Archive for the ‘River Cruising’ Category

AmaMagna – A New Dimension In River Cruising

May 23, 2018

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At nearly twice the width of traditional European river ships, AmaMagna is a revolutionary new vessel offering a watersports platform, choice of four restaurants, wellness studio and ultra-spacious accommodation. This week, AmaWaterways unveiled more details and images highlighting what this incredible ship will offer when she launches in May 2019.

AmaMagna is a distinctive evolution of AmaWaterways’ European river cruise fleet, with a daring design for those seeking a fresh, contemporary and dynamic take on river cruising, as well as ocean cruisers accustomed to the luxury of choice. Among the facilities on offer are:

More personal space for her 196 guests

Despite being double the width (and the same length) of other modern river cruise ships, AmaMagna will only accommodate an extra 40 passengers (in comparison to their already spacious fleet), giving those on-board an unprecedented amount of personal space. Guests will be looked after by 70 crew.

She will offer the most spacious and comfortable accommodation on the Danube with 53 suites ranging from an impressive 355 sq. ft. to a luxurious 710 sq. ft. – all offering full-width step out balconies. Each one will include a sizable marble bathroom, many boasting double sinks as well as a deluxe walk-in multi-jet shower and separate bath.

There are an additional 34 Staterooms at 252 sq. ft. with full balcony and 11 Staterooms at 205 sq. ft. with large fixed windows .

Fine dining at a choice of four restaurants

Fine dining remains a key part of the AmaWaterways’ experience and the AmaMagna is no different. All AmaWaterways’ ships currently offer a choice between the main restaurant and speciality ‘Chef’s Table’ where guests can watch a multi-course taster menu being prepared. The new ship will offer two additional options for those seeking even more variety:

‘Al Fresco’ will accommodate up to 35 diners. Located at the front of the ship and with retractable windows, the restaurant is expected to be a sought after dining option, whatever the weather.

‘Jimmy’s Wine Bar Restaurant’ has been named after the late Mr. Murphy, one of AmaWaterways’ co-founders. Wine connoisseurs will revel in the ambience of this unique space where 65 guests can indulge in delicious cuisine paired with complimentary fine wines at high-top tables and in private wine rooms.

Fine dining will be offered in all the restaurants at no additional charge, with complimentary wine, beer and soft drinks also served at meal times.
Unique water sports platform taking guests even closer to the Danube.

The AmaMagna will be the first river cruise ship to feature a water sports platform, complete with a Sundowner vessel offering a range of unique activity and excursion opportunities – at no extra cost.

A Wellness studio, juice bar and larger beauty salon

AmaWaterways recently introduced Wellness Hosts onto several of its ships and was the first company to offer a fleet of bicycles for use by guests. AmaMagna continues this theme with a large space allocated to health and well-being.

The ‘Zen Wellness studio’ is a new multi-functional Health & Wellness Studio complete with Juice bar and retractable windows, where guests will have the opportunity to participate in group classes focused on stretching, cardio and circuit training – at no extra charge.

More space has also been made available for salon services. The AmaMagna will offer two massage rooms and as well as hair styling (currently offered on on AmaWaterway’s other ships), guests can treat themselves to a range of additional beauty treatments such as manicures and pedicures.

A relaxing split-level lounge

A larger, split-level lounge will create intimate areas where guests can relax as they watch the world go by.

More outdoor space

A double-width ship, means more space on the top deck. Guests can enjoy a large heated pool, while those looking to unwind will love the whirlpool and access to the pop-up sky bar.
AmaMagna will sail on seven night rotations along the Danube from Vilshofen to Budapest for the Romantic Danube itinerary departing on 17 November 2019.

(AmaWaterways)

Would you enjoy a river cruise? SEE HERE

Malcolm says: One of the criticisms of European river boats is that they lack a choice of on-board facilities. They normally offer one restaurant, one main lounge and one bar. Although this is perfectly adequate, a double width boats will allow multiple dining g rooms and bigger suites. One disadvantage will be bigger fares.  Double-width boats will also congest the locks more, as the locks are often double-width, but one double-width fully occupied the lock, not allowing two boats to user the lock at once.

AmaMana is not unique, Crystal cruises already have a double-width boat, Crystal Mozart, operating on the Danube.

