AMAWaterways has some outstanding features that set the cruise line apart from some other river cruises. First is the use of complimentary bicycles. The ship carries 20-30 bikes, and they are available to ride in almost every port. (Amsterdam was not one of them, although I doubt if any of the passengers would have wanted to tackle the very busy Amsterdam streets.) Most European rivers and canals are lined with bike paths, and many are easy, scenic rides.
AMAWaterways uses audio headset units (audio VOX) on every walking tour. These units make touring so much more effective. The guides can provide their insightful commentary in a normal voice (rather than trying to speak louder than the other nearby guides), and passengers can hear the guide even if they have wandered off a half-block or more to make photos or examine a sculpture, building, or flower. The audio VOX are expensive for the cruise lines to purchase, but they allow for larger groups since you don't have to all stand within five feet of the guide to hear him/her. I've used the audio sets on other river and ocean cruise shore excursions and love them, as do most other tour travelers.
AMAWaterways lets cruisers choose their own speed on guided walking shore excursions--a "fast" group, "normal" groups, and "gentle walkers" group. "Fast" walkers move a little faster, spend less time at each stop, and either see more or have more time for exploring on their own at the end of the walking tour. "Gentle walkers" move at a leisurely pace and might not cover as much ground. "Normal" walkers are just that.
Overall, our Tulip Time cruise on the Amalegro was excellent. AMAWaterways is one of the newer cruise lines, but it certainly does most things very well. The schedule was packed with ports and tours, but not exhausting. The ports were fascinating, and I'd like to return to them all. The noise in the dining room at dinner was a problem, but we all just spoke louder or only to those nearby. The cabins and common areas were comfortable and well-planned (especially those showers).
Thanks to the crew of the Amalegro for a wonderful Tulip Time cruise. They even arranged for the Easter bunny to find us on Easter Sunday and provided a map of churches marked near the ship for those who wanted to attend Dutch Easter services. How thoughtful!
As is common in the travel industry, the writer was provided with complimentary cruise accommodation for the purpose of review. While it has not influenced this review, About.com believes in full disclosure of all potential conflicts of interest. For more information, see our ethics policy.