It’s Official: Summer River Cruises Are A Go | TravelResearchOnline


It’s Official: Summer River Cruises Are A Go

Yesterday, the European Union announced that it would welcome fully vaccinated travelers as well as unvaccinated travelers from Covid-safe countries (the list of countries is expected to be released on Friday). While details are pending, the new measures could go into effect as early as next week.



The news comes as a big step forward. Visitors not only will be allowed to travel to Europe but also will be able to enter E.U. countries without having to quarantine.

River cruise companies were quick to respond. This morning, Scenic and Emerald wrote to us to say that they plan to restart on Portugal’s Douro river beginning in late July. Strasbourg-based CroisiEurope told us last week that its ships are expected to begin sailing again as early as next month.

There are mixed messages, though. As of this writing, the CDC recommends against travel to many E.U. countries, including all of the countries in Europe where there are river cruises. The CDC’s recommendation, however, seems to contradict the center’s updated advice that vaccinated Americans can safely resume travel.

What is clear is that travelers are being more cautious, not only with health protocols but also with protecting their travel investments. Our contacts at Insure My Trip tell us that they have seen an increase in travelers opting for CFAR (Cancel For Any Reason) trip insurance, in case those travelers want to back out of their vacation plans.

Also unclear is whether negative PCR tests will be required for vaccinated visitors entering Europe. Some E.U. countries will require a negative PCR test less than 72 hours before departure. Italy’s rules are complex. Visitors from the U.S., for example, will require a test and a 10-day quarantine, unless they take “Covid-tested flights” and meet other requirements. France will make PCR tests available free of charge to all visitors this summer, but other details are pending. Rules vary by country and with 27 EU countries, the differing requirements are too varied for us to cover in this post.

In a conversation with CroisiEurope last week, a company spokesperson told us that bookings for the summer have surged since President Emmanuel Macron announced a June 9 easing of travel restrictions for foreigners. Moreover, case numbers and positivity rates in France have been dropping. Nearly 31 percent of the French population has received at least one jab of the vaccine. Universal eligibility for vaccinations opens for adults in France on June 15, so we expect only improving conditions there. Museums and cultural sites are reopening, as are restaurants and cafes.



We expect AmaWaterways and Avalon to resume cruises in late June or early July. Viking cranks up again in July. Crystal River Cruises says it won’t start up operations again until the end of August.

We received good news about the CDC’s requirement to show proof of a negative Covid-19 test result three days before boarding a flight returning to the United States. Abbott Laboratories and United Airlines announced yesterday that they are partnering to make an “at-home” Covid test available that meets CDC guidelines for travelers returning from Europe. We expect river cruise companies and other airlines will be coming up with similar solutions to satisfy the CDC requirements.

As of now, there still are many questions. The CDC’s relaxing of masks among vaccinated people would seem to suggest that river cruisers in Europe (where the CDC has no authority) will not have to mask up. Don’t get us wrong: We have no problem with wearing masks but, of course, prefer to go bare-faced.

What all of this says to us is that early summer cruises will be off to a slow start, and there will likely be some bumps along the way. Things are poised to pick up late summer and early fall.

One question we have is will we need a booster vaccination? We received the second of our two doses in late March. The vaccines are proving to be effective for at least six months, but beyond that, it’s too early to say.

Nonetheless, this week’s news comes as welcome news, and it does seem that the world is returning to normal.

If you’d like to join any of our hosted trips this year or next, see this link or email us. Here’s a list of what’s still available.

  • September 23-October 3, 2021 Amsterdam roundtrip on Crystal Bach from $5,599 per person
  • October 4-October 11, 2021 Budapest roundtrip on Emily Bronte from $3,569 per person
  • October 21-27, 2021 Barging Besançon to Montbéliard with singer/songwriter David Wilcox from $4,095 per person
  • April 8-14, 2022 Barging Alsace from LaGarde to Strasbourg  from $3,495 per person, 1 cabin available
  • April 16-22, 2022 Barging Burgundy from Dijon to Bescancon  from $3,495 per person, 1 cabin available


This article was originally published at River Cruise Advisor.


PictureAn avid traveler and an award-winning journalist, Ralph Grizzle produces articles, video and photos that are inspiring and informative, personal and passionate. A journalism graduate of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Ralph has specialized in travel writing for more than two decades. To read more cruise and port reviews by Ralph Grizzle, visit his website at

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