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There’s a bartenders’ academy, a chefs’ school and even the spa staff have been in training.

All across the ‘spaceship’ fleet, Scenic’s famous river cruise crews have been preparing for this week’s season restart.

In Europe, river communities have also been laying out the welcome mat for a celebration fitting for the restart of one of the continent’s most popular holidays.

The biggest lines are reporting strong bookings as travellers appreciate the benefits of river cruising – small ships with vaccinated passengers and crew, under 200 passengers and close to shore medical facilities if things go wrong.

River cruise vessels have been havens from the pandemic. And regulars realise their ships are a great way to traverse the countryside.

Scenic reports: “We have been seeing strong bookings for the Rhine, Portugal France and the France culinary cruises for 2022 and 2023.

“For this year, there’s also strong interest in Christmas Markets in November and December. We have added additional departures to the 8-day and 15-day river cruises to accommodate this.

“We have also started to see guests adding extensions and city stays more than ever before. It seems people are really wanting to make the most of their time overseas and book with one operator for a seamless experience.”

Viking, Avalon and Uniworld are all seeing strong bookings.

Scenic’s crews have been engaged in a series of workshops and campuses in Budapest and other locations to finalise the magic touches that ensure each moment from spring through to Christmas markets will be seamless.

Scenic’s season begins on the Rhine and Moselle waterways in April, with France and Portugal to follow soon after.

At the heart of Scenic’s river cruises are the Cruise Directors, Tour Directors and – new for the 2023  Enrichment Managers.

Budapest is the home of training for health and wellness staff who have also been in training with spa partner, ESPA.

Scenic’s Culinary Campus is also underway in Budapest as Scenic’s Corporate and Executive chef’s gather to refine and perfect new dishes for the 2022 season.

Bar tenders too, who form the social heart of Scenic Space-Ships, have been working up new concoctions for the heart of the ship – the bar.

Cruise lines report that clients are maintaining their bookings for April and May, despite concerns over the Ukraine situation.

“Then things slowed down dramatically through the omicron surge. But … we’ve seen web traffic and bookings ramp up again — and some really strong signs in the U.K. market since they dropped travel testing requirements [for vaccinated inbound travelers].”

Amawaterways co-owner Kristin Karst told the site that “there was never a port that refused a river cruise ship,” unless the country itself had temporary restrictions in place, and “I don’t foresee this happening again this year.

“Denmark and Norway have released all Covid restrictions, and Sweden will follow very soon, so I don’t have any worries for 2022 about itinerary changes to accommodate Covid-19 restrictions. I think we all agree that after two years of Covid restriction, we are ready to move carefully forward.”

Unworld added its voice, saying guests were booking back-to-back sailings.

And Viking expects every vessel sailing in March, with longer itineraries selling best.

UK’s executive vice president Richard Marnell told Cruise Weekly:. “We have seen increased interest for our longer itineraries, such as the 15-day Grand European Tour or the 23-day European Sojourn, which appeal to guests who are looking to maximize their time abroad.”

The Scenic team are holding Scenic Luxury Cruise Showcases in March and April. For locations and session times, click here or for more information or email eventsanz@scenic.com.au