A cruise on the Rhine with AmaWaterways offers a chance to see some of Europe’s most iconic sights, from the magnificent Cologne Cathedral to the castles of the UNESCO-designated Rhine Gorge. But the allure of these journeys goes far beyond the sights: AmaWaterways engages all five senses through carefully crafted experiences infused with local Rhine culture.
That may mean tasting a traditional dish such as sauerbraten while absorbing the aroma of a Rheingau local wine, listening to the sound of unusual local instruments, and feeling the warmth of a hot coffee infused with a locally made brandy—all in a single day while in the timeless town of Germany’s Rüdesheim.
And that’s just the beginning. Here’s how an AmaWaterways cruise on the Rhine River fully engages the senses.
The Sights of the Rhine
From the enchanting half-timbered homes and shops along cobblestone-lined streets in Riquewihr, France, to the intricate Gothic spires of Germany’s Cologne Cathedral, the sights along the Rhine are among Europe’s most alluring.
Among the most unforgettable scenes: more than 40 storybook castles along the Rhine Gorge, a UNESCO World Heritage Site; and the iconic canals of Amsterdam, the Netherlands. Some journeys include a special evening visit to Germany’s Lahneck Castle—illuminated by candlelight flickering against the walls—or a hike along the inspirational Philosopher’s Path in Heidelberg.
Not that guests even need to leave the ship to experience stunning sights. A front-row view of the Rhine region’s breathtaking scenery is available right from AmaWaterways’ signature twin-balcony staterooms, which feature both traditional and French balconies for the ultimate sightseeing experience.
A Taste of the Rhine
AmaWaterways has made local cuisine a focus of its shipboard menus, with onboard chefs creating regionally inspired dishes infused with local, seasonal ingredients. On Rhine sailings, guests might be served a rich asparagus risotto made with Germany’s celebrated white asparagus (spargel) paired with a local Riesling in the springtime, or a soup made from the country’s flavorful chanterelle mushrooms in the summer complemented by Gewürztraminer wine.
As the cooler temperatures of autumn arrive, the menus on AmaWaterways’ Rhine ships will shift to such hearty classic German dishes as Rheinischer Sauerbraten, a red wine-marinated beef in raisin sauce served with red cabbage, broccoli, and a potato dumpling (paired with an Alsatian pinot noir, no doubt).
Even the desserts on AmaWaterways Rhine cruises draw from local traditions. Expect a classic Black Forest cake while sailing through the Black Forest region of Germany. And upon reaching Strasbourg, the capital of France’s Alsatian region, an Alsatian kugelhopf—a high-fluted circular coffee bread—will surely make an appearance.
AmaWaterways also enhances its Rhine cruises with complimentary Special Interest Tours that focus on local food and drink. Perhaps it’s a tasting of local Kölsch beer at a traditional brauhaus (German pub) in Cologne, consumed from a stange—the narrow beer glass traditionally used for Kölsch. A visit to the cozy German winemaking village of Rüdesheim might bring a taste of decadent Rüdesheimer coffee, made with locally produced Asbach brandy topped with whipped cream, vanilla sugar, and dark chocolate shavings.
For wine aficionados, AmaWaterways also offers a wide array of special Rhine River Wine Cruises that dive deep into local viticulture, with onboard wine tastings and lectures. Each of these cruises are led by a North American wine expert, known as a Wine Host, who accompanies guests on special wine-themed excursions to renowned cellars and vineyards. Among highlights of these special cruises are special food and wine pairing dinners curated in partnership with the Wine Host and an expert chef. And all of these epicurean experiences are included in the cruise fare.
Exposure to the Rhine’s Sweetest Smells
Scent is closely linked with memory, experts say, so it’s perhaps no surprise that AmaWaterways has considered this sense when designing its trips. After all, making memories is what an AmaWaterways journey is all about.
AmaWaterways has sprinkled its springtime itineraries on the Rhine with such olfactory-friendly outings as a guided bike ride through the early season flowers in Strasbourg’s romantic Parc de l’Orangerie. Those traveling closer to Christmas might experience the mouthwatering aroma of fried reibekuchen (potato pancakes typically served with applesauce) while wandering through Germany’s Christmas Markets.
Also, as part of the experience, you’ll be treated to the distinctive aromas of the Rheingau wine region’s Rieslings—think pear and nectarine—and the intoxicating bouquets of Gewürztraminer wines (with their hints of rose and pepper) from France’s Alsace region. Both types of wines are regularly served on board.
