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  • Writer's pictureAmy Leggett

An AMA Waterways Cruise is the Best Girl's Trip Ever!

Are you thinking of planning a girl's getaway but aren't sure where you should go? I highly recommend an AMA Waterways Riverboat Cruise! I just got back from one with my friends and it was the "best trip ever" in the words of my friend Christina. We took the Enchanting Rhine wine cruise that started in Basel, Switzerland and ended in Amsterdam. For a whole week we were treated like queens, drinking fine wine and delicious cocktails and eating delicious chef-prepared meals. We felt very spoiled but kept reminding ourselves that we deserved the pampering after caring for so many others for most of our lives. There were other girl's groups on the cruise including a mother-daughter group, sister groups and other friend groups like us. We all got to know each other and had a fabulous time!

The Destinations

AMA Waterways has a number of cruises all over the world. Check out all of AMA Waterways cruise options here. We had a hard time choosing which cruise to take because they all sounded amazing! Honestly, it came down to which trip worked best with our schedule. As I noted above, we chose to go on the Enchanting Rhine cruise that started in Basel and ended in Amsterdam with several stops along the way. Our cruise stopped at ports in these locations:

  • Breisach, Germany

  • Strasbourg, France

  • Ludwigshafen, Germany

  • Rüdesheim, Germany

  • Lahnstein, Germany

  • Cologne, Germany

At each stop we had the opportunity to get off the ship and take part in excursions in the surrounding area. These excursions are included in the price of your cruise and are not additional cost to you. At each stop there are several different types of excursions to choose from. We could determine how we wanted to experience each stop along the way.

The Excursions

In addition to having several different types of excursions to choose from, there are also different activity levels offered for each excursion. If you want a leisurely slow pace on the walking tour, you can choose the "Gentle Walker" group. If you want to get your heart rate up, go farther and keep a quicker pace, you can choose the "Active" group. Most people on our cruise were looking for something in the middle so they chose the "Moderate" or "Intermediate" group. We mostly signed up for the "Active" group excursions and it was perfect.

For an example of the various excursion options offered at each stop on our cruise, check out the AMA itinerary here. Below is a quick summary of each excursion we chose. I will do more detailed blogs on each stop of the cruise soon so if you are planning your own Europe trip you can decide if you want to include any of these locations in your plans. But for now, here is an overview:

Riquewihr, France:

At the first stop in Breisach, Germany, we took a bus to take a guided walking tour of the town of Riquewihr, France. This actually turned out to be one of my favorite stops on the cruise. The quaint town of Riquewihr is located on the Alsace Wine Route in eastern France. Entering the center of the town is like taking a step back in time. Riquewihr looks essentially like it did during the 16th century. It is one of the few European towns that did not sustain any damage during WWII. Cobblestone streets lined with half-timber houses make you feel you have entered another century. Grape growing and wine making are the main industries in this area and we got the chance to taste some locally made wines. So good!

Strasbourg, France:

Strasbourg, France is the capital of the Grand Est region and sits on the border with Germany. Strasbourg is the seat of the European Parliament and houses the European Court of Human Rights. It is also an ENESCO World Heritage site with many interesting things to see, including the La Petite France district which is a medieval section of the city with cobblestone streets lined with traditional half-timber houses. The Cathedral of Our Lady of Strasbourg is an impressive gothic cathedral with amazing stained glass windows and an astronomical clock that puts on a show every hour.


On Day 4 we docked at Ludwigshafen, Germany and took a bus into Heidelberg to visit Schloss Heidelberg (otherwise known as Heidelberg Castle). The Heidelberg Castle is visited by over 1,000,000 people a year. The first mention of the Castle was in relics from 1225! The Castle was attacked and partially destroyed by the French in the late 17th century. The devastation was completed by lightening strikes in 1764. The Heidelberg Castle has sat in ruins since that time. Some relics from the Castle have been preserved including the larger than life wine barrel that holds 58,000 gallons of wine! Walking through the ruins it is possible to imagine the beauty and elegance of this Castle back in the day. It is nestled in the hills high above the Old Town of Heidelberg and the River Neckar. After touring the Castle ruins, we walked around Old Town Heidelberg and stopped in a local brewpub that brews a beer called Vetter 33 with 33% alcohol! I took a taste, but not really my cup of tea...thank goodness.

Rüdesheim, Germany:

Day 4 was one of those lucky days when we got two excursions in a day. At night, after sailing from Ludwigshafen to Rüdesheim, we went with everyone on the cruise to a local bar to try a Rüdesheim Coffee. Rüdesheim Coffee is a local specialty combining coffee with the local brandy (Asbach Uralt) and sugar cubes and then flambéing the mixture until it is all dissolved. I am not a big coffee drinker, but I enjoyed this specialty from the region. Unfortunately, we didn't have a lot of time to wander around other parts of Rüdesheim, but it looked like a beautiful little town. It is also known for its grape-growing and wine production, so another great place to stop if you are planning your own little wine tour of the Alsace region!

