Yesterday morning, AmaWaterways made the difficult decision to suspend operation until November for all but one ship. The river cruise company pioneered the industry return to cruising with AmaKristina sailing the Rhine River since July 5. Since then, we’ve seen several other lines follow suit, including larger ocean vessels with over a thousand guests.
Even with the pausing of the rest of the fleet, AmaWaterways is focused on curating a luxury river cruise experience for their guests who are on board using the latest health and safety protocols they implemented.
Porthole Cruise Founder and Editor-in-Chief Bill Panoff had the opportunity to speak with Kristin Karst and Rudi Schreiner, co-owners and the top executives of AmaWaterways about what the return to cruising looks like and the ever growing popularity of river cruising.
When asked about the return of AmaKristina, Kristin Karst explained what the itinerary looked like and how the guests are responding.
“We are so, so happy that the AmaKristina is cruising the Rhine River at this time with our guests from German speaking countries – Germany, Switzerland, but also Holland and Belgium…It’s going extremely well. Obviously we have created our health and safety protocols. This allows us to put it all into perfection. I’m smiling all the time when I see the comments and testimonials coming back that once they step on board there was this ‘wow’ created. We have never seen such a beautiful ship,” Karst said.
Karst explained that part of their new protocols included limited the number of guests onboard.
“On average we have about 75 guests onboard. We are only allowed to cruise with 100 guests right now, but we do have our whole crew onboard so our guests are getting the royal treatment,” Karst said.
One of the ways that AmaWaterways is helping prevent the spread of disease is removing the commonly touched items around the ship, that includes any kind of buffet dining.
“I’m a believer that we might go away from the whole buffet settings on future river cruise ships,” Schreiner said. “I think the future will be… when you have breakfast, lunch, and dinner all via menu so that’s something right now we are already thinking about.”
When asked about when we might see American guests back onboard, Schreiner said he was still holding out hope for 2020.
“We are ready. I still have some hope that we can get a few sailings in this year. Every two weeks the EU reevaluates all the countries around the globe and depending on the last two weeks and the percentage of new cases, they say these countries are allowed to visit or not.”
When asked about the future of river cruising, Kristin Karst explained why she was optimistic.
“We have done so many Wednesday webinars, sip and sail, and I’m seeing so many new travel advisors coming and joining us…and many have been specialized to ocean and have expressed that their clients would love to consider a river cruise in the future because it’s small, it’s intimate, it’s so personalized.”
Watch the whole interview with Kristin Karst and Rudi Schreiner here: