Flooding on Europe’s Rivers: Cruise Critic Members Weigh in

June 6, 2013
News: Central European Floods:
Update: River Cruises Canceled Due to Flooding
Update: Flooding in Europe Disastrous for River Towns, Cancels Cruises
Floods Continue to Force More River Cruise Cancellations
Europe Flooding (8:15 a.m. EDT) -- With a historic flood sweeping down the Danube River, several Cruise Critic members on the major European waterway -- and some who are on or will soon be on a Danube River cruise -- are reporting in real time in our forums.

We've gathered a sample of posts from our members covering conditions, cancellations and worries about upcoming cruises. Here's what they had to say, in their own words.


Member: atlasali
Location: Ohio

Time: June 5th, 09:02 PM
Our weather experience... We were on, then off, then back on Vantage's ms River Venture which sailed from Amsterdam to Basel May 15 - May 29. We have never had "the weather" so negatively impact a trip before. The rain started the day the cruise began. Some precipitation fell every day. Areas above us were deluged by the rain. The river rose 6 - 9 feet over night. The turbulence was awesome to see. Consequently, we were stuck on the Moselle/Mosel river upstream of a bridge in Trier that the Romans built in 16BC. For 3 days we bussed to our locations, then back to the ship. The river never went down. The Saar River upstream just kept gushing water. Bussing was more physically grueling (at least for me), but we got to return to our gorgeous ship, enjoy the fabulous food and be taken care of by the most attentive staff and crew I have ever experienced. Then the decision was made to pack up and go by bus to a hotel in Strasbourg for 3 nights. Me, in my rookie ignorance, assumed we would be getting back onboard the riverboat. Until dinner, which was treated as if it was our "last supper". Nooooo! I did not want to get off. I loved my cabin: seeing the swans, hearing the birds. I paid my tips for the entire two weeks of the cruise. It was not the workers fault; they should not be financially punished. We were put up at a Hilton. Okay but not as wonderful as the River Venture. Our Program Managers worked hard and Vantage paid a lot of money for our trip to remain as normal as possible. They hired a day Riverboat so we could cruise through the Lorelei part of the Rhine...it was raining. They even took on a 3rd Captain to race the River Venture to catch up to us. Thankfully it did, and we were able to spend the last 2 nights on board. Our last day, cruising to Basel, the sun was shining. However, we could not sit up on the top deck. The headroom clearance at the locks was too low. By the time we got to Basel, it was raining again. Typical, for this trip. I had wanted to recreate a memory. 43 years ago, while bicycling through Europe, I spent one magical day onboard a Rhine riverboat cruising through the Lorelei area. Sitting on the top deck watching the castles go by. This was going to be our one-and-only riverboat trip. We just do not have the financial resources of our fellow cruisers. So I was devastated that we had to get off, and thrilled that we got back on. Would I do it again? I would love to. IF, we can afford it. Member: G.M.T.
Location: Germany
Time: June 5th, 2013, 06:18 AM

Today in Passau, we have sunny warm weather and 21° C, where the water has receded the clean up is in full swing. The Danube level is stagnant at 10.05 m foe the last 12 hours and are forecast to remain so for the next 6 hours. Once the Danube has it's normal water level (4.50 - 480 m in Passau), movement down stream towards Linz, Melk, Vienna and Budapest should be OK. The problem will be up stream towards Regensburg where the Danube has burst it's banks and other embankments are so water logged that they could go anytime, here the river could be closed or traffic restricted until repairs are made.

