My family and I recently came back from our 21 Day Romantic Seine & Rhone Paris to Barcelona APT tour in June 2013 on board AmaLegro and AmaDagio. We all had a wonderful time there and I would like to use this opportunity to share my experiences and thoughts with everyone. Hopefully, people would find my article useful in their decision making and preparation for their trips with APT and/or AmaWaterways.Read more days in Barcelona. This is part 1 of my review.
Our trip started with 3 days in Paris where APT organised a city tour visiting the second level of the Eiffel Tower on Day 2 morning and a welcome dinner cruise along the Seine River, followed by a Paris Illuminations Tour on Day 2 evening. There were 3 “Freedom of Choice” tours offered on Day 3 morning. All of the tours organised by APT were quite good, but the quality of food and services from the welcome dinner cruise along the Seine River was below average compared to the food and services offered on board AmaLegro and AmaDaigo.
We stayed in Hotel du Collectionneur Arc de Triomphe for 3 nights. The hotel rooms are spacious and well equipped. I enjoyed their breakfast buffet very much as there was wide range of delicious hot and cold food available. Services from this hotel were wonderful and it is within walking distance to Avenue des Champs Elysees and Arc de Triomphe.
There was a problem with our Paris trip due to the last minute change in itinerary by APT. When we first booked our trip in October 2012, APT brochure indicated that Paris itinerary only has freedom of choice tours available on Day 2 morning and we would have Day 3 completely free. So our family had planned to take Versailles excursion with APT, and organised our own tours via Internet for Day 3. But by the time we received our confirmed tour itinerary which was just 3 weeks before departure, we found out that Paris itinerary has changed significantly.
This was a shock to us and completely threw our initial planning into chaos. First, we were not happy to receive the confirmed itinerary late, e.g. 3 weeks before departure, instead of 4-6 weeks before departure as it stated in official APT documentation. Second, I was not able to get any clear and consistent answers from either travel agent or APT call center staff about the finished time of the morning tours in Day 2 and 3. Everyone was telling me different answers which made it impossible for me to make any arrangement for the afternoon tours. When I discussed this timing problem and sudden cancellation of Versailles tour with both travel agent and APT call center staff, the answers I got were along the lines of “please talk to your tour director once you arrived in Paris”. I did not feel comfortable with APT’s approach of leaving everything to the last minute. Based on my previous experiences travelling with APT, I did not believe it was feasible for 1 tour director to address 100 people’s enquiries completely and successfully on Day 1. We only had 3 days in Paris and there were so many things we wanted to do and places we wanted to visit.
In the end, we forfeited the “Freedom of Choice” tour on Day 3 and arranged our own tours to go to Versailles in the morning and Louvre in the afternoon. I filed a formal complaint to APT after the tour and I was able to resolve this issue successfully with APT.
After 3 days in Paris, we were transferred to Seine River on Day 4 late afternoon where our luxury river ship, AmaLegro, awaited.
Compared to our previous experiences with AmaBella and AmaVerde travelled from Amsterdam to Budapest in 2011, AmaLegro is very similar to those 2 ships but a few years older, e.g. all of the facilities and set up are similar. There are public lounges in the front and back of the ship, free internet and Wi-Fi access, and gym. The cabins are well equipped and reasonably spacious.
The food and shore excursions were certainly the highlights of my cruises. The quality of the food (3 meals, morning tea, and afternoon tea) was excellent and services from the restaurant and bar staff were very attentive and always do their best to anticipate customers’ needs. For example, unlike AmaBella and AmaVerde where I always had to ask (or should I use the word “beg”) to have my water and non-alcoholic drink refilled during my meals, AmaLegro is the only the ship where my drink always being refilled before it ran out, I never had to ask. However, if you only drink alcohol, then there won’t be any problem because the wait / bar staff constantly walking around with red & white wine to refill everyone’s glass. Also, there was no limit on the drink (included in the fee already), so I have seen some people started drinking from the afternoon all the way till late at night. For people don’t drink much alcohol, you do feel like you are substituting other people’s drink.
There are 2 parts of my review: part 1 covers 3 days in Paris and 7 day on board AmaLegro, and part 2 covers 7 day on board AmaDagio and 3...
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