food is excellent and not too over seasoned.  The line has been inducted into La Chaine des Rotisseurs, one of the world’s most prestigious culinary organizations.
 
Breakfast consisted of buffet service with a station for freshly prepared omelets and other egg dishes; it was substantial. There was plenty of healthy fare, such as yogurt and fresh fruit, as well as European-style breakfast options like cold cuts and cheese. Each morning, a menu also featured a handful of daily specials. Think Eggs Benedict and cinnamon pancakes.
 
Lunch -- which includes free-flowing wine, beer and soda -- consists of menu options and a buffet. Salads are plentiful, and usually there are several choices of soups, regional entrees and desserts. Burgers, fries and other American staples are also available. Dinner is the most formal meal in the main dining room, offering several choices of starters, salads and soups, entrees and desserts, and, of course, plenty of wine. Special needs, from vegetarian to low salt, were pleasantly accommodated (though it helps to give the kitchen advance notice). Always-available choices include steak, chicken and fish.
 
Other dining options: Erlebnis is a Chef's Table-style eatery with an almost-open kitchen that allows you to watch the chefs work. The set menu (with two choices for the entree), starts with an amuse bouche, then features four courses. The menu is repeated most nights. With just 24 seats (mostly tables for four with a few larger ones), reservations are recommended; in fact, book your seats the first day because demand is typically quite high for the experience. A wine steward is on hand to explain the choices for the evening. The ambience is as lovely as the dining (and sipping); Erlebnis is located all the way aft and features walls of windows around three sides. There is no additional fee to dine at Erlebnis.
 
The ship occasionally features special themed meals. On our Danube River cruise, it was a Bavarian-style lunch, complete with pretzels, German beer and waiters dressed in traditional costume.
 
For light fare, the lounge features pastries in the morning and salad, soup and sandwiches at lunch. There's also afternoon tea. Otherwise, cookies are set out for snacks. This was the least appealing option for dining, as the food choices were less than inspired, and the lounge, which has cocktail-height tables, wasn't all that comfortable of a place to dine.
 
Coffee, tea and water are available around the clock. There is no room service, although special requests (particularly if you're under the weather) will be accommodated.
 
Entertainment
If you want to learn more about the ports you're visiting on an AmaBella cruise, it generally won't happen onboard the ship. There's little programming -- such as lectures or food demonstrations -- beyond a handful of folk-style performances. The library, which is rather small, doesn't stock a great collection of guides or other informational tomes.
 
Where you will pick up excellent insights is on tour; Ama's shore excursions, most of which are included in cruise fares, stray beyond the usual staple of guided city tours. Particularly intriguing on our Danube River trip was a culinary tour of Vienna, a communist-era look at Bratislava and a trip to Austria's lake district. Via the ship's fleet of bicycles, there were numerous opportunities to tour ports like Durnstein and Linz on two wheels. Walking tours were offered at a variety of paces. Wireless transmitters, so passengers can hear guides without being right on top of them, are provided. Because of the good variety of offerings, tours rarely were too crowded.
 
Onboard, a pianist plays a variety of music before and after dinner, and quite a few passengers on our sailing had enough energy later to dance. On some nights, local entertainment plays in the lounge.
 
The cruise director's nightly talks, mostly focusing on the events of the following day, are humorous and enjoyable, as well as informative.

Staterooms
Many riverboats offer cabins with modified "French" balconies (floor-to-ceiling windows that open from side to side but don't allow passengers to step out) and a few others offer real verandahs you can sit on, but AmaPrima goes further. Ranging from 210 to 235 square feet, A and B categories offer living areas with French balconies and, off the bedrooms, two-seater verandahs. Roughly half of all cabins onboard have the dual scenario. In these cabins, the living areas feature easy chairs and desk/vanity combinations.
 
The marble shower-only bathrooms are unusually spacious for a riverboat and have funky windows that look out into the cabin. Fortunately the windows have privacy switches that transform them into opaque, frosted glass. A window at the end of the balcony shines extra light into the living area.
 
One tip: Cabins on Deck 2 are more centrally located while those on Deck 3 might have slightly better views in port when the ship butts up against other vessels or docks.
 
AmaPrima has two suites onboard. Measuring 350 square feet, each of these is essentially one large room with a spacious seating area, a larger-than-usual balcony (about two to three feet deeper than the others) with room for ottomans, and the only onboard bathrooms with tubs.
 
A handful of more traditional-style cabins, at 170 square feet, have French verandahs. And on the lowest level, the Piano Deck, 160-square-foot cabins have high windows. These have small desks, adequate closet space and easy chairs.
 
All cabins include comfortable beds that convert from twins to queen-size. There's a mini-bar stocked with complimentary bottled water, and generous amounts of closet space and under-the-bed storage, especially in higher-end staterooms. The bathrooms have both rain showerheads and regular showerheads. (Hot water was plentiful, though the water pressure was a bit on the weak side.)
 
Each cabin features a flat-screen television with somewhat skimpy programming, including a handful of movie picks and news channels beamed in via satellite. There's also in-cabin Internet access; most passengers we met brought their own devices. A nice touch: Each cabin is outfitted with European- and American-style plugs and comes with a pair of umbrellas. Amenities include robes, slippers and individual-sized bath products like soap, lotion, shampoo and conditioner.
 
Tipping
Europe: For good service, 3 Euros per passenger, per day for the Cruise Manager and 12 Euros per passenger, per day for the crew, which will be divided up among the ship's personnel is recommended. It is also customary to acknowledge a particularly good performance of a local guide by leaving a tip of 1-2 Euros per tour. Gratuities on most vessels, but not all, may be charged on credit card as well as cash.
Fellow Passengers
AmaWaterways generally appeals to well-traveled, 50-plus passengers with a strong interest in culinary arts and active exploration. Geographically, passengers are strongly drawn from North America, but the cruise line attracts a solid representation from the U.K. and Australia, where its partner, APT Touring, also markets the line.
 
Our Recommendation
Dress onboard is casual and practical. For dinner, it's collared shirts for men and blouses and pantsuits for women. There was also a smattering of jackets from the slightly more formal-minded. Folks do dress up a bit for the "Captain's Farewell Dinner," when you'll see dresses, jackets, suits and a bow tie or two. No shorts, swimsuits or open-toed shoes are allowed in the dining room.
 
Every ship is nonsmoking (except on the sundeck) and features a beauty salon and massage therapist. Unlimited local wines, as well as beer and sodas, are included with each open-seating lunch and dinner, which consists of indulgent regional cuisine with special selections from local European ports.
 
AMA ships feature international staffs. The majority of workers onboard are Hungarian, Romanian and Slovakian, and all staff members speak English. Each cruise also features a knowledgeable cruise director who does everything: leads shore excursions, arranges for airport transportation and offers running commentary during scenic cruising.
 
Daily sightseeing programs are included with each cruise, and tours include wireless audio devices so cruisers don't miss a word on history or culture. All ships offer roughly 20 bicycles that passengers can use to explore ports.
 
Entertainment is focused on local customs and culture -- performances by European dancers or an orchestral group keep passengers occupied in the evenings. There are also some more down-to-earth offerings such as an always entertaining crew talent show and wacky trivia night