Jazzmine Douse is the visionary curator behind The Soulful Epicurean Experience. The extraordinary venture is in collaboration with AMA Waterways and is a celebration of Black culture. With over a decade of experience at AMA Waterways, Jazzmine’s journey with the company has been inspiring.

Starting as a Reservations Specialist, she has climbed the ranks to her current role as Director of National Accounts. Douse manages and establishes partnerships at a national level. Her extraordinary voyage with AMA Waterways took a significant turn when, during her time as Business Development Manager in the Pacific Northwest, she recognized a glaring absence of diversity in the travel and cruise industry.

Jazzmine embarked on a mission to rectify this underrepresentation. She then worked closely with the company’s Chief Marketing Officer to foster greater inclusivity in every aspect of their offerings. This journey led to a groundbreaking endeavor: a river cruise celebrating the African and Black diaspora. With the support of AmaWaterways and trusted advisors, Jazzmine curated a river cruise dedicated to Black Heritage, setting sail down the iconic Rhone River. Her dedication to fostering diversity, representation, and celebrating Black culture is the driving force behind The Soulful Epicurean Experience.

TN: What unique cultural experiences and offerings can passengers expect when they book a Soulful Epicurean Experience?

Jazzmine Douse: On our Soulful Experiences, guests can anticipate traveling with like-minded travelers. In addition, AmaWaterways has also developed tours ashore that highlight Black Heritage and Culture. A few notable highlights from the inaugural Soulful Experience this August on the Rhone River are the Josephine Baker tour in Paris – following the footsteps of the American-born French hero, our visit to The Blachère Foundation featuring contemporary African art, and visiting the Tata of Chasselay cemetery, and learning of Senegalese soldiers and the role they played in WWII.

As we continue to expand our offerings, we will seek out cultural experiences along the rivers for which we sail. In 2024, we’ve expanded to the Nile River, where we will learn about modern-day living and ancient history from civilizations occupying this region.

group of people on cruise
Photo credit: The Soulful Epicurean Experience

TN: What destinations and itineraries do you offer? How do you choose them to align with your mission of celebrating Black culture?

JD: In 2024, we offer themed cruises in France, Egypt, and Portugal. In 2025, we’ve expanded to Colombia and South Africa. In choosing where we can offer these experiences, we must first look at the core AmaWaterways product. [Then, we] identify which river cruises allude to stops where we can add on cultural experiences, whether onboard the river cruise ship or during a land stay.

While it is important to offer the Heritage experiences, guests share that they would like to branch out to different AmaWaterways itineraries that may not have as many cultural tours but could focus on having like-minded travelers onboard. This is something that we are always willing to take into consideration as we continue to develop our offerings. At AmaWaterways, we are a company that listens and responds.

TN: Cultural preservation is an important aspect of your work. How do you collaborate with local communities and promote responsible tourism during your cruises?

JD: We have a focus on sustainable tourism, ensuring that we are leaving a minimal carbon footprint in the destination for which we are visiting, single-use plastic elimination, sustainable waste systems, etc. We are also intentional in looking to partner with viable organizations to curate our ashore experiences. We are hopeful that through the demand for cruises such as these and the experiences they bring, more Black-owned businesses can be included in the mass selection of tour operators for international destinations.

women on a cruise wearing all white
Photo credit: The Soulful Epicurean Experience

TN: What impact do you envision your luxury cruises having on the travel industry and the perception of Black culture?

JD: I hope these cruises illuminate the Black Community and their buying power. This initiative will challenge other luxury companies to take the Black dollar seriously and cater to the Black traveler profile in a similar way that the luxury world tends to do with the mainstream customer profile.

I hope these experiences will create more opportunities for Black travelers to see the world and collect a new lens to look at the world. I am prayerful that such experiences will continue to provide the platform to pour into one another.

The crew onboard our inaugural cruise were so complimentary of the travelers and the way they engaged onboard, the liveliness, thankfulness, graciousness, and kindness displayed always. “Everyone is always smiling” a crew member recalled when describing his experience onboard this themed cruise.

Creating these cruises will encourage professionals of color to join the industry as they begin to see more representation of themselves in all aspects of travel, whether they be a traveler, travel agents, cruise managers, travel professionals, etc.