River cruising with the AmaKristina!
Have you ever considered going on a river cruise before?
Or have you done that already?
We once did a river cruise years ago.
From Saigon, Vietnam all the way up on the Mekong until Tonlé Sap lake near Siem Reap, Cambodia.
And we loved it.
We live in Antwerp which is the perfect spot for river cruises to come and go. Larger cruises are finding their way here as well little by little. A medieval fortress called Het Steen along the river Scheldt is being transformed in a cruise terminal as we speak.
If you take a walk up north where the harbour is, you will see quite a few river cruise boats along the way.
The idea of starting a holiday in our very own city always sounded quite attractive to us. No transfer to the airport, no waiting in line, no security check, no hour long flights before you get to your hotel room.
AmaWaterways River Cruising
In June we receive an email from Wondercruises, an Antwerp based travel agency that specialises in cruises.
And they have some great news.
The AmaKristina river cruise boat will be coming to Antwerp for a few weeks on end and we can hop on for a 10 day Rhine cruise experience to Strasbourg and back.
Sounds like the perfect opportunity to try a river cruise from Antwerp out!
We booked right away.
Cruising during corona
Because of the ongoing pandemic the AmaKristina only allowed half of its total capacity of 156 passengers on board.
All meals were à la carte instead of buffet style.
Every morning before breakfast and before dinner our temperatures were taken. All passengers had to wear face masks inside, except when sitting down in the bar or restaurant. The AmaKristina staff was wearing masks at all times.
Hand sanitiser was plentiful, we felt very safe throughout our trip.
So we packed a small suitcase each and 10 minutes later we were right in front of the AmaKristina docked in the south part of the city on the river Scheldt.
The AmaKristina is one of the latest boats in the AmaWaterways fleet. It was built in 2017. And as we board, we can see how brand new, spotless and shiny everything is.
We are welcomed by a friendly receptionist who hands us our room keys. We are staying in AB stateroom #204 on the Cello deck.
First impressing: the room is spacious and tastefully decorated with warm colors.
Again everything looks brand new as if we are the first to ever stay here. Lots of light is coming through the windows. Our room has a French balcony and an outside balcony with 2 chairs and a small table.
The bed is firm and pleasant, very comfy looking pillows on the bed as well.
The bathroom is beautiful. It is long and bright white with a large mirror, 2 wide sinks sitting on black marble and a spacious shower. Fragrant Hydro Basics toiletries and body products. We liked the large safe in the wardrobe, more than enough room for laptops.
The complimentary daily bottles of water in the room are a great touch and also very welcome.
The room and bathroom are spotlessly cleaned every day, with an extra turndown service during dinner to change any used towels, restock toiletries, make up the bed if necessary and bring tomorrow’s program.
After unpacking we decide to take a stroll on the top deck of the AmaKristina.
Right behind the navigation bridge is a heated swimming pool. The upper sun deck had enough loungers for everyone, practically all of them were in the shade.
The lower sundeck has a huge comfortable square sofa, and tables and chairs at the very front. Perfect place for a sundowner or pre dinner drink if the weather is great.
We love the colorful yet stylish decoration of the bar.
It is again very spacious with lots of comfortable sofas and chairs. A great place to read, have a cup of coffee and enjoy a pre dinner drink or nightcap. Every night it is happy hour which means that you can get a free cocktail of the day per person.
Those cocktails were of excellent quality and generous, no sugary flashy watered down drinks.
The real stuff.
In the afternoon we enjoyed free coffee and tea with a selection of cakes at a specific time. Especially the cakes were delicious. Upon simple request you can ask to enjoy your high tea on the top deck in the sun if the weather is great.
All other drinks during the day in between meals come at an extra cost.
However prices in the bar on board are very reasonable.
We sat at the same table throughout the entire trip and were served by the same 2 waiters in impeccable uniforms as well.
Is there a dress code on the AmaKristina?
People tend to dress up a little for dinner but nothing too fancy. Long trousers, fresh crisp shirt or an elegant top.
What about the food on board?
Where to begin. It was delicious. From breakfast to lunch to dinner. We could choose from the à la carte because of the pandemic.
A la carte
Breakfast included coffee and tea of course.
And the usual suspects: eggs made to order, bacon, vegetables, fruits, pastries, bread, pancakes, waffles, smoked fish platter, cold cuts, juices, yogurt… We are probably not even scratching the surface here.
The eggs Benedict were gorgeous, and so was the smoked fish platter.
The lunch menu included bread and butter, a small salad, soup, 3 main courses (with one vegetarian option) and a dessert.
Dinner consisted of bread and butter, a small salad, soup, 3 main courses (with again a vegetarian option) and 2 desserts to choose from with coffee or tea.
All drinks during lunch and dinner were complimentary. Wine, beer and water refills were plentiful and very generous. Our AmaKristina waiters Eduard and Florian and sommelier Marius were very efficient, professional and fast.
Excellent service and perfect attention to detail.
La Chaîne des Rôtisseurs
The quality and variation of the meals were high and of excellent quality.
AmaWaterways is member of La Chaîne des Rôtisseurs, a gastronomic society that celebrates members who achieve world class culinary finesse. And rightfully so.
Every meal on the AmaKristina was executed perfectly. Classic French style cuisine, top notch fresh ingredients, perfectly cooked, beautifully plated, perfect portions, very creative.
We just can’t name one thing we didn’t like or wasn’t executed well.
The AmaKristina itinerary: Antwerp – Dordrecht – Kinderdijk – Rotterdam – Amsterdam – Cologne – Cochem – Worms – Strasbourg – Rudesheim – Koblenz – Cologne – Antwerp.
Unfortunately we were not able to stop at Kinderdijk, famous for its picturesque windmills. Tourists were not allowed there because of the pandemic.
Even though we had been in most of these cities, we loved the fact that we could visit them once again for just a couple of hours. And that without having to drive or fly over.
That is one of the many perks of river cruising right there!
You can rent free bikes on board the AmaKristina.
What we enjoyed even more is the opportunity to take your own bikes with you. Our electric bikes were kept at the back of the top deck where the staff has a private area to relax and get some air. Upon simple request at the reception the staff would go get our bikes and also take them safely back on board. The keys were always returned to the reception afterwards.
Great service again.
There is free high speed internet access and unlimited wifi on board the AmaKristina.
As we both work online (yes, even when we are on holiday), we can confirm that the internet was very fast and the reception in the room, restaurant and bar was perfect.
It was often hard to get good reception while being on the sun deck.
A good opportunity to put work aside and enjoy the views.
The people on board the AmaKristina were mainly German couples between 50 and 75 years of age.
AmaWaterways stands for luxury river cruising on a beautiful boat.
The rooms in the AmaKristina are very comfortable, quiet and a pleasure to stay in. The AmaKristina staff is highly trained, impeccably dressed, everyone speaks excellent English and is very helpful. The food is of an outstanding quality.
Would we book again?
Would we book again with AmaWaterways?
In fact, we have already. We booked a similar 10 day Rhine trip on the AmaLucia this upcoming July. And we are very much looking forward to it. Thumbs up for AmaWaterways!
Definitely to be continued.
Have you been on a river cruise before?
Tell us about it and leave a comment below.
We’d love to hear from you!