On the rivers of Europe, there has always been one glaring issue holding back river cruise lines from being as innovative as they’d like: size. Ships sailing the Danube, the Main and the Rhine have to adhere to strict regulations governing how long, wide, and tall ships can be built. This is done primarily so that river cruise ships can pass under bridges, over shallow water, and through narrow locks.
Recently, though, two river cruise lines have demonstrated a willingness to think outside the box. Crystal River Cruises took over the MS Mozart – the widest ship on the Danube – to kick off its river cruise product in 2016. Renamed Crystal Mozart, this vessel is 22.8 metres (74 feet) wide – nearly twice the width of an average river cruise ship.
Now, AmaWaterways is following suit with its upcoming AmaMagna. When she launches in 2019, she’ll be the largest (and widest) ship on the Danube, with the ability to hold 194 guests in 97 staterooms – the majority of which will measure more than 27m2 (300 square feet) in size.
Because of its width, AmaMagna – like Crystal’s Crystal Mozart – will be confined to the lower Danube, as she will be too wide to make the full transit from Amsterdam to Budapest. However, the bulk of the traditional Danube itineraries – sailings between Germany, Austria and Hungary– are still entirely possible.
There’s good reason to want to book passage on these double-wide ships: All that extra real estate space allows for more spacious staterooms, larger public areas, and more amenities than you will find on traditional river cruisers. In fact, these double-wide ships have the feel of small ocean-going vessels. Indeed, more than ever, the variety found on ocean cruise ships – multiple dining venues, more choices for bars and lounges – is coming to the rivers of Europe.
“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,” said Rudi Schreiner, president and co-owner of AmaWaterways. “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.”
While AmaMagna is still a few years away from being fully realized, those who want to get a taste of how lavish these oversized river cruise ships can be are able to book passage aboard Crystal Mozart.
Sailing roundtrip Vienna, Crystal Mozart’s voyages last between 10 and 11 days, typically spending time in Austria’s scenic (and wine-producing) Wachau Valley before calling on Durnstein, Linz and Melk, Austria; Passau, Germany; Bratislava, Slovakia; and Budapest, Hungary.
Since Crystal Mozart doesn’t have to sail the formidable distances that other river cruise ships making weeklong runs between Nuremberg and Budapest do, her guests are treated to more time in port on average, with overnight stays in Vienna, Budapest, and Passau.
Ultrawide river cruise ships may not be suitable for every European waterway, which means that the trend may be limited to the Danube, but there’s no denying that Crystal Mozart and AmaMagna are bringing more choice, more luxury and more space to European river cruising than ever before.