From Champagne proffered at embarkation, to long-stemmed red roses handed out by the captain, to the square of dark chocolate left on each pillow at turn-down, an AmaMagna river cruise is destined to woo. Granted, my particular journey was a Romantic Danube Wine Cruise, and though the air was thick with ardor and the meals replete with fine varietals, wine or no wine, this stunning ship and its elegant amenities proved intoxicating.
Whether just-married, celebrating a significant anniversary, or even looking for love, the AmaMagna and its splendid ports of call serve to inspire those of any age and at any stage of life. Aboard my cruise were newlyweds, long-married couples, and a young woman traveling solo in the tradition of the 19th century “Grand Tour.” Many of us were river cruise neophytes; several were cruise veterans in awe of the magnitude of the AmaMagna, which is twice the width of traditional European river ships. All of us were wined and dined and well pampered aboard this floating five-star hotel.
Designed by AmaWaterways’ co-founder, co-owner, and president, Rudi Schreiner, the AmaMagna offers more personal space, more unique dining venues, and more leisure opportunities than other ships traversing the Danube. Most of the 98 state rooms are spacious suites, each featuring posh amenities such as large-screen televisions, desktop Apple computers, and iPads. Many have full balconies. With a maximum capacity of 196 passengers, the ship’s immense size ensures that even when full, guests can easily find a private nook in which to read, or a chaise on which to sun. Two cozy game and book-stocked libraries—one starboard and one port—are each warmed by the crackle of simulated fireplaces. A central lounge features enough seating for each and every guest and is the gathering spot for evening entertainment.
Each port of call features a choice of excursions. Hike to a hilltop castle where Richard the Lionheart was held captive, bike along the Danube, view the city sights from the comfort of a plush coach bus, or simply stay aboard and enjoy the scenic views. The Sound of Music enthusiasts love seeing the Mondsee, Austria, cathedral in which Maria and Captain von Trapp marry. An afternoon visit to Salzburg allows fans of the movie to find additional joy in walking through the same park where the Von Trapp children frolicked. Additional ports of call include the Austrian towns of Linz (and excursions to charming Durnstein), grand Vienna, and the brilliantly illuminated Budapest, Hungary.
Back onboard, the activity never wanes. Nightly entertainment reflects each port of call; a Zen Wellness Studio with state-of-the-art fitness equipment features an array of professionally led classes. A nightly “Sip and Sail” pre-dinner gathering in the lounge features “Today’s Special” cocktail. The onboard cinema allows for a choice of movie screenings or video games. The sundeck whirlpool stands at the ready to soothe muscles fatigued from hilltop hikes.
AmaMagna further promotes romance with its tables for two. Though fast friendships often lead to communal meals, those seeking alone time are granted this option within the ship’s four restaurants, including the large Main Restaurant, The Chef’s Table, which provides a front row seat to the culinary action, Jimmy’s; a congenial family-style restaurant named for AmaWaterways’ late co-owner Jimmy Murphy; and the more casual Al Fresco Restaurant with retractable windows and outdoor seating.
Experienced river cruising guests on my voyage cautioned me that as an AmaMagna passenger I had reached river cruising nirvana; that I, a cruising novice, had started at the top of the river cruise ladder. And after seven days and nights of pampering, fine dining, exquisite wines, exceptional city and countryside exploration, and of course romance, I knew their declarations to be true.