MS Amalyra river cruise blog
Arrived at LHR T3 and decided to try the Priority Pass. There are two options - both right next to each other - Servisair and No 1 lounge. I opted for the No 1 lounge. Was rather shocked to see that they normally charge £35 for this!! Priority Pass is £15.
First the positives - The lounge itself was very clean, tidy and had a very peaceful and relaxing ambience. A very pleasant environment indeed. Now the negatives - the food offering was very lacklustre indeed. Just three salads, two types of cheese, a few crackers. Various slices of bread and a few dry cakes. A rather uninspiring fruit salad was the only healthy option. There is only one hot option included - in my case, a slice of Welsh rarebit. There are other hot meals available but these are all chargeable at £10 and upwards.
There is a good choice of drinks available but these are not self service so you have to go up and reorder from the bar each time. Don’t however ask for a double measure - you will get very short thrift!!
For a lounge which holds probably 100+ people, they only have two male and two female toilets, which meant there was often a queue.
All in all, I would say my lounge experience was efficient, but nothing special and definitely not worth £35.
My BA flight to Budapest was due to depart at 1810 so it was a bonus to find myself on the aircraft with doors closed and all ready to go at 1755. The captain’s celebratory announcement was then supplemented by "there is just one hitch". Severe fog and ice had descended upon LHR and whilst the pilot and aircraft could cope with poor visibility, they could not cope with ice on the wings so we had to wait for de-icing equipment and this might take up to a hour. After several more delays, we finally took off after 3 hours sitting on the plane. The BA crew, including the captain were very patient and highly visible - British rail staff could learn a lot from them - giving out water, juice & coffee throughout.
Eventually at 2am, I reached my hotel, the Marriott in a very cold Budapest. The hotel was a very typical Marriott with a large room. The highlight was an amazing view of the Danube - all the better to wake up to. They also had a very festive display of Hungarian cakes and gingerbread goods in the lobby.
Spent the morning walking around this lovely city, some great architecture and buildings. Close to the basilica, I stopped to refuel at - in my experience - one of the most authentic strudel houses I have ever come across. Cabbage strudel sounds rather strange but believe me it is amazing!
In the afternoon, I made my way over to my home for the next few days, the ms Amalyra, part of the AMA Waterways fleet. I was greeted by several very friendly crew members and invited to wait in the lounge as cabins were not yet ready. Coffee, tea, sandwiches and cookies were also available. The loung had a lovely festive feel to it with a beautiful gingerbread house as a focal point.
At 3pm, we were invited to check in to our cabins. I was in cabin 320 on deck 3 and was pleasantly surprised by the space and facilities provided. French balcony, complimentary Internet and wi fi throughout the ship. Sparkling wine and yet more cookies. The bathroom was a good size with a proper shower cubicle with no less than three different shower heads!
After settling into my cabin and exploring the ship a little, it was time to regroup in the Amalyra lounge for the safety briefing. We got to meet our Dutch captain - a jovial man who I suspected could be a very good understudy for Santa Claus if necessary! Given the outside temperature, it was a relief to know he was not going to actually make us go the muster station. After the safety briefing, he introduced us to the senior crew members, all of whom expressed that their main objective was to make us feel not like guests but like family.
After all the introductions, it was time for our first dinner on board - a very lavish affair and excellent quality. Service was very attentive and the wine flowed very generously.
The highlight of our first day/evening followed after dinner. The captain took the ship for a sail along the Danube while we all braved the cold on the sun deck and witnessed the most amazing spectacle. We had the most spectacular 360 degree views of the now illuminated city of Budapest accompanied by music and our cruise director, Maddy’s commentary. Amazing!!!
Despite the freezing cold, there were even people in the jacuzzi!!
The ship returned and stay moored in Budapest overnight. Our group chose to move into the lounge to consume the bottles of champagne that the cabin steward had kindly left in our cabins. It was also to blame for the dance floor being rather more used than normal, I suspect. Rather than risk turning into a pumpkin, midnight meant bedtime!!
- Read day 3 here - MS Amalyra river cruise blog