Riviera testing the waters in Europe

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Riviera River Cruises' Charles Dickens. The line plans to resume sailings in Europe in August.
Riviera River Cruises' Charles Dickens. The line plans to resume sailings in Europe in August.

Riviera River Cruises is gearing up to begin sailing in Europe this summer, joining Amadeus River Cruises and AmaWaterways in testing the waters and their new Covid-19 health and safety protocols, even as American travelers remain shut out of the market.

Based in the U.K. and with a strong British market, the company said it is hoping to resume limited sailings by the last week in August, according to Marilyn Conroy, Riviera's executive vice president of sales and marketing in North America.

As with other cruise lines, Riviera's new standards include health screenings and temperature checks, a la carte dining, small groups for excursions and deeper cleanings.

Like other companies, Riviera said its guidelines and practices, developed under the guidance of U.K. health and safety expert Ian Greaves, a member of the Chartered Institute of Environmental Health, will be continuously updated as needed to meet government mandates and the evolving situation.

Could cruising be a safe option for a traveling public worried about Covid-19? Experts on the newly formed Healthy Sail Panel say yes.

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Meantime, two other river lines this month began testing new health and safety practices in limited sailings in Europe with European rather than American guests.

Amadeus, based in Germany, said it currently has six of its 17 ships sailing the Rhine, Main and Danube and plans to begin sailing two more on the Seine and Rhone this month.

Marcus Leskovar, executive vice president of Amadeus, said the company's stronger health and safety protocols "are working fine."

He said guests are not required to wear masks on board as long as they can maintain safe distances, and the company is doing things like staggering arrival and departure times to limit the number of guests in one spot.

"Really, the ships are big enough, people really have enough space, so they don't have to get too close to each other," Leskovar said.

The company also has Covid-19 tests on board so anyone feeling ill can immediately be quarantined and tested.

AmaWaterways has added plexiglass shields and more hand sanitizer stations as part of its Covid-10 prevention protocols.
AmaWaterways has added plexiglass shields and more hand sanitizer stations as part of its Covid-10 prevention protocols.

AmaWaterwyas, which is sailing one ship, the AmaKristina, in partnership with German tour operator E-Joi, has installed plexiglass screens between seating areas in the lounges and near the front desk. It has also added more room service options.

"With these sailings, we have been able to put into practice and perfect our enhanced health and safety protocols while demonstrating that travelers can enjoy our unforgettable river cruise vacations with peace of mind," said Kristin Karst, executive vice president and co-founder of AmaWaterways.

Her husband, co-founder and president Rudi Schreiner, said the company is getting positive feedback after its initial sailings.

Guests "seem to be really enjoying it," he said. "Quite a few have already booked their second trip for the fall."

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