One of the first ships in the U by Uniworld cruise line, The A is a pioneer in the company's entirely new river cruise concept: Attract a younger demographic with a laidback style of cruising that places a strong emphasis on active exploration and what to do after the sun goes down.
From the outside in, there's nothing like The A sailing the Rhine, Main or Danube Rivers. Formerly Uniworld's River Ambassador, the ship has been painted black with neon accents, and completely updated with hip decor and public spaces designed to appeal to millennials (although the ship itself is geared for adults and has no age limit).
You won't encounter nautical terms onboard. In an effort to appeal to first-time cruisers, phrases like "cabin" or "starboard" translate to "room" and "right." Reference to decks is all but eliminated with directions given as "upstairs" or "downstairs," "lounge" or "rooftop lounge." Even the dynamic between passengers and crew is more relaxed; uniforms for the staff consist of all-black jeans, T-shirts, hoodies and Converse sneakers. Local guides are called "U Hosts" and beyond leading orientation walks and answering questions, they occasionally dine with passengers and can be seen grabbing drinks with a group at their favorite local bar.
The organized tour feeling you often get on excursions is stripped away as much as possible, which presents both challenges and opportunities to passengers on The A. There's not a ton of hand-holding, and the line encourages flexibility. Want to spend the night off the ship or take the train to catch up with the vessel in the next port? Go right ahead. This is a boon for independent travelers worried that they will be marked as tourists following a guide's lollipop. But on the flipside, passengers should feel comfortable enough to be dropped in the middle of a bustling plaza in Amsterdam and find their way back to the ship using some loose walking/public transportation directions. Expect to be self-sufficient.
Those who want to lounge onboard will be met by attentive and friendly service, and up-to-the-minute programming like painting with wine or camping on the top deck under the stars (extra fees apply). On a seven-night cruise, only one night was spent sailing; the ship is usually split between those spending every free moment in port and those enjoying some of the onboard offerings like DJ nights or a "silent cinema."
A late-morning brunch instead of breakfast or lunch, digital-only schedules and menus, a WhatsApp group for socializing and USB outlets at every turn are other striking differentiators for those who have taken a more traditional river cruise.
When designing the ship, execs were careful that "youthful" didn't read "cheap." The cheeky sketches of nude figures lining cabin hallways? They are original Matisse prints. The multicolored Marilyn Monroes who watch your every move -- on the dance floor or sashaying through the lobby -- they are all limited editions signed by Warhol. Nor is the cruise a cheap venture for many in their first decade of a career; starting prices are close to $300 per day, when you factor in added expenses.
Skeptics have mocked some aspects of U, wondering if a river cruise originally intended for millennials would get off the ground. But the flexibility that The A promotes could appeal to anyone looking for a break from the rigid days and early nights of many river cruises. We agree they're on to something. You get the benefit of unpacking once, with a built-in support crew and social atmosphere, plus farm-to-table meals each morning and evening that make the idea of backpacking hostels less and less attractive. The A is for travelers who are still eager and adventurous, but have aged out of the idea of "schlepping."
There are 61 cabins onboard The A, in four configurations which accommodate from one to three people. Every room category is the same size -- 128 square feet -- with the exception of the suites, which are double the size: 256 square feet.
Rather than pay the single supplement, solo cruisers are given the option to be paired with a roommate at booking, who they will meet on the first day of the cruise, and pay a "twin share" double occupancy rate. While this option might sound attractive from a budgetary stance, we don't recommend it. Everyone who had booked this way on our sailing took one look at how close the beds are together (because of room dimensions, two twins are pushed together to be a queen and they are not able to be separated by more than a few inches) and asked for their own room. Luckily, rooms were available, but this might not always be the case. It's close quarters for even friends to share.
Rooms, for the most part, are fairly small, though smart design has made them comfortable and functional. Mirrors in every direction create the illusion of more space, and are handy for getting ready, but can also be a little disconcerting if you don't like to see yourself at all times (waking up, sitting on the toilet). While there is tons of striking art around the ship, none is in cabins.
