Jeri Clausing
Jeri Clausing

In the post-Covid-19 travel world, the emphasis -- at least initially -- is going to be all about health and safety.

And as river cruise lines prepare to resume sailing, expect to see new competition around who has the cleanest boats on the water.

Earlier this month, Uniworld Boutique River Cruise Collection and the American Queen Steamboat Co. unveiled details of their new health and safety initiatives.

And Avalon Waterways last week unveiled its new protocols, called the Avalon Assurance Program, which it said was developed by team of global experts who will review and tweak plans as necessary.

"The world has changed, but what remains certain is our steadfast commitment to our guests' safety, comfort and peace of mind," said Pam Hoffee, managing director of Avalon Waterways. "To that end, we have established a global health and safety team dedicated to ensuring that the cleanliness of all operations exceeds today's standards from start to finish."

The new protocols include mandatory health screenings, luggage disinfection, new electrostatic and ultraviolet cleaning and disinfecting systems, reduced ship capacity and a commitment to clean all public areas every hour at a minimum.

The company also emphasizes that 80% of Avalon Waterways cabins are Panorama Suites, which offer passengers an open-air experience. Additionally, Avalon says, the air in its ships is not circulated between staterooms, only within an individual stateroom and mixed with fresh outside air.

"We will continue to review and update our Assurance initiatives as we make the pivot back to the world's waterways," Hoffee said, noting the company currently is looking at a Sept. 1 return.

She also emphasized that while safety is key, "we will also deliver to our travelers a wonderful vacation. An escape that invites them to take part in the joy of discovering new places, new people and new cultures -- everything they already expect from an Avalon Waterways vacation."

Avalon said its global health and safety team is made up of experts from around the world. It's new guidelines and protocols, the company said, adhere to and build upon those set forth by the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the World Health Organization, CLIA and the USTOA.

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