Six Major River Cruise Trends 2019: Kristin Karst, Executive VP of AmaWaterways, in Conversation With JustLuxe.

AmaWaterways AmaLyra

Kristin Karst is the Executive Vice President and Co-Founder of AmaWaterways. Her experience includes eight years with American Express, In 1999, she moved from Europe to the United States and was made Manager of Groups and Incentives at Viking River Cruises. In 2002, Kristin became a partner and co-owner in Amadeus Waterways, now AmaWaterways. In her position as Executive Vice President, Kristin’s extensive knowledge of Europe’s culture and traditions and relentless pursuit of excellence makes her a unique stand-out in today’s river cruise industry.  Kristin received her Master’s in Economics and Business Management from the University of Dresden. She speaks four languages –English, German, Russian and French — fluently.


We recently discussed new trends she saw as emerging in the river cruise industry in 2019. Her thoughts were consistent with many of the experiential trends found in both land and sea travel this year.

She sees six major trends as having an impact on the river cruise industry in 2019: Personalization, Multigenerational Family Travel, Wellness Travel, Food & Wine Cruising, Cruise Ship Eco-Sensitivity, and Emerging Role of Travel Advisors.  We asked her to discuss her thoughts on these trends.

Personalization of the Travel Experience

“River cruising can be considered a luxury product and experience, but the word “luxury” is being constantly and refined and redefined. More time, space, and service will create greater personalization of the travel experience. The size of our river cruise ships allows for unique opportunities to personalize the onboard service dimension, and with over 20 shore excursions offered during the week, there are many different ways for guests to choose  how they can experience the destination.”

Multigenerational Travel

“Multigenerational travel continues to be an area of focus for cruise lines because the demand for family-friendly options continues to grow. AmaWaterways welcomes families on board. Our ships allow families with children 4 years of age or older on European ships. There are other river cruise lines that are adults-only, not AmaWaterways.  Starting in 2016, the company introduced connecting and triple-occupancy staterooms on all new ships being built, something uncommon on river cruise vessels but perfect for the multigenerational market.”

Wellness Travel

“More and more guests on board our ships consider daily exercise a part of their routine – steps are counted and heart rates monitored with wrist-band technology and the 25 bikes on board are constantly in use. We were the first in the river cruising industry to offer bicycles on board in 2006, and now in 2018, we are the first to introduce Wellness Hosts, who teach morning and afternoon group classes in stretching, cardio/core strengthening and resistance band workouts. Additional “Signature” classes, based on the specialty of each dedicated Wellness Host, may include yoga, Pilates, dance classes, or circuit training.

“AmaWaterways also offer a minimum of three biking and two hiking tours on most European itineraries and continues to increase these options to meet the demand from guests. Wellness activities were rolled out on six ships in 2018 and will be offered almost fleet-wide in 2019.”

Food and Wine

“Many learn even more about a culture, its people, and the destination through a heightened culinary focus. 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.  And certainly, part of the Food and Wine trend overlaps with the wellness trend. Whole grain bread, 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.”


“To minimize our fleet’s carbon footprint, our river cruise ships have far more fuel-efficient engines, LED lighting onboard, and insulated windows that reduce heating and cooling energy needs. Our ships also have water treatment plants onboard using a membrane technology which provides microfiltration and recycling of all water used onboard.

“We are also 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 freshwater storage system to reduce chemical usage.”

The Emerging Role of the Travel Advisor

“Often, time-strapped and screen-fatigued travelers are returning to personal travel “advisors” to recommend and book the more complicated travel options. 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.

“Finally, next year we will celebrate 17 years in the river cruise business. Destinations, ships, rivers, and tours will change over the years, but the human connection is most essential. The Feeling of being treated like ‘family’ will always remain the top priority at AmaWaterways.”


Multi-Generational Travel


Yoga On the Sundeck, AmaWaterways


Rendering of AmaMagna, to be launched May 2019

Ama Waterways


Ama Waterways

Bicylcle Trip Along The Danube, AmaWaterways