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Introducing: Fred. Olsen’s ‘Brabant’

May 23, 2018

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Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines’ new 156-guest river ship, Brabant, commenced its inaugural cruise season from Amsterdam in April 2018.

Fred. Olsen is operating its inaugural European river cruising programme between April and November 3rd.

Guests can choose from a total of 30 departures on Brabant in 2018, on durations ranging from five to 25 nights, complemented by a selection of high-quality chargeable shore excursions, designed to enhance guests’ experience of the destination.

Fred. Olsen guests – who are predominantly British – will also feel at home on board Brabant, with English spoken throughout and all transactions conducted in sterling.

The British taste will also be reflected in the cuisine, customer service and shore tours on offer.

(Fred.Olsen)

Malcolm says: Olsen’s ‘Brabant’ is the ‘Amadeus Princess’ which entered service in 2006. It seems that this will essentially be an ‘Amadeus’ (Luftner Cruises) product, with Olsen tweaks, such as sterling as the on board currency and British menus.  I like the Amadeus product.

Amadeus Elegant ship review HERE

Malcolm

Don’t book an ocean cruise…

April 29, 2018

…until you have read my river cruise reviews.

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For twenty years I have been ocean cruising and was  lucky enough to have taken cruises many big ships, small ships, old ships and new ships.

To keep the whole thing fresh, I also tried many different cruise lines. These have included Cunard, P&O, Fred. Olsen, RCI, P&O, Princess, Celebrity, Thomson and CMV.

Each cruise is different, each ship is different, yet they are all similar.

While searching for something ‘more’ different, I tried my first European River Cruise in 2015.

I did enjoyed it, it made a refreshing change. However the experience still felt slightly ‘alien’ to me, compared to the many an ocean cruises that I have done.

Yet something drew me back to river cruising and I took my second European river cruise over Christmas 2016.

This time something ‘clicked’ inside of me. (And I don’t mean my spine or knee cartilage.)

I really got into the format and style of the experience this time around. Many aspects of the experience were actually better than on-board most ocean ship.

Amadeus Silver II ship review: HERE

My most recent river cruise was something different again. It was on the  Mississippi river, on-board the ‘American Queen’, a real paddle-wheeled steamboat.

So how did the experience differ from an Ocean cruise and a European river cruise? Please read on….

 

American Queen ship review: HERE

Malcolm

Oldest River Vessel

April 5, 2018

 

(Courtesy Gota Kanal)

Cruis Blog reader ‘Max M’ suggested that after discussing the biggest river boats (here) we should discuss the oldest.

I have done a little research and it would appear that the oldest registered marine vessel with overnight accommodation, is in fact a vintage steam canal boat called M/S Juno.  Juno was built in 1874 (yes, 1874) and has 29 passenger cabins.

M/S Juno operates on the 120 mile Göta Canal between Stockholm and Gothenburg, built with the help of Scottish engineer Thomas Telford.

In fact there are three vintage vessels on this route: The M/S Wilhelm Tham was built in 1912 and their youngest ship, is the M/S Diana, in 1931.

Doulos – The Oldest Ocean-Going Ship

The Medina was built in 1914 by Newport News Shipbuilding and Dry Dock Company for the Mallory Steamship Company of the United States. She was a freighter serving the Atlantic; during World War II she served with the United States Coast Guard.

The Panamanian company Naviera San Miguel SA acquired the Medina in 1948; they renamed the ship the Roma, and converted her into a passenger ship with cabins for 287 people, and dormitories for an additional 694 people.

In 1952 Naviera San Miguel resold the Roma to Linea Costa, an Italian company. At this time the SS Roma, a steamship, was converted into a motor vessel and renamed the MV Franca C. She carried passengers between Italy and Argentina. In 1959, the Franca C was adapted into a cruise liner, principally cruising the Mediterranean.

In 1977, Gute Bücher für Alle (Good Books For All) acquired the Franca C, and renamed her the Doulos (Greek for servant). She was manned by a volunteer crew and made sea port visits worldwide as a missionary ship. The MV Doulos held the biggest floating library in the world. Normally there were somewhere between 3000 to 5000 books on the shelves and half a million in the hold.

