The recent tour of Will, Kate and Prince George proved many Australians still have an enormous interest in all things royal. Keen cruisers know, of course, the Duchess of Cambridge is the godmother of Princess Cruises' Royal Princess and that there is a long association between the British royals and Cunard's liners. But it's not just the Brits. The Netherlands' Princess Maxima (now Queen Maxima) christened Holland America Line's Nieuw Amsterdam in 2010, and this month Her Royal Highness, Princess Heide von Hohenzollern of Germany, did the honours for APT's newest river ship, AmaReina.
The christening ceremony for AmaReina was held in the small German town of Vilshofen, on a crisp, sunny spring day. Although the Danube looked more brown than blue the quay was decked out with red carpet, marquees and magnificent displays of flowers. A team of Bavarian riflemen, wearing lederhosen, loden jackets and badge-encrusted hats, let off a deafening volley of shots from the ship's top deck to begin proceedings.
Princess Heide, a charming, modest woman in her 70s who is just as happy to be called "Mrs Hohenzollern" as "your royal highness", made an emotional speech about her role as godmother. "I have five human godchildren between the ages of 19 and 31," she said, "and my new one, my darling AmaReina, is very young but amazingly mature."
The princess paid tribute to "Kaiser" Geoff McGeary (the tireless founder and owner of APT), Captain Tom and his crew, the Dutch shipbuilders, the mayor and townspeople of Vilshofen, and behind-the-scenes workers such as the "room-maidens".
Quite a few people, including Princess Heide, were spotted wiping away tears before she cracked the bottle of champagne against AmaReina's hull.
Passengers on APT's Magnificent Europe cruises from Amsterdam to Budapest will have the chance to meet Princess Heide and enjoy a private tour of her stately abode, Burg Namedy Castle in Andernach, on one of the most picturesque areas of the Rhine. A banquet follows the tour.
The writer travelled as a guest of APT.
LAUNCHED April 2014; the newest ship in APT's Concerto Class.
PASSENGERS & CREW 164 passengers (double occupancy), 49 crew.
ACCOMMODATION Of a total of 82 staterooms, three are owner's suites, those on the Violin and Cello decks feature APT's signature twin balconies (an outside plus "French" balcony) and the lower Piano Deck cabins have twin windows.
REGULAR HAUNTS The Rhine and Danube Rivers, between Amsterdam and Budapest.
PERFECT FOR Couples and singles, 50-plus.
DINING The main dining room serves breakfast, lunch and dinner and in the evening it is divided into Verde Fine Dining and Bella Cucina restaurants, so you can end up juggling two menus. Adjoining the main restaurant are two private "wine cellar" dining rooms available for private group dinners. The lounge and River Bistro offer light meals and snacks; and there's a speciality option, Erlebnis Chef's Table Restaurant. Drinks are complimentary throughout.
PARTYING There is live music every night, sometimes featuring local entertainers.
DOING There are one or two informative shore tours every day, and on every cruise several Signature Experiences - for example, a private viewing of Vienna's Palais Liechtenstein, which includes welcome drinks and a performance by noted musicians.
THE DETAILS AmaReina will operate Magnificent Europe itineraries between Amsterdam and Budapest from April to December 2014 and April to December 2015.Phone 1300 196 420, visit aptouring.com.au.
OFFER OF THE WEEK
Sail aboard the world's highest-rated cruise ship, Hapag-Lloyd Cruises's new, five-star-plus Europa 2, in Cruise Express's 11-night fly/cruise/stay package. The trip departs Australia on August 7 and includes two nights in Rome, a seven-night cruise from Rome to Valletta that visits the islands of Corsica, Sardinia, Sicily and Capri and return flights from Australia. Prices start at $9299; phone 1300764509, see cruiseexpress.com.au.
CELEBRITY CRUISES' Eight-night South Australia cruise on Celebrity Century is one for foodies - visiting Melbourne, Adelaide and Port Lincoln. Departing Sydney on November 11, fares start at $999; phone 1800754500, see celebritycruises.com.au.
P&O CRUISES' Pacific Pearl is scheduled to depart Sydney on August 14 for a four-day food and wine-themed cruise, visiting the Sunshine Coast's Mooloolaba for the first time. From $499 a person, quad share. Phone 132494, see pocruises.com.au.