ABOARD THE AMAMAGNA -- Two years ago, AmaWaterways co-founder
Rudi Schreiner brought a group of travel writers and industry professionals from
the christening cruise of his wife's namesake ship, the AmaKristina, to a shipyard
in Rotterdam to unveil his secret brainchild, the AmaMagna.
At twice the width of traditional river ships but holding
only 20% more guests, the AmaMagna would be in a class of its own, Schreiner
said. The largest ship on the European waterways, it would mix the amenities
and space of an ocean liner with the intimacy of river cruising.
His bet: More space and more onboard dining and other
amenities would attract the next generation of luxury river cruisers.
Hotel room-sized suites make up more than half the cabins on the AmaMagna. Photo Credit: Jeri Clausing
More than half the cabins would be suites, and not just
suites in the river cruise interpretation of the term, but real
hotel room-sized cabins with king beds, desks, couches, double closets -- even
an entry hall and toilet area separate from the large main bath area complete
with an oversized shower and double vanities.
The mock-ups were impressive. And the consensus among those
of who joined the ship this week for its christening was that she had more than
exceeded two years of lead-up and expectations.
The thing that struck me first was the wide hallways, wider than
on any other ship -- ocean or river -- that I have been on. Then came the
cabin, more than twice the size of the hotel room I had just left in Paris, and
with closet space rivaling that of bedrooms in two 1880s-era homes I have owned
in Baltimore and Denver.
As one fellow writer said, I could actually get lost on this
ship. And that's not an exaggeration, I discovered, in looking for a restroom
my first morning onboard.
Double the fun on the AmaMagna
But not everyone prefers the wide-open space. As one solo
traveler said, she missed being able to see the river from any seat in any room
of the ship.
Point taken. But the river is never that far off. And in
exchange you get a full-sized gym/spa area and four dining options: the
family-style Jimmy's Wine Bar; a gourmet tasting menu at the brand's signature
Chef's Table; the traditional dining room; and, my favorite, Al Fresco, a
glassed-in venue at the front of the ship with windows and skylights that can
be opened for open-air dining in the right weather.
Building the AmaMagna was no small feat. Schreiner said she
was five years in his head, then five more years under design and construction.
The AmaMagna's Zen spa and wellness center. Photo Credit: Jeri Clausing
Her width severely limits the number of waterways she can
travel. And just getting her from the hull-maker in Serbia to the finishing
yard in the Netherlands required shuttling her aboard a Korean freighter from
the Black Sea, through Turkey's Bosphorus and up through the English Channel to
So far, Schreiner says, the feedback has been good. But it's
too soon to say whether any of the four new ships the company currently has on
order will be another mega ship.
Until then, like any perfectionist, he has a growing list of
things to add, subtract and tweak in his next generation of ships, whatever the
size might be.