How privileged were we to be the very first guests to sleep onboard the AmaPura River Cruise ship for her 14 Night Inaugural sailing in Myanmar.
Below is a summary of our experience while being guests with AMA Waterways on the scenic Irrawaddy River in Myanmar, Asia (Burma) for two weeks.
If you would like to learn more about the itinerary & what we did during the cruise– then check out this blog: “Our Experience During Our Myanmar River Cruise!”
Like any inaugural cruise there were some minor kinks that needed fixing onboard the ship but the AMA Waterways team were hard at work making changes to enhance their guest’s experiences so we were happy to see that. So right from the start AMA Waterways was proving to us that their guests happiness was important to them…we liked that!
Actually, we met many guests onboard who had sailed with AMA Waterways several times in the past and they could not say enough good things about the line… and of course our own clients give the same feedback, so we weren’t surprised. Considering AMA Waterways repeat customers % is very high we were expecting great things.
Looking back on the entire experience we would say that THE greatest features about this River Cruise Line that made it so special and the reasons why clients sail with AMA Waterways again and again is because:
1. They provide a feeling of “exclusivity” for guests that makes you feel important- like you matter. Something you don’t get on larger ships. For example during a morning sunrise excursion in Bagan the staff hiked up the temple with the guests at 5:30am to serve them coffee while the other tourists there looked over thinking “Lucky folks! Who are these guys?”. 🙂 And same thing while enjoying a boat ride for two at the U-Bein Bridge, the staff in their own boat went around serving us champagne to enjoy the sunset… WOW!
2. You are surrounded by like minded people who are well traveled like you. The BONUS is that at the end of the cruise you will have made lasting friendships, the kind you truly want to stay in touch with, exchange emails and make plans to visit one another again soon. (We even exchanged birthdays and anniversaries with our new friends below so we had an excuse to say hi) 🙂
3. The AMA Waterways staff will bend over backwards for you. So much so, that not only will they remember your name- but you will remember their names. You may notice your room steward onshore assisting you up some stairs or during an excursion serving you champagne & hors d’oeuvres- they were phenomenal & helped us at every turn… no kidding!
4. AMA Waterways is a family owned river cruise line. We have had the privilege of getting to know Rudi Schreiner & Kristin Karst over the past few years, so we can say, “it’s a simple call away” to get things done for our clients when we need it. Whereas with corporately owned Cruiselines, you simply can’t call in favors that easily. Here we are below with Kristin & Rudi:
5. AMA Waterways offers guests choices on sightseeing tours. When possible, you can choose to go on your own or select the excursion that better suits you.
6. Speaking of tours, and this is a biggie… unlike other River Cruiselines, they never tried to push 1 optional tour on us. AMA Waterways included the best of everything in their upfront price… and they even surprised us with an additional tour in Bagan and never charged a dime for it…
… in the Mekong they don’t push extras either and in Europe they only offer 1 or 2 specialized options like a concert or something that everyone may not want to do. We liked that as some River Cruise companies offer many optional tours per trip as they don’t include the best things so it gives you that “nickeled & dimed” feeling that we’ve all experienced on big ship ocean cruises.
The AmaPura Ship:
She was beautifully custom built for AMA Waterways and finished at the end of 2014. She screams “come relax & enjoy”.
The staterooms are more spacious then we imagined and the AmaPura offers a “limited & lucky” 56 guests the pleasure of calling her home while exploring Myanmar…
…and every room offers either a private French Balcony, a step-out Full Balcony or Twin Balcony onboard.
See our videos of the room options below to get a better visual and know what you are getting “before” you arrive.
This video shows what our bottom deck (there’s just 2 decks on the AmaPura that the rooms are on) 285 square foot French Balcony stateroom was like… all 3 categories of rooms on the bottom deck (SD, SE & SF) are all identical to this. FYI, many suppliers in this part of the world have 160 square foot rooms so the AmaPura is quite luxurious with rooms 75% bigger then average:
Here’s a video of what the Category SC stateroom with outside Balcony looks like… as with the bottom deck rooms they’re also 285 square feet. FYI, beside the 4 suites, all the top deck rooms are identical to this one:
This video shows you the Category SB Suite… the biggest on the ship at 420 square feet. A gorgeous room with the small downfall of being above the engine at the noisier back of the ship. As the ship doesn’t sail overnight in Myanmar it won’t ruin your sleep but if you like quiet, more then size, go with the SA Suite that you’ll see in the next video:
Either way, all the rooms on the AmaPura are gorgeous and you can’t go wrong no matter which Category you choose but we’ll go over the pros & cons with you when booking to help you decide the best fit for you.
If you would like to see more pictures and videos then have a look at Our Pictures & Videos of our Myanmar River Cruise.