All cabins come with plush Savoir beds; plenty of outlets (American and European), including USB outlets, for charging; a flat-screen TV; safes; glass bottles of water that are refilled; reading lights on both sides of the bed; a charging station for your QuietVox listening devices; responsive climate control and copious amounts of storage space. Two people with large suitcases still had extra room leftover in closets in a standard room, after unpacking everything. Wooden hangers, plenty of shelves and individual shelving and drawer units (though a bit shallow) provide a nook and cranny for anything you could want to stash. We did notice that both the safe and the phone are relegated to one side of these units, so ultimately one person has to deal with the extra clutter. Empty suitcases fit under the bed. There is a small desk with a chair in studio and balcony rooms, but not in the studio triple. Suites feature a large desk.
Housekeeping begins rounds at 9 a.m. Since this ship gets started later than most, it's important to stick your Do Not Disturb pillow on the door if you don't want a knock this early. The velvet door hangers are a touch brought over from the other Uniworld ships.
A modern and thoughtful touch in the cabins of The A is that both the television and an overhead speaker are Bluetooth-enabled. (If you're not sure how to sync your device, a crew member will happily help.) This allows you to play your own music through the TV or a dedicated sound system. The TV is also where you can go for all onboard menus, shore excursion offerings, safety and FAQ information, and the daily program. Tons of channels from CNN to Animal Planet, TLC and MTV are available to watch, as well as a number of movies on demand. We found the list of radio stations to be a little odd. We think a list of podcasts -- maybe about the areas we were sailing -- would have been a bit more relevant for in-room listening.
Light switches are dimming, but not intuitive -- the longer you hold down the switch the brighter or dimmer the lights become. Also, prepare to continuously turn on the wrong light as the bathroom light is not the switch nearest to the bathroom.
Bathrooms are surprisingly spacious and feel luxe due to the marbleized effect of the surfaces. The large shower with glass doors is even bigger than in some premium ocean cruise cabins we've stayed in. There is an overhead outlet for a shaver, a makeup mirror with a light, a bowl sink, cup for toothbrushes, a high-powered hair dryer and plenty of room under the sink to stow toiletries. A blue LED light stays on and serves as a gentle nightlight. Products are BeeKind, a collection by Gilchrist and Soames, that doesn't use parabens or artificial ingredients and supports sustainable pollination research. We love the choice of liquid hand soap over sticky bar soap at the sink; the soap has honey and lemongrass extract while the body lotion features chamomile. In the shower there is a gel dispenser, similar to the hand soap, and a conditioning shampoo. You will need to bring your own face wash and hair products if you're not a fan of the all-in-one.
An extra hook in the room would be helpful to hang both towels, and not take much space. There is only one hook on the back of the bathroom door.
Studio: There are 29 Studio cabins onboard The A, and they are all located on Deck 1. The color scheme for these rooms is a soothing blue-gray. A picture window is along the wall with white wooden slatted blinds to keep light -- and onlookers -- from peering in. We love the little touches, like stitched blue stripes on the down comforter (the lines are red in balcony rooms).
Balcony: There are 26 Balcony cabins on The A, located on Deck 2. The balcony is a French balcony (you can only step out from a sliding glass door). These rooms are identified by their rich red wall coverings. The same slatted blinds help keep the room private. (Tip: to keep it darker in the morning flip the blinds up, not down)
Studio Triple: There are two Studio Triples (rooms 232 and 233) onboard. These rooms look very Space Age with one lofted twin bed and one twin bunk, but each unit is in its own little pod, with separate TV screens, storage space and outlets (European). Adding to the effect are individually controlled touchpads that allow each occupant to manipulate the color of their unit, across the spectrum of the rainbow. The triples are outfitted with most of the same amenities as other rooms, including a picture window; however limited storage space must be shared with an additional person -- pack light.
Suite: Located on Deck 2 of The A are four suites. The biggest differentiator of these rooms is the space, plus a large French balcony with two sliding glass doors. Suites make use of the additional room with a small glass table and two chairs, larger desk and exceptionally big bathroom with double sinks and a heated towel rack. Anyone staying in a suite also has use of an in-suite espresso machine, complimentary mini-bar, robes and free laundry services. Suites are red with white trim and a black headboard; bathrooms are the same gray-and-white marble.
