An Introduction To: AmaWaterways River Cruising

April 1, 2015

AmaWaterways is one of the river cruising world’s largest companies, with over twenty ships carrying up to 164 people each. Although they’re one of the new river cruising companies on the block, (as they only started trading in 2002!) they’ve still been voted as “The Best European River Cruise Fleet” by the prestigious Berlitz guide – for the last three years in a row!

Ama was started by three passionate travel industry pioneers and still remains family owned and operated. These three knew what people really wanted out of a river holiday and have developed custom built ships to rule the rivers.

Did you know? AmaWaterways used “ama” as part of their name because it is Latin for “love.” Awww!


Is there a “typical” AmaWaterways traveller?

Guests on-board AmaWaterways vessels are typically a mixture of Brits, Americans and Aussies. Like most river cruise lines, AmaWaterways suits guests that love city breaks as you get to travel to many different countries in a short space of time!

Passengers typically include those that are interested in learning about local cultures, who love good food, wine and exploring new countries.



Meet the Fleet

AmaWaterways has a fairly large fleet of ships! Their vessels include:

MS AmaBella, MS AmaCello, MS AmaCerto, MS AmaDagio, MS AmaDante, MS AmaDara, MS AmaDolce, MS AmaKatarina, MS AmaLegro, MS AmaLotus, MS AmaLyra, MS La Marguerite, MS AmaPrima, MS AmaPura, MS AmaReina, MS AmaSerena, MS AmaSonata, MS AmaVerde, MS AmaVida and the Zambezi Queen.

The ships can carry up to 164 passengers but can also include an exclusively low number of passengers, such as just 28 on-board the Zambezi Queen! The low passenger numbers mean that AmaWaterways can cater to their guests needs well and have a high staff to passenger ratio.

Decor on AmaWaterways

The décor of the ships is modern, with elegant touches such as wood panelling with plenty of plush and comfy arm chairs!

Did you know? The Zambezi Queen is one of the few ships to sail the Chobe river in Africa, allowing you to enjoy a safari experience with an itinerary designed to maximise animal sightings. Get your camera ready!

Zambezi Queen Africa



Like the majority of river cruises, the main entertainment on your cruise is the excursions. You’ll spend the majority of your day enjoying and exploring local cultures. Whether you’re in Amsterdam, Cambodia or Africa, your excursions will let you get to know the real city that you’re visiting, with a very Robert Frost-esque emphasis on the path less travelled.

Did you know? If you’re the type of person that likes a lie in and wants the excursions to start a little later then AmaWaterways cater for that! Their “late starter” option for excursions lets you join the tour at a later time, without having missed any of the best bits. Whether you want active or passive paced tour, there will be one to suit you!

Cambodian School

The excursions typically include an hours guided tour whether by foot or coach and you are then given free time to explore on your own. This is ideal for those who prefer to sight-see alone! Whilst on excursions you could also learn about AmaWaterways charity work, as they could take you to a school that they fund in Cambodia. You can even take along suitable items to donate to the school if you wish.

AmaCerto Swim up Bar

If you do want entertainment on-board, then why not have relax in the heated pool, pool bar or whirlpool. The AmaCerto and AmaSonata even has a swim bar, where you can sit down inside the pool on seats and enjoy a cocktail at the pools edge!

Ama Gym

There is also a fitness room, massage room, hair salon and even a walking track.  You can also enjoy on deck games such as giant chess and there are bicycles available for you to hire.

Ama Spa

Did you know? AmaWaterways were the first river cruise line to put bicycles on their ships after realising it was a great way for people to get around and explore more of the cities they visited!

Ama Bikes

In the evenings local entertainments will come and play music, dance or give performances. This enables you to soak up more culture of the regions you are visiting from the comfort of the ship with a glass of wine in hand!

The main lounge with its bar, piano and dance floor gives you the space to relax, boogie, or simply soak up the music and atmosphere… It’s a hard life on a river cruise!

If you fancy a bit of shopping then you’ll be pleased to know that all ships come with an on-board gift shop which sells accessories, souvenirs, gifts and some essentials you may have forgotten to pack.