When I was in Passau yesterday evening it was like a war zone, sludge and rubbish everywhere. The first photo shows German soldiers using snow shovels to remove the mud, second and third photos shows Passau and GIs from 261st US Infantry Regiment shortly after they liberated Passau in early May 1945. Not a lot of difference. Member: G.M.T.
Location: Germany
Time: June 3rd, 2013, 06:08 PM

Just got back from Passau, from an advantage point overlooking the city, it's like a ghost town. People are starting to be evacuated from the old town, electricity, water, gas have been turn off ... Member: UKBayern
Location: Bavarian Forest, Germany near the Czech border
Time: June 1st, 2013, 08:04 PM

We live in the area, and in one afternoon, the Danube went from Code Green to Code Yellow to Code Orange. Code Red is expected for tomorrow. The situation is very severe. Torrential rain 24/7 for days on end now. The situation became this tense in just a matter of days if not hours. Who knows if the situation will be ok again in 3 weeks time or on the 7th of July? After tomorrow, dry and warm weather is predicted. Wait what the weather reports and the cruiseline say and just don't make hasty decisions.

In my town, the river Regen which reaches Regensburg 90 km downstream is already slowly going down. Up to now, the flood defenses in Regensburg and Prague are holding up. The main focus is now on Passau, where the situation is dire. Up- and downstream the Danube is causing problems, for example the beautiful Weltenburg Monastry in Kelheim near Regensburg is flooded, as is the historical town of Melk in Austria. The Monastry in Melk is still OK.

Member: UKBayern
Location: Bavarian Forest, Germany near the Czech border
Time: June 4th, 2013, 10:19 AM

Official peak level for Passau (according to the city website) was 12,89 metres, yesterday evening. Water level in Passau is dropping, 11,80 (as of 8 AM local) and expected at 10,80 before evening. 1200 people from the emergency services and military are currently involved and starting cleanup. Predictions:

Member: steamboats
Location: Germany
Time: June 4th, 2013, 08:43 AM

The Danube river crested at Passau at 12.89 m last night and is now falling although upriver at Regensburg the river is still rising. Currently all river traffic is stopped. So no ship will run until the authorities have given clearance. As the landing areas are flooded too there are hardly any places where you'd be able to board a ship (just to use it as hotel). Austria is pretty much effected too which includes Melk, Dürnstein and Vienna. News were over here that Bratislava is preparing for the flood starting yesterday. So over the next few days the flood wave will go downriver. The good news is that the rain has more or less stopped here in Bavaria. It will take a couple of days until the smaller rivers are back to a normal stage again (even here in Munich we had flood level 3 but are currently back to 2). The whole navigable part of the Danube river from Kelheim to Passau is still on level 4. The current river level at Passau was measured with 11.80 m at 8 am this morning. Actually the do have to measure "by hand" as the automatic system is broken. One more thing: The last record high was in 1954 with 12.20 m. Prior to that there were 12.22 m measured in 1501! So with 12.89 m Passau got the highest flood ever. Member: ingo_e
Location: Nuremberg
Time: June 3rd, 2013, 08:43 PM

When the levels start to drop, that will be (approx.) around 100cm a day. Depends on the weather and the tributaries. The German Danube reaches its peak tonight. So until the levels are back to "shipable" it will take another 3-6 days.. The next problem will be: Usually high waters affect just a short stretch on a river. At the moment the nearly the whole Rhine-Main-Danube system is blocked and ship traffic stalled since 28th - 30th of May. So even when the high water issue is solved, all cruise ships are in the wrong place (so to speak), around 8-14 days behind schedule and the city where they are supposed to dock (e.g. for disembarkation). For some cruises this might not be a big issue, for others it will be. I actually assume there will be a lot of ship swapping involved until everything is back to normal. Response to Cancellations/Disruptions:

Member: nana541
Location: Southern Oregon
Time: June 5th, 03:08 AM

AMA claiming "no cancelled cruises" on Facebook Just read a post from AMA literally claiming they have not had to cancel any cruises..... Implying all is normal!!!! Unbelievable... I wanted to sail with these people. Member: Coastalrap
Location: New York
Time: June 5, 09:21 PM

