River Cruises

Comparing the Adventures by Disney River Cruise to Other Adventures by Disney Travel

by on August 17, 2016

I’ve made scores of visits to Walt Disney World, am a platinum level guest on Disney Cruise Line (DCL), and have visited Aulani, Disneyland, Disneyland Paris, and Hong Kong Disneyland, but if I had to choose my favorite Disney vacation experiences, I’d choose those related to Adventures by Disney (AbD).

I recently returned from Adventures by Disney’s newest offering, a seven-night trip on the Danube River on the AmaWaterways AmaViola river cruise ship. Last week I discussed the differences between the AbD river cruise and sailing on Disney Cruise Line. I’m now covering the differences and similarities between the Adventures by Disney river cruise product and a traditional AbD vacation. As point of reference, I have previously been on the AbD Costa Rica, Germany, Peru, China, and Wyoming standard trips, as well as the AbD add-ons to DCL cruises in the Mediterranean and Baltic seas, and the Barcelona 3-day pre-cruise escape, making the recent river cruise my 9th AbD vacation.

The AbD group is four times as large on the river cruise as it is on a standard AbD trip.

The AbD group is four times as large on the river cruise as it is on a standard AbD trip.

Do AbD river cruises have the same number of guests as a regular AbD trip?

No. Other AbD trips have their advertised maximum number of guests at 40. In practice, my traditional AbD trips have ranged from 28 to 42 guests. The maximum number of guests on the AbD river cruise is 158, with a likely real load of 130-140, as not every stateroom will be filled to maximum capacity.

So what do they do about guides?

There are two guides on a traditional AbD trip, giving you a guide to guest ratio of about 1 to 20 or better. There are eight guides on the AdB river cruises, giving you the same guide to guest ratio of about 1 to 20 or better.

When there are AbD trips on the Disney Cruise Line ships, the AbD guests are just a small portion of the ship’s guests. How does this work on the river cruise?

The Adventures by Disney DCL add-ons typically happen on the Disney Magic. The 40 or so AbD guests are a tiny portion of the 2,700 Magic passengers. When AbD runs river cruises, they charter the entire ship. All the guests on board will be participating in the AbD program.

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A Look at the Food on the Adventures by Disney River Cruise

by on August 1, 2016

When I booked my Adventures by Disney Danube River Cruise, I anticipated enjoying the old world charm of Europe. I also looked forward to sailing on a new river cruise ship. What I hadn’t anticipated was the fantastically fresh and flavorful food I’d be eating on and off the ship.

The smaller scale of the ship (150-ish guests on the Adventures by Disney cruise vs. 3,000+ guests on many Disney Cruise Line sailings) means that the kitchen staff can provide more personal attention to guest needs. Additionally, there are no sea days on a river cruise and port stops are lengthy, which means that the ship can receive daily provisions of dairy, meat, and produce. There is less need to use frozen or pre-prepared food; more is fresh and freshly prepared than on a Disney Cruise Line voyage.


Meal times vary slightly from day to day, depending on the ship’s planned excursions. There is typically just one seating time for lunch and dinner. Times are posted daily in the “Daily Adventurer” which is available in the lobby and delivered to your room each evening, much like the Navigator is on Disney Cruise Line.



Breakfast is a hybrid buffet/menu meal. Always available on the buffets are a large selection of breads and pastries, fruit, yogurt, scrambled eggs, bacon, smoked salmon, hash browns, baked beans, and fresh squeezed juices. There is a custom egg/omelet station daily. You may also order eggs, oatmeal, waffles, or breakfast steak. Additionally, every morning a server brought around “vitamin shots,” where were fortified shot-glass-sized smoothies.

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23 Ways an Adventures by Disney River Cruise is Different from a Disney Cruise Line Ocean Cruise

by on July 28, 2016

During the month of July I had two back-to-back Disney cruising experiences, 7-nights on the Disney Cruise Line (DCL) Magic ship touring the Baltic countries, followed immediately by 7-nights with Adventures by Disney (AbD) on their new AmaViola Danube river cruise. This quick switch from one type of cruising to another gave me a terrific window into the differences between the two modes of travel. Here’s a rundown.

1. It’s the Destination, not the Journey.

There have been times I’ve booked DCL cruises without a particular destination in mind. I wanted someplace, anyplace, warm on the right dates at the right price. The fact that the cruise was going to the Bahamas, the Caribbean, or Mexico was immaterial; it just needed to fit in my kids’ vacation schedule and be priced right. For me, it was about experiencing the ship, getting a little sunshine, and being lazy during endless days at sea. For a quick three-nighter, I might not even get off the ship.

By contrast, the AbD Danube River cruise is all about where you’re going. The reason to cruise is to see the sights of Europe. There are no sea days and there’s not much to do on board during the day. Instead, when you’re on a river cruise, you are literally steps from historic sights, quaint cafes, magnificent artwork, and lush landscapes. The draw is off the ship rather than on it.

Touring Bratislava, Slovakia.

Touring Bratislava, Slovakia.

Viewing Budapest at night from the upper deck.

Viewing Budapest at night from the upper deck.

Vienna's Schonbrunn Palace.

Vienna’s Schonbrunn Palace.

Even while on board the ship, you feel like you're part of the city.

Even while on board the ship, you feel like you’re part of the city.


2. Ownership of the Ship.

Disney owns the Disney Cruise Line ships. They have exclusive use and have them fitted and decorated to exactly their specifications. You’ll see lots of Disney touches on board: hidden Mickeys in the upholstery, Disney-themed entertainment, costumed characters, and so on.

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Get to Know Disney’s Newest Cruise Ship: A Photo Tour of the AmaViola

by on July 26, 2016

A few months back Disney Cruise Line announced the upcoming construction of two new ocean liners. These will be of similar size and capacity to the current Disney Dream and Fantasy ships, capable of transporting thousands of guests across thousands of miles. These ships have planned christening dates in 2021 and 2023. But if you’re not in the mood to wait five to seven years for a new Disney-related cruise experience, you can have one right now via the new Adventures by Disney (AbD) river cruise product.

Disney is currently partnering with AmaWaterways (pronounced like ah-ma waterways) to offer European river cruises on the Danube and, starting next summer, on the Rhine. Ama owns the ships, not Disney, which means that when AbD has not chartered the ships Ama can use them for other ventures. But Disney did have a hand in designing the vessels, asking for family-friendly features, like connecting cabins, not typically found on river cruises.

The first Ama and Adventures by Disney partnership sailings happened this month on the AmaViola, a three month old ship. I was onboard the second of these voyages, the first heading West to East from Germany to Hungary. In the coming days, I’ll be sharing my experiences and describing how a Disney river cruise differs from a Disney ocean cruise, as well as how an Adventures by Disney river cruise differs from a traditional AbD trip. But to start, here’s a photo tour of the lovely AmaViola.

By way of introduction, be aware that the AmaViola has a maximum capacity of 158 guests, compared with about 2,700 on the Disney Magic and Wonder, and about 4,000 on the Disney Dream and Fantasy.


Deck plan of the AmaViola

Deck plan of the AmaViola


There are 79 guest cabins on three decks. Twelve of the cabins (six pair) have the capacity to be connected to another cabin via an internal door. Twelve cabins have a capacity of three guests. Four suites have a capacity of four guests. The remainder of the cabins sleep two.

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