(11:03 a.m. EST) — Several river cruise lines have been forced to cancel or alter their plans on the Danube River, due to continuing low water levels and drought conditions in Europe.
On a sailing from Budapest to Amsterdam on Uniworld Boutique Cruises’ Maria Theresa supership, the captain delivered the news Friday in Passau that the ship could go no further. Other ships are tied up at a smaller town about 12 miles east.
Saturday, members of the ship were told that three cargo barges have run aground near Deggendorf, completely closing the river, even to small craft.
Uniworld’s River Princess, which was scheduled to arrive in Passau Sunday, will not be able to disembark in Prague. The line is contacting passengers directly with changes.
What happens if you’re on a cruise in a situation like this?
On Maria Theresa, passengers were requested to meet in the ship’s main lounge, where the captain said it would be impossible for the ship to navigate between Passau and Regensburg, because the water levels were dangerously low in that stretch of the Danube.
Uniworld’s cruise director, Markus Schindelegger, explained that river levels took a bad drop during the day Friday, and water forecasts were looking much different from a few days prior. “Honesty is the best policy,” he said, “and we want to be completely transparent. The weather forecast gives us no hope. You will not reach Amsterdam with Maria Theresa.”
The cruise line gave passengers two alternatives:
For passengers who wanted to continue, the ship will stay docked in Passau until Tuesday, with bus excursions to planned and alternate destinations. After that, passengers will be transferred by bus to the Kempinski Hotel in Frankfurt—one of our original calls—with day-trips from Frankfurt. From there, people would be transferred to Amsterdam two days ahead of schedule for a hotel stay and programs there. The line will hand out cash toward lunches and organize some dinners or provide cash for independent dinners. Uniworld will offer passengers taking this option a 50% discount on a future cruise through 2017.
For passengers who didn’t want to continue, the line would help with travel arrangements. Passengers choosing this option will receive a 50% refund of what they paid for the current cruise.
The line gave passengers a day to make to their decision. As of Saturday, only 14 out of 90 passengers decided to leave. On that day, people were bussed an hour and a half to Regensburg, the planned port of call, and had walking tours as scheduled.
The current river cruising issues come after a summer that saw frequent itinerary changes and cancellations because of low water levels and drought. For a brief period in August, things returned to normal, but true to a long-range prediction made by the European Commission, dry conditions have continued through the fall and into November.
If you’re on a Viking river cruise and are looking for information about whether your sailing is affected, please check their current sailings page. News Page. For Avalon passengers, information will be posted on their Facebook page. For all other lines, expect information to arrive directly from the company. And go to Cruise Critic’s river discussion board to talk about the current conditions.
Learn how wind and water can affect your sailing and what you can do about it.