Despite Europe’s scorching heatwave, which caused nervousness amongst travellers and cruise lines alike, most river cruise itineraries have so far escaped largely unscathed this year.
A weekend of rain brought relief, with operators now saying that they are heading into August with healthy water levels.
Some companies over the summer had to swap ships for sailings on the Danube between Passau and Regensburg before the heatwave broke last weekend.
While the Rhine remains affected by low water levels, and some meteorologists forecast a shut-down of commercial traffic, river lines like Scenic and Uniworld told River Cruise Passenger that they have no changes to any European itineraries.
On the Elbe River, Viking has issued a warning on its website, that the line has several contingency plans to bypass affected areas.
“The Elbe River is currently experiencing low water levels. As rain is not forecasted in the immediate future, some upcoming sailings will be impacted,” says the statement.
“In order to minimise the impact to each cruise tour, Viking has several contingency plans to bypass the affected areas. We will continue to monitor water levels daily, activate plans and notify guests accordingly.
Guests on affected sailings will be notified directly.”
Tauck told Travel Weekly it had to adjust one 14-day sailing, putting passengers up for two nights at the Four Seasons Hotel Gresham Palace in Budapest as well as the Hotel Bristol in Vienna before embarking on a 10-day sailing.
Avalon Waterways also had to move passengers between ships when the small stretch of the Danube became impassable.
“The natural state of rivers is to ebb and flow,” managing director of Avalon Waterways Pamela Hoffee, told Travel Weekly.
“The ship swap [was] a reaction to a typical Danube River ebb. It is not indicative, in any way, of the low waters we faced in 2018.”
Cruise Passenger was out on the Rhone with Viking River Cruises last week, where water levels were good.