European river cruises you can take now
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European river cruises you can take now

As the FCO gives the green light to river cruise, we look at the operators already sailing in Europe.

After days of confusion, the Foreign & Commonwealth Office has clarified its advice around the much-criticised ban on cruise ships, allowing Brits to take river cruises for the first time in months.

Clia UK & Ireland called the move a “very welcome boost”. Director Andy Harmer said: “We are seeing a gradual, phased-in approach to resumption of cruise operations across Europe, initially domestic and regional. Clia is continuing its constructive dialogue with the Department for Transport and Public Health England to finalise the road map to resumption of international cruise travel.”

Although many cruises lines are not scheduled to sail until later in the summer or beyond (see below), some European lines – after being given the green light by French and German governments – have resumed cruises, with new safety measures in place. With many European destinations included on the travel corridor’s list, suddenly it is possible for Brits to explore the continent’s waterways.

James Cole, founder and managing director, Panache Cruises, said: “It’s so pleasing to see that the FCO has changed its advice and river cruising has been given the green light. When you combine this with the industry leading protocols that are being implemented by each of the cruise lines, the low deposit schemes and flexible booking conditions, together with the exceptional deals available to consumers, now is certainly the best time in the history of cruising to book a cruise. But my advice would be not to wait, as prices will increase as bookings gain momentum.” 

A government spokesperson said: “We will continue to keep cruise ship travel advice under review based on the latest me dical and scientific evidence, and encourage people to check our travel advice pages for the latest information. We recognise the significant impact of the pandemic on the cruise industry and are working with cruise companies to support them in restarting operations that are Covid-safe for their passengers and crew.”

The FCO encourages all travellers to check its travel advice pages for any country they intend on travelling to or through to ensure they follow the latest guidance.

A-Rosa
Who: The Rostock-based German cruise line has begun to establish itself in the UK over the last few years, opening a sales and marketing office in Cardiff in 2019, headed up by Lucia Rowe. Its ships are larger than your average river ship, with the likes of A-Rosa Donna carrying up to 206 guests, while it is unusual in allowing kids to sail; both English and German are spoken on board the international ships. It sails Europe’s Big Five rivers – the Danube, Rhine, Douro, Seine and Rhône.
Where: A-Rosa River Cruises has resumed sailings on the Douro (since June 17); Rhine (since June 19); Danube (June 20); and Rhône (July 11).
Safety measures introduced: Social distancing protocols for the entire ship, enhanced cleaning procedures; the wearing of mouth and nose coverings in some public spaces; pre-screening and temperature checks prior to embarkation; meals to be served at tables, at set times and excursion participant numbers will be reduced. In addition, all A-Rosa ships are already equipped with an air refreshment system that ensures all cabins and public spaces operate using separate air supplies. Buffets have been replaced with seated served dinners in two sittings, with drinks served at the tables rather than at the bar. See arosa-cruises.com

CroisiEurope
Who: The Strasbourg-based, family-owned cruise line is Europe’s largest river operator, which in normal times operates itineraries on the rivers and canals of Europe as well as Russia, Asia, Africa and India. It’s known for its affordability, including all inclusive drinks in the price, hearty French cuisine; and its navigation of lesser-known rivers, such as the Elbe, Loire and Guadalquivir.
Where: CroisiEurope has resumed cruises on the Seine (since July 13), which start in and return to Paris, taking in Honfluer and the coast of Normandy. It will resume Rhône and Burgundy canal cruises on July 16; Rhine cruises on July 20; Corsica cruises on July 26; Loire cruises on July 31; and Gironde cruises on August 26. Outside of France, the line will resume cruises on the Danube on August 7; Elbe on August; Douro on August 7; Croatia on August 13.
Safety measures introduced: Pre-travel health questionnaires, regular temperature checks for guests and crew, daily ship deep cleaning, social distancing and waiter service meal sittings. All excursions have been audited and amended for safe travel. All crew have been retrained in the new measures and systems in place on-board. See croisieurope.co.uk

Nicko Cruises
Who: The Stuttgart-based Nicko cruises operates 30 vessels through 25 countries along 27 waterways. It will be a new name for UK guests and travel agents, but its UK representative is Light Blue Travel, which works with American Queen Steamboat Company (which operates on the Columbia and Snake, and Mississippi rivers) and Victory Cruises (which sails the Great Lakes and Alaska).
Where: The NickoVision, which can hold 220 passengers, set sail on June 1 with 110 German guests on an 11-day Passau to Düsseldorf cruise, on the Rhine and Danube. Nicko cruises have also resumed on the Duoro.
Safety measures introduced: Temperatures checked, additional disinfecting measures, reduced capacity to allow social distancing; masks are compulsory for the crew and guests in some areas onboard and on the transfer and excursion buses. Self-service buffets have been suspended. A doctor also joined the guests onboard. See nicko-cruises.de

Viva Cruises

Who: The Düsseldorf-based cruise line recently launched Viva Tiara, which was refurbished to become the first ship owned by the young European river tour operator, founded in 2018 by the family behind river cruise operator, Scylla AG. Viva Cruises offers a variety of cruises along Europe’s great rivers: the Danube, Elbe, Moselle, Rhine, Rhône, Seine and the Main-Danube Canal. Scylla AG runs a fleet of river ships for various European charter clients, including Nicko Cruises, Tauck and Riviera Travel.
Where: Viva Cruises resumed its Rhine itineraries on June 26, sailing on its first post-lockdown cruise from Düsseldorf through to the Austrian city of Engelhartszell an der Donau. Throughout July and August, VIVA Cruises will be also operating four-night cruises in Germany, along the Main and Rhine rivers, on board MS Treasures and MS Inspire. Additional four- and six-night cruises along the Rhine and Danube rivers are also scheduled from September onwards.
Safety measures introduced: Regular temperature checks, compulsory facemasks on board when walking around the ship, one-way system in corridors, à la carte meals (no buffets), having a doctor throughout the duration of the cruise, reduced capacity and more. See viva-cruises.com

When are other cruise lines returning?

From river to ocean, small-ship to mega-vessels, see is our comprehensive list of cruise line cancellation policies and suspension dates here. Below is a quick overview of popular cruise lines and when their cruises are suspended until:

AmaWaterways – September 15 for European departures; September 30 for Mekong and Africa departures
APT Touring – September 30
Avalon Waterways – September 30
Crystal River Cruises – September 30
Emerald Cruises – August 31
Fred Olsen (Brabant) – August 30
Riviera – August 15
Scenic Luxury Cruises & Tours – August 31
Titan – October 1
Uniworld – August 15
Viking – September 30

 

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