With risk more manageable compared to ocean-going cruises, summer in this region for the sector may be saved by the more resilient tourists from Germany, Austria, and Switzerland.
River cruises are making a quiet comeback on the Danube after the Covid-19 pandemic brought global tourism to a standstill and forced companies to suspend voyages.
Holidaymakers are adapting to strict new safety measures on the elegant ships with Germany’s Nicko Cruises the first to restart Danube trips on June 22.
The company is now operating three vessels for the six to eight-day trips from Passau in Austria to Budapest, passing scenic hills and old castles along the way.
“Normally, we have 90 percent occupancy, this year we have around 70 percent. There are no limits to how many guests you can have onboard, so we are glad for every guest we have,” said cruise manager Alexander Steiner onboard the vessel NickoVISION which was docked in central Budapest.
Guests come mostly from Germany, Austria and Switzerland as there are still travel limitations on groups coming in from the U.S., UK and Israel, he said.
Passengers must take a Covid blood test before coming onboard, and wear masks when moving around. Tables are placed well apart with dividing screens and waiters wear masks and gloves.
Guests have their temperatures checked daily, and special safety rules apply for excursions.
“I don’t think they booked the cruise fully … it seems like it is a safe experience so I don’t have any worries,” said Kilian Weber, an English teacher from Switzerland travelling with his partner.
Another couple from Germany, Pia and Michael Rusp, booked their trip in January, well before the pandemic started spreading in Europe.
As experienced cruise vacationers, the only thing they miss are the buffet breakfasts, which have been dropped due to the danger of spreading the virus.
“Otherwise, it’s almost as it always was, apart from the requirement to wear masks. But otherwise it is OK. Like before, in fact,” said Pia Rusp.
(Writing by Krisztina Than, editing by Ed Osmond)
This article was written by Krisztina Fenyo and Krisztina Than from Reuters and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to [email protected].
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Photo credit: A river cruise vessel sails past Hungary's Parliament building on the Danube in Budapest. Tudor Stanica / Unsplash