AmaWaterways to launch ‘biggest river cruise vessel’ in Europe in 2019

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AmaWaterways is to launch the ‘biggest river cruise vessel’ in Europe in 2019.

The ship will be twice as wide as standard river cruise vessels and accommodate 194 passengers.

The ship will sail the Danube with itineraries released by the end of the month.

President Rudi Schreiner said the ship, which will be called AmaMagna, would have more facilities and ocean style cabins.

The announcement was in Amsterdam during a week-long sailing on the line’s newest ship AmaKristina which was sailing a Rhine River itinerary from Basel to Amsterdam.

AmaWaterways was set-up in 2002 by husband and wife team Rudi Schreiner and Kristin Karst and Jimmy Murpy.

The cruise line has 20 ships and is expected to launch another five by 2019. It runs cruises around the world, including Europe, Asia and Africa.

The company set-up a UK office in Guildford last year headed up by cruise industry veteran Stuart Perl. Previously, it had been represented by Fred Olsen Travel since 2008.

Ama also has a partnership with APT which has chartered its ships since 2006 for its luxury cruises.

The ship will have multiple dining options including an al fresco glass-enclosed restaurant, an open-water sports platform, with zodiac boats, canoes and recreational equipment. Construction for the new began on March 6.

Schreiner made the announcement during a Rhine sailing on the line’s newest ship AmaKristina.

“As the luxury river cruise market continues to grow, we want to carry on as the leader in industry innovation,” he said.

“While this new double-width concept has been on the table for some time, we believe, given the unique demand that exists, that now is the perfect moment to introduce this style of ship.

“AmaMagna will provide guests with generous personal space, the freedom of multiple dining choices and exceptional stateroom comfort. “Combining this with our award-winning cuisine, noteworthy shore excursions and remarkable onboard service, we feel this ship is a game-changer.”

AmaMagna will feature 97 staterooms – the majority of which will be over 300 square feet.

Additional amenities include a large heated sundeck swimming pool with whirlpool and sky bar, spa area with new treatments, a fitness room large enough for small group classes.

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Disney to expand and tweak its river cruise program

Adventures by Disney (ABD) dove into the family river cruise market this year, offering departures on the Danube in partnership with AmaWaterways. How did their early sailings go? Well enough that ABD already announced that it will expand its river trips next year to the Rhine.

However, there will be one notable change in 2017 when the AmaViola and AmaKristina sail the Danube and Rhine respectively: No 4- or 5-year-olds.

In its first year of family river cruising, ABD set the minimum passenger age at 4 with a recommended age of 8, but that minimum has been boosted to 6 for year two.

“We continually review our policies and make adjustments from time-to-time as needed,” said Amanda Adler, public relations manager for Disney Destinations. “The level of activity on these itineraries is more suitable to children who are eight and older.”

Those itineraries include excursions like bike rides, walking tours and sledding into a mine. On a recent ABD Danube sailing, Travel Weekly writer Paul Heney found the company making some adjustments on the fly, like raising the minimum age from 12 to 14 on particularly challenging bike excursions and procuring appropriately-sized cycles for younger guests when the onboard options weren’t a great fit.

Accommodating a virtually all-ages clientele adds extra layers of difficulty to many aspects of a cruise, from designing excursions to crafting dinner menus. But Disney isn’t alone in trying to cater to a wide range of clients aboard family sailings. Tauck’s family river cruises also set the recommended age at 8, though passengers 4 and up are permitted, and Uniworld’s Family Adventures also have a minimum age of 4, with some activities specifically geared toward tweens or teens.

Uniworld began its multi-generational departures in 2010, and this year it more than doubled its family sailings from five departures to 13 cruises.

“Uniworld is in touch with its customers and listened to the need for more multigenerational family itineraries,” said Ellen Bettridge, Uniworld’s CEO. “These departures are designed for families of all ages to participate in programming like hiking, biking, cooking demonstrations, language lessons and more.”

As ABD gains more experience on Europe’s rivers, we can expect that it will fine-tune its itineraries and excursions to better entertain and accommodate all of its young passengers just as it does on its ocean cruises and in its parks. Ages 6-plus, of course.

Fluctuating river levels could impact Europe cruise itineraries

As another busy summer gets underway in Europe, river cruise passengers could once again face itinerary alterations due to high or low water levels.

Thus far, river cruise lines are reporting that water levels are a bit high on the Danube, Rhine and Rhone rivers, and a bit low on the Elbe.

Viking River Cruises has reported on its website that the Danube, Rhine and Rhone rivers currently have high water levels, which may result in delays, itinerary adjustments, and alternate embarkation or disembarkation points.

The high levels on the Danube are occurring near Passau, Germany, and the high levels on the Rhine are concentrated around southern Germany, Viking reported. Meanwhile, limited rainfall on the Elbe River has disrupted sailings between Melnik in the Czech Republic and Bad Schandau in Germany, as well as the stretch between Wittenberg and Magdeburg in Germany.

Avalon Waterways on Monday updated its Facebook page to alert passengers that “due to increased rainfall this spring, water levels on some of Europe’s rivers are higher than normal.”

Avalon noted that there are cases where adjustments will be necessary, mostly affecting embarkation and disembarkation locations. “On occasion, when waters have been too high to navigate, we’re making alternate arrangements, which may include transferring guests to hotels. When this occurs, we offer our travelers complimentary accommodations, excursion choices as well as compensation for missed sailing days,” Avalon stated on Facebook.

“Weather forecasts look favorable this week,” the company stated, adding that “we ask that our guests understand that water levels change hourly, so much can change daily. In the meantime, we’re just ‘going with the flow.’”

Severe flooding on France’s Seine River caused river cruise disruptions there earlier this month.