The Rhine
Amsterdam - Basel
April 27-May 4, 2023
on Amawaterways
Plus Optional 2-day Amsterdam Pre-Cruise Tour & 4-day Swiss Post-Cruise Tour
Betsy and I had a lot of questions before our first river cruise as have many of our guests, so this email addresses all of the ones we've encountered. I've separated the FAQs by category so feel free to skip down to whatever you have questions on. If you have additional questions, let me know by email reply or phone at 415-215-9540 or consult the web site: or contact Expanding Horizons: or 714-975-9946

To see stateroom choices, prices & inclusions click here

  • 7 nights deluxe cruise accommodation in your selected cabin category
  • Life enriching tours and excursions daily with a personal headset included
  • Entertainment on demand in all staterooms featuring free high-speed Internet access, current run Hollywood movies, extensive music library and English language TV stations
  • Complimentary Wi-Fi access throughout the ship
  • All meals are included during your cruise with regionally inspired cuisine made with locally sourced ingredients
  • La Chaîne des Rôtisseurs exclusive dining experience
  • Unlimited red & white wines (from the wine region we're traveling through), beer & soft drinks with every lunch and dinner on board
  • Unlimited sparkling wine and fresh juice with breakfast
  • Bottled water in every stateroom replenished daily & supplied for excursions
  • Cocktail Reception, Welcome Dinner & Captain’s Gala Dinner
  • Tapas, sandwiches, snacks and refreshments served daily in the Main Lounge
  • Sip & Sail Cocktail Hour with complimentary wine, beer, spirits and soft drinks
  • Special onboard lectures & nightly musical performances in the lounge
  • Bicycles to explore on your own & guided bicycle tours
  • All English language on board in a non-smoking environment - smoking permitted only on the Sun (top, open-air) Deck
  • All local taxes
  • Unlimited wine and history talk with Betsy & Peter Spann, wine lovers, wine educators and winemakers.
WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN A RIVER CRUISE AND AN OCEAN CRUISE? Both involve a ship on water, otherwise these are two very different experiences. Riverships generally hold between 100 and 190 passengers vs. the 300 to 5,000 on ocean cruise ships.
All aspects of a River Cruise are more casual and less structured. Getting on and off is quick and simple with no long lines or steep stairs. You'll need to scan your room key so everyone can be accounted for.  You are free to go into town, borrow a bicycle from the ship and take a ride along the river, stop into a bar, café or restaurant, shop, or do whatever you like. There’s usually free time before and after land tours or you can opt out of tours and explore on your own.
Yes. All AmaWaterways River Cruises offer a variety of daily land excursions to appeal to as many interests and energy levels as possible. Many focus on local customs, history (dating back to Roman occupation), city tours, fortresses, castles and natural wonders. For a brief itinerary outline click here
WHERE TO FLY IN AND OUT OF? If you're planning on registering for the pre-cruise tour plus the cruise, fly into Lisbon and out of Oporto. If you're planning on the cruise only you can fly in and out of Oporto, unless you plan on independent travel around Europe before or after. There is also train service between Lisbon and Oporto (approx. 2 & 1/2 to 3 hour trip).
CAN I GET ASSISTANCE IN BOOKING FLIGHTS? Yes, Expanding Horizons can assist you for a small extra charge. Call Marie at 714-975-9943.
TYPICAL DOURO VALLEY TEMPERATURE RANGE IN JUNE: According to a weather web site: 53° to 83° with some rain on 1/6th of the days. Each stateroom has 2 umbrellas in the closet for your use if needed.
WHAT ARE THE LOCAL CURRENCIES? As an E.U. member, Portugal's currency is the Euro. I usually buy some currency from my bank before traveling to have change available on arrival for tips, taxis and incidentals. You can also exchange currency on board but there is a daily limit as to what they have available. There are usually currency exchange banks or businesses in every port of call. Most banks are closed on weekends and national holidays. U.S. issued credit cards are accepted at most places that tourists frequent. You might want to check with credit card companies on their currency exchange policies to see if one is more advantageous to use than another. Tips for the ship's crew and for local guides should be paid in Euros.
HOW DO I REGISTER? To be part of Our Group you must register through Expanding Horizons. Start by clicking here to see stateroom choices, photos, diagrams and prices, then click on the site's Registration page or click here 
WHAT EXTRA COSTS SHOULD I EXPECT: Port Charges ($196 per person) and Gratuities (always optional, recommendation is approx. $190 pp) for the ship staff, the AmaWaterways Cruise Manager, our exclusive onboard Expanding Horizons Escort/Tour Manager and for land tour guides. click here for specifics

