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AmaWaterways Holds Out Hope for US Travelers on River Cruises This Year

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It’s unknown when U.S. travelers will be welcomed back in Europe, but AmaWaterways President and Co-Founder Rudi Schreiner is hoping for a limited river cruise season later in 2020.

“I still do hope we get some cruising in for the North American market this year, but we will start up again in March,” he said during a virtual press conference. “I’m very hopeful that, by spring next year, we’ll be back on all the rivers.”

AmaWaterways has paused all operations through Sept. 30, except for the AmaKristina, which began operating Rhine River charter cruises July 5 with the German tour operator e-hoi. New health protocols are in place, and capacity is limited to 100 instead of 156.

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The passengers are mostly German-speaking, from Germany and neighboring countries like Switzerland, said Kristin Karst, co-founder and executive vice president of AmaWaterways.

“Germans love to travel but they’re restricted where they can go, so many of them are staying within Germany,” Schreiner said. “Resorts are all booked-up and it’s also why the Rhine cruises are so successful. They started marketing in June and the ship is pretty much booked up until end of October.”

Beyond that, the booking cycle has been “wonderful” for cruises in 2021 or even in 2022, he said. “June actually was the strongest month ever for bookings for next year. It was partially some rebookings from 2020 but also strong numbers of new bookings and strong numbers of groups and charters.”

Among the changes made to restart cruising in the age of COVID-19 was adding plexiglass partitions protecting the reception desk workers and separating seating areas in the lounge. Passengers and crew undergo daily temperature checks.

AmaWaterways Social Distancing
PHOTO: Social distancing with AmaWaterways. (photo via AmaWaterways)

Also new are private transfers for passengers who book air from AmaWaterways. The transfers will be limited to the people traveling together, whether it’s a party of two in a private car or a family of six who will require a small van, said Gary Murphy, co-owner and senior vice president of sales. “We’re not putting 30 different people on a coach,” he said.

Schreiner said the company is constantly monitoring the situation around the world, including Africa, Southeast Asia and Egypt, where it will begin operating with the new 68-person AmaDahlia in September 2021.

Once borders do open up again, there will be a surge of demand, Murphy said, for all the rivers.

Karst said many travelers looking for less-crowded destinations so they can be in the fresh air are opting for AmaWaterways cruises because they offer 25 to 50 bikes on each ship.

Biking and Hiking Along the Danube | Save up to ,500 per stateroom
PHOTO: Biking and hiking along the Danube. (photo via AmaWaterways)

Interestingly, she said lesser-known destinations along the Lower Danube – like Bulgaria and Romania – were experiencing strong booking trends. So is Portugal.

AmaWaterways’ marketing and sales teams are keeping in touch with travel advisors and consumers alike through virtual cruise nights, Webinar Wednesday, Sip & Sail cocktail hour, inspirational videos and digital sales tools.

“We’re staying engaged, that’s what the travel advisors are looking for,” Murphy said. “We’re planting seeds now so when business rebounds – and it will rebound – we’ll be there.”

The virtual outreach is drawing attention from ocean cruisers who were seeking more information about AmaWaterways and river cruising.

Some might be considering river cruising because the ships are sailing rivers within a country – they’d never encounter a situation like some ocean ships did when they were turned away from ports.

“We’re always close to the shore, and if there’s any kind of incident, we can get off right away because we’re in local waters,” Schreiner said. “It is a safe environment.”

For now, Schreiner and his team are remaining hopeful.

“We don’t know exactly when the U.S. can return to Europe,” he said. “It will depend on the cases in the future. Currently, the EU is monitoring every two weeks the numbers per capita for every country. The U.S. numbers don’t look as promising, but the numbers have been going down. We still do hope we can get some cruising in by the end of this year, but we are not quite sure.”

This post was published by our news partner: TravelPulse.com | Article Source

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