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Are River Cruises Safe?

When booking any type of travel, it’s perfectly normal to wonder exactly how safe it will be. And when it comes to booking a river cruise, these concerns are no different.

No matter which river cruise line you choose to travel with, keeping passengers safe is at the top of their priorities. That said, it’s valid to be concerned about your safety and well-being when booking a trip. In this article we will answer the question: Are river cruises safe?

Are River Cruises Safer than Ocean Cruises?

When it comes to comparing the two, you may notice that ocean vessels tend to have more formal security procedures than the small ships used for river cruises. But all cruise ships, no matter their size, have procedures in place to ensure the safety of their guests.

Are River Cruises Safe? Safety Measures

ID, Passports, & Photographs

When first boarding a river cruise ship, it’s typical to have to hand over your passport. To be allowed to board, the name on the booking form must be the same as the name on the passport. This is one of the measures put in place so that everyone onboard the ship can be legally identified.

On some cruise lines, you will have your picture taken for them to keep in their system. You may then have to sign in and be asked to wear a special guest badge. This provides an extra layer of security in the event of any onboard criminal activity,  making it easier to identify guests by their on-file picture.

Amawaterways and Tauck are both particularly good when it comes to the photo and scanning system. With this onboard, a photo of the passenger pops up every time someone scans in or out of the ship.

Other cruise lines still rely on the honor system, however. They will give passengers a laminated card with their room number on it for when they leave the ship, which is then turned in upon return. If you forget to return your card, then your room number may be called out over the intercom before the ship departs.

Access to Areas of the Ship

On most river cruise lines, you’ll be issued a room key, which can also be used to activate the doors to the sun deck or other outside areas. This helps keep not only your room but some of these communal areas a little more secure and prevents people from simply wandering about as they please.

Access From Other Ships

In some small European cities, it’s a common occurrence to see river cruise ships docking beside one another. Unfortunately, this can lead to passengers having to pass through other ships to reach the one they’re staying onboard, or to reach land. This can make you wonder, are European river cruises safe?

To keep all ships secure in this process, crew members are typically stationed in the lobbies and around the ship to ensure all passengers are following the designated route to get to and from shore. This way, they can step in to redirect anyone who might end up in the hallway of a ship they don’t belong on!

As the ships are so small and only hold a limited number of guests, it’s typical that staff members can recognize their current passengers within just a day or two. If they make a mistake, don’t take offense, they’re just doing their job! When it comes to security, it’s always better to be safe than sorry.

Access From Shore

If you’re traveling in a room with an ocean view and a balcony, you may be concerned that opportunists could gain access to your room when the ship is docked.

To put your mind at ease, it’s worth noting that balcony doors can lock from the outside on all types of cruise ships, and the staff is vigilant about them being left open. If it is noticed that you have left your balcony doors open when the ship comes into dock, then a steward will close them for you.

Is the Destination I Booked Safe?

Risks vary from destination to destination, with some areas being safer for tourists than others.

The Viking Longship Odin near the city of Budapest on the Danube River.

This is reflected in the security measures in place onboard river cruise ships too. If you’re cruising in areas with higher crime rates or that are regarded as more dangerous, your ship will be subject to higher security measures. 

For example, in Egypt and Peru, cruise lines usually hire their own security guards who travel onboard the ship, sometimes even undercover, to ensure passengers are protected at all times.

Are Nile River cruises safe? Yes, cruise lines take every precaution on Nile River cruises. In fact, armed security guards have become standard on Nile River cruises in Egypt; you should expect to see them traveling with you if you have booked a cruise there.

Are Amazon river cruises safe? Yes, they are; cruises on the Amazon River also have undercover security personnel onboard.

What to Do If You See Something Suspicious on a River Cruise

Should you see anything which looks suspicious while traveling on a river cruise, you should immediately report this to your ship’s reception desk, which is typically staffed 24 hours. Some cruise lines, such as Avalon and Tauck, also have red emergency buttons in the cabins.

How Safe Are Riverboat Cruises? Conclusion

All in all, you shouldn’t feel unsafe when traveling onboard a river cruise. Your tour operator will do their utmost best to ensure your comfort and safety at all times. Of course, if you have any concerns or worries prior to boarding, be sure to chat this through with your river cruise travel agent.

If you haven’t booked a river cruise yet and would like more information, check out our articles on a variety of cruise lines: Uniworld Cruises for Young Adults, Rhine vs. Danube River Cruises, Avalon vs. Viking, AmaWaterways or Avalon, Viking vs. AmaWaterways, Uniworld vs. Viking, Uniworld vs. Avalon, and Uniworld vs. Tauck.