U By Uniworld has elevated culinary offerings onboard by doing one very surprising thing: eliminating choice. Of course, exceptions are made for dietary restrictions, but apart from a daily vegetarian option, dinner -- the one meal served to your table each day -- is set. Using fresh and local ingredients as inspiration, an appetizer platter, soup, main course and dessert are presented each evening to the table. There are no two-tops; tables are organized for four, six, eight and 12 people to sit together and rectangular tables can always be pushed together for even larger groups.
Another unique aspect of dining on The A is that meals are served family style, on shared platters. If you find yourself in the rare situation of dining alone, your dinner will be served to you on your own plate. Also, if you are ordering a special vegetarian meal or simply don't want onions, servers will bring you a version of the meal that suits your individual needs.
The one blemish on an otherwise standout dinner service was timing. Servers were attentive, refilling water glasses and taking other drink orders, but the lapse in time between when the starters and mains were served could be very lagging. We found this was mostly the case at larger tables as the kitchen seemed to want to serve everyone at once. With shared plates, you think this would be easier, but due to the staggered nature of the evening dining hours, there were inconsistencies. The kitchen will need to iron out the flow of dinnertime if they don't want complaints from patrons who can't sit through a two- to three-hour-long dinner each evening.
The other meal of the day is brunch, which bridges the gap between a leisurely late breakfast and lunch, and is served buffet style. We greatly enjoyed the French press coffee served tableside, which was remarkably better than most "cruise coffee."
The quality of the ingredients and the expert execution of delicate meringues and pastries makes for some memorable plates in the Dine.
There is no room service available onboard The A.
Dine (Deck 1): Referred to as "The Dine," The A's single restaurant is unrecognizable as a former Uniworld dining room. Mirrors and windows bring lots of natural light into this trendy space, filled with exposed lightbulbs, potted herb plants on tables and the ship's signature neon backlighting. Works of art reminiscent of The A's familiar neon heart hang on the back wall. Tables are arranged as booths, square tables along the windows, round tables for groups in the middle of the room, and in the center is the coveted banquet table with high-top, cushioned stools (that sink down comfortably), which seats a dozen people. Flat-screen TVs around the restaurant display the menu du jour, but usually they're an afterthought and your waiter will explain that day's specialties. Most tables are outfitted with USB ports or outlets to charge your phone, but we never saw them in use -- let alone people on their phones. Meals on The A were filled with lively conversation and laughter.
Brunch starts in the late morning, and times vary depending on the day -- plan for 9:30 or 10. For about three hours, passengers on The A can help themselves to treats like chia seed pudding, green smoothies, crispy bacon and scrambled eggs, fresh fruit cups, a full salad bar with prepared salads included, a bread basket, morning pastries, sliced meats and cheeses, and an omelet station. Don't miss banana pancakes or Dutch waffles kept warm in silver trays. Because the first meal of the day can go until after 1 p.m., there are hot, savory lunch items like Mediterranean vegetables, cheese spaetzle (German egg noodles) or paninis -- and don't forget about dessert with local honey cake and dark chocolate/pistachio mousse. Fresh coffee is served to your table, but you can easily step just outside the dining room to make yourself a latte. A variety of juices, kept in pitchers behind the counter, are available at breakfast.
Unless you need to make a substitution or are more in the mood for a cauliflower steak than traditional bratwurst, dinner is pretty straightforward. Dinner hours in the Dine are about 7:30 to 9:30 p.m. each evening and you can begin anytime you want to, but leave yourself plenty of time to dine or sit at a smaller table. A starting platter might feature local specialties like "Kolsch tapas" -- dry fruits and bacon, grilled artichokes, falafel and baba ghanoush -- or a deconstructed Nicoise salad. The soup course was a favorite on our sailing, each night offering a delicious and sometimes surprising selection like cream of roasted Brussel sprout or carrot ginger with cinnamon popcorn on top. Local flavors were especially pronounced when it came to entrees -- beer and beef goulash (served in a cast iron pot) or a variety of German sausages -- but dishes like a miso-glazed cod and glass noodle salad kept a week of meals from being too heavy on the meat and potatoes.
