River cruise lines have made their first cancellations due to the coronavirus as it continues to spread across the world.
Despite the season typically commencing from March, many lines with vessels operating in China have already made drastic changes to their itineraries in an effort to minimise the impact.
Many of the main China-operated river lines that Australians pre-book aren’t scheduled to depart until March or April. They are yet to make a final decision on whether there will be future cancellations.
However, with numerous new cases of coronavirus being diagnosed every day, travel companies are making urgent changes.
Known as Wuhan coronavirus because of its reported origin from an animal marketplace in China’s Wuhan City, the spread throughout China has been rapid.
The Yangtze is the world’s third-longest river, which travels 6,300 km from Shanghai through China’s heartland… and has more than 60 vessels operating cruises along the river.
Here’s the latest on the main river cruise lines responses and also the policies which will have the biggest impact for Australians planning river sailings in China in 2020.
Viking River Cruises:
The latest official statement from Viking River Cruises on their website vikingrivercruises.com.au is as follows:
“Viking does not have any river or ocean sailings scheduled to call in China until March 2020. We are monitoring the Wuhan coronavirus situation closely and will continue to do so in the coming weeks, heeding guidelines from the U.S. Department of State, the Centers for Disease Control and the World Health Organization.
“The safety and security of our guests and crew is always our top priority; should we deem a sailing modification or other precaution is necessary, Viking Customer Relations will communicate directly with any impacted guests and their travel agents about the change.”
If you have any questions, you can contact Viking Customer Relations at 138 747, but if you have a pre-booked trip with Viking, then they will notify guests on affected sailings directly.
APT‘s Paul Melinis, managing director for UK & Europe has told the British Telegraph: “No APT tours and river cruises pass through Wuhan, with our China itineraries starting at the end of March. In the meantime we are monitoring the situation closely through government travel advisories, the World Health Organization and our contacts within China. The safety of our guests and staff is always our top priority. We expect to continue operating all our river cruise and tours to China as planned.”
Victoria Cruise Lines
Victoria Cruises, typically operate from late March to October but has had offerings throughout February – with three itineraries on the Yangtze River. These off-season winter sailings have now been cancelled.
“While operations have not been directly impacted by the situation in Wuhan — more than 500 miles away from the American-managed company’s Chongqing office — many passengers travel through transportation hubs which have been affected by proactive measures taken by the Chinese government, creating logistical difficulties,” the line said in a statement to Cruisecritic.com.au this week.
“Victoria Cruise Lines will monitor the situation in the interim and continue to prioritize the safety and enjoyment of its valued guests,” they said.
Uniworld‘s China itineraries begin in April, and the line says it will continue to monitor developments.
World Health Organisation
The latest advice from WHO for health measures related to international travel is as follows:
“The current outbreak originated in Wuhan city, which is a major domestic and international transport hub. Given the large population movements, and the observed human to human transmission, it is not unexpected that new confirmed cases will continue to appear in other areas and countries. With the information currently available for the novel coronavirus, WHO advises that measures to limit the risk of exportation or importation of the disease should be implemented, without unnecessary restrictions of international traffic.”