River cruise covid-19 protocols

Just read this on Scylla's website. For those new to river cruising, Scylla is the company that actually owns and operates the river cruise ships that Taucks tours use.

Interesting reading. Very different river cruise experience than in the past.




  • Wow, that is definitely different. River cruises, while nice, are my least favorite of the three types Tauck offers ( land, small ship, and river ). I definitely would not go on another river cruise with those restrictions. In addition, you’d still have the additional Tauck constraints for when you hop on a bus for excursions. I would imagine buses will have to be limited to half capacity, skipping every other row and staggering with the rows on the opposite side of the bus. Of course bus issues impact all of the tour types.

  • edited May 2020

    Oh my gosh!! I love River Cruises but these new protocols are really going to take away the joys of cruising. I wonder if these will be permanent changes or just temporary until a vaccine is in place. I agree with Smiling Sam in that I don't feel that I could book another river cruise with these protocols in place. The whole idea of a cruise is relaxation and meeting people and sampling different foods and hanging out at the Bar for cocktails prior to dinner. Just having to wear a mask the entire time, when not in your room, is a downer for me. "Room service will be stimulated as one of the measures to limit the number of people in the restaurant" would be horrible. I don't want to eat dinner in my room, I want to be able to socialize with other people. I really hope these protocols are not permanent.

  • No one will want to travel like this. Plus, I think it would put the price of the tour up considerably. Unless a working vaccine is ever found, I’d rather have a staycation. If a river cruise will be like this, can you imagine what it will be like on cruise ships. One good thing, I hate the uncleanliness of buffets even before Covid 19 came around.

  • Yep. No river cruises for us until these protocols are lifted. As a practical matter, I don't think it's physically possible to maintain 1.5 meters (about five feet) of distancing in the narrow corridors.

  • It would surprise me if Tauck didn't cancel river cruises under these conditions.

    As to whether these are permanent, yes until we humans get better control over this virus. However, like many of the changes in our lives now, I suspect some will continue as prudent practices. Buffets do represent a hygiene challenge but I do kind of like to see the food first and take a smaller portion size if I want.

  • Food service is always a matter of trust. Even when the food is served to you at your table do you know if the food was stored and prepared safely, if the servers spit on your food, handled it improperly, etc. It gets down to a matter of trust whether it is buffet style or table service.

  • I am so bummed out. We just retired this year and a big part of this was to finally have the time to travel without restrictions from work. I sure hope a vaccine comes quickly. Looks like we will be staying close to home or perhaps rent an RV and tour the US at leisure and visit our beautiful Parks.

  • Travel Maven - Since you're a recent retiree you'll just have to save the money and then do additional tours for a year or two to get back on your hoped for travel/tour rate. I think it's easy enough to do a couple of Tauck tours a year, considering all things, if you can afford it. Some veterans of the forum have done 3, 4, or more tours in a single year. That would be too much for me from an enjoyment perspective. I like the anticipation before and then I like the processing of the memories (photos/videos) afterwards. For my way of doing things I would be rushed to do more. Just my opinion and way of doing things. Of course it's always subject to change.

  • I usually do two per year. Think I did three one year, if domestic trips count (Alaska). I find I'm more tired when I first get home than while on tour, and I only do active tours, none of this wimpy, relaxing river cruise stuff :) I don't think I wold enjoy more than two internationals per year. Time to hear the counterpoint from British.

  • edited May 2020

    Meet the ship, have temp read, and nose swabbed. Don mask, swipe access card, wash hands, wade through foot wash, receive gourmet "meal in a sack" and take it to your cabin. Once all lights on the control panel are green (everyone is in their cabin) "Clunk" doors are remotely locked for the evening, dine at leisure, then sleep- 8:30- mandatory lights out. Day 1; sack breakfast delivered to room through a slot in your door, everyone dons an orange hazmat suit. At the sound of the bell everyone lines up in the passageway, 6' apart of course, and double-times to the gangway for an excursion. Return to the ship- same arrival procedure as before- sack lunch served (delivered) like breakfast. The afternoon excursion is like the morning one, and so it goes.

