Q – This has really been eye-opening. We’ve been really excited about the AMA Waterways river cruise we booked for next August. We are doing their Legendary Danube itinerary, the one that gives you three nights in Prague. What happens if we arrive in Europe only to find that instead of a terrific time on the AMADante, we’ll be getting on a Greyhound bus. Will AMA give us advance notice and what kind of reimbursement can we expect for having our vacation pretty much destroyed?
A – Your bus will be considerably nicer than the one pictured above. And the majority of guests on your cruise will end up praising river boat management for the way they reacted to water-level related itinerary changes. In fact, it would be highly unusual for you to remain off the boat for more than one or two nights. That said, here is what you can expect. Your final documents will go out about two and a half weeks prior to departure. No one at AMA will know what the water levels will be when you arrive in Europe. Should itinerary changes become necessary, your agent would likely be notified – but not always. At AMA, the policy is to reimburse you at a rate of 15% for each day of itinerary deviation in the form of a future credit. Every one of the lines in our ratings now embraces a policy of future credits for disrupted sailings. Of course, the issue is that many guests are not pleased with the way things are handled and they will never want to sail with the affected line again. So a future cruise credit is essentially useless, particularly since it cannot be used by a third party. To the best of our collective knowledge, all river boat companies are now using future cruise credits rather than cash reimbursement. It is fair to say that their corporate viewpoint is that, after all is said and done, water levels are not under their control and they are being generous to even offer future credits for water level issues.
We do suggest that every potential river cruiser strongly consider our ratings. One of the major factors for a high rating on RBR is the manner in which problems are dealt with tot he guest’s satisfaction. We have found, over the years, that there are vast differences in the way that these lines react to emergencies or operational problems. Vast differences. When the skies are sunny and the water levels are ideal, you can have an excellent sailing experience on any of the lines we include in our reviews. The consumer has to think about how they might perform when everything is not ideal.