As restrictions loosen and countries set their standards for the “new normal”, traveling internationally during Covid-19 is becoming increasingly common. As I was feeling ready to venture out into the world again, I recently took a trip to France — my first international travel experience since before the pandemic.
On this trip, I traveled with Avalon Waterways on their Active & Discovery Rhone River Cruise and was pleasantly surprised by how easy the health and safety regulations were to follow. Though I had my hesitations before dusting off my passport (mostly around the logistics of traveling right now), I found my cruising experience to be incredibly safe and hassle-free.
Here’s what I found traveling internationally in the Covid era with Avalon Waterways!
What It’s Like Traveling Internationally In The Covid Era
Vaccinations Are Often Required
If you plan on traveling internationally anytime soon, chances are you’ll have to show proof of vaccination — regardless of the country you’re traveling to.
When I traveled to France for my cruise, it was a requirement to be vaccinated and I had to show my documents to enter the country. These requirements are always subject to change, of course, depending on the country.
Then, once I was aboard the ship, I could relax knowing that all Avalon Waterways staff are double vaccinated and they get specific training, temperature checks, and screenings. A healthy crew means healthy patrons, and you can rest assured that they pay attention to every detail in regards to safety.
Sanitization & Precautions
When my cruise started, I noticed that Avalon Waterways had a ton of sanitization stations set up all over the ship. They asked guests to sanitize their hands before going into the dining room, and they even sanitized all bags before they come onto the ship.
Avalon Waterways also deploys extensive cleaning practices including disinfection of each room between cruises, regular dining room sanitization, and disinfection of all goods prior to loading them on board.
When I was out on excursions in towns and cities, there were hand sanitizing stations set up in many establishments and I always made sure to carry a small bottle of sanitizer with me as well.
You’ll Have To Carry A Mask
It seemed like such a shock to the system when we were first asked to wear masks almost two years ago, but wearing them is now standard practice on airplanes, in restaurants, and aboard ships.
Airlines all require masks now and you should be prepared with a couple of options. Some planes won’t allow cloth masks, but they do provide surgical masks if you don’t have one. It is recommended to bring your own N95 mask.
On Avalon Waterways’ ships, the staff is required to wear masks at all times, although the rules are a little different for patrons. Though guests are required to wear masks when serving themselves at the buffet, they aren’t mandatory aboard the ship if you’re comfortable with it. I used my discretion on this during different situations and felt safe and comfortable. That said, it is recommended that you wear your mask on buses and indoor excursions.
Plan To Get Tested For Covid-19
Before returning to the United States, plan to get tested for Covid-19. Avalon Waterways made this extremely easy for passengers by bringing the testing to the ship! This was a rapid test and I got my results within 15 minutes.
In addition to this test, guests on the cruise are routinely checked via a temperature gun before entering the dining room. This is to ensure nobody onboard is experiencing a fever.
Social Distancing Is Recommended
Even with all of the safety measures that Avalon Waterways employs to ensure safety, it’s still recommended that guests in different parties social distance onboard. Though this isn’t a hard and fast rule in any way, they have set up socially distanced seating in the dining room and lounge to make it easy.
However, social distancing can be a little tougher on buses and some excursions. If this is important to you, then book yourself on walking tours and do activities such as kayaking and hiking — by nature it’s easy to social distance with these.
A Small Ship Makes all the Difference
Even though social distancing was paid extra attention to onboard the ship, it was made easy simply given the size. Because European rivers don’t have the width or depth of an ocean, Avalon Waterways deploys smaller cruise ships than your typical ocean liner.
These smaller ships mean that each cruise has an average of 150 guests or less with about three guests per staff member. Fewer people coupled with spacious rooms and lounge areas means that you’ll always be comfortable and never feel crowded.
It’s Logistically Easy (With A Little Help)
Before I set out on my trip, my main worry (besides actually getting sick, of course) was that it was going to be a logistical nightmare. But the staff at Avalon Waterways are true pros, and they made the whole process easy and stress-free.
The team sent over all the documents that needed to be filled out before I arrived in France and returned to the States, and they were extremely transparent and gracious every step of the way.
You can check out all trip options currently in operation on the Avalon Waterways website (it includes the most updated travel requirements as well).