(10:21 a.m. EDT) AmaWaterways has been busy in 2019, launching three ships in Europe instead of its usual one or two per year. AmaMora is the third of the trio, following the debut of the double-wide AmaMagna on the Danube and the smaller AmaDouro in Portugal.
Sailing seven-night itineraries on the Rhine, between Amsterdam and Basel, AmaMora has fewer points of difference, but it's no less of a beautiful, comfortable vessel with an outstanding crew and a wide range of activities to enjoy in diverse and delightful ports. Here are some of our favorite things about the new ship.
Compared to other Ama ships, such as AmaLea, AmaMora has a slightly larger Chef's Table standalone venue. It seats 34 instead of 28 diners and features a retractable balcony -- a first for the cruise line. To have an open-air aft space to sit down close to the water is lovely and yacht-like. Passengers dining at Chef's Table can choose to eat dinner outside if the ship isn't sailing that evening. The balcony is open whenever the ship is docked, as long as there's enough room behind it to extend it. (As always on Ama, the seven-course degustation at Chef's Table is complimentary and available to book at least once per cruise for all passengers.)
One activity not found on all AmaWaterways ships is yoga on the sun deck with an optional glass of Champagne (or water, if you must). Don't judge, but this was probably our favorite exercise class ever. However, it's not all fun and bubbles: The onboard active program has some seriously challenging workouts. A high-intensity class, called The 100s because it's 20 reps of five moves such as push-ups, is offered for fit people who like to break a sweat. Low-intensity options include a resistance band class, stretching, core strengthening and line dancing. The dedicated wellness host also leads digestive walks after meals and jogs in port; he or she also accompanies the cycling shore excursions.
Not every cruise line includes so many guided excursions in its fares. The Captivating Rhine itinerary comprises four choices in almost every port: usually a nature hike or slow walking tour, a bike tour and a tasting session of local wine or beer. Castles, cathedrals and canals are featured heavily. We loved the scenic and informative bike rides in Cologne and Strasbourg, where the paths are mainly flat. (However, the four-hour duration could be too long for some.) In Rudesheim, a gondola provides wonderful vineyard and river views. At two ports, a coach trip is required to reach the destination, which might not even be in the same country. For example, in Breisach, it's a 45-minute drive to Riquewihr (France) or Frieburg (Germany) for village visits or to Ravenna Gorge for the start of a steep trek through the Black Forest.
There's a pleasant vibe around the ship, thanks to all the colorful touches: the vibrant decor in the lounge, the fresh flowers everywhere and the delicate garnishes on dishes. But most of all, it's the smiling, friendly crewmembers who ensure passengers enjoy their vacations. Whether it was the cheery cruise manager Cesario, the dry-witted Captain Sjaak, bartender Strahil or staff in the restaurants, at the front desk or in housekeeping, they are always helpful and joyful. It's no wonder that AmaMora was named for its resemblance to the word "love" in so many European languages.