We’ve recently returned from a lovely Seine River Cruise from Paris to Normandy, France on AmaWaterways. If you’ve never heard of them then please let me share that they are truly a wonderful company who cares very dearly for their clients and their staff. They’ve been in business for 20 years, are family owned and operated and they’re based in California. They have 26 river cruise ships sailing the world with 20 of them in Europe.
Their ships are all very tastefully and comfortably decorated so that you feel as though you’re very much at home while staying on board. They have a warm, inviting lounge area with cozy seating, a great bar area, a 24-7 self-serve specialty coffee station (with great Café Lattes, my favorite, and the like) and entertainment area with a small dance floor, if you’re interested.
On the top deck, they have ample seating, both shaded and unshaded, a hot tub was available on our ship (others have pools), a large chess board, putting green and walking track around the perimeter. Their onboard “Wellness Host” offered a lot of great wellness options onboard including yoga, stretching, pilates, walking tours, bicycling tours, and a pretty decent, very clean gym with some quality equipment and even a sauna!
I was able to visit all of the staterooms to compare and they were all very well appointed and comfortable. Although accommodation on river ships does not tend to be as large as on ocean ships, the staterooms were all comfortable.
The dining room is beautifully decorated with the ability to either sit on your own at a table for 2 or at tables of 4, 6, or 8. We always sat with others and found the company wonderful with like-minded travelers. All of their wait staff were professional, but fun and very accommodating to all of us.
The all-inclusive food aboard is excellent with most of it being a la carte featuring a multitude of selections at every meal. They were the first river cruise company to be invited to join the oldest and largest food and wine society in the world – La Confrerie de la Chaine des Rotisseurs. There was never any shortage of outstanding, quality food and wines.
They’re also one of the few river cruise companies that offers a very special “Chef’s Table” with every passenger able to attend at least one night during their 7-night cruise. This special option features an extraordinary menu prepared in an open kitchen with paired wines throughout the meal. We absolutely loved this during our river cruise as it also has limited seating each night.
Overall, they did an outstanding job with my gluten allergy and were incredibly attentive about ensuring that I was well informed at every meal. For breakfast, they not only have an extensive buffet, but you can also order off the menu with a great variety of choices. For lunch, they offer either a simple light lunch available in their cozy lounge or you can have a multi-course lunch ordered off the menu with plenty of selection. For dinner, they offer multiple options as well of appetizers, soups, salads, main courses, and desserts every day and the selection is never repeated during a 7-day cruise. There’s free flowing wine and beer during lunch and dinner and even mimosas for breakfast every day, if you’d like!
Every evening, there’s an opportunity for free-flowing wine, beer and cocktail during their “Sip and Sail” timeframe. We thoroughly enjoyed this every night since it was also the time to debrief about the day’s events and learn what was in store the following day as well. We also happened to be on a ‘wine-themed’ cruise so that there was actually a winemaker on board from California doing periodic wine tasting and informative events during the cruise as well. This added a special element with this particular cruise.
We had some great local entertainment a couple of the evenings while onboard as well that we very much enjoyed. One night there was a beautiful classical trio who performed an exceptional concert and another night we had a fabulous performer who gave us a "Tribute to Edith Piaf" who was a famous French singer.
AmaWaterways also did an excellent job with lectures onboard about the ports we were visiting that were all very interesting. They brought on board specialists to talk about various subjects such as Champagne and this special region of France as well as a very interesting World War II expert to help us all better understand our Normandy Beaches tour the following day.
There were many highlights for me with our daily excursions, including the lovely gardens of Monet's Giverny, various fabulous chateaus, the historical city of Rouen, and, of course, the very sobering visit to the Normandy Beaches on our final full day aboard the ship. The latter brought tears to my eyes when we first walked on Omaha Beach while our very knowledgeable guide shared the details of D-Day with us via our headsets. We toured the beautifully kept American Cemetery with 9389 graves of the young men who died at that time. Incredibly touching, indeed. We also visited the Caen Peace Memorial Museum that showed phenomenal footage D-Day and the Battle of Normandy along with an impressive exhibit detailing the worldwide progression of World War II.
AmaWaterways also does a great job with their selection of excursions offering variety every day to suit travelers. There are slower paced options along with more active walking & biking tours. There's such a great variety so that even if you've done a similar itinerary, you'll find something to see and do with all they have to offer. They're all included in the program so that you need not spend any additional money on their excursion program. Their guides are all very good as well with amazing depth about all locations and properties visited.
This particular cruise itinerary had an option for a pre-tour in Paris, but we chose not to do this since the ship happened to be overnight in Paris so that we could enjoy a day of touring the following day after we boarded the ship. We've been to Paris a few other times and although we love it, we know we'll also be back next year with our hosted group after the Bordeaux River Cruise in June/July 2023.
They also offered a wonderful post-tour that we would have loved but had other family commitments in Newquay, Cornwall, England. We know we'll have to do this post-tour at some point since it covers the beautiful Brittany area of France including 3 nights in the walled city of St. Malo. Friends that we met on board the ship did this post tour and raved about it so we know we'll have to do it in the future some time.
All in all, AmaWaterways is a quality river cruise operator that we were very impressed with. This was our 4th river cruise and our 4th different river cruise company so that this gives us a great perspective on the variety of companies out there and we were very pleased with them. I'm happy to have been able to personally experience them since Rene and I will be hosting a group next June in the Bordeaux Region with AmaWaterways on a similar sister-ship to this one. Here's the information about it in case you'd like to join us: AmaWaterways Charter River Cruise Bordeaux Region June 2023 If you have any questions whatsoever about any of this, I'd be happy to discuss them any time! Thanks for reading this.