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While river cruising abroad is not an option for U.S. travelers right now, AmaWaterways remains optimistic that it will be again sooner than later.
For now, the line has suspended carrying Americans through Sept. 30 but has had the opportunity to accommodate regional German guests in the meantime. According to Kristin Karst, co-founder and executive vice president of AmaWaterways, the current sailings have provided “employment for [its] crew” and “put into practice” the company’s new health and safety policies.
“These protocols have not diminished the pleasure [of sailing],” she said.
Looking ahead, Rudi Schreiner, co-founder and president of AmaWaterways, sees a “wonderful booking period for 2021 and 2022.”
In fact, June was the line’s best month ever for bookings for next year, and group reservations and charters are doing well, too.
Regarding the return of U.S. travelers to European rivers, Schreiner believes that it looks promising.
“I still do hope that we get some cruising in for the North American market this year,” he said. “But I am very hopeful that by spring next year, we’ll be back on all the rivers.”
He is also optimistic that by next March, when the 2021 season begins, that there may be a vaccine for COVID-19. Until that time, the European Union is monitoring worldwide coronavirus cases and is updating its list of permitted visitors every two weeks.
At the very least, “everyone is planning into the future,” according to Karst. Currently trending are off-the-beaten-path rivers such as the lower Danube and destinations including Romania and Bulgaria. Purchasing cruise packages inclusive of flights and transfers are also popular. France and Portugal, in particular, are expected to rebound quickly, and ocean cruisers are now considering inland waterways.
Gary Murphy, co-owner and senior vice president of sales, is also hopeful for the future.
“Business will come back, and it will come back very, very strong when it does,” he said. “We know that the best people to be working with are our travel advisor partners because they know where the business is.”
We know that the best people to be working with are our travel advisor partners because they know where the business is.
AmaWaterways is especially excited for all the new agents who have recently come into the fold, and the line continues to have success with its webinar Wednesdays, inspirational videos, digital selling tools and virtual cruise nights and cocktail hours, which clients are welcome to join.
Plus, customers can look forward to the brand’s new exclusive transfers. When flights are booked through AmaWaterways, private transportation to and from the airport is arranged to include only the clients’ party or group.
New for 2021 will be the relocation of the AmaKristina to the Rhone; the christening of the new AmaLucia and AmaSiena; and the Egyptian introduction of the new AmaDahlia, which is already more than 65% booked. And AmaWaterways has no intention of stopping there.
“We’ll continue with innovative new approaches to river cruising,” Schreiner said.