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Review ID:   290
Reviewed:   AmaCello
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(Review ID: 290)
Beautiful ship with good service but rather uninteresting itinerary, September 4, 2010
Reviewer: tcambron
Pros: Ship design, cleanliness, and friendliness of the staff
Cons: Lower Danube itinerary far less interesting than Upper Danube.
tcambron saw things this way
Value For Money   4.00/5  (4)
Cabin Design   4.00/5  (4)
Entertainment   1.00/5  (1)
Food Quality   4.00/5  (4)
Ship Maintenance   5.00/5  (5)
Staff and Service   4.00/5  (4)

Amacello launched in 2008. Cabins were 170 sq. ft. which is larger than most riverboats but still crowded. We had a queen-sized bed, upholstered chair and a desk chair. French balcony is a full length operational sliding glass door with a railing on the outside.

Cabin amenities included an LCD monitor that could be used as a TV or a computer monitor. A keyboard and mouse could be used to access the free internet. There were a few instances when the internet was not available due to the terrain. The speed was slower than broadband at home but was acceptable. There were about 12 TV channels available including CNN and BBC. A variety of free movies could be accessed, including a fair number of new releases.

Free bottled water was available in the cabin and also at the gangway for each excursion. Two thick terrycloth robes and slippers were provided he bathroom was small but had a very nice shower with three shower heads and plenty of water pressure. There was adequate closet space with a large number of hangers. There was also a number of shelves.

All excursions were included and no optional excursions were offered. Except for one day when we passed through the Iron Gates and locks, there was an excursion every day.

Weather was very warm and sunny every day.

Coffee on ship was fair. Had a machine that made espresso, cappuccino, mocha, etc. No iced tea.

Ships capacity was 148 passengers but there were only 106 on our cruise. Three decks with cabins. A small elevator was available for those that had trouble with steps.

There was a small fitness room with a sauna, two treadmills (one broken) and a stationary bike. Never saw the fitness center being used. There was also a hot tub on the top deck. Four bicycles were available for passenger use, but we never saw them used.

Sue was our program director – average at best. Could not understand her over the PA...she needed to speak louder and slower.

Crew on ship very friendly and were always busy.

Entertainment: A few nights of local entertainment – folk dancers, folk singers, violin and piano player, and a lecturer on Eastern Europe politics and history. There was an onboard pianist that played every afternoon and evening.

No room service

Open seating in dining room – local food, three choices for entrée - one fish, one meat and one vegetarian. Usually two choices of appetizer, two choices for soup, and three choices for dessert. There were also some entrees available each day including steak and salmon. Food presented nicely. Unlimited free wine with different choices of white or red each night. Most wines were from local areas or Germany.

Service in restaurant good and friendly at dinner time, but was lacking for breakfast and lunch. Often long waits for coffee to be served and for waiter to take order. Had to remind waiter that we had not placed an order more times than not.

Cabin steward did not introduce herself. No ice in room, but ice machine was available near reception.

Cabin #329 was the second to the last cabin. While cruising, there was excessive vibration and noise. The four or five aft cabins should be avoided.

Library had good selection of paperback books that had been donated by passengers and some travel books.

Chocolates on pillow.

Ship clean and in excellent condition.

Bridge tour was offered.

Some nice little touches that were included were drinks and cold towels after excursions, a handwritten postcard sent to our home thanking us for cruising with AMA, chocolates on the bed at night like the big cruise ships and hard candy on reception desk.

Recommended gratuities was 12 Euros per day for crew and 3 Euros per day for cruise manager. That is about $20 per day which is definitely the highest recommended tip amount we have seen on a cruise. The gratuities are not automatically added to shipboard account as on most ocean cruises. You could either put cash into a envelope or fill out a form to add it to your onboard account.

Bar drinks were expensive ($7.20 for a cocktail, without tip included), weak and poorly made.

Embarkation: We arrived at the ship around noon and were warmly welcomed by the customer service desk and told that the cabins would not be ready until around 3 p.m. We were escorted into the lounge where hot hors d’oeuvres, cold drinks and coffee were available. The Hotel Manager came in and introduced herself and chatted for a few minutes.

The majority of the passengers (about 80 of the 106 on board) did a pre-cruise land tour that started in Istanbul. Their buses starting arriving about 2 p.m. Shortly thereafter, we were told that our cabins were ready and were escorted to the cabin.

Disembarkation: The process was similar to ocean cruises but due to the small size of the ship it was much smoother and easier. We filled out a form a few days prior to the end of the cruise with our post-cruise travel information. Our plan was to have a private guide pick us up at the ship at 10 a.m. for a tour of Budapest and a transfer to the airport. We were given color-coded tags for the luggage. The luggage had to be placed in the hallway after breakfast and before 8:30 a.m. as opposed to the night before which is common on ocean cruises. When the driver arrived, ship personnel carried our luggage from the ship to the van.

Ports - Bucharest, Romania; Rousse, Giurgiu, Vidin Bulgaria; Belgrade, Novi Sad Serbia; Vukovar Croatia; Mohacs, Pecs, Budapest, Hungary.
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