Top River Cruise Line Comes to Africa: AmaWaterways Launches African Safaris and Wildlife River Cruises on Zambezi Queen
by Brad Butler of E.B. GO Vision Media, Published by African Sun Times
Following ten-years of leading the river cruise industry in every aspect, AmaWaterways will begin river cruise operations that are combined with land itineraries in some of the most beautiful African National Parks. Currently operating ships all over Europe, along the Mekong River between Vietnam and Cambodia, in Myanmar on the Irrawaddy River, AmaWaterways river cruise ship in Africa is the luxuriously appointed MS Zambezi Queen. Founded in 2002 by three travel industry veterans, Jimmy Murphy, Rudi Schreiner and Kristin Karst, AmaWaterways has ushered in a wide-range of specialty cruises, new ship designs, standard on-board luxury amenities and environmentally friendly innovations.
“We’re extremely proud to introduce our new program in Africa, one of the world’s great destinations. Our exclusive combination of a safari cruise on the Zambezi Queen, three different land programs and two nights at Victoria Falls provide the most unique and exceptional African experience available,” says Rudi Schreiner, President of AmaWaterways.
For wildlife safari-river cruising in Africa, the Zambezi Queen was specifically designed for the Chobe River and boasts innovative designs which maximize comfort and enjoyment. Fourteen balcony staterooms, decorated in contemporary style with large bay windows for viewing wildlife on the river banks and beyond, make this environmentally conscious river cruise ship a perfect addition to the AmaWaterways’ fleet.
The air-conditioned top deck has a lovely dining room, lounge, bar and pool area that makes for an extremely comfortable safari wildlife river cruise. Passengers can enjoy game watching from their stateroom or the various options on the top-deck. AmaWaterways, amongst other dining options, offers delectable dishes such as butternut and macadamia soup and fillet of beef with bordelaise sauce paired with a perfect wine.
Traveling along the banks of Chobe National Park, passengers of the Zambezi Queen will see one of the densest populations of wildlife in Africa. Guests will encounter elephants, leopards, lions, sable and buffalo on excursions by boat or open-air vehicles and enjoy a visit to a local village with an authentic “boma” dining experience. From the Zambezi Queen, a scenic 50 mile morning drive through Zambezi National Park will take you to Victoria Falls. Spend two marvelous days surrounded by the sights and sounds of Victoria Falls, perhaps Africa’s most iconic destination.
Prior to your Zambezi Queen safari cruise and your visit to Victoria Falls, choose from three different land itineraries that include Africa’s most renowned locations such as a stay at iconic safari lodges, game camps and exclusive hotels throughout Africa.
Professional guides will lead daily wildlife excursions, offering the opportunity to spot elephant, rhino, hippo, and many more species that symbolize the African safari. Three extensive land itinerary options offer the expanses of the Serengeti, awe-inspiring Chobe National Park or the towering landscapes of Mt. Kilimanjaro.
The River Cruising Revolution:
The genesis of popularity of modern river cruising now goes back to the 1992 completion of the 162-mile Rhine-Main-Danube Canal, which linked up the Rhine and Danube Rivers in Southern Germany. This long-held dream of Europeans, going back to Charlemagne 1400 years ago, allowed cargo and passengers ships to go from the North Sea to the Black Sea, essentially across the heart of Europe and this created new opportunities for tourism.
During the first eight-years Europeans took advantage of this new trend of vacation, but then as the millennium took hold companies like AmaWaterways began to design ships for consumers who required a bit more for their vacation investment. Constrained in size by the width of the canals, ships were extended and updated for the North American tourist market with bigger staterooms, more hotel like amenities such as gyms and spas, luxurious dining facilities with more variety and bigger portions, all-inclusive vacation packages, extensive shore excursions and more.
Now, ten years later, AmaWaterways has branched out into so many different avenues, itineraries and modes of vacation expression that is is impossible to enumerate them here. From the beginning, AmaWaterways President and Co-Owner Rudi Schreiner has been the visionary behind what can only be described as a revolution in travel industry. Trained as an architect, he is widely considered the Father of Modern River Cruising because he essentially saw the tourism possibilities, based on what the new canal created, while at Uniworld and the evolution of the river cruising we know in Europe today began apace.
In 2002, after a stint running Viking River Cruises which caused him frustration from an inability to control the product, Rudi Schreiner decided to approach Jimmy Murphy, a tour industry pioneer then still running the company he founded in 1968, Brendan Vacations, about starting a new river cruise line. Murphy saw the possibilities, believed river cruising would be extremely popular, agreed with Schreiner’s vision of a high-quality product that was tightly controlled and, in an interesting twist of business history, surmised that coach touring in Europe had reached a peak and that those tourists would embrace a new form of European travel.
It turned out, as Murphy has stated on a number of radio shows, that he was right for the wrong reasons and “this is not always a bad thing in life.” During the first five years of operation, before they had begun to design and build their own ships, 80% of AmaWaterways’ clients were big ship cruisers who had exhausted all of their options around the world and still wanted the cruise experience and they got it in the heart of Europe in a much more intimate setting by traveling with a 150 instead of 5,000.
A Typical Day in the African Bush:
During safari days one will gain a profound appreciation for the rhythms of safari life. After a small morning snack, a ranger takes clients out in an open top, four wheel drive vehicle for a three to four hour morning game drive to view animals when they are most active. A full breakfast back at the lodge allows patrons to share their experiences before a relaxing mid-day spent in quiet pursuits with a massage, relaxing at the pool, reading a book or browsing through the library.
Lunch is usually served at the Main Lodge in an outdoor restaurant where you can watch various animals or colorful birds. Late afternoons and early evenings bring another game drive into the bush. It is not untypical for rangers to follow leopard tracks or visit the recent location of a lion pack’s kill. During some game drives one might encounter hundreds of large animals and on other days bird watching could be the focus.
A scenic spot for a Sundowner break with local snacks, refreshments and a large choice of drinks before an evening bush drive which slowly takes you back to your lodge is a fine way to end an exciting day. African vacationers then get to relive their adventures with fellow travelers during a delicious dinner under the Southern Cross with millions of other bright stars hovering silently over the African bush, followed by a nightcap at the bar under the open sky in anticipation of the next day’s adventures.