June 11, 2013
European River Cruise Port Cities Face Flood Damage
Update: Flooding in Europe Disastrous for River Towns, Cancels Cruises
(7:30 p.m. EDT) -- River cruise lines are continuing to cancel cruises and alter itineraries as the unprecedented flooding in central Europe shows no sign of stopping.
Viking River Cruises
Viking River Cruises has canceled two Elbe cruises due to depart June 8 (Viking Schumann and Viking Fontane), two June 8 Danube departures (Viking Njord and Viking Idun) and four departures on June 9 -- the Romantic Danube (Budapest to Nuremburg) cruise aboard the Viking Prestige; the Danube Waltz (Passau to Budapest) cruise aboard the Viking Legend; the Romantic Danube (Budapest to Nuremburg) cruise aboard the MS Vienna; and the Grand European Tour (Budapest to Amsterdam) aboard Viking Tor. It has also confirmed two cancellations of sailings on the Danube on June 12: Romantic Danube (Nuremberg to Budapest) aboard Viking Odin and Romantic Danube (Budapest to Nuremberg) aboard Viking Freya, as well as two further cancellations on June 15: Elegant Elbe from Berlin to Prague on Viking Fontane and the sailing from Prague to Berlin on Viking Schumann.
A number of other sailings have been altered, with passengers swapping ships and taking bus tours when necessary.
Viking has offered this list, updated on June 10:
1. June 12th Grand European Tour (Budapest to Amsterdam) aboard Viking Sky — This cruise will begin on Viking Embla (Longship, built 2012). Due to water levels, the ship will not be in the normal port of embarkation. Viking representatives will meet all guests at the airport—regardless of whether or not air/transfers were purchased from Viking—and transport guests to where the ship is. Sightseeing in Budapest will take place as planned after which we will bring guests to Vienna via motorcoach where they will stay in a hotel for 2-3 nights before transferring to Viking Sky, as she is making her way down the Main-Danube Canal and the Danube. After embarking Viking Sky we expect more than half of the cruise to take place with very minor (if any) adjustments. In consideration of the adjustments to the first few days of the cruise itinerary, we are contacting guests with the option to rebook in 2014 or continue with their cruise.
2. June 14th Cities of Light (Prague to Paris) aboard Viking Prestige — This cruise is expected to proceed as scheduled.
3. June 15th Romantic Danube (Budapest to Nuremberg) aboard Viking Njord — There is a possibility that this cruise will now take place on a sister ship (Longship, built 2012). Aside from the possible ship switch, this itinerary is expected to proceed as scheduled, with minor additional alterations if necessary.
4. June 15th Romantic Danube (Nuremberg to Budapest) aboard Viking Idun — There is a possibility that this cruise will now take place on a sister ship (Longship, built 2012). Aside from the possible ship switch, this itinerary is expected to proceed as scheduled, with minor additional alterations if necessary.
5. June 15th Passage to Eastern Europe (Budapest to Bucharest) aboard Viking Aegir — This cruise is expected to proceed as scheduled.
6. June 16th Grand European Tour (Amsterdam to Budapest) aboard Viking Bragi — There is a possibility this cruise will now take place on a sister ship (Longship, built 2013). Aside from the possible ship switch, this itinerary is expected to proceed as scheduled, with minor additional alterations if necessary.
7. June 16th Grand European Tour (Budapest to Amsterdam) aboard Viking Skadi — There is a possibility this cruise will now take place on a sister ship (Longship, built 2013). Aside from the possible ship switch, this itinerary is expected to proceed as scheduled, with minor additional alterations if necessary.
8. June 16th Danube Waltz (Budapest to Passau) aboard Viking Legend — This itinerary is expected to proceed as scheduled, with minor additional alterations if necessary.
9. June 16th Romantic Danube (Nuremberg to Budapest) aboard MS Vienna — Depending on river conditions and the ability of the ship to reach its port of embarkation in time for departure, this cruise may experience alterations. We will continue to monitor the situation closely in the coming weeks and if necessary, we will contact guests ahead of departure to alert them of possible changes.
10. June 16th Vineyards & Vistas (Nuremberg to Trier) aboard Viking Prestige — This cruise is expected to proceed as scheduled.
11. June 16th Rhine Getaway (Amsterdam to Basel) aboard Viking Sun — This cruise is expected to proceed as scheduled.
12. June 16th Rhine Getaway (Basel to Amsterdam) aboard Viking Helvetia — This cruise is expected to proceed as scheduled.
13. June 19th Romantic Danube (Budapest to Nuremberg) aboard Viking Odin — There is a possibility that this cruise will now take place on a sister ship (Longship, built 2012). Aside from the possible ship switch, this itinerary is expected to proceed as scheduled, with minor additional alterations if necessary.
14. June 19th Romantic Danube (Nuremberg to Budapest) aboard Viking Freya — There is a possibility that this cruise will now take place on a sister ship (Longship, built 2012). Aside from the possible ship switch, this itinerary is expected to proceed as scheduled, with minor additional alterations if necessary.
Avalon Waterways 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), an 18-day Grand Danube cruise from Bucharest to Prague leaving Saturday (June 8) and a 13-day Blue Danube Discovery from Budapest to Prague (June 13).
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 numbers (in the U.K.) are: 0800 8695 4069 and 0808 115 2927.
