As we have witnessed such huge growth in the sector it's easy to become blasé about the recent developments and there is an element of new ship fatigue creeping in, both for our readers and ourselves. Viking's huge expansion must bear most of the responsibility for this, as ship after identical ship proceeds off the production line.
But the evolution of river cruise is marching its way to luxury, which manifests itself in lavishly appointed rooms, suites and public areas, innovative features such as new balcony design, which seamlessly bring the outside in to create an all-weather environment, or an ever-improving selection of regionally inspired cuisine.
Crystal's contribution to this has been to raise the bar in Europe with the launch of the beautiful Crystal Mozart. Currently the largest (although by no means the newest!) vessel available on the European rivers, and operating on the upper Danube (where the river and lock width permit), the vessel offers a huge amount of space, along with an outstanding choice of truly open seating dining, a fantastic spa area with pool, and a high staff to guest ratio, all of which mean it has more in common with an ocean cruise ship than its competitors.
Now it is the turn of AmaWaterways to push the envelope further with their new ship AmaMagna, the largest river cruise ship ever to be launched in Europe. Due to set sail in 2019, it represents an entirely new concept with the aim of elevating the modern luxury market to a new level. What is especially surprising about the design is that it will be twice the width of a traditional European river ship, surpassing even that of Crystal Mozart.
Catering to 194 guests, the additional space on board will manifest itself in luxurious public living areas, multiple dining options including an al fresco restaurant, more onboard activities and enhanced evening entertainment. Perhaps most excitingly, and a first for river cruising, there will also be an open water sports platform, complete with zodiacs, canoes and other recreational equipment, so guests can really experience what life is like on the rivers of Europe. We're excited to see how these will contribute to what is sure to be an adventurous programme of excursions and activities.
Technologically the ship will feature the debut of a quieter and more fuel efficient engine to provide guests in the 98 staterooms and 5 suites with as comfortable a sailing as possible. There will also be a large heated sundeck, swimming pool with whirlpool and sky bar, a spacious spa area offering new treatments, and a fitness room large enough for small group classes.
Rudi Schreiner, president and co-owner of AmaWaterways, says "AmaMagna will provide guests with generous personal space, the freedom of multiple dining choices and exceptional stateroom comfort. Combining this with our awardwinning cuisine, noteworthy shore excursions and remarkable onboard service, we feel this ship is a game-changer." Construction of the vessel began in early March and it's due to sail on the Danube, so look out for more information on the inaugural season soon.