I have just returned from sailing on the AmaSerena on the Rhine Castles and Swiss Alps itinerary and am so excited to share my incredible experiences while onboard this beautiful ship, as well as the amazing cities and old-world villages that I visited in Switzerland, France, Germany and the Netherlands. It was such a great feeling to be back in Europe after such a long wait. Traveling is such a passion for me, it is so much a part of my personal identity, and I have felt lost without it. I have missed exploring hidden gems, ancient ruins, and medieval alleyways. I also wanted to see firsthand how it is to travel abroad during this time of uncertainty so that I could let you all know what to expect.
Join me for a virtual happy hour and fun, informative conversation with AmaWaterways
Hear highlights from my recent river cruise and learn about Wine River Cruise Itineraries
Wednesday, October 20
at 5:30 pm central time
Please kindly RSVP by Oct. 18
Debbie Rosenthal 901.682.5600
Our first day began in Basel, one of Switzerland’s oldest cities (established in the 4th century!) and third largest in the northwest corner of the country near the German and France border on the Rhine River. In fact, it’s so close to those two borders that on my included bike tour we rode to the point right outside the city where you can actually walk around three points of a statue and stand in each country, so cool! These active tours are such a great way to see the cities and the scenery around them, experiencing the landscape from an exhilarating new perspective while forging a deeper connection to historic places and the land itself. From the castle-laden Rhine with steeply terraced vineyards, you will ride into your own fairytale adventure. Besides the included bike tours (we had a total of five!), you can also choose active hiking excursions to help ensure you’ll get in your daily exercise.
My spacious stateroom was a Twin Balcony at 210 sq. ft, which included a French balcony AND a walk-out balcony with two chairs and a small table, a wonderful spot to watch the passing scenery after a full day of touring. The beautifully marbled bathroom was also spacious, with a large glassed-in shower. One of the highlights of this itinerary is Strasbourg, France. Separated from the rest of France by the Vosges Mountains, the Alsace region of France borders Germany, and has passed ownership between the two countries over the centuries. Strasbourg is just one of several small storybook villages that inspired Belle’s home in “Beauty and the Beast.” Alsatian flavors blend in perfect harmony with French and German influences – unique and beautiful architecture of the colorful half-timbered houses with window box flowers, bakeries and flower shops lining narrow, winding streets, and lively market squares. If that isn’t enticing enough, there is the local cuisine – from world-class Reislings to sausage-laden specialty dishes, tarte flambee (a flatbread topped with bacon, onions, and crème fraische that we were served onboard – delicious!), Germany’s distinctive beer, all of which are served in restaurants in this picturesque region. Strasbourg is only two miles from the Germany border, a two-hour train ride from Paris, and has now become a very important city as the capital of Europe and home to the European Parliament.
DID YOU KNOW…daily excursions are included on AmaWaterways? For anyone who wants to stay active, you can ride and hike into your own fairytale adventure, while ensuring you’ll get in your daily 10,000 steps – or pedals – while you leave your tracks behind in timeless cities, experiencing them from an exhilarating new perspective while forging a deeper connection to historic places and the land itself. On this sailing we were offered a total of five bike tours and two hiking tours!
In Rudescheim you will take a gondola ride to overlook the vast vineyards and the medieval city, like you’re a human drone! Then lunch onboard is a very special treat – a German feast of roasted suckling pig, white sausages, sauerkraut, and spaetzle, with Black Forest cake and warm apple strudel for dessert. But the biggest feast for your eyes comes in the afternoon when you pass 40 magnificent castles along the Rhine Gorge. Hopefully your weather will be as spectacular as ours was that day. And while you sit on the upper deck glued to the scenery, you will be served a Rudescheimer Kaffee, the German classic specialty coffee ceremoniously served in neighborhood coffee houses, with Asbach brandy, thick whipped cream, vanilla sugar, and a splattering of dark chocolate shavings on top – yum!
See the city of Cologne by bike tour, raise a stein of Kolsch while sitting in a traditional Brauhaus across from the cathedral, built in the 1200s. Then enjoy the world-famous wines of the Rheingau – Germany’s oldest wine-growing region where many wine connoisseurs consider these amongst the finest white wines ever created, especially the notable Reisling, which is just one of the Rhine varietals served complimentary (and unlimited!) at lunch and dinner. They have handpicked only the highest-quality wines from local wineries and vineyards and paired them with their cuisine. We savored so many wonderful different wines on each day of our cruise.
