Destination: River Cruises


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18 Years - A Celebration of the AmaWaterways Family

In July 2020, AmaWaterways proudly celebrates our 18th anniversary as a leading luxury river cruise company – and, more importantly, as a tightknit family. With a collective 62 years of AmaWaterways experience, four of our longest-serving shoreside staff from our corporate office in Calabasas, California share why they’re honored to be a part of the AmaFamily.

Shahe Jierian
Director of Air Development

Years at AmaWaterways: 14

Origin: Lebanon

What I Do:
I manage the extensive air program that AmaWaterways offers its guests to join our river cruises from anywhere in the world. When I started, it was just me, but my team has since grown to 10 wonderful people and will likely grow more.

Why Guests Should Reserve Air Through AmaWaterways:
We have very special airfares and less restricted negotiated contracts with airlines. It makes AmaWaterways a one-stop-shop that is there with you every step of the way to ensure your safety and satisfaction. All of our air services include convenient transfers between the ship and airport. We are also just one phone call away to help you with unexpected situations like rescheduled flights or missed connections.

What Makes AmaWaterways Special:
I knew when I started that Rudi and Kristin had a vision to create something unique, where every guest would experience the vacation of a lifetime in a family atmosphere full of love and care. It makes me happy that I’m a part of their vision being accomplished.

Best AmaWaterways Memory:
From day one, Rudi asked me where we were going to lunch. Not long after, there were seven or eight of us going out to lunch multiple times a week. It was the start of taking a lunch break for me as I had never taken one in my previous jobs. I loved the family atmosphere and always coming in and seeing a smile on everyone’s face.

Favorite River Cruise Itinerary:
Our Charms of the Mekong and Riches of the Mekong itineraries in Vietnam and Cambodia lift up my spiritual life with every temple I walk by. I feel connected to something higher.

Jon Burrows
Vice President, Operations

Years at AmaWaterways: 15

Origin: United Kingdom

How My Role Has Changed Over the Years:
When I joined AmaWaterways, the whole company was in a two-room office with six people. Although I was there to work on day-to-day operations and itinerary planning, we all chipped in, rotating to do the early shift, answering telephones, taking bookings and processing payments. Now I handle the planning and running of all pre- and post-cruise hotel/land extensions and excursions in Europe. I handle the nautical schedules and itinerary planning, working closely with Rudi on developing new itineraries and customizing itineraries for our large and themed groups.

What Gives Me the Most Satisfaction:
Reading the feedback on the questionnaires from our guests following their river cruises and hearing how we have exceeded their expectations is so rewarding and continues to motivate me to come up with even more wonderful new experiences for them.

What Makes AmaWaterways Unique:
We’re the only river cruise line that has two Operations offices: one in the U.S. and one in Europe. This allows us to have coverage of our operations for 18 hours of the day. No other river cruise line has that. We’re also much more dynamic and flexible with what we do. And as the solo British member of my family here in the U.S., AmaWaterways has definitely become my family.

Best AmaWaterways Memory:
The launching of the AmaDagio in 2006 – our first owned ship fully designed by Rudi. It’s when we felt we really established ourselves as a serious river cruise line. We were all involved in this project and when the ship launched, it was finally ours.

Favorite River Cruise Itinerary:
Colors of Provence on the Rhône River in France. It’s the first river where I felt we really went outside the box and got very creative with our included excursions, offering truffle hunting, wine tasting and steam train rides.

Angie Avalos
Special Accounts Manager

Years at AmaWaterways 15

Origin: Romania

How My Role Has Changed Over the Years:
I worked for two years as a Receptionist on board Amadeus Symphony, the first ship Ama operated in Europe, and came to California in 2004. If someone called to request a brochure or flyer or make a reservation, we handled it all together. Now I’m a part of the reservations team nurturing relationships with special accounts, many of which were created from the beginning of the company. I am also involved in the training of new staff members. We still feel the same small family atmosphere even though we’ve grown so much.

What Gives Me the Most Satisfaction:
The relationships I’ve created with our travel partners and the friendships I’ve made that have gotten stronger throughout the years. I love being able to share my knowledge about the world of river cruising, the wonderful ships and beautiful places we visit.

What Inspired Me to Stay with Ama:
Meeting our Co-Founders Rudi, Kristin and the late Mr. Murphy [Jimmy] at the Christening Ceremony of the Amadeus Symphony and hearing Rudi share his stories and dreams of the ships he one day wanted to build and fill with happy guests. Kristin stole everyone’s heart with her charm, and everyone was a big fan of Mr. Murphy. I did not plan to come to California, but Cupid threw an arrow my way. After meeting Steve, AmaWaterways’ first Sales Manager, on board in 2003, we got married the following year. Does “Ama” mean love? For me it means love and family.

What Makes AmaWaterways Special:
The love and passion everyone has for our product, our ships and our guests. And the family atmosphere. Our leaders and owners are always among us and they always keep an open door. They care, they listen to each and every one of us, no matter what our title or role, and they truly love their AmaFamily.

Favorite AmaWaterways Memory:
On our Co-Founder Mr. Murphy’s last Valentine’s Day, he brought a rose for every woman in the office. All of us working at that time hold this very special memory in our hearts.

Favorite River Cruise Itinerary:
Our Gems of Southeast Europe cruise on the “lower” portion of the Danube River. The history, culture and people come alive in this region. It’s off the beaten path, a lesser visited region of Europe and has become very popular in the last few years. Because this itinerary includes my home country, I love to be an ambassador to Romania and to this part of the world. It’s very special to me.

