AmaMagna River Cruise Review
AmaWaterways have built the world’s largest river ship to sail on the European waterways, specifically the Danube. At twice the width of other river ships, AmaMagna is some 72 feet wide and 443 feet long. The other ships in their fleet accommodate approx. 160 guests, however despite being twice the width, the AmaMagna does not take twice the number of guests, but just 196. This means that there is a lot of space on board, and the ships designers have done a great job in using the extra width.
Join me on a ship tour of AmaMagna as I cruised from Vilshofen to Budapest over the New Year.
AmaMagna, AmaWaterways, docked in Vilshofen
Deck 1 - Piano Deck, AmaMagna
On deck one, Piano Deck, you will find the entry level staterooms. Usually accommodation on this level has a small window on the waterline, however the category E and D staterooms feature two larger picture windows that let in a lot of light. They are larger than their standard ship counterparts, some 205 square feet versus 170. The decor of all the staterooms is the same palette; warm reds and earth tones with neutral woods and light walls.
Chefs Table, AmaMagna, AmaWaterways
Also on Piano Deck are two alternative restaurants. Again due to the extra width on AmaMagna, AmaWaterways have been able to offer different dining experiences than before. The first restaurant is The Chefs Table. This room can accommodate up to 36 guests and you need to pre-book this experience. There is no extra charge for this and the food served here was exceptional. You can watch the chef prepare the dishes right in front of you for this tasting menu! The menu remains the same throughout the cruise and all guests can dine at least once here. It was so good I would have easily gone back!
Chefs Table cuisine, AmaMagna, AmaWaterways
I started with the heirloom tomato carpaccio with eggplant caviar, beautifully presented it and tasted so delicate and certainly got the senses going. The next course was lemon pepper salmon, served with turnip-cucumber Tatar, vegetable vinaigrette and a chick pea mousseline. The soup course was next, a delicious carrot and ginger soup with tabbouleh creme fraiche and cumin ciabatta. The fish course was delicately prepared skin-grilled pike perch with a citrus sauce, celery mash and beluga lentil ragout, followed by Nebraska beef with green pea veloute, wild broccoli, and guacamole. All rounded off with a parade of deserts, including rum raisin crumble, apple tartelette and vanilla ice cream. The wines are complimentary too and perfectly match the freshly prepared dishes. I really enjoyed this experience and the food was some of the best I have had on a river ship.
Jimmy's Wine Bar, AmaMagna, AmaWaterways
The other restaurant on this deck and exclusive to AmaMagna is Jimmy’s Wine Bar. This room accommodates up to 60 guests and offers a family style dining experience in a cozy atmosphere. Guests are seated at long tables and the food is served on large platters and encourages sharing and conversation. The food is selected by the chef from the main menu in the dining room and you can try a little bit of everything if you wish, or order more of your favourites too. I enjoyed the experience as we booked the table with some friends that we made on board and the sharing family style worked well. However I would have liked there to have been some special menu items that were not available from the main menu just to make the experience a bit more exclusive and an alternative to the main dining room.
Gift Shop, AmaMagna, AmaWaterways
Opposite the restaurants are the AmaMagna's only public restrooms and a large gift shop selling logo clothes and items, local souvenirs and handicrafts, magnets, jewellery and scarfs etc.
Deck 2 - Cello Deck, AmaMagna
The next deck up, deck 2, is Cello Deck, and features category AB staterooms and SB suites. The AB rooms are 252 sq feet and feature an outside balcony, whilst the lead-in SB suites are 355 sq feet. The bathrooms in the suites are larger, with twin sinks, large shower and separate toilet cubicle. This was my accommodation for the cruise and there was plenty of space, and ample storage, no one could possibly pack that much for a weeks cruise!
AB Stateroom, AmaMagna, AmaWaterways
There’s a computer with included internet access and also TV stations, along with a large flat-screen TV mounted on the wall opposite the bed. You can access all sorts of on-demand movies, music and TV shows, as well as your account to check on any extra charges and the AmaMagna daily programme. The selection of entertainment was good, although I felt the music selection could be updated to something a tad more modern. A sofa and writing desk, coffee tables and balcony complete the stateroom. I had a very comfortable stay here and there were plenty of plugs and USB ports for charging gadgets and phones.
