|Guests were greeted by children in traditional Bavarian costumes.|
The sights of Budapest, Vienna and Austria’s Wachau Valley were impressive on AmaCerto’s christening cruise, but it was the new river ship that truly shined.
Some onboard (the majority included regular passengers, not invited VIPs) cited the well-designed staterooms with double balconies; others liked the many inclusions, such as wine with dinner, shore trips and bottled water. Nearly all were impressed with the service and the crew’s level of professionalism and friendliness.
Overall, AmaCerto exudes a boutique hotel feel. It’s exceptionally classy with many of the bells and whistles of a luxury product.
Accommodations range from 350-square-foot suites to staterooms of two types with double balconies (that concept is explained below) that range from 210 to 235 square feet.
|Staterooms exude a boutique hotel feel.|
French Balcony staterooms are 170 square feet. Staterooms on the lowest passenger deck have high fixed windows, as they’re near the water line; they’re 148 square feet. We toured all stateroom types and found even the smallest to be well-designed. Furniture is well-positioned and the design gets the maximum use of space so the guest doesn’t feel cramped.
Our cabin, a Category BB, a French Balcony & Outside Balcony stateroom (room No. 218), was on the Cello Deck and was our favorite configuration and presentation of stateroom décor on any river vessel. The 210-square-foot stateroom fit our traveling style perfectly; it has a queen bed which splits into two twins if needed. The mattress is good, while the duvet, sheets and pillows are soft and comfortable.
Spanning one wall is a spacious desk/vanity area with a large wall mirror, a desk lamp, phone, two drawers, two shelves and a small refrigerator stocked with complimentary bottled water. Atop the counter are two Quietvox receivers and earpieces, used for guided tours throughout the voyage. These are extremely useful for hearing the guide’s commentary; you can stray a bit from the guide to take photos or just admire the sites and yet still hear what’s being said. Two European voltage outlets are located atop the desk area. Note: Be sure to bring an electrical current adapter set, and borrow a second one from a friend if you’re bringing lots of electronics. Between our laptops, two cameras, a BlackBerry and the Quietvox sets, we kept the outlets busy throughout the day.
|Many Staterooms feature “double” balconies.|
One absolutely stunning in-room feature is the large flat-screen monitor, which has both TV and complimentary Internet access. The system is great for e-mailing, pulling up web pages or checking in on Facebook.
We absolutely adored the double-balcony concept, a characteristic of staterooms on the Cello and Violin decks. Some are bigger than others, with the big difference being some extra footage between the bed and the desk area.
Frankly, we felt the smaller of the two double-balcony stateroom categories was just perfect for our use. Essentially, a small alcove adjacent to the desk area has a single chair and small table and a set of French doors, which open. The alcove is nicely separated just a bit from the desk/bedding area by its wood-like flooring versus the carpeting of the bedroom/desk area. So this alcove seems as though it’s a private balcony, but it’s nicely inside.
Guests can just pull a second stuffed chair from the desk area if a couple wants to sit in the alcove and have a snack or drinks. It’s a bit tight but it works.
|Large Showers await in Category BB staterooms.|
If it’s really hot or cold outside, when sitting on an exterior balcony might be uncomfortable, the client can still sit here and watch the world go by. Leaving Bratislava, Slovakia, the weather turned cool, damp and drizzly, but we nestled into the stuffed chair to enjoy the river scenery. A narrow, vertical, floor-to-ceiling fixed window pane with slatted blinds separates the alcove from the second, exterior balcony. It also lets in more light.
One enters the traditional balcony from full sliding glass doors that are adjacent to the bed. Outside there are two chairs and a small table if guests want to enjoy fresh air.
Tasteful, Welcoming Décor
Staterooms are decorated with cream, red, black and taupe tones. Walking into one of these rooms is an “aha” moment—as the guests can take in both the tasteful décor and the glass wall that encompasses the two balcony areas.
The bathroom has all-white décor for the floor, walls, sink and toilet, as well as a contrasting brown sink cabinet and darker granite shelf. The latter displays Hydro Basics bath amenities. The bathroom in room No. 218 has no tub, but a glass shower.
Another point we should mention is that the cooling system is exceptional. We like cold air, and this system kept up with our desires after a hot day ashore. Of course, the temperature in the stateroom can be adjusted easily for those who like a more mild room temperature. One nice perk is that the line puts six bottles of water in each stateroom and replenishes them daily. That’s a value for travelers.
Guests on this “Melodies of the Danube” cruise on AmaCerto hailed from the U.S., Canada, Great Britain, Australia, New Zealand and Hong Kong, among other locales.
We found most to be well-educated, well-traveled and internationally minded folks who enjoy meeting new people. Almost all seemed to love history, culture and the European river experience. They definitely have an exploratory spirit. And many were active—taking opportunities to walk and bike, whenever possible. Onboard were a broad range of guests in their 40s, 50s and 60s, as well as others in their 70s and 80s.
From our perspective, AmaCerto is a cut above and illustrates the evolution of the river vessels industry. River operators, including AMA Waterways, continue to tweak the product to enhance it for guests. For example, on the new ship the alternative dining venue aft—called Erlebnis Chef’s Table Restaurant—has been reconfigured.
Instead of two long tables that can seat 12 people each (as on AmaVerde), the dining room now has several smaller round tables and one larger one. So it’s now possible to use it for daytime activities, for private functions and for incentive and group use.
And it’s a more intimate dining venue during the evening; one night we sat with a couple and watched the ship traverse a Danube lock up close. As we dined on an incredible meal prepared by the chef just steps away in a glass-enclosed kitchen while the waiter poured our complimentary wine, the views unfolded.
If you want an inclusive European river cruise, service that really shines, a creative menu that is cosmopolitan and not the typical fare, and a hotel operation that runs like clockwork, then AmaCerto is a good option to consider.