Friday, February 18, 2011

Friday Afternoon with AMA Waterways 2/18/11

Since we have last crossed paths we have gone from living in the frozen tundra to this remarkable spring like weather. I wish I could tell you that I am going to plant my vegetable garden, but I have a feeling that Mother Nature is going to lay another dusting on us before I can declare that Spring is in the air. It really is nice that we have gone from the low teens to the mid seventies in one week. I believe a Happy Dance is due in honor of this weather blessing. This week also brought joy and sadness. I call it the triple whammy! Valentine's Day, my wife's birthday and my oldest son's birthday all in the same week. My joy is that I get to celebrate with them, but my sadness is that I am getting older. Ok, enough of the personal stuff of the week. Just a heads up, there is still time and space available to get the perfect Spring Break trip reserved. The really cool thing is that Alaska is going to be a hot item this summer and there is still ton's of options. If you have been considering Alaska, you should really consider this summer. You can check out my blogs on my amazing journey to Alaska on the right hand side of the page. With Mardi Gras in the air and Spring Break just around the corner I though we would start this journey off with a nice Hurricane. My favorite is Pat O'Briens in New Orleans. You start out with 1 oz white rum, 1 oz Jamaican rum, 1 oz Bacardi 151 rum, 3 oz orange juice, 3 oz unsweetened pineapple juice, 1/2 oz grenadine syrup and crushed ice. Combine all ingredients, mix well (shake or stir). Pour over crushed ice in hurricane glass. Best enjoyed through a small straw. Garnish with fruit wedge if desired. Now sit back and enjoy your hurricane as you dream about your next destination. AMA Waterways cruise through the rivers of Europe, Russia and on the Mekong River. Sit back while we dissect AMA Waterways.




  • Europe's newest and most state-of-the-art river cruise ships
  • Deluxe staterooms are 170 sq.ft. with hotel-style beds that can be set up as two twin beds or one large double bed
  • Junior Suites are extra spacious at 255 sq.ft. on the upper deck
  • Guaranteed share program for single travelers (Cat. B only)
  • Infotainment System in all staterooms with movie and music library and complimentary internet
  • Fine gourmet cuisine emphasizing local ingredients with fresh produce and seafood
  • Welcome Reception and Farewell Gala Dinner
  • Quality wines from Europe's most famous wine regions included with every dinner onboard ship
  • Open seating amidst elegant, yet comfortable surroundings
  • Grand Panorama Lounge with bar and dance floor
  • Aft Lounge for up to 35-50 Passengers - ideal for special group events/meetings
  • Daily entertainment onboard and/or on shore, plus nightly piano music and dancing onboard
  • Special highlights including folklore performances, lectures, theme dinners and local activities
  • Wellness Center with a fitness room and sauna
  • Beauty salon and masseuse
  • Sun Deck with whirlpool and walking track
  • Complimentary bicycles to explore town on your own
  • Elevator reaching four different levels: the Restaurant (Level 1), the staterooms on the Cello Deck (2), the Lobby and Panorama Lounge (3) and the staterooms on the Violin Deck (4)
  • Professional Cruise Director and expert local guides
  • All English language onboard
  • Non-Smoking Environment (smoking only on Sun Deck)



  • Most luxurious and comfortable cruise ship ever built for Russian rivers; completely refurbished
  • Deluxe cruise accommodation in 110 sq.ft. outside staterooms (20% larger than other ships); triple staterooms also available (Cat. D only)
  • Jr. Suites are 220 sq. ft. with sitting area and two beds that can be put together; spacious Suites are 330 sq. ft. and have a dayroom, refrigerator and separate bedroom
  • Bathrooms feature a separate shower area, which is unique for Russian ships
  • Superb dining with all meals included in the elegant restaurant, which accommodates all guests in one seating without fixed seating arrangements
  • Quality wines or juice included with every dinner; complimentary bottled water in every stateroom
  • Welcome Reception and Farewell Gala Dinner
  • Charming Katrina Restaurant lined with panoramic windows; beautiful Kostroma Lounge and Neva Bar
  • Spacious Sun Deck and smaller Patio Deck—idea for cocktail receptions
  • Daily entertainment onboard and/or on shore, plus nightly piano music and dancing onboard
  • Special highlights including folkloric performances, lectures, theme dinners and local activities
  • Indoor swimming pool and sauna
  • Pushkin library, Tchaikovsky Hall, beauty salon and souvenir shop
  • Non-Smoking Environment (smoking only on Sun Deck)



