The luxury river cruise operator hopes for a quick resumption of European sailings
Ellen Bettridge, the CEO of luxury river cruise operator Uniworld, has said she is hopeful that the company will return to service in May.
Bettridge, who was speaking at Clia’s Virtual River Cruise Showcase, said that the Danube, Rhine and Douro would all return to service quickly, with Asian rivers such as the Mekong coming back in September.
She said: “We don’t really know for sure what’s going to be required, but what we do know is that guests will still have a fantastic experience.”
Demand for the company’s cruises is high, with 11 per cent of bookings being carried over from 2020. Overall, 52 per cent of bookings so far for 2021 represented people new to the brand.
“People see [river cruising] as the opportunity to be close to land, on a smaller vessel and you have the space, comfort and luxury – I think they feel more comfortable being close to land.”
However, Bettridge conceded that shore excursions were still a big unknown for Uniworld, with different destinations expected to have different rules.
Clia’s Virtual River Cruise Showcase replaced its member event, which is usually held in November. Other speakers included Walter Littlejohn, the managing director of Crystal River Cruises, and Rudi Schreiner, co-founder of AmaWaterways.
Ultra-luxury line Crystal joins the likes of Swan Hellenic and Saga in asking for proof of vaccination before sailing
Crystal has announced that it will now require all guests to be fully vaccinated against Covid-19 at least 14 days prior to embarkation.
Guests will need to provide proof of vaccination before sailing and must have received both doses of the vaccine if recommended by the manufacturer. The ultra-luxury line joins the likes of Swan Hellenic and Saga in making the measure mandatory.
The vaccine requirement is part the company’s comprehensive Crystal Clean+ 4.0 measures, including negative Covid-19 tests for guests and crew, temperature checks at the terminal prior to boarding, a “nimble” mask policy, social distancing guidelines, enhanced cleaning and disinfection measures, reduced capacity and more.
“We are encouraged by the progress being made with the Covid-19 vaccines and what this means for our Crystal Family and the travel industry as a whole as we eagerly look forward to exploring the world again,” said Crystal’s interim president and CEO, Jack Anderson.
“We know that peace of mind is the greatest luxury; and the vaccine requirement is simply the best way to ensure the safest possible Crystal Experience for all on board. This sentiment is underscored by conversations with our guests and travel partners and a recent survey of cruisers that revealed more than 80 per cent of respondents would cruise if a vaccine were required.
“As part of the company’s Crystal Clean+ 4.0 measures, crew members will be tested for Covid-19 prior to leaving their home location to join the ship and must receive a negative result. They also will take a Covid-19 test at embarkation; quarantine for seven days upon arrival; be tested again at the end of that seven-day period and must receive a negative result before beginning their duties,” Anderson said.
“When vaccines are widely available, they will be a requirement of employment for crew which must be completed at least 14 days prior to service.”
In addition to providing verified documentation of their Covid-19 vaccine at the time of boarding, guests will complete an online form acknowledging this requirement before their cruise tickets will be issued. Crystal has published a frequently asked questions document on the advisory alert section of its website for further reference.
Crystal said it will continue to evaluate and update its Crystal Clean+ 4.0 health and safety protocols for its luxury brands – Crystal Cruises, Crystal River Cruises, Crystal Yacht Cruises and the upcoming Crystal Expedition Cruises – according to the latest scientific data and expert guidance.