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The atrocious terrorist attacks in Paris brought the world to a standstill, and as to be expected, cruise travel to the region has been affected to varying degrees as well. Still, it’s important to continue living life to the fullest. In doing so, here is the current state of cruising to be expected in Paris and Europe in general.
The reality is people are questioning their travel plans to the region. After speaking with Anita Murphy of San Diego-based Murphys Travel, the overall reaction is mixed. They have a group scheduled for a European journey in Spain, Scotland, Ireland and France next May that are reconsidering the Paris segment. However, other customers of theirs headed to Germany, the Czech Republic and Austria this month have no intentions of canceling.
Murphy goes on to share that other agents have expressed to her that European cruises are very slow to book right now and that even those considering cruises to Greece and Turkey are rethinking. Nonetheless, she has a couple booked on Holland America Line’s upcoming Koningsdam to Scandinavia itinerary who still plan to sail.
Of the river cruise companies sailing to and from Paris, Viking River Cruises docks outside the city in the suburb of Le Pecq on several of their Parisian itineraries, and only Uniworld Boutique River Cruise Collection currently has a travel advisory posted to their website’s home page. The mostly generic update reads:
“Uniworld recognizes the ever changing world we now live in. We remain connected to our passion for travel and the well-being of all of our guests and our team members is always our top priority. Our professional team of personnel continue to actively and closely monitor the conditions in all of the destinations we travel to. Should events necessitate a change or a deviation is required, the Uniworld team will modify our trips intelligently and rationally. All of our guests will be kept well informed and further updates will be provided as necessary. There are currently no changes to any of our itineraries.”
Of course, this note could apply from anything to rising river water levels, which have caused itinerary disruptions in the past, to the recent terrorist attacks. Coming from ocean cruises that always have security screenings at boarding, it is surprising to mostly see a lack of such checkpoints on river cruises. Individual screeners for each riverboat (as there are hundreds sailing) would prove difficult in many situations, though, as they are frequently docked parallel to each other, requiring passengers to sometimes pass through upwards of three or so adjacent vessels to get to their own. Some berths, however, do have security prior to reaching any vessels docked in tandem.
Cruise Critic is reporting that this may change though. They say, “river cruise passengers could see the introduction of [more] airport-style security scanners following the Paris bombings. They are among increased safety measures being discussed by river lines in Europe following the attacks in Paris and subsequent police investigations in Belgium.” Either way, riverboats are much smaller vessels that are easier for vigilant crew members to monitor, and staff regularly man the entrances and nearby reception desks to keep a watchful eye on things.
As for ocean cruise calls by the likes of Princess Cruises, the port of entry for Paris is Le Havre, a good two hour-plus drive from the city center, so even weary travelers should not be concerned by a stop here if they choose to stay onboard for the day. One thing to consider when taking Parisian shore excursions, whether by ocean or river, are increased security measures or closures that are likely to cause periodic delays and alterations to tour schedules. After all, even Disneyland Paris remained closed several days after the attacks.
The bottom line is to remain alert when traveling abroad, on a cruise or otherwise, as you always should, but that shouldn’t preclude you from doing so. In other words, keep calm and sail on.