The last two months have seen river-cruise companies resume operations on European rivers as vaccination levels rise and travel confidence returns.
While a few companies, notably AmaWaterways, operated limited cruises in 2020, it was the reopening of the European Union to fully-vaccinated American travellers in mid-May that galvanised river cruise companies.
CroisiEurope and A-ROSA Cruises were first to cast off in June. Avalon Waterways, Riviera Travel and Tauck resumed in July, though Tauck's Rhine and Danube itineraries don't begin until September and October.
Scenic has been operating on the Douro since July 30 and resumes on the Rhine and Bordeaux region's rivers this weekend. It expects Danube cruises from September 27.
"This is an exciting first step towards getting our ships back sailing across Europe's rivers and we look forward to our Australian guests also travelling with us again, when the borders re-open and quarantine restrictions ease," says Scenic Group's general sales manager, Anthony Laver.
Uniworld is sailing in France and in Italy, where it debuted new ship La Venezia. Viking has launched four new ships on the Seine, and restarted on other French rivers and the Douro and Rhine. APT and Travelmarvel, which rely heavily on Australian customers, have suspended cruises until 2022.
River-cruise passengers must be fully vaccinated or present negative COVID tests; the regulations and requirements vary between companies. On-board measures include hygiene and sanitation enhancement, social distancing, daily temperature checks and mask wearing.
The silver lining for despondent Australians might be that, by the time we're able to travel overseas again, river-cruise companies will have tested and refined their protocols, and it should be smooth sailing ahead. See myrivercruises.com.au