A little more than a month after heralding its return to service as the first U.S. cruise line, river cruise operator AmaWaterways quietly announced on September 1 that it is extending its suspension for returning additional ships to service. The line’s current program of charter cruises operating in Germany for local residents however is continuing.
“We are continuously monitoring the updates from global health authorities and local governments in the U.S. and around the world with regards to the ongoing situation. At this time, we have extended suspensions for river cruise sailings embarking through October 31, 2020,” says an announcement posted on the company’s website and sent to travel professionals.
In early July, the California-based company resumed operations with one of its 25 river vessels. The AmaKristina was chartered to operate a series of cruises and the company anticipated that it would help it to test its newly enhanced health and safety protocols and learn from the operations in anticipation of resuming sailing with additional vessels. AmaWaterways was following the lead of several other European river cruise operators that had resumed sailing as early as May in Germany.
AmaWaterways added plexiglass dividers in the lounge areas – courtesy AmaWaterways
“Although many countries continue to have travel restrictions in place, we have begun operating a series of sailings for European guests, in collaboration with an established German tour operator, e-hoi,” said Kristin Karst, executive vice president and co-founder of AmaWaterways in a late July announcement. “With these sailings, we have been able to put into practice and perfect our enhanced health and safety protocols while demonstrating that travelers can enjoy our unforgettable river cruise vacations with peace of mind.”
Designed to hold 150 passengers, the AmaKristina’s capacity is being limited to 100 based on government restrictions. Among the steps the company instituted were that crews are required to wear face coverings at all times while guests must wear them while moving around the ship. The limited capacity the company said would also permit social distancing in areas such as the main restaurant but they also added new room service options for meals. AmaWaterways also adapted areas of the ship by adding plexiglass dividers in its lounge areas.
Aboard the AmaKristina crew must wear face covers while on duty and passengers while moving around the ship – courtesy AmaWaterways
With increased cross-border precautions again being introduced in parts of Europe and limits on international flights, AmaWaterway’s decision to extend its suspension followed other parts of the cruise industry. An increasing number of ocean going cruise lines have recently extended their suspensions till 2021 or into the first and second quarters of next year.
“We want to reassure you that we are in a secure position to welcome guests back on board once we can safely sail again,” says AmaWaterway’s announcement. “Until then, the rivers continue to flow and our staff and crew are patiently waiting to treat you to a memorable river cruise experience.”
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