AmaWaterways boss eyes August restart in Europe

AmaWaterways’ co-founder expects the river cruise line will resume sailings in Europe by August – although the restart could be in June or July.

The company has already cancelled April departures and will soon review sailings scheduled for May.

Rudi Schreiner said he expects the restart will happen in August, although his marketing team is promoting cruises in June and July.

“I have to be pessimistic,” he told the Clia virtual river showcase on Thursday. “It will probably go into August when we start again.

“It all depends on governments…flight restrictions and quarantine restrictions.”

The main market for AmaWaterways is US and Canadians and they will travel as soon as they are allowed, he said.

“If our ships are only 20-25% occupied, we can cruise,” he added, speaking from California.

He said the vaccination programme in the US was making good progress and he expects most would-be passengers and crew members will be vaccinated by the summer.

However, there will still be Covid testing and face-mask protocols onboard – and no more buffets.

Shore excursions will be in small groups, with passengers taking cycle rides or coach trips.

More: AmaWaterways expands no-fly river cruise options

The cruise line operated in Europe for German guests between May and October 2020 without any cases of Covid-19, he said.

Schreiner also revealed a 46-day itinerary taking in seven European rivers in 2023.

Passengers will sail for seven nights on the Seine then take a TGV from Paris to Lyon to sail along the Rhône and Saône.

Transferring to Basel in Switzerland, they will spend three weeks on the Rhine to Amsterdam, then sail back along the Rhine and Moselle to Luxembourg. Next they will cruise along the Main to Nuremberg to spend the rest of the voyage on the Danube to Budapest, sailing to Romania and Bulgaria.

Schreiner said the marketing team devised the cruise after seeing the success of round-the-world ocean voyages.

“It seems like ocean world cruises are selling like hot cakes,” he said.

AmaWaterways has not made the cruise public yet but already has several deposits from past passengers who were told about the itinerary. It is looking to add extra departures to cater for demand.

He confirmed that new 68-passenger vessel AmaDahlia is on schedule to start sailing Nile cruises in September.

New rivers may come on stream by 2024, he said, but the planning process had been delayed by the coronavirus outbreak.

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