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River lines will be first off the ranks to cruise European and American waterways from next month as more companies unveil stringent, new health and safety procedures.

Avalon Waterways is the latest river line to reveal mandatory temperature screening for guests and luggage disinfection before embarkation.

Avalon will also reduce the number of guests on board to ensure there is sufficient space for social distancing.

American Cruise Lines, the US-based company with a fleet of river and coastal cruise ships, has recently introduced strict health protocols and will cut up to 25 per cent of guests on board as the line prepares to sail the Mississippi River, the Columbia and Snake rivers in the Pacific Northwest from late June.

Avalon and ACL join boutique river company Uniworld, which earlier this month introduced stringent health and safety procedures across its fleet in preparation for when it is safe to play the world’s waterways again. Uniworld has removed all magazines and brochures for public use. It has also stopped self service for fruits, cookies, nuts and candies and will serve bread and butter individually to each guest.

Avalon will deep clean and disinfect every stateroom during turnover. The line will also clean all dining areas between meals and disinfect all bicycles and umbrellas after each use.

Avalon had also introduced top-of-the-line technologies including electrostatic cleaning and UV disinfecting systems. Its panorama suites are open-air with fresh air circulated within the individual stateroom and not circulated between cabins.

It has also introduced medical screening and new social distancing in crew living quarters.

“The world has changed but what remains certain is our steadfast commitment to our guests’ safety, comfort and peace-of-mind,” said Pam Hoffee, managing director of Avalon Waterways. “To that end, we have established a Global Health & Safety team dedicated to ensuring that the cleanliness of all operations exceeds today’s standards from start-to-finish.”

Avalon has paused sailings until 1 September. It’s newest ship, Avalon Envision can accommodate 166 guests.

American Cruise Line’s 180-passenger American Song will start sailing again on the Columbia and Snake Rivers on 20 June, followed by the 190-passenger, American Harmony on the Mississippi River on 28 June.

“Our guests want to cruise,” said Charles Robertson, president and CEO of ACL. There is a resurgence of demand to begin exploring this country and as the largest American cruise line, we look forward to responsibly resuming travel.”

The two river ships will sail at 75 per cent capacity, with a maximum of 250 passengers and crew.

The company has also increased the time between cruises to allow for the vessel to be sanitinised. The cleaning of the ship’s touch points such as railings, doorknobs, elevator buttons and gangways will be carried out  hourly.

There will be no buffets on board and all cocktails and hors d’oeuvres to be served individually to passengers.

The ship’s public toilets will be closed and guests will have to use their bathrooms in their cabins. The line will also provide a disposable cover for each TV remote control when new passengers board the ship.

The line will deny boarding to any passenger who has travelled internationally in the past 14 days and all luggage will be sanitised before being loaded onto the ship.

At least two German river lines are planning an imminent return including A-Rosa to start operations on the Rhine and Danube on 31 May

And Scylla which operate a number of ships for Nicko Travel, Globalis, VIVA Cruises and Tauck, will resume cruising on German rivers from 1 June.

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