  • Deluxe cruise accommodations with hotel-style beds that can be set up as two twin beds or one Queen bed
  • Junior Suites are 205 sq. ft. with separate sitting area and extra-spacious bathroom
  • Standard staterooms are 130 sq.ft. (Cat. D) to 140 sq. ft.; (Cat. A, B and C); Single stateroom is 115 sq ft. and Triple stateroom (Cat. D) is 180 sq. ft
  • Stateroom amenities include TV with movie on demand, minibar, safe, hairdryer and individually-controlled air conditioning
  • Gourmet meals with open seating arrangements
  • Complimentary wines from France’s great wine regions served during dinner onboard ship
  • Panorama lounge with bar and dance floor
  • Wireless internet (need to provide own laptop)
  • Wellness Area with fitness room, indoor swimming pool, sauna and solarium
  • Whirlpool on the Sun Deck
  • Library and souvenir shop



  • Deluxe cruise accommodations with hotel-style beds that can be set up as two twin beds or one queen bed
  • Standard staterooms are 135 sq. ft.; Cat. A and B feature private balconies and Cat. C and D offer large picture windows
  • Stateroom amenities include TV, individually-controlled air conditioning, hairdryer, vanity with sitting area, and full length mirror
  • Gourmet meals with open seating arrangements and complimentary local wine and port wine are served with every dinner onboard
  • Sun Deck with two Jacuzzis, swimming pool and bar
  • Souvenir shop
  • Internet access
  • Elevator that reaches the Lower, Main and Upper decks


Our mission is to deliver an exceptional vacation experience with everlasting memories onboard our elegant vessels. Our ships are the top river ships cruising Europe’s legendary rivers and the Russian waterways. Your holiday is as important to us as it is to you.

We will do our best to provide superior service to ensure your river cruise experience is a most pleasurable one. We continuously enhance our cruise programs and activities to make sure they are of the highest quality in each of our ports of call throughout Europe, Portugal and Russia.

The common language onboard our European vessels is English. Many of our staff is Hungarian and Slovakian; however, there are also several Austrians, Bulgarians, Croatians, Dutch, Germans, Portuguese, Romanians and Swiss employees with English as their common language. In Russia, aboard the MS TOLSTOY, our staff is mostly Russian and Ukrainian. Most of our passengers are American, Canadian and Australian.

We offer a full program of daily included shore excursions, as well as entertainment and educational options. This is your vacation, so it is always your decision to either join the excursions or to relax onboard and let the wonderful scenery float by. Our ships feature state-of-the-art public areas with great art work, new amenities and services, exquisitely decorated staterooms and gourmet dining; all of which provide an unparalleled cruise vacation. We pride ourselves on setting the standards in European river cruising.


Our onboard culinary staff offers sophisticated menus comprised of wonderful soups, fresh produce, high quality choice cut meats, and fresh fish and seafood. Your Maitre d' always welcomes you to the restaurant with a bright smile.

Start your day with a lavish gourmet champagne breakfast buffet. Choose from a rich assortment of breads, croissants and pastries, a variety of fresh fruit, yogurt, cereals, and smoked salmon. Sample the delicious cheeses, cold cuts and local sausages, as well as our daily regional specials. An array of traditional breakfast items is also available from the menu.

Return from your shore excursion to a delicious lunch. Start with mouth-watering hot or cold appetizers, homemade soups, then choose from a selection of great entrees, finish off with a delectable dessert and complimentary cappuccino.

In the evening, be our honored guest for an elegant dinner or a traditional theme night with a feast of regional specialties. Enjoy delicious cuisine and complimentary free-flowing wines from the local vintners. Our kitchen crew knows how to orchestrate a truly memorable dining experience.




Our knowledge of Europe’s treasures and hidden secrets impart a unique and personal touch to our specially-designed itineraries. You will experience fascinating history and local traditions as you cruise past tranquil landscapes, alluring hamlets and magnificent hilltop castles.

Shaking hands with the Mayor and sharing a toast with the Wine Queen are just two distinctly unique experiences offered on our cruise through the picturesque Mosel Valley. Be our guest for special regional wine-tastings or a unique glass-blowing demonstration. Special arrangements have been made throughout your cruise for you to experience some of the most interesting sightseeing available.

