AmaWaterways’ founder and co-president Rudi Schreiner joined Travel Leaders Group president John Lovell for its latest virtual Fireside Chat.
Schreiner provided travel advisors with an update to AmaWaterways’ operations, sharing that they are hopeful for cruising this summer but noting that it might be later into the season.
“I think that we will get some months of cruising this year,” said Schreiner.
Looking farther ahead, he expressed optimism for the future.
“Americans are ready to travel – they want to travel longer and the question is when will Europe open up,” he said.
Schreiner believes that 2022 is looking incredibly strong, and he noted that the cruise line has opened bookings for 2023 as well.
Of course, the hot-button issue of vaccine requirements came up, but Schreiner noted that AmaWaterways has been operating cruises in Europe with local guests and that he doesn’t see vaccines as necessary.
“From our side, so far we will keep things open to just government restrictions and so on. I don’t want to go out and say we have to be vaccinated,” said Screener. “There could be proof of vaccines or a Covid negative test. By the time you jump through all the hoops to get to the ships, you are probably okay, and with family travel, kids won’t be vaccinated. For our company, we will keep it open and go with the flow because things change on a weekly basis. Our crew and staff will be vaccinated.”
Schreiner also discussed how the safety of river cruise ships due to the way air flow operates onboard and detailed some of the latest upgrades and renovations to ships, including how AmaWaterways re-imagined its dining experiences to include more alfresco options and new offerings for breakfast and lunch that eliminate the buffet.
“It has been my view that if you think about a nice restaurant, you want a menu,” said Schreiner. “The buffet concept has been on mine for years.”
Now, during breakfast on AmaWaterways ships, guests will have a menu and be served breads and a fruit plate as they sit down. There will be two action stations.
“Everything is sit-down with full menus,” he said.
Schreiner also took the time to highlight the cruise line’s new long, multi-river sailings, noting that the interest in these sailings was high.
“Before we even went out [to the market], we had meetings and webinars showed demand was incredible,” he said. “They were already creating a second one because there was so much interest.”
Schreiner and Lovell also discussed his advice on how to survive this year-long industry shutdown with Lovell pointing out that AmaWaterways had planned in advance for a year without cruising.
“A Contingency plan is important,” said Schreiner, adding that his “overriding principle” in dealing with the pandemic has been to hold onto as many people as you can.
AmaWaterways has tried to retain its employees and keep them, providing assistance to those employees who are struggling.