Guests have access to complimentary bicycles. // © 2014 AmaWaterways
Debuting this year with sister ship AmaReina, the 164-guest AmaSonata from AmaWaterways offers a multiplicity of accommodations, dining venues and niceties for the most astute river cruise passengers.
A sister also to AmaPrima and AmaCerto, AmaSonata features the brand’s signature Twin Balconies — combining a French balcony with a step-out balcony — in the majority of the 82 staterooms and suites. Suites come with bathtubs, glassed-in showers with multiple showerheads and dual sinks, while all rooms feature excellent interactive infotainment systems with complimentary Wi-Fi access. Staterooms run from 160 square feet with fixed windows up to 235 square feet with French and full balconies, while suites are 300 square feet.
AmaSonata’s decor is largely elegant and restrained, but there are some colorful surprises. For example, the motif of a peacock feather — a symbol of beauty and immortality — repeats in the ship’s furnishings. A beautifully designed glass elevator and curved stairs give the reception area distinction, and public rooms in general are airy and full of light.
The ship is evidence that design done right will attract guests. Most fitness rooms on river cruise lines are used sparingly, and though top-deck pools are often exclaimed over, they tend to remain almost empty. On AmaSonata, however, things are different. Guests can be found in the gym at almost all hours of the day, utilizing its selection of weights, treadmills, bikes, Pilates equipment and an excellent kinesiology system. (The instruction book for the kinesiology wall was possibly the most-read piece of literature on the ship.) Likewise, the heated pool was a literal and figurative hot spot, beckoning passengers with its poolside wicker chairs and sofas, plus a leisurely choice of sun or shade.
As soon as the ship docks, guests can pick from a selection of shore excursions in every port. Excursions range from gentle walking to guided bicycle tours, and use of bicycles and helmets is complimentary.
During my stay, the onboard pianist was skilled and versatile; on several nights, couples would fill the floor of the main lounge to listen. The same area also housed early and late risers’ breakfasts, teatime and both talks and entertainment.
Rudi Schreiner, president and co-owner of AmaWaterways, and Primus Perchtold, executive chef of AmaWaterways, are both members of Confrerie de la Chaine des Rotisseurs, an international gastronomic society formed in Paris in 1950 that is dedicated to fine cuisine. So, it’s not surprising that AmaSonata also takes pride in superb dining for guests.
And their thoughtful efforts don’t go unnoticed: Passengers expressed pleasure with the food, its presentation and the kitchen’s ability to accommodate special dietary needs — including gluten-free beer.
Besides the main dining room, the intimate Chef’s Table restaurant provides a special menu, and there is an al fresco bistro on the same deck. For another outdoor dining option, lunch is occasionally served on the ship’s sundeck.
Dress onboard is smart casual; even at the captain’s gala dinner, ties and jackets are not required (though worn by many passengers).
Approximately 49 crew members cultivate the guest experience on the AmaSonata, and they are all warm, cheerful and extremely accommodating. The massage therapist drew rave reviews, whereas the debonair waiters brought a delightful sense of humor to meals.
Comments on Cruise Critic have been glowing ever since the ship first launched, both from experienced cruisers and first-timers. One concluded: “The tag phrase for this line should be Ama = Excellence.”
Travelers can find seven itinerary choices on the Danube and Rhine rivers for AmaSonata.