AmaMagna Entertainment & Activities
At least one shore excursion option is included in every port on your cruise on AmaMagna. This is a spot where the ship excels, offering several included options in most ports. The most-popular excursions tend to be the city tours, which often require a coach tour and some amount of walking. AmaMagna offers slow-walking groups in addition to those who walk at a somewhat brisker pace. (If you notice the slow-walkers group is small, jump in. Chances are, you'll move at a decent pace while hanging with a more intimate group.)
AmaMagna also offers an active option in every port, though the level of "active" varies. Look for the number on your excursion list that indicates how active -- the higher the number, the more strenuous the excursion. Active options might include a bike tour or hike. On our sailing, we had a group of 35 that joined in for a roughly 12-mile bike ride from Pochlarn to Ybbs, which made for some slow going. (Worth noting: Electric-assist bikes aren't available on AmaMagna; if you want to bike, you'll do it under your own power.)
Many shore excursions can be booked online ahead of your cruise, though if you want to participate in the active tours, you'll have to sign up onboard. And do it fast: The available slots are limited and can fill up quickly. Those excursions that cost extra might include a Mozart and Strauss concert or an excursion to the famed Schonbrunn Palace from Vienna.
Most excursions are a half-day, meaning you'll get up, have breakfast onboard AmaMagna and then head out for your tour, returning to the ship in time for lunch. In some cases, you'll have an afternoon excursion as well or instead. Some excursions, like a visit to charming Cesky Krumlov or Salzburg (famous because of "The Sound of Music") require full-day tours. You'll have lunch off the ship.
Tours are led by mostly excellent local guides who speak English well and love the areas they're showing off. Passengers listen along via Quietvox systems. These devices are in your cabin. You bring them to your tour and pop in an earpiece so you can listen to the guide speaking into a headset. This makes it easy to hear even from the back of the group.
Passengers who wish to explore on their own can grab maps -- and suggestions -- from the guest services desk. Several people on our cruise preferred some time on their own, especially after dinner in Vienna, where the ship stayed overnight.
A cruise manager is your weeklong guide on AmaMagna, providing information on the entire journey at the beginning of the cruise and again each night at a pre-dinner port talk, when he or she will talk about the options for the next day. The cruise manager is also your guide for pre- and post-cruise stays. Our cruise manager, Maddy, was so popular with passengers, they threatened to take her home in their suitcase.
Daytime and Evening Entertainment
One of the unique features on AmaMagna is its cinema. It was most-utilized by children onboard who wanted to play games, but it also was a great spot to watch sporting events. It also offers movies on-demand.
Most nights, a pianist/DJ is the entertainment, playing music during happy hour and again after dinner. AmaMagna has a huge dance floor, and some nights on our cruise -- especially toward the end -- it was bustling.
You can also expect local entertainers to visit AmaMagna at least once during your cruise. On our sailing, a string trio joined for a post-dinner performance.
When the ship is sailing through historic or scenic areas, such as the city center of Budapest, you can expect a lecture on the area from your cruise manager. The narration is mic'ed up and piped through speakers, so you can hear it from virtually anywhere onboard (except your cabin). Specific lectures take place in the lounge sporadically on various aspects of the region in which you're sailing.
AmaMagna Bars and Lounges
Nightlife isn't a big part of cruising on AmaMagna, in large part because of a packed schedule that includes early mornings in port (or on the spin bikes, for those active passengers). In the evening, passengers spend time in one of two places: the Main Lounge or the Sun Deck.
Main Lounge (Deck 3): The Main Lounge serves as the hot spot just ahead of dinner, when the port talk takes place, and afterward, when a keyboardist plays or spins hits. How hot this space gets depends totally on the passenger mix aboard. Our cruise was quiet, with only a few people dancing after dinner most nights. But we're told that on the previous cruise, passengers kept bartenders busy until 5 a.m. on one night.
The space itself features brightly colored couches and chairs, with a mix of small and larger tables. A bar is the center point, just in front of a dance floor. Passengers spill into the adjacent libraries when the lounge is full. Sightlines can make it difficult to see speakers, depending on where you're seated -- especially during port talks and the welcome party. TVs are set up for the port talks, and they're positioned so people can see them no matter where they sit, though.
Pop-Up Sky Bar (Deck 4): Open when the ship is sailing, the pop-up bar rises out of the floor of the Sun Deck right at the front of the pool -- it is lowered when the ship goes under low bridges. On hot days, when passengers are hanging by the pool or in the hot tub, the bartender is busy serving the cocktail of the day or other refreshers.
AmaMagna Outside Recreation
The top deck is the Sun Deck. This massive area features lots of seating on mesh chairs, many with footstools, clamshells and tables under umbrellas. There's plenty of shade if you need it, though umbrellas must be taken down when the ship is sailing. This is also where you'll find a pool and attached hot tub. Both are located at the rear of the ship and are a stone's throw from the pop-up bar. Waiters also walk around offering ice water and treats like cold watermelon when the weather is warm.
The Sun Deck also offers an oversized chessboard with giant plastic chess pieces, a putting green and fresh herbs in stylish planters. It's also the only spot onboard where passengers can smoke, and only in a designated area, set off by glass windscreens. A small crew area is roped off at the back of the ship, and you'll occasionally see crew members smoking there, too.
AmaMagna's primary reception area, open 24 hours daily, is located on Deck 2. This is the spot where passengers check in, pay their bills, arrange for shore excursions, spa treatments and the like. The cruise manager's desk is located adjacent to the reception desk, and passengers can book bike excursions or get more information about upcoming ports and destinations.
On Deck 3, you'll find two small libraries, each with a handful of books and games, on each side of the lounge. These comfy nooks include cushy couches and faux fire places. Passengers gather here for quiet reading time, especially when the ship is sailing and the schedule is light.
On Deck 1, AmaMagna features a large shop, containing items like dirndls and lederhosen, jewelry, ornaments and AmaWaterways and AmaMagna logo clothing. The store has open hours each day.
Finally, you'll find a small self-service laundry room on Deck 1. Laundry is free to do, and detergent is provided. Laundry rooms are busiest near the end of the cruise when the ship is sailing, rather than docked in port.
There is no internet cafe onboard, but all cabins include a combo Apple TV/computer monitor. Wi-Fi is included for everyone as well, and while it can be a bit draggy, speedwise, we like that it can be used on multiple devices -- a phone, a tablet and even a laptop -- for the same passenger at the same time.