Travvy Awards Winners Spotlight: AmaWaterways
AmaWaterways is a highly rated, international operation that offers river cruises on 20 vessels sailing throughout Europe, Asia and Africa. Yet, its ships still offer a comfortable, friendly ambience that comes with family-owned companies.
Travel agents like that combination and voted AmaWaterways the Best River Cruise Line in the inaugural 2015 Travvy Awards sponsored by travAlliancemedia.
AmaWaterways has always been very travel agent-friendly since it was founded in 2002 by Rudi Schreiner, Kristin Karst and Jimmy Murphy. The company also is known for its innovative features on its ships, most notably the “Twin Balconies” concept, in which staterooms and suites have both a French balcony and a full step-out balcony with seating. AmaWaterways ships have alternative dining in Chef’s Table restaurants. Newer ships have heated swimming pools, some with swim-up bars.
The company received an impressive honor last year when the first-ever “Berlitz: River Cruising in Europe” guide ranked AmaWaterways' AmaPrima as the No. 1 river cruise ship overall, topping 280 vessels reviewed on hardware, accommodation, cuisine and service. It was followed by 10 fleetmates, all ranked 4-Star Plus, the highest level in the book.
Author Douglas Ward wrote that AmaWaterways “spends more on food, wine and food service training than almost any other river cruise company,” adding “AmaWaterways knows how to do it right, and it shows.”
This year, AmaWaterways is introducing two new ships in Europe — the 164-passenger AmaSerena and AmaVista. They will sail on the Danube, Main and Rhine rivers.
In August, the company will introduce the 124-passenger AmaDara on the Mekong River to sail through Vietnam and Cambodia. It will have especially large accommodations — from 226-square-foot staterooms to 452-square-foot luxury suites, all of which have the two balconies.
Late last year, AmaWaterways introduced its newest destination, Myanmar, where the 56-passenger AmaPura cruises on the Irrawaddy River.
The growth isn’t stopping. In 2016, AmaWaterways will welcome two new vessels in Europe, the 158-passenger sister ships, AmaViola and AmaStella. They’ll have a new feature for river ships — connecting staterooms — as well as larger suites, staterooms with “Twin Balconies,” heated swimming pools, hair salons, fitness rooms and more.
The company will introduce a new destination in spring 2016, when it launches 22 new “Taste of Bordeaux” sailings aboard AmaDolce on the Garonne and Dordogne rivers in France’s renowned wine region. Eight of the 22 departures will be special wine-themed voyages with wine experts.
After starting with one wine-theme cruise five years ago, AmaWaterways offers 34 next year. “They are so popular,” said Karst, the executive vice president of the company. “We started with wine voyages in November, but now we’re offering them in the spring and summer too next year.”
AmaWaterways appeals to active travelers, because each ship has a fitness center and also carries 25 bicycles. Guests can join a guided bike tour or use them to tour independently.
The ships serve delicious international cuisine but also offer some included shore excursions aimed at foodies. Limited Edition Tours — smaller outings usually limited to 20 people — include learning how to make French baguettes in a small Provencal village or goulash in Hungary. Other excursions might include tasting beer and cheeses in Holland or wine and chocolate in France.
When you combine innovative ships with sophisticated but always friendly service, top-notch cuisine, and a variety of fun and interactive shore excursions, you end up with an award-winning company. And that is AmaWaterways.
More by Theresa Norton
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