By: Ann Ruppenstein
AmaWaterways is on course to resume European river cruises on select ships beginning July 3, 2021 in Portugal.
Kristin Karst, Executive Vice President and Co-Founder of AmaWaterways, spoke with Travel Courier about the positive news, how bookings are coming in strong and some of the creative ways the company has adapted during a difficult time.
It truly is such an exciting time as we announce our restart of river cruising in Europe and give our teams the green light to put the finishing touches on all the preparations to welcome our beloved guests back on board.
The reservations team is working all hands on deck to answer the calls pouring in and I apologize to all our travel partners for the longer than normal telephone wait times you might be experiencing.
Over the past three months, we have seen record bookings driven by pent-up demand for international travel and we are continuing to see exceptionally strong bookings for 2022 as travellers are anxious to confirm and start dreaming about their first post-pandemic vacation in Europe. Responding to such strong demand, we opened our 2023 bookings a full seven months ahead of schedule.
We are very encouraged by the recent announcement that the EU will welcome American travellers this summer – this is the news we have been waiting for! Travellers are prioritizing longer, more immersive trips where they can create true connections in the destinations they visit and river cruising offers just that, along with fewer guests on board and small group excursions. For these reasons and more, I believe river cruising is set to bounce back very quickly. Over the past three months, the strong bookings that we have seen for 2022 travel have kept me optimistic, confirming that guests are eager to travel in Europe with a trusted supplier. We have so many exciting new itineraries and ships that will debut in the upcoming years and I look forward to having our guests experience these amazing trips of a lifetime as they being to explore the world once again.
I am a big believer that out of challenging times come amazing opportunities and I am so proud of the way our AmaFamily has adapted and found innovative ways to meet the needs of our guests and travel partners. As a native of Dresden, Germany, I am extremely proud that we had the opportunity to successfully welcome German guests on board for a series of chartered river cruises last summer and gain experience implementing a variety of enhanced health and safety protocols. These sailings confirmed that we could keep the health and safety of our guests a top priority without compromising the wonderful onboard experience and we look forward to resuming our regularly scheduled sailings with this in mind.
I’m also thrilled about our new Seven River Journeys that will take guests through 14 different countries with exclusive experiences and unparalleled itineraries. We noticed a demand for longer journeys as our guests began booking combination cruises and pre- and post-cruise land packages to spend more time in the beautiful destinations we visit. Due to that demand we decided to put together an unforgettable itinerary lasting either 45 or 46 nights and delivering exclusive experiences that would cater to the demand from our guests to cross items off their travel bucket-list. When the first Seven River Journey – Summer Edition filled so quickly, we announced a Spring Edition and are now ready to release the Autumn Edition. Each of these three epic 14-country journeys through Europe are slightly different but each is sure to be an unforgettable trip of a lifetime for our guests.
I am just truly delighted that we are finally seeing a light at the end of the tunnel and travel is beginning to make its much anticipated come back. We do recognize that countries are recovering and re-opening borders to international visitors at different paces and we can hardly wait for our Canadian guests and travel partners to be able to join us on board. Travel has always been such a special part of my life, as it has allowed me to meet some of the most amazing people, explore unique cultures and experience the most beautiful sights. We aim to provide these same exceptional experiences for our guests at AmaWaterways and it is my passion to make sure everyone that sails with us forms memories that will last a lifetime. I look forward to seeing our amazing crews and beloved guests on the rivers again very soon.