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You’re enjoying a European river cruise, everything is perfect, you’re sailing the Rhine but then you suddenly wonder how it all began. How does a river cruise line get started? What does it take in terms of time, effort and vision to create a premium river cruise? In this week’s blog, we take a look at how AmaWaterways climbed that mountain.

Family-owned and operated, AmaWaterways was founded in 2002 by three families; however, the river cruise story began well before that. Co-Founder and President Rudi Schreiner was born in Vienna, at the heart of the Danube. His love of design drew him to architecture, but his even greater love of travel drew him to places far and wide. In 1975, he traveled to South America for a journalism assignment on the Amazon. It was here he designed his first ship, using what he could find to build a raft that would take him up and down the river during the next 7 months. Soon thereafter, he started working in travel, creating unique tour experiences in Europe.

When the Rhine-Main-Danube Canal was completed in 1992, Rudi was quick to envision a new tourism business developing around long-distance river cruising. The significance of the canal’s completion meant connecting two of Europe’s greatest rivers: the Rhine, via its tributary the Main, with the Danube, allowing travel from the North Sea all the way to the Black Sea. More than 800 years prior, Charlemagne dreamed of connecting these two rivers, so 1992 fulfilled his vision and created a new visionary in Rudi. 

Rudi started the North American operations for many of today’s major river cruise companies, developing itineraries and ships that would become the templates for what we know river cruising to be today. After years of success as a driving force in the industry, Rudi decided to start his own venture — one that would provide guests with a higher standard of luxury travel by river. That’s when he teamed up with Co-Owners and Co-Founders Kristin Karst and Jimmy Murphy to start AmaWaterways.

In 2016, Rudi was inducted into the Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) Hall of Fame and was honored with their Lifetime Achievement Award for his years of devotion to the river cruising industry.

Kristin was born in Germany and brings extensive experience in travel, river cruising and customer service to the company in her role as Executive Vice President. Jimmy Murphy was a brilliant travel entrepreneur, having built Brendan Vacations, one of the most successful tour operators in the U.S. Jimmy’s son, Gary, who also played a major part at Brendan, is now Senior Vice President of Sales at AmaWaterways. Together with Rudi, a true team of pioneers emerged.

From the beginning, the goal was to create a river cruise company that the owners and founders themselves would enjoy. That meant the highest-quality, locally sourced food and wine; elegantly appointed ships with staterooms offering maximum views to enjoy the ever-changing countryside; and a crew who goes above and beyond, treating every guest like they are family.

With that in mind, AmaWaterways has been building one-of-a-kind ships with added comforts and conveniences ranging from revolutionary twin balconies with both a French balcony and an outside balcony to the one-and-only Chef’s Table specialty restaurant. In 2019, innovation continues with three new ships, including the extraordinary AmaMagna—a distinctive evolution of the line’s exceptional European river cruise fleet, offering the ultimate in luxury with even more space and more choices while sailing the legendary Danube.

Select Waterways are your river and small ship cruise insiders, specializing in European river cruises, including Danube River cruises, Rhine River cruises, wine cruises, Seine River cruises, as well as China river cruises with Yangtze river cruises, Vietnam river cruises with Mekong River cruises, Russia river cruises with Volga river cruises, Nile river cruises, Africa river cruises and Amazon river cruises. Naturally, we have American river cruises with Mississippi River cruises, Ohio River Cruises, Columbia River cruises, Illinois River cruises and Tennessee River cruises. We also offer expedition cruises and small ship cruises throughout the world, with polar cruises such as Arctic cruises and Antarctica cruises among the most popular. Whether it’s luxury river cruising, premium river cruising, expedition cruising or small ship cruising, we’ve got you covered. Visit our website at www.selectwaterways.com or give us a call at 1.844.SWCRUISE (1.844.792.7847). Be sure to join our Insider Club by clicking here and Like our Facebook page by clicking here.

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