Wade Korzan, AmaWaterways’ Director of European Operations since 2005, is one of the longest-serving and most well-traveled members of our AmaFamily. Working in our shoreside office in Basel, Switzerland alongside Manager of European Operations Leo Starico, Wade is responsible for ship operations, the planning of ship Christening events and the hiring and training of our extraordinary Cruise Managers. Below, Wade shares his journey to AmaWaterways – and why he believes river cruising is the best way to travel.
A Love for Travel
I fell in love with river cruising the very first week I spent on a river ship, back in 1998. Until that point, I had been working first as a local guide in Europe and then as a tour guide escorting German guests throughout the 50 states and most of Canada. I absolutely loved my work touring North America, and it brought me to so many fascinating and unusual places throughout the continent. We would drive from Seattle to Alaska through the Yukon and even make our way up to Barrow, Alaska; we would traverse the country visiting all of the national parks, we would visit amazing cities like Savannah and Charleston; we visited Maine and Manitoba, Bryce Canyon and the bayous of Louisiana; colonial towns of Virginia and the coast of Oregon.
However, my heart was in Europe, where I had already lived two times, once as an exchange student from my hometown of Monterey, California to Koblenz, Germany, and a second time working as a local tour guide giving tours of Munich, Salzburg, and Berchtesgaden to American military and their families stationed in Europe. So, when a colleague recommended me for an assignment as Cruise Manager on a European river vessel, I was more than ready to accept the challenge.
Falling For the River
In 1998, I conducted my first river cruise from Amsterdam to Basel aboard the beautiful Swiss Pearl and I was immediately hooked. I had no idea a river vessel could feel so luxurious, and that was in the late 90s, so it can’t be compared with the comfort and amenities that we find now aboard more than two decades later. I suppose I did not know what to expect but was amazed that we even had such plentiful hot water and beautiful showers on board! For the duration of 1998 I continued doing a mix of river cruises in Europe and tours in North America, and starting in 1999, I dedicated myself to cruising.
It was in this year that I also started escorting groups on ocean vessels, taking groups between Buenos Aires, Argentina and Valparaiso, Chile via Cape Horn; cruising the seven Canary Islands in seven days, and then later adding Morocco and Madeira to the program. Additionally, I began escorting groups on train journeys, such as the journey from Beijing to Moscow on the Orient Express, which was an epic and unforgettable journey through Mongolia and Siberia.
All of this global travel has become integral to my being. Seeing and exploring the world and its people is the most amazing education one could hope for, and one becomes so rich as person through the experiences and lessons learned. But as a mode of transportation, it is river cruising that lies dear to my heart.