Our enhanced shore excursion program gives you an in-depth, authentic view of the cultures and histories you will visit. You will discover the area's highlights, as well as places only the locals know about. Europe's most charming towns and their friendly people are waiting to welcome you with open arms.


As the stars shine overhead and the moon casts its reflection, romance and excitement fill the air along the riverbank. Toast your friends and savor our perfectly paired free-flowing regional wines as you share your discoveries and highlights of the day with your new friends and traveling companions.

After dessert, join us in the Panorama Lounge to watch local folkloric dancers perform an authentic Bavarian Schuhplattler or to listen to musicians perform classical selections.

Dance the night away with the locals at the many open-air festivals and events during the warm summer months. Your ship is docked close to the heart of each town and city so you can easily venture ashore to delve into the spirit of each city’s exciting evening culture, traditions and activities.









As you can see above AMA Waterways sets it’s self apart from the other River Cruise lines. They have one of the youngest and most state of the art River Cruise fleets in the industry. What are you waiting for? Take a look at River Cruising. What a great way to visit the world with your spouse, your mom & dad or your grandmother or grandfather! Are you part of a group who loves history, art, wine, Christmas Markets or the traditions of other countries throughout the world? If you are, then River Cruising is for you! If you have any questions let me know. I would love to help you plan your next journey on a river cruise! Until we unite again remember to always love your Travel Agent. He needs lots of love, plus he is a real nice guy! Remember that my services, research and recommendations are always No Charge! If you know someone who travels send them my way. They will be treated just like family. If you have a group who wants to travel together let me know and you could travel for free. Traveling in a group is always more fun when you all share like interests! You know you will be taken care of. Keep your Cruisitude in check and most important is to always Travel Your Way!

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Saturday Morning with Uniworld Boutique River Cruises 2/5/11

Wow, where has time gone? I awaken and all I see is snow and ice. Where am I and why is everything so white? I guess I have been in hibernation. Normally when you go into hibernation you came out smaller. For some reason I am somewhat bigger. Something is just not right. I know I can be a bear sometimes, but I had no clue I was part bear. I apologize to those who follow my travel blog. I had no clue this medicine the doctor was giving me during the fall would put me into a travel coma. I wont be going back to that doctor. Since our paths last crossed we have sold our house in San Antonio and now reside in the Northern Suburbs of Dallas. The dogs and I are getting back to normal now that we have been reunited with my wife. Living in two different cities for over a year was very challenging. My youngest son just completed his 2nd season playing football for Louisiana Tech and my oldest son has moved to Austin and went skiing for the very first time. Ok, enough of this hibernation stuff! It is time to get back on the road of sharing travel. Just a quick vacation update. There is still plenty of time to get the perfect Spring Break vacation reserved and there are still some awesome Cruisetours to Alaska this summer still available as well. With Spring Break just around the corner I thought I would start our 2011 travel off with a tropical Two Wheeler! This one is very simple! Take 2 - 3 ounces of your favorite dark rum (I prefer Sailor Jerry Spiced Rum) and pour over ice in your favorite glass. Top it off with the orange juice of your choice. Squeeze a little lime juice in it and stir. Now sit back and think about that vacation you deserve. Getting back to where I left off before I ended up in hibernation we were starting a series on River Cruising. One of the things that intrigues me the most about River Cruising is that it is a fantastic way to see parts the world from your very own floating hotel that takes you right to the center of these world famous cities. The first River Cruise Line we explored was Avalon Waterways. You can refer back to Avalon Waterways in 2010. I know this break in the action is for the bears! I promise 2011 will be a year filled with travel stories and travel information. I also promise to stay away from the crazy doctor's who prescribe hibernation pills! Our River Cruise series moves on to Uniworld Boutique River Cruise Collection. Uniworld cruises on the rivers in Europe, Russia, Egypt and China.

Why River Cruising with Uniworld?

River cruising with Uniworld offers an unparalleled level of convenience, as you often dock right in the heart of town, mere steps away from charming squares, magnificent cathedrals, and bustling market places. You’ll never wait in long lines to get on or off the ship; you’ll never tender into port; you’ll never spend long hours wave watching on a vast ocean (which is inescapable on larger cruise ships); and you’ll never experience rough water or motion sickness—only smooth and peaceful sailing throughout your journey.

Why is Uniworld so Unique?

