What led sports scientist Crystal A. to join us at the Heart of the River?

Meet our new Cruise Manager, Crystal A. With a background in sports science, Crystal outlines why she chose to work for a river cruise line that focuses on wellness, and what her average day in the life looks like when on board.

Tell us a little bit about your background and what drew you to sports science.

From the time I was a little girl in South Africa, I enjoyed playing softball, volleyball, hockey and running track. I have actually held a sprint record in Johannesburg since I was 16 years old! My ultimate goal was to become an Olympic athlete, but due to a knee injury, that never happened. In the 1990s in South Africa, people of color were not exposed to sports rehabilitation, nor did they have the opportunity to be in training facilities that could enhance sports performance. So, I made it my mission to become a sport scientist and help young talented athletes get to the Olympics.

How did you make the leap from working with athletes to the tourism industry?

In the hopes of learning a more westernized approach to training and wellness, I became a fitness instructor on ocean cruise ships. I fell in love with cruising. It gave me purpose sharing my expertise with so many different people each week.

What inspired you to come to the rivers and join the AmaWaterways family?

I was looking for a company where I felt valued, where being different was embraced and where I could maintain a more balanced lifestyle, rather than being away from home for extended periods of time as I had on the oceans. Having the choice to eat healthier foods, participate in more active excursions and join complimentary exercise classes is a real gift in our busy lifestyles. The fact that AmaWaterways has a fantastic program in Africa also warmed my heart because I instantly felt connected to them. In addition, their fantastic reputation and level of service impressed me, making it an easy decision to join the team in 2021.

What has been the best part of river cruising with AmaWaterways?

Traveling is the best form of education. With AmaWaterways, it’s not just a vacation, it’s an opportunity to learn and of course to participate in our Wellness Program. Alternatively, you can totally disconnect, enjoy our spa facilities, sit up on the Sun Deck and take in all the wonderful scenery. With Ama, we give you the opportunity to take care of yourself while you sail – and as we take care of you!

Which excursions should our guests be sure not to miss?

If you’re cruising the Rhine River, you should definitely join us on our “Romantic Heidelberg” excursion. The active tour is a great way to explore the ruined castle and visit the university town. I would also recommend our Rüdesheim gondola ride; as you gently glide through the air, you are afforded stunning views of the vineyards below and the charming old town. A great way to enjoy the outdoors.

As a Cruise Manager, you lead a very busy lifestyle on board – how do you maintain balance?

I meditate every morning, which helps me set the tone for the day and stay grounded. I occasionally use the furniture in my stateroom to do body weight exercises and I keep a pair of resistance bands in my suitcase because that’s what works best for me.

What does your average “day in the life” look like?

  • 7:00 am – Quick stop at the Cruise Manager’s desk to check my emails, then head to breakfast.
  • 9:00 am – As excursions depart, I brief guides, check buses and ensure all guests are in the right place before I choose a tour to join. If the morning will be spent scenic cruising, I encourage guests to join one of our fitness classes with our Wellness Host.
  • 11:00 am – I make myself available to give recommendations for lunch on shore or for independent exploration. I usually like to find a local treat, such as Riquewihr’s delicious coconut macarons, or Heidelberg’s “Student’s Kiss” chocolates, to share with my guests.
  • 3:00 pm – Check in with guests on board as well as the Hotel Manager, complete administrative tasks and send final numbers to the bus company for the next day’s tours.
  • 5:30 pm – Get dressed for the evening, welcome guests back on board from afternoon excursions and make myself available to answer questions during desk hours.
  • 6:45 pm – Give a port talk on our upcoming destination, giving guests a taste of what they will experience the next day.
  • 7:00 pm – Have dinner, often with the Captain or Hotel Manager, to debrief on how the river cruise is progressing.
  • 7:45 pm – Sit at the hospitality desk, greet guests and answer questions.
  • 8:30 pm – Introduce the evening entertainment and mingle with guests.
  • 9:30 pm – Check emails and finalize the shore excursion “colors” for the next day.
  • 10:30 pm – Shower, meditate and sleep.

Join Crystal A. and our other wonderful Cruise Managers and Wellness Hosts for an unforgettable journey on board. Learn more about our destinations and reach out to your preferred travel advisor to reserve your river cruise today!

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