Introduced to the Danube River in 2010, the AmaBella is one of many beautifully finished river cruise vessels that make up AmaWaterways’ European fleet. The custom-designed luxury of the ship ensures passengers can enjoy a sophisticated and refined river cruise, while the ship also pioneered a number of new design features that hadn’t been seen before on Europe’s waterways, including the fantastic Twin Balconies concept that can be enjoyed in the majority of staterooms and all suites onboard.
As an American river cruise operator, AmaWaterways vessels attract a predominantly American clientele, but are also popular with Canadian and British passengers. All of the 49 crew on board are European and English-speaking, to ensure guests can enjoy their trip without worrying about overcoming language barriers.
The AmaBella’s maximum capacity is 161, meaning that with a crew to passenger ratio of less than 1:4, guests will benefit from the professional, laid-back and personalised service onboard. A Cruise Manager is also onboard throughout.
There are a number of dining options onboard, including the Main Restaurant located on the Cello Deck that serves breakfast, lunch and dinner within its luxurious setting. AmaWaterways is the only river cruise line that can boast membership of the highly-respected Chaîne des Rôtisseurs, which means all food onboard is prepared to exacting standards and is mouth-wateringly good.
There is also an intimate dining alternative on the Violin Deck, where guests can enjoy watching a private chef prepare a special, gourmet tasting menu. This Chef’s Table restaurant only sits 24 guests, so reservations are a must, but dining here comes at no extra charge. Guests can also enjoy a light lunch in the Main Lounge, or even outdoors on the Sun Deck on select days.
Local wines, beers and soft drinks are free-flowing during both lunch and dinner service. A 24-hour tea and speciality coffee station is also available, and bottled mineral water is free of charge and replenished daily.
After dinner entertainment tends to take place in the Main Lounge & Bar area, located on the Violin Deck. It is here where guests will find plenty of comfortable chairs and tables, from which they can enjoy an engaging, yet low-key, entertainment programme. Local performers, including dancers and musicians, will often hop aboard to provide guests with an enthralling evening of entertainment which is inkeeping with local culture and customs. The Main Lounge also has a piano and dancefloor for evenings of music and dancing.
Guests often look forward to the cocktail reception, welcome dinner and Captain’s Gala Dinner that take place on every river cruise. While offering perfect excuses to dig out the eveningwear, they also provide fantastic opportunities to mingle and get to know other travellers.
The programme of regional entertainment doesn’t stop at evenings onboard. There are also special highlights on every trip, which are closely connected with each itinerary, such as expert lectures and cooking demonstrations. There is also a putting green and giant chess board if you fancy testing your skills. Catch up with a book in the fireside library, or make use of the shipwide Wi-Fi. All staterooms and suites also have access to the Internet through the ‘infotainment’ systems available on the flatscreen TVs, so if you wish to chat with loved ones or watch a blockbuster in your room, you can.
Shore excursions are split into three categories wherever possible, including ‘gentle walker’, ‘active walker’ and ‘late starter’ so that whether you want to explore at a leisurely pace, cover more ground or start a little later in the day, you have that option.
There are also over two dozen bicycles and helmets onboard, which can be used to explore the paths, bicycle routes and charming towns independently. They are free to use, and available as soon as the ship docks in port.
Onboard, there are 76 staterooms split across 7 categories (Cat. E to Cat. AA) and 5 suites. Staterooms vary in size, between 170 sq. ft. and 235 sq. ft. and all have French balconies apart from those found on the Piano Deck, which have fixed picture windows instead due to the proximity to the waterline. Cat. BB staterooms and above also make use of the Twin Balconies concept and have private outside balconies, too.
Amenities, irrespective of stateroom category, include flatscreen TV equipped with infotainment system, local and satellite channels, personal safe, hairdryer, direct dial telephone, hotel-style beds with plush bedding, bathrobes, climate control and bottled water that is replenished daily. Twin Balcony staterooms also feature mini-bars which are well-stocked.
The 5 suites are in excess of 255 sq. ft. (Owner’s Suite “Plus” is 300 sq. ft.) and each have a sitting area with couch, plus large bathroom with dual sinks, bathtub and separate shower cubicle, on top of all the facilities that the above provide.
There is a heated pool situated on the Sun Deck, as well as a smaller whirlpool – perfect for a relaxing dip when onboard. There is also a walking track for guests to enjoy, at the same time as admiring the stunning vistas.
Alternatively, head to the aft of the Violin Deck, where you’ll find a well-equipped fitness centre, as well as a massage, hair and beauty salon where you can book in with one of the professional therapists for a treatment, new hair ‘do or a well-earned pampering session.
The AmaBella currently sails two itineraries along the Danube River – the Romantic Danube (Vilshofen to Budapest, plus three nights in Prague) and the Melodies of the Danube (Budapest to Vilshofen, plus three nights in Munich or Prague) tours.
The Romantic Danube allows guests to explore medieval cities, sample wines from the Wachau Valley, marvel at the architecture and history of Vienna and Budapest or take advantage of exclusive tours including a ‘communist history’ tour in Bratislava, and optional Mozart and Strauss concerts in Vienna.
Highlights of the Melodies of the Danube include an illuminations cruise in Budapest, wine tasting in Weissenkirchen and Oktoberfest in Vilshofen, as well a number of tours of iconic towns and cities. There are also Christmastime cruises which take guests between Nuremburg and Budapest, as well as wine-themed cruises for lovers of the grape!
Typically, cruises last 8 days, or if you choose a cruise and stay holiday, 10-11 days depending on how many nights you stay in a city, such as Prague or Munich.