Glide silently past vineyards, small towns and villages, take in picturesque scenery, all whilst relaxing on a river cruise ship that moors in the centre of your destination, it’s therefore to be expected more and more travellers are taking to river cruising. New ships have been ordered to cope with demand and one stands out from the rest, AmaMagna, at nearly twice the width of others yet carrying no more passengers than most its popularity comes as no surprise.
So, what’s it like to travel on this ship. My journey begins at Vilshofen, Germany on the River Danube. Cabin 214 on deck two boasts a very generous 355 sq. ft., has separate toilet and bathroom that any home would be proud of. Large walk in shower unit, multi jet shower heads – traditional or rain forest, twin wash basins, separate toiletries for each, shower gel, volumizing shampoo, hair conditioner, body moisturiser, shower cap, ear buds, hand lotion, sewing kit, the list is endless.
Frosted glass doors separate bathroom and toilet areas from the main cabin which is vast, 3 seat settee, 2 occasional tables, queen size bed, bedside lamps, small powerful reading spots under which are two USB charging ports so no problem keeping phones and tablets topped up. A large tv adorns the wall at the foot of the bed offering a good selection of films and tv channels. For those who need computer facilities, no worries, use the Apple Mac desk top with magic mouse and iPad on a unit that extends along one side of the cabin offering drawer space the like of which will be found on few ships. Wardrobes, yes two of them, provide more than generous hanging space. The list of amenities is enviable, bathrobes, slippers, umbrellas, shoe horn, hair dryer, hand cream, mini fridge, safe, bottled water that is replenished daily and more. Add to this a balcony that is large enough to accommodate table and chairs with space to spare and you have a cabin that few ships can match. Adjust the cabin lighting mood and brightness, cabin temperature, fan speed and more from a touch screen on the wall
On the quayside a marquee has been erected for a traditional “Bavarian Oktoberfest” specially arranged for the ship’s passengers even though its November. Steins of German Beer served by ladies in traditional costume, long dresses of red or green with white laced bodices whilst the male Oompah Band players wear the lederhosen with Haverlschuhe stockings and Bavarian hats. A wonderful way to be welcomed to Bavaria and AmaMagna.
Back to the ship, time for the Captains Welcome Reception while waiters circulate offering tasty canapés and flutes of Champagne. Next on the list, dinner in Jimmy’s Wine Bar and Restaurant, one of the three speciality dining venues where food, wine and service get five out of five.
Next day is sailing along the Danube for Passau passing villages, churches, castles, and camp sites, before berthing in the town centre on the Inn River. This city with a population of about 50,000, over 10,000 of which are said to be students, has a traceable history going back several thousand years. The main town, dominated by St Stephens Cathedral stands out against the sky, its white exterior and towers topped by large green domes reflecting in the sunlight. The current cathedral built between 1668 and 1693 houses the world’s largest church organ, 17,774 pipes. Returning to the ship, divert up a short walkway, enter the small doorway leading into St. Michaels church built by the Jesuits between 1665 and 1678. The doorway maybe small but the interior is breath taking, white walls, black marble pillars, pulpit, and side chapel all decorated with gold, an unforgettable sight.
The following morning its arrival in Linz, Austria’s third largest city and an opportunity to explore the ship before leaving on a 2 hour coach journey to the beautiful city of Salzburg birth place of Mozart travelling through the area where much of ‘The Sound of Music’ was filmed. On route a ‘comfort ‘stop overlooking Lake Mondsee, towering mountains, peaks shrouded in mist whilst lower down chalets are clearly visible, the clear, still, lake water acting as a mirror. It’s now on to Salzburg, the old city, a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1996 is considered one of the best preserved cities in Austria, home to 27 churches and three universities with a history stretching back to the 5th century. Horse drawn carriages offering tours of the city, trundling slowly through the old streets where shops that have stood for generations mix with those sporting fashion designer names. ‘Christmas’ shops busy with shoppers only changing their merchandise for Easter before returning to the Christmas theme, others producing handmade chocolates with more fillings than most can imagine, a Christmas Market is getting under way, an open air ice rink where parents and children alike glide across its surface. Finally, time for coffee at the ‘Mozart’ coffee shop where we have to wait for a table such is its popularity before boarding our coach for the 2 hour journey back to AmaMagna.
