As one of Europe’s longest-established river cruise operators, Amadeus doesn’t disappoint on a seven-night Classical Rhine itinerary from Amsterdam to Basel. By Jeannine Williamson
Austrian-owned Amadeus River Cruises has sailed quietly beneath the radar compared with some of the big names on the scene, so I wasn’t quite sure what to expect when I boarded the seven-night Classical Rhine itinerary to sail from Amsterdam to Basel. I wasn’t disappointed, as along with plenty of familiar river cruise features, such as all-inclusive meals and a laid-back vibe, Amadeus boasts several innovations.
Despite being a relatively unknown name, Amadeus is one of Europe’s longest-established river cruise companies with a pedigree going back more than 30 years. It’s only in recent times the family-owned line has started selling in the U.S.
I boarded one of the fleet’s newest vessels, Amadeus Silver III, in the heart of Amsterdam and was surprised to find that walk-in closets are the norm in every cabin — a first for river vessels. The ship has a resident hairdresser — also unusual — plus a masseuse and gym.
As we docked in the city overnight, there was plenty of time to stroll around the downtown area which is within easy walking distance of the river. A canal excursion the next morning took us along the city’s famous network of waterways, passing by grand old merchant’s houses.
One big difference with Amadeus is that its shore tours aren’t included in the fare, providing passengers with flexibility to do as much or as little as they please — ideal for clients on a budget. Tour packages ranged from five to eight excursions on my cruise, and could be booked onboard or in advance for a 15 percent discount. The trips I joined were excellent, with friendly, knowledgeable local guides and individual listening devices.
A highlight was sailing across the vast expanse of the IJsselmeer, Europe’s largest lake, which felt like being at sea. We traveled on to Cologne and Koblenz, situated at the confluence of the Rhine and Moselle, and had guided tours along the cobbled streets of the pretty wine-making town of Rüdesheim.
Meals were outstanding, with delicious buffet and served breakfasts and lunches, and a daily five-course dinner. There was even a pirate party where staff and passengers dressed up as buccaneers. Unlike other lines that attract mainly North American passengers, I traveled with folks from countries including the U.K., Germany, Portugal and Egypt, which created a cosmopolitan atmosphere.
Relaxing evenings featured an onboard musical duo and visiting entertainers, including a colorful troupe of Dutchmen singing rousing sea shanties.
I was very impressed with everything from the tastefully designed vessel, complete with an Austrian-style cafe, to the free bicycles. All in all, Amadeus is a welcome addition to the U.S. river cruise market.
Cabin size: 188sq ft – Classic Stateroom;
286sq ft – Balcony Suite
Passenger decks: Four
Top Selling Tips: Cabins have walk-in closets and the majority have French balconies, with full balconies in suites, a flexible a la carte excursion program and beer, wine and soda with meals.