You will also indulge in an epicurean adventure from morning til night as the expert chefs craft menus that feature exquisite, locally inspired cuisine, including sustainably sourced fresh seafood. Dinner is a delectable, multi-course affair with wine recommendations that accompany visually stunning, delicious dishes and your taste buds are sure to be impressed.
You will enjoy complimentary, unlimited wine, beer and soft drinks during lunch and dinner, as well as sparkling wine and fresh-squeezed juices during breakfast. As AmaWaterways hand picks only the highest quality wines and pairs them with their cuisine. You’ll have the chance to savor different wines on each day of your cruise.
Join a few of your fellow travelers at The Chef’s Table, where the kitchen – usually hidden –becomes part of the entertainment. You’ll have the opportunity to watch the chef prepare a special multi-course meal right in front of you. The menu here is unique, making this a truly distinct gastronomic experience. Indulge in delectable dishes served with unlimited fine wines, hand-selected just for this dinner. It is the only venue of its kind on the river.
After cruising the Dutch waterways and the Amsterdam-Rhine-Canal, we reached our last port of call – the vibrant city of Amsterdam, one of my all-time favorite cities in Europe. Truly the best way to see the legacies of the city’s 17th century Golden Age – the elaborate canal system and narrow houses with gabled facades, is by canal boat. I strongly suggest spending at least two or three days here, either pre- or post-cruise to enjoy all this city has to offer, while you stroll along the canals coloured by flower covered bridges. Amsterdam, the capital of the Netherlands, is known for its artistic heritage, its Museum District is rich and houses the Van Gogh Museum, works by Rembrandt and Vermeer at the Rijksmuseum and modern art at the Stedelijk. If you are looking for Jewish history, there is plenty to experience including the Anne Frank house, the Portuguese Synagogue, the Jewish Historical Museum and the Holocaust Memorial. There is world-class shopping here too, and if you are a foodie, well, you will rejoice over not only the local Dutch delicacies and kosher cafes and restaurants, but the international food scene abounds. Cycling is key to the city’s character, and there are numerous bike paths along the rural canals. If you are a lover of flowers, you go between April and October of 2022, you will also get to experience a once-every-10-years horticultural exhibition. And if you can’t get there next year but are a lover of flowers, you can go any spring season to Keukenhof Gardens. (Be sure to ask me about AmaWaterways Jewish Heritage and Tulip Time river cruises!)
AmaWaterways has gone above and beyond to create safe environment so you can travel with complete peace of mind.
AmaWaterways has played an industry-leading role in the early adaptation of health and safety protocols within the river cruise sector, delivering an exceptional experience while protecting their guests and crew with enhanced protocols including:
*Only fully vaccinated guests as well as all crew are allowed onboard. Prior to boarding, an online Health and Contact Tracing Questionnaire is required, and it is strongly suggested to get a negative test before boarding.
*At embarkation and every morning, guests’ temperatures will be taken with no-contact infrared thermometers. If, for any reason, further testing is required, shoreside medical treatment centers are within close proximity.
*Face coverings are required onboard in the public areas (when not eating or drinking) and on the tour buses.
*There is now waiter service for all the meals, rather than open buffets for breakfast and lunch, a definite positive in my opinion!
*They arrange for Covid tests required to re-enter the U.S.
*Ample hand sanitizers available throughout the ship and their frequent use is required by all guests and crew.
*Implementation of enhanced and more frequent cleaning and disinfecting measures throughout the ship with special attention paid to areas like staircases, public washrooms, armrests in the lounge and guardrails. Hospital-grade disinfectants are used for continual surface cleaning in public areas. Additional deep cleaning takes place throughout the entire ship between each sailing. Your designated stateroom steward will clean your stateroom twice daily.
Best of all, AmaWaterways is offering additional flexibility and peace of mind so you may safeguard your much-anticipated river cruise. For reservations through 2022 they are offering special provisions, which allow guests to purchase Travel Waiver Plus*, which provides cancellation for any reason, up to 24 hours prior to the start of their AmaWaterways booked services (river cruise, land extensions, air etc.)