Europe’s Most Decked-Out New River Cruise Ship Sets Sail

AmaWaterways’ super-sized Danube vessel just launched and the first images reveal this could be a whole new way to river cruise.

Europe’s Most Decked-Out New River Cruise Ship Sets Sail

AmaMagna’s alfresco restaurant is one of four dining venues onboard.

Courtesy of AmaWaterways

There’s a reason most European river cruise ships look similar—they are restricted in height, length, and width by the numerous locks and bridges they sail into and under. But AmaWaterways has decided to take a different approach with its newest vessel, the AmaMagna, a river cruise ship nearly twice as wide as most river vessels in Europe; it launched in early May.

The larger width of the AmaMagna means it will have to stay on the Danube River because it is too wide to sail through the locks on the Rhine-Main-Danube Canal, the portal to the Rhine River that leads all the way up to Amsterdam. But the sacrifice for size isn’t that great considering it will still be able to cruise between Budapest and Vilshofen, Germany, with port calls in Bratislava, Slovakia; the Austrian cities of Vienna, Durnstein, and Melk; and Passau, Germany (not a shabby itinerary by any stretch). And the result is that passengers will get to experience something few do on a river cruise—extra space.


The AmaMagna, which set sail on the Danube this month, is now one of the largest river cruise vessels in Europe.

Courtesy of AmaWaterways

The AmaMagna is 72 feet wide, compared with AmaWaterways’ other ships (and most river cruise ships in Europe), which are 38 feet wide. With much more room to play with, the 196-passenger river vessel has four drinking and dining venues, a water sports platform, and spacious staterooms, more than half of which are designated as suites featuring full balconies, open seating areas, and double vanities.


There is a water sports platform off the back of the ship.

Courtesy of AmaWaterways

Where it really shines though, and truly sets itself apart from other river cruise ships, is in the public areas. The added space means the AmaMagna was able to accommodate areas such as an onboard cinema (a rare offering on the rivers, although they do exist elsewhere, such as on Emerald Waterways’ ships), a large boutique, and a Zen Wellness Studio, complete with an exercise room for group classes such as spin, a juice bar, two massage rooms, and mani-pedi and salon services.

The AmaMagna also doubled down on its food and beverage offerings. Typically, river cruise vessels feature one main restaurant where breakfast, lunch, and dinner are served, and perhaps one or two alternative dining venues for lighter or more casual fare. On the AmaMagna, there’s the main dining room; an alfresco restaurant (with windows that can be closed on cooler days); Jimmy’s, a wine bar with tapas-style eats; and the upscale Chef’s Table restaurant, which serves a multiple-course, tasting menu dinner.


The Chef’s Table restaurant serves a tasting menu dinner in a more intimate setting.

Courtesy of AmaWaterways

It’s uncommon to see pools on European river cruise ships outside of Portugal’s Douro River, where balmy summers practically beg for the option to sunbathe. While some ships do have them—including some Emerald Waterways vessels, several Uniworld ships, and on the Crystal Mozart—many river cruise lines have decided to do without given that the weather is not always pool-appropriate in Europe. But the AmaMagna was designed to be as much of a draw as the vibrant European cities it sails to and through. Thus, the sun deck houses a heated pool, Jacuzzi, and a sky bar.

From the pool to the spa to the additional eateries, all of these extras are likely to be appreciated by passengers who might be converting from larger ocean-going ships and are used to a greater array of onboard amenities than are often available on river cruise ships.


Onboard cinemas are rare on the rivers.

Courtesy of AmaWaterways

A cruise ship this large will be an unusual sight on Europe’s inland waterways, but the AmaMagna is not the only vessel of this size plying Europe’s rivers. Crystal Cruises’ Crystal Mozart is 75 feet wide. A former Peter Deilmann Cruises vessel built in 1987, it was relaunched as the Mozart in 2016 after a total overhaul of the ship, a venture that marked Crystal’s first foray into river cruising. The Mozart features large suites, multiple dining options, an indoor pool, spa and fitness center, a beauty salon, and a library.

Nevertheless, the AmaMagna is the first to be built at this size recently, and it certainly is looking to set a new standard.

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Michelle Baran is the senior travel news editor at AFAR where she oversees breaking news, travel intel, pandemic coverage, airline, cruise, and consumer travel news. Baran joined AFAR in August 2018 after an 11-year run as a senior editor and reporter at leading travel industry newspaper Travel Weekly.
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