WHO DO I CONTACT WITH OTHER QUESTIONS? Contact Ruth at Expanding Horizons or 714-975-9946. You can also see more info on the cruise website at click here
WHAT IF I NEED TO CANCEL? The Cancellation Policy is on Toursandwine web site on the “Registration” button: click here

SHOULD I BUY TRIP INSURANCE? This is a personal decision.
Approximately 4pm on Embarkation Day. If you arrive early you can leave your bags with the concierge and explore Oporto until check-in time.
WHAT TIME IS CHECK-OUT? Approximately 9:30am on Disembarkation Day, earlier if you prefer.
WHAT LANGUAGE WILL THE CREW SPEAK? The official Cruise language is English. Your crew will be international and multi-lingual so if you want to practice your French, Portuguese, Croatian or Romanian you’ll have plenty of opportunity to do so.
HOW MANY PEOPLE WILL BE ON THE SHIP? A maximum of 156 passengers and 51 crew. That’s a crew to passenger ratio of 1 to 2.7 so you'll be well taken care of. We've never been on a ship with full-capacity since some rooms are reserved by singles. Ship info is here
WHERE WILL THE OTHER PASSENGERS BE FROM? AmaWaterways has a worldwide audience but the mix is typically 85% American, 10% British, 10% Other European and 5% South American.
HOW MANY PEOPLE WILL BE IN “OUR GROUP”? We have 15 cabins on hold with potential for more. We’re hoping for between 22 and 40 people.

WHAT IS THE TYPICAL AGE GROUP? 40 - 85 year-old active adults with the large majority between 55 and 72. There are no activities geared toward children so don't expect to see any children or multi-generational families on board.
ARE THERE CHOICES OF STATEROOMS? Yes, there are 6 price/cabin size levels on 3 decks ranging from 161 sq. ft. panoramic fixed-window rooms to 323 sq. ft. ones with outside balconies. To see room diagrams, photos and prices click here
ANY BEDDING OPTIONS? Yes, twin beds or one queen size bed.
DOES IT MATTER WHICH SIDE OF THE SHIP MY STATEROOM IS ON? We'll sail from the Atlantic Ocean to the Spanish border and back so you'll see both sides of the river regardless of which side your stateroom is on. There are cocktail tables on the bow and on the sun deck with 180° to 360° views. The glass-walled cocktail lounge is also available for scenic viewing. 
WHAT EXTRA AMENITIES ARE ON BOARD? The ship has a fitness room, a walking track, a Wellness Host leading exercise classes, a massage room, hair salon, plus a sun deck with a heated pool and swim-up bar. Bicycles are available for exercising or exploring villages on your own. In addition to the AmaWaterways Cruise Manager, we'll have our own exclusive onboard Expanding Horizons Escort/Tour Manager to offer personalized service, advice and assistance with any special needs.

IS THERE LAUNDRY SERVICE ON BOARD? Yes, there is daily laundry service on board, available on Days 1 through 6 of your cruise and it is extremely reasonable, much less expensive than at U.S. hotels.

ARE THERE ON-BOARD EDUCATIONAL LECTURES? The Cruise Director will give orientation talks each evening on the following day's excursions to help you decide which is of most interest to you. 
FOR OUR LIMITED GROUP, Betsy and Peter Spann will give educational talks during 2 or 3 wine dinners and tastings and will be available daily to answer questions and talk about regional or any other wines.

IS THERE NIGHTLY ENTERTAINMENT? Yes. A house piano player/singer is on board, playing each evening. On most nights an additional local group will be on board for an after-dinner show in the cocktail lounge. On previous cruises we've been treated to a group performing under the stars on the sun deck - absolutely magical! There's also a large selection of first run films available on your in-room flat screen TV plus free wi-fi throughout the ship.

