RECENT heavy rain in Europe cured a growing headache for river cruise lines as hot weather had seen river levels fall and raised concern about ship access.
As australiancruisingnews.com discovered the cruise lines have made huge efforts to ensure their passengers experienced as little inconvenience as possible. This involved extraordinarily inventive ways to keep the cruise schedules afloat on the Danube River between Regensburg and Passau in Germany.
On board guests who left on sightseeing tours from Regensburg finished the day by joining another ship at Passau, while passengers from Passau joined their other ship in Regensburg.
It made no difference to the passengers as they boarded an identical ship, and settled into an identical cabin where their luggage was already waiting. And to ensure continuity, the cruise director also changed ships with the guests.
Nonetheless, it was an extra busy time for the crew who relocated the luggage from ship to ship.
The ships affected were mainly on cruises between Amsterdam and Budapest along the Rhine, Main and Danube rivers – an itinerary that remains one of the most popular river cruises in Europe and takes in fairytale villages where Christmas markets flourish, as well as medieval towns and classic cities.
Last summer many Central European river cruise schedules were also disrupted, but that time by heavy rain that was the worst in decades, which saw rivers rising to dangerously high levels.
Worst affected then were the Rhine, Main and Danube Rivers through Germany, Austria, the Czech Republic and Hungary.
This time around major cruise operator Scenic Tours (scenictours.com.au) organised one ship “swap” on the Danube River before the rains came, as did APT,(aptouring.com.au) while Viking Cruises (vikingrivercruises.com.au) notified its guests that there was the possibility of ship “swaps”, and Uniworld (uniworld.com.au) was also monitoring the rivers closely.
Fortunately, the rain has brought most rivers back to normal levels and it is now safe for cruise ships to navigate smoothly through rivers with numerous locks in Central Europe.