Travel advisor Mary Crowley, Vacation Specialist from Dream Vacations, met Michael Hayden, director of choirs at Mira Costa High School in California, on a Danube River sailing back in 2015. One month later, Hayden called Crowley to throw out the idea of a Rhine cruise for his choir. From there was born a high school choir group charter booking on an AmaWaterways ship that was, says Hayden, “a tour none of us will ever forget.”

“Traditionally,” Crowley tells us, “choir groups do land-based tours, but we both agreed that a river cruise would be unique, and I began the search for a cruise line that would want to book a student, friends and family group. Of all the major cruise lines, AmaWaterways was the only one that would even consider this type of group.”

Crowley admits that there were most certainly additional challenges in putting together a charter of this type, because, she says, “not only did we have 60 students, but the remainder of the 158 passengers were chaperones, family, and friends of the choir, plus some of my individual clients that loved the idea of cruising the Rhine with this remarkable group, and attending their performances in ancient cathedrals, churches and abbeys along the Rhine.” Safety, of course, was paramount. In fact, mentions Crowley, “one of the major concerns when traveling with this size group is getting through airport security in a timely manner. AmaWaterways went above and beyond my expectations in assisting this group. They brought staff to LAX on the day of departure to assist with getting the group through passport check/TSA.”

And because this was a high school choir, Crowley points out that it was important to keep them busy. “All of the performance venues had to be secured well in advance for the performances; and there were shore excursions to coordinate with the performance times. I also worked with AmaWaterways to coordinate a shore excursion for the students that I’d experienced on another river cruise line. We worked with AmaWaterways to arrange a DJ one night, and through the cruise line worked to have some wonderful local talent on board the ship for several evenings.”

Both Crowley and Hayden urge travel advisors to look at river cruising as an option for high school groups, because, as Crowley notes, “less time was wasted from city to city by bus or train, and more time was spent experiencing all that the Rhine offered from Amsterdam to Basel.”