Erin Foster, coauthor of The Unofficial Guide to Disney Cruise Line, just returned from her second Disney river cruise, this time on the beautiful AmaKristina sailing the Rhine River. Rather than working through the oceangoing Disney Cruise Line, Disney river cruises are run by the smaller Adventures by Disney luxury travel arm of the company, using vessels contracted through river cruise line AmaWaterways.
Disney river cruises are a fantastic way to get to know the areas of Central Europe that can’t be reached by ocean liners. With small ships (and thus smaller passenger loads), it’s an intimate way to explore the world. While the exemplary Disney service reigns on both Disney Cruise Lines and the Adventures by Disney river cruises, there are a number of differences, among them the food.
While Disney Cruise Line food is the stuff of legend (limitless access to ice cream and all the shrimp you can possibly eat), in my opinion, the river cruise dining situation is even better. Because river cruise ships are docked every day, fresh supplies are always close at hand. And the limited number of guests means there’s less need to prepare items far in advance. Everything is at peak deliciousness.
Breakfast is served primarily buffet-style with items like fruit, cheeses, breakfast meats, scrambled eggs, potatoes, and the like always available. Made-to-order eggs, a rotating line-up of hot entrées, and an expansive bread table round out the options.
Lunch may be on the ship or out and about if you’ve chosen a full-day excursion. These excursions include visits to chocolate or cheese factories. How can you go wrong? When you’re on the ship, there’s a mix of cold salads and sandwiches, as well as a menu of hot items.
Dinner is a four-course gourmet meal every night and there’s also a chef’s table, with tasting menu, available to all adult guests at no additional charge. Beer and wine are included with every lunch and dinner on the ship, as well as during various ship-board celebrations and during food-based excursions such as pub crawls or wine tastings.
Children may dine with their families, or a selection of kid-friendly favorites is available every night in the lounge under the supervision of the Disney Adventure Guides.
Guests with most food allergies can be accommodated with the river cruise kitchens. Every menu lists the allergens present in each item, and waiters ask every guest about allergy-related needs. We dined several times with guests with gluten, walnut, and shellfish allergies, and all were treated respectfully and offered a wide array of safe items.
In addition to main meal times, there is a full bar available almost all day. A miraculous coffee bar is available around the clock. My college-age daughter/traveling companion joked that she thought I loved the river cruise coffee machine more than I loved her. (No, but it’s a closer race than I should admit.) There are also light snacks available in the afternoon, late night bites after dinner, and fruit and cookies available throughout the day.
Along with all the food on the ship, river cruises typically dock in or near the central part of a city, so you’re never far away from the all foodie delights in your port of call. Yum!