As AmaWaterways’ 2022 European river cruise season gets underway in March, company executives note that its Christmas market cruise bookings are already coming in at pre-pandemic levels.
“They’re booked so well, they’re doing so well,” Alex Pinelo, Senior Vice President of Sales at AmaWaterways, tells Travel Courier. “Really the internal message that we keep referring to for 2022 is that we’re confident that it’s going to become a race for space.”
With restrictions continuing to ease and clients longing to not only travel but also celebrate milestones they haven’t been able to mark with their families and friends for over two years, Kristin Karst, AmaWaterways’ Executive Vice President and Co-Owner, anticipates “a huge influx of last minute reservations” as well.
“The last four weeks have been wonderful booking weeks,” she says. “Every week is getting better and better and better. It really correlates with the good news coming from Europe, how the restrictions are getting more relaxed and more relaxed, and we are very optimistic about 2022.”
Karst says bookings for the new ship, AmaDahlia, on the Nile River in Egypt and for its two ships operating on the Douro River in Portugal have been full. And as of May, general European river cruise bookings really take off.
While some Canadians were already travelling with the PCR testing requirement for re-entry back into Canada still in place, Brenda Kyllo, Vice President of Strategic Alliances, who is based in Canada, predicts “we’re going to see a very significant rebound in the Canadian market this year.”
With the majority of AmaWaterways bookings coming from the trade, the river cruise line has launched a new “More to Love” promotion with commissionable packages that start at $7,316.
“It is a beautiful offer — all inclusive air, land, cruise, transfers, our Travel Waiver Plus — all created in response to our travel advisors, their request for convenience and added peace of mind,” Karst says. “By giving them all these components, they don’t have to calculate anymore, they know what the final price is, there are no surprises. With the land programs like in Switzerland or Lake Como in Italy, Paris, there’s so much added value that we offer to our guests now.”
Pinelo says they listened to travel advisors and included a wide range of 15 gateways in Canada as part of the promotion.
“The idea is to be convenient — one-stop shopping,” adds Kyllo. “We know how busy travel advisors are right now so by putting this all together everything is taken care of — so it’s peace of mind, convenient.”
Karst points out that Canadians in particular tend to book longer stays, often booking back-to-back cruises.
“We also see that people, after two years of barely travelling, book from the top down. They want a beautiful cabin, they want to have the fresh air, they want to have a balcony cabin or at least a french balcony cabin,” she says. “Those are all wonderful signs for the guests and for us, of course, and for the travel advisor, because they can earn more commission with the better cabin category.”
Notably, AmaWaterways operated 320 cruises last year from July onward.