Travvy Awards Winners Spotlight: Rudi Schreiner of AmaWaterways
A true pioneer in creating and growing the burgeoning river cruise industry in North America, AmaWaterways President Rudi Schreiner was voted the Most Innovative River Cruise Executive by travel agents in the inaugural Travvy Awards.
Schreiner really is a triple winner, because the company he helped found in 2002, AmaWaterways, was honored as Best River Cruise Line. And its AmaSonata was named Best River Cruise Ship.
“On behalf of the entire AmaWaterways team, I would like to thank travAlliancemedia, and the readers of their publications, for this prestigious recognition,” Schreiner said. “It is an exciting time for AmaWaterways, and I am truly honored to be recognized by the travel industry, as well as the agents, for this incredible distinction. AmaWaterways has always taken great pride in building the most innovative ships in the market, and I am very humbled to be recognized for this. We believe that the future is strong for river cruising and this recognition means a lot to me because we are very passionate about the path ahead for river cruising and AmaWaterways as a company.”
Not only was Schreiner instrumental in building river cruising into a hugely popular mainstream vacation, he has been very involved in designing innovative cruise ships. Indeed, he studied architecture in Austria before the travel bug bit him. He undertook research projects in the Himalayas in Eastern Nepal and the Peruvian Amazon region, at one time spending seven months on a river raft — his first river cruise!
Schreiner came to the U.S. in 1978 and earned an MBA from Loyola University in New Orleans while also working as a city guide. He moved to Los Angeles as vice president of Student Travel International, a tour operator specializing in European bus tours for college graduates and alumni.
PHOTO: Rudi Schreiner, president of AmaWaterways.
In 1992, he joined Uniworld as vice president of product development, and this is when he really got involved in river cruise programs in Russia, Ukraine, Siberia and China.
When the Main-Danube Canal opened in late 1992, Schreiner created new river cruise itineraries between Amsterdam and the Black Sea and soon developed programs for all major European waterways, including the Rhine, Main, Danube, Elbe, Po and Douro rivers.
In March 2000, he left Uniworld and became president of Viking River Cruises, opening the U.S. headquarters.
Two years later, he teamed up with Jimmy Murphy, founder of Brendan Vacations, and top sales executive Kristin Karst to found Amadeus Waterways. The name was later changed to AmaWaterways.
The company now introduces new ships every year and incorporates new features designed to meet the needs and desires of today’s travelers.
Schreiner pioneered the “Twin Balconies” concept, in which staterooms and suites have both a French balcony and a full step-out balcony with seating. Newer ships have heated swimming pools, some with swim-up bars! Schreiner was an early proponent of alternative dining and created chef’s table experiences on his ships.
“When we started with our first river cruises we immediately noticed the demand for more leisure time,” Schreiner said. “Our guests want to enjoy their vacations and appreciate the fact that on a river cruise, you truly receive double the leisure time in comparison to any other means of transportation. They do not have to worry about packing and unpacking multiple times, as they truly are on a floating luxury hotel where they can spend more time enjoying the destinations and shore excursions. With AmaWaterways they truly get a real vacation.”
In 2015, AmaWaterways will operate 20 river ships, with new vessels in Europe, the Mekong River in Vietnam and Cambodia, and on the Irrawaddy in Myanmar.
The new Mekong River ship, the 124-passenger AmaDara, won’t have any lower-deck staterooms with narrow, fixed windows, because those are also booked last. Instead, every one of the 14 suites and 48 staterooms will have the company’s trademark Twin Balconies. It enters service Aug. 17.
Due out in 2016, the 158-passenger sister ships AmaViola and AmaStella will feature the line’s first connecting staterooms. Also new for 2016 are 34 wine-themed sailings, an inaugural “Taste of Bordeaux” itinerary on the Garonne and Dordogne rivers in France, and five new voyages designed for art enthusiasts.
AmaWaterways has been an unwavering supporter of travel agents from Day One.
“It is very simple for us to be so supportive of the travel agent community, as we share the same philosophy — delivering the best customer service for guests,” Schreiner said. “We really try to keep the lines of open communication as much as possible with the agents, through fams, face-to-face meetings and having a major presence in national trade shows, because we truly appreciate all of their support in helping us provide our product to travelers around the world.”
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