There are six major trends that we see having an impact on the river cruise industry: Personalization, Multigenerational Family Groups, Wellness Travel, Food & Wine, Respect for the Environment and Role of Travel Advisors. In my previous Blog, I shared some thoughts on the first three trends and now I’d like to touch on the last three.
Food & Wine
Food and wine has become a major part of the travel experience for seasoned travelers and first-timers alike. Many learn even more about a culture, its people, and the destination through a heightened culinary focus. AmaWaterways has always put a priority on exquisite chef-prepared cuisine paired with fine wines that are sourced along its cruise routes. In this way traditional local flavors are blended with active shore excursions to provide deeper insights and more meaningful engagement with each region visited.
AmaWaterways’ wine themed cruises, led by North American wine experts, have surged in popularity. Based upon the popularity of this growing segment, in 2019 we will offer 64 Wine Cruises, including four departures on board AmaMagna.
Part of the Food and Wine trend overlaps with another trend related to Wellness. Healthy menu choices and knowing the source of ingredients along with opportunities for daily exercise are all important while traveling. Whole grain breads, vegetable-forward menus, cage-free eggs, crate-free pork, fresh locally sourced fish and gluten-free and low sodium items are just some of the healthy food choices we have introduced on all our ships. A tasting menu, tapas and Pho soup station are other ways we have personalized the food choices for our guests.
Respect of the Environment
To minimize our fleet’s carbon footprint, our modern river cruise ships have far more fuel-efficient engines to power the vessels, LED lighting onboard and insulated windows that reduce heating and cooling energy needs. All our ships are equipped with power locks to plug into a port's power supply instead of running generators. This significantly reduces fuel consumption and noise levels while in port. Our ships have water treatment plants onboard using a membrane technology which provides microfiltration and recycling of all water used onboard.
We are replacing plastic straws with paper ones and continue to evaluate other opportunities to reduce overall plastic consumption onboard our ships. We are very proud that AmaMagna., launching in 2019, will debut an innovative, even more fuel-efficient, eco-friendly engine design estimated to reduce fuel consumption by 20-25% and a new fresh water storage system to reduce chemical usage.
AmaWaterways adheres to a very strict environmental protection code as determined by the European River Authorities. These authorities have developed detailed river basin management plans that oversee and monitor all economic activity related to the rivers (industrial, agricultural, commercial and recreational) including regular testing of the water quality around all ships.
Role of Travel “Advisors”
While travel purchases like point-to-point flights and simple hotel stays can easily be researched and booked online or direct with a supplier, time-strapped and screen-fatigued travelers are returning to personal travel “advisors” to recommend and book the more complicated travel options best suited to their needs. As more travel advisors opt to be home based, they may not be as visible to the public as in the past, but they are flourishing and doing very well particularly in the luxury travel category.
We are very proud to have been named 2018 Travel Partner of the Year by American Society of Travel Advisors (ASTA) as well as River Cruise Partner of the Year by AAA Travel, CAA Travel, Virtuoso and Nexion.
To support this trend, AmaWaterways continues to invest heavily in online education, familiarization trips and in-person training of our travel industry partners. We design the company’s marketing and communication programs to be a true partnership with travel advisors, helping them and us to find the right clients and ensure they are matched with the river cruise experience best suited to their needs.
What the future holds
In 2019, we will celebrate 17 years in the river cruise business with the launch of a record breaking three new ships. We are just as passionate and committed to innovation and customer care today as we were when we started AmaWaterways in 2002. We will continue to focus our attention on the selection and training of our onboard teams as it is their “sparkle” and genuine warm welcome that makes the river cruise experience so special for our guests.