Active River Cruises with AmaWaterways

What are active river cruises?

Active river cruises are a chance to enjoy yourself, relax, explore and… be active! The stereotypical image that river cruises only catering for sedentary passengers is no longer the case. There’s an array of opportunities to stay active and feel good throughout your river cruise. The activities can range from gentle yoga and stretch classes to more strenuous cycle rides and hikes. Active river cruises are certainly growing in popularity.

Who are active river cruises for?

Active river cruises are likely to appeal to younger cruisers and those who enjoy staying active. On my recent Danube cruise with AmaWaterways the passengers were mostly aged 40 to 65 years old. Don’t get me wrong, if you choose an active river cruise, you don’t have to be super fit but it gives you a wider option of things to do onboard and ashore. The beauty of active river cruises is that you can choose what you want to do, it’s your cruise.

AmaWaterways Active River Cruises

AmaWaterways is leading the way in the active river cruises sector. It offers an onboard wellness programme and excursions that cater for different fitness levels.

Zen Wellness Centre AmaMagna active river cruises
Zen Wellness Centre on AmaMagna

AmaWaterways has developed its ‘Seven Dimensions of Wellness’ to promote healthy living on its river cruise ships:

  1. Spiritual Wellness – authentic travel experiences
  2. Emotional Wellness – being in the moment
  3. Intellectual Wellness – travelling brings new experiences
  4. Environmental Wellness – appreciate the Earth and all its precious resources
  5. Social Wellness – spending time with people we love
  6. Occupational Wellness – the crew is happy at work
  7. Physical Wellness – no shortage of active adventures

In this post I will be discussing the many active and wellness opportunities available to guests on an AmaWaterways river cruise.

Bicycles on AmaWaterways cruises

AmaWaterways offers guests on European river cruises (except Portugal) the opportunity to explore the destinations by bike.

bikes active river cruises
Each AmaWaterways ship in Europe has a fleet of bicycles and helmets

Bike tours start from the ship and are offered in almost every port of call. The length of bike tours vary but on my recent AmaMagna river cruise there was an 20-mile bike tour in Krems for the avid cyclist. Shorter bike tours were around 5 miles in length. If you want to do your own thing at your own pace, simply borrowing a bike; bike locks are provided so you can stop whilst you’re out and about.

Bike tours are available to view in your excursions list before the cruise but cannot be booked until you get onboard. This enables each individual to be assessed on their ability before reserving places on excursions. It also allows the ship to offer different cycling groups according to ability levels so that everyone can enjoy themselves.

Walking Track on AmaWaterways cruises

Walking tracks are available on all AmaWaterways river ships. They are located on the top deck so that guests can exercise whilst taking in the beautiful riverscape. A lot of people like to walk regularly and so this is a useful addition to the river cruise ships. Getting your 10,000 steps a day when visiting different places can be quite easy (I did over 18,000 in Vienna). The walking track offers the opportunity for some purposeful exercise in between the ports.

walking track amawaterways
The dark grey path is the walking track

AmaWaterways Walking Tours

On active river cruises with AmaWaterways, walking tours are available in every port. The walking tours are led by knowledgeable local tour guides, who know the destinations well and can offer some interesting commentary during the walk. There’s plenty of opportunities to stop and learn about the landmarks and take photographs. Walking tours are an easily accessible element of active river cruises. AmaWaterways offer three levels of walking group: gentle walkers, regular walkers and active walkers.

Nordic walking poles can be borrowed from the ship for those who enjoy this style of walking.

active river cruises Walking Salzburg
Our walking tour in Salzburg took us through the Mirabell Gardens

One thing we enjoyed about the walking tours with AmaWaterways was the fact that they started from the ship. You meet your local guide as you leave the ship and can select the right walking group for yourself.

We used QuietVox devices to listen to the guide so there was no need to stay close to hear what they were saying. This allowed us to hang back slightly to take photos or to stop and look at something that caught our eye.

active river cruises walking tour
Our walking tour took us to Landstrasse, the town centre of Linz
linz giant map
You can walk on a giant map of Linz if you fancy walking the town in a matter of seconds!

Hiking tours with AmaWaterways

You are highly likely to have the opportunity to take a hiking tour on an active river cruise. On our AmaMagna cruise of the Danube, there was the opportunity to hike in a number of destinations:

  • Passau Castle Hike
  • Durnstein Fortress Hike
  • Bratislava Hike
  • Castle Hill Hike in Budapest

AmaWaterways grades its hikes into two categories: challenging and difficult. The challenging hikes require good physical condition as they have many stairs, inclines and uneven ground. Difficult hikes require excellent physical condition because they tend to be long strenuous hikes. It can be difficult to gauge which hike is right for you so it’s best to chat with the Wellness Host or Cruise Manager when you get onboard. If you plan to take one of the hikes, ensure you pack comfortable and sturdy footwear that support your feet.

