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AmaWaterways cancels balance of 2020, says 2021 trends are very positive

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AmaWaterways officials, left column, held a Seatrade Cruise Virtual news conference
AmaWaterways suspended its remaining 2020 river cruise season, including all regularly scheduled departures in Europe, Asia and Africa, and said bookings are strong from summer 2021.

This suspension does not apply to the Rhine charter program on AmaKristina that has been in operation since July

Impacted travelers will receive a 115% future cruise credit good for rescheduling their trip to Europe, Asia or Africa through 2022.

Rising cases and new restrictions in Europe

The cancellation comes at no great surprise since last week, during a news briefing at Seatrade Cruise Virtual, AmaWaterways President and Co-Founder Rudi Schreiner said things were 'a little chaotic' in Europe, with COVID-19 cases 'increasing heavily' and countries instituting different rules.

Cases were up in Belgium, France and the Netherlands, and Hungary had closed — allowing river vessels to transit but not to disembark. Schreiner said Amsterdam, Rotterdam and the Hague all had new restrictions.

Positive 2021 trends

But trends are looking 'very, very good' for 2021, according to Schreiner. Apart from a spring slowdown in March, April and May, the summer, fall, winter and, especially, Christmas cruises, are in demand.

Sales for Portugal's Douro River and AmaWaterway's new Nile vessel are strong, too.

'Big ship clients are looking for smaller vessels,' according to Gary Murphy, SVP sales. River cruises also appeal now since travelers are concerned about getting stuck at sea should there be an outbreak.

AmaWaterways opened 2022 bookings six months early to good response, especially from charterers.

New in 2021

In 2021, Ama will introduce two new vessels to the Rhine and five new itineraries and land programs throughout Europe. After a gap of some years, the company returns to Egypt with its new AmaDahlia.

France is popular. AmaKristina will shift to the Rhône, joining AmaCello on the Saône, while AmaDante will switch to the Seine.

No more buffets — only a la carte service

Cruise operators are ending self-service dining due to COVID-19, but AmaWaterways is going further by phasing out buffets altogether.

Schreiner said buffets don't connote luxury, so Ama is replacing them with a la carte dining on all its vessels, for breakfast, lunch and dinner (deck barbecues excepted).

This will be a permanent change, Schreiner said. The whole fleet will convert to a non-buffet main dining room with a show kitchen added.


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