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The COVID-19 (coronavirus disease 2019) pandemic is affecting cruise travel from sea to inland waterways, but currently canceled voyages are scheduled to resume relatively soon. For now, here is when each river cruise brand is currently slated to return and how each line is dealing with cancellations.
These statuses and policies are often changing, so expect updates to this article as we are notified of modifications. This guide is meant to be a handy snapshot, and we recommend checking this page often and verifying with each line for the latest details. (Check out our resource for ocean cruises here, and expedition and small-ship cruises here.)
AmaWaterways (updated May 7)AmaWaterways plans to resume European service August 1.
Those guests affected by canceled cruises will receive a 115% future cruise credit applicable to all cruises departing before Dec. 31, 2022. Or passengers can request a 100% refund.
For a limited time, guests with new or existing bookings who buy AmaWaterways Cruise Protection Plan can purchase AmaWaterways Travel Waiver Plus at $80 per person. For those without the cruise protection plan, the Travel Waiver Plus can be purchased for $175 per person.
Travel Waiver Plus lets guests cancel up to 24 hours prior to sailing. If canceled up to seven days before a trip, passengers will get a future cruise credit covering cancellation penalties with the balance refunded. Or, if canceled six days to 24 hours before, they will receive a full cruise credit redeemable on sailings within two years.
Note to Advisors“The company will fully protect the commission of travel advisors whose clients opt for a Future Cruise Credit, as well as pay an additional 10% commission on the value of the future booking,” said Rudi Schreiner, president and co-founder of AmaWaterways. “Plus, the company will pay full commission on the fare difference, if applicable. We understand the immediate implications that these unavoidable travel cancellations are having on our valued travel advisors, who have been the foundation of our family-owned-and-operated business. We recognize the important role advisors play in encouraging our guests to rebook; therefore, paying commission now on the canceled arrangements and again on the future bookings seems very much the right thing to do.’”
American Cruise Lines (updated May 27)American Cruise Lines plans to resume service first onboard the American Song on June 20 followed by the American Harmony on June 28. The line is also targeting late June/July to restart in Alaska.
Passengers scheduled to sail onboard before that time will receive a 125% future cruise credit that can be redeemed on any 2020 or 2021 cruise. Or, passengers can request a 100% refund.
American Cruise Lines has revised its cancellation policy. For sailings through Aug. 31, guests may cancel up to 24 hours in advance and receive a full future cruise credit.
Note to AdvisorsAdvisor commissions that could be affected by either Cruise with Comfort or suspended operations will be 100% commission protected for cruise vouchers issued, according to the line. Commissions will be paid based on the original sailing date for any payments made toward commissionable items.
"Our travel advisor partners have appreciated our commission policy in particular, because it compensates them sooner than later for their efforts,” said Susan Shultz, vice president of trade relations. “Plus, Cruise with Comfort has helped advisors sell, because it allows guests the ability to cancel their cruise up to 24 hours before the cruise begins.”
American Queen Steamboat Company (updated June 30)American Queen Steamboat Company (AQSC) plans to resume service per ship: American Empress on Aug. 3, American Duchess on Aug. 17 and American Countess and American Queen on Aug. 9.
AQSC will provide a 125% future cruise credit to guests affected by cancellations. Or, passengers can request a 100% refund.
As for AQSC’s revised cancellation policy, guests scheduled on 2020 cruises can cancel up to 24 hours before sailing. According to the line, “Reservation is subject to standard cancellation penalties and guests will receive a future cruise certificate for the penalty amount.” Certificate is good for travel in 2020 through 2022.
Note to Advisors“AQSC thanks its guests, travel agent partners, vendors and team members for their patience and understanding during this constantly developing situation,” the line said. “The company will continue to work closely with ports of call and the local communities it visits and adhere to the recommendations of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and U.S. Coast Guard to prepare for sailings when they resume.”
Avalon Waterways (updated May 11)Avalon Waterways plans to resume service Sept. 1.
