Fluctuating river levels could impact Europe cruise itineraries

As another busy summer gets underway in Europe, river cruise passengers could once again face itinerary alterations due to high or low water levels.

Thus far, river cruise lines are reporting that water levels are a bit high on the Danube, Rhine and Rhone rivers, and a bit low on the Elbe.

Viking River Cruises has reported on its website that the Danube, Rhine and Rhone rivers currently have high water levels, which may result in delays, itinerary adjustments, and alternate embarkation or disembarkation points.

The high levels on the Danube are occurring near Passau, Germany, and the high levels on the Rhine are concentrated around southern Germany, Viking reported. Meanwhile, limited rainfall on the Elbe River has disrupted sailings between Melnik in the Czech Republic and Bad Schandau in Germany, as well as the stretch between Wittenberg and Magdeburg in Germany.

Avalon Waterways on Monday updated its Facebook page to alert passengers that “due to increased rainfall this spring, water levels on some of Europe’s rivers are higher than normal.”

Avalon noted that there are cases where adjustments will be necessary, mostly affecting embarkation and disembarkation locations. “On occasion, when waters have been too high to navigate, we’re making alternate arrangements, which may include transferring guests to hotels. When this occurs, we offer our travelers complimentary accommodations, excursion choices as well as compensation for missed sailing days,” Avalon stated on Facebook.

“Weather forecasts look favorable this week,” the company stated, adding that “we ask that our guests understand that water levels change hourly, so much can change daily. In the meantime, we’re just ‘going with the flow.’”

Severe flooding on France’s Seine River caused river cruise disruptions there earlier this month.

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River cruise sustainability guide launched

River cruise sustainability guide launched

A guide offering best practices to river cruise operators on how to operate with as little environmental impact as possible has been developed by the Travel Foundation.

The ‘Environmental Sustainability for River Cruising’ is designed to support the river cruise tourism industry in working towards a sustainable future by identifying ways to reduce water and energy use, and waste generation on river cruise ships.

The best practices offered in the guide come from audits done on ships in Egypt, along the Nile, and in Europe, along the Danube, Rhine, and Rhône rivers.

Twelve Uniworld Boutique River Cruise Collection ships were audited. The recommendations made from the findings were used to form the basis of the guide, which provides training material for the river cruise industry at large in managing their own environmental performance.

The guidance will mark a breakthrough in reducing the environmental impact of river cruising tourism worldwide, charity the Travel Foundation claims.

Uniworld president Guy Young said: “With the growth of the river cruise sector, it is essential that we all do our part to ensure a healthy and sustainable future for our waterways, which is why we are so proud to be part of such an important first-of-its-kind project in the river cruise sector.

“All river cruise companies should seek to better understand and adopt environmental performance measures in an effort to prevent serious environmental impact in the destinations where we travel and operate.

“To this end, we hope this Environmental Sustainability for River Cruising guide will provide them with best practice examples, tools, and sources of further information, as well as a self-assessment checklist in their own efforts of continuous improvements towards a more sustainable future.”

Salli Felton, acting chief executive of the Travel Foundation, added: “It’s important that the river cruising sector addresses the environmental impact of its day-to-day operation, so that it can grow sustainably.

“We’ve broken the guide down into small manageable chunks so that companies can take a step-by-step approach to minimising the negative effect they may be having on the environment.”

Uniworld Boutique River Cruises are sold through Titan Travel in the UK.