River cruises are becoming increasingly popular. If you read my 5 Reasons To Take An AMA Waterways River Cruise, you know why I'm a huge fan of river cruising and, specifically, AMA Waterways. As a travel agent about to embark on her 6th trip with them, I've now a recognized AMA Waterways River Cruise Specialist. But while AMA is my go-to for all things river cruises, whether you're cruising through Vietnam and Cambodia on the Mekong River or sipping your way through the French wine country in Bordeaux, each itinerary carries its unique magic.
Take, for example, the Rhine Castles & Swiss Alps Cruise. Having done this itinerary before (in fact, it was my first experience with AMA, and it was when I fell in love with the company), I speak from experience when I say it's worth the wait.
A river cruise is the most comfortable, relaxing, and sustainable way to cover a lot of ground. Visit four countries (Switzerland, France, Germany, and the Netherlands) from the comfort of a floating luxury hotel (five if you include the pre-cruise land option in Lake Como, Italy). This particular itinerary has some unique characteristics.
And because you're not driving or flying from one of these countries to another, packing and unpacking each time you arrive at a new destination, you're saving time, energy, and money AND minimizing your impact on the environment.
That's how many we'll see during our trip. More castles along this stretch of the river than anywhere else make the Rhine River Gorge a UNESCO World Heritage Site for good reason.
Some of these castles you'll get to explore on foot. The rest you'll witness as we cruise past them on the sun deck of our river cruise boat, perhaps sipping on a cool beverage while lounging in the pool (if you feel so inclined).
A lock is a place on a navigable waterway, like a river or channel, where boats move to the next higher or lower level. The lock is a big chamber with gates at each end that fills or empties with water, thereby raising or lowering the boat, making the river more navigable where the terrain is not level.
On the Basel, Switzerland to Amsterdam, Netherlands itinerary, you'll be headed downriver, so the 12 locks will help move you from higher levels to lower levels before the gates open and set you on your way to continue downriver.
It's a very smooth process that takes about 45 minutes from start to finish. You may want to witness this unique process from the sundeck or your own private balcony (there is no ceiling in these locks, so it's not a claustrophobic experience at all).
Don't worry; the whole thing runs very smoothly and, aside from seeing the walls rise as our vessel slowly lowers with the decrease in water level, you don't feel a thing.
Speaking of sustainability, AMA Waterways is committed to sustainable travel. Eighteen of their European fleet have earned the prestigious Green Award for leading the industry in safety, quality, and environmental performance.
The Green Award is granted based on the environmental impact of engines, fuel consumption, waste and maintenance, pollution prevention, and more. President and Co-founder of AMA Waterways, Rudi Schreiner, says "Respecting the principles of sustainable travel while ensuring the safety and security of guests and crew has always been our top priority."
At International Yoga Travel, I've been particularly focused on sustainable travel initiatives and look to work with those companies doing the same. Experiencing four countries from the comfort of a floating, sustainable river cruise boat is one of the most responsible ways to do this. Check out my recent blog, How to Travel Sustainably, to learn more.
BIKING, HIKING, AND YOGA
One of the beauties of an AMA Waterways river cruise is the optional biking, hiking, and walking excursions available at every destination. Bikes are available for independent exploration, and there are also guided tours. There are also several 30-minute yoga practices offered throughout the week by AMA's own onboard wellness specialist.
The hiking and walking tours are great, and I encourage you to take the opportunity to explore on foot every chance you get. But I also want to underscore the biking options, which will take you off the beaten path to vineyards and villages where you can cover more ground, get more exercise, and (much like the hiking) do it all in an environmentally conscious way. It's truly a win-win.
FOOD & WINE RECOGNIZED WORLDWIDE
One of the best parts of any AMA Waterways river cruise is the food, and it's one of the aspects of next year's Danube River Yoga Cruise to which I'm most looking forward. The menu consistently changes to reflect our current location.
I'm not the only one who's a fan. AMA was inducted into La Chaîne des Rôtisseurs, the world's oldest food and wine society. Membership is by invitation only, extended to those possessing world-class culinary acumen.
Even Berlitz, the authority on river cruising in Europe, agrees. "AmaWaterways spends considerably more on high-quality food ingredients, wine, and hotel crew service training than any other river cruise company." But don't worry, with all the yoga, walking, biking, and exploring we'll be doing, we should be able to keep everything in balance.
One of the things I often hear from my growing group of sustainable travel yogis is how much they enjoy meeting others of like mind.
While yoga is always optional, and the age range typically varies from the mid-'30s to mid-'70s, these trips typically attract a certain kind of traveler—they're flexible, open-minded, and adventurous, making these trips a lot of fun.
Whether you're traveling alone or coming with a friend, you can enjoy as much (or as little) quiet and alone time as you want. And, of course, there's always that extra level of safety that comes with traveling as a group. New friendships form, it's not at all clique-ish, and many enjoy bumping into each other when we travel again.
One of my favorite questions I get asked when people are asking about the next trip is, "Where are we going next?" They motivate me to keep creating bucket list travel experiences to keep our growing travel family inspired in the most sustainable possible ways.
AMA is as happy as the rest of us that travel is opening back up. To help get us off the fence and onto the boat, they're offering special early booking incentives. Plus, by booking through me, an AMA Waterways Specialist, you'll enjoy extra perks and benefits.
If you haven't dipped your toes in the river cruise waters yet, you don't know what you're missing. Whether you choose to join me on my upcoming river cruise or let me help you embark on a trip of your own (no matter how large or small), I've got you covered.
There's still time to get in on my next yoga cruise. Click here to learn more.
You can also read 5 Reasons To Take An AMA Waterways River Cruise.
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