Just as the world of ocean cruises dusts off its hurricane plans, weather is effecting the world of river cruises. Normally thought of as being completely different animals, ocean and river cruising handle their weather events rather similarly.
Austria, Switzerland, Poland, Germany and the Czech Republic, prime real estate for river cruise lines, has been flooded due to heavy rains in Central Europe. As a result, river cruise lines are modifying and canceling itineraries until the river levels drop.
Concentrated on the Main and Danube rivers, high water means ships can not navigate under bridges, through locks or visit iconic destinations that may be closed. In response, Avalon Waterways has canceled several sailings and modified others, changing from an all-river itinerary to a combination river/hotel run.
Sailings canceled by river cruise lines, seem to happen about the same way as their ocean counterparts too. In the case of Avalon, the cruise line is issuing a full refund to all. Those who booked airfare though the cruise line, will have that and any associated change fees refunded too. Travelers who did not book airfare through the cruise line will still have their change fees refunded. Avalon is also offering a $500 credit on a future cruise.
The Viking River Cruise website has a Central Europe Weather update which details one very good reason to sail with a company that has the resources to absorb some of the disruption caused by high waters.
“In many instances, due to having the largest fleet in river cruising combined with our in-house nautical and operations team in Switzerland, we are able to continue operating our itineraries through careful planning and switching of sister ships. In every decision we make, the safety of our guests and crew remains our top priority.”
An example of how they do that? The June 5th Romantic Danube itinerary (the same itinerary we will be on in December) scheduled to be aboard Viking Odin will now take place on sister ship, Viking Freya. But because of the high water, the ship will not be in the normal port of embarkation. So Viking representatives will meet all guests at the airport and transport them to where the ship is. Not to forget those who did not fly in, there will also be a representative at the normal port of embarkation providing transportation to the ship’s current docking location. After embarkation, the itinerary is expected to proceed with some minor alterations, “the most notable of which is that we do not anticipate it will be possible to visit Passau,” says Viking.
On those Avalon modified itineraries, CruiseCritic reports:
“Other Avalon sailings have had alternations, such as transferring passengers to different ships on the other side of the Main-Danube canal or doing a partial sailing combined with hotel stays. These passengers are receiving some compensation, commensurate with the number of cruising days affected. In nearly all cases to date, passengers are able to visit the destinations and attractions outlined in the original itineraries.”
See CruiseCritic for more on canceled river cruise sailings. On that topic, a good page to bookmark for cruise travelers is CruiseCritic’s Hurricane Zone for use later. Year after year, no other source has as complete and up-to-date hurricane information.
Viking River Cruises Photo