The Sounds of the Rhine
Maybe it will be the distinctive tap-tap sound the famous Alsatian storks of Strasbourg, France, make with their beaks, or the unusual harmonies of the player pianos and gigantic music boxes at Rüdesheim’s Siegfried’s Mechanical Musical Instrument Museum. Every Rhine trip with AmaWaterways will have at least one unique-to-the-region auditory experience.
The delightful “soundtrack” of an AmaWaterways cruise on the Rhine River begins, of course, with the warm welcome that the AmaWaterways crew extend to guests as they first step on board. Genuine, passionate, and trained for top-notch service, AmaWaterways’ all-English-speaking crew treat guests like family arriving home.
On board, the pleasing sounds of an AmaWaterways cruise extend to the distinctive pop of a cork as a friendly waiter opens a guest’s favorite bottle of wine. And while passing through the famous, castle-lined UNESCO-designated Rhine Gorge, guests just might hear the siren song of the Lorelei—the beautiful maiden who legend has it leapt into the water for true love.
The Feel and Touch of the Rhine
Lest we forget that final sense, touch, it should be noted that Rhine cruises with AmaWaterways are designed as tactile experiences, too.
There’s nothing quite like the feel of crunching fall leaves while hiking through Germany’s Black Forest during an autumn sailing, or the warmth of a mug of glühwein while strolling through a Christmas Market on an AmaWaterways Christmas Markets cruise.
AmaWaterways also embraces wellness to ensure guests are able to keep up their fitness program while traveling. Guests will have plenty of opportunities to feel the invigorating stretch of muscles during sun-deck wellness classes, led by a professionally trained Wellness Host. Later, a guided bike tour through idyllic places like the wine region around Breisach, Germany produces a feeling of wind through the hair.
A Wide Range of Choices
AmaWaterways offers a wide variety of Rhine River cruise itineraries, with additional cruises along its major tributaries, including the breathtaking Moselle River (the best-kept secret in Europe) and the peaceful Main River (gateway to the sophisticated Rhine-Main-Danube Canal). In addition, there are many wonderful add-on land programs to such iconic European destinations as Amsterdam, the Netherlands, or Zurich and Lucerne, in Switzerland.
The offerings include two new, seven-night routes for 2020: Treasures of the Main & Rhine and Vineyards of the Rhine & Moselle.
Highlights of the Treasures of the Main & Rhine voyages will include a stop in Würzburg, a storybook German town that’s home to the UNESCO-designated Residenz Palace; Bamberg, Germany, with its famous smoked beer; and Cologne, with its awe-inspiring cathedral.
Highlights of the Vineyards of the Rhine & Moselle voyages will include a visit to charming Rüdesheim in the Rheingau wine region and quaint Bernkastel in the Riesling-rich Moselle Valley.
Both the new itineraries will be operated by the line’s newest ship, the 156-passenger AmaSiena.
One more new Rhine trip coming for 2021, dubbed Rhine Castles & Swiss Alps, will feature cruising through the Rhine Gorge and a stop at glistening Lake Lucerne in the Swiss Alps. It will also include, as part of an add-on land program, a cruise on Italy’s Lake Como—a rare combination in the river cruise world. Guests can take advantage of a scenic boat ride with a stop at the village of Bellagio, and a walking tour that takes in the impressive villas overlooking the lake’s azure waters.
The wide array of options also extends to the on-board and off-board experience. Active vacationers will find hiking and biking excursions and wellness activities. For foodies, there are the culinary-themed Special Interest Tours and local food and wine infused into the onboard cuisine. Friends reconnecting on board will enjoy such features as deck-top heated pools (an AmaWaterways signature) where they can relax with a glass of local Riesling. And families will find fun in such outings as a stroll through Riquewihr, France, inspiration for the setting of Disney’s Beauty and the Beast.
Solo travelers, meanwhile, will have no trouble connecting with kindred spirits over a glass of Kölsch beer, or on a hike through the Black Forest.
For those clients with a Rhine cruise on their bucket list, a trip with AmaWaterways is, no doubt, the sense-ible choice.
This fall, your clients can join AmaWaterways and AFAR on a once-in-a-lifetime AFAR Sailings adventure and experience the Rhine for themselves! Learn more at afarsailings.com/amawaterways.