Since Uniworld is under The Travel Corporation umbrella, they have been able to tap into their strong buying power and resources, as well as partner with several of their sister companies, such as Red Carnation Hotels, the award-winning five-star luxury boutique hotel collection, in the areas of hospitality training and management, food and beverage services, quality control programs, and design support. With the financial backing of The Travel Corporation, Uniworld has made significant capital investments—both in new ships and product upgrades—and has a fleet of nine company-owned and operated ships, as well as several charter partnerships.

Hotel Management and Hospitality Training with Red Carnation Hotels
  • Red Carnation Hotels shares their best practices, as well as provides cross-training opportunities on hotel management and hospitality development
  • Uniworld hired a professionally trained and formally educated butler to further enhance the luxury service standards onboard
Food and Beverage Program
  • Uniworld hired a world-class Food and Beverage Director who handles every aspect of food and beverage delivery
  • Ongoing enhancement to the food and beverage program are always being made with the focus on using the freshest ingredients from the local ports of call, as well as employing talented chefs who come from such places as London’s five star Le Meridian Piccadilly and Relais & Chateaux Hotels
  • Wine program developed by an award-wining European Sommelier based in London, England
  • Extensive Yearly Cooking Summit: Visiting local markets, cooking demonstrations and workshops, menu engineering and planning, and bakery and pastry classes, including special training for all pastry chefs at the world-renowned Valhrona Chocolate School, Lyon, France
Quality Control Programs:
  • Uniworld has developed an ongoing quality-control program to monitor all product delivery and services, including:
  • Operations Team in Europe with 30 employees based in Switzerland, Holland, and France—all 100% dedicated to delivering the Uniworld product
  • The Travel Corporation’s Quality Assurance
  • Third-Party Mystery Shopper Program
Design Support:
  • All of Uniworld ships have been designed and decorated by the design team from the Red Carnation Hotels
  • While each ship has its own unique personality and style, they are all designed with the same signature touches—luxurious and cozy décor, classic furnishings in rich fabrics, plush leather, and modern conveniences—all of which create an inviting atmosphere for a memorable experience.
Your Onboard Experience

Your Stateroom - One room… a thousand views
  • Handmade beds draped in the softest Egyptian combed cotton sheets, cashmere/wool blankets, and duvets. Choice of pillows, including down
  • Modern amenities include a flat-screen television with satellite, generous closet space, vanity with make-up mirror, hair dryer, individually controlled air-conditioning, direct-dial telephone, personal safe, and complimentary bottled water on all European ships
  • Beautiful bathrooms fitted with lavish robes, exquisite L'Occitane bath and body amenities, and luxurious towels from Christies of Manchester, the most renowned towel maker in Europe
  • Marble bathrooms on most ships*
  • Suites offer extra space, including sitting areas with sofas and chairs; floor-to-ceiling windows; and, on select ships, French balconies
  • All riverview staterooms and suites are serviced twice a day
  • Unpack once and make yourself at home!
Your Dining Experience:

Dine in the only Zagat-rated restaurants on the river
On their boutique ships, meals are truly a feast for all the senses. From the delicious bouquet of a glass of perfectly aged pinot noir, to the inviting sight of candlelit tables draped in fine linen, to the pleasant sounds of friends engaged in intimate conversation, to the delicious flavor of each savory dish, Uniworld’s dining experiences have been designed to delight you. They are committed to going the extra mile to provide their guests with a truly remarkable dining experience, and they were recently acknowledged in ZAGAT* Survey for “Top in Dining”—the only river cruise company recognized with the “best of the best” in the cruise industry.

However, they are not content to rest on their laurels, so to take their food and beverage program to even greater heights, they hired Global Master Chef Bernhard Zorn, a 30-year industry veteran, as Uniworld’s new Culinary Director. Chef Zorn leads his team of executive chefs in preparing a parade of culinary delights using only the freshest ingredients, which are often brought onboard daily from local farmers markets.

