Rayleigh Romero has been with us for just short of a year and her knowledge has grown extensively during this time. However, until recently, she had not yet had the pleasure of experiencing an AmaWaterways river cruise. Rayleigh writes this blog from the perspective of a guest sailing with AmaWaterways for the first time – direct from the decks of AmaKristina.
It was an early start today as we headed to Southend airport, where we made a hassle-free transition through the airport and boarded the aircraft quickly. After a short trip from the UK to Schiphol airport, we landed, made our way through arrivals and met with another group of travel agents to take our shared transfer to Amsterdam port.
Upon arrival, I was amazed by the appearance of the ship; AmaKristina radiated elegance and poise. Stepping on board, I noticed the sleek design and expertly chosen decor, as the excellent crew made us all feel welcome.
The first few hours consisted of us settling into our fantastic Twin Balcony cabin, located on the Cello deck towards the front. We did a ship tour, met new people within the travel agent environment and enjoyed onboard cuisine in the form of a buffet. By the time the afternoon was upon us, the sun was shining through the clouds in Amsterdam and sunglasses were very much needed (some guests even decided that a dip in the rooftop pool might help them cool off!). We, however, took to the city of Amsterdam for a scenic walk through the streets.
Upon our return, we got ready for a smart casual evening. We were greeted in the main lounge with a glass of champagne and yet more fine delicacies. To kick the night off, we were formally introduced to all of the team who work for AmaWaterways head office, the onboard crew, and, of course, the captain. Dinner in the restaurant on the Piano deck shortly followed and a numbered seating plan meant we could get to know other guests on board – socialising is one of the main attractions for river cruising.
A fabulous menu was provided to us. I chose the chef’s recommendations, featuring four mouth-watering dishes such as a stunning Sea Scallop, Cray Fish and Mango Salsa Entrée and a Soupe l’Oignon with a cheese crouton. One of my favourite dishes was the main course - Herb crusted medallion of Lamb, Lamb Racks, Natural Jus, Broccoli and Potato Gratin, which was cooked to a perfect medium-rare and melted in the mouth. To conclude, a plate of colour was placed in front of me, a plate so beautiful I did not want to disturb the art created upon it, an Opera cake with orange sorbet, Dark chocolate-Kahlua ganache with an orange chip.
After consuming the famous ‘Chaine des Rottisseurs’ dinner, and consuming several glasses of white wine, the restaurant cleared out and we returned to the main lounge area to enjoy an evening of entertainment with singer Matt Williams – a favourite of the AmaWaterways team. The atmosphere was electric and the crew on board made all of this achievable. As the party began to wind down, so I ventured to bed to see what the next day had in store.
I woke up revitalised and ready for a new day after a very comfortable night’s sleep. We took ourselves to breakfast and were greeted by the warmth of the crew yet again. Breakfast was mainly in the form of a buffet but also included a menu offering cooked to order waffles and eggs benedict. The buffet included: build your own fry-up, fresh breads, fresh fruit, an egg station where the chef would cook something for you in front of your very eyes, cereals, juices, toast, fresh fish - the list goes on. I am not ashamed to say I tried a bit of everything. Luckily, a cycling excursion followed, which meant I could burn off my four-course breakfast.
At 9am, we gathered for our two-wheeled tour of Lelystad. The crew helped us adjust our seats and make all of the safety precautions we needed to prior to setting off. Three guides meant that everyone was catered for, from the fast to leisurely riders – me being one of the latter. We began exploring Dykes and murals from many centuries ago, before visiting a nature reserve where we were lucky enough to see a wild stag - a moment I will never forget. We continued to a homely café for hot chocolate and cake and then set-off back to the ship. The tour was great fun and is definitely something I will be recommending to future guests.
As we arrived back at the ship, hot towels and lemon tea awaited us. We prepared for lunch and, yet again, had four courses to look forward to. I combined the options available – menu and buffet. Vegetable broth to start, steak sandwich with wedges to follow, a seafood curry with naan shortly after, and tied it all up with a choux pastry dessert. Utterly delicious!
After lunch, the ship began to sail back to Amsterdam. Before we knew it, another afternoon tea buffet was set-up in front of us. However, after such a big lunch, I chose to stick to coffee and make the most of my evening meal – despite the array of cakes and sandwiches calling me.
As the evening drew closer, we returned to our room to prepare for the ship’s ‘Dress to Impress’ night. Later on, we were greeted in the lounge with a glass of champagne in hand. One last meal in the restaurant consisted of a five-course menu and, again, I decided to go for the chef’s recommendation: Crab and vegetable California roll; noodle beef soup; Thai beef Carpaccio (with a kick!); beef tenderloin with onion ring, mashed potato, carrot and natural jus; and a rosemary crème brûlée to finish. After our superb meal, a night of awards began back in the main lounge with various prizes going to the best-dressed male and female, and the guests who took the best photo of the ship, food or destinations. After this, our final party began and we enjoyed an evening reminiscing about the trip we had enjoyed. It was not long until bed was in sight and we were off to sleep for one last night.
Morning was upon us and Amsterdam was beautifully quiet at 7am. We had our final breakfast before saying goodbye to the fantastic crew and hosts. After disembarking, we made our way to the rail station and on to the airport.
Upon arrival back into the UK, I was able to reminisce about the time aboard my very first river cruise with AmaWaterways. If I could give this cruise more than five stars, I would. Everything was so personal. The crew is extremely attentive, the ship is gorgeous and the food is wonderful. The guides are local to the areas you visit and are able to share their personal stories about life in these locations.
If you are looking for a high-quality adventure in a beautiful part of the world with very welcoming people, get on board an AmaWaterways river cruise. Call us on 0800 028 4272 or click here to submit an online enquiry.
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