By: Derek D.M. Miller, Travel Consultant
Unlike 99% of AmaWaterways’ cruises, my first impression when I arrived in Basel left little to be desired. After watching another couple who was on the same ship get picked up and taken to the ship, my transfer never showed up. I had to take a taxi to the ship. That left a bit of a sour taste in my mouth to start.Once I arrived on the ship I was greeted by very nice AmaWaterways employees and made to feel extremely welcome. Later, the cruise director approached me while I was sitting in the lounge, and handed me an envelope with money in it. He apologized, told me that the money was to reimburse me for the cost of the taxi. I must admit that turned my whole attitude around.
The food that night was awesome. Staff was extremely friendly and professional but not stiff. That was a pleasant surprise.
The next day, I was brimming with excitement. This was the day I was looking forward to because it was the day we were to go on the Black Forest excursion. I was up bright and early. I went to eat breakfast at 7AM then retired to my room to take what I thought would be a short nap because everyone was to meet at 12:45 to get to the Black Forest excursion. Little did I know that I would over- sleep. At 1:15, the ship was empty and of course I missed the one excursion I was looking forward to the entire cruise. I ended up spending the day in Basel hanging out with the locals.
On day three, I did the Strasbourg City Tour in the old city. I saw a beautiful cathedral and some other sites. I finished the afternoon with some light shopping. That evening, I enjoyed another great meal on the ship for dinner. The food was fresh and looked just as good as it tasted.
After breakfast the next day, I attended one of many wine tastings during my cruise. Before the cruise began, I was not a wine drinker. By the time the cruise ended I had been to several wine tastings and found that I actually enjoy several types of wine. That afternoon, I went on a 45 minute walking tour in Heidelberg, where I saw my first historical castle. We then visited the oldest university city in Germany which was founded in 1386. While in Heidleberg, I went down this really long street that had all kinds of shops on it. I stopped at a bar and refreshed my pallet with a local German beer. The next tour was a Speyer walking tour. It was an extremely small, but interesting town. I believe Speyer has approximately 50,000 people. It’s actually one of Germany’s oldest towns.
On day five, the ship docked in Rudesheim. Immediately after breakfast, I did my first tour of the day at the Siegfried’s Music Cabinet Museum. This museum has a huge collection of self-playing musical instruments. The collection dated back to the 1700’s. By 12:45, we were back on the ship so we could sail to Koblenz. The ship sailed through the Rhine Gorge. This was a huge highlight of my trip because while cruising through the Rhine Gorge I saw so many wonderful castles. The Rhine River has the highest concentration of castles or castle ruins than any other river in the world. This is especially true between Koblenz and Bingen. I saw covered vineyards, castles, and picturesque villages like the Boppard and the ST. Goarshausen. On the narrowest stretch of the Rhine River, I saw the famous Lorelei Rock. Upon arrival in Koblenz we went for a 40 minute stroll before heading back to the ship. After dinner, I went to the lounge where AmaWaterways had a musician playing the piano. This is where I ended my night.
On the following day, the first our began around 1:30 in the city of Cologne, Germany. The tour went into a beautiful cathedral. The city was founded in 50 BC, and quickly became one of the largest communities on the European continent during the Middle Ages. Today, it’s a modern city bustling with a multicultural populations from over 180 nations. Eighteen percent of the people are non-Germans. In Cologne, I sampled the local Kolsch Beer. This would have been a refreshing drink to end the days’ activities. Although the Kolsch Beer was refreshing, that night I went out and explored the Christmas markets with some of my new friends I met on the ship. One of the many things Germany is famous for is its sausage. My new friends and I hung out at the market with some of the locals and had German Beer and sausage. I don’t eat pork, but I was able to eat the beef sausage. I’m not sure how they made the sausage but it tasted great. Once we finish hanging out we returned back to the ship to get some sleep.
Day seven was my last full day on the ship. We arrived in Amsterdam and I had no idea this city had so much rich history. The touring day began with a mini tour cruise of one of Amsterdam’s many canals followed by a panoramic city tour. We were back on the ship by 7PM to eat our last supper. After dinner, my new friends along with some of the ships servers, went out bar hopping and walking around in Amsterdam. This was probably the most fun nights of the entire cruise.
On the last night, my cruise was over, but my adventure was not. A small group of the passengers and I stayed in Amsterdam a few additional days. I would definitely recommend staying at least 3 additional days in Amsterdam if you’re a history buff. There were so many great museums that you will need at least 3 full days to enjoy. This cruise is definitely a must for anyone wanting to do a Rhine River Cruise.