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TORONTO — AmaWaterways is upscale but doesn’t make a big fuss about it. The company’s executives prefer a ‘show, don’t tell’ approach when it comes to marketing their ships, and that suits new and returning passengers just fine.
“We are luxury, but it’s not an opulent luxury. It’s a comfortable luxury,” says Janet Bava, Chief Marketing Officer for AmaWaterways. “Everything we have is high-end, from our high-quality, locally sourced cuisine, to our dedication to personalization as part of the guest experience, to the comforts of our ships.”
Bava, in Toronto this week for client calls, knows luxury cruising. From 2016 to 2018 she was Vice President, Marketing (The Americas) for Silversea Cruises. She also worked for Royal Caribbean for almost eight years, again in marketing and customer experience.
When she arrived at AmaWaterways in December 2018, the river cruise industry was just coming off a tough fall season with record low water levels in Europe’s rivers. By keeping on top of things, says Bava, AmaWaterways didn’t cancel a single sailing. “Everyone raved” about how AmaWaterways handled the challenging situation, says Bava.
Established in 2002, AmaWaterways now has 17 years in business under its belt, and 23 ships. Cruise industry veteran and co-owner Scheiner founded the line with Executive Vice-President and co-owner Kristin Karst and the late Jimmy Murphy (whose son Gary Murphy is now a co-owner and Senior VP, Sales).
This year AmaWaterways is launching not one, not two, but three new ships. There’s the revolutionary AmaMagna, twice the width of traditional river cruise ships (but with only 20% more passengers). More than half of AmaMagna’s 98 staterooms are designated as suites, measuring between 355 and 710 square feet. The suites feature full outside balconies, open seating areas and bathrooms complete with double sinks and walk-in showers.
The other two new ships are AmaDouro and AmaMora. The 156-passenger AmaMora just launched last week, with a maiden voyage on the Rhine River from Amsterdam to Basel. AmaDouro made its debut on the Douro River earlier this spring.
The new ships give AmaWaterways some much-needed capacity, notes Bava. “We have availability, finally,” she says.
Demand is still outpacing supply for river cruising in general, says Bava. As more and more people discover river cruising, they tell their friends, and interest grows. Bava attributes part of river cruising’s appeal as a reaction to overtourism. “You’re cruising through these very unique destinations, they’re smaller cities that have developed on these rivers. We keep hearing ‘I want to do that’. People want to check it off their bucket list.”
And AmaWaterways’ customer-centric approach resonates with passengers, says Bava. “Rudi and Kristin want to under-promise and over-deliver. The company isn’t run off a balance sheet. They curate the experiences that they themselves would enjoy. And the product speaks for itself.”