The line between ocean and river cruise ships has blurred with the launch of AmaWaterways’ AmaMagna. Jane Archer gets on board to find out more about this large and luxurious new vessel
Customers who shy away from booking a river cruise because the vessels are not luxurious enough should be directed to AmaWaterways’ new ship AmaMagna.
At almost 22m wide, the vessel is twice the width of other river ships and oozes luxury, whether that be in terms of space (it holds just 196 passengers, which is less than river ships half its size), the balcony suites that are larger than on some ocean-going vessels or the choice afforded by four dedicated restaurants.
AmaMagna is not the first vessel of its size – that honour goes to Mozart, the 30-year-old Crystal Cruises’ vessel that is moving to parent company Genting later this year to launch a new line on the Danube – but it
is the first to be designed and built with luxury in mind.
The brainchild of AmaWaterways’ co-owner and president Rudi Schreiner, its 11 entry-level cabins – these have a fixed window – are almost as big as the balcony bedrooms on AmaWaterways’ other ships. Suites on decks two and three are as long as other river ships are wide and have large bathrooms with marble-top double sinks and large glass-enclosed showers.
Move up to one of the six Grand Suites on deck three and you have a room that’s more than twice the size of the lower-deck cabins. And if that’s still not big enough for luxury lovers, the Owner’s Suite is over three times as large as the entry-level cabins.
The bedroom is separated from the sitting and dining areas, there’s a bar, a large bathroom with a shower and a bath, plus a second toilet. There’s also an average price tag of £20,000 a week for two, but it always sells, Schreiner says. The middle deck cabins are harder to shift.
The décor in the bedrooms is light and warm, combining wood and white with splashes of colours on the bed runners and carpets, and of course there are all the modern must-haves such as USB slots and electric sockets aplenty.
All four restaurants are complimentary. Both the main restaurant and Al Fresco are open for buffet breakfast and lunch, and a waiter-served dinner. The evening menu in the former is more international; in the latter it veers towards more vegetarian choices.
The Chef’s Table offers light lunches prepared at a live cooking station and in the evening reverts to a posh restaurant with a set seven-course tasting menu. Finally, Jimmy’s Wine Bar Restaurant is a family-style wine bar where passengers are seated at long wooden tables and can help themselves as large platters of appetisers and main courses are served.
AmaMagna has plenty of neat features including a large wellness studio with a gym, treatment room, juice bar and exercise studio (a professional trainer hosts complimentary classes in everything from stretching to yoga and line dancing every day).
There’s a swimming pool on the sun deck with a pop-up bar, a large cinema and fleet of 46 bikes, including some for children, that can be borrowed for free or used on guided excursions. A lift goes all the way to the sun deck, which is ideal for passengers with mobility problems, who usually have to struggle up steep stairs to get outside.
There is also an aft watersports marina and small excursion boat, both of which are a bit of an experiment. “I decided to put in the marina and then decide how to use it,” says Schreiner. The current plan is to have cocktail receptions on the platform where such a thing is allowed by the local authorities. Tour options in the excursion boat are still being developed.
The vessel can only sail on the Danube, where the locks are 24m wide, but that’s not really a hardship. The river overtook the Rhine as Brits’ favourite waterway last year, according to Clia, on account of attractions that range from world-class cities and ornate palaces to picturesque valleys, deep gorges and medieval castles.
For now there are no plans to build a sister to AmaMagna, but in true James Bond style, it’s a case of never say never. “We have no plans for another double-width ship, but we could decide to do it in the future,” says Schreiner.
New for 2020, one-week Magna on the Danube cruises feature an exclusive wine festival in the Austrian town of Spitz, more day-time sailing and an included excursion to Schönbrunn Palace in Vienna, while Gems of Southeast Europe voyages take AmaMagna to the Lower Danube for the first time.
Fly-cruise prices start from £1,732 and £4,035 per person respectively. Clients can combine both itineraries into a 14-night Grand Danube itinerary from £9,803 per person.