AmaWaterways lays out Europe restart plans

AmaWaterways executives on Wednesday laid out their plans and protocols for returning to the European waterways in July, saying that while they will encourage guests to be vaccinated, they will follow EU and individual country rules on vaccines and testing for travelers.

In a webinar for advisors, co-founder and president Rudi Schreiner also said that as of now, protocols call for all guests to wear masks when moving about the ships, but that could change as infections decline and guidelines ease.

Schreiner also said that guests will be allowed to wander freely when off the ships, not just on excursions.

“Guests will be able to go on their own and visit the towns,” he said, noting, however, that there could be some local restrictions, especially in museums and other indoor venues. “But overall, guests will be free to move around.”

In response to a question about whether excursions will be altered, he said that, too, will depend on local rules.

“We’ll adjust and will offer plenty of opportunities,” he said. “And if certain things are not possible, we will offer alternative options.”

He also said that wellness activities won’t be hampered since cruises are starting up when it is warm enough to do fitness classes on the sundeck or outside. Additionally, he said, excursion options will include plenty of outdoor activities like hiking and biking.

Initially, due to individual country restrictions and access to vaccines, all crew members may not be vaccinated, but those who aren’t will be tested, Schreiner said. 

The company last week announced it would restart its European cruises July 3 in Portugal on the Douro, followed July 21 by the company’s luxury megaship, the AmaMagna, on the Danube and sailings in France beginning July 22. 

In the initial startup phase, all cruises will run at a maximum 75% capacity, Schreiner said. And early sailings will be consolidated since many people scheduled this summer have moved their plans to 2022 and 2023. 

That means some guests on the company’s traditional-size ships scheduled for the Danube could be upgraded to the AmaMagna, which has larger cabins and more dining venues and amenities, co-founder and executive vice president Kristin Karst said. Others could be upgraded to upper-deck cabins.

In addition to the Europe restart, Schreiner said sailings are set to resume on the Chobe River in Botswana Aug. 2, with departures for that combination land-river itinerary departing at the end of July. 

Karst said the company’s new Nile ship is on target for its September launch, as originally scheduled. But cruises on the Mekong have been suspended through November as Vietnam remains closed, Schreiner said.

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