Twice we had meringue -- in a berry pavlova and again in a plum almond tart with a meringue top -- and some tablemates exclaimed it was one of the best things they ever ate. Local specialties reign over the dessert course, as well, with treats like a Cologne rum truffle cake or an apricot cheesecake.
One of the last nights of the cruise, there is a surprise at the end of the meal. We don't want to ruin it too much, but the best way to describe it is a "dessert rave." There's music, maybe a drum or two, lots of shouting and clapping -- and of course an incredible spread of sweets.
U Lounge (Deck 2): From 3 to 7 p.m., bar snacks are offered in the U Lounge for a la carte prices. This helps to fill the gap between brunch and dinner service. On The A, snacks include a mezze plate with pita, baba ghanoush, olive tapenade, hummus and falafel for 8.50 euros, a German currywurst (sausage) for 9.50 euros or two beef sliders for 12 euros. After dinner and during bar hours, anyone feeling peckish can order a hot dog for 7 euros or some freshly popped popcorn for 2 euros.
By the entrance to the U Lounge are jars containing candies like marshmallows, gummy bears, raspberry jellies or hard candy.
Mugs (Deck 1): There is a tiny nook to your left before entering the restaurant on Deck 1, and this is the 24-hour drink station known as Mugs. Glasses, and of course mugs, are provided for cold water on tap, an espresso machine and a variety of Newby-brand tea. Sugar, honey packets and spoons are also available, with a silver tray for leaving any unwanted cups behind.
On the U By Uniworld website, the dress code is listed as "Come as you are, as long as you have clothes on. No shirt, no shoes, no service." To help you narrow it down, dress for the weather (light windbreaker or jacket if the forecast looks rainy). A comfortable pair of shoes are always a must for river cruises as lots of walking, biking and exploring is involved. Yoga pants, leggings or joggers are comfortable and functional for hanging around the ship or embarking on an active excursion. While there are no designated formal nights, most passengers did spruce up during the evenings, so a cute dress, jumper or a button-up should help you feel ready for a night on the town or dancing onboard.
The A provides value, but it's not all-inclusive. Gratuities for onboard services and shore excursions are included in your cruise fare. Water, tea and coffee are available all day, every day, but other beverages (with the exception of juice at brunch) are additional. A drink package for a seven-night cruise runs about 299 euros per person. Brunch (late morning to afternoon) and dinner are included each day, but lunch is on your own.
At least one excursion is included in each port, and consists of a morning or nighttime orientation walk. We found the names of these tours to be misleading, however. An "espresso walk" around Cologne had some passengers banking on an included cup of early-morning caffeine, only to find that it was marketing speak and they had to march on without coffee in hand. The same applies to a "bottoms up" tour of Frankfurt by night -- sure, you get to see where Germans like to drink, but your stein of weissbier is on your own dime.
Wi-Fi is included, and works well enough to check email, social media and to keep up with the onboard WhatsApp group. But beyond that, many sites were blocked, videos wouldn't load and we had trouble sending or receiving photos over iMessage. For a stronger signal, portable devices called Mi-Fi are available to purchase onboard for 8 euros per day, and work off the ship while exploring in port. Depending on your international phone plan (or lack thereof) this might be a good deal for anyone who never wants to be out of touch.
Private or group transfers are available to book through the cruise line, but for an additional charge.
U By Uniworld didn't just rethink life onboard; they reimagined shore excursion offerings on some of cruising's most trafficked rivers. U Time tours come with an additional fee -- and vary widely -- offering passengers all-day passes to a swing over Amsterdam for 5 euros or a six-hour tasting tour for 99. Some tours are tried and true, like a visit to the historic Anne Frank House in Amsterdam, while others put a spin on standard site visits. The Zollverein Industrial Coal Mine Complex in Essen, Germany is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and worth a stop, but rather than selling a cut-and-dry guided tour of the former coal mine, U By Uniworld has passengers bike around the grounds with a local guide, followed by a chance to explore the museums at your own pace. If you want to stop at the scenic cafe for a beer or a bite, it's up to you; therein lies both the flexibility and the fault of the U By Uniworld shore excursions.
