Founded in 2002, AmaWaterways is a family-owned company that operates 23 ships on European rivers as well as the Mekong and Chobe Rivers. Co-founded by Rudi Schreiner and Kristin Karst, the company is renowned for its innovative cabin design as well as outstanding cuisine; and consistently takes the top spot in the ‘Berlitz Guide to River Cruising in Europe’.
Launched in July 2019, AmaMora operates on the Rhine between Amsterdam and Basle, a journey of 464 miles which requires navigating 11 locks. This new ship is distinguished by having a slightly larger Chef’s Table at the stern of the vessel that seats 32; also novel is the retractable balcony outside the Chef’s Table where guests can chose to dine when the ship isn’t sailing.
Where to eat
All meals are served in the Restaurant where a large central buffet positively groans under the weight of superbly-fresh produce at breakfast and lunch, alternatively there is a menu offering an array of dishes cooked to order. Dinner surpasses expectations night after night – never more so than when the La Chaîne des Rôtisseurs menu is showcased, accompanied by quality French wines.
None of the produce is frozen as most items are brought aboard twice during the 7-night sailing along the Rhine at Amsterdam and Breisach. Chefs also buy fresh fruits, vegetables and local specialities en route to meet their uncompromising standards. Vegetarian options are plentiful and creative.
All guests can dine at the Chef’s Table once per cruise without any surcharge. Here the dégustation menu includes such tempting treats as Bluefin Tuna Sashimi; Salmon Trout; and Nebraskan GOP Beef. In addition to superb Austrian, German and French wines, plus top-shelf Californian vintages are served complimentary at lunch and dinner.
Where to sleep
Spanning three decks, there are nine categories of accommodation ranging from eight 160 sq ft cabins with fixed windows on Piano Deck to four 350 sq ft suites on Violin Deck. All grades except categories CA; CB; D and E have ‘twin balconies’ where a French balcony sits alongside an outside balcony.
All accommodation boasts a vibrant palette from the duvet-throw to seat cushions. The marble-clad bathrooms are a masterstroke in design with multi-jets in the glass-enclosed showers. The high-quality towels and Hydro Basics amenities reflect the uncompromising standards.
What to do
Throughout the vessel there’s a wealth of stunning floral displays, nowhere is this more evident than in the Lounge with its brightly-coloured comfy sofas and occasional chairs in a spectrum of coral, cherry and Persian pink.
Here nightly entertainment ranges from piano melodies to guest entertainers singing Country and Soul music; a fun-packed music quiz; and disco night! For one hour prior to dinner (usually from 6pm to 7pm) the ‘Sip & Sail’ bar list offers a range of complimentary cocktails and drinks. Afternoon tea is followed by fascination lectures about the history and politics of the Rhine.
When the vessel navigates the serene UNESCO-classified Rhine Gorge the action moves to the Sun Deck. This is also the location of the heated swimming pool and walking track.
For those who want to burn off even more calories or just enjoy getting active, the Wellness Coach offers classes such as stretching, core strengthening, resistance band exercises, line dancing and high intensity workouts on deck. The coach also leads active wellness walks and jogs ashore. Some days classes are held in the Lounge and there is also a Spa and Fitness Room.
Few cruise lines include so many complimentary guided excursions as AmaWaterways. The ‘Captivating Rhine’ itinerary comprises four choices in almost every port. These might comprise a nature hike or slow walking tour; a bike tour (the ship carries 25 adult and 10 children’s bikes); as well as local wine or beer tasting.
There are no long coach rides as the main attractions in Cologne; Rüdesheim; Ludwigshafen (for Heidelberg and Speyer); Strasbourg; Breisach (for Freiburg); and Basle are all close at hand. For many guests the undoubted highlight is the 40 mile-long Rhine Gorge between Koblenz and Bingen where no fewer than 29 castles stand sentinel above either bank; AmaMora also sails past the legendary Lorelei Rock.
What I loved
It’s no exaggeration that the cuisine is as good as it gets in the world of river cruising. Underscoring this was the Grilled Corn Fed ‘Poulard de Bresse’ with Calvados Jus, Root Vegetables and Chanterelle Risotto that I savoured one evening during my recent cruise – and it wasn’t even a gala night.
If you’re into planes, trains or automobiles, the Technik Museum in Speyer is not to be missed. Amongst the exhibits is a Lufthansa Boeing 747 in flight position as well as an Antonov AN-22 high above the museum which can be visited; the Buran space shuttle; a 1944 vintage steam locomotive; and enough vintage cars to satisfy any petrol-head.