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As AmaWaterways’ newest ship, the 156-passenger AmaLea, set off for her inaugural Tulip Time voyage in late March, another new AmaWaterways ship was heading for the Netherlands.
The 196-passenger AmaMagna — which, at 72 feet wide, is double the width of most river ships — has been under construction for more than a year in Belgrade, Serbia. When AmaMagna’s hull was completed, the ship began the transfer through the Black Sea to arrive in Rotterdam for finishing.
AmaMagna will sail only on the Danube River, which can accommodate the ship’s size on a stretch that includes iconic destinations such as Budapest and Vienna. Because of AmaMagna’s width, the ship will not be subjected to double parking in ports that dock cruise ships side by side — a positive for guests who do not like to find themselves on their balconies looking into another ship’s staterooms.
AmaMagna will debut in May next year as the river’s largest cruise ship. AmaMagna’s size enables the ship to include larger accommodations, more restaurant choices and more public space in general. AmaWaterways incorporated features from a spa and a fitness center where small group classes can be held to hot tubs and a watersports platform with zodiacs, canoes, Jet Skis, a Sundowner boat and other recreational equipment.
Besides the main dining room, AmaMagna will have an outdoor dining area with retractable windows, along with the Chef’s Table dining experience and a wine bar and restaurant. Ama has created accommodations that sound more like a seagoing ship than a river cruise ship: The bulk of room run more than 300 square feet and most have full balconies. The smallest staterooms are the fixed window cabins at 205 square feet, and Category AA and AB Balcony Staterooms will come in at 252 square feet, comparable to many seagoing balcony accommodations. Higher categories are 355-plus square feet, and the Owner’s Suite has two bathrooms and a large balcony within its 710 square-foot space.
Some compare AmaMagna with Crystal Cruises’ Crystal Mozart, also dedicated to the Danube and double-wide. But Rudi Schreiner, Ama president and co-owner, points out that Mozart was designed with two central hallways and crew accommodations in between. AmaMagna, on the other hand, has only one central corridor, allowing it to have accommodations in the style of seagoing ships.
With all its size, AmaMagna will be a green ship with 10 small engines using a combination of diesel and electric engines. Only four engines will be used for propulsion, which is expected to reduce fuel consumption by 20-25 percent.
Travel agents are largely enthusiastic about the ship’s design, describing it as a bold move to enrich the attraction of river cruising, which typically relies very heavily on the destination and now turns the spotlight to the onboard product as well. Agents hope this is a trend that will expand the clientele for European rivers, and AmaWaterway’s analysis supports that hope.
“Research has shown that many ocean cruisers and active travelers have yet to experience river cruising because they thought the staterooms were too small, or the dining options and activities too limited,” Schreiner said. “We are confident that AmaMagna, with the additional space and more diverse onboard programs, will overcome these objections and open up a whole new market for us. I’ve been working on the design for this ship off and on for five years and am confident that now is the time to introduce my vision. I can’t wait to see AmaMagna sailing the Danube in 2019.”
Rick Kaplan, president of Los Angeles-based Premier River Cruises, said agents have a special task with AmaMagna.
“AmaMagna has to be marketed correctly by the agency community,” he said. “Agents should embrace this ship — it will be breathtaking, and we will make more money. But the onus is on the agents to qualify clients very carefully.”
Kaplan believes that the first-time cruiser for AmaMagna is likely to be a successful professional who stays at high-end resort hotels such as the Four Seasons, not all-inclusive resorts (with the exception for clients booking fixed window staterooms, which Kaplan described as a “fantastic value”).
“People who pay substantial amounts for a room with a view should be excellent potential customers for a room with a view that also travels and includes fine dining and all the additional features on AmaMagna,” he said.
Kaplan is also targeting those who buy suites on seagoing and river cruises.
“If an agency mines its data correctly, it will be able to sell AmaMagna’s larger accommodations very successfully, and the clients will come back really happy,” he said.