Ama Waterways is introducing a 164-passenger newbuild, the Amacerto, in Europe next year, complete with a pool bar; two wine and tapas venues; and staterooms that have both a French and step-out balcony.
In terms of river cruise ship innovation, "there's a lot of activity," said Rudi Schreiner, president of Ama Waterways. "Everyone's looking at what the other ones are doing."
In particular, river cruise companies have been rolling out new and different cabin configurations to address the dilemma of how to maximize cabin space while still allowing for a balcony.
To address the challenge, Ama "increased the ship size considerably, but only increased the passenger count by 10 people," Schreiner said. "Once you go from the 110- to the 135-meter ship, it's hard to go back."
Ama's older ships, such as the Amadagio and Amalegro, are 360 feet long (110 meters) and carry 148 passengers. The company's newer vessels, starting with 2009's Amabella, are 443 feet long (135 meters) and carry 162 passengers, which is in part what allows for the majority of the cabins on the newer vessels to have what Ama refers to as a "twin balcony," a French balcony adjacent to a step-out balcony.
On the Amacerto, the lower-deck cabins will be 148 square feet each with window portals. On the upper and middle decks, there will be 20 cabins with the twin balconies at 235 square feet and 25 twin-balcony cabins at 210 square feet. Sixteen 170-square-foot cabins on the upper and middle decks will only have French balconies.
There will also be four suites at 350 square feet, in which room service will be available.
Additionally, Ama has been attempting to push the envelope with bar and dining options onboard its river cruise ships.
For instance, Ama's latest vessel, the 162-passenger Amaverde that launched this year, features four dining venues.
In addition to the pool bar, the upcoming Amacerto will have two 12-person wine and tapas venues near the main restaurant plus an al fresco cafe at the front of the ship shielded by a protective glass windscreen. There will also be a chef's table restaurant.
The vessel will have free WiFi throughout plus stateroom infotainment systems, with a flat-screen TV and a keyboard to access free Internet and entertainment options.
The ship will have a glass elevator; library; observation lounge; 24-hour specialty coffee and tea station; fitness center; massage, hair and beauty salon; and bicycles for guests to use on their own or on complimentary guided bicycle tours.
The ship is being built in the Netherlands.
The Amacerto will make its inaugural sailing on Ama Waterways' Tulip Time itinerary on April 12. Thereafter, it will cruise several Danube itineraries for the remainder of the 2012 season.
"On the Danube you don't have so many issues with bridges where you have to close down the sun deck," Schreiner said in regard to why Ama is adding a pool with bar stools for these itineraries.