I have just returned from a river cruise in France. I was so ready to travel again.
It was a true joy and a relief to live for a week almost as if the Coronavirus didn't exist. Please note that I said “almost.” Precautions were taken.
The camaraderie, the excursions, delicious food, new friends, and fine wine. It was so much fun!
Is it time to travel overseas again? I think yes. It's time to take a safe, well-considered trip. This was my first in 18 months. I joined Avalon Waterways' Active & Discovery on the Rhone.
I want to share with you the precautions and why a river cruise made a perfect first trip.
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3 Reasons a River Cruise Makes Sense When You're Ready to Travel Again
I'll put this right up front. There are three reasons a river cruise is an especially good option for solo travelers at this point in time. The fundamentals lend themselves to safety.
- Reduced possibility of exposure. Everyone joining the cruise had to provide proof of vaccination when boarding. This is an Avalon policy which is in effect until the end of 2022. For seven days, these were the people with whom I was in contact. In a hotel, there would be other tour groups or individuals sharing the space. With the ship as our hotel, the possibility of exposure was limited.
- Small gives more control. With a maximum of 128 passengers (I believe we were 77) Coronavirus safety procedures were both implemented and maintained. Please see the section below on safety procedures.
- A final all-clear. At the end of the trip everyone had a COVID-19 test that confirmed that there were no positives on the ship. That gave peace of mind to everyone. And, if there had been a positive, contact tracing, which is so important, would have been easy.
Coronavirus Safety Procedures On the Cruise
Traveling has definitely changed. There are more details than ever to arrange for an overseas trip.
While traveling independently is possible, when you're ready to head out on your first post-pandemic trip, it's incredibly helpful and reassuring to have the support of a company to navigate the details.
Tour and cruise companies as well as travel advisors have more resources and a deeper understanding of the situation than any individual. Plus, they are determined to protect you as doing so protects their future.
Needless to say, Avalon had given great consideration to how they would make the river cruise safe for all passengers and crew. Here are the procedures they put in place.
- Booking. It was made clear that you would have to demonstrate that you were completely vaccinated to join a cruise before a purchase was made.
- Boarding. Proof of vaccination was required at check-in, as were masks.
- Safety meeting. In addition to the usual safety instructions provided at such meetings the Coronavirus protocols for the ship were outlined. With everyone on board and completely vaccinated, it was confirmed that masks were optional throughout the ship with the exception of the dining room where they were required when not at your table.
- Social distancing. This was encouraged but difficult to enforce, especially as the guests started meeting each other. However, there were plexiglass partitions between seating sections in the lounges.
- Staff. All staff wore masks at all times.
- Breakfast. Our temperatures were taken every morning before breakfast.
- All meals. Hand sanitizer was squirted into all hands on the way into the dining room.
- Excursions. Masks were required on the buses as per French law. It was hit and miss whether our vaccination certificates were required when entering buildings. In some cases, I'm sure that the cruise company's confirmation of vaccination was taken into consideration.
- Departure. As per the requirements of the United States and Canada, virtually all passengers were tested. Americans took an antigen test. Canadians took the PCR test. Everyone tested negative.
Fun and Safe Excursions: Leaving COVID Behind
It was such a pleasure to be amongst enthusiastic travelers again! Each day we all had multiple excursions to choose from. This will be the topic of another post but, safe to say, there was so much more to talk about than the virus. In fact, it was rarely a topic of conversation.
Chocolate making, wine tasting, cycling, hiking, and kayaking were just a few of the activities from which to choose. The two other river cruises I've been on have been more about following a guide through a town and learning about its history. On Avalon's Active & Discovery cruises, there's much more. And yet, there was still time to enjoy the port town independently as well.
Watch for more about this trip in the coming weeks.
This post was brought to you as a result of the Avalon Waterways trip, a project between Avalon Waterways and iambassador. Naturally, my description of the experience is my own. Solo Traveler maintains full editorial control of the content published on this site.
Here are some more reasons you might enjoy a river cruise when you're ready to travel again: River Cruises for Solo Travelers: A Great Option to Consider.