The reward of a hike is always the view from the top! If you’re Danube cruise stops in Passau, I’d highly recommend taking the castle hike. From the top you get a fantastic view of the point at which two rivers join the Danube. You can see three distinct shades of colour from the three rivers. This is why Passau is know as the ‘City of Three Rivers.’

Another great view is from Fisherman’s Bastion in Budapest. The walk up the hill was hard going at times, made more difficult in the 32 degree heat but offered a stunning view of the Parliament Building and the Danube.

Fisherman's Bastion Budapest active river cruises
The view from Fisherman’s Bastion, Budapest

AmaWaterways Concierge Golf Programme

Keen golfers may be interested to learn that AmaWaterways offers a Concierge Golf Programme with selected Danube river cruises. This can be offered either as a pre-cruise extra or throughout the river cruise. The package enables golfer to play up to five rounds at some of the leading competition golf courses in Europe. For more details about the itineraries that offer the Concierge Golf Programme visit AmaWaterways.

golf amawaterways active river cruises
The Concierge Golf Programme is available with AmaWaterways

AmaWaterways Wellness Classes

During your cruise, there’s the opportunity to participate in a variety of wellness classes such as:

  • Yoga
  • Pilates
  • Core strengthening
  • Cardio
  • Dance classes
  • Spinning

The activities offered will depend on the expertise of the Wellness Host, a dedicated member of staff who’s role is to deliver activities for guests onboard. On our cruise, Tiago was our Wellness Host. He was a happy and enthusiastic man with plenty of expertise in fitness and wellbeing. You can find information about all of the AmaWareways Wellness Hosts here. Wellness Hosts are on all AmaWaterways river cruises except AmaVida, AmaDourp and Zambezi Queen.

I took part in a dance class, which was held on the top deck. It was a fun low-impact class that mixed Zumba and line dancing. I was unsure about the line dancing element but it was a lot more fun than it sounded. I was actually disappointed when it finished and particularly enjoyed exercising outdoors.

The Yoga and Stretch classes are a great way to start the day. They help you feel prepared for the day ahead and give you a sense of wellbeing. On some AmaWaterways ships you may even find ‘Champagne Yoga’, which gives you the opportunity to enjoy a mimosa between yoga poses.

Spinning classes with a view

Active river cruises offer interesting and exciting ways to stay active. On our AmaMagna cruise there was a unique spinning class offering a beautiful view of the river. The outdoor setting offered a gentle breeze for passengers to keep cool during the regular spinning classes. Places for these classes are limited to the number of bikes available so booking is essential.

spinning bikes amamagna active river cruises
Spinning bikes at the aft of the river cruise ship
spining bikes amawaterways active river cruises
Spinning classes offered onboard AmaMagna

Wellness Centre

The Wellness Centre on AmaWaterways cruise ships houses a fitness suite and treatment rooms. The fitness suite is available for guests to use at their leisure with cardio machines and free weights. The Wellness Host is available to offer personal training session on request.

cardio equipment amamagna active river cruises
The cardio equipment onboard AmaMagna
fitness suite amawaterways active river cruises
The free weight area onboard is available for guests to use

When the weather is good, classes are held outside but this space can also be used.

On AmaMagna, the Zen Wellness Centre has a relaxing area where you can get a cleansing detox drink, juice or gemstone-infused water to help rehydrate after exercise or a long day in port.

zen wellness centre amamagna
The Zen Wellness Centre on AmaMagna
detox water zen wellness centre
Citrus detox water available in the Zen Wellness Centre
gemstone infused water
Gemstone-infused water

I sampled both waters on AmaMagna. The citrus detox water had a hint of flavour and was quite refreshing. The gemstone water simply tasted of water (and not gemstones thankfully) and is said to be good for circulation.

Massages on AmaWaterways

The Wellness Centre onboard AmaWaterways cruise ships offers a menu of massages to soothe aches and aid relaxation. You can choose from the following massages:

  • 30-minute Post Tour Recover (foot and leg massage)
  • 30-minute Jet Lag Recovery (back and shoulder massage)
  • 60-minute Head to Toe Massage
  • 30-minute Back, Shoulder and Neck Massage
  • 60-minute Aroma Oil Massage / Mood Therapy

I never managed to fit a massage in during my cruise but I spoke to a couple of passengers who said that they thoroughly enjoyed theirs. They could specify the pressure and opt for a sports massage or gentle relaxing massage. I usually only have a sports massage for an injury so would have probably opted for an aroma oil massage if I’d had the chance.

Here you could also enjoy a bit of pampering with a manicure or pedicure. On a lower deck there is a hair salon. If you enjoy to be groomed and polished as part of your wellness routine this is certainly available with AmaWaterways.

