River cruising has grown in popularity over the past few years. And while most itineraries were put on hold in 2020 due to the pandemic, travel experts point to river cruising as an ideal way to begin exploring the world. Senior Vice President of Sales and Co-Owner of AMAWaterways Gary Murphy sat down with us to explain why river cruising is surging in popularity.
Prima Balcony View, Photo courtesy of AMAWaterways
THE BENEFITS OF A RIVER CRUISE
With a variety of river cruising itineraries around the globe available, there are plenty of ways that you can start to explore the unique destinations and waters around the world. According to Murphy, that's one of the significant benefits of river cruising as the world emerges from the pandemic.
“One of the great things about river cruising is that you’re staying within the country. You’re on a river cruise ship, but you’re sailing within the destination, so we follow guidelines and the protocols of the countries we’re sailing through,” says Murphy.
River cruising can also be a great use of time for a traveler that wants to explore a destination intimately. Travelers have the benefit of overnighting on the river cruise ship and waking up in a new port.
“Imagine at night, you’re cruising. You wake up in a beautiful new port and see the most scenic parts of the river,” says Murphy. “We designed our itineraries so you can view those in the perfect setting.”
Photo courtesy of AMAWaterways
WHAT IS INCLUDED ON A RIVER CRUISE?
Similar to an ocean cruise, a variety of meal options are included on a river cruise.
“If you wake up, we have an early rise breakfast. If you want to get out early, we have your main breakfast,” says Murphy. “We include your sparkling wines or champagnes, your gourmet coffees or teas, and bottles of water throughout your cruise.”
According to Murphy, lunch on AMAWaterways includes beer, wine, soft drinks, and coffees. A cocktail reception with an open bar greets guests, and dinners feature various red and white wines and beers. While different cruise lines may have other offerings, a similar level of service can be expected on most river cruise ships.
Because connectivity is so essential, AMAWaterways also includes Wi-Fi as a complementary feature on their ships.
“We go crazy making sure you have the best speed availability,” says Murphy. “We spend more on bandwidth than we do fuel.”
Most river cruise lines also include shore excursions in the cost of the cruise.
"If you're going truffle hunting with a farmer on the road or going into a 200-year-old wine cellar, all of those are included," says Murphy. "When you're going on a river cruise, you can feel very relieved that you're not reaching into your pocketbook. You can really enjoy the experience and come back that much more rich by visiting these countries in a unique way.”
Photo courtesy of AMAWaterways
A RETURN TO SAILING
According to Murphy, pent-up travel demand has AMAWaterways projecting a busy few years ahead. With the ability to sail last year in the German-speaking market with 1,500 passengers, Murphy notes that they didn’t have any COVID-19 incidents, and the cruise line has redesigned the experience to be even more comfortable for passengers.
“2022 is off the charts,” says Murphy. “If you’re thinking about a river cruise, now would be the time to book.