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Our Story

AmaWaterways was founded in 2002 by three families, but our river cruise story began well before that. 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 that 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.

A Turning Point

When the Rhine-Main-Danube canal was built in 1992, Rudi realized the potential for touring as many as 13 European countries by river. He 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 Kristin Karst and Jimmy Murphy to start AmaWaterways.

A Team of Pioneers

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 Vice President of Sales at AmaWaterways. Together with Rudi, a true team of pioneers emerged.

The Story Continues

In 2002, it was Rudi, Kristin and Jimmy working to make their dream of AmaWaterways come true. Now, just 14 years later, Ama is an award-winning cruise line whose fleet will number 21 ships in 2017. Through it all, we have remained family owned and operated, and the owners continue to have a hands-on approach to management. Rudi, who was recognized by travel agents nationwide as the “Most Innovative River Cruise Executive” the last 2 years in a row, directly oversees the design and construction of new ships every year. Kristin and Gary consistently lend their belief in building strong personal relationships and providing exceptional customer service. And together, they work to ensure that our company is committed to offering the most exceptional river cruises in the industry.

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