Healthy Eating on an Active River Cruise

Food is an important part of a cruise for me and I was not disappointed on AmaMagna. AmaWaterways has a incredible reputation for offering high quality cuisine that takes inspiration from the places visited.

Food onboard is fresh and healthy. I particularly liked that the portion sizes were not overwhelming and this enabled me to enjoy all courses without overindulging.

asparagus salad
Asparagus salad from the Al Fresco Restaurant

AmaMagna’s Al Fresco Restaurant is the epitome of healthy eating, especially its dinner menu. Its seven-course meal was my favourite of the whole cruise. You can find out more in my AmaMagna Dining Guide.

A balance of healthy options and sweet treats are on offer

Final Thoughts on Active River Cruises

Active river cruises are growing in popularity, largely due to the demand from cruisers wanting to stay healthy during a cruise. AmaWaterways are the pioneers of active river cruises and it’s clear that it’s invested a lot of time and thought into designing their ships and wellness programmes.

Wellness Hosts are on-hand to help support the Wellness Programme and offer their expertise. Appointing these professionals shows AmaWaterways’ commitment to the wellbeing of passengers onboard. I personally enjoyed the dance class I participated in – perfect exercise in disguise.

Active river cruises extend their offerings to active excursions. Walking, cycling and hiking tours enable passengers to combine exercise with exploring a destination. The varied ability levels offered by AmaWaterways ensure that everyone can access an active tour from gentle walker to active hiker.

It’s the little touches that make it easier to be healthy on an AmaWaterways river cruise:

  • Healthy dining choices
  • Bicycles available to borrow
  • Nordic walking poles available to borrow
  • Detoxifying water and juices
  • Concierge Golf Programme
  • Walking track

Finally, you don’t have to be a fitness fanatic to take an active river cruise. You can do as much or as little as you wish, whether that’s a spinning class or a massage. If it makes you feel good, it’s right for you.

How to Book an AmaWaterways Active River Cruise

If you’re from the US or Canada, you can book directly with AmaWaterways.

If you are from the UK, I would highly recommend that you contact one of AmaWaterways’ trade partners, Planet Cruise, which has a specialised river cruise team that can help.

Disclaimer: I was invited to cruise onboard AmaMagna as part of a VIP Fam Trip organised by AmaWaterways. This blog post features my own, honest opinions of the cruise and the river ship.

amawaterways active river cruises

Laura is a UK cruise blogger based in Cornwall, UK. She founded Cruise Lifestyle in 2016 to share useful advice about cruising, destinations and food.
Last port visited: Bridgetown, Barbados
Next port of call: unknown, but she can’t wait for cruising to resume safely!

Find me on: Twitter



  1. August 19, 2019 / 1:13 am

    I’ve always wanted to do a river cruise and get emails from Amawaterways. I travel solo so unfortunately it’s out of my price range. But I really hope I can one day and I’d definitely want to do an active one.

  2. August 19, 2019 / 7:27 am

    interesting. I love how Ama Waterways is trying to offer a more active event with some of their river cruises. Though I live a pretty active lifestyle at home and a river cruise is supposed to be my escape from all of that. But with that said, I am an active traveler to bike tours & walking/hiking tours at their destinations seems right up my alley! Also, those fitness classes like the spin bikes with those river cruise views in the background sounds really amazing.

    • cruiselifestyle
      September 1, 2019 / 1:55 pm

      The beauty of the active river cruises is that you can do as much or as little as you like. The active excursions are brilliant ways to explore the destinations. You could always take it easy with a stretch class!

  3. August 19, 2019 / 9:41 am

    I have to admit, when I saw the bikes on deck, people could cycle around the deck whilst the boat is in motion. But seriously, that is great cycling can be done at every port and is a great way to stretch those legs. Haven’t done a river cruise yet but would consider doing this on because it looks like the company are trying to promote the healthier side of life.

    • cruiselifestyle
      August 25, 2019 / 6:48 am

      Yes AmaWaterways would be s good option for you as I know you enjoy your cycling.

  4. Sage Scott
    August 19, 2019 / 8:28 pm

    I’ve only been on one cruise in my life. It was a massive cruise ship that sailed from Vancouver to Alaska’s Inner Passage and back. While the scenery was beautiful, the cruise ship wasn’t my really my thing. But ever since that experience, close to 25 years ago, I’ve said, “I sooooo want to go on a river cruise.” This just makes me want to take one even more!

    • cruiselifestyle
      August 25, 2019 / 6:47 am

      What are you waiting for? Do it!

  5. August 19, 2019 / 8:51 pm

    We’ve never really been cruise type people and usually prefer backpacking where we just do everything ourselves. However, we have done one a few years back in Egypt with my parents and it was actually really good seeing so many places in one trip just like when we are backpacking but of course, so much easier and you get to stay in the same place every night!! I think my parents would absolutely love this, they’re late 50’s, very active and love cruises and getting to see so much!

