AmaKristina: Celebrating a 15th Anniversary and a Namesake Ship
By Vanessa Lee
Vanessa and Gary Murphy
Main Lounge on AmaKristina
I am spending an absolutely wonderful week cruising up the Rhine from Basel to Amsterdam in the company of some of the best people in the industry. It has been a great honour to be one of those chosen to sail on the christening cruise of AmaWaterways’ newest ship, the AmaKristina, named after co-owner Kristin Karst.
The ceremony was held on Wednesday afternoon in the small and delightful location of Lahnstein in the Upper Middle Rhine Valley, a designated UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The Rhine River Gorge area has the highest concentration of castles anywhere in the world – 30 to be exact. We cruised by them as we enjoyed a special Christening Luncheon in the company of AMA executives and special guests at the Chef’s Table located on Deck 3 aft.
I love what they have done to this small and intimate room where dinners are served each night. A tasting menu is offered for up to 28 guests (by reservation) with one large table of 8 and 5 tables each seating four. The décor is lovely and bright with a glass-enclosed kitchen and of course glass all around. So, as we toasted with champagne and enjoyed a delicious lunch we were able to view all the castles as they came into view.
The day dawned bright, sunny and warm and there was a definite sense of excitement as preparations were made for the auspicious occasion. Kristin is a co-founder of AmaWaterways with her husband, Rudi Schreiner. Also aboard was the delightful Murphy family -- represented by AmaWaterways VP Sales Gary Murphy, his wife Daphne, and his sisters Susan and Sharon Murphy, both AmaWaterways Godmothers.
Australian co-owners Geoff and Robert McGeary from APT were also in attendance so it was a timely moment for Kristin to be a Godmother to one of the company’s ships, to do so in Germany, her land of birth, and with her parents proudly looking on. I can attest to the fact that being a Godmother of a ship is an incredible tribute. It is also magical, amazing and nerve-wracking at the same time.
There were 7 Godmothers acting as “Ladies-in-waiting” – our terminology -- for Kristin this week and we had a grand old time passing along our gifts, imbibing copious amounts of champagne, sharing words of wisdom and imparting our key point “just whale the bottle!” Which Kristin did with enormous determination, enthusiasm and success.
It is hard to describe the love and warmth that was shared on Wednesday by the regular guests on board the ship, members of the media, valued travel partners, crew and staff and indeed the 5 former Godmothers of previous AMA ships.
It was the ultimate love-in for one of the most popular people in the cruise biz. The honour is highly-deserved and in her speech Kristin focused on what she calls her four pillars -- passion, partnerships, positive thinking and personal interaction.
These pillars are clearly part of the background for the success of AmaWaterways and why the company is held in such high regard. As they say, “Rudi builds them and Kristin fills them.” The relationships they and their teams create and nurture, the highest standards of food and service offered on all of their ships, their focused energy on innovation and never staying still is obvious.
I have sailed with AmaWaterways four times in the last seven years and can attest to the fact that the ships just keep getting better. The cuisine in particular on this ship is superb. I really feel it is some of the best at sea, regardless of ocean or river.
The staff are engaged, accommodating to the nth degree and always happy and smiling. The atmosphere is truly like being a part of the family – which is how it always feels on board AmaWaterways’ ships. In fact, Kristin always refers to the main Lounge as the “Living Room.”
A few new things have appeared on AmaKristina but otherwise it is just a small amount of tweaking to a wonderful product. There is now an elevator going from Deck 1 to Deck 3 which means the lower level rooms are now more accessible. There is a Gustav Klimt theme throughout, mostly with the art but also in some lighting – especially in the Chef’s Table over the centre table – absolutely stunning.
What’s down the river for AmaWaterways? India is on the horizon, with a plan for AmaWaterways to build its own ship for this market. Sip and Sail will be introduced for 2018, which is free drinks during Happy Hour when most guests will enjoy a cocktail or two before dinner. Wine and beer are already included for both lunch and dinner.
So, my love and congratulations to you Kristin on successfully christening your namesake ship and for being a remarkable woman in every way. I look forward to sailing with you and Rudi again on one of your lovely ships.