Ellen Bettridge, the CEO of luxury river cruise operator Uniworld, has said she is hopeful that the company will return to service in May.
Bettridge, who was speaking at Clia’s Virtual River Cruise Showcase, said that the Danube, Rhine and Douro would all return to service quickly, with Asian rivers such as the Mekong coming back in September.
She said: “We don’t really know for sure what’s going to be required but what we do know is guest will still have a fantastic experience.”
Demand for cruises is high, with 11 per cent of bookings being carried over from 2020. Overall, 52 per cent of bookings so far for 2021 represented people new to the brand.
“People see [river cruising] as the opportunity to be close to land, on a smaller vessel and you have the space, comfort and luxury – I think they feel more comfortable being close to land.”
However, Bettridge conceded that shore excursions were still a big unknown for Uniworld, with different destinations expected to have different rules.
Clia’s Virtual River Cruise Showcase replaced its usual member event, which is usually held in November. Other speakers included Walter Littlejohn, the managing director of Crystal River Cruises and Rudi Schreiner, co-founder of AmaWaterways.