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. AMA
AmaWaterways has not canceled any departures but has been transferring passengers between ships, with vessels unable to pass through the Main-Danube Canal in southern Germany. On our Message Boards Cruise Critic members have noted that the line has made two itinerary changes for AmaPrima: The first is on its Blue Danube Discovery, which began with a one night stay in Bratislava on June 5. The second is on its Legendary Danube cruise. Passengers will check in Sunday (June 9) in Prague, and embark the ship in or near Nuremberg, depending on water levels. APT
After confirming it would be canceling two cruises on June 8 -- AmaBella from Amsterdam to Budapest and AmaVerde from Budapest to Amsterdam -- APT has subsequently announced it also canceled the June 6 "Travelmarvel Johann Strauss from Amsterdam to Budapest" cruise and the June 7 cruise on Amadante from Budapest to Amsterdam.
A statement from the group said: "As a matter of priority, APT has worked on all affected bookings in order of departure to communicate the situation to customers who were either travelling with us, in transit or due to travel.
"Our priority now is in working with customers in Europe who were due to board these cruises to repatriate them back as required. For those affected we are helping them to recover the costs of their cruise through their travel insurance company.
"We have been in contact with the major travel insurance companies and all have confirmed that this is a claimable event and we are committed to working with all our customers and their insurance to reach a satisfactory outcome.
"We recognise that it may take some time for funds to be reimbursed, so for affected customers choosing to rebook with APT for a 2014 Europe river cruise departure, we will not ask for forward deposits until funds have been recovered. For those who choose to rebook on the same itinerary for 2014, we will honour the original price paid."
Five additional cruises have faced lesser disruptions, and the line says it does not anticipate further cancellations but will continue to monitor water levels. The line's Emergency Europe Flooding hotline number is 0208 812 3400. CroisiEurope
A spokesperson for CroisiEurope confirmed that the June 8 departure of the line's Blue Danube cruise had been canceled and told Cruise Critic three other itineraries had been amended: "CroisiEurope amended an itinerary on a five-day Rhine Cruise on the MS Modigliani. Guests due to embark in Strasbourg were transferred to Koblenz. And on two five-day Rhine cruises on the MS Gerard Schmitter and the MS Leonardo da Vinci, guests due to embark in Strasbourg were transferred to Mannheim." Grand Circle
Grand Circle has canceled three river cruises: the June 4 and June 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. Scenic
Scenic Cruises has confirmed none of its itineraries has been canceled, and that all remaining departures in June will depart as scheduled. "Though Scenic Cruises has not canceled any upcoming cruises, it will need to make adjustments to the June 10 and June 12 depatures out of Budapest," said a statement from the line.
Passengers either will be transferred directly to the ship or spend an extra night in Budapest before being transferred, depending on flight times. The line also said that flooding "may not allow for uninterrupted cruising on the June 10 and June 12 departures in both directions. Ship swaps are a possibility."
Additionally, the "Gems of the Danube with Prague extension, 17 June departure (scheduled Jewel-Budapest) will potentially take place on a different ship if Scenic Jewel cannot sail to or near to Budapest in time for embarkation." The line will swap to Sapphire if necessary on Friday 14 June."
And the Jewels of Europe, 17 June departure (Crystal-Budapest) will be evaluated as the high water in Budapest, Hungary clears.
Four Scenic Cruises ships -- Scenic Diamond, Pearl, Jewel and Sapphire -- were left docked last week, waiting for water levels to drop during the worst of the flooding. Elliot Gillies, a public relations representative for the line, said Scenic employed buses to transport passengers to their scheduled excursions and shoreside events. Tauck
Tauck has canceled five cruises: the May 30 Blue Danube eastbound; June 6 Blue Danube westbound; June 2 Grand European southbound; June 2 Amsterdam to Budapest by Riverboat southbound; and June 14 Budapest to Black Sea eastbound.
The June 7 Rhine and Moselle sailing aboard Swiss Jewel is operating with a few modifications. 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." Titan
Titan has canceled the remainder of a charter cruise on MS Filia Rheni, which has been in Vienna since May 31. The 120 passengers stuck onboard since Saturday were finally 'rescued' yesterday. They will all be offered a full refund for the canceled cruise, a spokesperson from Titan confirmed.
All passengers affected across these lines will be entitled to full cruise refunds plus future cruise credits. Uniworld
Uniworld Boutique River Cruise Collection has announced that, apart from the June 16 and June 23 sailings on River Ambassador between Vienna and Belgrade, all cruises and cruise tours are expected to operate as normal. For the affected River Ambassador sailings, the line is using the ship River Empress until June 27, at which point passengers will be moved to River Ambassador.
The line last week canceled the June 7 cruise of River Ambassador and the June 9 sailing of River Beatrice. Impacted passengers will receive a full refund and a future cruise credit of $500. Uniworld has also canceled the June 16 sailing of the River Empress. Passengers were 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.
The flooding also caused Uniworld to either alter the itinerary or cancel the remainder of several cruises that were in progress. 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. Other affected lines include:
Riviera Travel, which will continue with its sailings but with rearranged itineraries and extra hotel nights for cruises from Basel.
The River Cruise Line's "Cruise the Rhine to Switzerland" on the Lady Anne, will depart from Adernach instead of Basel.
Shearings canceled its MS Da Vinci cruise, which departed Tuesday (4 June).
Cruise Critic is waiting to hear back from Vantage. A statement on the Vantage Web site says that the line is "planning to operate all departures as scheduled." According to an unverified comment on this story, "Vantage is modifying the June 11 Medieval Gems (Regensburg to Basel) itinerary. It now involves hotel stays in Munich and Nuremburg, but they're not clear on what else will be modified. They say passengers will be contacted when options are decided."
The latest weather reports from central Europe do not bode well, with rain predicted to continue in the area for at least another week.
--by Jamey Bergman, U.K. Production Editor, and Adam Coulter, U.K. Editor Vote in our poll: Should river cruise lines cancel voyages?
Image of Passau courtesy of Stefan Penninger