Dining tonight is at ‘Chefs Table’, I’m eager to sample its 7 course gastronomic delight menu and that is exactly what it is:
Heirloom Tomato Carpaccio - Eggplant Caviar.
Lemon Pepper Salmon - Turnip-Cucumber Tatar, Vegetable Vinaigrette – Chick Pea Mousseline.
Carrot-Ginger Soup, Tabbouleh-Crème Fraiche – Cumin Ciabatta.
Skin Grilled Pike Perch - Citrus Sauce - Celery Mash, beluga Lentil Ragout.
Sorbet of Vineyard Peach in Sparkling White Wine.
Nebraska Beef - Green Pea Velouté - Wild Broccoli - Guacamole - Beet Root.
Rum-Raison Crumble - Apple Tartelette - Vanilla Ice Cream.
Yes, it was a gastronomic delight, all washed down with paired wines.
Day 4 sees us cruising the Danube, winding through the charming Wachau Valley, passing the villages of Spitz and Dürnstein, the ruins of Aggstein Castle and the 12th century Schonbuhel Castle standing guard on the river banks. Lunchtime announces our arrival in Melk, from here visit the beautiful Basilica of Maria Taferl, journeys end every year for the pilgrims who travel from all over Europe, a tradition going back to the 16th century. Building of the basilica began in 1660 but took 50 years to complete, another holy place with an interior that has you just standing there admiring its beauty. Next stop, Melk Abbey founded in 1089 and operated by Benedictine Monks. Building began on the current abbey in 1702 taking 34 years to complete. Join a guided tour of the buildings, through the monastic library, shelves lined with books and scrolls going back centuries, rooms where vestments embroidered in gold thread and other regalia dating back to the beginning dominate. Monks still live here so there are parts of the abbey you cannot visit and photography is not allowed anywhere inside which is sad as the last point to visit on the tour is the church of the abbey that suddenly makes all those previously visited become less dramatic, stunning is an understatement.
Unfortunately, its time to return for our last night on board, yes, our short trip on AmaMagna is coming to an end. On stepping aboard the ship has transformed into a winter wonderland, Father Christmas is at the entrance even though Christmas is still 5 weeks away. Cabin doors have been adorned with holly wreaths and reindeer, sparkling silver lights twinkle from balustrades and staircases, Christmas trees mark the entrance to restaurants and passageways, small working Christmas themed models are displayed, Christmas has arrived.
As a guest of AmaWaterways it’s time to reflect on this beautiful ship. Large spacious well equipped cabins, dining areas and food that are up there with the best, staff that take time to make sure all is well for you and see to your every need, a spa, gymnasium, exercise bikes, classes of line dancing, yoga, keep fit, and more. Comfortable lounges, cinema, library, boutique, hairdresser, laundry room with ironing facilities, Apple computer and iPad in cabin, unlimited wi-fi, excursions, drinks with lunch and dinner. Move to the top deck, home to the pool and hot tub, large sun bathing area with loungers and parasols plus large tubs of herbs the chef utilises in the cooking. One thing this ship has that no other river ship has is a lift that goes to the top deck, an essential for the less able.
AmaWaterways offer cruises throughout Europe and in Asia and Africa.
The programme includes a choice of seven and fourteen night cruises along the Danube on AmaMagna for 2020.
All AmaWaterways cruises include full board, wine, beer and soft drinks with meals, a choice of excursions & unlimited wifi.
For more information on AmaWaterways visit amawaterways.co.uk, call tel: 0800 320 2336 or visit your local travel agent.
Alan Fairfax -
is a travel writer for
YOUR HOLIDAY TV
Alan also writes for
Atlantic Print Media with regional papers across Kent with high circulations and regular holiday & travel sections
in all editions
Plus Your Holiday & Cruise Magazine
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Published January 2020