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Credit:Shutterstock

Christmas market river cruises cancelled as Europe locks down - is your cruise affected?

Author: Harriet Mallinson

Published on:

Updated on:

Christmas market cruise holidays are set to suffer another tricky year with multiple river cruise lines cancelling cruises as Europe tightens travel restrictions.

Christmas market cruises 2021 have been cancelled by a number of cruise brands amid Covid concerns.

The cancellations come as various European countries famous for their festive markets lock down.

Austria, Slovakia and the Netherlands are currently in lockdown to halt escalating Covid rates and Christmas markets cancelled.

For instance, the Viennese Dream Christmas Market in Austria has been called off, as has Old Town Square and Wenceslas Square Christmas markets in Prague, Czech Republic.

The European lockdowns have badly hit river cruises. Slovakia's closure means the popular port of Bratislava will have to be axed from Danube river cruises while Austrian ports comprise numerous Danube itineraries, too.

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While Germany has not yet gone into lockdown - although leading politicians are calling for tougher restrictions - the country has scrapped most Christmas markets in a bid to combat coronavirus.

Bavaria and Saxony have called off all Christmas markets. This will impact the Bavarian markets of Nuremberg, Passau and Regensburg markets, all popular with river cruises. The Munich market has also been cancelled.

- READ MORE: What latest red list changes mean for cruises -

Cruise lines vary in their responses to the crisis. Some are amending itineraries while others have axed all cruises.

This is what you need to know about the most popular river cruise lines operating Christmas market cruises this winter.

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Christmas market cruise 2021: The Munich market has also been cancelled. Credit: Shutterstock

Riviera Travel

Riviera has not yet cancelled cruises but is monitoring the situation.

A Riviera Travel spokesperson told World of Cruising: "We are reviewing the situation closely and are planning to operate our river cruise sailings whenever we can. We are committed to offering exceptional experiences."

- READ MORE: How to pick the river cruise line that’s right for you -

Scenic Luxury Cruises & Tours and Emerald Cruises

Scenic Group has nixed all 2021 European river cruises saying it was "saddened" by the decision. Guests impacted by the cancellations will be contacted this week.

"In the wake of increased lockdown measures in central Europe, Scenic Group have taken the decision to suspend all remaining 2021 European river cruises," a spokesperson said.

"We are suspending six Scenic river cruises and four Emerald Cruises river cruises, all were due to visit Europe’s Christmas Markets.

"We will be contacting affected guests early next week to discuss their options, including transferring to a 2022 Christmas Markets river cruise."

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Christmas market cruise 2021: Scenic Group has nixed all 2021 European river cruises. Credit: Scenic

Crystal River Cruises

Crystal has cancelled select cruises as a result of Austria's national lockdown (in place until December 13) in a "disheartening" move.

The luxury line said in a statement: "Crystal River Cruises has had to cancel the remaining four December 2021 sailings of Crystal Ravel, whose Danube itinerary is comprised primarily of Austrian ports."

The brand added: "Crystal Ravel will resume river cruising in March 2022, offering seven-night Delightful Danube itineraries sailing between Budapest and Vilshofen, Germany, joining Crystal Mozart sailing seven-night Danube Dreams & Discoveries itinerary sailing roundtrip from Vienna."

Rhine cruises are still going ahead for now. "Crystal Debussy, which operates seven- to 10-night Rhine River cruises departing from Amsterdam and Basel, is scheduled to continue to operate its published itineraries through the end of the year," said the line.

- READ MORE: Viking cruise line EVP on best cruises for 2022 -

Viking

Viking River Cruises has "modified itineraries" so it continues to operate but without stopping in Austria.

A spokeswoman told World of Cruising: "In light of the lockdown measures announced by the Austrian government on 19 November, we have modified the itineraries of all impacted river voyages. Ships that had been originally scheduled to stop in Austria during the affected time period will now just sail through Austria.

"In recognition of any inconvenience caused by the change, Viking has also provided guests on these modified itineraries with onboard credit to be used on their upcoming sailing, as well as a voucher to be used for their next voyage.

"We are monitoring the situation closely; should any further changes become necessary, Viking Guest Services will notify all impacted guests and their travel agents directly."

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Christmas market cruise 2021: Crystal Mozart will sail seven-night Danube Dreams & Discoveries in Spring 2022.

Tauck

Tauck has scrapped all Danube cruises - but Rhine Christmas market cruises are still operating.

"Unfortunately based on recent COVID-19 regulations announced in both Austria and Bavaria, Germany on November 19th, we are unable to operate our Danube holiday river cruises as planned," a cruise line spokesperson told World of Cruising.

- READ MORE: How to pick a river cruise cabin -

"As a result of the current lockdown in Austria and the cancellation of all Christmas markets throughout Bavaria, we have made the difficult decision to cancel all 2021 departures of Christmas Markets Along the Danube and Holiday Magic: Danube Family River Cruise.

"Departures of our other 2021 Christmas market river cruise, Yuletide Spirit: Amsterdam to Brussels, are scheduled to operate as planned.

Tauck anticipates that Danube cruises in the Spring will not be impacted by the temporary measures.

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Christmas market cruise 2021: Passau market in Bavaria is one of many that has been forced to close. Credit: Shutterstock

Avalon Waterways

Avalon Waterways has likewise cancelled Danube cruises.

The cruise line has said in a statement: "Due to conditions related to COVID-19, the Austrian and Bavarian governments have announced lock-downs and Christmas Market closures that will affect select Avalon Waterways cruises to the regions.

"Due to these closures, Avalon Waterways will be cancelling all Danube and Main-Danube itineraries between now and the end of the year.

"Avalon will be in direct contact with all affected guests and their travel advisors to offer a range of options to reschedule affected cruises. Communications with affected guests will be done in order of upcoming departure dates."

- READ MORE: Book cruises for 2022 now amid 'unprecedented demand' -

Uniworld

Uniworld has axed a number of cruises due to sail in the first two weeks of December. Cut itineraries include Danube Holiday Markets, Classic Christmas Markets, and European Holiday Markets itineraries.

"Due to Covid-related lockdowns in Austria and the closing of various European Christmas Markets, we will be suspending select Uniworld departures and are working on an alternative for guests still interested in experiencing the European holiday markets this year along the Rhine River,” said Ellen Bettridge, President & CEO of Uniworld.

“Our ‘Danube Holiday Markets,’ ‘Classic Christmas Markets,’ and ‘European Holiday Markets’ itineraries scheduled to depart in the first two weeks of December have been suspended, and guests have been contacted to discuss replacement travel dates and sailing options.”

Amadeus River Cruises

Amadeus cruises are continuing to sail. A spokeswoman said: "The Austrian lockdown is due to end on December 13 so Amadeus are keeping their cruises operating at this time."

AmaWaterways

Ama Waterways tweaked the itineraries of four Danube-based ships after sailings were hit.

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