The 158-passenger ship was christened in Vilshofen, Germany, in June.// © 2016 Amawaterways
Feature image (above): AmaViola features family-friendly accommodations. // © 2016 Amawaterways
AmaViola sailed onto the Danube River with great fanfare as godmother Jackie Friedman, president of Nexion, helped celebrate the ship’s inauguration at a lavish ceremony in Vilshofen, Germany, on June 15.
The relationship between town and cruise line is quite strong, to the degree that Vilshofen puts on quite the party when an AmaWaterways ship sails into town, throwing Oktoberfest-style celebrations so that customers can sample the unique activities of this Bavarian town.
AmaViola is one of two new vessels that the river cruise line debuted in 2016, each carrying 158 passengers. New to the ship — and its identical sibling, AmaStella, which was also christened in June — are changes that broaden the line’s demographic and improve the passenger experience.
AmaWaterways’ partnership with Adventures By Disney has generated interest from families, and 12 staterooms onboard feature triple accommodations. Additionally, there are six sets of connecting staterooms that share an internal doorway, accommodating families of up to five, and four suites that come equipped with sofa beds, allowing families of up to four to sleep comfortably.
Another unique twist was suggested by the ship’s manufacturer. Unsightly fire extinguishers and emergency equipment are hidden from public view; instead, they are stored behind moveable works of art that open and close like closets.
Longtime onboard favorites remain, too, including the dual-balcony concept in many staterooms, which provide both a French and a full balcony while creating a small sitting nook inside the cabin. In fact, the features are so popular that ship designers added more of them by moving the fitness center and massage room to the lower deck.
All staterooms have polished tile bathrooms that showcase ample vanity space and rainfall showerheads with strong water pressure. Additionally, larger accommodations come with the bonus of a window in the bathroom that turns opaque at the touch of a button, ensuring privacy when needed.
Guests can also watch a variety of on-demand movies, access the complimentary shipwide internet and enjoy a plethora of cable television channels from their staterooms.
As with all of the line’s ships, a regionally inspired color pattern runs throughout guestrooms and public areas; onboard AmaViola, it is a soft cream hue with cherry red and magenta accents.
The top deck features a jogging track, a whirlpool and a small plunge pool with adjacent bar that is staffed when needed. Continuing with AmaWaterways’ focus of targeting active river cruisers, there is a fleet of bicycles free for guests to use when exploring ports of call at their leisure. These are always an option for those who prefer to go rogue rather than join one of the complimentary shore excursions (all of which have various exertion levels).
Once back onboard, guests can take advantage of the light lunch buffet option available in the lounge if a more formal meal experience in the dining room is not in the cards. Another nice touch is the tapas menu that is presented daily in the lounge and served upon request by the friendly bar staff.
In the formal restaurant, which serves three meals per day, service is swift, with complimentary beer or wine during lunch and dinner. Breakfast and lunch have action stations with meals cooked to order in addition to the plentiful buffet and a la carte options. Flavorful choices include regionally inspired menu items that highlight the ship’s ports of call. For example, while the ship is docked in Budapest, Hungary, a tempting goulash is served.
Those with special dietary requirements are attended to quite well, with a special selection of gluten-free, vegan and vegetarian options readily available in the dining room and lounge.
Clients will also experience the once-per-sailing Chaine des Rotisseurs dinner that highlights AmaWaterways’ membership in the prestigious international gastronomic society. As the only river cruise company to offer such an experience, it is a favorite among repeat passengers.
Entertainment ranges from performances by local entertainers to melodies from the onboard pianist.
AmaViola sails the Danube between Budapest and Vilshofen (just a 90-minute drive from the Munich airport), with the option to extend a sailing in Budapest, Munich or Prague.