River cruising is thriving.
Exploring new destinations in comfortable settings – what’s not to love?
AmaWaterways remains a leader in river cruising. And to delve deeper into what they offer travel agents and travelers, TravelPulse recently went one-on-one with Gary Murphy, Vice President of Sales and Co-owner.
Murphy joined AmaWaterways as vice president of national accounts in 2009 and was appointed to vice president, sales in 2013.
TravelPulse: What new and exciting things should travelers know about AmaWaterways?
Gary Murphy: 2019 will be eventful as we introduce a record-breaking three new ships – AmaMora on the Rhine, AmaDouro on the Douro River and the amazing AmaMagna on the Danube. Debuting May 5th, 2019 AmaMagna is truly luxury redefined and will be the newest and most luxurious ship on the Danube.
At twice the width of traditional river ships, AmaMagna offers its 196 guests so much more to love— more unique dining venues, more evening entertainment, more health and wellness amenities and more leisure activities, like water sports on board and golf ashore – all while delivering the same intimate ambience and friendly, personalized service our guests have come to know with AmaWaterways. And with most full balcony staterooms measuring an incredible 355 sq. ft. and suites at 474 sq. ft., we believe that this ship will be particularly attractive to ocean cruisers looking for more personal space and a truly unique way to experience the legendary Danube.
We were the first in the river cruise industry to offer bicycles onboard in 2006, and we continue this leadership in active cruising with our new Wellness Program which is offered on six ships this year and will be available across the European fleet in 2019.
Our Wellness Hosts are experienced, English-speaking fitness instructors with First Aid training offering our guests a core program involving morning stretching and core strengthening classes and afternoon resistance band workouts, relaxation techniques and jogging. Other options will depend on the Wellness Host’s particular skill set and the itinerary of the ship and may include pilates, yoga, tai chi and onshore circuit training. Group talks on nutrition, diet, stress management and other Wellness topics will also be scheduled at least once during the week.
Overall, there will be three or four Wellness activities offered each day and all this is in addition to our escorted hiking and biking excursions (minimum 2 hiking and 3 biking per week) and active walking tours. Participation in all of these activities is offered at no additional cost to our guests.
2-FOR-1 LAND PRICING ON MEKONG RIVER …
Tulip Time in Spring | See the Dutch …
Biking and Hiking Along the Danube | …
TP: How does AmaWaterways work with travel agents?
GM: When AmaWaterways was founded 16 years ago, the business model was built solely around the travel agency community and the team sincerely believes today that travel advisors continue to be the best channel of distribution.
As a result, AmaWaterways continues to invest heavily in the education and training of travel advisors and designs the company’s marketing and communication programs to be a true partnership with them. Besides 23 Business Development Managers, an experienced and easily accessible reservations team, user-friendly online booking engine for travel advisors and a dedicated Group and Charter Sales team, we also provide extensive training opportunities through an online specialist program, product webinars and on board “Seminar on the River” cruises hosted by company representatives.
TP: What makes AmaWaterways stand out from other river cruise lines?
GM: We always have strived to have a comfortable and luxurious environment onboard our ships and that involves two aspects: the hardware – the design and décor – and the software – our teams onboard.
We’ve designed our ships to be elegant yet warm and welcoming and we are very proud of the many awards we have received for the quality of our food and wine and the wide choice of active excursions that are included free of charge for our guests.
Bicycles on board, twin balconies, connecting staterooms for families and The Chef’s Table, our separate onboard restaurant with a wine-paired tasting menu, are all innovations we brought to the river cruise industry which differentiate us from the others. Another differentiating feature is the wide choice of complimentary shore excursions – up to 20 different ones during a week-long cruise – all conducted in small groups with knowledgeable English-speaking guides and lots of active options like biking and hiking.
We believe that our crew’s attention to detail and genuine customer care are also two important factors that help set us apart from the competition. We really pride ourselves on personalized service and exceeding guests’ expectations by listening to their needs and anticipating what will surprise and delight them. We recruit staff with a “sparkle”; we train them carefully on our product and explain to them exactly what North American guests appreciate.
Top ratings in Berlitz Guide River Cruising in Europe & The USA, Cruise Critic, Best River Cruise Line and Best for Active Cruisers and Town & Country Best Overall, Best Onboard Activities, Best On-Shore Activities and Best Food are a few of the prestigious awards we have won.
TP: What are the most popular and most unique itineraries from AmaWaterways?
GM: Our classic Danube 7-night cruise between Vilshofen and Budapest is the most popular for first-time river cruisers. Paired with a pre- or post-cruise stay in Prague creates an even more memorable European vacation. Experienced river cruisers often prefer to add an additional seven nights and continue south on the Danube with our Gems of S.E. Europe itinerary through the less visited countries of Serbia, Croatia, Bulgaria and Romania.
Our Rhine river itineraries between Amsterdam and Basel offer incredible scenic cruising through the Rhine Gorge showcasing vineyards, castles and fairytale villages. I have to mention the growing popularity of the Tulip Time spring cruises which started as an off-season itinerary but now have become one of our top three itineraries and book up at least 9 months in advance.
With only one ship on the Douro river in Portugal, we haven’t been able to keep up with demand there, so we are excited about adding a second ship in 2019. Paris remains an iconic destination and our guests love art and history, so our Paris Normandy itinerary is very popular and with next year being the 75th Anniversary of D-Day, we expect that itinerary to be even more in demand.
When it comes to unique itineraries, a stand out is our 14-night Stars of South Africa tour with a four-night Rwanda extension to see the Mountain Gorillas and Golden Monkeys. This once in a lifetime trip combines must-see Cape Town, Johannesburg, Victoria Falls with a luxury land safari and a unique four-night river safari cruise on the Zambezi Queen on the Chobe River.
TP: Do you have any current specials or promotions?
GM: Our promotional offers are linked to capacity, so we encourage everyone to check out the most current promotions on our website at www.amawaterways.com
Remember to book as early as possible to take advantage of any Early Booking Discounts, Solo Traveler offers and to be sure you get the stateroom best suited to your needs and the best available airfare with the most direct routing.
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