GREIN, Austria -- Television travel show host Samantha Brown on Thursday officially launched the AmaMagna, AmaWaterways' new mega river vessel, during a christening in this town on the Danube River.
Although the ship has been sailing the Danube since May, the traditional breaking of the Champagne bottle against the ship's hull didn't take place until this week.
It took Brown two tries before the bottle of Veuve Clicquot broke and cheers rose from a crowd that included children in traditional dress who handed out chocolates and local entertainers who waltzed and played songs from "The Sound of Music." Among those in attendance were local dignitaries and royalty, including Prince Hubertus of Saxe-Coburg and Count Carl Philip Clam.
Following the ceremony, guests were invited on a tour of Prince Hubertus' nearby Greinburg Castle, which was built in the 1400s and purchased by his family nearly 200 years ago. While Ama guests were touring the castle, the town's residents were invited on a tour of the vessel.
Brown, whose PBS show "Places to Love" is sponsored by AmaWaterways, called it an incredible honor "to be named godmother of not only an AmaWaterways ship but one that redefines river cruising."
At twice the width of traditional river ships, the AmaMagna is the largest passenger vessel on the European waterways but only in size, not in passenger count. Her guest capacity of 196 is just 20% more than that of her narrower sister ships.
The ship is a key element of husband-and-wife co-founders Rudi Schreiner's and Kristin Karst's strategy to attract a new generation of river cruisers with a mix of the additional space and amenities of an ocean cruise ship and the intimacy of a river vessel.
Of the 98 staterooms, more than half are hotel room-size suites, with king beds, desks, full-size couches, double closets, huge flat-screen televisions and large bathrooms with double vanities.
Most of the suites are 355 square feet, but there also is a 710-square-foot owners suite and six 474-square-foot grand suites, all seven of which also have full bathtubs.
There are also four dining options: the family-style Jimmy's Wine Bar, named for the late Jimmy Murphy, who co-founded AmaWaterways with Schreiner and Karst; a gourmet tasting menu at AmaWaterways' signature Chef's Table; a traditional dining room; and Al Fresco, a farm-to-table venue at the front of the ship with windows and skylights that can be opened for open-air dining when the weather is right.