In this Cruise News Round-up we look at the future of international travel including changes in health and safety measures across Europe; how cruise lines are supporting frontline staff and what procedures are being put in place by leading cruise lines to ensure the cruise industry will return stronger than before.
- CroisiEurope sailing again in Europe
- The return of river cruising
- Free cruises for key workers
- Europe reopens for travel
CroisiEurope sailing again in Europe
French river cruise company, CroisiEurope has revealed it is planning a progressive return to cruising in Europe by early July. The cruise line will initially operate within the Schengen area as the relaxation of lockdowns evolve.
Speaking out on the resumption of sailings, CroisiEurope said, “Our company remains committed to restating operations mid-summer under the best conditions for everyone, with careful consideration and adaptation to the situation as it evolves.”
The river cruise line’s ships carry a small number of people at just 130 passengers at capacity, while its six canal barges carry just 22 people. As France eases its internal restrictions, the cruise line is planning to resume river cruises in France and ocean sailings from Nice to Corsica.
Routes on the Seine, Loire, Gironde, Garonne, Dordogne, Rhone, Saone and Rhine will be the ‘Discover France’ itineraries, while sailings on the ocean ship – La Belle de Oceans – will set sail around Corsica.
The cruise line confirmed it will be resume sailing under ‘optimal safety conditions’, including changes to on-board dining such as eliminating morning buffet breakfasts and introducing two seatings with a more limited menu. Families and larger parties will be restricted to table sizes of eight people. CroisiEurope will also make it a requirement to use audio listening devices on arranged shore excursions and strongly recommends passengers to use masks, gloves and sanitising gel on tours.
Read more: CroisiEurope to resume sailings in July
The return of river cruising
As river cruising prepares to return to the waters, many cruise lines are working on the development and implementation of health and safety procedures to ensure staff and guests remain safe during their time on-board. New guidelines have been put forward by Swiss-based IG RiverCruise, which has represented the river cruise sector for 20 years.
The new guidance outlines passenger and crew health and hygiene standards, with some of the implementations including:
- A minimum of 1.5m social distancing on-board and, where this cannot be achieved, the crew are to wear disposable gloves, aprons or protective masks
- Passengers are to complete an ‘infection protection’ questionnaire which will be checked upon arrival
- Masks are to be worn in public areas
- Luggage will be disinfected before boarding
- Crew are to be tested daily and trained in the use of PPE and hygiene standards
- Self-service buffets are replaced by table service and items shared by passengers are no longer available
- Bar seating is to be removed and live entertainment will be offered alongside social distancing
Many cruise lines have already outlined their actions to adapt and improve their health and safety procedures. Uniworld has already introduced its stringent health and safety measures, including health screenings; air-conditioning filters; social distancing requirements; the removal of all magazines and brochures for public use; and the halting of self-service food such as fruits, cookies and candies for all guests.
Avalon Waterways has shared that it intends to deep clean and disinfect each stateroom during turnover, as well as all dining areas between meals and bicycles or umbrellas after each use. The cruise line has introduced top-of-the-line technologies such as UV disinfecting systems and electrostatic cleaning, as well as medical screening and new social distancing in crew living quarters.
Speaking about the new procedures, Avalon Waterways Managing Director, Pam Hoffee said, “The world has changed but what remains certain is out steadfast commitment to our guests’ safety, comfort and peace-of-mind. To that end, we have established a Global Health & Safety team dedicated to ensuring that the cleanliness of all operations exceeds today’s standards from start-to-finish.”
Crystal River Cruises have spoken about the inherent design of the cruise line’s ships which maximise personal space and public space, offering plenty of options to keep a healthy distance during their sailings. The cruise line’s river cruise ships offer nearly double the space per person than ships of a similar size, which is among the highest space ratios in the industry and will be further augmented through the new measures the cruise line will be implementing. Crystal Cruises have confirmed they will be communicating these changes as soon as they are in place, and we will share these details with you as soon as we are able.
Co-founders of cruise line AmaWaterways, Rudi Schreiner and Kristin Karst shared that changes they are expecting for the cruise line include food handling, and that river cruises have the shared benefit of never being far from medical services should they be required. Schreiner added that he believed the ‘future is bright’ due to the new health, safety and cleanliness protocols. Although the line is still working on their own protocols, these measures will provide additional confidence to passengers, crew and local destinations as they prepare to welcome the ships once more to European waterways.
As more protocols are revealed by the cruise lines, we will keep you updated with these and how each cruise line is preparing to set sail once more.
Free cruises for key workers
AmaWaterways are offering complimentary cruise certificates for medical professionals, first responders and essential service employees who share a cabin with a second paying passenger. Kristin Karst, Executive Vice President and Co-founder of the cruise line shared, “There are none more deserving of a river cruise vacation than today’s frontline heroes – the doctors, nurses, paramedics and other frontline medical professionals who are diligently helping others and inspiring hope during these challenging times.”
Eligible guests will receive a complimentary Future Cruise Certificate which can be redeemed on any of the cruise line’s river cruise sailings in Europe or Asia through to 31st December 2021.
Meanwhile, Uniworld is looking for nominations from travel agent partners and loyal guests to put forward their ‘unsung heroes’ and be in with a chance to be selected for one of 25 complimentary seven-night European river cruises. The nominations are open until 31st July 2020 and will be selected by the Uniworld executive management team. Winners will be notified by 5th August 2020. If you have someone you would love to nominate, you can enter online here.
We love that river cruise lines are giving something back to their guests and communities during these challenging times and celebrating those who have made an impact among us.
Read more: River Cruise Lines Offering Free Cruises
Europe reopens for travel
Countries across Europe are beginning to plan to take their first steps towards reopening to tourism. Last month, the European Union unveiled its support to help Europe’s tourism industry and allow countries to begin preparing for the future.
A series of guidelines were shared by the European Commission to help member states list travel restrictions and allow tourism businesses to reopen while maintaining the necessary health precautions. Many countries have since revealed their plans for opening borders and welcoming international tourism, including many short-haul destinations and popular hotspots.
As the UK’s number one summer destination, Spain has implemented a four-phase plan which allows domestic travel to resume on the 22nd June. The country will then reopen to international arrivals – including tourists – on the 1st July.
Bars, restaurants, cafes and museums are slowly reopening in iconic destinations across Italy such as Venice, Rome and Florence, alongside many hotels and beach resorts. Italy’s ban on international arrivals is due to be lifted in June 2020, with restrictions based on where the passengers has travelled from. Speaking on the subject, Italian Tourist Board Manager of UK & Ireland, Flavio Zappacosta said, “we know how popular Italy is for Brits and hope we can inspire them to start to plan and book an Italian holiday this year.”
The Egyptian Tourism Federation has created a health and hygiene plan to help tourism businesses in Egypt open safely. Since mid-May 2020 25% of hotels were reopened, and this will be increased to 50% in June 2020.
As many destinations continue working hard to introduce new measures and health protocols, it allows us to look ahead for a more positive future when international travel is welcomed once more.