She made her last world tour in 2009 and was de-commissioning at the end of 2009 due to expense of making her compliant with SOLAS (maritime safety) regulations .

The ship is currently known as the MV Doulos Phos. She is now owned by Mr. Eric Saw, Director and Chief Executive of BizNaz Resources International Pte Ltd in Singapore.

There are plans to use the ship as a floating hotel with restaurants, a bookshop and a banqueting hall. However such plans do not always come to fruition. The QE2 is a prime example.

(Source: Wikipedia)

Malcolm Says: As Doulos is no longer operational as cruise ship, this raises the question what ocean going ship is now the oldest? anybody know?

I got to go on-board MV Doulos in 2004, when she visited Southampton. Her interiors were quite a mess, looking more like a Hippy peace-camp than an historic ship. However you could certainly still see some of the Costa décor in places.

Crystal River Cruises Introduces: ‘Crystal Debussy’

March 13, 2018

(Image courtesy of Crystal)

Crystal River Cruises welcomed the 106-guest Crystal Debussy to its fleet, which will enter next month. The latest addition to the Crystal portfolio brings the river fleet to four river ships.

Crystal Debussy will cruise along the Rhine River, beginning with her April 9, 2018 maiden voyage round-trip from Amsterdam. Throughout 2018 and 2019, the ship will sail routes of seven and 10 days between Amsterdam and Basel along the Rhine and Moselle rivers, visiting Switzerland, Germany, Netherlands and Belgium.

In addition, Crystal will welcome the Crystal Ravel to the fleet next month, joining sister ships: the Crystal Bach, the Crystal Mahler, the Crystal Debussy, and the line’s first river ship the Crystal Mozart.

(Crystal)

 

Paddle Wheelers

November 28, 2017

AmaWaterways To launch ‘Biggest River Boat’ In Europe

May 13, 2017

AmaMagna (Courtsey AmaWaterways)

AmaWaterways is to launch the ‘biggest river cruise vessel’ in Europe in 2019.

To be named AmaMagna, the vessel will have the same length, height and draft as the line’s other vessels, but at 22 meters it will be twice as wide. However she will only accommodate 194 passengers.

Its width also means it will be the only ship docked in ports that allow two-deep berthing..

The ship will sail the Danube.

President Rudi Schreiner said the ship, which will be called AmaMagna, would have more facilities and ocean style cabins.

He said: “While this new double-width concept has been on the table for some time, we believe, given the unique demand that exists, that now is the perfect moment to introduce this style of ship”.

“AmaMagna will provide guests with generous personal space, the freedom of multiple dining choices and exceptional stateroom comfort. “Combining this with our award-winning cuisine, noteworthy shore excursions and remarkable onboard service, we feel this ship is a game-changer.”

AmaMagna will accommodate 194 passengers, in 97 staterooms – the majority of which will be over 300 square feet.

Additional amenities include a large heated sundeck swimming pool with whirlpool and sky bar, spa area with new treatments, a fitness room large enough for small group classes.

The cruise line has 20 ships and is expected to launch another five by 2019.

(AmaWaterways)

Malcolm says: so it’s not only ocean cruise ships that are getting bigger, although AmaMagna will still be very intimate in comparison. I’m not sure if she really will be the biggest passenger-river vessel operating in Europe?  I suppose it depends how you measure ‘biggest’.

‘Crystal Mozart’ a twin hulled vessel, is about the same width as AmaMagna, yet a little longer, so she has more internal volume. However she carries less passengers – 154.  Both boats will be operating on the Danube.  These boats will only be able to navigate wider locks and will congest them.  Many larger locks can accommodate two standard river boats, side by side, but will only be able to accommodate one of these. This will slow things up a bit.

River Cruising – Myth & Reality: HERE

Malcolm says re: Poll – A river boat certainly do not feel ‘small’ when you are on-board one. There is normally one sitting for each meal and every passengers has a lounger on the sun deck. You obviously do not have the range of facilities and public rooms found on-board most ocean cruise ships. However, as there is normally under 200 passengers, you are not competing for space with thousands of other passengers.

