Think no one’s river cruising? Think again. While river cruising in Europe generally takes a pause during the cold of January and February, as well as much of March, regions outside of Europe still see river cruises operating.
Earlier this week, we heard from Patty Moss and her husband Bill, who were in Jordan before traveling to Cairo to board AmaWaterways’ new 72-passenger AmaDahlia.
Patty and Bill are doing a pre-cruise extension before embarking on AmaWaterways’ Secrets of Egypt & The Nile 12-day cruise program. She and Bill were in Petra yesterday with 10 others who are also on their AmaWaterways’ cruise.
We’ll follow along and follow up with Patty as she continues her voyage. Just back from Egypt is Jack Benoff. and his wife Sharon. “It was not my choice of a trip but Sharon wanted to go,” Jack told me. “I was wrong. It should be a bucket list trip for all travelers.”
Here’s what Jack wrote about his trip.
My wife and I were planning for our third attempt at taking a three-week cruise of Australia and New Zealand over the holidays. But COVID had other plans for us again. When we found out that we could not travel as planned in October, we started looking at options. We are big river cruises and truly enjoy Uniworld. My wife decided that a trip to Egypt was in our plans and decided to book a Nile river cruise on Uniworld for us. I had never had a trip to Egypt on my bucket list but was happy to travel on Uniworld again. I must say after taking the trip, it should have been on my bucket list. It was amazing and one of my favorite trips that we have ever taken. Uniworld did an outstanding job. We were met at the airport and ushered through and taken right to the included Four Seasons Nile Plaza for two nights before the cruise.
Uniworld took care of everything. Due to Covid there were only 41 people on board a ship that would normally hold 100. Still, Uniworld did not cut back on anything. Part of the experience is the Egyptologist. Ours was Hazem, and he was engaging and knowledgeable. No matter what question, he had an in-depth answer. He truly made the trip! There were three different Egyptologists for the cruise, and each only had a group of 12-15 guests. We had our own bus that normally holds 50 people for all 14 of our group. Uniworld did a great job with the Covid protocols. They took guest temperatures upon boarding, provided masks as needed, provided hand sanitizers all over the ship, arranged our tours slightly earlier so we would not be in the throngs of the crowds, they opened the full dining room, which provided the ability for social distancing. Upon departure they also provide help completing all paperwork and arranged covid testing so we could return to the US.
The sites were amazing and the weather in December was great. Having the Egyptoligst with us for seven days was a true highlight. Instead of just walking thru a museum or past a pyramid, Hazem was there to explain the history and meaning of what we were seeing. It gave me a new appreciation and understanding for the sites. Back on the ship the food and staff were amazing. They provided a great mixture of local cuisine every day. The staff was over the top and no request was too much.
All in all this was one of my favorite trips and I hope one day to be able to go back and enjoy the area again.
Last week brought us another email, this one from Uniworld’s CEO, Ellen Bettridge. Ellen’s letter was not exclusively to us. It was to all members of River Heritage Club (Uniworld’s loyalty program). We think it’s a worthwhile letter to read for insights into how river cruises are operating during the pandemic.
Happy New Year! I hope this letter finds you doing well, feeling hopeful and making plans with optimism for the year ahead. That’s not always easy in our current environment, but a necessary step in moving forward.
I feel it is important to address the announcements the CDC recently made regarding travel on cruise ships – first recommending that people defer their travel on cruise ships, then modifying its Conditional Sailing Order. As these announcements were primarily based on ocean cruising and cruises in U.S. waters, we can confirm that Uniworld guests will not be affected. We are operating our scheduled 2022 cruises as planned.
It is important to note that river cruising is very different than ocean cruising. Our ships have an average of only 120 passengers, making it easy for guests to stay physically distant and not have to deal with lines or crowds. A higher crew-to-guest ratio (1-to-2.3 on Uniworld) means it’s easier to care for our guests, provide small group and private activities for them to participate in and keep spaces clean and sanitized on a frequent basis. Very different to ocean cruise ships, river ships are constantly in close proximity to land and shoreside resources, meaning any medical issues occurring onboard can be quickly moved onshore and handled by a team of medical professionals. Thankfully, the vast majority of our 2021 sailings, almost 200, were without incident and we’re looking forward to welcoming guests onboard our 2022 cruises. Our crew is 100% vaccinated and all guests are required to be fully vaccinated to travel with us in 2022.
The health and well-being of our guests and crew have always been our top priority, and we plan to keep it that way.
I personally thank you for trusting Uniworld to provide you an excellent experience when you travel with us.
You deserve the best.
CEO, Uniworld Boutique River Cruises
I asked Ellen if she would mind clarifying what she meant by the “vast majority” of nearly 200 cruises were without incident. As it turns out, there were two incidents. Those guests were quarantined in a hotel, remaining guests were tested, and the cruise continued without incident. Ellen tells me that Uniworld guest services remained in contact, and offered services, to the guests who were left behind in quarantine.