Monday, October 2, 2023

A Rhine River Cruise

Welcome to Amsterdam!

Happy Fall, Dear Readers!

I hope this finds you well. I have been delinquent in my writing, but I’m back with a blockbuster review of a fabulous trip I took in September.

Have you ever dreamed of visiting fairytale castles, sailing scenic waterways, savoring delicious local European foods and luscious wines? If so, then settle in, and read along as I take you with me on the trip I just returned from on AMA Waterways.

My friend, LK, and I did “boatloads” of research on river cruises for months before deciding on AMA. Of course price was a factor (all cruise lines charge a supplement for single/solo guests that I was not keen on paying), but I was also very interested in a cruise line that was highly rated for food and wine. I also did not want to pay extra for excursions, as some companies make you pay for the more in-demand excursions. Luckily, AMA hit all the criteria. 

We began in the beautiful city of Amsterdam, which cannot be beat for museums and art (except for maybe Paris). We spent two glorious days in this very walkable city, taking in the van Gogh museum, the fabulous Rijks Museum (with its’ famous old Masters priceless art), and the very moving Anne Frank House

Charcuterie at Cafe de Klepel
One of the terrific sommeliers at Cafe de Klepel
Dessert at de Klepel

What about the food, you ask? Have you met me? I am all about the food and we had some great meals! On my previous visit to the city, we found an incredible wine bar/restaurant and I knew I could not be in Amsterdam and not visit Cafe de Klepel. I made a reservation the minute their system allowed, and booked two seats at the bar. The folks who run de Klepel make you feel as though you are a guest at a fabulous party in their home. They are friendly, thoroughly wine-knowledgeable, and fun! They offer a set menu of either three or four courses that changes daily, with wine pairings if you like (but, of course!). We began with a Kir Royale (creme de Cassis and champagne), then put ourselves in their capable hands for wine throughout the dinner. A first course charcuterie plate with terrific rustic bread and perfectly softened, salted butter whetted our appetites for what was to come. The next course was deliciously smooth chicken liver in broth with crunchy chickpeas, followed by the best duck breast I’ve ever had. Dessert was a lovely pistachio cake topped with creme fraiche in a tangy berry sauce. And because I was feeling no pain and somewhat emboldened, I asked our server if they had any cookies! She said, “of course, we have cookies,” and reappeared with four delicious, little chocolate cookies - the perfect sweet ending. If you find yourself in Amsterdam, get yourself a bar stool at Cafe de Klepel, you will have a grand time.


The next day we boarded the AMA Serena, but not before the cruise line took us all on a sightseeing tour of the famous canals. I must say this canal tour was much more interesting than the one I did in 2018, where I was so bored, I watched the entire Harry & Meghan wedding on my phone! As part of the canal tour, we visited the famous windmills of Holland, sampled (and bought to bring home) incredibly delicious Dutch Gouda cheese, and found out how wooden shoes are made (of which I had no idea previously!).

It is impossible to relay all of the the great experiences we had on AMA for those seven days, but I will give you the highlights:

My cabin aboard the AMA Serena
One of the many castles along the Rhine

  • Beautiful, well-appointed cabins
  • Professional, friendly (but not too) service from everyone on the ship
  • Waiter service at every meal (more casual “to go” options were also available) - no buffets.
  • Delicious locally-sourced food, always with a vegetarian option.
  • Wonderful bread and pastries, all baked on-board.
  • The AMA Serena also offers an exclusive “Chef’s Table” restaurant with more upscale, gourmet dinners and wine pairings. We were lucky enough to go twice and it was outstanding!
  • Terrific bar service with all-inclusive wine, beer, cocktails at every meal (some higher end spirits came with a very nominal fee)
  • Interesting daily excursions provided by local guides (all included, no extra cost).
    • The one exception, IMHO, was the trip to Siegfried’s Mechanical Music Museum in the lovely town of Ruedesheim. I found this to be a very weird place crammed with a collection of old mechanical, musical instruments (some with creepy dolls). Of course, it didn’t help that it was probably near 100°F in the building and the tour guide had an incredibly annoying voice. But some of the other travelers seemed to enjoy it.
  • Fabulous scenery, as you would expect, along the Rhine River. The villages of Cologne (where we thoroughly enjoyed their famous Kolsch beer, along with terrific bratwurst!), and Heidelberg (with the spectacular Heidelberg Castle) were beautiful.
  • My favorite stops were Strasbourg, France, also known as the Venice of France, for its many canals; and our last stop in Lucerne, Switzerland, which was absolutely stunning (the chocolates, oh, the chocolates!).

Perfect rack of lamb onboard 

Gorgeous Lucerne!

Building lasting friendships!

Kugelhopf in Strasbourg!

The "Venice of France."

You may be wondering what the demographic was of some of our fellow cruisers. Prior to the trip, I was concerned it might be an older crowd, but I was pleasantly surprised to see a very wide range of ages - from mid-thirties, to early 80s, with most people in the 50-70-ish group. On the first day, we met two charming couples who we became fast friends with and shared many meals and laughs with! 

Of course, I took way too many pictures, but I’ve tried to add a few of the best ones here, for your viewing pleasure. 

If you are considering a river cruise, I highly recommend AMA Waterways, but do your research. There are alot of river cruise companies, offering itineraries and budgets to match every traveler. You may also want to consider using a travel agent - a good travel advisor is invaluable.

Have a great week!


  1. Thank you for this perfect summary of an amazing experience. L.K. Co-traveler!!

  2. What a wonderful description of a magical trip! But you forgot to mention the ice cream & dancing!!🤗💕


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