How AmaWaterways’ culinary team surprised and delighted the Doepken Family

Jim and Julie Doepken, as well as their twin 13-year-old daughters and 24-year-old son live in Alaska, while their twin 22-year-old daughters attend college in Oregon. More than 4,000 miles away in Marietta, Georgia, grandparents Betsy and Tony Doepken naturally aren’t able to see their grandkids as often as they wish. However, last summer, the couple sat around a table with their grandchildren and imagined what a family river cruise vacation would look like.

Finding the Perfect Family Itinerary

“Granny, you always wanted to see Normandy.”

“I want to see the Eiffel Tower!”

“Can we go where Monet did his painting?”

It was pretty clear there was only one itinerary that would encompass everyone’s desires: AmaWaterways’ Paris & Normandy cruise. From the history of Normandy’s D-Day landing beaches to the romantic sail-in to Paris with the Eiffel Tower in the distance to Monet’s beautiful gardens in Giverny, the range of excursions and experiences offered ashore delighted each member of the Doepken family, regardless of their age. But for six-time river cruiser and matriarch Betsy, the best part of the experience was the chef.

An Extraordinary Chef

Betsy’s older granddaughters, Moriah and Susannah, each have severe food allergies and were concerned they might not be able to enjoy AmaWaterways’ signature regionally-inspired cuisine as they sailed through France. However, AmaLyra’s extraordinary chef sat with them the first night discussing their allergies at length to ensure his team created alternate dishes and modified ingredients when needed. “Gourmet meals and gorgeous non-dairy desserts were prepared just for the girls catering to their needs morning, noon and night,” said Betsy. “They were so thrilled they could eat this wonderful food because it was all allergen-free.”

Knowing that local restaurants might not be able to accommodate Moriah and Susannah’s allergies, the chef also took it upon himself to pack special lunches for their full-day excursion to Normandy. “He even told my granddaughters to stop at reception before they disembarked at the end of the cruise, because he customized lunches for their flight home. It was above and beyond anything I ever imagined!” raved Betsy.

Moriah and Susannah agreed the best part of the river cruise was having delicious, gourmet meals they could eat without feeling left out of the AmaWaterways dining experience. “They were so appreciative of that level of care,” Betsy said.

A Crew That Really Cared

But it wasn’t just the elder granddaughters who benefited from extra special attention and care. “We also had an amazing waitress named Alex who was so helpful with our fussy eater Abigail,” Betsy recalled. “She cajoled and teased and got Abigail to try everything. You can’t ask for that kind of service anywhere but AmaWaterways!”

In addition, Betsy had high praise for the Night Manager. “I’m a diabetic and one night my blood sugar had crashed,” she recounted. “I went to the reception desk and asked if I could have something to bring my sugar up. Every night thereafter, there were four cookies waiting on a plate in my room for me.”

Betsy admits she cannot say enough good things about her latest experience with AmaWaterways. She even joked, “If anyone wants to go with their family, just give them my phone number. We really talk you up!”

Join AmaWaterways on 7-night Paris & Normandy river cruise – the perfect family itinerary!

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