One thing you probably didn't notice is that several AMA-based cruises were cancelled, it's just that they were the ones chartered out to APT. That meant that AMA's own brand cruises were all before or after the period in which the most cancellations occurred on the other lines. Each cruise line is trying to cope with these unprecedented conditions in the way they think is best for their passengers. AMA seems to be at the extreme of let's keep going and do the best we can. Some other lines seem to be cancelling early to give people notice. As you can see on the Celebrity forum about their Xpedition cancellations in the Galapagos, no matter what they do someone will be upset. Some would prefer that the trip go on with whatever adaptations have to be made (hotel rather than river boat, buses to the scheduled cities). Others would prefer that the entire cruise be cancelled and they get a refund plus future credit. And for still others it doesn't seem that anything the cruise line could do would make them happy. Member: jazzbeau
Time: June 3rd, 2013, 07:37 PM
Location: Florida

Our thoughts are with all those whose homes and lives have been affected. We are booked on a future Avalon cruise that will not be affected by the current flooding but are very interested in how Avalon handles this. I think that Avalon has stepped up and is doing an excellent job in working with their cruisers. Thanks Avalon, you are truly first class. Member: Shallwe123
Location: Titan/Uniworld - Danube Cruise. MV Mozart
Time: June 4th, 2013, 10:45 AM

Titan rang at 4pm BST to cancel our cruise. So sad as we were so looking forward to it and being aboard Mozart. A full refund is being arranged. Our thoughts and good wishes go to the folks in the flood areas - keep safe. Member: Needzavacation
Location: Dallas, Texas
Time: June 4th, 2013, 06:21 AM

We're on the May 31 sailing of the Amacello sailing from Basel to Amsterdam. We've been docked in Breisach since day 1 and doing bus tours. There's a briefing this morning, but we know we'll be disembarking on Wednesday and spending the night on the Amalyra docked in Frankfurt, and then moving to a hotel in Amsterdam for the final night. All in all, AMA is doing a good job in a tough situation, but communication could be more frequent. Update: During our cruise briefing this morning, the cruise manager announced that AMA is providing a 100% future cruise credit, good through December 2016. Very, very generous, under the circumstances. That's a company focused on customer satisfaction -- that's why we chose AMA for our first river cruise, and then again and then again. Member: SeattleDA
Location: Seattle
Time: June 5th, 05:37 PM

ScenicTours Cruise Customer Service I have been following this board for some time but this is the first time I have posted. I was wondering if anybody else was having a problem getting solid information from Scenic. I am supposed to be on a Danube cruise with them in a couple of weeks. It seems that all the other cruise lines are posting updates on their websites, or on facebook or twitter. Scenic has gone dark - no updates or even a mention of the floods on their various sites. A call to the customer service line got me to an agent who said they had no changes to their schedule or itineraries but if there were changes we would be notified once we boarded the ship. Our ship is supposed to be touring Passau, Melk, Regensburg with a side trip to Cesky Krumlov - all communities that suffered heavy flood damage. I would hope that Scenic would let us know what is happening to our trip before we get on the ship! Member: jpalbny
Location: Albany, NY
Time: June 3rd, 2013, 07:09 PM

We are (were) on one of the affected cruises - the June 10th departure of Austrian Highlights & Bavaria (WVP 30610) aboard the Avalon Affinity. Disappointed? Sure. Furious? Not even close. What we really feel is sympathy for those who live along the Danube, who are flooded and displaced from their homes. According to an article I read this morning, the water level in Passau has already exceeded the 100-year mark (1954 flood) and may pass the 500-year (1501 flood) mark; this is a huge flood. It is certainly not Avalon's fault that they can't run our itinerary; safety comes first. We're furiously planning alternative activities for our 2 weeks in Germany. We will still go, and we'll have a great time. We plan to see what we can of Nuremburg and Munich. We now will have time to spend extra days in Vienna, we will be able to see Salzburg (which we weren't going to have time for originally), and we'll get to spend time in the Alps. We could sit around moping about it, but we'd rather make lemonade (as previously stated). Best of luck to all others similarly affected. --by Jamey Bergman, U.K. Production Editor