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Post-pandemic river cruising

Ready for the update? Read on!

I recently updated the status of ocean cruises.

Here’s the latest post-pandemic update for river cruises.

River cruises take place on ships and paddle wheelers in both in the U.S. and around the world. River cruise ships carry far fewer passengers that their ocean counterparts. They offer all ocean view cabins, some with picture windows, some with French balconies (sliding glass door, but no balcony to step out onto), and others with full balconies (and some with double balconies). River cruises are almost without exception scheduled to begin sailing this spring, in March or April. And wow! River cruises are selling like crazy, especially for this summer and fall. Many U.S. ones are sold out on many dates.


American Cruise Lines:

American Cruise Lines, who cruise in over 30 states, voluntarily suspended all cruises in March 2020; they don’t fall under the CDC regulations because their ships are small and only visit domestic ports. Their enhanced health protocols as they begin sailing this spring are: onboard COVID-19 testing, increased sanitation, reduced sailing capacity (75%), availability of personal protective equipment, and private room service. In 2021, they’re adding four Mississippi riverboats (two paddle wheelers and two modern riverboats), plus they’ll have four riverboats on the Columbia & Snake Rivers, and five small coastal ships for the East & West Coasts, including Alaska & Florida.

American Queen Steamboat Company:

Similar to American Cruise Lines, the American Queen Steamboat Company will begin sailing this spring. Their health protocols include: pre-cruise screenings, increased sanitation, added medical resources, thermal monitoring, and reduced motorcoach capacities. Additionally, they will require a vaccine or proof of having had COVID-19 beginning with their July sailings.

They are debuting a new ship on the Mississippi, Ohio, and Tennessee rivers, and a new paddlewheeler on US rivers will be sailing on itineraries in the Heartland & Deep South. They’ve also added itineraries on the Illinois & Upper Mississippi rivers this year, and their ship Ocean Victory will be offering small-ship scenic cruising in Alaska. For peace of mind, travelers can cancel up to 120 days prior & receive 100% refunds.



AmaWaterways is scheduled to begin sailing using their new health & safety protocols (temperature checks, face coverings in public spaces, and social distancing) in April 2021. They are adding two new French itineraries. They already provide complimentary bikes for guests, and are increasing their hiking and biking options this year.

Avalon Waterways:

Avalon is debuting a new ship this year, and adding more active and discovery excursion choices. Their health & safety protocols include pre-boarding health screenings, mask wearing (when in close proximity to others), limited onboard capacities, and touchless interactions. Their onboard air flow is not recirculated, but is fresh for passengers.

Emerald Waterways & Scenic Luxury Cruises:

Emerald and Scenic are restarting their cruises in April, and are introducing a new ship this year. Their health protocols include: medical evaluations & tests prior to boarding, enhanced sanitation, minimized social contact, and smaller onshore groups.


Tauck’s health and safety protocols include health screenings, physical distancing, and mask wearing in groups. They are introducing a new riverboat on the Douro River in Portugal.

Uniworld River Cruises & U by Uniworld:

Uniworld is launching a new ship on the Nile, and has done a top-to-bottom overhaul of its Venice-based ship. They will launch their first combination river and rail trips in Italy and Switzerland as well as begin Amazon sailings. Their health protocols include temperature checks, hand sanitation stations onboard, and surface disinfection.


Viking’s health protocols include daily testing for all guests and crew, a new air purification technology, and health checks, sanitizing, and physical distancing. They will have six new ships this year, four on the Seine, one on the Mekong and another on the Nile.

Let me know if you're ready to talk about a river cruise. They are a completely amazing travel experience.


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