In the final installment in our Europe’s rivers and castle river cruise, we provide some overall thoughts. The first post is listed here.
Final day logistics – leaving the ship
The ship ended it’s voyage in Nuremberg Germany. Many passengers took advantage of AmaWaterways post cruise package. These guests were treated to a tour of Nuremberg and then off to Prague for several nights. The cruise manager Monika, leaves the ship and accompanies them to Prague so that there’s a sense of continuity from Paris to Prague for these guests. Other guests stay on the ship for the Ultimate River cruise which goes to Budapest on the Danube. Those guests had a day trip to Munich and will see Nuremberg the following day before continuing down the river.
Many passengers like us arranged our own travel independent of AmaWaterways. We simply told Monika the time we wanted to get to the train station and she arranged for a taxi. Our responsibility was to get our luggage out of the room 30 minutes before the taxi showed up, sit in the lounge with coffee and tea and wait for Monika to inform us our taxi had arrived. Easy and a fitting last impression.
Final day logistics – to the airport
It took about 15 minutes to get from the Nuremberg port to the train station. Overall cab fare was 20 Euro’s but we split it with another couple so it was 10 Euro each (plus 1 Euro tip). The Nuremberg train station was large but easy to navigate. We bought our train tickets ahead of time so we already knew which track we go to. Why buy train tickets when the there’s a train every hour to Frankfurt? Turns out that certain trains were half the price of others and looking ahead ensured we got the less expensive train. So we paid 24 Euro’s per person for the IC train at 9:30 but the 10:30 ICE train was about double the price. Further we chose 2nd class and were very comfortable. The train took approximately 2.5 hours from Nuremberg to Frankfort.
The Frankfort airport train station is physically adjacent to the airport terminal so it’s very convenient. Even nicer, there is a Lufthansa bag check in station even before the airport terminal so we didn’t have to drag our checked luggage very far. So we left our cabin at 8:15 am, left the ship at 9 am and arrived at Frankfort airport at 1 pm. All very easy logistics. Several passengers did the same thing since Frankfort has better (and cheaper) connections than Nuremberg airport.
A word on AmaWaterways
Pretentious is a word often associated with luxury travel. Sometimes luxury experiences aim at an initial impression of “wow”. My observation is that AmaWaterways is a true luxury experience but is not pretentious. Rather than an initial “wow”, the experience grows on you so that by the end of the week, you’re wanting more. You learn to appreciate all the little things the crew does to make your life better and to qualify as luxury.
There’s literally nothing the crew refuses to do. One example – upon returning to the ship from an excursion, they often provide a warm face towel and hot tea. One time the hot tea was a lemon tea that felt really good on my sore throat (I developed a little cold during the trip). Later that afternoon, I wanted another “hit” of the tea. I simply asked the bartender and she promptly suggested I try to apricot flavor and prepared it for me. It wasn’t really supposed to be made for an individual (rather in big batches), but she did it anyway.
It’s easy to get used to housekeeping cleaning up your rooms two to three times a day – always unobtrusively. There’s never a problem with more wine or beer or sending back a dish that you didn’t care for. The ship is decorated nicely and is understated. The air conditioning and heating are responsive while the rooms are laid out extremely efficiently. The materials provided ahead of the cruise are top rated as are the information provided each cruise day. All these things plus the little adders like lectures, new wines each day, meals geared to the local towns, as well as the bicycle tours all start to add up by the end of the week. True luxury is subtle.
How to get more “wow”
Your first impression on board is probably “this will be really nice”. By the time you finish the cruise, most passengers are thinking ” wow, what a luxury experience. I want to do this again”. Speaking of which – one of the best deals in travel is signing up for the next cruise while still on the current cruise. In the case of AmaWaterways, this entitles you to a 5% discount as well as reduced deposit to hold travel anytime for the next two years. The very flexible terms and the generous benefit makes this a no brainier for any Ama passenger looking to do another cruise.
I would be remiss if I did not mention our cruise manager, Monika. In a word, she was excellent. She was professional and personable, competent and reassuring, both gentle and directive. The cruise manager can be such a big part of the on board experience. In our travels, a poor cruise manager can be the cause of disarray, confusion and logistics that don’t work. We found none of that on our cruise and much credit goes to Monika.
When I close my eyes, what do I think about from this cruise?
- Meeting many people and enjoying the company of most everyone.
- Seeing history come alive from 2000 years ago
- Experiencing luxury with great food and drink
- Learning about Germany, German culture and German peoples
- Actively enjoying ourselves
AmaWaterway’s Europe’s Rivers and Castles starts in the western edge of Germany, follows the Mosselle River, the Rhine river, the Main River and finally the Main Danube canal. It transverse some of the most scenic parts of Europe we’ve seen as well as some of the most historic areas. On these cruises we had to make some choices of excursions which means there’s plenty of things we missed the first time through. This is a great itinerary on a great ship that I would gladly do again.