Joemar Dacanay
Vice President, Information Technology

Years at AmaWaterways: 18

Origin: Philippines

How My Role Has Evolved:
At the beginning, I helped to overhaul AmaWaterways’ website. In time, my role expanded to building servers, networks and phone systems. I was a one-man show up until my 10th year. The demand for IT needs expanded and I now have 15 people on my team.

What Makes AmaWaterways Special:
Our leaders. The people we have here are great and it starts from the top. I love working with Rudi. He’s a very innovative person and he’s always given me the flexibility and freedom to innovate in my own IT world. It makes coming to work enjoyable.

What Gives Me the Most Satisfaction:
We don’t sell travel; we sell experiences – and the customer always comes first. I have never heard of any other companies where the owner still reads the guest surveys at the end of every single cruise. Rudi takes action immediately when he sees any issues because he truly cares. He also cares about his employees. He wants us to be really comfortable, so we want to come in and work, rather than feeling obligated. It’s not a normal corporate environment – it’s a family. You wake up in the morning and are ready to spend your time with the family.

Favorite River Cruise Itinerary:
I loved my Africa Safari and Wildlife Cruise. There is nothing that compares to watching wild animals out in the open in their natural habitat. I loved learning about the history of the region, the lodge I stayed in and experiencing Victoria Falls.

connections1 Shahe Jon
connections2 Angie Joemar

What to Expect on a River Cruise

River cruises are brimming with onboard amenities. Stateroom are most often river-facing, and come equipped with hotel-style beds, private bathrooms, individual climate control, refrigerators, safes and TVs. Higher stateroom categories may have French balconies, verandas, and separate sleeping and sitting quarters. Rooms range from 150 to 600 square feet. Guests receive excellent and personalized service from on board staff. Additionally, ships include restaurants, lounges and bars, as well as free Wi-Fi. Some ships even come equipped with libraries, boutiques, pools and/or sun decks.

Guests are given a choice of dining options, including where and what to eat. Breakfasts can either be enjoyed al fresco or at the morning buffet, while lunches and dinners can be eaten while viewing passing sights or with friends in a common eating area. Open seating is offered, allowing guests to meet new people or enjoy the presence of the same people each day. Cruises offer regional cuisine and use locally sourced ingredients to help with their authenticity. Also common are wine pairings, selected from local tastes to help guests get a closer understanding of a region’s culture.

River cruisers spend more time in the cities, towns and ports along the way. Included shore excursions consist of guided tours that help guests become well-acquainted with the culture, art and history of their destinations. In addition to guided tours, guests can roam freely around local stops or arrange optional shore excursions. There’s always ample opportunity to find something to do in every port, whether it’s visiting an ancient castle, attending a classical concert or enjoying a famous museum.

Who You’ll Be Cruising With

While river cruises can be enjoyed by people of all ages, they generally appeal to people more advanced in age — baby boomers, in particular. Many river cruise lines allow children aboard their ships, although they may have age restrictions in place and usually there isn’t much for kids to do. The makeup of a liner can include people of a wide range of nationalities, but more often than not, guests come from English-speaking countries.

Best Times to Go

Whether you choose to travel in the on-season or the off-season, you’ll be able to gain a deep cultural experience in each of your destinations. In the spring and summer, you may witness local outdoor events and lively activities that only occur during the warmer months of the year. Cooler weather in the fall may mean you’ll run into fewer people in the streets of cities and ports you visit, which will allow you to take your time and get a closer look at sites that interest you without feeling rushed or crowded. And in the winter season, you’ll be delighted by festive Christmas markets and enchanted by the holiday traditions and celebrations of the locals.

What You Should Pack

Given that weather will be variable depending on where your river cruise takes you, bringing along both warm and light clothes is wise. Even during warm months, there is wind on the rivers, so it’s best to plan for layers even if the weather is hot. Additionally, you’ll likely be doing a lot of walking, so bring along comfortable shoes. Lastly, pack some dressier clothes in case you attend a formal event while visiting one of your cruise destinations.

How They Differ from Ocean Cruises

Although river cruises and ocean cruises share a number of similarities, there are also various—and considerable—differences between the two. For one, ocean liners are bigger and offer more stateroom accommodations on average. Appropriately, they’re able to host significantly more guests. The smaller scale of river ships means fewer guests, but more opportunities to get to know fellow travelers, which often lead to lifelong friendships.

In contrast to ocean cruises that may include multiple sea days, you will rarely experience a full day of sailing on a river cruise. Typically, guests will awake each morning to find themselves in a new port. With river cruising, you can also enjoy an ever-changing mural of breathtaking scenery from your ship, so the journey itself becomes part of your discovery.

For those without sea legs, river cruises have the advantage of smooth trekking, shallow waters and the gift of land that’s always in sight. Lastly, most river cruises offer inclusive value, meaning your Wi-Fi, water, alcohol and included excursions are covered in the price. However, ocean cruises tend to offer more upscale amenities, like fitness centers, multiple dining options and a variety of live entertainment.

Who Would Enjoy a River Cruise?

River cruises are great for everyone, especially those desiring a more relaxed and intimate form of travel. Individuals who’ve never stepped foot on a ship before will enjoy the relative ease of a river-bound trip with little chance of seasickness. Furthermore, with a focus on cultural exploration of locations, river cruises are perfect for those with a curiosity about art and history, or a general interest in travel.  Every river is unique and each tells a different story—not only of the countries through which it flows, but also of its locks, canals, scenery and bridges.

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All information, inclusions, and amenities are subject to change without notice. Please contact us for the most up-to-date information.

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