Our survey The River Cruise Companies Are Ready To Restart: Are You Ready To River Cruise? is far from scientific. Still, the results and insights from our readers are interesting. Some have no concerns at all about river cruising in 2021. Others worry about issues ranging from the Delta variants to outbreaks to local regulations to the quality of the onboard experience.
Some say they hope they won’t have to wear masks. Others are concerned about having to show negative Covid tests before entering Europe and before returning home. One reader expressed concerns about the onboard culinary experience. How will it change? Another asked will shore excursions be limited? One was concerned that there will be “daily intrusions” for health and testing protocols?
We’ll talk about all of this in our July 7 webinar, Should You Cruise In 2021 Or Wait Until 2022? You can sign up at this link, and good news, Zoom has lifted our webinar cap of 100. We can now host up to 500 attendees, so now that we’ve been unleashed, you can expect more webinars about river cruising.
When all survey results were tallied, those who would not consider doing a river cruise in 2021 outpaced those who would by a factor of more than 4x. It would appear that our readers would prefer to wait for more certainty, and indeed, the majority of survey respondents have river cruises booked for 2022 and 2023.
Certainly, there are many questions as we return to the rivers and to Europe. Will Europe’s attractions be open? asks one reader. And are Europeans ready for us? To that last question, I can confidently answer that they are.
I reached out to Benoît Ghestem, owner for Magnific Escapades, a tour company in Obernai, France. Benoît and I have worked together to organize tours in the Alsace region before and after the barge cruises I host in Alsace and Burgundy.
“France is eagerly waiting for the international travelers to come back,” Benoît told me. He says that almost all pandemic restrictions were lifted yesterday and that people can now go freely to restaurants, movies, theaters and other pre-pandemic venues that they enjoyed. He told me that the vaccination process is running well with more than 50 percent of the total French population having received at least one dose, and more than 30 percent are now completely vaccinated. “As a result, people feel relieved, and the spirit level has improved a lot,” he says.
“Our tourism industry is starting to very slowly recover from the crisis that hit it very badly last year,” he says, adding that in anticipation of tourism returning, he’s invested in new electric minivans and beefed up staff with a new team of experienced, licensed driver-guides.
“We are fully ready for international visitors,” he says. “We have been missing them a lot and will be very happy to see them.”
And we will be happy to see you in your beautiful country again Benoît. Until that day, à bientôt.