The AmaCerto can carry 162 guests over 81 staterooms, most with twin balconies to ensure plenty of natural light and spaciousness.
The first morning I wrapped up warm and sat on deck admiring the scenery while sailing through Bavaria. A selection of daily excursions are included in the cruise fare, and I was looking forward to Passau where I had booked a castle hike walking tour, one of the more energetic trips. The views from the top, just as the sun was starting to set, were absolutely worth it.
My reward for the climb was a dining experience in the Chef's Table restaurant, where we enjoyed a great tasting menu with paired wines with just 24 fellow guests, the perfect opportunity to get to know some new friends.
My next adventure was a full day excursion by coach to visit the lakeside town of Mondsee and then the city of Salzburg. Mondsee is a pretty little village, most famous for the church featured in the 'Sound of Music' wedding scene. Salzburg, birthplace of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, is set on the edge of the Alps. I joined a walking tour and then made the most of a little free time to explore and take in some of the history.
Dinner each night was à la carte with a varied menu, including healthy choice and vegetarian options, with complimentary soft drinks as well as local wine and beer.
We said through the night, and the next morning we were at the sleepy little town of Melk in the Wachau Valley, with a few hours to enjoy a bike tour along the river or a visit to the stunning Melk Abbey, founded in 1089.
We were back on board for a lovely lunch before a quick stop in Durnstein. The weather had turned very wintry with snow, perfect for a pretty walk around the town and its vineyards.
The highlight of the itinerary was, for me, Vienna. Just a short 10-15 minute complimentary shuttle ride to the city centre gave us plenty of opportunity to explore: a morning walking tour was good to familiarise myself, and in the afternoon I was off to explore the beautiful Christmas markets and historic churches - if you like shopping you will not be disappointed. I even managed to squeeze in a visit to the famous Spanish Riding School of Vienna, touring the stables and seeing the horses in their city stables. The shuttles continue through the evening, but we stayed on board for fantastic entertainment watching three extremely talented ladies play classical music on the violin - the whole lounge was spellbound.
The following day we made an early but worthwhile start for a long coach journey to Budapest, originally two cities, Buda on the right bank and Pest on the left. A city tour, Christmas markets and a bowl of traditional Hungarian goulash for lunch all made for a very memorable day.
The owner, Rudi Schreiner, was on board, and we were all very excited to hear him speak about the new Ama ship launching in May 2019, the larger AmaMagna, significantly more spacious than other European river vessels.
Then to Bratislava, often called the 'Beauty on the Danube', which was fascinating to visit and learn more about its long, complicated history. Finally it was time for the farewell Captain's Gala evening. For the excellent service, delicious food, cosy home comforts, a fascinating itinerary, but most importantly of all the great staff who made me feel very much at home, thank you AmaWaterways!