In terms of personality, AmaWaterways is a bit like those kids in school you secretly admired because they did everything well, and effortlessly. The line manages to offer both a personalized feel as well as the consistency that is a hallmark of larger companies. Onboard, you'll find high-end touches like regional cuisine, well-designed cabins and guided shore excursions -- most of which are included in the fare.
The majority of the line's 22 ships sail Europe's Rhine, Danube, Rhone, Saone, Seine, Douro, Moselle and Main rivers. However, AmaWaterways has since expanded into Southeast Asia, sailing the Mekong and Irrawaddy rivers in Vietnam/Cambodia and Burma, respectively.
In addition to the boats it owns, AmaWaterways charters two other vessels: The very luxurious Zambezi Queen riverboat in Africa, and the AmaKatarina riverboat in Russia.
AmaWaterways will float your boat if you like...
I know, it seems confusing: The image of a staid river cruise contrasted with animated characters, whirling rides and screaming children. But it's not Disney Parks who've partnered up with AmaWaterways, it's Disney's travel agency arm, Adventures by Disney, a company that offers immersive adventures for families in 30 destinations on six continents. The companies have teamed to offer five family-focused weeklong Danube River cruises starting in summer 2016.
Exercising on vacation
If you'd rather take a hike than lounge around, we have good news. AmaWaterways has struck up a partnership with 'active travel' tour provider, Backroads, to offer expert-led cycling shore excursions on selected cruises. The shore excursions will include multiple expert trip leaders, custom titanium bicycles, support vans and flexible itineraries with a range of cycling routes ideal for all abilities. The partnership rolled out on 20 Danube itineraries in 2015, and will expand to the line's other routes in Europe and Asia in 2016.
Ama launched two ships (AmaSerena and AmaVista) in 2015, and is building two more in 2016 (AmaViola and AmaStella) designed with interconnecting cabins, which are unique in the world of river cruising. The cabins are aimed at families who want to take multigenerational cruises.
If you've ever walked into a river cruise cabin, took one look at the balcony and thought: "I want another," AmaWaterways is for you. The line has arranged a majority of cabins on its newest ships to offer both an indoor "French balcony" space with a sliding glass window, as well as a walkout balcony situated directly in front of the bed.
Your smartphone (maybe a little too much)
You just can't put down that smartphone, can you? That's okay; you don't have to. On Ama's ships, complimentary Wi-Fi is available throughout the ship allowing you to post your selfies to Facebook and make your friends jealous. All cabins come with a computer/TV that's part of an integrated "infotainment" system. The computer accessories are all Mac, so you can browse the Web to your heart's content, and the entertainment consists of recently released movies and an iTunes music library.
The onboard language is English and passengers are predominantly North American mixed with British and Australians.
AmaWaterways probably isn't the line for you if you like...
Traveling on a budget
With the number of amenities AmaWaterways offers onboard, the generously sized and well-furnished cabins and the included shore excursions and drinks, AmaWaterways is not geared toward the budget traveler (although you do get value for the price).
Offbeat, funky or quirky
On a spectrum from corporate to boutique, AmaWaterways tends towards the former. While the decor and furnishings are lovely and very high quality, and there are plenty of personalized touches in shore excursion options, food and service, AmaWaterways aims for broad appeal over artistic quirkiness.