March 20th may be the official start of spring, but it also marks the official start of our 2019 European sailing season. It’s always exciting when our fleet of 17 European ships start returning to the rivers all spruced up after their three-month winter hiatus. I love being onboard one of these first cruises and watching our wonderful captain, cruise manager and crew move back into their “home-away-from-home” where they will help guests create unforgettable vacation memories for the next nine months.
Watching our teams welcoming first-time river cruisers along with a growing number of returning guests, I’m reminded of how much river cruising has grown and evolved since we launched our first ship in 2002. While our original guests were mostly Baby Boomers, today they are joined by a growing number of active Gen X’ers, multi-generational families and women enjoying time together on Girlfriend Getaways. We’ve turned up the action onboard again this year as besides expanding our popular biking and hiking tours, we also have dedicated Wellness Hosts on board almost all our ships offering morning and late afternoon stretching, core strengthening and resistance band work outs.
I enjoy talking with our guests onboard and one comment I hear frequently is how much they appreciate how river cruising maximizes both their leisure and in-destination time. To them, our ships are a little like magic carpets providing a luxurious, stress free means of whisking in and out of world-class destinations. Not only are our ports centrally located, but there is no packing and unpacking and no issues like traffic to deal with as there often is with land tours. And unlike ocean cruise ships that just take guests to a country, river cruise ships take guests through a country providing a deeper, destination-focused experience with plenty of time to discover the culture, people and culinary differences of each country visited.
With the record breaking christening of three ships, including the one-of-a-kind AmaMagna, and numerous special events planned throughout the year, I look forward to having many opportunities to be on board and share special moments with our crews and guests during this exciting 2019 sailing season!