European River Cruise Port Cities Face Flood Damage

June 6, 2013

(2:07 p.m. EDT) -- Record-setting flooding in central Europe, responsible for scattering river ships and the cancellation of dozens of sailings, has left numerous cities with days (if not weeks) of cleanup ahead of them. Major tourist attractions, such as the Charles Bridge in Prague, remain closed to visitors. While the worst is over in Prague and Passau, other cities, including Dresden, are awaiting the worst.

The flooding has been a problem on most of central Europe's rivers but has been particularly bad on the Danube, Main and Elbe rivers -- all of which are important to the European river cruising industry.

Here's a roundup of some of the most important river cruise port cities and how they have been affected:


Bratislava: People in the Slovakian city of Bratislava are awaiting the worst of the Danube flooding, which burst its banks today. Despite a state of emergency being declared, the river is not expected to go past the flood barriers.

Budapest: The Hungarian capital is bracing itself for the floodwaters, which are just now beginning to reach the city and are expected to crest June 10. Already, the river has overflowed its banks, flooded roads and is creeping slowly toward the Hungarian parliament building. The full length of both sides of the lower Danube embankments are closed, tourists in hotels on Margaret Island, a park in the middle of the river, have been evacuated and all public boat transportation is shut down.

Melk: People were evacuated from the city center June 2 after parts of the historic section of the Austrian town flooded. But waters are beginning to recede, and the city's most picturesque attraction, the Melk Abbey, is undamaged.

Passau: The city of Passau experienced its worst flooding in 500 years and is only now beginning to dig out from under mounds of mud, silt and river debris. The extent of the damage to the German city is unclear.

Vienna: The river overflowed the banks and streets, and restaurants and shops flooded, but Vienna was not as badly affected as many other cities because of a special floodgate system. At the height of the flooding, which crested June 5, the docks for cruise ships were completely under water and the highway to the airport was under water. Most of the Austrian city was inaccessible by foot and electricity was shut down.


Dresden: The Elbe is expected to crest in Dresden sometime today (June 6), and hundreds of people have been evacuated in preparation for the flooding. Authorities do not expect the floodwaters to reach the old German town.

Meissen: Many of the streets in this small historic German city are already under several feet of water. Some 4,500 people have been evacuated.

Prague: Although the Elbe crested its banks and waters are receding, many of Prague's major tourist attractions remain closed including the Charles Bridge, Franz Kafka Museum, Kampa Museum and Czech Museum of Music. Among the areas evacuated included the town of Terezin (also known as Theresienstadt), a former Nazi concentration camp. Additionally, Prague's sewage treatment plant was shut down for several days; clean-up, therefore, will include ridding flooded areas of sewage debris.

--by Dori Saltzman, News Editor