In order to help keep costs at a minimum, lunch is never provided on U By Uniworld, but during excursions this sometimes proved tricky. People are still going to want to grab a bite when they're out -- and especially when they're running around -- all day. However, the time needed to sit, order and pay for food was not always factored into the tour. This caused unevenness among tour groups and sometimes made the experience a tad disjointed. A call in advance to let the venue know a group would be coming, perhaps offer a limited menu, would help expedite the inevitable need for folks to grab some lunch during longer excursions.
Another major misstep was the lack of available water. Bottled water was never included, but nor was it available for purchase, even at some of the sites visited. Given the active nature of many of the excursions -- like the longer bike rides -- not having proper access or advanced notice about water is not only inconvenient, but dangerous. We're told that while they did not arrive in time for our very first sailing, future cruisers will be given reusable U By Uniworld water bottles so they can fill them throughout the sailing and take them ashore; this is also a more sustainable solution than disposable plastic water bottles.
Not every additional tour offered on The A requires a back-breaking amount of fitness. A cheese-making workshop in a German artisanal cheese shop (with an expletive in its name) is a fine example of immersion through food -- and cultures -- in a boutique setting, as well.
QuietVox devices -- audio devices that make it easier to hear a guide -- are used on some tours, so keep them charged. Those with smaller ears will want to bring their own headphones as the earbuds could be uncomfortable to wear for long periods of time.
Daytime and Evening Entertainment
As with many vacations, you can choose to do as much or as little as you want onboard The A. But with constant opportunities to explore port on a neat excursion or independently, sometimes there were very few people onboard to take part in daytime programming. As we were sailing onboard the first-ever cruise of The A, activities like an onboard mixology course or paint with wine were not offered yet, but should be on the schedule for future sailings. Daytime programming will not be included; each class with cost 15 euros.
At night, there is always a planned activity after dinner. Many nights, there is an evening walk to see the city by night and check out any happening bars and clubs as recommended by the local U Host. At times, these walks coincided with the silent disco, resulting in low turnout. Given the demographic and the interests of the passengers onboard, we like that there is always something available to do on or off the ship. The silent disco is held maybe two nights of a seven-night sailing and headphones are made available with the ability to switch to three different stations: green is a "chill" station, blue is Latin music and red is house music. The idea is to dance with the headphones on, but we saw some fellow passengers laying in the cabanas on the top deck just zoning out with headphones on and beverage in hand -- no judgment here.
The silent disco headphones will also be in use at the "silent cinema" at the back of the rooftop lounge, featuring a nearly 20-foot-high movie screen. Viewers can choose to listen to the film's dialogue, atmospheric music or other commentary.
While pricing has not been set at the time of publication, The A plans to offer the ability to rent tents (complete with supplies like sleeping bags) in order to "camp out" on the top deck under the stars. Offered only in good weather and to a limited number of participants, the camping might seem silly to some, as a room is already paid for below, but it's also an opportunity to do something different and break up the week with the ultimate outdoor sleepover party.
For such an active sailing, The A sneaks in quite a bit of enrichment. For example, the second day onboard, the wellness coach whipped out some drums and began an impromptu drum circle on the sun deck.
The included walks -- typically a morning or evening orientation walk -- not only provide you with some direction on where to go for what, but U Hosts also try to provide a bit of context about the city you’re in and its history.
During our morning of scenic sailing, we enjoyed the commentary about the passing castles and sights, but realized we preferred the traditional commentary made over the loudspeaker or in person, rather than the GPS-triggered commentary you could listen to from your QuitVox device. Since there was no good way to tell when a story was being told or when it was not, you either have to leave your headphones on the entire time or risk missing something. Despite wanting more information on our surroundings, we quickly lost interest in trying to get it from the QuietVox.
The hub of The A is the U Lounge, featuring the ship's main bar, but in a last-minute decision, U By Uniworld added a rooftop hangout called the Ice Bar. This indoor/outdoor sun deck space is a visual focal point of the ship and an exciting alternative venue. In conjunction with the line's sustainability initiatives, straws are by request only. When you do choose to have one in your Moscow mule, it will be made of paper and resemble a bamboo shoot -- there are few, if any, disposable plastics onboard.
