On Board with Kristin Karst
The Executive Vice President and Co-Owner of AmaWaterways talks to The Luxury Cruise Company about what makes a cruise onboard AmaWaterways unique.
Tell us a little about your background and how AmaWaterways got started?
With the desire to do something different and a passion to create a product that river cruise passengers had never seen before, Rudi Schreiner, Jimmy Murphy and I started AmaWaterways on July 1, 2002. We wanted to not only offer current river cruise passengers incredible all-inclusive service, but we also wanted to create sailings and itineraries that would appeal to a new market and demographic.
More than 15 years later, we remain involved in every aspect of creating the amazing product that AmaWaterways offer. From ship design and interior design, to marketing, operations, and quality control, we are involved in every aspect of AmaWaterways.
How would you describe a typical day onboard one of your river ships?
Guests on board our AmaWaterways ships can enjoy as many or as few of the activities that we offer, which range in style, difficulty, and duration; appealing and catering to the different requests of our guests. From a traditional city tour or a gentle walk, to more energetic biking and hiking tours, there’s something for everyone, of all ages and all interests. Our professionally trained guides cater to the needs of each of our guests, making the tours intriguing and personal. All AmaWaterways tours are offered in small group settings, creating a more intimate environment.
AmaWaterways Sun Deck
Then there’s the incredible on board amenities. From the sundeck’s heated swim-up pool bar, putting green or chessboard, to the ice-cream socials and spa services, guests will be able to relax, unwind, and take in the incredible scenery passing them by. Tapas are also available between meals, ensuring guests have access to light bites while aboard the ship.
Dinner on AmaWaterways
For dinner, guests can elect to dine at one of the ship’s dining venues, where they’ll experience a locally inspired, hand-cooked meal, comprising the freshest ingredients and accompanied by unlimited local wine and beer, the bar remains open until the last guest has turned in for the night.
Post-dinner, guests will experience on board live entertainment from local performers, in the main lounge. Before heading to bed, guests can enjoy a midnight snack, which varies by destination.
What makes a cruise onboard AmaWaterways unique?
We not only want our guests to feel welcome, but also at home. It’s our ultimate goal to ensure our crew meets the needs of each and every guest, and each team member undergoes intensive training to ensure they’re more than qualified to provide the best service. An important aspect of each of our sailings is that everything can be personalised. The menu can be altered to accommodate almost every dietary requirement as well as appeal to the needs of the most particular palates.
Guests will never hear “no” from a staff member onboard. We were also the first river cruise line to appeal to more active travellers, and our European vessels are equipped with 25 bikes and helmets for guests to enjoy.
AmaDagio Lounge, AmaWaterways
We’re also doing more for solo cruise guests, with waived single supplement fees on select cabin categories. Another distinguishing feature of AmaWaterways is our ship facilities. From sparkling glass elevators and contemporary décor inspired by each destination, to extensive amenities and lounges with panoramic views, guests will enjoy the ship as much as they enjoy the itinerary.
Passengers have access to fitness rooms, heated swimming pools or hot tubs, complimentary in-room “entertainment on demand” systems with Internet, music, popular new release movies and English-language television programming. Wi-Fi connections are available in most destinations for guests to enjoy all over the ship, and in their spacious staterooms, many of which feature unique French Balconies or “Twin Balcony” designs, consisting of a French Balcony with a second full-size step-out balcony.
Angkor Wat, Cambodia
What is the favourite destination your river ships go to and why?
Of course I love our European itineraries, but having grown up travelling and exploring this region of the world, I would have to say my favourite destinations are Africa and Myanmar. It is incredible exploring the African jungles and watching the native wildlife from the comforts of Zambezi Queen. I’m also fascinated with the ancient temples and warm culture that exists in Vietnam and Cambodia, and love exploring these destinations aboard AmaDara.
Where do you see AmaWaterways in 5 years?
We want to see AmaWaterways continue to grow, and we expect to introduce two ships a year to our fleet. Despite this growth, we’ll continue to emphasise quality over quantity, and never let our growth inhibit or interfere with the superior service that we provide to our guests. It’s our goal to continue to remain at the forefront of river cruising trends, anticipating the needs of our passengers.
We know that our guests from the UK expect the very best service and luxury experience, and we’ll continue to exceed their expectations.
What is next for AmaWaterways ship innovation?
We were very proud to receive once again the top ratings in the third edition of the Berlitz: River Cruising in Europe & the USA travel guide. Our focus on innovation, quality and customer care continues in 2019, as we introduce three state-of-the-art ships to our fleet – AmaMora on the Rhine, AmaDouro on the Douro and the much anticipated AmaMagna on the Danube.
The new AmaMagna river ship
At twice the width of traditional European river cruise ships yet carrying only 196 guests, the ultra-spacious AmaMagna offers our guests the luxury of more. More than 50% of the accommodations are suites measuring from 355 sq.ft. – 710 sq. ft. with full balconies, as well as bathrooms with walk-in showers and double sinks. You’ll find five bars; four unique dining venues, including The Main Restaurant, The Chef’s Table, Jimmy’s Wine Bar Restaurant and the Al Fresco Restaurant; the expansive Zen Wellness Studio—a multi-functional venue with a fitness centre offering exercise classes led by a professional Wellness Host, two massage rooms, plus hair styling, manicure and pedicure services; and the one and only Water Sports Platform on the river.
Food and wine have become major parts of the travel experience and maintaining a healthy lifestyle has become essential for many travellers when choosing their next holiday. AmaWaterways has always put a priority on exquisite chef-prepared cuisine paired with fine wines that are sourced along its cruise routes. Healthy menu choices and knowing the source of ingredients along with opportunities for daily exercise programmes are all important while travelling. We continue to increase the number of included active hiking and biking tours on each itinerary and in 2019, our very successful Wellness Programme, offering daily classes led by our Wellness Hosts in stretching, core strengthening and resistant band training, will roll out almost fleet-wide.
Destinations, ships, rivers and tours will change over the years, but that human connection is essential and will always remain the top priority at AmaWaterways. As we grow and the industry itself grows, we want to ensure that AmaWaterways remains like a family organisation offering the best place for our people to work and providing the most luxurious holidays to our guests.
Another trend that we are happy to see growing is multigenerational travel. Already known as the active river cruise company since we introduced bikes on board in 2006, AmaWaterways has always welcomed families onboard but we saw a marked increase in the multigenerational family market when we introduced connecting and triple occupancy staterooms onboard AmaViola, AmaStella, AmaKristina and AmaLea.
- A Taste of Bordeaux River Cruise Review
- AmaWaterways announce godmother of AmaMagna
- AmaWaterways secure six out of the ten top spots in Berlitz Guide