River Cruises: Are They Safe?
Cruising is a wildly popular form of travel, with nearly 30 million people boarding ships for worldwide destinations each year. And that number only grows each year. The majority of cruisers will visit the Caribbean, followed closely by Europe.
There is, however, one type of cruising that has exploded in popularity in recent years. River cruising is one of the most favored ways to see Europe’s waterways and small towns. On any given day, these small, elegant vessels make their way through winding rivers, carrying some of the most well-traveled and affluent travelers in the world. While there are always headline-grabbing accidents onboard cruise ships, accidents are rare across the industry.
River Cruising vs. Ocean Cruising
When most people picture a cruise, they think of a large ship with thousands of passengers. Deck parties, buffets, jam-packed swimming pools, and non-stop entertainment often comes to mind. Many people picture a family vacation packed with kid’s clubs, spas, and wild nightlife.
While this picture is accurate for ocean-going vessels that mainly visit the Caribbean and Europe, river cruises are a bit different. While ocean cruises take you to the shores of a country or city, river cruises wind through locations snaking around and giving you an intimate look at each destination. Some of the most popular river cruises sail the Rhine, Main, Seine, Douro, and the Yangtze.
Are River Cruises Safe?
Unlike the behemoth ocean liners that carry up to 6,000 passengers, river cruise ships are small and intimate, carrying between 25 and 200 passengers.
Some people question the safety of these little vessels. They worry that they might not be as prepared as the larger ships to handle common problems. However, most of those who seek compensation for boat accidents only suffer minor injuries, and there have not been any Titanic-like accidents on river cruises in recent years.
One highly-reported accident happened in Budapest, Hungary, on a Viking River Cruises ship in 2019. The river cruise ship crashed into a tourism boat on the Danube, sinking the vessel and killing 28. Reports state that the captain of the river cruise ship was distracted and blinded by heavy rains and river swells. This was one of the most devastating accidents in recent years. The captain and the cruise ship company were put on trial in 2020 to answer for the accident.
Help is Near
Despite accidents that sometimes make the news, river cruises are relatively risk-free. They follow the guidelines for safe sailing that are set forth for all ocean and river-going vessels. They are required to be equipped with adequate lifeboats for all passengers.
Also, the crew is trained in how to handle emergencies while sailing. Besides, because river cruises typically make frequent stops along the coast, they are rarely far from help on land if necessary.
River cruises are also safer when it comes to passenger health. Because of their low density—most cruises carry fewer than 200 passengers—there is less chance of outbreaks of common viruses onboard.
Additionally, because there are fewer public areas onboard river cruises—no huge fitness classes, jam-packed nightclubs, or busy buffets—it is easier to keep your distance from other passengers and reduce the risk of disease transmission.
Safety is Paramount
When it comes to river cruises, safety is paramount for everyone onboard. River cruise ships are elegant and intimate, sailing you through romantic rivers with just the sound of the waves, the hum of the city, and the ship’s string quartet as your soundtrack.
While accidents are rare, they do happen, but rest assured, you will be in good hands with a trained crew onboard your next river voyage.