by Liz Fleming

CafeOutdoor Cafe in Rudesheim, Germany - Clubphoto / iStock

The walking shore excursion through Rudesheim had been fascinating (loved the fantastic music box museum!) but so thorough that when it ended, we had to trot along pretty briskly to get to the café we’d spotted. We weren’t leaving without a cup of famous whipped-cream-topped Rudesheim coffee and a slice of hot apple strudel.

What were we thinking?  No sooner were we back on board the Amadeus Silver III – the newest ship in the Amadeus fleet – than the preparations began for a strudel-making class.  Oh…and would we like a specialty coffee to go with that?

The only thing better than one plate of strudel and a cup of Rudesheim coffee is two plates and two cups.

Amadeus Silver IIIAmadeus Silver III sailing the Rhine Valley - courtesy Amadeus River Cruises

A cruise on Amadeus is like that – dedicated to celebrating local flavors, whether culinary or cultural. A river cruise line new to many North American travelers, Amadeus is well-known in Europe and is, in fact, the company from which AMA Waterways was born. Offering ten sleek river cruise ships and exciting European itineraries on the Rhine, Main, Moselle, Danube, Seine, Rhône, and Saône, as well as other smaller ship adventures on the Amazon, the Ganges, the Irrawaddy, and the Mekong.

Shore excursions and onboard entertainment and dining are designed to give guests a chance to experience each port’s most iconic sites and savor its particular style with time to wander unaccompanied for those magical, we-were-the-only-ones-there moments. Unlike all-inclusive river cruise competitors, Amadeus offers shore excursions on an a la carte basis, enabling guests to choose the tours they’d prefer, or to explore entirely on their own. Not including daily shore excursions keeps the initial cost of the cruise lower but guests should be sure to budget for the excursions they choose.

Timbered HousesQuaint timbered houses of Petite France in Strasbourg, France - Rudy Balasko / iStock

Culture-vultures that we are, we chose a shore excursion in every port, touring the romantic ruins of the castle in Heidelberg and imagining the grand balls once held there, took photo after photo of exquisite, flower-bedecked Strasbourg, tasted rich, smoked gouda near Hoorn, then strolled the tiny streets of the fishing port of Volendam, eating crisp hot poffertjes awash in melted chocolate. Gazing up at the massive towers of the Cathedral at Cologne, and a boat tour through the canals of old Amsterdam – there was more to do than we could squeeze into a single week. Some of our friends chose to shop for treasures instead or to sample the local beers or simply stay aboard, relax and take advantage of their luxe staterooms or suites (note: one features a separate seating area, the other, beds alone, but both are sunny and welcoming).

 StateroomCourtesy Amadeus river Cruises

Certainly, our own suite was spacious and well-equipped with a French balcony that brought the world inside. Cozy corner seating and a window-view desk/vanity were two favorite spots for watching the shore glide past. In fact, we might just happily have burrowed into our suite, posting photos using the free onboard Wi-Fi after each big day ashore, had we not known that great things awaited us in the dining room and lounge. Though there was just one restaurant with a small casual luncheon area in the upstairs lounge, table service was available at all three meals, with a menu of breakfast and lunch choices that changed daily, and the buffet treats were often so tempting that we forgot to order. Soups, salads, smoked fish, fresh pasta….and then there were the pastries! Flaky, sweet, and deceptively petite, those pastries invited you to have another…and another.

RestaurantCourtesy Amadeus River Cruises

Dinner each night was a delicious range of local specialities and chef’s masterpieces and while those choices, in combination with the masterful table service, were exceptional, the real gem of the cruise was the Highlight Dinner.  Special evenings created for small groups of guests (and offered at an extra cost) Highlight Dinners are culinary extravaganzas that feature the chef’s finest dishes paired with the sommelier’s favorite wines – incredibly decadent and every sip or  mouthful, a real treat.

Apple StrudelApple Strudel - Szelmek / iStock

Whether onboard enjoying fabulous meals, lounging up top on the sundeck as we gazed at the stunning castles of the Rhine Valley, learning tips and tricks from our talented chefs, listening to factoid-filled shore chats by our cruise director, touring beguiling cobblestone streets, or wandering imposing castle halls on excursions ashore, every day was a revelation and an important reminder that life is for living, for savoring, and for celebrating.  Where better to do just that than aboard the Amadeus Silver III?

Originally published in Cruise & Travel Lifestyles Fall/Winter 2017 issue.

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