With Covid-19 vaccinations under way and river cruises scheduled to resume operations in the spring, one question stands above all others for us: When will North Americans be able to ply the rivers of Europe again?
Our best guess: summer of 2021.
Come summer, we believe North Americans will be able to fly to Europe, go on a river cruise and return home with little worry of contracting Covid-19. Of course, summer spans several months, from late June through late September. If things go well with vaccinations, early summer is a reasonable assumption.
By June, if all goes as planned, Europeans will have already been safely river cruising during the spring and into the summer. As we’ve written here before, several European river cruise companies were successful in operating largely coronavirus-free cruises during the summer and fall of 2020. Those companies are eager to continue sailing once the 2021 river cruise season begins in March.
Based on conversations we’ve had with executives at cruise companies, we believe that when we’re able to return to Europe, the threats of coronavirus outbreaks on river cruises will be negligible. As noted, outbreaks on river cruises were negligible during the pandemic.
While it’s hard to imagine now, once the masses are inoculated, coronavirus, according to a study published last week in the journal Science, may be no more of a threat than the common cold. Some may question how big a threat the virus will pose in the future, but it is plausible that as vaccinations increase and case counts decrease, European countries will be eager and willing to allow North Americans to bring their much-missed tourism dollars back to the continent. And airlines will be eager to fly passengers to and from Europe. We can imagine that measures will be in place, perhaps proof of vaccinations, for those crossing international borders.
What about you? What’s your best guess as to when North Americans will be able to river cruise in Europe again?