AmaMagna -- Magnificent Indeed! She’s a beauty and a game-changer for river cruising
by Vanessa Lee
Godmother Samantha Brown, host of PBS Love to Travel show.
With Rudi Schreiner.
Champagne in the restaurant to accompany oysters and caviar at lunch.
A special on deck bar moment one sunny day by the pool.
I had the privilege of attending the christening ceremony of the remarkably innovative, double-wideAmaMagnaalong the Danube, and spending a week sailing with AmaWaterways’ co-owners and founders Rudi Schreiner and Kristin Karst.
The ship’s Godmother, the charming and delightful Emmy-winning Samantha Brown, host ofLove to Travelon PBS, was a perfect choice for this marvellous ship.
If it feels like a luxury ship, if it looks like a luxury ship, if the accommodations are luxurious, and the service divine, then it’s most definitely a luxury ship – and “luxury” was the first word to come to mind as I was treated to a personal tour of this gorgeous vessel by Rudi shortly after embarking.
He is very proud of his new baby and rightly so. The space is expansive and the dining options combine to provide guests with a wonderful experience.AmaMagnaoffers a very special, high-end sensibility and a big, charming personality which wraps guests in wonderfully intuitive and personalized service.
Combined with the onboard family atmosphere (which guests love across the fleet), the impeccable pedigree of the family owners, and a sense of warmth and grace, theMagnadelivers. She’s literally a cross-over hybrid between a river ship and a small ocean-going vessel and is, indisputably, a game-changer on the rivers. There will be many highly-deserved accolades and much of the praise must go to Schreiner, the creative visionary behind the ship. After more than five years in concept and additional years for the building, a truly magnificent river vessel has arrived.
Here’s what makes AmaMagna stand out:
Choice is top of the list starting with the four dining venues, each with a different feel and style. There’s no doubt AmaWaterways spends more than most of its competitors in this arena, an observation confirmed by Karst and Schreiner. The food at times would rival the finest ocean-going ships and one highlight -- an on-deck lunchtime seafood buffet -- was a gastronomic delight.
Our first dinner was at the intimate Chef’s Table, now on Deck 1 across from new addition Jimmy’s Wine Bar, and it was a set 5-course meal which was created, presented and delivered from an open kitchen with nary a wrong move. A fabulous meal and a point to note – there is no extra cost on the ship for any dining venue. Wine and beer with lunch and dinner are included and there is a popular Sip n’ Sail complimentary cocktail hour every evening before dinner. If guests don’t care for the wine of the day, they may choose from an extensive complimentary list – another hallmark of a luxury offering.
Situated all the way forward, the new Al Fresco restaurant was exceedingly popular for every meal. With the same set menu every evening offering vegetable-forward dishes with a few choices for each course plus tasty buffets for breakfast and lunch and the ability to order other food from the main dining room, it makes for a casual and relaxed go-to spot. It’s light, airy, with great views and the upper glass windows open to create an indoor/outdoor feel.
The accommodations are another reason to dub theAmaMagnaa luxury ship; two decks of suites, most at 355 sq. ft with some at 474 sq. ft, offer expansive space and superb bathrooms, closet space and comfort. The large rain shower, two basins, a separate loo and excellent lighting and storage is a treat.
The full balcony, a large seating area, desk and computer screen which doubles as a TV plus a wall-mounted HDTV provides guests with all necessities. A mini-fridge and bar set up add to the luxe feel and in the larger suites the bed faces the window, the TV pops up at the end of the bed, there’s a bath tub and coffee machines are available. There is also a small in-room dining breakfast menu for the suites.
Other stand-outs for me were the sundeck, pool and swim-up pool bar, the large spa, watersports platform and the small, sexy Sundowner yacht. The sundeck is huge and popular. The pool is welcome especially in the height of summer but so was the forward couch seating area and I was pleased to note that AmaWaterways uses the upper deck often for events, including sail-aways, an ice cream social, the aforementioned seafood buffet, Champagne moments and lots of wellness activities which were exceedingly well embraced.
The 50 bikes (plus some for kids) were stowed on the upper deck and well-used throughout the week by many guests, some on their 5th, 7thand 10th cruise with the line. We saw the watersports platform and some of us were fortunate enough to go for a short jaunt on the Danube with the owners and Captain to “test the waters” on the Sundowner. Guests will be able to sign up for a short, early evening cruise, port and weather dependent (no alcohol on the yacht though).
A second double-wide ship? Will he or won’t he?
That is the ultimate question -- and I posed this to Rudi Schreiner on several occasions: Will you build a second double-wide ship? He absolutely wants to take the plunge. Will it happen? It depends on a number of things. TheMagnais going to do a few cruises south-bound to the Black Sea next year as well as up through Slovakia and Austria to Germany and back to Budapest and apparently these itineraries are already selling very well.
So Schreiner sees interest in expanding the number of cruises offered into Eastern Europe --whether by theAmaMagnaor a future sister ship. These wider vessels cannot navigate the upper Danube or the Rhine so there is limited scope for them. However theMagnais already wowing her guests just over two months in and it seems to me a sister ship would be a terrific decision.
As Schreiner states: “Luxury is very personal and means different things to different people. We want to inspire our other guests to cruise on theMagnaand many guests who cruise on the oceans are ready for a ship like this on the river.”
He is very happy with the sales for this bold new ship both this season and in the future. I can see why, and yes, small ship ocean cruisers will adore this ship – as did I. Congratulations to all at AmaWaterways – you have created a unique ship and continue to offer a truly exceptional cruise experience.
Vanessa Lee Columnist
An internationally-known luxury cruise expert, Vanessa is publisher and editor of Cruise and Travel Lifestyles magazine. She appears with Nina on the bi-monthly video Cruise Factor.