    • cruiselifestyle
      August 25, 2019 / 6:46 am

      I think cruising is a luxury version of backpacking in a way. Like you said, you get to see multiple places but only have to unpack once. The ship I cruised on had a range of ages 40-65 years mostly with some families.

  6. wegowithkids
    August 21, 2019 / 3:43 am

    I’m almost embarrassed to admit that I’ve never been on a cruise, but a cruise is on our family’s vacation short list. I hear so much about over-indulging on a cruise that I love the idea of an active river cruise that focuses on wellness. I particularly love the idea of borrowing bikes and explore a port on our own. We’d just have to get our youngest on two wheels first!

    • cruiselifestyle
      August 25, 2019 / 6:44 am

      Yes, a great choice for families, there were young children onboard the ship so is definitely do-able.

  7. August 21, 2019 / 1:53 pm

    The river cruise ships must be larger than ordinary ones to accommodate the walking path, bikes, wellness center, etc.

    • cruiselifestyle
      August 25, 2019 / 6:42 am

      Yes, AmaMagna is double the width of a normal European river cruise ship but the rest of the ships in the AmaWaterways fleet (based in Europe) are smaller.

  8. The Holidaymaker
    August 22, 2019 / 1:27 am

    I have never been on a cruise, but if I were this would be it! I would love to do a river cruise in Europe and as a person who loves wellness, healthy eating and exercise this sounds like it is made for me! Are all the services included in your cruise price, for example, yoga, massage, use of bikes when at port?

    • cruiselifestyle
      August 25, 2019 / 6:41 am

      The only thing that’s an extra charge is the massages. Everything else is included in the cruise fare, which is fantastic.

  9. August 22, 2019 / 3:15 am

    I have never been on a cruise..yet! I like how AMA Waterways offers ways to keep its clients active. Love that there is yoga and zumba on offer and the bikes and bike tours would be a great draw for me. Hmmm…might have to start looking at river cruises.

    • cruiselifestyle
      August 25, 2019 / 6:39 am

      You should definitely consider one!

  10. August 22, 2019 / 7:51 am

    This cruise sounds like something I would like to try. I love the Seven Dimensions of Wellness to keep passengers healthy and active. I’m sure there is something for everyone. Such a great idea. Are these classes an extra cost?

    • cruiselifestyle
      August 25, 2019 / 6:39 am

      There is no extra cost for the classes they are included in the cruise fare which makes joining in so much simpler.

  11. August 22, 2019 / 5:36 pm

    I’ve done a couple other river cruises the last few years…they were anything but active! This one looks like a lot of fun and a really nice change of pace from what we’ve done in the past. Thanks for sharing!

    • cruiselifestyle
      August 25, 2019 / 6:38 am

      I think Active River Cruises are a great option. I particularly liked how many classes were on offer.

  12. Lisa
    September 1, 2019 / 9:01 pm

    I’ve never heard of this type of cruise before and I have to say, they sound more appealing. A traditional cruise is something I’d still like to try one day, but this active one sounds like an experience. I like the sound of the wellness programes, and it’s cool they have bike tours and dance/pilates classes too.

  13. Jane Dempster-Smith
    September 2, 2019 / 5:15 am

    This is definitely the type of cruise that I would love to do. Wellness, exercise and cruising at the same time. I have never seen a cruise to offer so much to do – yoga, dance, spin I am in heaven. Great to see healthy eating as well.

  14. September 3, 2019 / 1:24 am

    What a great idea to have an active river cruise. I love being active while on vacation so having a river cruise that caters to this is great. How amazing that they make bikes available and have bike tours. Also love the walking and hiking tours. Also great to treat yourself to a nice massage after and have healthy eating options. Definitely a cruise I will be considering.

  15. September 3, 2019 / 8:56 am

    I have taken many high sea cruise trips but never a river cruise. It is amazing that on the river cruise there are also so many activities. Thanks for the tips and the reviews and I would like toe experience once maybe in the near future.

  16. September 5, 2019 / 5:04 pm

    I like this cruise… It is meant for restless souls like me. I do hate the idea of just sitting Thro a cruise. Activities like what they offer make it so much fun. Biking to walking tours and even hikes. Awesome

  17. FS Page
    September 5, 2019 / 6:02 pm

    Never knew there are cruises out there catering to active crowd. Great to know that Amawaterways has bicycles and walking tracks on the cruise. And the 7 wellness designed programmes blew away my mind. Gorgeous. Would love cruising with them someday.

  18. kavitafavelle
    September 7, 2019 / 8:46 pm

    Really interesting to read about these active cruises from Ama. I kind that they have these seven dimensions, particularly the intellectual side where they are focusing on enriching experiences.

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