An enlightening real-life experience facilitated by AmaWaterways and Ancestry®

In August 2021, an intimate group of travel advisors were invited on board for a sneak peek of the unique experiences that are possible for guests who reserve our Heritage on the River: Your Personalized Ancestry Journeys. Read below how an executive from AmaWaterways uncovered more about his family history during this journey and how you, too, can reserve a similar life-changing Heritage on the River experience. 

Solve a Family History Mystery 

Is there a gap in your existing family history research? Were you yourself adopted – or do you have an ancestral relative with unknown parentage? AncestryProGenealogists® are here to help. As part of the five hours of introductory genealogy research included in the price of your Heritage on the River journey, your genealogist will find out as much information about your ancestors as possible. Whether you’d like to find their European town of origin, learn more about your biological family, translate personal records or get more in-depth answers about an existing AncestryDNA® test, they are there to help.  

Learn About Your Heritage – Anywhere

AmaWaterways’ Vice President of European Operations, Jon Burrows, had done some family history research and DNA testing prior to sailing with Ancestry on the Rhine River in August 2021. Although his genetic heritage cannot be traced to the part of Europe we were sailing through, Jon was able to fully enjoy the variety of included excursions offered in Switzerland, France, Germany and the Netherlands while also getting answers to two major questions about his family tree. The results of his genealogists’ research were discussed during Jon’s one-hour consultation on board – both services are included with every Heritage on the River package. Five hours of research are included in every river cruise package, though you can add more hours if your family question is more difficult to answer. Jon’s story below is an example of the type of information you can hope to discover on your journey, particularly if you have already done some prior research into your family tree.

Jon’s Story: Stumbling Blocks to a Clearer Picture

A Case of Unknown Parentage

The second “brick wall” we hit in our personal family research was that my mother’s father never knew his own father. He had been abandoned by his mother and raised by his grandparents. I wanted to see if, using my DNA, Ancestry would be able to figure out who my maternal great-grandfather was. Though it wasn’t possible to identify an exact match, we were able to narrow it down and determine that my great-grandfather was a descendant of a certain ancestral couple. He had to be one of 16 possible sons and grandsons in this family. 

Upon returning home, I was able to follow up on the research on my own with the suggestions Ancestry provided to me. I suspected there must be a military connection because this was during WWI and all 16 “suspects” came from approximately 80-100 miles away. In those days, no one of my family’s class moved around. I researched all 16 for military records, began reaching out to DNA relatives and found six of the 16 men had a military record from WWI. Two were the right age with the right service record. Pulling their service records, I saw that one was in a cavalry regiment based three miles from my great-grandmother’s home. I now have confirmation of who my great-grandfather is and have been in contact with DNA relatives I never knew I had. 

Pride is in the Details 

In addition to answering these broader questions about my family, Ancestry also found evidence of a family member of mine who could read and write in the 1700s, which at that time was quite rare. Everyone else in the Burrows family line during that generation was an agricultural laborer who couldn’t read or write. Knowing we had a literate ancestor is now a source of great pride for me and my relatives – thanks to Ancestry!

Two Heritage on the River journeys are available in 2023:

  • Legendary Danube: June 17, 2023 - Sail from Nuremberg to Budapest with enhanced Ancestry experiences in Vienna and Budapest
  • Captivating Rhine: November 2, 2023 - Sail from Amsterdam to Basel with an enhanced Ancestry experience at the Red Star Line Museum in Antwerp

Learn more about what is included in the price here, watch our Heritage on the River video highlighting a personal Ancestral Home Visit testimonial and contact your travel advisor to customize your personalized heritage experience today!


    Experience More Connections

    Sample this delicate dessert of the Danube River
    Read more
    Bavaria's rich heritage lives on through timeless customs.
    Read more
    Basque country is known for its tomatoes and peppers—and nowhere are they showcased more than within a traditional pipérade.
    Read more