Kristin Karst’s delight in Christmas stollen dusted with powdered sugar. Rudi Schreiner’s favorite marillenknödel—dumplings made with the Wachau Valley’s famed apricots. And the late Jimmy Murphy’s penchant for ordering any lamb dish on the menu. As co-founders of leading river cruise line AmaWaterways (and our neighbors here in Southern California), Kristin, Rudi and Jimmy knew when they started their business how important it is for many to explore the world through their tastebuds.
From Europe’s storied Danube River to the six distinctive waterways that glide through France, AmaWaterways offers a variety of enriching experiences such as hikes to hilltop castles and bike rides through spired capitals, but its exquisite onboard cuisine and culinary-focused excursions truly “take the cake.”
From Local Farm to The Chef’s Table
With memberships in both the prestigious La Chaîne des Rôtisseurs culinary society and Tables et Auberges de France, AmaWaterways prides itself on serving the freshest seasonal cuisine, reflective of the regions they sail through—and sourced from markets they visit on shore. Bread, rolls and pastries are all baked fresh on board daily; the delectable fish is freshly caught; omelets are made to order from cage-free eggs. Each menu features a variety of flavorful soups, crisp salads, main courses and desserts to choose from, with plenty of enticing alternatives available to accommodate guests who are gluten-free, vegetarian or require low-sodium options. Best of all, all the food on board, as well as wine, beer and soft drinks with lunch and dinner, is included in the price.
Plus, as the first in the industry to offer a complimentary dinner at an onboard specialty restaurant, AmaWaterways continues to surprise and delight guests with their Michelin-worthy multicourse tasting menu at The Chef’s Table. During each 7-night river cruise, guests may make a reservation to dine one evening in this intimate venue where the food preparation is part of the entertainment. Guests watch in awe as their chef chops, sears and meticulously plates each dish, which appears not only as a form of art, but tastes just as marvelous as it looks.
November Delights on the Danube
Each season brings with it unique charms—and November is no different. Cooler temperatures appeal to guests who enjoy AmaWaterways’ guided hikes and bike tours, while the welcoming scent of turkey roasting in the oven permeates throughout the ship on Thanksgiving departures. For guests who love “indulging” this family holiday yet prefer to leave the cooking and cleanup behind, AmaWaterways’ late November departures on the Danube and Rhine rivers, described as their “best kept secret,” include all the trimmings of this beloved Western tradition. And for those who prefer to stray from the gastronomic familiar, adventure awaits beyond the riverbanks.
On the line’s 7-night Romantic Danube itinerary, for example, guests embarking in Vilshofen, Germany, will be treated to the line’s exclusive year-round Oktoberfest delights, from Bavarian beer to fresh-baked bretzels. Later in the week upon arriving in Weissenkirchen, Austria, food and wine enthusiasts may choose from four included excursions exploring nearby Dürnstein and the UNESCO-designated Wachau Valley, including an “apricots and sweets” tasting. During this delicious tour, their tastebuds will be dazzled by apricot brandy, chocolates and jams, along with local wines from Grüner Veltliner to Riesling. If sailing in November, these wines might have been newly harvested within just a few months from the local vines. The Wachau’s apricots hold a “protected designation of origin” status from the European Union, so tasting them is akin to tasting authentic champagne while in the Champagne region of France, which you can also do as part of one of AmaWaterways’ optional land packages available on select Europe itineraries.
Visiting Vienna on AmaWaterways’ Danube River itineraries in mid-to late November means some of Europe’s earliest and most legendary Christmas markets will likely be open in all their illuminated glory. Although shopping for souvenirs and holiday trinkets fuels some, for others it is the mouthwatering aromas and flavors of kartoffelpuffer (potato pancakes), germknödel (dumplings with plum jam), vanillekipferl (almond cookies) and glühwein (hot mulled wine) that beckon above all else. While docked in Bratislava, AmaWaterways offers an included tour highlighting the “Tastes of Slovakia” with opportunities to sample locally produced Slovak cheese and sausage, as well as beer in this capital city renowned for its independent microbreweries and pubs. In Budapest, also known for its early Christmas Market open dates, AmaWaterways includes visits where guests may treat themselves to sweet kürtöskalács (chimney cakes), langos (fried bread with a variety of toppings), hearty goulash and forralt bor (Hungary’s version of mulled wine).
