After recapping my time onboard AmaSiena for what feels like forever, it’s time to share my final thoughts on my experience sailing the Captivating Rhine.
The need to emphasize that I have been covering AmaSiena forever comes mostly from the fact that it is nearly three months later and this cruise sticks out in my mind. Since sailing on AmaSiena, I have taken another river cruise and two ocean cruises, but this one still sticks out strongly in my memory.
My AmaWaterways sailing sticks out for two reasons. One, because it was my first river cruise since the COVID-19 pandemic began. And two, because AmaWaterways sailings are simply that – memorable. The itinerary, the crew, the excursions and my fellow passengers made this a trip I will never forget.
In the last article I wrote about AmaSiena, I wrote about the smart design of the new ship: “Ama has taken what works so well for them, an already impressive ship layout and style, and added details that enhance the guest experience.”
Read more: AmaSiena: My Overall Impressions
Though I already covered what it felt like to return to river cruising for the first time in over a year, I want to highlight again what a good job Ama did with their COVID protocols. Though when I sailed on Viking Oceans I was tested daily, there were a lot less masks and a lot more people on board that ship than on board AmaSiena. In that article, I wrote that some of the rules seemed harsh. There was no dancing allowed on board and there would be assigned seating at every meal. From what I have heard from others traveling, Ama has changed some of these rules a bit but, even so, the focus on safety made for a comfortable return to Europe.
The thread that holds AmaWaterways together is, without a doubt, its crew. In July of 2019, I sailed on another AmaWaterways ship, AmaMagna. The crew on that sailing was such a standout that I wrote an article titled Becoming Part Of The AmaWaterways Family Aboard AmaMagna.
Every time I talk to a crew member, an executive, and investor, or even certain passengers on Ama’s ships the word family comes up. The crew does a wonderful job of making the passengers feel like family, because they feel like a large family themselves.
Things were different with masks on. In fact, my server Milos said to me: “I remember you from AmaKristina.” I didn’t recognize him behind his mask. Lucky for Milos, my mask doesn’t hide my most identifiable physical characteristic: “I would never forget your tattoos.” The masks didn’t stop passengers from bonding with the crew. My dinner table quickly became friendly with both Milos and his wait partner AnaMaria. Fortunately, masks didn’t inhibit these two from remembering my food and, more importantly, wine preferences.
The Captivating Rhine
It would be an injustice to talk about the experience I had on AmaSiena without mentioning the itinerary that we were on. Ama’s Captivating Rhine itinerary sails from Amsterdam to Basel with stops in Cologne, Rüdesheim, Ludwigshafen, Strasbourg and Breisach. It is lovely to start or end in Amsterdam, especially if you plan to spend a few days there pre- or post-cruise. The ship docks right outside of the city center, making the canal-laden streets of Amsterdam easily navigable by foot.
Rüdesheim is a lovely town filled with charming streets, cozy cafes and cute shops. In Rüdesheim, we visited a winery to sample different wines of the region. There was also a night excursion to town where we rode in a choo-choo train to drink Rüdesheimer Kaffee.
AmaWaterways offers a choice of excursions in every port so, even though I got boozy in Rüdesheim, I balanced it by biking in Strasbourg and Breisach. Even when I wasn’t able to exercise ashore, our wellness host Teo hosted classes on board to make sure that those who wanted to could stay active.
AmaWaterways always provides a memorable experience. The crew on these ships in wonderful, especially during Covid times. The company provides a nice variety of excursions in every port, allowing guests with varying abilities to find excursions that interest them.
I also like the direction that Ama is headed in. The use of additional space in the lounge for Al Fresco dining feels smart, especially in allowing people to spread out during Covid times. The aforementioned attention to detail on AmaSiena makes it the smartest ship I’ve seen in Ama’s fleet, and it’s not even the company’s newest ship.
It felt good to return to AmaWaterways and to be able to experience something that I have known and loved for so long, with a small but refreshing twist. I am so happy that Ama was able to not only survive but thrive throughout the pandemic and I can’t wait to see AmaSiena’s sister ship, AmaLucia, christened next year.