Kiel Canal Breakdown Causes Shipping Delays

August 15, 2012
A broken lock chamber in Germany's Kiel Canal is causing chaos to shipping, including cruise ship transits.

The 98 kilometer (60 mile) canal, linking the Baltic to the North Sea, is the world's busiest artificial waterway and is used by ships to avoid sailing all the way around the coast of Denmark.

One of the four lock chambers on the eastbound lane became unusable on Sunday when the carriage supporting one of the gates derailed from its slide rail, according to industry web site Seatrade Insider.

The gate is not expected to be repaired until later today. Long queues of cargo ships waiting to transit the canal have built up at either end and a handful of cruise ships have been affected, including Noble Caledonia's Island Sky, which made an unscheduled call at Kiel port yesterday. The ship has, however, now transited the canal and is en route to the German island of Sylt.

Today, Silversea's Silver Whisper is due to enter the canal, bound eastwards for Travemunde in Germany. A spokeswoman for the company in the U.K. told Cruise Critic that the situation would be clearer later this morning but “at this stage they do hope to arrive into Travemunde on schedule.”

Saga's Quest for Adventure (pictured) is due to make a westbound transit tomorrow and we are waiting for a response from the company as to whether the schedule is likely to be affected.

--by Sue Bryant, Contributing Editor