IS THERE A GYM/EXERCISE CLASS? Yes, a typical hotel-style gym with machines & dumb bells, plus stretching and aerobics classes every morning with a trained exercise specialist.
IS THERE A CHANCE OF GETTING SEA-SICKNESS? This is very unlikely. We’ll be on an inland waterway with dams to control flow, not open ocean so the feeling is more like being on a small lake. Traffic and boat speeds are strictly controlled. When passing ships there may be a small wake but nothing significant.
ARE THERE SAFES IN THE ROOMS: Yes there are safes in each room.
WILL I NEED AN ELECTRICITY ADAPTER? No. These are available for all rooms to convert local service to 110v A/C. If you travel elsewhere in Europe you may or may not need one, depending on the accommodations. Most upscale hotels can loan or rent one to you.
IS THERE CELL PHONE SERVICE? We had no difficulty with cell service during our Bordeaux cruise. These are inland waterways, not open ocean so cell service is as it is everywhere, great in some spots, not so great in others. It’s a good idea to talk with your service provider in advance about roaming plans to minimize your costs. We use an AT&T plan that charges just $10/day for unlimited phone, text & wi-fi connectivity. They only charge for the days you actually use the service.
IS THERE WI-FI? Yes, free wi-fi throughout the ship. 

TO SEE STATEROOM choices, photos, diagrams and prices click here, then scroll down the website page.
WHICH MEALS ARE INCLUDED IN THE PRICE OF THE CRUISE? Dinner the first night (Embarkation), Breakfast on the last day (Disembarkation) and 3 meals/day while on board. All land tours are in-between meal times.
ARE THERE SEPARATE SEATINGS FOR MEALS? No/Yes. Just go to the Main Dining Room whenever you like during dining hours and ask the dining manager to seat you. The exception is for the special Wine Dinners for our group only when we will be seated at reserved tables.
ARE MEALS TABLE SERVICE OR BUFFET? All meals are by table service. The buffet has been suspended due to the pandemic but many of the dishes formerly on the buffet will be available to order.
WHAT TYPES OF WINES ARE SERVED? Typically there will be a red, white and rose open during lunch and dinner each day served at no charge. These will change daily and will be the basic wines of the region that might sell for $10 to $20 at retail. Higher quality and price level wines are available to order from the wine list at an extra charge and you can buy wine on shore and at wineries to bring on board and enjoy. 
FOR OUR LIMITED GROUP ONLY there will be special wines served for at least three dinners or tastings.
ARE THERE “FORMAL NIGHTS”? No, unlike large ocean-going cruise ships, this is very casual. No coats, ties or formal dresses are required.
ARE THESE INCLUDED IN THE TOUR PRICE? Yes, all are included.  A variety of tours are offered at different exertion levels. In some time slots there is one tour but on most days there will be several choices in the morning and several more in the afternoon.
WHEN ARE THE LAND TOURS? Morning tours start between 9:30 and 10 am and return between 11:30 and noon. Afternoon tours start around 2pm and return between 4 and 5pm so tours typically last between 1 and 1/2 to 3 hours before returning to the ship. 
WILL TOUR GUIDES SPEAK ENGLISH? All will be fluent in at least English and the local language. Some may speak other languages as well.
DO I NEED TO CHOOSE AND RESERVE TOURS IN ADVANCE? Yes/no - in the month prior to the cruise you'll receive an email from AmaWaterways asking you to choose your preferences for tours each day. This gives them an idea of how many tour guides are needed for each tour but you can usually change your preference the day of the tour. A brief lecture & slide show the evening prior will describe each tour.

HOW MANY WILL BE IN EACH GROUP ON LAND TOURS? Typically between 8 and 16 in each group so guides can give individual attention.
WILL I NEED MONEY FOR ANYTHING DURING LAND TOURS: All tours and entrance fees are included in your cruise price. A tip of 1 to 2 euros per person for the tour guide plus 1 euro per person for the bus driver at the end of the tour is recommended. 1 euro is currently equal to $1.11. The ship has unlimited free bottles of water so you can grab one on your way off the ship if you’d like. After that you’re on your own. There will be gift shops or wine shops at most land tour locations except bicycle tours.
WILL MEALS BE INCLUDED DURING THE LAND TOURS? Tours usually don’t run through the meal hours but you have the option of dining local on your own if you choose. 
Please forward this to any acquaintances who may be
interested in this adventure or future river cruises with us.
SPANN VINEYARDS, P.O. Box 1760 Bodega Bay, CA 95452 415-215-9540
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