Cultural Immersion on the Danube with AmaWaterways

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Each cruise with AmaWaterways on the Danube offers opportunities for guests to join educational tours, meet local guides, and dine on traditional local dishes.

Travel opens doors to experience new and exciting things. My favorite way to get immersed in a new culture is by dining on homegrown cuisine, sipping local wines, learning the regional history, and chatting with the residents. Each cruise with AmaWaterways on the Danube offers opportunities for guests to join educational tours, meet local guides, and dine on traditional local dishes.

AmaWaterways Cultural Immersion Through Food

On a recent AmaWaterways Danube River Cruise on the AmaSonata, my husband, Steve, and I submerged ourselves in the German, Austrian, Slovakian, and Hungarian cultures. As a foodie, I always try the local wine and cuisine when available. While onboard the Sonata, Steve and I savored the regional wines and fabulous traditional dishes.

My favorites were the Crêpe Suzette with a delicious orange-Cointreau caramel sauce, the Selbach 2021 Riesling from Mosel, and the Knödel from Austria (a traditional bread dumpling) served with a creamy wild forest mushroom sauce accompanied by cheese and broccoli.

Crepe Sussette on an AmaWaterways Danube River cruise. Photo by Tracy Ellen Beard

The Culinary Team at AmaWaterways

Robert Kellerhall, the Culinary Director and Corporate Executive Chef at AmaWaterways, creates mouth-watering cuisine, highlighting authentic regional offerings on all AmaWaterways cruises. Robert routinely brainstorms with Co-Founder/President Rudi Schreiner, born in Vienna, and Co-Founder Kristin Karst, born in Germany, to improve and tweak the menus each January. To fine-tune the menu, they work together and review customer comments to adjust and enhance the culinary program.

AmaSonata Dining Room. Photo courtesy of AmaWaterways

AmaWaterways culinary program benefits from a “hierarchy” of chefs. Robert Kellerhall and the Co-Founders design most of the menus. Jozsef Kovacs, one of four AmaWaterways Corporate Chefs, shares responsibility for ensuring the quality and consistency of all cuisine served on board AmaWaterways ships. The Executive Chefs and Chefs Table Chef aboard each boat manage their vessel’s day-to-day operations.

Executive Chef Jozsef Kovacs. Photo by Tracy Ellen Beard

An Interview With the Chef

During my cruise, I interviewed Corporate Chef Jozsef Kovacs and learned more about how fresh, local ingredients are celebrated through the AmaWaterways culinary program.

Do you have a signature dish or drink?

Our signature with the cruise line is fresh and homemade products. The Chef’s Table tasting menu is a signature of AmaWaterways. We change the components of the menu every year so our returning guests can experience something new and surprising. Our guests talk a lot about how much they love our homemade soups, and we share many recipes with guests. However, our potato wedges are also a favorite; that recipe is a secret, so we do not share it.

What do you want people to say about the food on your ship?

We hope guests remark on the freshness of all the ingredients that go into our dishes. The food is an essential part of how our guests experience a destination, and we are very proud of the local dishes we prepare to give guests an authentic taste of the countries or regions they visit.

Knödel from Austria onboard AmaWaterways Danube River cruise. Photo by Tracy Ellen Beard

What do you think the dining staff at AmaWaterways does best for customer service?

AmaWaterways is the only river cruise line with an onboard bakery. All our products are fresh and homemade, and we listen to our guest’s feedback and adapt to their expectations. “Above and beyond their expectations” is the AmaWaterways credo.

Cultural Immersion on a Pre-Cruise Stay in Munich, Germany

Steve and I stayed at The Charles Hotel, a Rocco Forte Hotel in Munich, two nights before our cruise. We traversed the city using our city passes from simplymunich. We toured the city, taking in the sights and history with guide Anton Figl. He shared about the city’s local architecture, the famous Marienplatz (central plaza), Jewish history, and the open-air markets.

Pretzels are a delicious local treat. Photo by Tracy Ellen Beard

On our second evening, Steve and I visited BMW Welt. BMW is a comprehensive motor company and includes numerous luxury brands. These cars are exceptionally well-built and stylish and offer multiple levels of luxury for the discerning consumer. BMW Welt is an experience not to be missed. Not only can those purchasing BMW automobiles book their vehicle collection at BMW Welt, but anyone can visit the showroom to peruse the stunning vehicles on display.

The BMWWelt building. Photo courtesy of BMW AG

After we toured the building, we dined at EssZimmer, an incredible 2-star Michelin Restaurant inside the BMW Welt Building. Before dinner, I interviewed Executive Chef Bobby Bräuer, who opened and now oversees all aspects of EssZimmer, The Bavarie by Käfer, a bistro, some smaller cafes, and the catering for all events at BMW Welt, including the many outdoor parties on the terrace and in the main event room.

Our seven-course, wine-paired dinner at EssZimmer was truly spectacular. The dishes were creative, tasty, and Instagram-worthy, the wines were well-paired and decadent, and the staff was professional and engaging.

Lobster dish at EssZimmer. Photo by Tracy Ellen Beard

21-Mile E-bike Ride Through Vienna

We booked an e-bike tour with Viator, a company that has proven over and over to give great tours and provide loads of fun and adventure. The bike tour with Miguel was one of the main highlights of this European adventure. We rode up 1300 feet with the e-bikes and went 21 miles. We traversed near vineyards, opulent neighborhoods, and the island running through the city and various parks. The weather was glorious for the first three hours and then rained on us for the last hour.

Cycling in Vienna, Austria. Photo by Steve Beard

Concert in Vienna, Austria

To me, Vienna is known for its music and pastries. AmaWaterways offered an optional excursion to a private performance in the city. It was spectacular. The evening was filled with opera, ballet, and music played by a small orchestra.

Concert in Vienna, Austria, coordinated by AmaWaterways Danube River cruise. Photo by Tracy Ellen Beard

Bratislava Walking Tour

My favorite part of Bratislava, Slovakia, was the walking tour and all the statues. My two favorites were the man peering out of a manhole cover, supposedly looking up skirts. This statue was created in 1997 by Viktor Hulík.

The man peering out of a manhole cover by Viktor Hulík. Photo by Susan Lanier-Graham

My other favorite is the one depicting Hans Christian Andersen. The Danish fairy teller visited Bratislava in 1841, and the statue is of a tall, bashful, skinny poet with a huge snail located down at his feet gazing up at him.

Hans Christian Anderson in Bratslavia. Photo by Tracy Ellen Beard

Cultural Music Aboard the Ship

In my book, cultural experiences must include music. Not only did we enjoy the concert in Vienna, but the staff aboard the AmaSonata provided local music in a few ports of call. During our final night, we docked in Budapest, and musicians dressed in traditional clothing boarded the ship and entertained us with local songs, music, and dance.

Musicians who came aboard the AmaSonata during our AmaWaterways Danube River cruise. Photo by Tracy Ellen Beard

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AmaWaterways AmaSonata ship. Photo courtesy AmaWaterways

Cruising with AmaWaterways on the Danube

The team at AmaWaterways does a fabulous job hosting thousands of people each year. The dining menus are varied and tasty, and the excursions immerse guests in the local culture, providing a memorable experience that celebrates each travel destination. Let Wander With Wonder be your guide when planning your next cruise or trip to Europe.


Cultural Immersion on the Danube with AmaWaterways