Main Restaurant, AmaMagna, AmaWaterways
Forward on Cello Deck is the Reception desk and the Main Restaurant. Food on board AmaMagna was of very high quality, served piping hot with a great selection on the menus. The waiting staff were excellent, combining professionalism with personality, offering suggestions and their personal favourite items. The restaurant is cleverly divided, with screens and separate sections so its does not feel like one large space.
Main Restaurant, AmaMagna, AmaWaterways
The buffet counters and food stations are positioned around towards the rear of the room - I liked this layout and it certainly helped with the flow of guests through the room when getting buffet items. A hot station served eggs cooked to order at breakfast and other speciality dishes at lunch times. We soon made friends with one of the waitresses and always headed to her section for all our meals!
Deck 3 – Violin Deck, AmaMagna
On deck three there is the top-graded accommodation, including the AmaMagna Owners Suite and Grand Suites. Towards the rear is the Zen Wellness Studio that’s stretches the full width of the ship and offers great views over the stern of the ship.
Zen Wellness Area, AmaMagna, AmaWaterways
Fitness equipment includes treadmills, bikes, a rowing machine, free weights etc and also a chill out area with tables and chairs, a small bar and fruit-infused waters.
Main Lounge, AmaMagna, AmaWaterways
Heading forward on AmaMagna is the Main Lounge, again spanning the full width of the ship with cozy banquette seating, sofas and tables and chairs, a bar area and central dance floor area with a piano. In the evening the ships pianist tinkles the ivories and after dinner becomes the DJ. It was a refreshing change not to have the pianist sing 'piano classics' and the DJ was ready to take music requests. He certainly earned his money as this was a New Year cruise and he got the party going on 31 Dec! There’s also a self-serve tea/coffee making machine here available 24hrs.
Library, AmaMagna, AmaWaterways
Heading forward again there’s a Cinema/Games room and also a cozy library with flame-effect fire, leading to another dining venue, the Al Fresco Restaurant.
Al Fresco Restaurant, AmaMagna, AmaWaterways
Open for light breakfasts, lunch and dinner, we dined here for the first night. The evening menu is a selection of Mediterranean fare or you could order from the main dining room menu or mix & match. This room is nice and light and has windows opening on to the forward deck – however as it was December we kept them firmly closed! There always seemed to be cakes and treats available here and there’s another tea/coffee machine along with a bar. I can imagine in summer this would be a great place for an evening meal watching the sunset.
Al Fresco Restaurant Cuisine, AmaMagna, AmaWaterways
Sun Deck, AmaMagna
Up on the sun deck there is a pool and whirlpool, lots of seating and a pop up sky bar, however as it was rather chilly on this New Year cruise we didn’t venture up there much – only to watch the fireworks on New Years Eve in Linz. Interestingly the AmaMagna is the only river ship in Europe that has an elevator that goes right up to the sun deck! There is also a walking track up here, and many of the included Wellness Activities took place here too.
AmaMagna Cruise Summary
I loved my cruise on AmaMagna! The staff and crew were so professional and the food excellent. I was very impressed with the quality and selection of food onboard – the Head Chef was from Indonesia and made us a special Beef Randang curry one evening – what great service! The extra width has really been put to good use and I felt like I was on a small cruise ship rather than a river boat – there was so much space. The included wines with lunch and dinner were of very good quality and the sip-n-sail cocktail hour pre-dinner provided plenty of complementary drinks. The ships décor and finish was of high quality and there are lots of little nooks and places to sit and read, or just people watch. The Bavarian Octoberfest on our first evening was a great ice breaker and encouraged guests to mix and mingle and we soon made some new friends.
There was a good selection of tours and I managed to visit places I hadn’t seen before, despite calling at some of these ports of call previously. All the guides used were excellent and the buses (where needed) very comfy and never overcrowded. AmaWaterways use the QuietVox system for the tours, where by the guide has a microphone and transmitter and the guests wear a receiver and ear piece. This worked really well and prevented everyone crowding around the guide trying to listen.
AmaMagna would be prefect for first-time river cruisers or those ocean-cruise guests looking to take a river cruise, as it has multiple dining venues, spacious suites with balconies and lots of space on board, paired with excellent food and service. AmaMagna operates a number of itineraries on the Danube.
Words & pictures (c) Scott Anderson
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