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TravelAge West’s Excellence in Leadership Award honors individuals who, in the course of their career in travel, have consistently demonstrated leadership and insight, effected change or innovation and made extraordinary contributions to both organizations and the industry at large. For 2018, TravelAge West is honored to present this award to Rudi Schreiner, president and co-owner of AmaWaterways, and Kristin Karst, executive vice president and co-owner of AmaWaterways.
AmaWaterways offers travelers memorable experiences around the world onboard award-winning river cruise ships inspired by luxury yachts.
Schreiner, who was born in Vienna, had a love for design and architecture, but a desire to travel drew him to places across the globe. After the completion of the Rhine-Main-Danube Canal in 1992, Schreiner was able to combine his passions to become a driving force for the expansion and modernization of the river cruise industry.
Karst, who is originally from Dresden, Germany, got her experience in the economics of tourism and business management, as well as luxury travel sales. In 2000, her path crossed with Schreiner’s in the U.S., and two years later, they founded Amadeus Waterways (now AmaWaterways) with the help of travel entrepreneur Jimmy Murphy.
AmaWaterways was created to be a river cruise line that the founders themselves would enjoy. Their aim was to showcase exceptional food and wine, comfortable and tasteful decor and plenty of room to relax, along with engaging, active excursions. It was also of utmost importance to have a staff who was invested in the guest experience. Recruiting and training employees who are passionate about service and sharing their culture with passengers is at the core of AmaWaterways’ growth strategy; each crew member is an expertly trained professional with a commitment to go above and beyond to ensure that clients have an excellent experience.
Under Schreiner and Karst’s leadership, AmaWaterways has grown into a dynamic and innovative river cruise company with a head office in Calabasas, Calif., and sales and operations support offices in the U.K. and Switzerland. The line’s 20th ship was christened in May, and three more ships will launch in 2019.
Personal relationships are at the heart of Schreiner and Karst’s business philosophy, and they attribute a large part of their continuing success to the incredible support they have received from the travel agent community.
“Rudi and Kristin were there at the beginning of what has become a major part of the cruise industry, and we should all thank them for their foresight,” said Kenneth Shapiro, Editor-in-Chief of TravelAge West. “I’ve always appreciated Rudi and Kristin’s passion for the travel experience on their ships. They truly care about what they’re doing, and it shows. Plus, they are huge supporters of agents and have developed a deep relationship with the community.”