First day on AmaCerto cruise gets off to great start

The AmaCerto debuted in 2012. (Photo courtesy of AmaWaterways)
The AmaCerto debuted in 2012.
(Photo courtesy of AmaWaterways)

ABOARD THE AmaCERTO – First impressions can be so important. They can start a trip off on the right foot or the wrong one. AmaCerto certainly knows how to do it right.

Getting to Basel, Switzerland, for my cruise on the AmaCerto wasn’t easy. It seldom is when I have to travel internationally.

First I took a one and a half hour flight from Indianapolis to Atlanta. Waited two hours and took an eight and a half hour flight to Amsterdam. Had three hours in Amsterdam terminal before the one and a half hour flight to Basel. I’ve had some much tougher flights – Australia comes to mind – but this one was long enough.

So when I arrived in Basel, I was ready to stand on land and eat some real food. I’ve flown into the Basel airport before so I knew to exit on the Switzerland side. There was an AmaCerto representative holding a sign to guide me to the big bus that would take me to the ship. Several other arriving AmaCerto passengers went out the French side of the airport so our Ama guy had to go round them up. It’s easy to make that mistake.

Captain Jan Tensen presents women passengers with a welcome-aboard rose. Photo by Jackie Sheckler Finch
Captain Jan Tensen presents women passengers with a welcome-aboard rose.
Photo by Jackie Sheckler Finch

It is obvious that AmaCerto has paid attention to all details so now all I have to do is relax, let the AmaCerto staff take over and have a great week.

A short ride through Basel and we arrived at our ship. Although it was still too early for our cabins to be ready – like many other ships, AmaCerto does a quick turnaround with passengers disembarking in the morning and new passengers embarking in the afternoon – we were guided to the lovely lounge where a light lunch was waiting.

Some passengers had booked tours of Basel. I took a long walk instead and then did a bit of computer catch up before my cabin was ready. The AmaCerto has free ship wide WiFi which is a wonderful perk. The ship also has a small business office with a computer that passengers can use. Cruise manager Réka Piros was bustling around, introducing herself and seeing if anyone needed anything.

AMA MEANS LOVE

Founded in 2002, the family-owned AmaWaterways gets its name from the Latin word for “love” – Ama. AmaWaterways has 19 custom-designed vessels and will add a new one in 2015, along with even more river cruises in Europe, Asia and Africa.

Resembling a luxurious long yacht, the AmaCerto can accommodate 164 passengers and sails to Austria, Belgium, Germany, Holland, Hungary and Slovakia. Debuting in 2012, AmaCerto looks big enough to be comfortable but small enough to easily dock along the rivers. The ship’s name is pronounced Ama-Cherto. The Certo part is a musical nod as in concerto. The three decks of the AmaCerto are named Piano, Violin and Cello.

My cabin with its dual balconies - one inside and one outside. Photo by Jackie Sheckler Finch
My cabin with its dual balconies – one inside and one outside.
Photo by Jackie Sheckler Finch

At 3 p.m. our cabins were ready. I had already seen photos of mine in the AmaCerto brochure but it is even better than it looked in print. My outside stateroom features AmaWaterways exclusive twin balconies which means my cabin has an inside balcony and an outside balcony for a whole wall of sliding glass doors for excellent water views.

A ship’s balcony is one of my favorite places to sit and watch the water roll and I am happy to get a chance to try both an inside and an outside balcony. High temperatures on our trip are supposed to be near the 50s so I know the inside balcony will sure come in handy.

My cabin has a big bed, flat screen TV(which I will probably never turn on), refrigerator, plenty of dresser drawers, shelves and roomy closet, plus private bath with a large walk-in-shower. The refrigerator is already stocked with bottles of water, a very welcome plus.

One of my pet peeves is hotels and ships that don’t provide complimentary bottled water. Sure, they might have a big bottle of water in my room but it also has a big price tag. Little things like that mean a lot.

One neat element that I didn’t figure out immediately is a glass window between the bathroom and bedroom area. How nice, I thought, to make the room seem even bigger and lighter with that window. Then I realized that, although I am cruising alone, other passengers might not want all their bathroom actions so highly visible through that glass window. No problem. A switch at the entry to my cabin turns the window from see-through to private reflective glass. Nice touch.

An unusual bathroom window that opens into the cabin can be see-through or private with the touch of a light switch. Photo by Jackie Sheckler Finch
An unusual bathroom window that opens into the cabin can be see-through or private with the touch of a light switch.
Photo by Jackie Sheckler Finch

On our first day aboard, we are invited to an afternoon tea in the lounge with music from talented pianist Pavlin. Then we have a welcome-aboard cocktail with Captain Jan Tensen who introduces other staff members and presents each woman passenger with a red rose. Beautiful gesture.

I don’t speak German or French so I was pleased when cruise manager Réka said that the official language onboard is English. All staff, crew and local guides speak English and all announcements and programs are presented in English.

Then it’s on to dinner. I have chosen to eat at the Chef’s Table Restaurant my first night on the ship. It doesn’t cost extra to eat there but seating is reserved and limited so I want to try it before it starts booking up in the days ahead. I’ll share more about the restaurant later.

Right now, I’m just happy to be aboard and am finding more and more things I love about the AmaCerto. And it’s only the first day! Wonder what other happy discoveries are still to come.

For more information: Visit www.AmaWaterways.com

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