Throughout the journey and offered year-round, you may choose from a variety of breakfast, lunch and dinner options. Savor regional delicacies such as German brats, käsespätzle (cheesy pasta) and Wiener schnitzel, as well as an impressive variety of excellently selected local wines, which appear to refill your glass before you need to ask your server.
Have a “Spring Fling” in France
Like many European countries, France becomes “pretty in pink” as winter melts into spring and the first appearance of cherry blossoms creates a sensation. With six spectacular river cruise itineraries opening as early as March for the 2024 season, guests seeking out French gastronomy will have a variety of rivers and regions to explore, from Bordeaux to Burgundy, Provence and Normandy.
AmaWaterways’ 7-night Paris & Normandy river cruise, for example, takes you through the Pays d’Auge region, famous for its apple orchards. Though the apples ripen in fall, you can still sample these “hero fruits” of the Cider Route through Normandy’s famed cider, Calvados, and Pommeau. Stopping in medieval Rouen, legendary in the story of Joan of Arc, you may opt for an included tour focusing on the “Tastes of Normandy,” where you will be treated to the delicious flavors of the region, including chocolates, Norman cheese and even more cider. Spring is also the ideal season to taste France’s creamy Camembert cheese, when the local cows can be caught grazing in verdant pastures.
If you prefer to venture into the Burgundy region, AmaWaterways’ 7-night Flavors of Burgundy itinerary cruises between the Port of Dijon and Lyon, France’s “Culinary Capital.” During this incredible itinerary, you will have the opportunity to taste Clos de Vougeot, Chalonnaise, Maconnais and Beaujolais wines. Stroll through the Les Halles Market named for the late Chef Paul Bocuse, sampling such delights as sausage in brioche, local cheeses like Comte and sugar-coated tarts, accompanied by French wine.
On board, AmaWaterways’ acclaimed chefs also capitalize on seasonal and regional French delights, such as fresh artichokes and white asparagus sourced from local markets, as well as lamb and duck, and desserts made with sweet, ripe strawberries.
Celebrate Spring on the Danube
Further east and into Germany, Austria and beyond along the Danube River, the lovely weather is ideal for the AmaWaterways’ walking tours (offered at three different activity levels), as well as guided hikes, such as to Passau’s Veste Oberhaus Fortress, offering sweeping views of the river and across the Old Town. March, April and May are wonderful months to stroll through Salzburg’s Mirabell Gardens, featured in The Sound of Music, on an unforgettable included excursion from Linz. Free time in Salzburg enables you to peruse the city’s outdoor market with everything from vibrant flowers to fresh bread to spicy sausages and frankfurters. Both excursions are offered on the line’s Romantic Danube itinerary, as well as many others on the Danube, in spring.
In the weeks leading up to the holiday, Vienna hosts a lovely Easter Market at Schönbrunn Palace, where intricately painted eggs, marzipan bunnies and whimsical displays enchant visitors. Nuremberg included on the line’s Legendary Danube and Blue Danube Discovery itineraries, also hosts a delightful market with a variety of German crafts and treats.
If you wish to extend your journey and make the most of your international airfare, AmaWaterways offers an amenity-filled land package in Prague before or after select Danube River itineraries. Favored by many of the line’s crew, Prague’s Easter Markets by the Old Town Square are a feast for the eyes. Culinary connoisseurs will delight in baranek (lamb-shaped cakes) and medovina (honey wine) as well as a variety of handicrafts and colorful decorations.
If autumn and spring vacations are simply not a fit for your schedule, AmaWaterways’ river cruises offer mouthwatering epicurean experiences year-round in Europe, Asia, Africa and South America, beginning in late 2024.
Visit AmaWaterways.com and contact your preferred travel advisor to learn about special limited-time offers on select sailings!