Fitness on the Rivers: Emerald Waterways vs. AmaWaterways

River cruises are known for offering a romantic vibe as you sail through Europe and other exotic destinations while eating plenty of fine food and savoring free-flowing wines. The chances for historical and cultural exploration also makes these voyages enriching experiences. 

River cruises are growing in popularity, too. And as cruise lines seek to entice a broader variety of travelers, they have begun offering new fitness options and other activities. 

Two lines are leading the way with their innovative menus of exciting and active choices for passengers. AmaWaterways features a Wellness Program and Emerald Waterways offers its EmeraldACTIVE choices. 

Let’s take a look to see how these two cruise wellness programs compare and why you might enjoy them. 

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AmaWaterways features a Wellness Host on its river ships.

Dedicated Staff 

An Activity Manager leads the way for Emerald Waterways’ EmeraldACTIVE program. This position serves as a kind of co-cruise director. The Activity Manager is a versatile performer who runs an entertainment and wellness-focused activities throughout your cruise. Emerald Waterways ditched the traditional piano player in the lounge in favor of a staffer who can offer a broader range of entertainment options. The line’s Activity Managers, for example, all are singers and dancers who give cabaret performances a couple of times during each cruise.  

AmaWaterways’ Wellness Program features Wellness Hosts who design the fitness activities on and off the ship. The Wellness Hosts are professional trainers who lead classes, outings, and sessions for cruisers looking to keep up with their workouts or for those looking to try something new.  

 The fitness-focused river cruise programs offer a range of exercise classes during each sailing.
The fitness-focused river cruise programs offer a range of exercise classes during each sailing.

The Fitness Stuff 

Emerald Waterways’ EmeraldACTIVE program offers a selection of exercise classes throughout the cruise. You might get a morning stretch or yoga class. In the afternoon, you could see a Pilates or aqua aerobics class on the schedule. Also, depending on the itinerary, the Activity Manager might organize an interesting short hike or post-lunch walk in a port stop that offers a good opportunity for these activities.  

AmaWaterways’ Wellness Program has a much wider range of workout options and more frequent classes. The Wellness Host offers five to seven activities each day that you can join, including spin classes (on AmaMagna), resistance training, yoga, Pilates, morning stretch, post-lunch walks on deck and jogging opportunities in port. 

The AmaWaterways Wellness Hosts are also available for personal training sessions.  

Both cruise lines carry a fleet of bicycles for use during your voyage.
Both cruise lines carry a fleet of bicycles for use during your voyage.

Facilities and Equipment 

Emerald Waterways’ ships have small gyms. These small rooms have a set of light dumbbells, a recumbent bike, and a rowing machine. The Activity Manager doesn’t hold classes in there. Instead, you do morning stretch, yoga and aqua aerobics at the indoor pool area. This is a wonderfully large space.  

Other wellness-focused activities like golf putting, soft petanque and Pilates are held on the Sun Deck. 

Cruise Compete

AmaWaterways has treadmills on its ships, and space is a little bit larger, so some classes like abs and core-focused sessions can be held in the fitness centers. The line’s AmaMagna ship that sails on the Danube  River has a big gym as part of its Zen Wellness Studio. This facility has a studio space for classes, and spin classes are held on the deck space just outside.  

Fitness classes also are held on the Sun Deck on all AmaWaterways ships. 

Both Emerald Waterways and AmaWaterways carry bikes onboard. Passengers can join guided biking excursions or sign them out for personal use. 

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The EmeraldACTIVE program offers fun games like soft petanque and golf putting competitions, as well as dance classes and lounge entertainment.

Number of Ways to Play 

Emerald Waterways’ EmeraldACTIVE program takes it beyond fitness for a full-fledged lineup of fun stuff to keep cruisers busy and entertained throughout each day of their cruise. It’s about offering variety. 

Aside from the fitness classes, the Activity Manager leads games, contests, and entertainment. Soft petanque and golf putting contests take place on the Sun Deck. In the lounge, you can join afternoon dance classes or trivia sessions. Evenings bring the cabaret shows featuring popular music of the Rat Pack or Neil Diamond, for examples, or karaoke or disco nights with DJ music. 

AmaWaterways’ Wellness Program is firmly about exercise and wellness options. So, the activities and sessions we’ve already mentioned are the large bulk of what is available on the daily program. But the Wellness Hosts also may offer line dancing classes and could give a talk on wellness. They are always available to give advice or instruction to help you keep up with any new practices or workouts when you get back home after your cruise. 

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Activity Manager Harry Jordan sings during his cabaret show on Emerald Destiny.

Bottom Line 

The EmeraldACTIVE program is ideal for cruisers seeking a great mix of options to keep them entertained on their daily cruise program. It’s a good fit for travelers who are young and young at heart. The EmeraldACTIVE program is a welcome departure from the traditional river cruise offerings that leave you with little to do on the ship other than watch the scenery (which is great, of course), read a book or take a nap during your afternoons of sailing.  

Nighttime also comes alive in a different way with this program, as passengers get to play together and know each other in a more energetic way as led by the Activity Manager. The workouts are fairly gentle and accessible to all ages and abilities. 

The AmaWaterways’ Wellness Program is a fantastic choice for the growing batch of travelers who are becoming more intensely focused on their fitness and living a healthy lifestyle. The workouts can be quite challenging (there are variations offered for all abilities), and the program offers cruisers a chance to easily keep up with their regimen while enjoying their vacations 

The program also is a great entryway for the workout-curious to have access to the needed guidance and expertise that can jump-start their new lifestyle. The dining program also incorporates fresh healthy choices marked on the menus for all meals.

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John Roberts
John Roberts
John Roberts is a freelance travel writer and operator of His writing aims to help travelers find the best ways to explore destinations in a fun, fit and adventurous way.

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