AmaWaterways has announced its ships will operate at 75% capacity during the initial start-up phase until Covid-19 measures are relaxed.
Speaking on a webinar this week, co-owners Rudi Schreiner and Kristin Karst took questions on restart plans, deployment and onboard protocols from agents.
The line will resume operations with a sailing on its AmaDouro ship on the Douro in Portugal on July 3, before beginning voyages in France on AmaLyra and AmaKristina and on the Danube with AmaMagna (pictured) on July 21.
Rhine sailings will return from AmaSiena on July 29.
Schreiner said: “It is easier for us to start up with a few ships rather than an entire fleet at all once. By the end of August, early September we will have our entire [European] fleet operating.
“We have decided to start with 75% maximum capacity – until the rules change and then we might be back to full capacity.”
Schreiner raised the possibility of passengers being transferred from other Danube-based vessels to the larger AmaMagna, which can carry up to 196 passengers and has more dining venues and amenities.
Karst encouraged agents to book customers on AmaKristina as it will be the only river vessel on the Rhone when it returns to service. “It is a wonderful opportunity,” she said. “Many of you will remember we transferred this ship from the Rhine. This ship will be the first going on the Rhone.”
Outside Europe, Schreiner expects to resume Chobe river sailings on the 28-passenger Zambezi Queen on August 2, but he is unsure when voyages on the Mekong will return due to Vietnam currently being closed to foreign nationals.
In the past month Covid-19 cases have soared in the country. “The question is what is the government going to do,” Schreiner said. “My view is we will not cruise, but we’ll see how November and December looks. It is a very open question.”
The line carried 1,400 passengers during the summer season during the pandemic last year.
Schreiner confirmed that passengers would be able to explore destinations independently this year.
“We’re still five or six weeks away from the start and things may change,” he said. “But overall guests will be free to move around.”
AmaWaterways has decided to scrap onboard buffets and instead introduce a la carte menus with “almost double” the number of dishes for passengers to choose from.
“We’ve changed our dining philosophy,” he said. “For the last year, we have been working on a new menu.
“I would say that the choice is almost double on our ships than what we had before.”