If you are contemplating a Rhine River cruise soon, this video which was created by Ama Waterways on their brand new ship, the AmaKristina, is a fantastic look on what you will be seeing, life onboard and so much more! Hope you enjoy and feel free to leave a comment once you’ve watched it. Thanks, Linda
I recently returned from cruising on the almost brand new Viking Sea sailing out of San Juan Puerto Rico. It was so impressive the way that Viking took all of the wonderful attributes of river cruising and copied them onto their ocean cruises. Plus since the ship carries just over 900 passengers, is considered a small ship which allows them to visit ports not available to the larger ships. Here we were docked right in the heart of the city in Willemstad, Curacao
Like river cruising, there are many inclusions like a shore excursion included in every port, beer/wine with lunch and dinner, specialty coffees, teas & bottled water and of course the biggest perk for me as I was still working, was the free WiFi. Most people that I talked to onboard said it was so nice to have all the inclusions and not to be nickle & dimed to death which tends to happen on many mainstream cruise lines. Also included are two specialty restaurants, one is The Chef’s Table which is a multi-course tasting dinner paired with select wines and the other is Manfredi’s Italian Restaurant serving freshly prepared pastas and antipasto accompanied by fresh seafood or special of the day. Not sure which one was my favorite as they both had amazing food.
One difference from their river cruises (which still offer cabins on lower decks that only have a window) is that all the cabins on the Viking Sea have a spacious private balcony. Another great option for those who love to eat outdoors (which includes me) is the restaurant at the back of the ship near the pool where you can enjoy breakfast or lunch on the patio.
Like river cruising, the Viking Ocean itineraries tend to be city/port intensive which allow you to really get immersed in the destinations visited. In fact, many of the passengers had taken a river cruise first and then decided to try out their Ocean cruises and were very impressed. So whichever one you choose to try first, you’ll be pleased with either!
For more information, see VIKING CRUISES
I went on a Tulip Time river cruise this spring with Ama Waterways thinking that it would be all about flowers but nothing could be further from the truth!
Don’t get me wrong, we did see Tulips but we also visited a fabulous museum, learned how to make Belgian chocolate, biked through Antwerp viewing their incredible architectural buildings, strolled peacefully through the windmills in Kinderdijk and maneuvered the canals in Amsterdam.
The Tulip Time cruise started in Amsterdam and I took the ship picture to show you how close they dock to the main train station in Amsterdam (its the building in the background) and then the next picture is in front of the station which is stunning in itself.
We did a morning bus tour of the city before heading out in the afternoon to a Hoorn Tulip and Bulb field where we all became Tulip Specialists after getting a tour of their greenhouses to see all the different phases of growth (the process was very interesting and we learned quite a bit!) Once the bus dropped us off near the town trolley, we walked around the Hoorn harbor which was full of unique monuments and packing warehouses.
The next days tour decision was a tough one as you had to choose between the Arnhem Bridge & Airborne Museum (renowned for its role during WWII’s Operation Market Garden) or the Kroller Muller Museum (which boasts the 2nd largest Van Gogh collection in the world). So our small group split up and some did choice A and some did choice B and when we gathered back on the ship in lounge for a pre-dinner drink, all agreed that both were great tours. (read between the lines as this meant that each group thought their tour was better)
When we arrived in Antwerp, we opted for the bike tour through the charming streets of this Belgium major city. Our guide managed to steer us effortlessly through traffic and the drivers were so polite, always stopping for us when we were crossing the streets (that never happens back home!) It was a great way to see such a large area of the city in such a short time and our stop at the Antwerp train station was saved until the end because the beauty of the building just can’t be missed.
That afternoon took us to the Floralia Spring Flower show at Kasteel van Groot-Bijgaarden which had 14 hectares of brilliantly colored tulips, daffodils and many other spring flowers. The garden area surrounds the castle where the almost 1 million bulbs are still planted by hand each year ! (loved the Peacock)
Then we headed for the beauty of Bruges which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site that included medieval buildings, winding canals and statuesque churches. I could have taken pictures there all day and this one was at the famous corner that is used many times when displaying Bruges.
After leaving Belgium, we headed back towards the Netherlands stopping in Rotterdam where excursions could be taken to visit the bustling city or a bit farther took in the charming city of Delft (known for the hand-painted blue and white pottery) with a stop in The Hague before travelling back to the ship. In the afternoon, we sailed peacefully into Kinderdijk to see hundreds of windmills dotting the horizon. With the sun shining brightly, it made for a wonderful stroll or bike ride through the area.
Our last full day was a full one with the morning touring the spectacular Keukenhof Gardens, a 70 acre park that probably had the most flowers I’ve ever seen. It was so colorful and I’m sure the pictures don’t do it justice.
Then onto Amsterdam where we finished up with a great canal cruise through the city (where you find out why they call it “Venice of the North” )
Now that I’ve taken you through my trip, I realize that I haven’t even talked about all the wonderful food (and drinks) we had onboard Ama Waterways! The staff were really friendly and our Cruise Director Rachel was one of the best ones I’ve ever experienced. She delivered her port talks with humor, personal stories and kept everyone interested, on track and on time.
I was in a French Balcony cabin and since the weather was great, enjoyed sitting in the stateroom with the breeze flowing in on many occasions.
I would highly recommend a Tulip Time river cruise to anyone !