Stricter entry requirements instituted in Hungary that bar U.S. citizens from visiting for an extended period of time will not apply to river cruises due to a 24-hour transit exemption.
River cruises may also continue to call in Budapest as a port, due to an exemption that allows visitors to arrive by waterway from countries within the Schengen Zone, without restriction.
In response to the European Union’s Aug. 30 advisory to remove the U.S. from its safe-travel list, several countries — including Hungary, Italy, Spain, the Netherlands and Sweden — tightened their restrictions on incoming visitors. On Sept. 1, Hungary instituted new Covid-19 precautions that barred most U.S. travelers from arriving by air.
Travel Weekly is tracking the changing Covid-related entry requirements across the Continent.
However, similar to the Netherlands, the protocol incorporates a transit grace period, allowing 24 hours for travelers to pass through the country. This allows river cruisers time to embark the ship or see the city on a port of call.
“An interpretation of Hungary’s updated rules now permit non-Hungarian citizens arriving by air to ‘transit through’ Hungary so long as they are able to provide documentation (e.g. cruise ticket) that shows they will be leaving Hungary and journeying to a neighboring country on a confirmed itinerary within 24 hours of arrival,” a spokesperson for Crystal Cruises explained to Travel Weekly.
“Hungarian port officials are partnering with us to familiarize airport authorities with our cruise tickets so that when you fly into Budapest, your ticket will be recognized.”
Additionally, passengers with Crystal River Cruises will receive their cruise documents with a copy of a government decree that specifically authorizes fully vaccinated guests to board flights entering Hungary.
U.S. citizens flying into Hungary are required to provide a negative PCR test result taken within 72 hours of arrival, with results written in English or Hungarian, in addition to all other necessary documentation.
The new restrictions also do not apply to travelers entering Hungary by road, rail, and waterway from Austria, Slovakia, Romania, Serbia, Croatia, Slovenia, and Ukraine. The allowance is “without any epidemiological restrictions, regardless of nationality and coronavirus immunity,” according to a Hungarian government website, which also states that “non-Hungarian nationals arriving from abroad in road, railway or water passenger transit travel may enter the territory of Hungary, so long as they agree to a medical examination upon entry and such examination does not determine a suspicion of infection.”
Most Budapest river cruises that don’t begin or end in Budapest sail from Vienna or Bratislava, which are covered under the exemption.
A popular departure and overnight port, Budapest is also a common pre- or post-cruise destination, but overnight stays are currently not an option for U.S. travelers under Hungary’s new restrictions.
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