June 5, 2013
Flooding on Europe's Rivers: Cruise Critic Members Weigh in
Update: Flooding in Europe Disastrous for River Towns, Cancels Cruises
Floods Continue to Force More River Cruise Cancelations
(Updated: 6:15 a.m. EDT) -- River cruise lines are canceling or altering itineraries due to the unprecedented flooding in central Europe. Impacted lines include Viking River Cruises, AmaWaterways, Avalon Waterways, Uniworld, Scenic Cruises, Tauck and Grand Circle Cruise Lines.
The heavy rainfall over the past few days has led to the highest flood waters ever recorded in central Europe. Floods in Germany, the Czech Republic, Austria, Switzerland and Poland have caused several deaths and shut down tourist destinations. Passau and Prague -- two major river cruise ports -- have been especially affected.
Viking has canceled the following cruises, both due to depart June 9:
Romantic Danube (Budapest to Nuremberg) onboard Viking Prestige, and Danube Waltz (Passau to Budapest) onboard Viking Legend, Romantic Danube on the MS Vienna. All passengers due to sail on one of these cruises will receive a full refund or the option to rebook at a later date. Passengers are being notified and offered full refunds, plus an additional $500 onboard credit. The line has also been forced to make a number of itinerary changes, full details of which are posted on the Cruise Critic Message Boards.
Viking has set up a Crisis Hotline and dedicated email: TravelCrisis@vikingcruises.com or 1-877-523-0579 (Monday through Friday, 7:30 a.m. to 5 p.m., Pacific).
A statement from Viking reads:
“We have been forced to cancel three cruises, departing on 9th June, due to travel on the Danube river. This decision was taken as it is currently impossible for the ships to reach the point of embarkation. There are no other cancellations at this time and none foreseeable.”
The statement added: “Customers are being notified by our team as soon as we are aware of any changes or if there is a need to alter or cancel any sailings due to the current areas of flooding. This level of flooding is extremely unusual and we will continue to monitor and evaluate the situation closely.”
AmaWaterways has not canceled any of its cruises, but partner APT has canceled the following two:
AmaBella from Amsterdam to Budapest and AmaVerde from Budapest to Amsterdam, both June 8.
APT's dedicated phone number (in the U.K.) is: 020-8812 3400.
Avalon has canceled or is canceling the following cruises:
Legendary Danube (June 2); Blue Danube Discovery and Jewels of Central Europe (both June 7); Magnificent Europe (June 8 and 9) and Austrian Highlights & Bavaria (June 10).
Affected passengers are being contacted, and will receive full refunds and discount vouchers for a future cruise, as well as refunds on airfare booked through Avalon and change fees for independent air arrangements. Avalon's dedicated phone number (in the U.K.) is: 0800 8695 4069.
Other Avalon sailings have had alternations, such as transferring passengers to different ships on the other side of the Main-Danube canal or doing a partial sailing combined with hotel stays. These passengers are receiving some compensation, commensurate with the number of cruising days affected. In nearly all cases to date, passengers are able to visit the destinations and attractions outlined in the original itineraries.
Uniworld is canceling the June 7 cruises of River Ambassador (to Belgrade and to Vienna) and the June 9 sailing of River Beatrice. Impacted passengers will receive a full refund and a future cruise credit of $500. And Uniworld has canceled an additional cruise, the June 16 sailing of the River Empress. Passengers were being encouraged to rebook another date but were also being given the option of a full refund. They will also be compensated with a $500 per person future cruise credit. For cruises currently in progress, Uniworld is either altering the itinerary or canceling the remainder of the cruise. Passengers with cruises canceled mid-sailing will also receive a full refund and future cruise credit. They can elect to remain onboard while the line helps them make arrangements to return home.
Tauck has canceled two cruises. The line has cancelled both the May 30 and June 6 Blue Danube sailings on Swiss Sapphire. Other Tauck sailings are running as planned (or very close to the original schedule). In terms of compensation for passengers on affected cruises, the line said, "We have provided guests with a choice of remaining with us on an altered itinerary or departing early with full refund. The line is monitoring the situation and making adjustments on a daily basis."
Grand Circle has canceled three river cruises: the June 4 and 8 departures along the Main, Rhine and Danube on River Rhapsody and River Harmony, and the June 4 River Allegro departure on the Elbe River.
Four Scenic Cruises ships -- Scenic Diamond, Pearl, Jewel and Sapphire -- remain docked, as they wait for water levels to drop. Elliot Gillies, a public relations representative for the line, says Scenic is employing buses to transport passengers to their scheduled excursions and shoreside events.
--by Adam Coulter, U.K. Editor and Jamey Bergman, U.K. Production Editor