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After two years of health and safety protocols introduced to curb the spread of Coronavirus, many river cruise lines are starting to ease requirements.

River cruise lines have said that instead of having blanket rules, they will be influenced by the destinations that they visit. They have also said that they want a sense of normality to return.

With mask mandates and vaccination requirements easing in the last few months, it looks as though pre-departure testing will be one of the next protocols to be relaxed.

The protocols for dealing with COVID-positive passengers vary between lines, with some still covering costs up to a certain amount.

AmaWaterways, Avalon and Viking said in a statement that if guests test positive and need to enter quarantine off the ship they will not cover the additional charges which may include flights, hotels or other expenses. They are recommending that guests purchase travel insurance with Coronavirus protection.

Avalon Waterways said that since the US removed its requirement for inbound air passengers, most testing has since been done at the request of guests. Out of those tested, Avalon president Pamela Hoffee said in June that fewer than 0.5 per cent of guests have tested positive.

She added: “With only vaccinated travellers and crew onboard, plus enhanced health and safety protocols in place, we have operated with a very low number of cases of COVID-19.”

Guests onboard Scenic must simply meet the entry requirements for their destination country and are not required to have any additional PCR or RAT. Avalon guests however must have taken a negative PCR or antigen test no earlier than 72 hours before travel.

 

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Uniworld guests must be tested before boarding and some countries that the cruise visits may require testing midway through the journey. If that is required then Uniworld will cover those costs.

Scenic, Avalon, APT, Uniworld and Viking still require guests onboard their river ships to present a pre-cruise health questionnaire and be fully vaccinated with a vaccine from the approved list.

The vaccine certificate must be current, which may include a booster dose, which Scenic strongly recommends. APT requires a booster at least two weeks prior to boarding the ship.

Scenic and Avalon state that masks are still required when physical distancing is not possible and the lines recommend that guests bring their own hand sanitiser.

Viking and Uniworld have slightly different policies and say that masks are optional while moving around the ship, however, there may be times they are required so it’s best to take your own mask onboard.

The river cruise lines recommend that guests take their own masks while onshore and that they will adhere to the local requirements. In some destinations that may mean wearing an FFP2, N95/99 or KN95.

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