U Lounge (Deck 2): Located behind the front desk on the main deck, the U Lounge is a central gathering space for passengers. The A's signature neon heart is here, along with some of Warhol's Marilyns and other more discreet pop art featuring colorful language (Hint: check the booth to the right behind the bar). Furniture is sleek and modern-looking -- gray booths with tables, charcoal couches, white chairs with low, geometric tables -- but functional.
In the morning, coffee and croissants are offered here and sunlight floods the panoramic windows, making it a peaceful place to enjoy some quiet. The ship's only meeting -- the safety drill and staff introductions on the first day -- is held in the lounge, but made relaxed by passed trays of Champagne.
The ship's primary bar is in the lounge, and this is where most DJ nights are held with a small dance floor for letting loose. During the day, a foosball table is there. A cocktail menu was created just for the ship by Jack Bettridge, a spirits writer for "Wine Spectator" and husband of Uniworld's president Ellen Bettridge. Craft cocktails are a trend by land, so the chance to try a Dutch Old Fashioned or a Sassy Bordeaux (made with tarragon grown onboard) is a welcome addition to the onboard drink menu (though prices also reflect that of swanky bars on land -- each drink will run you 9 euros). We enjoyed the availability of seven creative nonalcoholic cocktails for when you want to have a drink in hand but need a break from the booze.
Wine is available by the glass or bottle (about 8 euros for a glass). Local beer is on draft for 5.50 euros. A number of other liquors and aperitifs are also offered to create your own signature drink. If you don't feel like waiting for the screen to scroll through the entire menu, just ask your knowledgeable bartender.
The bar is open from about noon to 2 a.m., depending on the crowd and the night. If no one is there, (don't think it happened once on our sailing) the bar will close around midnight. Espresso drinks can also be ordered at the bar.
Ice Bar (Deck 3): On the top of the ship you'll find the long, rectangular Ice Bar, with windows on every side -- but nothing is actually frozen. Controllable neon lighting illuminates the bar, which does resemble blocks of ice, as well as the gray checkered floor beneath the cushioned bench seating. Small white tables and gray chairs and footstools line the space during the day, but are cleared away during silent disco nights. Morning stretches and yoga are also held here.
We found that on our sailing, the Ice Bar wasn't used as much as we had hoped, but were informed that due to noise ordinances, loud DJ nights couldn't be held here when we were in port, which was every night but one. Also, its location on the top of the ship means that in the event of low bridges, the bar has the remarkable ability to fold down.
One afternoon, enough people stayed onboard that the Ice Bar opened to serve passengers on the sun deck, and the wellness coach (who doubles as an onboard DJ) began spinning tunes for those enjoying the view.
The outside recreation on a U By Uniworld ship is exploring in port. If you find yourself cruising or staying onboard, lounging is the number-one pastime. A striped, cushioned couch surrounds the perimeter of the sun deck (also referred to as the rooftop lounge), while the middle is filled with loungers, clamshell cabanas and anti-gravity chairs. If you are low on battery life but don’t want to head inside, the top deck is discreetly filled with USB ports beneath the wraparound couch.
Otherwise, there is not much in the way of outside recreation onboard The A. There are no pools, hot tubs or lawn games. If the weather is brisk, cozy fleece blankets are kept in baskets inside of the Ice Bar.
The bridge, where the captain pilots the ship, is located at the front of the sun deck.
The front desk is located on the main level, Deck 2, in the photogenic black-and-white lobby at the center of the ship. Flat-screen TVs are located on either wall and flash information about shore tours and other helpful things to know. The desk is staffed 24 hours a day for any questions or needs. Here is the place to make a reservation for tours or treatments, ask about anything regarding life onboard or settle your bill at the end of the sailing. When you check in, staff will help you get on the internet and join the WhatsApp group for your sailing so you can stay in touch and keep informed.
Just to the left of the front desk is a small area lined with glass cases full of branded souvenirs, jewelry, designer sunglasses and bags, and a few practical items like water bottles. Items can be purchased at the front desk. A vending machine dispenses soda, chips, candy and other junk food for a few euros a pop. Directly facing you when you walk into this small wing is a photo booth. There is no booth to get into; simply click the button, stand back, and prepare yourself for four shots. Photos can be printed, and during our sailing, they were working to program the machine so they could be shared socially. Use of the #TravelforU photobooth is free of charge.
