While the European river cruise season remains largely on hold until more borders open, domestic river cruise lines say their 2021 is off to a seamless and promising start.
One month after launching limited sailings on the Mississippi, both American Queen Steamboat Company and American Cruise Lines said they haven't had any guests test positive for Covid-19 before or during their sailings. And both say they are preparing for a strong season.
"Demand for our 2021 sailings has been unprecedented since operations resumed in mid-March with the American Countess and American Duchess," American Queen said in a statement.
"Our 'Come Home to America' tag line is resonating, and at the current pace, we are on track for our 2021 season inventory to sell out, with 40-plus of those sailings already waitlisted," it added. "This pent-up demand is fueled by the popularity of close to home travel, the assurance of our SafeCruise protocols and added confidence of American Queen Steamboat Company being the first U.S.-based cruise line to mandate vaccinations for guests and crew, on sailings beginning July 1."
American Queen said it is also seeing an influx of 2022 bookings, many by guests who are currently sailing and making reservations before they disembark their in-progress cruise to make sure they get a slot for next year's holiday.
Likewise, American Cruise Lines said all its 2021 river and coastal cruises "have been operating successfully and seamlessly with new protocols in place."
While both lines are currently sailing the Mississippi, they have yet to resume cruises in the Pacific Northwest, where there are more restrictive Covid-19 rules in effect than across the South.
American Cruise Lines said it has been working closely with Oregon and Washington to resume domestic cruising in early May, and those plans are "progressing well."
"Our crew is arriving now to begin their quarantines aboard our ships throughout the region and the first cruise is currently set to depart May 2 aboard modern riverboat American Song," the company said.