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I was reading in my stateroom, after lunch, when I heard someone whistling Mozart. I looked up through my opaque privacy curtain and saw a man strolling along about a foot away from me. We had docked in Cologne, Germany, right up against a broad promenade along the Rhine, and I could practically reach out my sliding glass door and touch the pedestrians and bicyclists passing by. However, I opted to enjoy an espresso onboard before venturing out to the bustling sidewalk. This is river cruising at its most delightful, and it is no surprise that the ocean-going cruisers trying it for the first time aboard Amawaterways’ Amacello became converts overnight.
The ship can get so close to villages that cruisers can converse with passersby
“These may be the best bathrooms in cruising,” Ada Brown, owner of Seaside Travel in Long Beach, Calif., said, referring to the glassed-in shower with three heads and more spray combinations than anyone has time to use.
All staterooms boast 170 square feet, and the four junior suites, at 255 square feet, have river views. Most staterooms have French balconies, which add enormously to the experience. Nothing beats opening the doors onto the countryside and listening to the sound of water chuckling against the hull.
Amacello’s elevator reaches all four levels. The two lounges — a large one with sunny colors used for alternative dining, teatime, lectures and dancing, and a wicker-furnished aft lounge for meetings or relaxation — became guests’ living rooms and, off the aft lounge, there is a small but well-equipped fitness center with a shower and sauna, beauty salon and a massage treatment room.
Breakfasts were spectacular, with every known cereal to man, several kinds of yogurt, fruit, smoked salmon and all the trimmings, including excellent bagels, pastries and breads galore. Sausages, waffles, oatmeal, omelets, local cheeses and juices were also part of the spread.
Lunch was a combination of hot- and cold-buffet dishes and table orders, while teatime offered an avalanche of little sandwiches and desserts. Somehow, everyone always seemed to have room for the selection of wines and varied courses at dinner.
Fortunately, the included shore excursions involved plenty of walking tours, and the Amacello has 25 bicycles onboard, also complimentary, for passengers to explore the ports.
“I really knew this was a different kind of cruise when I didn’t pose for a photo ID card or go through security lines at check-in,” said Susan Dushane, a consultant at Northridge Travel Service in Northridge, Calif. “It’s similar to a hotel.”
Guests staying out late at port could use their keycards to get into the ship and, in case of a delay, they all were given the cell number of the cruise director.
Dushane and Brown both had high praise for the all-inclusive experience on the ship.
“I can’t stand the nickel and diming that goes on in the industry,” Dushane said. “Here, your wines, shore excursions and even the Internet are included — very classy.”
“No matter how much money people have, they want the most for what they are spending, and you can show them that they are getting it,” added Brown.
At that moment, we were beside the riverside path in Frankfurt, Germany, a five- or 10-minute walk from the center of the city, and I watched families stroll alongside the river.
“How is it?” a passing woman asked.
“It’s wonderful,” I replied.
Read about Tauck and Avalon Waterways’ recent christenings
Passengers: 148Crew: 41 EuropeansLength: 360 feetBeam: 38 feetDecks: FourStaterooms: 75, all outside, 62 with French balconiesInaugurated: 2008
The DetailsThe Amacello’s seven-night cruise from Amsterdam, The Netherlands, to Trier, Germany, is priced from $1,899, cruise only, and there is an option of three nights in Paris at the end of the sailing. Amacello sails several European routes this year, including the 23-day Grand Danube cruise from Prague, Czech Republic, to Istanbul, Turkey, priced from $3,998.www.amawaterways.com