Sumptuous buffets at breakfast and lunch offer an extensive array of hot and cold selections. Breakfast features crispy Belgian waffles topped with whipped cream and warm maple syrup, a dozen or more homemade breads and jams, an omelet station, and hand-cut seasonal fresh fruit. Lunch offers a delectable feast with salads, soups, carved-to-order roasts, and more. Evenings provide exquisite ambience with relaxed open seating. Each dish is flawlessly prepared using the finest ingredients—local meats and seafood along with tasty side dishes. Always included with dinner onboard are European fine wines and a selection of beer and soft drinks served by an attentive, caring staff. Of course, every meal concludes with a wide range of freshly prepared, decadent desserts that look every bit as delicious as they taste.
Uniworld also provides a variety of dining experiences including: al fresco “under the stars” and light-lunch dining—both on the sun deck; Captain’s Welcome Gala and Farewell Dinner; early-riser breakfast; and afternoon tea. Plus, Uniworld gives you the choice of dining on lighter cuisine with our Traveling Lite menu.

Uniworld spices up 2011 cruises with the Epicurean Adventurer Program

Uniworld offers lovers of food and wine an added-value to their river cruise with the Epicurean Adventurer Program. This program is designed to take guests deeper into the wonderful world of wine and its relationship with food.

Service - No request too large, no detail too small

At Uniworld, they treat their guests as one might treat one’s best friends and family, which means “no request too large, no detail too small.” Since Uniworld is a proud part of The Travel Corporation, a family-run business, treating their guests—and their team of staff members—as an extension of their family comes naturally.
Uniworld does all of this because they truly care about creating harmony both onboard and onshore in order to bring joy to the guests and ensure that everyone has the most memorable experience possible. This is their commitment to the guests, their staff, and their environment.

Uniworld's "Points of Distinction"
  • The only river cruise company to offer authentic “boutique cruising”
  • The unsurpassed style and elegance of Europe’s best river cruise ships
  • A USD $100,000,000-plus investment in five new ships and the remodeling of the entire existing European fleet between 2009–2010
  • An average ship capacity of just 130 guests
  • Luxuriously appointed riverview staterooms—many with French balconies, handcrafted Savoir® beds draped in fine linens, flat-screen televisions with satellite, and fine amenities
  • Bathrooms stocked with L’Occitane bath and body products and comfy robes
  • Exclusive services and amenities in all suites
  • A certified Global Master Chef leading a professional culinary team in the preparation of gourmet cuisine using the freshest ingredients, which are often brought onboard from local farmers markets
  • A distinctive wine program developed by Red Carnation Hotels’ renowned sommelier from their Relais & Châteaux member hotels
  • Complimentary fine European wines, choice of beer, and soft drinks during dinner onboard; bottled water in staterooms; and a 24-hour specialty coffee and tea bar
  • A variety of dining experiences: al fresco dining “under the stars” on the sun deck, light-lunch in lounge, Captain’s Welcome Gala and Farewell Dinners, early-riser breakfast, and afternoon tea
  • The best onboard and onshore staff in the industry, with decades of experience
  • Their very own dedicated European Operations Team, which controls all aspects of product delivery, including onboard nautical and hospitality programs and all onshore programs
  • Fastidious internal Quality Assurance programs with extensive training for all staff, along with ship inspections and third-party mystery shoppers, to ensure their guests always receive the highest-quality service
  • Captivating and always-included shore excursions—many exclusive to Uniworld—hosted by English-speaking local guides who use state-of-the-art Quietvox portable headset systems
  • Insightful onboard Signature Lectures
  • Exclusive Epicurean Adventurer Program on 16 itineraries
  • Airport transfers on arrival and departure days

2011 Uniworld Boutique River Cruise Video Collection

Take a Virtual Tour of the River Beatrice

View Uniworld's 2011 Electronic Brochure

As you can see above Uniworld is very different from all other river cruise lines because of it's partnership with Red Carnation Hotel's. Uniworld, together with Red Carnation Hotels, has totally redefined a new level of river cruising. They call it boutique cruising and they are the only cruise company that offers this experience. What are you waiting for? Take a look at River Cruising. What a great way to visit the world with your mom & dad or your grandmother or grandfather! Are you part of a group who loves history, art, wine, Christmas Markets or the traditions of other countries throughout the world? If you are, then River Cruising is for you! If you have any questions let me know. I would love to help you plan your next journey on a river cruise! Until we unite again remember to always love your Travel Agent. He needs lots of love, plus he is a real nice guy! Remember that my services, research and recommendations are always No Charge! If you know someone who travels send them my way. If you have a group who wants to travel together let me know and you could travel for free. Traveling in a group is always more fun when you all share like interests! You know you will be taken care of. Keep your Cruisitude in check and most important is to Travel Your Way!