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What To Do When High Water Levels Affect Your River Cruise

7th June 2016

High water levels on European rivers are not that much of a common occurrence but are definitely creating a hot topic at the moment. With severe flooding along the Seine in Paris last week and sections of the Rhine near Passau also rising high, passengers set for a river cruise may be wondering if their holiday is in danger.

The vast majority of river cruises are enjoyed without any problem but occasionally the cruise lines must bow to unavoidable consequences brought on by the weather. Excessive rain can make it unsafe for some ships to sail, affecting their ability to fit under certain bridges or moor at certain points along the river, but there are some important things to remember if you are concerned about this.


It’s All In Hand

If you are worried that you river cruise may be ruined by high water levels, it is important to remember that the cruise line you are sailing with will have everything covered. Although these are rare situations, plans are made in advance to deal with them. If you are booked on a sailing that is affected, your agent or the cruise line themselves will likely get in contact with you before you sail to inform you of a contingency plan if one is needed.

It’s Unlikely To Affect The Entire Cruise

Only in the most severe cases will your cruise be cancelled. It’s rare for high waters to affect the entirety of an itinerary so there will still be stops along the way that can be visited as planned. For those that aren’t, a plan will be put in place to allow you to still visit them.

There Are Ways Around The Problem


When specific parts of a river become unnavigable by the ship, the cruise line will attempt to get around the problem in a couple of ways. One option is to take passengers to the ports that cannot be reached via the river in a coach. Coaches are often used for shore excursions so, in this case, they can offer transport from one town to the next as well. In this instance, guests will be put up in hotels overnight instead of staying on the ship.

Another option is to make use of the other ships the line has on the river. Usually, there will be one ship operating the itinerary in one direction and another going the other way. If this is the case, guests can enjoy part of their river cruise on one ship and then change to a sister vessel for the remainder, avoiding the areas of the river affected by high water levels.

In circumstances where neither of these options is available, some ports of call may have to be abandoned altogether.

Know That It’s Unlikely To Happen

As we touched on above, the chances are that your European river cruise will take place without a hitch and you will enjoy a relaxing holiday. Most of the continent’s annual rainfall occurs in early spring, outside of the river cruise season. Water levels have been known to be high during the early weeks of the peak period but it is much rarer for this to happen in June like it has this year.

If In Doubt Ask Your Agent

Viking Kara

If you are at all concerned that your river cruise may be affected by rising water levels, the best thing to do is to speak to your agent or the cruise line. Even though everything will be in hand, a little piece of mind goes a long way.

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