We arrived into Amsterdam after a short 50 minute flight with Easyjet, flying from Gatwick. It all went very smoothly and was on time. On arrival we were met by staff members from AMA Waterways who were very helpful and led us out to the coach. The transfer to the ship was around 20 minutes and we were able to board straight away. On first impressions the AMA Prima was much larger than I was expecting and I was excited to set sail!
Check in was very efficient and we were greeted by staff from both APT and those working on board. We were advised that we would be in a day cabin until after the evening meal and then we would be moved to their sister ship called the AMADolce later on (as they wanted us each to have our own cabin) – this was to dock next to the AMA Prima.
Our cabin was lovely – larger than I was expecting, with twin beds and a balcony (with a small table and chairs), flat screen TV with a selection of channels (and internet), separate chairs, a desk area and it was very tastefully decorated. The bathroom was gorgeous with a good selection of shampoos, conditioner, shower gel etc... – I didn’t need to use any of the toiletries I had brought with me as everything was there. We were amused by the see through window in the bathroom – it was frosted but you could see through it! The room also had a safe, umbrellas for use, hair dryer, complimentary bottled water, slippers to use and lovely fluffy dressing gowns. Another great feature was that we had free wi-fi throughout the whole ship.
After the welcome brief we went to the main restaurant for a delicious 4 course lunch – all with complimentary wine. We were advised that all of the European sailings offer unlimited complimentary wine, beer and soft drinks with lunch and dinner (and sparkling wine with breakfast). The first course was a buffet with a selection of cold meats, salad, prawns, chicken wings and more. Then we had soup as a second course, a carvery for the main with the meat cooked to perfection, then a choice of desserts afterwards. It was very relaxed and the food was excellent. I was also impressed that if you didn’t want the food on the 4 course menu, there were alternative selections to choose from with foods such as chicken and chips. My colleague had this and said it was really nice.
By the time we had finished lunch we were docked in Volendam so we left the ship to have a look around – it is a very picturesque little fishing village with lovely buildings and a good choice of shops and bars. We had about an hour and a half to wander around and this also allowed us to get some nice photos looking back at the ship. Then it was back on board for afternoon tea and some lovely cakes and sandwiches.
We had a look around a couple of different stateroom types – the AmaPrima is one of the new generation ships (launched in 2013) that can accommodate 161-164 guests. Over 80% of the cabins have balconies or French balconies and the cabins can range in size from 160sq feet to 350sq feet (on the older ships they range from 170sq feet to 255sq feet). The cabin we were in had a balcony that you could sit out on, whereas the French Balconies have a full floor to ceiling window but you can’t actually go out on to it. Some of the cabins on the lower deck just had smaller porthole windows but they were still really nice. Each ship has one disabled cabin which is larger in size, but passengers need to bear in mind that the elevator doesn’t go to all decks. They also keep one wheelchair on board for guests’ use, although usually guests would bring their own.
We were then taken to see the Erlebnis Chef’s Table Restaurant, which is the speciality restaurant where you can watch the chefs at work in the small kitchen which is right by the tables. It only seats 28 people so usually guests only get to dine in there once during their river cruise. On other nights they would eat in the Main restaurant. There is also a lounge and bar, which has a station where you can get speciality tea and coffee 24 hours a day – as the ship is fairly small they don’t have tea/coffee making facilities in the cabins as customers can use the machines in the lounge. In here they also serve afternoon tea and there always seemed to be a selection of biscuits out. Evening entertainment is also in the lounge. Smoking is only permitted on the sun deck (at the top) and not in any of the inside areas (you are not allowed to smoke on the balconies). On our cruise they also allowed guests to smoke on the deck outside of the lounge, but they said they usually only let guests do this in bad weather or if there is a special event going on.
After the tour it was back to our stateroom to get ready for the evening – firstly we had reception drinks in the lounge – the champagne seemed to be freely flowing! We were introduced to all the members of staff working on board (around 42 of them) and again heard from the President of the company (as he was disembarking first thing the next morning so wasn’t going to be there for the presentations). A couple of other staff members spoke and then it was back to the main restaurant for another delicious 4 course meal (with small taster dishes in between). The food was really well presented and tasted as good as it looked! On the menu was a fish choice, meat choice and a vegetarian option for the main and again with alternative choices separate from the main menu if you preferred this. My favourite was dessert – being a chocoholic I was in my element with the amazing choice of chocolate desserts. I limited myself to three (they were quite small!) but I was spoilt for choice!! We were given allocated seating places at dinner to encourage us to mix with other agents and the APT staff – everyone was really friendly. We had to change cabins after dinner as we were moved to the AmaDolce which was moored up next to our ship and linked with a gangway. We then had our own staterooms with double bed and French balcony – they were just as nice, but you could tell the Amadolce was an older ship (launched 2009) as the decor in the reception area didn’t seem as modern.
The following day breakfast was served from 7am-9am so after a lovely refreshing shower we went down to eat – again in the main restaurant. There was a great choice of food – there were breads, hot food and smoked salmon – teas and coffees were served to the table and sparkling wine was on offer if you wanted it. They later told us that all the bread on the ship was actually baked on board, so it couldn’t be more fresh. After breakfast we went to the lounge for presentations from APT staff and staff from AMA waterways. They told us more detail about the different destinations that were covered and the relationship between APT and AMA Waterways. Basically APT charter the ships and package them together with flights and transfers for passengers mainly from the UK and Australia. They told us how the company is really expanding with two new ships in Europe this year (AmaSonata and AmaReina) and another two in 2015 (AmaSerena and AmaVista) so it is exciting times ahead. Other new features include limited edition tours, such as specialist culinary tours and bicycle tours which are complimentary to guests. They also keep some bikes on board for passengers that may wish to borrow these and go off on their own.
As well as Europe, AMA Waterways also offers a number of sailings in other destinations, such as Asia, Russia and Africa (along the Zambezi River). One of the staff members from APT had done the cruise along the Mekong River visiting Vietnam and Cambodia and said it was amazing!
Sadly by mid-day it was time to leave the ship. We had the most wonderful experience and would highly recommend.