We stayed in Rüdesheim overnight so excursions on Day 5 were in the same location. We chose that day to do a bike ride along the Rhine River and up to a local vineyard. The bike ride was 14 miles and had some fairly steep inclines. I love riding my bike, but am not currently in biking shape so it was a bit challenging! Especially when it started raining/sleeting during the last three miles. I was never so happy to see that Riverboat. Despite the challenge, it was a great experience to ride along the river and amongst the vineyards in the area.

Rhine Gorge River Cruising

In the afternoon after leaving the Rüdesheim port, we cruised through the Rhine River Gorge which was added as a ENESCO World Heritage site because of its beauty as a cultural landscape (29 castles, multiple vineyards, beautiful riverside towns) and due to its importance in historical European transport. Although the timing of our cruise meant that the weather was a little chilly to sit on the deck of the ship and watch the castles go by, it was still a relaxing afternoon to sit at the front of the boat and take in the views. AMA Waterways gives you a handout that identifies each of the castles you sail by and gives a bit of history as you sail along.

Cologne, Germany:

Day 6 was a stop in Cologne, Germany where we took a walking tour of the city and went to a tasting of the Kölsch style of beer that originated in Cologne. Kölsch beer is a hybrid between an ale and a lager with a light, crisp taste. A beer may only be called a Kölsch if it is brewed within 50 km zone around Cologne. Currently there are only 13 breweries authorized to brew Kölsch beer. We visited one of those authorized brewers, the Früh brewpub, to experience the Kölsch beer for ourselves. If you know me, you know my beer taste (well, my sister might question the use of that word) runs toward barely beer like Coors Light or Michelob Ultra. However, when in I tried the local specialty and actually enjoyed it!

In addition to strict laws about the brewing and labeling of Kölsch beer, there are traditions and customs for ordering that you should know before you show up to sample the local specialty. When you arrive, the server will ensure you are provided with the specialty glass that Kölsch beer is served in and place a full beer on a coaster. If your glass is empty and sitting on top of the coaster, they will bring you a fresh one without any further communication. If you are done, you must place the coaster on top of your glass to signal "no more". They will keep track of your tab by hash marking your coaster. If you lose your coaster there will be a fee imposed (could be up to 50 euro!).

Amsterdam, Netherlands:

The last stop on the cruise was Amsterdam. This is where we started our journey so had already spent a little time here. We planned to spend another day in Amsterdam after the cruise in which we scheduled a tour to Keukenhof Gardens which opened for the season while we were sailing. The excursion options in Amsterdam were a canal cruise and the Gardens. Since we were already planning a trip to Keukenhof we opted for the canal cruise. I highly recommend a canal cruise if you visit Amsterdam. It gives a totally different perspective viewing the city from the water vantage point. The tour guide also provided us with some of the history of Amsterdam.

The Daily Sip and Sail

Every day on the ship there was a daily Sip and Sail right before dinner. At the Sip and Sail, wine, beer and the Drink of the Day are complimentary. The Drink of the Day was usually something fun like a Lemon Drop, Gin Fizz, or Margarita. We never missed a Sip and Sail! We got free drinks, got to socialize with our new friends and find out about the different excursions that others went on. The Cruise Manager would also gives us the run down of the next day and the various excursions that would be offered. Once it was over everyone would head to dinner for the amazing food!

The Food

The food on the AMA Waterways Riverboat Cruise was amazing! And that is coming from someone who is extremely picky. My friends were in heaven at every meal trying all of the wonderful creations from the ship's chef. I will say I DID go out of my comfort zone and tried several new things (and even liked what I tried most of the time!). The food selection was so delicious I am going to do a separate short blog just on the culinary experience on the ship, but here are a few pictures of some of the delicious meals we got to eat. It was so luxurious to have chefs cooking for us and attentive waiters serving us for a week.

The Nightlife

Every night after dinner, everyone would gather in the lounge to socialize and dance. It was the time when everyone on the ship really bonded. We had so much fun hanging with all of our new friends. This is where we really connected with the other women who were on girl's trips as well. It was such a nice addition to have the time to socialize with people who you were getting to know better and better as the week went on. This was definitely one of my favorite parts of the Riverboat Cruise experience!

Plan That Girl's Trip with AMA Waterways!

If you are thinking of planning a girl's getaway anytime soon, I would highly recommend considering an AMA Waterways Riverboat Cruise. It is certainly a week for your and your Girl Gang to be pampered and cared for by the hard-working staff, have amazing experiences exploring the world, taste delicious food and wines and make new friends from all over. While it may seem expensive, if you consider that the price of the cruise includes all meals for a week cooked by a chef, complimentary local wine and beer at all meals along with specialty cocktails at Sip 'n Sail every night, all excursions, nightly entertainment and memories to last a life time, it actually may not be that much more than another trip where you have to pay for all your meals, drinks and entertainment! It was an amazing experience to have with my close friends and was definitely "the best trip ever!".


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