There has been a lot of negative media reporting lately due to the low river levels in Europe. The articles are reporting how ‘awful’ the river cruising experience has been because of the low water situation due to the very hot dry summer Europe had. The stories have not all been completely accurate, but the truth is that this is nature and unfortunately, these situations are part of the river cruise lifestyle.
I always find it amusing that a writer can publish a story from an angry consumer’s side of a story, but the writer seems to never consider interviewing an actual professional travel advisor.
For every negative statement I’ve read over the summer (and there have been some whoppers), I can almost guarantee that the complaint came from a cruiser who likely booked their own cruise online on a travel website and neglected to read the cruise company’s Terms & Conditions.
How do I know this? Every complaint comes from a lack of knowledge.
The Terms and Conditions of a sailing specifically state what can happen to a cruise itinerary/cruise plan due to high and low water levels on the river. Historically, there is no way to predict what can happen so often the changes come without much advance notice.
Booking a river cruise, are you the right client?
River Cruising is a wonderful, inclusive cruise experience to amazing historical cities in Europe. It’s the most organized yet effortless way to see so much of Europe. A floating boutique hotel for 7 nights, gliding through a network of ancient rivers flowing throughout Europe. Gourmet meals three times a day, free-flowing regional wine and beers with lunch and dinner, and there is never the worry of FOMO (fear of missing out). Included choices of tours that have been expertly curated so that you truly get to see the best of the best of everything and with many choices, you tour the way that fits your travel style. River cruising is an organized, deeply immersive cruise vacation where you spend a week learning the history of these great places, yet you still get plenty of free time to do things your way.
Do you have the personality to go with the flow?
Do you find it easy to be flexible when last-minute changes must be made? Is your glass always half full or half empty? Are you open to new adventures? If you answered yes, then you do have the personality and fit to travel on a river cruise!
The one thing you need to remember, water levels can’t be controlled, its nature. Statistically, a very small percentage of river cruise itineraries are affected. The truth is, it does occasionally happen, but it is not the end of the world if you know what to expect and if you read a bad media story, don’t believe everything you read.
In the event of low or high-water sailing, there are many possible changes that can happen but there are the two most popular scenarios.
Scenario 1: The Ship Swap
In this scenario, your ship will sail on the river as far as it can go (Snapple Fact: ships can sail in 3 feet of water because of their specially designed hulls). Once the ship can no longer continue, your crew will ask you to pack your bags. Your day will continue as planned with the tour of your choice. While you are out touring, the crew will move all your things to another identical ship to the closest navigable port. After your cruise, your bus will drive to the new ship. You will board the new ship, have the same exact cabin location, and cabin number and you will continue on your journey on the river.
Scenario 2: The Escorted Tour
In this case, the river has essentially been shut down for river cruise traffic. Your river cruise has just become a land tour, visiting most of the same destinations – but by motorcoach. For some, this is a bummer but not a shock. This is where flexibility and a positive attitude of the passenger on a river cruise come into play. On the positive side, you are still in Europe, and you still get to enjoy all the amazing things you would have even though your cabin has turned into a lovely hotel room.
The rivers have been around since the beginning of time. They have flowed, they have flooded, and they have dried up but the adventure around the journey never ceases. I hope this article gives you a better understanding of what happens with nature throws us a curve ball. Want to read more posts about our recent river and ocean cruises – check out our blog – or let’s set up a time to discuss your next journey!
I am a lucky lady to have the honor to work side by side with Lisa Collins. Ocean Cruise phenom and lover of all things Ocean Cruising. Together we are the Lisas.
We are experts in the field of creating lasting memories without the stress and chaos that can often put a strain on your valuable time. Our dedication and commitment to developing an authentic relationship with each client is the cornerstone of our business. That level of service and attention to detail allows busy adults and curious travelers the opportunity to focus on the joy of the journey.
I’m Lisa! Founder of Fitzgerald Travel, lover of all things river cruising and self-proclaimed River Cruise Matchmaker.