Whether an ocean ship or river ship, what’s not to love about a brand new vessel. It was with this mindset that I boarded the new AmaWatersways AmaKristina in Basel, Switzerland.
This was the new ship’s fourth cruise, and the official inaugural was only two weeks away. Not a traditional “shake-down” cruise as far as I could tell; everything would properly function and all was in place.
AmaKristina is one of a handful of the cruise line’s newest designs – almost a “long” ship in length but with only 158 maximum passengers. A space-age looking elevator stood front and center in the reception area while a pair of spiral staircases led up one flight to the third level of the ship.
Bright and gleaming with marble floors and stairs, it’s a reception area design that is recognizable to anyone who’s been on AmaWaterways. If it ain’t broke…
If you’re a past guest of AmaWaterways, maybe this new lounge design will be noticeable. Instead of lots of loose chairs to scoot around in order to face the dance floor and speakers’ area, there are now horseshoe-shaped banquettes of sort. At first I was dubious, but after one or two events in the lounge, these aqua-colored benches really were a clever move. Each bench provided at least two additional seats that faced the music, so to speak, and thus eliminated straggler chairs and older guests having to move their chairs around.
As has become the norm, heavy duvets have replaced sheets and blankets in hotels and on ships, large and small. Also the norm is a printed and laminated notecard stating that if you’d like to switch to a sheet and blanket and stow the 400-lb duvet, simply ask your room attendant. I did and was very content with the blanket set-up rather than the duvet.
Towels were extremely fluffy, pillows were square not rectangular and the seating area in the stateroom was provided by two chairs in the alcove with the French doors. A small table completed the sitting area.
Maybe you’re familiar with river ships and staterooms with either French balconies, split (twin) balconies or regular walk-out balconies like on cruise ships (only a lot smaller). The AmaKristina has two decks (Decks 2 and 3) that feature an AmaWaterways original design, twin balconies.
All river ships have a maximum width that they must adhere to or they won’t fit through the hundreds of locks in Europe. That said, if you add a balcony you must subtract from the interior size of the stateroom. These clever split balconies are half and half; one half is a walk-out traditional balcony and therefore takes up interior space from the stateroom. The other half is a French door balcony and enables the stateroom to have a sitting area without losing square footage in that space.
The bathroom was perfect for one person at a time. Traveling alone, I had no issue! One woman remarked that because of the angle of the toilet, her husband’s knees kept bumping the shower door when he…um…sat down. Go figure.
Just like on ocean ships, river ships are devising ways to make dining more robust and interesting. Aside from a traditional dining room, AmaKristina (as do many other of their ships) features Chef’s Table.
Chef’s Table is a complimentary specialty restaurant that seats only 28 guests. It occupies the aft area on the third deck. This same space is used for two aft-facing suites with wrap-around balconies on other cruise lines.
Reservations are necessary and everyone has at least one chance to dine at Chef’s Table and a totally different menu than the main dining room.
Aside from the lounge and dining areas, AmaKristina also has a small “library” and game room sitting area complete with a faux fireplace for added coziness. There’s also a small fitness room and a beauty salon/massage room. There’s also a 24-hr self-service coffee and tea corner at the entrance to the main lounge.
And a gift shop, of course…
If you’re a newcomer to river cruising, don’t expect laser light shows and Broadway or even Las Vegas-style entertainment. AmaKristina, like all other river ships regardless of the company, sports one piano player who is a virtual one-man band. He’ll provide music at meal times, during staff and officer presentations and after dinner into the “wee hours” of maybe 11:00pm or mid-night.
There were a number of younger passengers on this cruise, in their 40s and 50s, so the piano player was still pounding the keys until shortly after mid-night. ABBA and Village People songs were included and kept at least a dozen people on the dance floor until closing time.
I’ve never met a river cruise ship that I didn’t like, and AmaKristina was no exception. Beautiful interiors, innovative design and a super-friendly staff (well, one waiter was a little grumpy on the first day but heck, we all have a bad day once in a while)!
If I were to make any changes, and this is trivial, I’d ditch those 400-lb duvets for something equally warm and fluffy yet not so bulky and heavy. Over the years, I’ve heard this comment from other passengers, on different river cruise lines.
Congrats, AmaWaterways, for the newest floating addition to your growing family. Beautiful ship and a terrific cruise line that makes you feel like a part of their family.
Stay tuned…my week aboard AmaWaterways AmaKristina to follow…