AmaWaterways Sets A Course For South America

AmaWaterways says its decision to begin Colombia river cruises next year is quickly paying financial dividends.

The company will have two vessels — one the 30-cabin, 60-passenger AmaMagdalena — sailing two seven-night Magdalena River cruises, cruises that the company says are already drawing strong interest.

“This is going to be a race for space,” Alex Pinelo, AmaWaterways’ senior vice-president of sales told a March 1 webinar.

Interest is “off the chart,” he added.

The sailings will mark AmaWaterways’ debut in this hemisphere, and South America will be the fourth continent for the 21-year-old company.

Itineraries will include coastal Cartagena — which has UNESCO World Heritage Site status because of its old walled quarter — and Barranquilla, a particularly festive part of the country known for what AmaWateways co-founder Rudi Schreiner labelled the second-largest carnival in Latin America.

The 1,500-kms Magdalena begins in the Andes and empties into the Caribbean Sea and AmaWaterways’ sailings will showcase Colombian nature, culture and history.

“It’s great to be back in Latin America…I’m totally excited about the Magdalena River,” Schreiner told viewers while recalling his own exploration of the Peruvian Amazon by raft in 1975.

The sailings will take people deep into sparsely populated parts of Colombia, with Schreiner stating, “We want you to feel that you’re on a … (journey to) a place no one has seen before.”

Gilberto Salcedo of Colombian tourism board ProColombia said there will be no shortage of attractions for those on the cruises.

“The biggest challenge is to show it all,” he said, adding his homeland is the second-most biodiverse country in the world.

Specific attractions include birdlife not found elsewhere, stilted homes in the Colombian interior, historical tours of Cartagena, quality Colombian rum and what Salcedo declared as “the finest chocolate found anywhere on the planet.”

AmaWaterways will be the first company to offer Magdalena cruises, a type of vacation that company co-founder Kristin Karst said differs dramatically from ocean sailings. “Oceans take you to countries. Rivers take you through them,” she told webinar viewers.

Karst said the combination of Colombian nature, culture and history is certain to make for an intriguing holiday. “Every day is a magical experience.”

The Magdalena cruises have been in the works for 5 years and the vessels used will have such features as a sun deck, lounge and Colombian reminders.

Karst recounted her own trip to Colombia, recalling among other things that she felt “totally safe” there.

AmaWaterways will offer those planning to sail the Magdalena optional land packages to either Medellin, Cartagena and Panama City.

Although two tours are being offered, Schreiner said they largely similar.

AmaWaterways also has European, African and Asian river cruises.

Photo Credit — Carnaval de Barranquilla S.A.S



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