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Amras Cruises, established this year in Boston as the North American marketing arm for Lueftner Cruises' Amadeus ships, will have an unusual launch year in 2015. In addition to its week-long cruises, Amras has just been chosen to work with Celebrity Cruises to offer a combination of ocean-and-river sailings, a product that has been discussed by agents for years as the perfect way to introduce seagoing passengers to the river experience and give them a deeper taste of the destination.
“This is a perfect combination,” says Jana Joham, vice president of product delivery for Amras. “Celebrity is an excellent match for our target clientele.”
Under the umbrella of the recently launched Celebrity Explorations, the 11 river/ocean cruises range from 16 to 24 nights in length. Each includes a seven-night Amras cruise on the Danube, Rhine, Rhone or Seine rivers and one- or two-night luxury hotel accommodations. Guests will then move onboard a Celebrity ship offering Mediterranean, Scandinavia, Russia, Turkey and transatlantic itineraries.
Choices include a 16-night Southern France, Greece and Turkey itinerary; a 20-night cruise from Budapest, Hungary, to Southampton, England, including Spain and the Canary Islands; a Seine River and Normandy beaches river cruise in combination with a 20-night Israel and Italy itinerary; and a 23-night journey from Amsterdam through the Rhine River, including a cruise across the Atlantic Ocean and around the Caribbean islands.
“Amras Cruises is very excited to work together with Celebrity Explorations in pairing river and ocean cruising for the first time in 2015,” says Rudi Joham, president and managing director of Amras. “This opens to travelers a unique vacation experience to the best ports of call on Europe’s ocean and continental waterways. “
Lueftner has been a premier river cruise company in Europe for more than 30 years and recently set up Amras in Boston under Joe Luchison, vice president of marketing for Lueftner, to handle a group of cruises designed for the North American market. The company stresses an all-inclusive product, with everything from shore excursions and gratuities both on and off the ship to transfers and pre- and post-cruise hotel stays.
Amras cruises also include the Enriching Moments concept, such as an after-dinner Paris by Night cruise on a private Bateau Mouche with cocktails and petit fours, and off-the-ship dining in local restaurants. In Rudesheim, Germany, for example, guests lunch at a local restaurant, followed by a cup of the famous Rudesheim coffee.
Amras is offering 16 departures in 2015, including seven-night itineraries and Christmas market cruises on the Rhine and Danube rivers. Two to four back-to-back cruises can be linked together, and these carry a discount of up to $2,000.
Pre- and post-cruise hotel packages are commissionable and available on every departure. They include a two or three-night hotel stay in a centrally located four- to five-star hotel.
The cruises are scheduled on the Amadeus Symphony, Diamond and Silver, and on the 168-passenger Silver II, which takes off in the spring and launches a new week-long river cruise through the Netherlands and Belgium.
Combination cruises are booked through Celebrity. Agents booking Amras cruises separately will receive a flat 15 percent commission and can offer clients $200 per person for first-time guests of the line, as well as $500 off per person on airfare.