The first European river cruise since the suspension of sailings following the coronavirus pandemic has set sail, marking a potential turning point for the cruise industry.
Nicko Cruises’ 220-passenger NickoVision set sail yesterday (1 June) with a reduced capacity of 110 German passengers from Passau to Dusseldorf and with enhanced health and safety measures in place.
All guests travelling on board were required to bring a health form sent to them by the cruise line and only persons who passed the questionnaire with “no objectionable result” were admitted to board the ship.
Passengers’ temperatures were checked and they were given an antibody test by the on-board doctor before being granted permission to board.
Existing hygienic precautions have been tightened on board with the introduction of additional prophylactic disinfection measures.
To help maintain social distancing, the cruise ship is running at 70-80 per cent at normal capacity and one-way street systems have been implemented where there isn’t sufficient space for minimum distances.
Fewer tables have been set up in the restaurants and salon with dividing walls put up where necessary.
Self-service buffets have been suspended, with the crew (who will wear masks and gloves) serving breakfast from the buffet or a la carte from the kitchen.
All passengers will be required to wear masks when in corridors and gangways.
Guests will be split into smaller groups for shore excursions and guests will be given audio systems so they can maintain enough distance. Masks will be mandatory on buses.
Commenting on Nicko Cruises’ return to service, Rupert Thomson, MD of Light Blue Travel which represents Nicko Cruises in the UK, said:
“It’s heartening to see green shoots of a return to European river cruising by Nicko Cruises – it is a positive step forward.
For UK cruisers, European river cruising will be a good option as they start travelling again. Smaller vessels with fewer passengers, easy to reach embarkation ports by air, rail or self-drive and sailing never far from land.
“We look forward to working with the UK travel trade on bookings for later this year when the non-essential travel and quarantine restrictions are lifted and for 2021 and beyond.”
River cruise line A-Rosa announced last week that it plans to restart cruises in mid-June.
The move comes as travel restrictions imposed following the coronavirus (Covid-19) outbreak lift across 31 European countries, which is scheduled for 15 June 2020.
Visit nicko-cruises.de for more information.