When AmaWaterways finally launches its much-anticipated Magdalena River cruises in Colombia next year in late March it will do so with two 60-guest river ships and two one-week itineraries.
"The Magdalena is really the heart of Colombia," said Rudi Schreiner, co-founder and president of AmaWaterways, during a webinar for travel advisors in which he and co-founder and executive vice president Kristin Karst revealed details of the Magdalena River offering.
They chose the Magdalena, he said, because it's one of the few rivers in Latin America that offers a mix of cultural world heritage sites and beautiful scenery and wildlife.
The two itineraries, which differ only by one port of call, travel between Cartagena and Barranquilla (or the reverse).
Wonders of Colombia
According to Schreiner and Karst, guests can expect a river cruise experience similar to what the line offers on the Mekong and Zambezi Rivers, with Tour Managers sailing with guests onboard the ships.
The eight-night/seven-day Wonders of Colombia starts in Cartagena and ends in Barranquilla, making seven stops along the way and spending one night in the town of Mompox, which both Schreiner and Karst agreed is a top highlight of the sailing.
Tours and special events are included in all ports of call, with some having more than one option depending on how active cruisers want to be. For instance, on day four (a full day in Mompox) guests can choose a hike around Cienaga de Pijiño or opt for a historic walking tour or even a tuk tuk-style tour.
There will also be plenty of special events including a musical performance in Palenque, an onshore dinner with Cumbia (a traditional Colombian dance) performance in El Banco and Carnaval celebrations in Barranquilla.
The opposite itinerary, Magic of Colombia, travels from Barranquilla to Cartagena and features almost all of the same experiences, with only minor differences.
Pre-, Post-Cruise Options
Two pre-cruise tours and one-post cruise tour will be available (depending on which itinerary guests choose).
For cruisers departing from Cartagena, a two-night Cartagena pre-cruise tour will include four tours and museum visits. Cruisers departing from Barranquilla can choose the three-night Medellin tour, which includes two full days of touring.
Only for cruisers departing from Cartagena, a longer pre-cruise tour that combines Cartagena and Medellin is also available.
Cruisers on either itinerary can add on a three-night post-cruise tour in Panama City, which includes flights to Panama, an Old Town walking tour, a Panama Canal experience and a visit to the Chagres National Park.
While the 60-guest AmaMagdalena and AmaMelodia, both currently under construction in Colombia, are being designed specifically for the Magdalena River (the ships are wider than the European ships, for instance), they will feel familiar to cruisers who have been on AmaWaterways in Europe.
Each ship is three decks tall with all cabins offering the line's signature twin balcony concept – a French balcony and a real balcony.
Five room categories include the 516-square-foot Grand Suite, 306-square-foot Luxury Suite and three categories of 237-square-foot rooms.
Onboard highlights will include a main restaurant, main lounge, small pool, gym, and hair/nail salon.
Bookings for the Magdalena River itineraries are now open, with pricing starting at $3,599 per person. Demand is expected to be extremely high, with group space already filling up.