AmaWaterways inaugurates its 19th vessel, the AmaKristina. (photo courtesy of AmaWaterways)
With so many new river cruise vessels sailing inland waterways these days, there must be a high demand for ship godmothers. Which makes it doubly surprising that Kristin Karst—the co-owner and vice president of luxury river cruise company AmaWaterways—has yet to hold that coveted position.
This week, however, Karst saw her namesake, the AmaKristina, off on its maiden voyage.
“The arrival of every new ship for AmaWaterways is incredibly special, but this ship notably represents 15 years of inspired design and innovation,” said Rudi Schreiner, president, and co-owner of AmaWaterways.
“Our guests will love the luxurious amenities and spaciousness and style of the public areas and staterooms as they experience Europe’s finest river cruise destinations.”
Karst will officially become a godmother on May 10 when the ship is christened, and there's no doubt that she, along with husband Schreiner, have played a key role in innovating the company's offerings.
“I like to say Rudi builds the ships and I fill them,” jokes Karst.
It’s a simplified view and only partially true. Both are actively developing a number of firsts for the river cruise industry.
Schreiner, originally an architect, was the first to call for river cruise vessels to carry bicycles on board.
“It was a big deal,” said Schreiner. “We had to physically design a space to store the bikes while they were on board.”
The concept quickly took off. Guest requests to borrow bikes were once modest, but AmaWaterways' vessels currently have a hard time keeping up with demand.
Biking has become so popular with passengers, the company inked an agreement with leading bike tour operator Backroads in 2015 to provide high-quality itineraries for adventure-seeking travelers. Backroads brings their own titanium bikes, secure in the knowledge that AmaWaterways already features a protected space for safe storage.
AmaWaterways is also actively seeking to expand its audience with an aggressive play for family travelers. A new partnership with Adventures by Disney is helping make river cruising a popular vacation choice with Generation Z. In fact, AmaKristina’s maiden voyage sailed from Amsterdam to Basel along the Rhine River on an Adventures by Disney itinerary.
READ MORE: Adventures by Disney is Off to a Great River Cruising Start
Of course, AmaWaterways is also known for its culinary innovations. The company’s wine cruises have grown so popular, it has more than 95 wine cruise itineraries planned for the 2017-2018 season.
For some cruises, passengers will be accompanied by wineries from the local regions in which they’re traveling. Other cruises feature popular wineries from around North America, as AmaWaterways taps into an ever-growing audience of rabidly loyal wine club members.
Innovation is all about listening to customers and giving them what they want. When Karst and Schreiner learned that some passengers enjoyed staying up late to chat with the featured onboard experts or to listen to local musicians, AmaWaterways introduced a handful of late-riser itineraries.
“They’re an abbreviated version of the regular itineraries, but guests love having the option of sleeping in and enjoying a leisurely breakfast,” said Karst.
READ MORE: AmaWaterways to Build a Ship for India.
AmaWaterways' newest ship will feature a number of Rhine River sailings, including a wine-themed cruise departing November 11 and Christmas Market cruises starting on November 25.
The 158-passenger AmaKristina is a sister to the award-winning AmaViola and AmaStella. While onboard, guests can spend their free time on the sundeck, which comes complete with a running track, heated pool and swim-up bar. The ship is also home to an expanded fitness center, hair salon and spa as well as free Wi-Fi throughout. All cruises include complimentary beer and fine wine with lunch and dinner.
Each of the seven-night Enchanting Rhine itineraries offers a choice of 21 inclusive guided tours, including numerous hiking and biking options.
For more information, visit www.AmaWaterways.com.