As river cruise operations along Europe’s waterways begin to return to normal, we’re hearing a lot from readers, who are sharing both good and bad tales with us about their experiences with changes and cancellations due to the recent record-breaking flooding.
We’re also getting a lot of questions that are well worth sharing with you, like this one from a reader concerned about his first river cruise:
Four of us booked an Amsterdam to Budapest river cruise for Oct. 1. It will be our first river cruise so we wanted it to be perfect, but are concerned about all the flooding. We expect the flooding will be gone but are concerned that the water damage, cleanup (mud, etc.), and other problems could really diminish the experience.
With all the costs combined it will be about $30,000 for the four of us which is a big expense plus scheduling the time off from work.
My wife’s sister wants to cancel now so is there some information that you have that you can send me to help convince that everything should be fine by October? What is the cancellation policy? Can we extend the cancellation period so don’t have to make that decision now and allow us to see if the news about the cleanup improves?
While the reader doesn’t mention the line he is sailing with, we haven’t heard of any changes to cancellation policies from any river cruise line. Travellers booked on an upcoming river cruise should always pay close attention to their ticket contract and cancellation policies outline in the brochure and on the cruise line’s website, as these will remain in effect.
Having said that, by October things should have returned to normal. In fact, with the exception of lock repairs and other unexpected delays, things are already returning to normal – though the situation in Passau will likely take longer. Shops and businesses near the water are understandably affected, but those on higher ground will be open for business. For now, some lines – like Viking River Cruises – have opted to bus guests to Munich for the day in lieu of calling on Passau.
Our best advice to the reader: There’s no need to cancel, or even really worry, about your October departure. While water levels can and will still fluctuate, you can expect that your published itinerary likely will be adhered to, and that you will have an enjoyable time.
Another reader wrote in to say that things could have been handled differently on his voyage:
No canceled cruises for Scenic Cruise offshoot Evergreen Tours. Those poor guests were forced to commence their non-cruise on June 8 and did not have choice to cancel.
They have spent 7 days on busses! With one day bussing for over 14 hours. Very poor communication from company. Pathetic indifferent attitude to suffering guests that paid over $600 Euro per person per day [for] a cruise but got a bus tour instead.
This seems to be the largest complaint whenever fluctuating water levels strike, and it’s an understandable one: Many people who take river cruises seemingly do so precisely because they aren’t fans of bus tours.
It also raises an interesting no-win situation for the cruise lines themselves: If you cancel the departure, you risk angering your guests. If you continue the itinerary, albeit with motorcoaches and hotel stays, you also risk angering your guests. The shade of grey is striking the right balance between the two; many lines that are able to are swapping guests between ships in order to complete as much of their itineraries onboard as possible. But for lines with smaller fleets – like Scenic – that just isn’t always realistic.
Finally, reader Becky Howell wrote in to share some positive news relating to her voyage with Avalon Waterways – and she’s got the right attitude:
Thank you for the blog news. That is really helpful to hear. We are flying to Prague today. Boarding the boat on the 19th. We may just squeak by and get the new ship all the way…thanks
Your blog came at the perfect time. We leave in one hour.
They [Avalon] told me that we may have to be on the 2007 Tranquility for a few days until the locks are repaired but we will meet the Visionary on the other side of the locks.
We will make whatever happens, fun!
They will give $200 pp for inconvenience. In addition to upgrade category $$ depending on how many days we are on the older ship.
They have been VERY FAIR and UP FRONT with us. Thanks again!
Are you booked on an upcoming river cruise through Europe, or are you currently onboard a sailing? Let us know.