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A day in the life of an AmaWaterways river cruise

Spring: the river cruise season has begun in Europe, and the views and experiences are amazing!

March 20, 2024.

I wake up in a comfortable bed onboard the AmaSerena, currently sailing on the waterways of Holland and The Netherlands.

I look out our French balcony window and see that we’ve just docked in the city of Rotterdam. After getting ready (I love the rainfall shower, but it’s great to also have the handheld option), my husband Sean and I go eat breakfast. Although earlier in the week we’d opted for the quick breakfast offered in the lounge, today we take advantage of the breakfast buffet and a la carte menu options in the restaurant.

Following our delicious made-to-order omelets, pastries, local cheeses, and juice, we head back to the room to grab what we’ll need for our first excursion. As we’re walking down the hall, we hear our cruise manager, Dragan, over the loud speaker, telling everyone that if we’re going on the Rotterdam walking tour (either the gentle or regular version), we should meet in the lobby at 9:00 am. If we’re going on the Best of Delft excursion, the meeting time is also 9:00, and the Rotterdam architecture tour meets at 9:15.

Twin balcony room

There are three floors of cabins on a river cruise ship. The lowest deck on the AmaSerena has cabins with windows; the middle deck has some with French balconies and some with twin balconies (an outside and a French balcony); and the highest deck with cabins also has French balcony and twin balcony cabins, plus suites. All rooms have deluxe bedding, spacious bathrooms, large wardrobe closets, and TVs, plus other amenities. Sean and I are staying on the middle deck with a French balcony.

We grab our jackets, listening devices and earpieces in the room, and a colored card from the front desk to indicate which tour we’re going on. Ours is purple with the rest of the Delft group.

We board a comfortable bus with our friendly driver and tour guide. The guide tells us about this surprisingly modern-looking city of Rotterdam as we drive: that it was almost completely decimated during the bombings of World War II and has had to be rebuilt almost from the ground up. We hear about the famous bridges, and are impressed to learn that Rotterdam is the largest seaport in Europe!

We arrive in the town of Delft about 30 minutes later. Our guide takes us on a walking tour of this charming town, with canals, cobblestone streets, and stories about the royal family and the artist Johannes Vermeer, who was born here. I love seeing the flowers, bikes, the cathedral, and the medieval row houses.

Our walking tour ends at the Delft Blue Museum and factory. The Delft Blue world-famous pottery has been produced here since it was originally copied from the Chinese in 1602! Now this factory is the only remaining one in the world. We see the origins and hear about the process, and then get an up-close walk-through of the factory to experience the process of how Delftware is crafted today. Today you can choose between rare hand painted originals and the more mass-produced copies of the hand painted originals. Of course, I have to buy a couple of souvenirs! I feel very lucky to be able to visit the Delft museum!

Sample menu

Once back on the ship, we have time to enjoy lunch from the menu before our second excursion of the day.

This afternoon, Sean and I have chosen to go on the Kinderdijk bike tour. Kinderdijk is an amazing UNESCO world heritage site, home to 19 working windmills, and is a definite must-see for anyone traveling to the Netherlands!

We take a short bus ride to the town of Kinderdijk and meet our bike guide. He sets the 12 of us up on our bikes and goes through a brief safety demo (mostly about the handbrakes and gears) before we set off down a short street and turn into the Kinderdijk windmill area.

This tour is fascinating; we stop at one of the windmills, which is set up how it would have looked a hundred years ago, and learn about the windmills today, which are still owned and lived in by windmill families, and still operate to pump water from overflowing canals into the rivers, which then run into the sea. We are able to ask all the questions we can think of, and our guide is delightful.

Then we set off on a bike tour along the Kinderdijk paths, winding near the windmills, over bridges, and along edges of fields (which have no fences to keep the horses in place; rather, they’re rimmed by canals) and the beautiful homes. It’s truly enchanting.

Our bike tour ends back where it began, and we ride the bus back to the AmaSerena. High Tea is being served in the lounge, followed by a Farewell Cocktail Gala, since this would be our final evening onboard. On previous evenings, our cruise manager Dragan described the excursions offered the following day. Even if we’d previously booked a different excursion, we could change our minds anytime and let them know that we’d be going on a different one. And each day we stopped in at least one port, with included excursions in each.

Sean and I had toured a tulip farm and learned about the fascinating production processes of planting, growing, and harvesting these beautiful flowers. Did you know that after tulips have been grown in a field, the farmer has to wait 5 years before re-planting tulips? The local tulip producers switch fields with their neighbors who grow farm vegetables so that they can rotate their crops and keep the soils healthy.

Other interesting excursions on our Netherlands river cruise included walking or biking in medieval towns and villages, going on canal tours, and learning about the building of the canals, dikes and the Storm Surge Barrier that keep the Netherlands from flooding.

Tonight, the gala includes honoring and thanking the amazing captain and staff, who have truly felt like family. Following the gala, one final delicious dinner is served in the dining room. Everyone can eat at anytime; there are no assigned tables or times for dining. There are two choices of dining in the evenings: the main dining room, or the specialty restaurant Chef’s Table, both included and available for everyone. Sean and I had eaten at the Chef’s Table earlier in the week, so this final evening we enjoy sitting with the friends we’d made on our river cruise.

Following dinner, we go back to the lounge for the evening entertainment. This evening, our incredibly talented ship musician and pianist Panche turns into a DJ, and accompanies and sings a variety of songs, while people dance, talk, and enjoy the evening together. Late-night savory snacks are served at 10:00 pm, in case we’re hungry, or maybe we just want to sample some more delicious food onboard.

Our ship sails to Amsterdam for disembarkation the final morning. Even though we have to depart for the airport at 6:30 am, the AmaSerena has breakfast waiting for us in the lounge. (If we’d departed later, we could have eaten in the dining room.) Their wonderful staff is available to help us with our bags, and they take us to the airport. It’s hard to say goodbye to such a magical experience!

Let me know if you’d like to talk about booking your next vacation; I’m home now and happy to help! E-mail:


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