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

Image result for AmaMagna

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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ACL’s first ‘modern’ Paddlewheeler to launch in 2019

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American Cruise Lines (ACL) has pushed back the expected launch of its more modern fleet of river cruise vessels by two years, to 2019.

Last year, when ACL first laid out plans for a fleet of modern ships for American rivers, they were slated to begin launching in 2017. This month, ACL said that construction is under way on the first of those riverboats, but that it is now expected to debut in 2019. The steel is currently being fabricated for what the company described as a “modern” paddlewheeler that will carry approximately 195 passengers.

ACL did not provide any additional details about the new vessel, such as where it will sail, but did say that it is being built with the standards of European river cruising in mind and “with a level of comfort unprecedented on the American rivers.”

Timothy Beebe, vice president of ACL, said in a statement that by “continually designing and building brand new ships”, the company was able to increase the quality of its product.

Earlier this year, American Cruise Lines launched its eighth ship, the 185-passenger Mississippi paddlewheeler, the America.

ACL has also begun construction on two new coastal cruise ships, with the first expected to launch in May 2017, and the second in 2018.

A rendering of the American Constellation.

American Cruise Lines said it has two new coastal ships under construction that will carry 170 passengers each.

The first ship, the American Constellation, is expected to begin cruising in May. The second ship, yet unnamed, is scheduled for completion in 2018.

The summer inaugural season will be devoted to a new 10-night round-trip itinerary from Boston to destinations including Bar Harbor, Newport, Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket.

Both ships are being built at Chesapeake Shipbuilding in Salisbury, Md., which is affiliated with American Cruise Lines. The design includes marbled tile bathrooms and large sliding glass doors in each cabin. 

A challenging start to a promising year

By Michelle Baran
As European river cruise vessels file into winter dry-dock this week, closing up the 2015 season, there is bound to be some nervousness for an industry waiting to see how the 2016 season will play out once it gets underway in the spring.

The dormant winter season offers an opportunity to spruce up older vessels and make final arrangements for the launch of new ones, investments that will hopefully pay off throughout the season. And this coming year has a lot to offer; Both Crystal Cruises and Adventures by Disney (through a partnership with AmaWaterways) will introduce new river cruise products in Europe, and all the major river cruise lines are adding new vessels to their fleets.

Michelle Baran
Michelle Baran

There’s a lot to look forward to, and yet 2015 ended with a bit of a question mark in the aftermath of the Nov. 13 Paris attacks in terms of how much the attacks will impact travel in Europe (and consequently river cruising) this year. Surely the hope is that a quiet couple months  – fingers crossed – prior to the start of the 2016 season will help keep pre-existing bookings on the books and reinvigorate the flow of new ones to get 2016 back on track to being as robust as it promised before the attacks.

Meanwhile, there are a lot of exciting developments elsewhere in the world to distract from the situation in Europe. Uniworld is starting its first cruises on India’s Ganges River this month, a new product the company has said has exceeded its expectations in terms of how successful the bookings have been.

And back in the US, it will be interesting to see if we hear anything more from Viking about its plans to launch modern-style Mississippi River vessels in 2017 and from the Delta Queen Steamboat Company about whether the fabled 89-year-old Delta Queen will receive the Congressional exemption it needs to sail again.

Indeed, despite some uncertainty as we start off the year, 2016 still promises to be an exciting and interesting one in river cruising, both in terms of the announcements we already know about and in terms of the surprises we’re always counting on the industry to provide us.