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River Cruise Lines Scramble to Adjust Itineraries After The Netherlands Tightens Restrictions on U.S. Travelers
Amsterdam (Photo: Yasonya/Shutterstock.com)

River Cruise Lines Scramble to Adjust Itineraries After The Netherlands Tightens Restrictions on U.S. Travelers

River Cruise Lines Scramble to Adjust Itineraries After The Netherlands Tightens Restrictions on U.S. Travelers
Amsterdam (Photo: Yasonya/Shutterstock.com)

September 08, 2021

Adam Coulter
UK Managing Editor
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(Updated 9:40 a.m. EDT) -- River lines are rejigging itineraries after The Netherlands decision to impose a quarantine period on vaccinated U.S. travelers who remain in the country for more than 12 hours.

The decision means river lines offering Rhine River cruises -- which originate in Amsterdam -- will either have to get passengers out of the country to start the cruise from another port or ensure that the cruise leaves Amsterdam within 12 hours.

The move, which came into force Saturday, now classifies the U.S. in its "very high risk" category of countries as the delta variant continues to take hold.

Vaccinated U.S. travelers must quarantine 10 days if they overstay 12 hours, but can cut the isolation period short if they test negative on day five. Unvaccinated passengers cannot even enter the country.

The Netherlands' decision to tighten restrictions follows that of the European Union, which removed the U.S. off its safe travel list last month.

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The restrictions require U.S, passengers to show proof of vaccination, but does not apply to under-12s or the Dutch Caribbean protectorates of Aruba, Curacao and Saint Maarten.

Uniworld released the following statement:

"Last-minute changes in the current travel environment are no longer unusual.  While the sudden regulations instituted by the government of the Netherlands have presented a challenge to vaccinated guests from countries including the U.S. -- who can now only stay in destination for up to 12 hours, we’re adapting but will not disappoint further by canceling sailings.  

"Instead, the River Duchess will depart the Netherlands on embarkation day, Wednesday, September 8.  Details of the new itinerary are being finalized now and while we regret having to alter plans, our staff onboard and on shore are committed to ensuring Uniworld guests a seamless and memorable journey."

The Scenic Group, which includes Scenic and Emerald Cruises, is working closely with individual guests to ensure compliance with government requirements in destinations visited.

The line released the following statement:

"Following the travel updates from the Netherlands Government, Rhine river cruise itineraries have been modified -- with cruises departing and concluding in Amsterdam leaving and entering the country within the 12-hour timeframe. Guests have been contacted on a case-by-case basis and where necessary, changes to flight arrival times for guests have been made.

"The river cruise itinerary thereafter remains unchanged and the Scenic Group is continuing to monitor all travel updates for our guests."

According to Facebook groups, Viking is bussing passengers to Emmerich, Germany, an hour and a half away, but we are waiting on a statement from the line.

AmaWaterways has modified itineraries of its ships to stay less than 12 hours in the Netherlands. This will allow American guests to qualify for a "short stay exemption" from quarantine, says Brenda Kyllo, the river cruise company’s Vice-president, Strategic Alliances. There is a day tour option for those guests who “still want to spend a bit more time in Amsterdam,” she added.

Kyllo said the adjustments to itineraries are specific to each departure and that AmaWaterways is providing updated information and support documents in emails to travel advisors and guests affected by the new entry requirements.

"Due to the short stay exemption, we are not able to offer pre-cruise land stays in the Netherlands at this time,” she added. “We are prioritizing departures within the next two weeks and are updating our website as new regulations are officially announced Travel Entry Requirements/the Netherlands."

Kyllo urged guests and travel advisors with further-out bookings to check AmaWaterways website for updates.

"Our reservations center is very busy answering calls and updating our travel partners and guests that are departing for Europe this month," she said. “As entry requirements may change again, we encourage travel partners and guests traveling to the Netherlands in October or after, to wait before calling us or changing their plans."

Tauck noted Wednesday in a presse release covering vaccine requirements that the EU announcement has caused endless amounts of confusion.

"While the EU suggested that its member nations prohibit non-essential visits by American travelers, Tauck noted in an email to its travel advisor partners that the EU’s action was merely a recommendation and that each EU member is free to set its own policies," said the line in a media release. "The email, written by Steve Spivak, Tauck’s Vice President of Global Sales and Partner Relations, emphasized that 'the EU has no authority to require that countries restrict entry to travelers from the U.S.'"

Avalon Waterways is working with affected passengers to help them navigate the changes.

"On September 3, the Netherlands government announced a new entry guideline for fully vaccinated American visitors limiting their stay in the Netherlands to 12 hours," Avalon Managing Director Pam Hoffee said in a statement. "For cruises that include the Netherlands, we have adjusted itineraries to accommodate this requirement. We are contacting all affected guests to alert them of minor itinerary modifications prior to departure and look forward to delivering them an incredible river cruise vacation through the heart of Europe's storybook settings."

Cruise Critic members have reacted with despair at yet more changes and disruption due to COVID-19.

Some oceangoing cruisers are also being impacted. Holland America Line's forthcoming Rotterdam is scheduled to sail on its maiden transatlantic voyage from the port of Rotterdam this fall.

"Not sure what this will mean for HAL's plan to get the Rotterdam back to the U.S. for cruises already scheduled out of FLL," writes TJR_0323. "The far majority of those booked on this transatlantic are from the U.S. I guess as a last resort, HAL could do the voyage with just crew onboard."

Cruise Critic will update this article as more information becomes available.

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