Starting in December 2023, they plan to carry travelers aboard AmaMagdalena, a custom-built, all-suite, eco-friendly river vessel.
Chocolate, rum, birds
Music, art, the world's best chocolate, fine rums and incredible biodiversity including 2,000 species of birds are among the many draws.
'Not since my early university days of exploring the Amazon River have I felt the excitement of discovering a new destination that is so rich in biodiversity and culture as I found on the Magdalena River in Colombia,' said Rudi Schreiner, president and co-founder of AmaWaterways.
Schreiner, who spent more than a year on the Amazon over multiple trips, said he'd scouted all rivers in South America, including Venezuela's Orinoco and the Paraná, which flows through Brazil, Paraguay and Argentina.
Something exciting and different every day
He considers the Magdalena 'the prime river in Latin America which combines culture and nature ... This is a perfect mix ... Every day you have something exciting, something different.'
AmaMagdalena travelers will be able to choose between two seven-night itineraries with a skilled team providing in-depth connections with local nature, wildlife, culture, flavors and people, as well as activities such as kayaking, hiking and birdwatching. The vessel will carry bicycles as well.
Pre- and post-cruise land programs delving into Colombia’s cultural and natural heritage will be available, too.
Ecuador-based Metropolitan Touring is a leading tour operator throughout South America and well-known for its Galápagos cruises.
The right partner
'Colombia has always been a country close to my heart and every trip I’ve made to the Magdalena over many years has been full of amazing, life-affirming experiences that touched my soul,' said Paulina Burbano de Lara, CEO of Metropolitan Touring. 'Finding the right partner to develop the first-ever eco-friendly river cruise experience for Colombia was therefore of utmost importance to me and our company.
'We know that Rudi, Kristin [Karst, EVP and co-founder, AmaWaterways] and all the AmaWaterways team share our passion for the River Magdalena and we’re delighted that together we will create innovative and enriching experiences for guests.'
'River of a Thousand Rhythms'
Drawing on each company’s expertise, AmaWaterways and Metropolitan Touring created a river cruise and land program that will immerse travelers in the beauty of the 'River of a Thousand Rhythms,' added Camilo Calderon, GM of Metropolitan Touring Colombia. 'Our guests will enjoy the modern comforts of an upscale river cruise ship, with exclusive experiences and unparalleled service, hallmarks of both companies.'
The Magdalena cruises are expected to appeal to 'anyone who wants to explore the world and is a little more adventurous, an active traveler,' Karst said.
According to Schreiner, the 'very luxurious' AmaMagdalena will carry fewer than 100 passengers — approximately 80 — in all-balcony suites and serve international cuisine with Colombian specialties.
He said the vessel will be built in Colombia, at an undisclosed yard, and will employ local crew, with a focus on supporting the local economy.
'We want to create a difference for the local communities,' Karst added. 'They welcome us with open arms, and we truly want to be good to them.'
Itineraries will be detailed in the coming weeks, and sales are expected to open in late fall this year.