Tag Archives: Viking river cruises

It’s a big fat ship

Competition between the river cruise companies is hot and each one is looking for something unique so as to set their brand apart.  Viking has its long ships with sleek Scandinavian design and outdoor dining, Avalon has its panorama staterooms with huge floor to ceiling windows and now AMAWaterways has come to the party with the biggest European river cruise vessel ever to be launched in 2019.  As someone pointed out in one of the industry blogs the ships on the Yangtze River in China would still dwarf our European river cruise ships.
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Cruise critic reported as follows –

“To be named AmaMagna, the behemoth will have the same length, height and draft as the line’s other vessels, but at 22 meters it will be twice as wide, allowing for larger cabins — most about 300 square feet — with a capacity for 194 passengers (40 more than Crystal Mozart).

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

Rudi Schreiner, AmaWaterways’ co-owner and president, said the new ship will feature ocean-style cabins, multiple dining venues (including outdoor dining), an elevator that goes all the way to the top of the ship, a heated top-deck pool and hot tub with bar, expanded entertainment and spa offerings and a water sports platform with zodiacs, canoes and other recreational equipment.

The ship will also boast a fitness center large enough for small group classes, hosted as part of the line’s new wellness program, which will roll out next year to one ship per river.”

Now this is going to be quite something being that wide and there are a few innovations on the ship that will be interesting to explore further.

I am not sure what this report means by “ocean style cabins” and I am assuming that the larger space will mean larger staterooms.  (I hate using the word cabin.  Just doesn’t conjure up the right feel).  I do like the idea of having an elevator going all the way up to the top deck.  This will mean that the river cruise will be more accessible for guests with mobility issues.
AmaMagna cabin

So now that AMAWaterways has thrown down the gauntlet what will the other river cruise companies come up with?  It will be interesting to see.  They cannot have longer or taller, so what else could they do?

Uniworld has made some changes to its program with the introduction of U by Uniworld.  They have taken two of their ships and have completely stripped and redesigned them to accommodate the 21-45 age group.  There will be a disco on board with guest dj performers, yoga and biking ashore, sleek modern design and an emphasis on stops that incorporate the European festival scene.   I did hear that the disco is what they call a silent disco with everyone wearing headphones.  A wise choice.  Imagine being docked next to them with that bass going thump, thump, thump all night.
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Is it a boat or a ship

This is something that causes confusion when talking about river cruises – is it a boat or a ship?  According to the website Diffen this is the difference –


A boat is a watercraft of modest size designed to float or plane, to provide passage across water. Usually this water is inland (lakes) or in protected coastal areas. In naval terms, a boat is something small enough to be carried aboard another vessel (a ship).


A ship is a large vessel that floats on water. In traditional terms, ships were considered to be vessels which had at least one continuous water-tight deck extending from bow to stern. Ships may be found on lakes, seas, and rivers and they allow for a variety of activities, such as the transport of people or goods, fishing, entertainment, public safety, and warfare.

Strictly speaking and quite uniquely a submarine is a boat as defined by the Royal Navy. Some boats too large for the naval definition include the Great Lakes freighter, riverboat, narrowboat and ferryboat.”

So then I guess that settles it – a river cruise is a ship.  Except maybe in the case of some of the river cruise ships that became boats when they were transported on special trailers across land for a new river home.  (It’s true!)

So a river cruise is the perfect way of travel for someone who has tried an ocean cruise and … well ….threw up!

It’s an interesting debate – the cross over from ocean cruise to river cruise.   On the oceans the risk is bad weather – while on a river cruise the risk is low water – or high water.  Both cause problems.

Another interesting debate is the size of the river cruise ship.

Yes I have decided it is a ship.

So because of the locks the ships can only be a certain length and a certain width.   Now each river cruise company wants to be different or have something unique to offer their guests and each line touts the value of that particular feature.  Viking has the Long Ships which are the same size as all the other longer ships…. 135 metres long … but has the feature of being one of the most dominant river cruise companies in the world with so many new builds that they made the Guinness Book of Records.  It also is extremely well known because of television ads on the History Channel.  These beautiful commercials give a very accurate depiction of what it is like to travel Europe on a river cruise.  Once you have done it you will return for sure.

New Viking ships christening

So what are the other companies doing that is special or different?  Avalon has adopted the approach that they don’t want to add balconies which will take away from the size of the room (remember – all river cruises can only be a certain width in order to get through the locks).  So the question is – do you really need a balcony when you are on a river cruise?  I guess this is a personal preference but one thing for sure, I love to have at least a window or french balcony so I can get lots of fresh air.

Avalon panorama suite

Scenic cruises have gone the balcony route but have included window type shutters that can enclose the balcony in times of inclement weather – which I would imagine is lots because this is Europe after all.

Uniworld have gone “olde world” with ornate decor and incredible old world service.

Where are you Marie Antoinette???

Yes – there is a lot of choice out there and the deciding factor will be itinerary, availability and of course special offers such as repeat passenger discounts, early booking bonus offers, free airfare ….. I could go on and on and on….But I won’t bore you.  Having travelled on the Rhine, the Danube, the Po, the Garonne, the Dordogne…. OK I will stop.

Just go do it.  Do a river cruise.  On a ship …. not a boat.