What we liked about our Stateroom:
The room was nicely decorated and the king-size bed was super comfy. We stayed in a French Balcony room on the main floor (as seen above) and it’s best feature was the wall to wall views & double glass doors that you could pull apart widely to enjoy the breeze and hear the water trickle by as we sailed gently down the river ALL from the comforts of our bed!!
We really enjoyed how our bed faced the french balcony and how we could wake gently in the morning enjoying the scenery while breakfast was being prepared in the dining room. What a life! 🙂
The shower was luxuriously sizable & we were spoiled with L’Occtaine products (which we will start using at home from now on because they we loved them)
We also appreciated the in-room entertainment system, the in-room fridge filled with bottled water daily, bathrobes & slippers for two AND lots of pillows!
In our stateroom were Postcards which you could fill out to send to your loved ones and AMA paid for the stamps to send them. Nice touch!
Life onboard the AmaPura. What was it like?
Well, there is only one word to describe it.
On arrival to the ship we were treated to a local performance dock side as a way of saying “Welcome, we were anticipating your arrival!”
Throughout the Cruise we attended many lectures onboard about the Myanmar people including a cooking demonstration, a puppet show, traditional dance show & SO much more. Plus they had movie showings about Myanmar to teach us about their way of life so we were fully immersed in the culture…
…at the same time if you simply wanted to relax & read a book on the open deck, sip a refreshing cocktail or have a nap between picture taking you could do that too.
In the mornings, Champagne was served at breakfast (see picture below) along with a large spread of entree choices to get you started for the days events and excursions.
Speaking of excursions, a bottle holder and water were provided for each tour and we noticed many support staff were available on tours along with the guides to meet our every need.
Many tours included a sacred site visit & we were required to remove our shoes and socks, so AMA Waterways provided for us wet naps to clean our feet after each tour that required us to walk barefoot. Again, Nice Touch!
It didn’t stop there, refreshing drinks & a cold cloth was presented to each guest when we came back to the ship after each tour. We always looked forward to that especially after a walking tour in the hot sun.
Our footwear would get dusty from the excursions, so once we were back on the ship our very own slippers were provided to us so we could leave our shoes with the staff to clean them for next days excursion.
In the evenings, Complimentary beer, wine and soft drinks were served at dinner (those were provided at lunch too) which like breakfast, had lots of choices. No trouble special ordering something just the way you like it either! Check out these fresh shrimp we had onboard, they were so Yummy! 🙂
And the nice part about Dinner was we were NEVER rushed while we enjoyed time with our new friends… Dinner started at around 7pm each night but the wine & beer flowed till 10pm or later until we were ready to say goodnight, no rushing us out the door as we’ve experienced at All-Inclusive resorts in the Caribbean where they try to save a buck.
Another nice feature was that the ship stopped at dark each evening so we could sleep peacefully. So this combined with a comfy bed to cuddle down into, we slept like babies each night. 🙂
After talking to other guests and experiencing this cruise first hand, if we were to do it all over again we would have done this:
- Each night, ladies, for the pre-dinner gathering in the lounge- bring a shawl. The air-conditioning in the lounge can sometimes blow on your shoulders and give you a chill.
- This one is important regarding shopping: While in the Country, try NOT to be overzealous on “barter to the bone” trying to get the very best DEAL. These people live on very little because it is a poor country, so just keep that in mind while there, ok? Don’t be afraid to give back or tip a little extra on services rendered… we always did and we felt good about it!
- Want to have an undisturbed nap? Bring ear plugs for not only the cruise but on the plane, etc. On the river or any water for that matter, sounds travel fast and at louder frequencies so better to go prepared then not have them at all.
- Take movies with a laptop that can play them. The Country of Myanmar has frequent internet connectivity issues (it will get better with time) so take several movies in case the TV does not work or goes down. We bought them in Bangkok prior to the cruise and they got passed around like hot cakes onboard- they were much appreciated by other guests and wished they had thought of the idea themselves.
- Speaking of good ideas…
- If u love horses like we do, when it’s time to get off the ship to take a horse carriage ride, or visiting Bagan (like the picture above), save a piece of your apple at breakfast (or buy a few from the market) and give one to the horse afterwards as a treat… They will appreciate it.
- Tips for the stop in Bagan. This city experience requires it’s own blog, so if you decide to go to Myanmar, don’t miss reading this blog to enhance your experience there.
- Must pack: Don’t forget to bring sunscreen, fly repellant and old sneakers.
If you want more tips like these & want to learn more about Myanmar then check out our blog post titled “Our Experience During Our Myanmar River Cruise!”. Then have a look at Our Pictures & Videos of our Myanmar River Cruise. Then you’ll be a Myanmar pro! 🙂
At this point if you are itching with excitement to take this River Cruise (we can’t blame you there) or another AMA Waterways trip to experience their excellent service, food & tours or want to get in touch with us to answer your questions, call or email us anytime- we are here to help you sail away!
Happy Cruising! 🙂
Nancy & Shawn
Your Trusted Cruise Experts!