PHOTO: Writer Jason Leppert's parents Darlene (right) and Mark Leppert (left) aboard AmaWaterways' AmaKristina for Adventures by Disney. (photo by Jason Leppert)
While I now have the pleasure of often cruising with my wife, my first cruise travel experiences were with my parents (pictured above). When my wife can’t make it aboard, usually one of my folks will come along to fill the available double occupancy.
However, AmaWaterways’ latest AmaKristina is purpose-built for families in mind, and so both of my parents were able to join me on our current Adventures by Disney voyage down the Rhine River.
As river cruising becomes ever more popular, a means for lines to differentiate has been to cater to different markets. Some are targeting older adult couples rather exclusively while there is also a trend towards appealing to younger millennials like myself as well.
In AmaWaterways’ case, families are a focus, or at least groups seeking to travel outside of just one pair per cabin.
In fact, among AmaKristina’s staterooms and suites are those that can accommodate up to three guests per. That means my folks and I could have easily made do with one cabin, but as several are also connecting with a sliding door that can be opened in between, we are enjoying two adjoining BA Category staterooms.
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It’s easy to picture larger families of up to six in such a combined cabin thanks to the ease of configuration. What’s interesting is that although rooms 320 and 322 are not marked on the deck plan as accommodating thirds, they both do include sofa sleepers.
Aside from its family-friendly amenities, we have been most pleased with AmaWaterways overall. This is our first experience on the line for all three of us, and we are impressed. Accommodations are very comfortable and well configured, and the ship is beautifully designed with flowing oval architecture and handsome furnishings.
What is additionally supportive of the riverboat’s family nature is its great outdoor heated pool. I must say this is one feature I initially thought could be done without, but once you actually take a refreshing dip, it sure is nice. Yes, it’s only three feet deep, but that didn’t stop us from enjoying it on day one, and neither did it stop one of the kids right away either. Now, it is a favorite feature, complete with a swim-up bar. Also for active families are bicycles stored onboard to use while ashore as well as a fitness center for burning off additional calories.
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For those looking to cool their heels, there’s a giant chess set on deck right next to the pool, or there are several board games available at the library adjacent to the lounge below. There are also many on-demand film selections that can be watched on in-room televisions, actually repurposed large-screen Apple iMacs.
Adventures by Disney mostly covers the family-friendly software with its excellent programming and Adventure Guides, but AmaWaterways itself has an ace crew led on the AmaKristina by the incomparable cruise manager Pete Whitehead, who is equally personable and humorous. Our go-to waitress in the restaurant, Roxy, is also a hoot, hilariously referencing “Seinfeld” with “no soup for you” anytime I don’t order any. Lastly, our room steward, Yanto, playfully poses our teddy bear traveling companions in our cabin each evening in a different tableau, and Captain Jan de Bruijn has personally welcomed us all back from every tour.
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In other words, AmaWaterways has a winner on its hands in the AmaKristina for expertly setting the multigenerational scene for sharing Adventures by Disney with my parents.
The biggest treat of all, it allowed my mom and I to spend my dad’s 62nd birthday together with him as we all rode cable car gondolas high above the Rhine River before enjoying a traditional German lunch in Rudesheim. Cheers!