|The Danube River, as shown here at Passau, has had low water levels this summer. Some lines have cancelled cruises, others not. // Photo by Susan J. Young|
Continuing low water levels on European rivers forced the cancellation of several scheduled cruises on both the Elbe River or Danube River this past weekend.
Viking River Cruises cancelled two of its "Elegant Elbe" cruises scheduled to depart last Friday (July 24) from Berlin to Prague on Viking Schumann, and from Prague to Berlin on Viking Fontane.
The line's Saturday departures (July 25) for the same itinerary on Viking Astrild and Viking Beyla are operating, but the line plans to adjust as needed to accommodate low water levels.
For those cruises, the line said all included excursions will operate. "Details will be determined by the nautical team and communicated to you by the program director at one of the evening briefings while you are onboard," the line said in a note to guests on its website.
Viking said it expected those to be the only sailings with adjustments.
Similarly, Uniworld cancelled the scheduled departure of S.S. Maria Theresa on Sunday (July 26), and on its website noted that it was contacting all guests and will issue full refunds and a goodwill future cruise credit.
These are just the latest in a series of adjustments over the past few weeks by many lines including Viking, Uniworld, Avalon Waterways, Tauck and others.
At times river lines are forced to cancel due to low water, but many times they operate the cruise on an abbreviated or changed sailing schedule. One recent Viking Elbe River cruise never left its original docking point, for example. Guests took excursions and side trips as planned to other destinations by motorcoach.
Avalon Waterways says it did cancel one cruise about a week and a half ago, but all its cruises operated normally this past weekend due to some rain mid-week in the Alps.
From Tauck's perspective, the line hasn't experienced major impacts related to water levels. With cruises that are currently operating, the eastbound departure of "The Blue Danube" that began last Thursday (July 23) had a slightly longer motorcoach time of about 90 minutes on Saturday, July 25. But no sightseeing or other itinerary components were missed.
"We are continuing to operate all of our scheduled departures, and we are monitoring the situation closely," said Tom Armstrong, a Tauck spokesman.
As for Scenic and Emerald Waterways, they continue to operate all ships on the Danube. Water issues are affecting sailing between Passau and Regensburg, but the line said in a brief statement to Travel Agent that any decision to sail that passage is left to the captain of each ship.
"As it is near the beginning or end of our current list of sailings (for the next few weeks), the impact is limited to the first day of a trip or the last full day, depending on direction and departure," said spokesperson Elliot Gillies. "Ship swaps may take place should the expected rainfall not be enough to alleviate the situation.
The water issue on the lower Danube towards the Black Sea and Drava river is affecting only two Emerald Waterways sailings. Alternate excursions are being planned, as the issue is limited to a two-day stretch of a sailing.
Candie Steinman, franchise owner, CruiseOne, Fort Myers, FL, told us today: “I do have clients sailing right now on a 24-day Avalon 'Amsterdam to Bucharest' cruise. It appears everything is fine for them, or I would have heard from them. I have been lucky so far and the water situation has not affected my clients on either Avalon or AmaWaterways.”
Steinman said she had spoken to an AmaWaterways contact who told her the line's Regensburg to Passau voyages have not been affected, and that a statement was expected out later today in the situation.
“Water levels, whether high or low, have been occasional issues over the years," notes David Walsh, owner, CWCruises, an independent agency of Avoya Travel, Brandenton, FL. "However, for either circumstance, all of the river cruise lines are well-prepared and respond quickly with alternative transportation, bus tours, assistance with flights and additional support.”
Travel Agent also asked other agents and other suppliers about their voyages this week and we'll update this story if new information develops. Keep visiting www.travelagentcentral.com for more information.