A self-service laundry room was specially outfitted to be onboard and can be found on the righthand side of the stairwell leading to Deck 1. There are two washers, two dryers and an ironing board. Tokens can be purchased at the front desk for one euro each (token required for a wash, dry or detergent). Laundry can also be sent out using a cloth bag in a closet in your room. You are charged per item (about 1 euro for undergarments or 3 euros for a shirt), but if time if more valuable to you than waiting for a washer, less than $20 can buy you a few day's worth of clothing.
Smoking is allowed in a dedicated section on the sun deck at the very back of the ship.
It's important to note that while there is no elevator onboard The A, there is a chairlift from Deck 1 to Deck 2.
U By Uniworld's river ships are for many people -- couples, solo travelers and friend groups -- but are decidedly not for families. Tours emphasize active pursuits and nightlife, and there is no programming onboard for kids or teens.
The A is designed to attract like-minded travelers who want more flexibility, nightlife and a chance to socialize and engage with other cruisers. The target demographic primarily falls between travelers in their 30s and 40s (with some in their 20s), including many who have never cruised before, or at least not on the rivers. Passengers are primarily North American with a smattering of Brits, Australians, New Zealanders and South Africans.
Most shore excursions offered onboard The A require a relatively high level of fitness, but if the organized tours aren't enough to contain your energy, there are other ways to work out onboard and off.
By river cruise standards, The A has one of the largest fitness facilities on the rivers. Located directly to your left on Deck 1, the onboard gym has three LifeCycle machines; two treadmills; an elliptical; free weights; a TRX suspension training area; and mats, resistance bands, exercise balls and cushions. Plenty of mirrors and artwork keep the space from feeling too claustrophobic, despite its comparatively spacious size. The fitness facility is open 24 hours a day.
A fleet of about 50 black bicycles -- to match the ship -- is available for use, free of charge. Sign up to reserve a bike in port and explore Amsterdam as the Dutch do -- on two wheels. Nordic walking sticks are also available to rent for free, though we can't imagine too many young people strolling around busy city centers with long hiking sticks.
A wellness coach is one of the crewmembers onboard and is available for private training, guided biking, massages and free morning sessions on the sun deck, which might include a yoga "sun salutation" at 8 a.m. or a morning stretch at 9.
The spa on The A is a private room containing one massage table and a small bathroom on Deck 1. Muted colors, natural light, aromatherapy and soothing decor lends a few square feet of calm to anyone seeking a treatment. Make a reservation at the front desk to book a time slot with the wellness coach. Treatments called "Spa By U" are customizable; pick the style, the oil and the length. Styles include a classic body massage, foot reflexology, Thai massage, deep tissue, exfoliation, facials, Japanese bamboo, and even a massage on the top deck under the stars (conditions apply). Heated Himalayan rock salt puts an interesting twist on the concept of hot stone massage -- and in millennial pink.
No matter the treatment, 30 minutes will cost you 50 euros, one hour costs 90 euros and a 90-minute treatment runs 130 euros. Add on a scalp, face, hand or foot massage or eye treatment for an additional 25 euros each. Prices for private training are not listed.
There is no walking track on the sun deck of The A.
Date Refurbished: 2018
Maximum Capacity: 120
Number of Crew:41
Crew Nationality: International
Officer Nationality: International
Language(s) Spoken:< Multiple Languages
OverviewA fresh approach to cruising - strictly for 21 to 45 year olds. The A makes her home on the Rhine, Main and Danube rivers, flowing through The Netherlands and Central Europe. She is sleek and sophisticated. Part boutique hotel, part yacht, part resort. When your waterfront hotel is also your taxi, bar, favorite restaurant, nightclub and yoga studio, travel becomes a bit more relaxed and a lot more hassle-free. Onboard, you can expect everything you would find in your favorite boutique hotel. But here is the best part. Your floating boutique hotel makes it extra-easy to visit several European destinations in a single trip while only having to unpack once.
No. of Dinner Sittings: 1
No. of Dinner Sittings: OpenGratuity Policies Gratuity Policies