Will Brexit affect river cruising?

With millions of trips taking place from the UK to destinations across Europe each year, many holidaymakers will have questions regarding travel plans and what Brexit means for them. Latest highlights detail that the UK has agreed a Withdrawal Agreement and is now in the transition period. During this time, people can continue to travel as they do now and travel requirements will only change from 1st January 2021.

RiverVoyages is protected by both ABTA and ATOL, meaning that when you book with us you will be fully protected no matter what. Read our FAQs on the subject and see what the cruise lines have to say for themselves regarding Brexit below for some helpful answers. Click the questions to expand and read the answers.

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.

Yes! A cruise is a great way to travel as it often least affected by currency fluctuations, you can fly to your embarkation port from the UK and enjoy visting multiple places in one holiday but only unpacking once. A cruise offers a perfect option for those needing a little extra reassurance with their future holidays. A cruise often has everything included, fixed prices and little to no unexpected bills. The Association of British Travel Agents (ABTA) have advised that there is no reason to be concerned when booking a holiday.

Travellers won’t need any new documents than usual during the transition period. From 1st January 2021, ABTA advises that travellers won’t need a visa to travel to the EU and that you won’t need an additional licence for driving in the EU, as long as you have a full UK driving licence.

Valid passports can still be used. New guidance states that your passport needs to have at least six months left and be less than 10 years old – even if it has six months or more left.

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.

In 2020, everything remains the same until the end of December, with flights continuing as normal. This is the same with ferries, cruise ships and coach journeys.

Ferry services and cruises will still sail as in any case the majority of the rules under which they operate are not based on EU rules, but are international. Coaches will still be able to travel to and from the EU, and around EU countries as usual.

The European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) allows any EU citizen to access state medical care when they are travelling in another EU country. EHIC is valid in 2020, though from 1st January 2021 they will no longer be valid.

ABTA has always advised holidaymakers and business travellers to make sure they have appropriate travel insurance, whether they have an EHIC card or not, as there are limitations to EHIC.

When travelling in the EU and beyond, it is important you take out travel insurance and check that it covers your current circumstances, including any medical conditions. If you have an annual policy, make sure you check the Terms and Conditions and contact your insurance provider if you’re not sure.

The best way to protect your holiday is to book a package – it is then the travel provider’s responsibility to make sure your holiday is provided and to offer an alternative or refund if it cannot be delivered. It is important that whenever and wherever you travel that you have adequate travel insurance which covers your specific needs, including any known medical conditions or activities you plan to do.

Advice on travel insurance can be found here.

From 1st January 2021, the guarantee of free mobile phone roaming throughout the EU, Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway will end. Check with your phone operator to find out any roaming charges you may incur from 1st January 2021. A new law means you’re protected from getting mobile data charges above £45 without you knowing, and once you reach this limit you will need to opt in to spend more. Your phone operator will advise on how you can do this.

You may have to show your return ticket and money for border control. There will also be separate lanes to use from EU, EEA and Swiss citizens when queuing.

You may need extra documents to drive abroad from 1st January 2021. This might include an international driving permit (IDP) to drive in some countries. If you’re taking your own vehicle, you might also need a ‘green card’ or valid proof of insurance and a GB sticker.

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: 30/07/2020

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About Emma Smith

Emma has more than seven years' experience as a writer and has been in the travel industry for nearly five years. She loves learning about 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 Princess Cruises, Cunard, Celebrity Cruises, Virgin Voyages, Avalon Waterways and Royal Caribbean and is looking to get something in her diary for 2024! Her favourite things to see on a ship include excellent entertainment, a delicious cocktail menu and extraordinary dining venues.

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