Yes, we were off on another trip, so this will be yet another somewhat detailed trip report. This time we are off to Europe to visit Paris, take a river cruise in Germany, and then visit Prague. Unlike our last trip (Iceland), this one went almost perfectly according to plan and schedule.
As with the past several reports, this will be a daily log of our activities and will be broken up into “Chapters”, each covering a couple of days. There will also be a short section covering the river cruise boat we were on, the AMA Waterways “Amaprima”, along with a few comments about a couple of special passengers on the cruise and their possible impact on the cruise.
I think everyone probably knows where Paris and Prague are, but I’ll include an overview map showing the major cities of our trip, as well as showing the major points on our cruise, since some of them are rather small cities. Here is the map as an introduction and we’ll return to it occasionally during the trip.
Full overview map of the trip
This was originally going to be a wine oriented cruise on the Rhone river in France, but I could not find a “Wine Cruise” that worked very well. Either the itinerary of the cruise did not sound very good, or the pre and/or post cruise possibilities were to places we had recently visited. The cruise we ended up with included several days in Paris and Prague, both places that we had not previously visited and which we wanted to see. I had also wanted to do the cruise a little earlier, such as in late September into early October, rather than the Oct. – Nov. schedule we ended up with, but there were no “Wine Cruises” available in that timeframe. I suspect the weather would have been much better a month earlier as we did experience a lot of cool and wet days.
I looked mainly at AMA Waterways because they seem to have more active excursions, including biking options at many stops. Although we did not do any biking because of the weather, we did take advantage of the more active excursion options. Also, AMA Waterways was offering more “Wine Cruises” than the other river cruise companies. Except for the less that optimal weather, everything went very well and we did end up tasting a lot of German wines:
As usual, I made our cruise arrangements through the “Vacations to Go” travel company and Randol Key, a VTG River Cruise specialist, handled most of the details. After an initial mis-cue on our communications, Randol provided excellent service and even saved us a little on the air fares. I specified the Delta flights we wanted and Randol was able to get slightly lower rates by using excursion fares.
Paris flight board
Delta offers several non-stops each day to Paris but the return trip from Prague required a connection. We had a choice of connecting back through Paris or through the Amsterdam airport and all indications were that the Amsterdam option was more straightforward and less likely to have problems, so I choose the safer route through Amsterdam.
I initially booked Delta’s “Premium Select” class, what we used to think of as “First Class” for both long flights (Atlanta to Paris and Amsterdam to Atlanta). A couple of weeks prior to the trip, Delta offered a very good price on upgrades to their “Delta 1” class heading to Paris, so I grabbed that. One bonus that comes with the Delta 1 class on international flights is included access to the Delta Sky Lounge, so we made good use of it.
Sunset from the Sky Lounge
Delta never offered reasonable upgrades on the return flight, but the Delta 1 seats are not as significant on the daytime flights, so that was fine with me. On the Prague to Amsterdam flight, we had a Delta code-share flight operated by KLM’s “City-Hopper” low-cost subsidiary and it had very limited upgrade options. It was only a 90 minute flight so it really didn’t matter very much.
Passing Ireland, heading toward Paris
We had several transfers between airports and hotels, all arranged through AMA Waterways, all were done via taxi or limousine services with us as the only passengers, and all were on time with very good service. All three flights were on time or very close to it. The Paris airport was rather confusing when we arrived and the signage was not very good: it was not a matter of language as all signs were in multiple languages but the long and confusing route we had to go was just not marked well. The Amsterdam airport was slightly better, but there was a lot of interior construction there, making things a bit confusing.
We’ll take a quick look at the full itinerary here.
Fri, 10/27: Leave on flight to Paris
Sat. 10/28 – Mon. 10/30 In Paris
Tue. 10/31 Paris to Luxembourg, board AMAPrima
Wed. 11/1 Trabern-Tarbach and Bernkastel
Thur. 11/2 Cochan
Fri. 11/3 Rudesheim
Sat. 11/4 Wertheim
Sun. 11/5 Wurzburg
Mon. 11/6 Bamburg
Tue. 11/7 Leave AMAPrima, Nuremberg, Prague
Wed. 11/8 – Thur. 11/9 In Prague
Fri. 11/10 Return: Prague - Atlanta
Enough of the “preamble”, let’s get moving. We’ll start with our arrival in Paris and go from there. You can take the following chapters in order, or skip around as you like.
The trip was successful and we did get to see several cities and areas we had not seen before. Paris was as we expected and certainly the Eiffel Tower was one of those sights that you have to see in person. The parts of Germany that we visited were just about how you think of Germany, a beautiful country with friendly people. Based on our travels, you would certainly never think of Germany as the primary cause of two terrible World Wars. But seeing Terezin and understanding the conditions there does give you pause. Prague is certainly interesting and beautiful, with the exception of the Eiffel Tower, Prague may be more beautiful than Paris.
This was not a trip intended to dig deeply into any of the areas we visited, but rather a once over lightly. In Paris we did not visit any of the major museums or art galleries, such as the Louvre, and even some of the cathedrals and other such sights we saw, we did not go inside to see what they had to offer. Perhaps some day we may come back and visit some of the places in more depth, but for now, at least we have been there.
We were happy with the service, facilities, excursions and food on the AmaPrima. The only River Cruise experience we have to compare it to is our UniWorld cruise in in the Bordeaux region of France. Based solely on that experience, I would say that UniWorld and AMA Waterways are very comparable. The service and food/wine were very comparable. AMA Waterways seemed to make more of an effort to offer excursions that accommodated everyone’s level of capabilities, with the bicycle tours and “Active” excursions. While the more active excursions did probably lean more toward the younger passengers, the entertainment seemed more geared toward the older crowd. The trial of the duo on our cruise suggested an attempt to move to a younger, more active type of entertainment, but some effort remains to make it work out. I would not hesitate to take another cruise on an AMA Waterways boat if the itinerary was one that interested me.
I hope you enjoyed this trip report. If you have any comments, please send them to me at: firstname.lastname@example.org