Will Brexit affect river cruising?

With Brexit affecting how we travel between countries, many river cruisers may be thinking what the outcome will be for their future sailings.

Booking a river cruise with RiverVoyages.com is both ATOL and ABTA protected, ensuring you are covered in any eventuality of Brexit’s outcome.

See our frequently asked questions below and find out what some cruise lines have spoken out about on their stances on Brexit. Click the questions below to reveal the answers.

Current news: The UK is due to leave the EU on 31 October 2019

A river cruise is one of the best ways to travel when considering currency as it’s the least affected by fluctuations. Most of the time you can pre-pay for your drinks, gratuities and excursions to protect against any negative impacts of the exchange rate.

The Association of British Travel Agents (ABTA) have advised that, regardless of outcome, there is no reason to be concerned when booking a holiday. The following advice is taken from their website:

“Naturally, holidaymakers and business travellers have questions about what Brexit means for travelling to EU countries.  While the situation is evolving rapidly, ABTA has put together the following advice, answering common questions and explaining any steps travellers may need to take to avoid any unnecessary disruption due to a no-deal exit.”

Travel before 31 October 2019

The UK is still a member of the EU, which means that all existing travel arrangements still apply. For example, you still have access to state medical care in any EU country as long as you have an up to date European Health Insurance Card and you can continue to use the EU/EEA passport gates.

Travel after 31 October 2019

If the Government agrees a deal before 31 October, the UK will enter a transition period, meaning everything will continue to remain the same during that period and you can continue to travel as you do now.

With a no-deal, UK holidaymakers and business travellers have had reassurances from the UK Government and European Commission that they will still be able to travel, as there is either contingency legislation in place or the travel services are covered by international law.

If the UK does leave the EU without a deal, there will be some changes and there are some actions you may need to take in advance so that you can continue with your holiday or business trip as planned.

Read the full guidance from the ABTA website

ABTA has advised, “the European Commission announced in November 2018 that, even in a no-deal scenario, UK travellers can still visit the EU without a visa, providing the same if offered to European citizens visiting the UK.

This means that UK travellers can travel to the EU without a visa for up to 90 days within an 180-day period. This is for short-stays and is dependent on the UK continuing to offer reciprocal visa-free access to EU states.

The European Commission has said that from 2021, UK citizens will need to pay a fee (of around 7 Euros) for this visa exemption. This is part of a new electronic travel authorisation system applying to all third-country visitors to the EU, similar to the US ESTA regime.”

This new regime will be the European Travel Information and Authorisation System (ETIAS), which will launch in 2021 following a no-deal Brexit. This requires that every prospective visitor to the EU registers their details online and pays a fee (around £6.30, though under-12s can be registered free). This information will be compared against the relevant databases and a decision is then made on whether or not to grant the ETIAS.

These are then valid for three years, or until your passport runs out. The ETIAS only applies to third-country, visa-exempt travellers, which the UK will be following in the event of leaving the EU.

More: Full article on the ETIAS

In the event of a no-deal Brexit, those planning to travel abroad will be required to have six months left on their passport.

It’s worth checking your passport to ensure you have at least six months left on your passport from the date of arrival. This applies to both adult and child passports. In the event you need to renew your passport, up to nine extra months may be added to your passport’s expiry date. These new rules apply to passports issued by the UK, Gibraltar, Guernsey, the Isle of Man and Jersey.

In light of this, the government have advised customers to visit the HM Passport Office online passport checker here: Check a passport for travel to Europe.

The Passport Office also says the following:

1. You should have 6 months left on your UK passport from your date of arrival. This applies to adult and child passports.

2. If you renewed a passport before it expired, extra months may have been added to your new passport’s expiry date. Any extra months on your passport over 10 years may not count towards the 6 months that should be remaining for travel to most countries in Europe. The new rules will apply to passports issued by the UK, Gibraltar, Guernsey, the Isle of Man and Jersey.

“Currently, UK passport holders can travel to all EU countries as long as they have enough remaining validity to cover the length of their stay, so it’s important to be aware of the above changes in a ‘no deal’ Brexit.”

