AMAWATERWAYS has revealed it will establish a local office to sell its full portfolio through travel advisors in Australia and New Zealand, leaving the long-term future of partner APT’s river cruise product uncertain.
After founder APT Geoff McGeary purchased a stake in AmaWaterways in mid-2000s, the Aussie operator has played a crucial part in helping establish the river cruise segment here, building its product around full charters of AmaWaterways’ vessels alongside Brendan Vacations’ Murphy family and Ama co-founders Rudi Schreiner and Kristin Karst.
Speaking to travelBulletin, AmaWaterways Director Gary Murphy shared, “APT has chosen not to charter our ships past 2024 so we’ll distribute our products ourselves in Australia”.
Emphasising that the AmaWaterways Australian business will be 100% trade-focused, Murphy confirmed plans to head Down Under next month to set up the operation, which will include an Australian-based call centre offering full support, training and sales resources.
The full AmaWaterways portfolio, which includes departures in Europe, Southeast Asia, Egypt, Africa and next year Colombia, will be offered in Australian dollar pricing, with Murphy sharing “we are prepared to start taking business in early September”.
APT, which declined to comment on the new local competitor, recently announced it will offer both APT- and Travelmarvel-branded sailings on its new MS Estrela Portugal river ship, designed especially to appeal to Australian and Kiwi guests, and is set to debut in June 2024. It also continues to operate three Travelmarvel vessels, including Polaris, Vega and Capella, in Europe.