Choosing the right River Cruise: Part 3

The third and final comparison this week is between the two US based river cruise companies.  (Click here to view Part 1 and 2).

AMAWaterways is the perfect choice for those of you who are true “foodies” and wine connoisseurs. Their unique and diversified itineraries and pre and post excursions truly immerse you into the region’s culinary and wine culture. Ama Waterways is the only river cruise line ever inducted into the Confreire de la Chaine des Rotisseurs, the oldest and largest food and wine society in the world! Membership is by invitation only, extended only to those possessing world-class culinary acumen.

Her four newest ships are spectacular vessels featuring Twin Balcony staterooms, a choice of indoor or outdoor dining, a heated swimming pool with swim up bar and a stunning glass elevator. The ships are beautifully decorated in light whimsical colors, vibrant contemporary art and luxurious fabrics. Keeping in tradition with their oenophile background each of the new ships has a richly panelled wine room where the ship’s sommelier offers tastings of local favorites. The staterooms range in size from 160 to 350 square feet.

A full spa and gym is found on all the new ships along with a fleet of over 24 hybrid bicycles for those passengers who wish to explore in their free time or take part in some of the guided bike tours. Each port includes a guided sightseeing tour either via motor coach but more often as a walking tour. Divided into Gentle, Regular and Active Walker paces, Ama even offers a “Late Risers” option for those of us who like to sleep in!! In 2014, AmaWaterways is offering 16 "In Celebration of Wine" cruises as well as departures featuring, Jewish Heritage and Chocolate Connoiseurs ….. truly an epicurean experience to treasure forever.

With a maximum passenger capacity of only 164, the service and attention onboard is unsurpassed. Pricing is surprisingly mid-range but in USD. Wine and beer is included only during lunch and dinner although complimentary champagne is served with every breakfast! Standard tours are included however optional “extra” touring is available at an extra charge onboard. Air arrangements as well as travel insurance is sold through the cruise line. Excellent single occupancy rates offered. Onboard ambience is relaxed with a heavy demographic of American guests.

For the absolute “ultimate” river cruise, your choice could likely be Tauck. Their ships are some of the largest but carry the fewest passengers …. Maximum 130 on their new Inspiration class ships. Staterooms average 200 sq ft. Shore excursions are intimate affairs offering experiences exclusively to the Tauck guest. Imagine private tastings at Beaujolais and Chateauneuf-du-Pape! Fully encompassing every possible requirement, Tauck includes airport/train station transfers, tipping, luggage handling, all premium spirit beverages, onshore dining options as well as culinary classes and wine tasting opportunities.

Each ship carries not one but four Cruise Directors, ensuring that every guest has immediate consideration of every request. Of course this service is not inexpensive. Although at the top end in USD pricing, Tauck is consistently sold out a year in advance and has the highest repeat clientele in the river cruise market. Shipboard ambience is the well-heeled North American who enjoys the finer things in life.And so ends my little seminar on how to choose the River Cruise company that’s right for you. With a little research and advance planning we can all find the travel experience that is right for us.

(*other options include ARosa Cruises and Uniworld)

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About the Author

Joy has long been a believer in the art of travel: the belief that a vacation is something to be anticipated savored and then long remembered as one of life’s great adventures. 
Website: thejoyoftravel.ca

You can contact Joy at [email protected]

The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet does not warrant the contents.

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