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AmaWaterways' Soulful Experience river cruises focus on Black history and culture (Photo: AmaWaterways)
AmaWaterways' Soulful Experience river cruises focus on Black history and culture (Photo: AmaWaterways)

What’s It Like to Sail Soulfully? AmaWaterways’ Expands Black Heritage River Cruises

AmaWaterways' Soulful Experience river cruises focus on Black history and culture (Photo: AmaWaterways)
AmaWaterways' Soulful Experience river cruises focus on Black history and culture (Photo: AmaWaterways)
Cruise Critic Contributor
Jason Gordon

Last updated
Dec 5, 2023

Read time
3 min read

Theme cruises provide some of the best travel experiences as the focus is all about a specific interest. This relatability is what that draws specific groups of people to these sailings, and the camaraderie is practically guaranteed before stepping aboard the ship.

In 2023, river cruise line AmaWaterways curated its unique Soulful Experience cruise, which quickly sold out and was well received by participants. Focusing on Black heritage, history and culture, the tremendous response to this sailing prompted AmaWaterways to offer more opportunities to join a Soulful Experience cruise in 2024 and 2025 to allow this untapped audience to create relatable and meaningful moments throughout each sailing.

What are AmaWaterways’ Soulful Experience Cruises?

AmaKristina ship exterior
AmaKristina (Photo: AmaWaterways)

Soulful Experience Cruises focuses on Black heritage, history and culture within key stops throughout each journey. As demonstrated during its first sailing in 2023, AmaWaterways’ guests enjoyed the Colors of Provence itinerary which sailed along the Rhône River for 7 nights and visited such cities as Marseille, Avignon, Tournon, Vienne and Lyon which provided cruisegoers the opportunity to explore numerous historically relevant locales in France.

On the 8th day of the sailing, guests traveled on France’s high speed TGV train from Lyon to Paris where they experienced a deep dive in the Black history of Paris over a 3-night period, including a tour which took participants through the steps of Josephine Baker’s life when she performed and lived in Paris and its surrounding areas.

Upcoming Soulful Experience cruises in 2024 and 2025 will sail along the beautiful waterways of South Africa, Portugal, France and Egypt.

What Can You Do on a Black History River Cruise?

Dining in AmaMagna's main restaurant (Photo/AmaWaterways)
Dining in AmaMagna's main restaurant (Photo/AmaWaterways)

In addition to the historic excursions that are offered with a Soulful Experience sailing, regional historians provide lectures onboard the sailings. On the first Soulful Experience cruise, Boris Klein (professor of history & geography at Lycée La Martinière-Duchère in Lyon) discussed the France’s role in the transatlantic slave trade and its impact on the country and the world.

Jazz music and various culinary highlights are also offered, and this is in addition to recreational offerings that are standard for every AmaWaterways river cruise sailing, like wine tastings, active excursions ashore, complimentary bicycles, and regional dining and entertainment onboard and on-shore.

When Will Future Soulful Experience River Cruises Take Place?

Exterior rendering of AmaDahlia
AmaDahlia (Image: AmaWaterways)

Given the success of its first sailing in 2023, AmaWaterways expanded its Soulful Experience sailings to four special sailings in 2024. And recently, five special sailings for 2025 were revealed (all of which are available to book right now):

Soulful Experience: Secrets of Egypt & the Nile: May 17-28, 2024 and May 14-25, 2025

Highlights include:

  • A 7-night river cruise and 4-nights pre-cruise stay in Cairo

  • Exclusive access to the tomb of Queen Nefertari

  • Private lunch at the Abdeen Presidential Palace;

  • Meet with Nubian people

Soulful Experience: Colors of Provence: June 13-23, 2024, June 17-27, 2024 or August 21-31, 2025

Highlights include:

  • 7-night cruise with either 3-nights in Alres pre-cruise or 3-nights in Paris post-cruise.

  • Explore the cultural history of Marseille

  • Enjoy guided tours with a focus on Black heritage, showcasing jazz, food and wine

  • Commemorate Juneteenth in Paris

  • Experience an exclusive Black History of Paris Tour which includes visits to the Monument to the Abolition of Slavery, Montmartre's jazz roots, visit to Little Africa, a tribute to Josephine Baker and much more.

Soulful Experience: The Enticing Douro: November 13-23, 2024and November 11-21, 2025.

Highlights include:

  • 7-night cruise with 3-nights pre-cruise in Lisbon.

  • Dive into the history of the Black and African diaspora in Lisbon and throughout your journey along the Douro River

  • Enjoy 2 authentic Portuguese dinners with Port at local wine estates; Experience Portuguese fado music.

Soulful Experience: Stars of South Africa: June 13-27, 2025

Highlights include:

  • 4-night cruise and 10-nights post-cruise excursion

  • Celebrate both South Africa Youth Day (June 16) and Juneteenth (June 19)

  • Experience safaris by land and river

  • Visit the Cape of Good Hope

  • Witness African penguins in their natural surroundings on Boulders Beach

  • Visit one of Soweto’s unique neighborhoods

  • Walk in the footsteps Nelson Mandela and visit his Soweto home

Souful Experience: Magic of Colombia: October 15-25, 2025

Highlights include:

  • 7-night river cruise through the heart of Colombia

  • Dance to a variety of Latin American musical styles including Cumbia and Vallenato

  • Enjoy an exclusive Carnaval experience in Barranquilla that’s just for AmaWaterways guests.

  • Interact with locals of diverse backgrounds

Soulful Experience Cruises: Good to Know

AmaLyra (Photo: AmaWaterways)
AmaLyra (Photo: AmaWaterways)

These Soulful Experience river cruises with AmaWaterways are all currently available for booking, but will likely sell out quickly. Booking well in advance will be key to securing a spot on these departures.

However, thanks to their increasing popularity, it’s highly likely AmaWaterways will continue to add to its Soulful Experience lineup of river cruises.

Interested in other Black heritage cruises? Check out Black Cruises: What You Need to Know and Festival at Sea for other options for Black travelers.

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