Guests who were scheduled to sail before that date can freely shift their booking to any Globus family of brands (Globus, Cosmos, Monograms or Avalon Waterways) trip or receive a full future credit good from 2020 to 2022. Additionally, affected passengers will get a bonus credit as follows: $50 for Cosmos, Escapes by Globus and Monograms; $100 for Globus; or $200 for Avalon Waterways.
According to the line: “For travel beyond Aug. 31, 2020, we are continuing our policy waiving cancellation penalties until three days prior to departure.”
Note to Advisors “We understand this is a time of hesitation and concern in the world of travel, but we are committed to ensuring our guests and their travel advisors manage through this period with the right options, adequate time and high levels of attention and consideration,” the line said.
CroisiEurope Cruises (updated May 11)CroisiEurope Cruises plans to resume service July 1.
Guests scheduled on canceled cruises will receive a full future cruise credit, plus $150 per person credit good for any 2021 or 2022 season cruise. "At the end of 2021, if credits are not used, guests can apply for a refund on their original booking,” according to the line.
Also, regarding all new reservations made before June 15 for departures between Aug. 1 and Nov. 30, guests can cancel free of charge up to 16 days prior to embarkation.
Riviera River Cruises (updated June 12)Riviera River Cruises plans to resume service July 1.
"If you’re due to travel with us before July 1, 2020 you don’t need to call us as a member of our dedicated team will be contacting you directly to discuss your options,” according to the line.
Additionally, for all new and existing bookings for 2020 and 2021 reservations until Sept. 30, 2020, guests can decide to cancel and transfer their reservation to any date in 2020, up to 24 hours before sailing at no added cost. Or for dates in 2021, changes can be made at any time up to Sept. 30, 2020.
Scenic Luxury Cruises & Tours and Emerald Waterways (updated April 14)Scenic Luxury Cruises & Tours and subsidiary Emerald Waterways plan to resume service July 1. This season’s remaining Mekong River cruises up to mid-May have also been entirely canceled.
Both brands will provide guests affected by the canceled cruises a 110% future cruise credit valid through Dec. 31, 2022. Or, passengers can request a 100% refund.
Per updated policies, for departures from July 1 to Dec. 31, 2020, passengers may cancel up to 30 days prior to sailing and receive a full future cruise credit.
Tauck (updated May 11)Tauck plans to resume service July 16.
According to the line: “If you are scheduled to travel with us on a cancelled journey, Tauck or your travel advisor will be calling you to discuss your options."
For planned travel between July 16 and Aug. 31, 2020 (with booking paid in full), guests may cancel and receive cancellation fees in the form of a future cruise credit good toward a 2020 or 2021 trip.
Uniworld Boutique River Cruise Collection (updated April 28)Uniworld Boutique River Cruise Collection plans to resume service July 1.
"If you have a booking on one of these suspended voyages, a Uniworld representative will be contacting you or your travel advisor (if applicable) to discuss your options,” according to the line.
Regarding reservations for 2020 or 2021 travel (excluding September), guests have the option to cancel up to 14 days in advance of sailing and transfer the credit to another voyage or to a Uniworld sister brand (from Trafalgar to Insight Vacations) trip in 2020 through 2022.
Viking (updated on May 28)Viking plans to resume service Sept. 1. Guests who were supposed to sail before then will receive a 125% future cruise credit good for two years. Or, passengers can request a 100% refund.
Viking’s updated cancellation policy permits clients who make a reservation by June 30 to cancel their cruise up to 24 hours in advance of sailing. Those who opt for this will receive a full future cruise credit. The credit will be available for two years.
As a private company, we have the flexibility to do what is best for our guests and our employees,” said Torstein Hagen, chairman of Viking. "We are committed to maintaining the safest and healthiest fleet in the industry and we are fortunate to have small ocean ships with only 930 guests, and river ships with only 190 guests. We have always had the highest standards for health and cleanliness — and are now developing additional protocols to make traveling with Viking even safer. We will be sharing more information about this very soon."