Ama Shop

Sometimes you just want to kick back and relax… so why not grab one of the books from the selection on-board, settle down and have a read?

Did you know? Audio headsets are provided during the tours so that you can listen to your local tour guide whilst standing at the back of the group or lingering behind to snap a quick picture!


Dining experience

If you’ve read our APT guide you might recognise some of the following restaurants – because APT charter AmaWaterways ships! The waiters on an APT cruise which is running on an Ama ship will simply whip off their APT badges and change the menus… But jokes aside, there are a few differences!

Some of the finest food includes that at Erlebnis Chef’s Table, which is an intimate restaurant that serves a special tasting menu, whilst your chef cooks the food on the other side of the room. The main dining restaurant serves cuisine that matches your itinerary, so you’ll enjoy Camembert cheese on the Sienne or Bratwurst in Vienna.

Erlebnis Chef’s Table

AmaWaterways have also been recognised by the prestigious Chaine des Rotisseurs (we haven’t heard of them either but they sound posh so we assume they know their food!) which means that on-board dining will always be simply outstanding.

Breakfast and lunch consists of a buffet, which serves a huge range of hot and cold food. In Britain, buffets don’t have the best reputation, but this European style fine cuisine includes choice morsels like freshly made pastries, pastas or even eggs benedict for breakfast.

There is a 24 hour tea and coffee station for you to use free of charge. With lunch and dinner there are local wines, soft drinks and beer available on a complimentary basis. On European cruises, outside of meal times soft drinks and alcoholic beverages are available at an additional cost.

Ama Dining

All ships have an open seat policy in their dining venues, which means you can meet your fellow travellers by sitting wherever you choose. You may also dine at one of the intimate restaurants available on the AmaVerde, AmaBella and AmaCerto on a first come first serve basis.

All ingredients will be locally sourced where possible, and the veggies, vegans, diabetics amongst you are catered for (just let AmaWaterways know when you book!)

Ama Dining

Did you know? Some cruises run as beer or wine cruises, and give you the chance to enjoy additional excursions and activities which highlight wine making, wine tasting and wine vineyards, or else beer tastings, brewery visits and discussions with beer experts. (Just remember – you’re supposed to spit the wine out after tasting it – not drink it! Although drinking it is sometimes more fun…)



When your travel documents arrive you’ll receive a detailed itinerary, which can help you decide what to pack and decide what excursions you would like to take. Once on-board, you’ll receive a Daily Cruiser Newsletter which contains information about each day’s activities, shore excursions and departure times.

All staterooms have AmaWaterways exclusive Infotainment system, which includes complimentary Internet access, Hollywood movies and a music library. Think of the film choice as Netflix for river cruising – as you have a selection of recent releases to browse through! The flat screen television also comes with local and satellite channels.

TV in rooms

Your room will have terry bathrobes, a complimentary bottle of water which is replenished daily, individually controlled air conditioning, hair dryer, safe, slippers and toiletries. All rooms, apart from those on the Zambezi Queen, have telephones inside.

Laundry service will be available at a fee and please note, like the majority of River Cruises, AmaWaterways does not cater for children.

The reception desk is open 24 hours a day in Europe and you can contact them via your stateroom telephone if you need to. The official language spoken on all ships is English.

Did you know? You can even get staff to stamp and mail your postcards for you – free of charge!



It is recommended that each passenger gives three euros per day to the ship’s cruise manager and twelve euros per day to the crew. It can be paid on-board in cash or by credit card.

It is also custom to tip tour guides one or two euros after receiving a half day tour and around five euros after a full days tour.

However, the choice to tip or not is up to you!

Staff on Ama


Dress Code

The dress code is generally much more relaxed on river cruises than those black tie affairs that you may find at sea!

It’s recommended that you wear country club casual for dinner, (think cotton or linen clothes!) For example men may wear a shirt without a jacket or tie with trousers, whilst ladies may wear dresses or trousers with a blouse.

At the Captain’s Dinner guests usually dress up a little more – and may wear suits or cocktail dresses. You can leave your dickie bow at home though!


Has this enticed you to sail with AmaWaterways? Have a look at some of our deals here…