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.
AmaWaterways has developed its ‘Seven Dimensions of Wellness’ to promote healthy living on its river cruise ships:
- Spiritual Wellness – authentic travel experiences
- Emotional Wellness – being in the moment
- Intellectual Wellness – travelling brings new experiences
- Environmental Wellness – appreciate the Earth and all its precious resources
- Social Wellness – spending time with people we love
- Occupational Wellness – the crew is happy at work
- 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
AmaWaterways Wellness Classes
During your cruise, there’s the opportunity to participate in a variety of wellness classes such as:
- Core strengthening
- Dance classes
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.