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07. August 2019

Amsterdam to Rotterdam aboard AMADEUS QUEEN

First River Cruise

When I was offered the opportunity to sail on the Amadeus Queen as part of an Amsterdam to Rotterdam river cruise, I was filled with excitement and glee. Not only was this my first ever FAM trip, it was also my first river cruise and first time visiting these beautiful ports of call.

Day 1

My Amadeus River Cruises journey began with a short flight from London Stansted over to  Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport. This was followed by a comfortable taxi journey that took us to the magnificent Amadeus Queen, our prestigious home on the river for the next few days.

Once we reached the dock, I couldn’t help but notice how majestic MS Amadeus Queen looked with scenic Amsterdam in the background and how much its contemporary design stood out when compared to the neighbouring river cruise vessels.

As soon as we entered, the ship’s crew sprang into action and were immediately on-hand to help us with our luggage. We were welcomed by the friendliest reception staff and were formally introduced to the energetic and charismatic Cruise Director, Lorelay, who, along with her team, assisted with a swift check-in and made sure that we knew we only had to ask if we needed anything.

A light welcome lunch was available in the main restaurant for those that were hungry after their travels, which turned out was almost all of the passengers. This provided a great opportunity to familiarise ourselves with the other warm and friendly guests on board.

We were encouraged to take this opportunity to explore each deck and discover the rest of the ship. I was particularly impressed with the spacious size and modern design of Amadeus Queen. She follows the award-winning design of the Amadeus Silver ships but offers even further
innovative developments. This not only includes generous public areas, but also spacious cabins, 12 large suites with an outdoor balcony, a cosy reading corner and 69 standard cabins that have panoramic window fronts that can be automatically lowered. An onboard highlight is the indoor pool and the roof which can be opened in fine weather.

After a busy and eventful morning, I decided to collect my key from reception and spend some time relaxing in my room. My colleague and I shared a C1 grade cabin on the bottom, or Haydn, deck, as it is known on board, named after the famous Austrian classical musician and composer Joseph Haydn.

Our room was similar to the rest of the ship in many aspects; beautifully decorated and luxuriously furnished. It was spacious and had several amenities that we didn’t expect to see, such as a high definition TV, ample wardrobe space and two windows that overlooked the river. There was a high standard en-suite that was fitted with a high-pressure shower that I miss till this day. Complimentary slippers and water bottles were also waiting for us, which was a nice little extra.

After a brief respite, all of the passengers were requested to meet at the reception of the ship to embark on our first excursion, a tour of Amsterdam. We were then placed into three different colour-coded groups and assigned to a bus and a tour guide who educated us on the history and significance of Amsterdam. We were also given a portable walkman-esque device that allowed us to put our Sailing from Amsterdam to Rotterdam Aboard Amadeus Queen headphones in and listen to the tour guide no matter how far you were away from him.

A highlight of this excursion was visiting the local flower market, which boasted some of the most beautiful flowers that I have ever seen. We also visited several cheese shops that gave away free samples. I had no idea that there were so many variants of cheese; my personal favourite had to be the pepperoni-flavoured option. Once our informative yet casual tour ended, we returned to the ship.

Back on board, we all met in the Panorama Lounge for a pre-cruise safety talk hosted by the illustrious captain and cruise director. As the talks came to an end, we were treated to a classical music rendition by the onboard pianist, complemented by the beautiful scenery as the ship left the dock for the first time. I have to admit, this gave me a feeling of pure joy and childlike amusement. The next performance we witnessed was the authentic Dutch Shanty Choir, who played both authentic Dutch music as well as some renowned sea shanties. It was great to see an act where you could quite clearly tell the musicians loved what they were doing with real passion. This was reflected in their heart-warming renditions of classical shanties.

It was now time for dinner and excitement was in the air. Everyone dressed in their finest garments and we were escorted to our tables by an attentive and wellmannered waiter. I had only heard good things about the meals on board and the five courses that followed didn’t disappoint. Each one had several alternatives you could choose from, which I know several people on board found to be a breath of fresh air, especially those that had special dietary requirements. After we had all finished our lovely meals, we were invited to revisit the Panorama Bar for a complimentary cocktail before heading back to our room to get some well-needed rest.

Day 2

Early morning yoga classes were available to those that were interested. Breakfast was the first item on our agenda and the full-English and buffet options were superb. Shortly after, we made our way to an Amadeus River Cruise presentation which highlighted what the “Amadeus difference” is, how Amadeus stands out from all of its competitors and what options were available to agents and passengers alike.

We all gathered in the reception for our second land excursion; a walking tour of the city of Antwerp. Yet again, we were separated into our three groups and colour-coded coach. We departed the coach outside Hetsteen castle, an iconic monument that was sadly under renovation so we didn’t get to see it in its true glory. On the brightside, images of it were displayed everywhere. Our tour continued through the city streets of Antwerp where we saw many impressive landmarks such as Brabo’s Monument, Peter Paul Rubens’ shrine, Antwerp City Hall and, most impressive of all, the Cathedral of Our Lady. We were then given the option to adventure out and explore Antwerp independently or head into Antwerp Cathedral with the tour guide.

After stepping back on the ship, we were treated to a light lunch in the Panorama Bar and given some time to spend independently around the ship. I socialised with the rest of the ship for a few hours, then a few of us went to the top deck for an impromptu game of giant chess and shuffleboard. After several embarrassing defeats at shuffleboard, I returned to the Panorama Bar, where we were given the choice between heading to the Delta Works (a series of large construction projects aimed at protecting the land) or back into the city.

My group decided to head back into Antwerp to see what else we could discover. We saw even more impressive architecture and landmarks like the Napoleon Museum and bought some souvenirs from the local shops. By this stage, everybody on board was very comfortable with one another and we had a wonderful time just socialising and enjoying the scenery before we back met back at the Panoramic Restaurant for another amazing dinner that was as beautifully decorated as it was filling.

After an evening of unrivalled joy and comradery, we were informed by the crew that there was after-dinner entertainment in the Panoramic Bar; a music quiz sung and hosted by the ‘Amadeus Duo’. The quiz was extremely entertaining. Not only did you get points for getting the answer right, you also got a bonus point for every song that a member of your team danced along to! Needless to say, I don’t think anybody missed out on those bonus points, and even the most stubborn of guests found themselves dancing along. Once the quiz winners were announced, they received a free bottle of wine and the ‘Amadeus Duo’ stayed to play some musical gems like ‘Delilah’ and the ‘Mamma Mia’ soundtrack, before we all departed to our sleeping quarters.

Day 3

The next morning brought another sensational breakfast. Emotional goodbyes were seen all around as I said goodbye to the crew and fellow passengers and, more importantly, newly made friends. As we prepared to board our flight back to the UK, I discovered a little art museum within the airport itself, filled with medieval and renaissance art.

Whether you are brand new to river cruising or an experienced river passenger, you will not be disappointed if you book with Amadeus River Cruises. They are knowledgeable, attentive and offer a service that is like no other. The food is plentiful and of the highest standard, the excursions are exciting and informative and the overall design of the ships are stylish and mesmerising. The  destinations are some of the best in Europe and you really get sucked into the cultures and traditions of the regions you visit. I wouldn’t hesitate from recommending an Amadeus river cruise to people in the future.

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