Continuing our tour of AmaWaterways’ AmaMagna, this blog takes a look at the entertainment and wellness found on board, as well as some of the destinations she visits on the beautiful Danube River.
Like most river cruising, the focus of your trip is the destination, so you won’t find a huge amount of activities on the ship during the day (as you’ll be out and about). Of course, when you are sailing a host of activities such as quizzes and such will be offered. Unlike a lot of other river cruise lines, a key focus for AmaWaterways is around Wellness Activities (see below).
Drawing upon the destinations on board, through the course of your cruise you will find a number of local acts coming on board AmaMagna from the various destinations she visits. Expect everything from classical Bavarian music, to opera performances and other local musicians. You can tell these acts are handpicked, as the quality and talent is something else. I’m always really impressed with the entertainment that’s brought on board.
Wellness is a key selling point for AmaWaterways as a brand and the design of AmaMagna has been tailored towards promoting wellness. The ship has a number of facilities and activities to support this. Again, the broader size of AmaMagna allows her to really embrace this approach.
At the back at AmaMagna you will find the dedicated Zen Wellness Studio. This is a multi-functional health and wellness space complete with juice bar, retractable windows, and large studio area perfect for circuit training, HIIT, Yoga, cardio and other classes throughout the day, at no extra charge. There is also plenty of gym equipment available and a number of spinning bikes that overlook the wake of the ship. On the sundeck a number of activities also take place throughout the day including line dancing and yoga.
There are also two massage rooms on board, together with hairdressers that offers hair styling and other beauty treatments.
Due to AmaMagna’s size, she is (for now) pretty-much focussed around Danube itineraries. Typically, she travels from Vilshofen (Germany), through Austria, Bratislava and finishing in Budapest (Hungary). It is the quintessential river cruise for me and something I’d recommend to anyone, whether they’d been on a river cruise or not before.
Like other river cruise lines, excursions are included in every port and tailored for AmaWaterways. There are of course other optional excursions you can also take (for a fee), or you can explore a destination on your own. I personally find river cruising is perfect for enabling you to explore somewhere by yourself. On our 4-night trip on board we travelled from Spitz, to Vienna, and finished in Budapest.
We arrived in Spitz in the afternoon and had time to explore the gorgeous AmaMagna to ourselves. The rest of the guests were on shore on one of the various excursions, such as visiting the famous Melk Abbey. Once we had enjoyed dinner, we were invited to a special night-time event in Spitz.
Leaving the ship, we walked a short distance to one of the local wineries. Here we were serenaded by local musicians and taken on a tour of the wine cellars and the history of wine in the famous Wachau region. It was really interesting, not to mention unique, to explore these cellars. We were then given the opportunity to savour a number of local wines from the vineyard while continuing to be serenaded by local Austrian music. It was a really fun way to learn about and enjoy the wine of the region in the context to authentic entertainment. A really lovely way to start our trip and you could see how much guests enjoyed the experience.
The next morning AmaMagna arrived in beautiful Vienna. We opted to take one of the included excursions, a walking tour of Vienna. Now, I’ve actually done a similar excursion to this before, however, it was interesting to see how much they can vary – so even if you have been to Vienna, it’s worth taking the tour and you will certainly seeing something new or learn something you may not have known before.
Our tour took us through the main hustle and bustle of the centre of Vienna. We took in the iconic St. Stephen’s Cathedral, making our way through the famous streets all lined with boutiques and the famous Viennese coffee shops. Top tip – if you have time, you must visit one of the infamous coffee shops and enjoy a hot drink and local cake. In fact, you should really just make the time if visiting, you won’t be disappointed.
Continuing our tour, we found ourselves at The Hofburg Palace. We walked through this expansive complex, learning about its history and the history of how Austria is governed. Honestly, not only is it fascinating, but the geopolitical history of this area along the Danube has done so much to shape society. If you enjoy history, this whole itinerary is a must. Finishing our tour, we found ourselves in one of the Christmas Markets in Vienna where we were given free time to explore and enjoy a glühwein (or two). Christmas in Vienna is something else, with stunning Christmas Lights, numerous Christmas Markets and a really lovely festive vibe.
One thing to note about river cruises and Vienna, is that the ships don’t dock right in the city centre. However, this really isn’t a problem as there are regular shuttle busses that take you into the centre of town or failing that the metro system is so easy to use. If you have the time you could even walk or cycle it and enjoy more of the local architecture and hospitality.
Our final destination on this voyage was Budapest. I have a real soft spot for this city – it has something for everyone, whether that’s culture, architecture, food and entertainment. Unusually, we didn’t sail into Budapest on this trip (though usually this does happen), and instead we jumped onto a coach just outside the City in Esztergom. This is a beautiful destination in itself, framed by the amazing Basilica of Esztergom.
Our journey took us through the Hungarian countryside. Once we arrived in Budapest, we headed to the old town, or Buda. Here we climbed to the top of the old town with its majestic views over the city. We found Matthias Church, a Roman Catholic church dating back to the 14th Century and has served as the coronation church for the Hungarian Kings. Surrounding the Church and overlooking the city is Fisherman’s Bastion. This fairy-tale setting could honestly have been taken straight from a Disney story. It was built as a viewing platform after the Siege of Budapest. If you visit the City this whole area is a must, just for the views alone.
Leaving Buda, we headed into the New Town, or Pest. We were dropped off and walked into the main shopping area of the city. We came to cute public square which had also been transformed into a Christmas Market. Christmas markets can get a bit samey if you’re not careful, but what I found here is that everything was locally produced, very different to what you normally find and very reasonably priced. On top of this there were local food and drink stalls everywhere. There was such a great vibe about the place, I could have stayed a lot longer and taken it all in. I would definitely recommend Budapest for a Christmas break. Once we were done, we headed back to AmaMagna for our final night on board, which had repositioned into Budapest in the hours we’d been on tour.
If guests opt to stay a few nights in a destination at the end of their trip, the on-board Cruise Managers’ stay will stay with the guests so that they continue to get the AmaWaterways’ experience, even when not on the ship. I think that’s a really nice touch.
From 2020, AmaMagna will also be offering further cruises on the Danube to Bucharest from Budapest. So, if you choose to, you can create a 14-night holiday that takes you through much of the wonderful Danube – Doesn’t that sound incredible.
So, what do you think? Would you take a trip on AmaMagna? Let me know in the comments and on social media.
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