CroisiEurope Builds Second Ship For The Elbe

January 28, 2017
Elbe Princesse (Courtesy CroisiEurope)

Elbe Princesse (Courtesy CroisiEurope)

CroisiEurope has started construction on a third paddle wheel riverboat to be called MS Elbe Princesse II, to cruise the shallow Elbe River.

This follows the success of the MS Loire Princesse in 2015 and the Elbe Princesse in 2016.

Taking into consideration the navigational limitations on these rivers, MS Elbe Princesse II also has only two decks, a very shallow hull draft and stern paddlewheels. These  do not require a lot of water under them, compared to conventional propellers. .

MS Elbe Princesse II will be the second ship operating between Berlin and Prague on the Elbe and the Vltava Rivers.

(CroisiEurope)

Malcolm says: Old propulsion technology being used on a new ship, clever. However I have heard that these ships can rattle a bit at higher speeds.

Interestingly the MS Loire Princesse (not surprisingly cruising on the River Loire) has two paddle wheels, one mounted on each side of her hull. However the Elbe Princesse has two mounted at her stern.

I wonder why the difference? Maybe the best technical location for paddle wheels is on the ships sides. Maybe this allows for more manoeuvrability? Maybe the Elbe is too just narrow for that configuration?

Loire Princesse (Courtesy Croisieurope)

Loire Princesse (Courtesy Croisieurope)

The British ocean going paddle steamer, the PS Waverly (1946) has two paddle wheels, one on the on the port side of the hull and the other on the starboard side of her hull. This is similar to the Loire Princesse.

However traditionally the Mississippi type paddle-steamers of course have one very large stern paddle wheel. This of course has more in common with the Elbe Princesse, although she has two smaller stern mounted paddle wheels rather than one large one.

American Queen: the biggest, carrying 436 passengers

American Queen: the biggest, carrying 436 passengers

Can anybody tell me why there are two different paddle-wheel locations on these ship?

Malcolm

Crowded Waters

January 10, 2017

There has been a lot of talk about the increasing number of ocean cruise ships in the past decade. In particular about the negative impact of mega-ships on the environment and their ports of call.

There are now ships on order that will carry in excess of 6,000 passengers, plus crew.

However, what about European river cruising which is a now booming business?

‘Viking River Cruises’ are a good example of success and expansion…

Read more…HERE

A busy Danube - Three Amadeus vessels (Click to enlarge)

A busy Danube – Three Amadeus vessels (Click to enlarge)

 

The Danube

January 7, 2017

Below is a short slide show of the Danube River form on-board Amadeus Elegant:

 
Amadeus Elegant ship review HERE.

Paddlewheel ship on the Loire

January 8, 2016

(Click to enlarge all images)

In May 2015, the French-based river cruise line CroisiEurope unveiled an innovative new paddlewheel vessel which is the first hotel ship to sail on the Loire River.

The 96-passenger Loire Princesse, named in Nantes, incorporates dual engine ‘paddlewheel’ technology enabling it to continue sailing when normal methods of propulsion would not be effective in the river’s notoriously shallow waters.

Founded by the Schmitter family in 1976, the line was one of the early pioneers of the river cruise booking business, and the dual commemoration brings the number of ships in the fleet to 43.

Speaking to an audience of 300, Lucas Schmitter, grand-nephew of founder Gerard Schmitter, said: “The Loire Princess is a landmark in shipbuilding and we are very proud that is 100 percent French as it was made in France, is French-owned and opened on a French river.”

le-loire-princesse-quitte-saint-nazaire

Until now, no ships with overnight cabins have operated on France’s longest river due to periods of low water. The 295-foot ‘Loire Princesses’ features 48 outside cabins, spread over two decks, a restaurant that can accommodate all passengers for single-service dining, a lounge with a central dance floor and sun deck.

The vessel will operate six- and eight-day round-trip cruises from Nantes visiting destinations such as Saint-Nazaire — where the ship was built — the chateaux of the Loire Valley and wine-growing regions.

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A second paddlewheel ship is currently being built for CroisiEurope at the Saint-Nazaire shipyard. The 80-passenger Elbe Princess will be launched this year (2016) and offer itineraries between Berlin and Prague on the Elbe and Moldau rivers.

(J.Williamson)

Malcolm says: There’s something romantic about Paddle Wheels!

See My River Ship Review: Amadeus Silver II