To me, this was where AMA blew away the competition. Their competitors generally offer 1 free option per day, and you tour with 40-45 people in each group. They are generally narrated walking tours or a scenic bus tour. AMA gives you choice and a quality level that is the best I have experienced on a river cruise. They have tons if choices such as early riser, late riser, fast pace, gentle walker, food tours, art and craft tours, bike tours of all levels and their Limited-Edition Tours.
They ran every tour option as long as there was at least one person signed up. This is special and highly unique. There were never more than 20 passengers on a tour and when more signed up, they opened up another group. The guides were some of the best I have ever had and on more than one occasion I was on the same tour as Kristin Karst, the co-owner and VP of AMA Waterways.
Amsterdam – Our first night we had a wonderful welcome dinner and then the ship overnighted in Amsterdam. This allowed for us to head out and enjoy the wonderful pubs and restaurants that Amsterdam has to offer. In the morning, we enjoyed a canal tour a must in Amsterdam if you haven’t done so already.
After breakfast enjoy a panoramic city tour of Amsterdam, that includes a windmill and other iconic landmarks like the Royal Palace and historic Begijnhof. Return to the ship for lunch while you cruise the Ijsselmeer towards Hoorn.
Hoorn, Edam and Volendam – Our vessel cruised while we had lunch and we soon arrived in Hoorn. This used to be a prosperous seaport, but in 1932 the Dutch closed in this part of the Netherlands with the giant Afsluitdijk, or Great Enclosing Dyke. This massive project has saved countless live and property from the floods that used to devastate this region on a regular basis. Dutch water engineers are still the best in the world and are regularly called in when there are flooding issues anywhere in the world. I really enjoyed this half day tour where we visited three small, authentic communities. We ate well and experienced these communities at a time where there were few other visitors. I enjoyed tasting cheese and learning about the process of making it in Edam. In Volendam, we experienced the harbor and chatted with local fishermen.
Arnhem and Nijmegen – This was a port that I was really excited about as a history buff. Arnhem is a beautiful town, but it is most well-known for its role is Operation Market Garden during World War II. The AMAPRIMA docked very close to the John Frost Bridge that was made famous by the movie A Bridge Too Far. There was an alternative tour to Het Loo Palace, but I chose to stick with the history tour. We visited the British War Cemetery, toured the battlefields in the countryside and spend an hour or so at the Arnhem Airborne Museum. We spent the afternoon cruising and I enjoyed the time to sit back, relax and enjoy the ride. River cruising is an exceptional way to take in the views at a pace where you can take photos and have discussions with the onboard guides.