Having had Lunch on a ship visit to Oceania’s Marina recently, I was interested to see how the new AMAPRIMA compared in style and concept (not to mention gastronomy) given that Amawaterways is often marketed in the USA (HQ is in LAX) as the Oceania of the Rivers ! The Amaprima is the fourth (Amabella, Amaverde ,Amacerto) of the longer (135m versus 110m) ships built by AMA . Two more (Amareina and Amasonata) are being built for 2014.
The Amaprima carries 164 passengers (the Viking longships are the same size but carry 190 passengers). The direct competition in terms of ship design and features comes from the new AVALON “suite” ships , SCENIC, the new LUFTNER ship ; the UNIWORLD Antoinette is a slight red herring as its overall height and sundeck structures means it is confined to sailing the Rhine . The VIKING Longships do not offer as much social and amenity space and have a complicated mix of cabin accommodation. It is worth commenting that all the Ships have been virtually full on the Rhine, Danube etc for weeks now!
Like nearly all river cruise ships, the AMAPRIMA has three accommodation decks; the lower deck cabins have fixed portholes and are 160sqft . The lift does not reach this deck and there are 14 quite steep and semi-curved steps down – not ideal for those with walking sticks.
Middle deck cabins are choice of three categories – actual balcony cabins at either 235sqft or 210sqft and French balcony cabins at 170sqft, this is the standard cabin configuration on the six smaller 110m long AMA ships.
Top deck cabins are the same category choice plus four Suites (320sqft) – one of which has wider doors into the cabin and into the bathroom in line with new European regulation for handicapped access.
Balconies on all the river cruise ships that offer them have to be built into the superstructure of the ships as the sides have to be totally vertical with nothing jutting out so that the ships can get to into the locks. Therefore balconies do take up what could be internal cabin space. Avalon do not have balconies.
The sun deck has the full array of comfortable sofa seating and deck chairs, sunshades and a good sized plunge pool. Everything on the sun deck has to be collapsible to get under low bridges especially on the main Danube canal linking the Rhine and the Danube.
There are two restaurants – the main one is split into a number of seating areas with a couple of dining alcoves that seat 12+ in each – and a speciality restaurant at the back of the ship that offers a tasting menu (without charge) once on a 7 night cruise for all passengers. This space is then used as a rear reading / card playing / meeting room for the rest of the day.
The lounge is also used for late riser continental breakfast, an excellent lighter lunch and afternoon tea and cakes.
The main lounge / bar area with panoramic windows has massive sofas and chairs that can seat everyone at the same time for talks, performances, social functions – and has a small but well used dance floor. There is a quieter library area at the rear of the bar – and a sitting out area for drinks at the front of the ship .
The Amaprima also has a small gift shop / hairdresser and masseuse / small but well equipped and much frequented gym + sauna. These are the facilities Viking has chosen to dispense with to get more cabins and bums in beds. The cabins have a TV screen offering first run movies, satellite TV channnels, music and internet access and keyboard. There is free Wi-Fi throughout the ship – reception can be variable .
Like all the AMA ships in Europe, there are 20+ bikes for free use stored on the sun deck. Average age of clients is coming down year by year - the bikes were not much used 4/5 years ago but are now in demand every day ; use of the gym has also soared (not by me).
The overall design concept was to echo the sleek lines and varnished wood of the Riva speedboats much loved of Italian playboys wearing budgie smugglers. The whole decor and style is very upmarket, refined, classy – not at all brash, flash or naff. Anyone who liked Oceania Marina would notice the similarity.
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