    Seriously, remember, it is easier to ease up on restrictions than it is to add them. It will need to get to the point where everything is an enjoyable experience and fun- if not what is the point. The Scylla approach might be for some, but . . . .

  • AlanS - Sounds like you're a screenwriter and have presented a script from Orange is the New Black or The Handmaids Tale. Seriously, the conditions are closer to a prison ship than an expensive tour ship. Anybody that travels in these conditions will have some amazing stories and pictures to share. Not necessarily fun and enjoyable, but unique and interesting.

    Here is the procession to the next meal on the river cruise.

  • And I thought Alan was quoting from his memoir of his time in Leavenworth...

  • Naw, just plebe year at the Naval Academy. :D

  • edited May 2020

    The sad reality is that these types of restrictions are going to be applied to all tours when it comes to entering hotels, buses, restaurants, museums, theaters, etc. That doesn't begin to address the nightmare that flying and navigating through airports will entail. I can't imagine anyone traveling under these strictures. As disheartened by I am by losing the opportunity to travel, there is no way I will be spending my time or money on what will be a punishing experience. I fear the travel and hospitality industry is headed for a catastrophic reckoning as this reality sinks in to would be travelers.

  • edited May 2020

    Just yesterday my wife and I decided to take it easy and go on a river cruise, not so fast I guess. What we enjoy the most about river cruising is being with others, dining, drinking and relaxing. This sounds like a prison ship. I would never spend money to go somewhere and deal with these issues.

  • Alan S and Smiling Sam:
    Thank you both for your enlightening and entertaining outlook of future travel. You guys are hilarious and should take your show on the road. Thank you for bringing me some laughter on this gloomy day in NC. I am an optimist and I do hope to travel and explore again once things calm down and when travel can once again be an enjoyable experience.

  • Travel Maven - I reviewed pictures from a river cruise in 2018. Notice the sign that was present at the entry to the dining room. Even in 2018 hand sanitizing was an issue.

    The reward at the end of the rainbow was worth it.

  • Smiling Sam, now that you mention it, I do remember seeing the hand sanitizers. Oh the desserts, that is what I miss the most. Our last cruise was also in 2018 with the Rhine Amsterdam to Basel. It was wonderful. I was just thinking back to all the countries that I have seen over my life, thus far, and I am so happy that I was able to travel as much as I could whether I had money or not. There was always a way. I took my very first trip outside the US to Bahamas when I was 18. I have always had the "travel bug". When I was married and we had little money, my husband and I traveled for over 25 years by motorcycle and were able to see the majority of the US and substantial parts of Canada.These were the most fun and adventurous years of my life. I was 47 when we took our first trip to Europe, backpacking and when I turned 50, I took my very first Tauck trip to Australia for my birthday (My Company wouldn't let me take the extra week needed for NZ). I had a brochure of the trip from Tauck and it was dog eared from me looking at it for so many years. My husband took pity on me and said he would find some way of raising the money and the rest we would just put on a charge card and pay it off when we could. Oh what a memorable birthday that was and that is how I got "hooked" on Tauck. I can truly say that I have no regrets and that you have to live each day as though it is your last. I still remember a co-worker of mine that had always wanted to travel to Hawaii and she and her husband had more than enough money to do the trip, however, she decided she wanted to wait until they retired and then her husband passed away suddenly at 55 from a heart attack. The lesson here is if you have a yen to travel you just need to find a way and do it now as tomorrow is not promised. Ok, well enough nostalgia. It must be the gloomy weather. LOL.

  • Hand sanitizer has been on the Tauck/Scylla ships as far back as our first cruise in 2014. I seem to remember someone mentioning concern for Legionaires disease. I think they also handed out wet towels to guests as they came back on board from daily excursions. They definitely have on our next three cruises. Security on board started changing as terrorist threats began to be more of a concern.

