By Cherie Weinstein, Project Manager, Landry & Kling
My husband Jay and I recently had the pleasure of sailing with AMA Waterways on the AmaKristina during a 7-day Rhone River Cruise. We flew into Marseilles, France, and drove to Arles to board the ship. Our northbound “Colors of Provence” voyage from Arles to Lyon was brimming with culinary delights, art, and historic charms. Here are my impressions of the ship and highlights of our river cruise experience.
Onboard AmaKristina – Accommodations
AmaKristina accommodates 152 guests in 76 staterooms (perfect for a full ship buyout!). We booked one of the four suites that offer a larger sitting area and expansive bathroom with a large soaking tub and separate shower. Our suite’s French balcony and outside balcony (featured in most staterooms) allowed us to enjoy panoramic views of the ever-changing scenery with plenty of fresh air. The queen bed was convertible to two twins and faced the French balcony.
There was plenty of storage and closet space, a coffee maker, and a desk with enough charging outlets for two guests. The suite sitting area had a convertible loveseat that opened to the balcony with a table and two chairs.
AmaKristina Public Space
With fewer passengers on board, AmaKristina’s guests have ample space to unwind, relax, and connect with friends and colleagues. Public areas, including lounges and restaurants, were never overcrowded.
The ship’s focal gathering space is the Forward Lounge. Here, we enjoyed AmaKristina’s nightly “Sip ‘n Sail” open bar cocktail hour, briefings on the ports of call, and after-dinner music and dancing.
The top open deck has many sun loungers, seating areas, and a small heated pool – enjoyed by a few guests on one of the warmer days. AmaKristina also has a massage and hair salon, gift shop, fitness center, sundeck walking track, and a fleet of onboard bikes.
AmaKristina’s complimentary “Sip & Sail” pre-dinner cocktail hour featured live music from local musicians each evening; the operatic baritone was great! This event was an excellent opportunity to meet other guests and share our day’s adventures.
After dinner, we returned to the lounge for after-dinner drinks, music and dancing. We had a lot of fun dancing and closed it down with a good crowd on two nights.
What I love most about river cruising is the opportunity to experience smaller towns and explore the countryside. River cruising is akin to “slow travel” and showcases the authenticity of countries, and cultures.
Our 7-day cruise included a visit to Arles in Provence, where Vincent Van Gogh lived and painted. Avignon was the home of the Roman Catholic popes for almost 400 years. Here, we visited the Papal Palace and explored the lovely city within the medieval city walls.
Other stops included Tournon, where my husband learned how to pair his chocolate indulgences with wines of the Rhone region. Vienne was a major center of the Roman empire and has several beautiful remains of Roman structures Our final stop, Lyon, is the third largest city in France and gastronomic capital of the country. The AmaKristina docks right by the University of Lyon, so there was a lot of great energy in the area.