European Christmas Cruises Affected by Low Water Levels

If you have a European Christmas cruise planned, be aware that it may not happen exactly as you expect this year.

River cruise lines in Germany, Hungary, and Austria are contacting passengers to explain that some parts of the cruise may have to occur by bus, involve ship swaps, or be canceled altogether.

Many rivers are suffering from low water levels – particularly the Danube and Rhine – two of the most popular cruise routes in Europe. Low water levels are a result of a hot summer and dry autumn this year, and it doesn’t look like it’s going to change anytime soon.

Cruise lines have been posting statements on their websites to notify passengers.

Viking’s statement reads:

“We will continue to monitor water levels daily and activate plans as necessary.”

“Conditions affecting select itineraries may require that we notify guests about some of the specific changes on short notice.”

“We always want our guests to feel that they have the most current information about their journey, so we will continue to directly contact all guests on itineraries affected by residual low water conditions until levels return to normal.”

Scenic, a UK luxury river cruise tour operator, wrote:

“Parts of central and northern Europe are currently experiencing hot and exceptionally dry weather conditions.”

“As a consequence, the water levels in sections of the Rhine, Main and Danube Rivers and their tributaries are low and are impacting navigation of all river vessels.”

“Therefore, it is possible that unavoidable impacts to the safe navigation of vessels on the rivers will continue, and may require Scenic to modify ship deployments, to enact ship swaps or to amend or cancel itineraries on short notice.”

“Scenic will contact as a priority all guests and their travel agents if their river cruise is impacted.”

Similarly, Uniworld noted: “Select itineraries may be affected in the coming weeks. If deviations are necessary on an affected itinerary, additional motor coach travel or other tour adjustments may be required.”

“Due to the unpredictable nature of river conditions, we are actively evaluating the situation and developing contingency plans at all times.”

Quite contrary to the other statements, US river cruise operator Tauck seems more optimistic about the situation:

“These low water levels have the potential to impact our upcoming Christmas market river cruises, but at present, it is far from certain if those cruises will actually be affected, or what any specific impacts might be.”

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