Read: the Home Office’s Guidance on travelling following a no Brexit deal

Many cruise lines have advised that prices of river cruises won’t change following Brexit, and that you’ll pay nothing more for your holiday other than the total prices advertised. Some cruise lines also include an all-inclusive promise, which guarantees no nasty surprises after the UK leaves the EU.

Following a no-deal Brexit, airlines within the UK and EU will need to seek advance permissions from respective states. The government has advised the UK would envisage granting permission to EU airlines to continue operating, and that it would not in the interest of any EU country or the UK to restrict the choice of destinations which could be served.

Scenic advised the following: “We strongly believe that the UK leaving the EU won’t affect scheduled flights, however if there are some changes following our exit, we will do all we can to limit disruption to your travel arrangements. For those concerned about flying after Brexit, we also offer a range of flexible no-fly river cruises.”

More: The government’s full guidance on flights in line with Brexit

The European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) allows any EU citizen to access medical care when travelling within another EU country. In the event of a no-deal Brexit, EHIC’s registered within the UK will no longer be valid.

It will also be necessary to check your travel insurance for river cruising and contact the provider for details on whether you will be covered in all eventualities of Brexit.

Currently, tourists within the EU aren’t charged for extra roaming and can use their phones as they would in the UK. However, with a no-deal Brexit, this may change. In response to this, the government has advised that it would put measures in place for a cap on the cost of mobile data usage at around £45 per month – it’s currently €50 under EU law.

Douro River - Portugal

What do the river cruise lines have to say about Brexit?

The Scenic Group Brexit Travel Assurance

The Scenic Group, including Scenic and Emerald Waterways have stated the below for their Brexit Travel Assurance.

Scenic Group - Brexit Travel Assurance

The aim of this is to dispel any concerns you may have about how leaving the EU could affect your holiday. They offer peace of mind by guaranteeing the following:

  • No price increases, no surcharges or supplements, regardless of the Brexit outcome
  • Scenic’s truly All-Inclusive philosophy, where even the things you’d expect to pay extra for are included in the price
  • Scenic Club – our much-loved loyalty programme that rewards repeat travellers
  • Complete financial protection, provided by ABTA, ATOL and IATA

Emerald Waterways - Brexit Travel AssuranceAll-inclusive promise

The all-inclusive promise has been offered through Scenic for over three decades, and Brexit will not change this. The cruise line will continue to give an unprecedented level of luxury, comfort and inclusions on Europe’s waterways. This promise means that you don’t need to worry about price rises after 29 March 2019 and beyond, with everything from your flights and transfers to dining, beverages and excursions all included.

Riviera Travel’s Brexit Assurance

When asked if your should book your holiday before Brexit or wait until after, Riviera Travel responded with the following:

“Riviera Travel have been in business for 35 years and are fully bonded members of ABTA and ATOL so when you book with Riviera Travel you can do so with complete peace of mind. The price you pay won’t change after you have booked, there is no benefit in booking late but by booking early, you guarantee the best choice.”

Avalon Waterways

Avalon Waterways have also advised:

“At Avalon, our first concern is the welfare and safety of our guests. You can rest assured that we will continue to take care of the important details around your holiday booking, right through to getting you home again, safe and sound, after your incredible trip.

The Association of British Travel Agents (ABTA), of which we are a member, has produced some useful advice to reassure you. In short, after 29th March 2019, flights will still continue to operate to and from the EU, and visas will not be required.”

Couple overlooking a city - River Cruises

If you have any concerns about river cruising and how Brexit could affect it, please call our Cruise Concierge team on 0800 197 0854 for expert advice and award-winning customer service with your booking.

Post updated: 02/09/2019

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About Emma Smith

Emma has more than six years' experience as a writer and has been in the travel industry for over a year. She loves learning of new places and cruise ships coming to market, as well as discovering fun and exciting activities to do while you sail. She has cruised with Royal Caribbean and is looking to get something in diary for 2020! Her favourite things to see on a ship include excellent entertainment, a delicious cocktail menu and extraordinary dining venues.

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