    The on board experience has definitely evolved over the years. Mostly good changes. Hopefully by the 2021 season most of what they are planning now will be eased up but I doubt all of it will completely go away.

  • Look at the changes in travel overall since, hmmm, how about, the first hijackings, then it was terrorism, and eventually 9/11 but now we have the silent and invisible threat. Remember the days when you could just walk into an airport and walk right up to the gate to meet your grandma?

  • Claudia said -
    Hand sanitizer has been on the Tauck/Scylla ships as far back as our first cruise in 2014. I seem to remember someone mentioning concern for Legionaires disease.

    Pretty sure it's not because of Legionaires' disease. Legionaires' was cause by contaminated HVAC systems and was airborne. (The Bellevue Stratford Hotel in Philadelphia where the first outbreak took place was boarded up when I lived there in the late 70s, it reopened as a Fairmont a few years later.)

    My recollection is that the hand sanitizer stations showed up after some well publicized outbreaks of norovirus on cruise ships and in the dining facilities of some senior homes. Both cruise ships and senior homes have had hand sanitizer stations ever since.

  • You're probably right Ken. It's been a few years. My one hope with all this covid safe practices is that when the crisis is over some of the practices will stay and maybe we'll have less death from seasonal flu.

  • AlanS Remember the days when you could just walk into an airport and walk right up to the gate to meet your grandma?

    Remember the days when flying was a big social event and people got dressed up to fly?
    I don't, but I've read about it and seen pics :)

  • We had hand sanitizer on some of both Tauck coaches years ago, I thought it was standard practice at the time. I rarely get sick, but Both of us have caught flu or colds from other Tauck guests in the past, some who arrive I’ll When we got on the bus from the airport to the hotel on our India tour, there was a woman who was coughing and appeared to have a fever, my background makes it much easier for me to spot someone with fever. Anyway, whatever she had, many on the tour got it, just an example. In that regard, seat rotation, although I love the fairness of it, is risky without thorough cleaning at the end of each day.
    I am still convinced that the six or so people on our China tour in late April got the virus at the end of the boat part, they all had rampant fever, felt very ill, some had a bit of diarrhea, some vomited, my hubby vomited a little, then the dry cough kicked in. He spent the day in bed in Shanghai as did the others. After two weeks, my hubby saw the doctor who gave him meds, it got a little better, then came back, about another’s two weeks before it started to tail off. Hope they were not still infected when they got back in to the US.

  • After the metaphorical description above I had to go actually read the Scylla’s planned protocol. Their procedures as written would not keep me at home. I’m sure it would be more fun than the way we are living now.

  • Sealord - I agree the way we are living now is far from ideal, but we don't have to pay, let's say $8000 per person per 1-2 weeks, for the pleasure of doing it. The river cruise, as described, might have some fun/nice aspects to it, but the price will be the same or higher than it was when none of the new Scylla "Features" existed. All of the "Features" make for a safer environment but in my opinion a far, far less enjoyable one.

    To each his own. Sail away.

  • Indeed Sam. I’d rather not play right field, and bat last. But, I would rather play than not play. I shined the bench on the basketball team, but quit to be a star on the swim team. The swim team was more fun ... but a lot more work. I’m not ‘willing’ to wait for a tomorrow that might never come. Barring other complications, when travel opens up we will go.

  • Sealord - Fair enough, but I think to make your analogy more like what we are describing it should be - You shined the bench on the basketball team, but you quit to be the 3rd replacement for the 200 yd backstroke. The new Scylla Features don't come anywhere close to "Being a Star on the Swim Team". So when travel opens up, you can get in the pool (go on a river cruise), but to think it will be like being the "Star on the Swim Team" is, in my opinion, Fantasyland.

  • edited May 2020

    Perhaps. I was just saying I want to be in the game at the highest level possible. Becoming first string on the basketball team was out of reach. (;-). Doing last year’s river cruise is now ‘out of reach’. The game has changed at least temporarily ... stop playing or play the new game. That would be the choice in the short term.

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