Water levels on the Rhine River are set to fall close to the point where the river cannot hold ships anymore. This would mean that river cruise lines could face severe disruptions over the coming weeks.
The river has been slowly dropping since early July as the European heatwave rages. The river at Kaub, Germany is set to drop to 47 centimetres by the weekend taking it to within 7 centimetres of being all but impassable, according to Bloomberg.
A spokesperson from The Scenic Group, which includes both Scenic Luxury Cruises & Tours and Emerald Cruises, told Travel Weekly that it is closely monitoring the ongoing record high temperatures across Europe and how this impacts the water levels in some sections of the river it operates its cruises.
“The river conditions can change significantly, depending on rain fall and other local factors,” the spokesperson said.
“Thus, we are adjusting guest travel arrangements when required and altering some river cruises to allow for the safe navigation of our ships.
“This is to ensure the minimal disruption to our guests’ experience and itineraries.”
Pam Hoffee, president of Avalon Waterways, told Travel Market Report mid-last month that guests have only experienced minor alterations, but there are plans in place should the situation get worse—“ship swaps.”“Should any portion of the Rhine become impassible, we have contingency plans that include ship swaps for our guests,” Hoffee said.This ship swap would mean that guests can be moved to other ships with identical accommodation.
Viking Cruises released a statement yesterday saying that guests and their travel advisors will continue to be notified directly by customer relations if the cruise line thinks itineraries on the Rhine and Dunabe Rivers might be impacted.
Viking similarly do ship swaps by launching sister ships on the same itinerary, but sailing in opposite directions. This means that in the event of low water, guests and their luggage can be transferred to their exact, identical stateroom on a sister ship.