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  • Writer's pictureKim York

Navigating the Waters of Luxury: A Travel Advisor's Reflections on the ASTA River Cruise Expo in Amsterdam

Stepping aboard the decks of the Amstel River, attendees of the ASTA River Cruise Expo in Amsterdam were welcomed into a world of luxury, exploration, and opportunity. As a travel advisor specializing in crafting unforgettable experiences for families, I recently had the privilege of attending this prestigious event, and I'm excited to share my insights and discoveries with you.

The American Society of Travel Advisors (ASTA) River Cruise Expo is not just another industry gathering; it's an immersion into the heart of European river cruising. With over 1,300 travel advisors and suppliers converging in Amsterdam, the Expo is a testament to the growing popularity and allure of river cruises. From educational sessions to networking opportunities, every moment is tailored to enhance the expertise and offerings of travel advisors.

One of the highlights of the Expo is the chance to tour a myriad of river cruise ships from Amadeus, AmaWaterways, Avalon, Emerald, Riverside, Tauck, Uniworld and Viking, each offering its own unique blend of elegance and innovation. As I explored the various vessels, I was struck by the creativity in design and utilization of space. From cozy staterooms to expansive lounges with panoramic views, every aspect of the ships is meticulously crafted to provide guests with an unforgettable experience. And let's not forget the culinary delights awaiting passengers, from chef's table experiences to poolside refreshments, the options are as diverse as the destinations themselves.

Attendees not only had the opportunity to tour each and every room category, sky deck, dining spaces, and lounges onboard each ship, we were also able to experience dining offerings on many of the lines. I had the best duck entree on Riviera’s MS Geoffrey Chaucer and the delicious, freshly made pasta carbonara onboard Riverside Debussy. 

Beyond the ships, the Expo also provided insights into the ports of call and the immersive experiences awaiting travelers. From quaint medieval towns to bustling cities, river cruises offer a gateway to a world of discovery. Whether it's exploring historical landmarks or savoring local cuisine, there's something for everyone along the riverbanks. 

We had the opportunity to connect with a variety of travel vendors, from boutique hotels to local tour companies. Often times seated together at meals for even more conversation and networking. One night I was able to dine with another travel advisor from Minnesota and our Viking Business Development Manager. These interactions not only deepen our understanding of the destinations but also enable us to curate bespoke experiences for our clients. 

My 4-night river cruise on the AmaSerena with AmaWaterways after the Expo concluded was an incredible experience. From the moment I stepped on board, I was greeted with warm and friendly staff who made me feel right at home. The ship itself was luxurious and well-appointed, with spacious cabins and all the amenities I could ask for. Each day was filled with exciting excursions and opportunities to explore the charming towns and cities along the river. Whether I was wandering the cobblestone streets of historic villages or enjoying a gourmet meal on board, every moment was unforgettable. The highlight of my journey was discovering Giethoorn, a delightful car-free village celebrated for its picturesque waterways, meandering footpaths, scenic bike trails, and quaint thatched-roof houses dating back centuries. Exploring the inner workings of the iconic windmills at Kinderdijk, a UNESCO World Heritage site, was truly fascinating. And experiencing the vibrant opening day festivities at the renowned Keukenhof Gardens to see the infamous tulips added an extra special touch to my Dutch adventure aboard the AmaSerena river cruise ship. Overall, it was a relaxing and rejuvenating journey that I will never forget.

As I reflect on my time at the ASTA River Cruise Expo, I'm filled with excitement and anticipation. The knowledge gained and connections made will undoubtedly enhance the travel experiences I create for my clients who are looking to explore Europe from its beautiful rivers onboard these amazing ships. From the picturesque shores of the Rhine to the enchanting beauty of the Danube, the world of river cruising beckons, and I'm eager to help you embark on your own unforgettable river cruise journey through Europe.

Can you see yourself on a river cruise, gliding along the shores of the Rhine or Danube River exploring hidden gems, such as castles, vineyards, and quaint river towns that encompass the heart and soul of these countries? Let’s chat about your cruise style so I can match you with the best itinerary and cruise ship for a truly personalized travel experience and seamlessly transform your bucket list travel dreams into reality.

Cheers to more adventures on the river!


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