River cruises are making a quiet comeback on the Danube after the COVID-19 pandemic brought global tourism to a standstill and forced companies to suspend voyages.
Holiday makers are adapting to strict new safety measures on the elegant ships with Germany's Nicko Cruises the first to restart Danube trips.
The company is now operating three vessels for the six- to eight-day trips from Passau in Austria to Budapest, passing scenic hills and old castles along the way.
Normally, we have 90% occupancy, this year we have around 70%. There are no limits to how many guests you can have on board, so we are glad for every guest we have, said cruise manager Alexander Steiner on board the vessel NickoVISION which was docked in central Budapest.
Guests come mostly from Germany, Austria and Switzerland as there are still travel limitations on groups coming in from the United States, United Kingdom and Israel, he said.
Passengers must take a COVID blood test before coming onboard, and wear masks when moving around. Tables are placed well apart with dividing screens and waiters wear masks and gloves.
Guests have their temperatures checked daily, and special safety rules apply for excursions.
Allegedly as experienced cruise vacationers, the only thing they miss are the buffet breakfasts, which have been dropped due to the danger of spreading the virus.