River cruise lines across the globe have temporarily suspended their sailings for the next few months.
But Cruise Passenger has heard from one leader in the industry who says it is more likely to be years before people return to cruising.
Jeff Paglialonga, Owner and Director of Teeming River Cruises, has told Cruise Passenger that while most lines, including his own company, are only currently scheduled to cancel itineraries at this stage until late April or June, he believes this forecast is likely to change in coming weeks to a much longer term scenario… and it could be up to two years before American cruisers feel safe to travel again.
“The biggest issue is that guests will not travel out of their home country to get sick in Europe. Europe’s hospitals are not the quality of Australia and America, and most are overrun already.
“The river cruise market is primarily over 65. No one will risk going abroad to get sick. They won’t be travelling for a year or two.”
Mr Paglialonga says that he has seen a broad range of responses from his passengers so far who have pr-booked cruises and are unsure of what do do in terms of their future sailings.
“Some guests are frustrated and want an immediate refund for sailings that have not yet been cancelled. There are too many unknowns.”
At this stage, Avalon Waterways is the river cruise company that has the latest official cancellation policy on offer for pre-booked passengers, advising they have voluntarily suspended sailings until July 2020.
Teeming River Cruises are not far behind. Mr Paglialonga says: “We are not currently refunding until we have an official cancellation. All dates we have seen for shut down of gatherings have or will most likely be extended. So the dates that most lines are putting out there to sail again is unrealistic.”
Cruise Passenger has contacted the majority of the top river cruise lines that Australians travel with to ask if they will be extending their current cancellation policies and extending their suspended itineraries.
Of the major lines, Scenic Cruises, Crystal Cruises, Viking River Cruises, Ama Waterways with APT, Uniworld Boutique River Cruises, and Riviera Cruises all say that there have been no announcements as yet as to extended sailings. However some of the lines, like Uniworld say there may be further announcements shortly.
For updates on countries lock down dates, click here.
Mr Paglialonga says: “All lockdown dates will most likely be extended and there will be no sailings taking place.”
For the latest on River cruise cancellation dates, see the article below.
Cruise Passenger will endeavour to keep this information updated as it unfolds.