More river cruises canceled as floods devastate Central Europe

By Michelle Baran

Steyr, Austra floodRiver cruise lines are canceling more departures as heavy rains have caused some of the worst flooding in decades in Central Europe.

Torrential rains over the past week have risen rivers to dangerously high levels. Parts of Austria, Germany and the Czech Republic have been inundated with floodwater, and tens of thousands of residents have been forced to evacuate. According to reports, between 10 and 15 people have died due to the flood surge.

River cruise operators said that segments of the Main and Danube rivers have been the most affected by flooding, and consequently they have canceled sailings in the region.

Viking River Cruises has canceled three 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; and the Romantic Danube (Budapest to Nuremburg) cruise aboard the MS Vienna.

The company has also altered 15 departures between now and June 16, ranging from passengers having to sail on different ships than originally scheduled (due to ships being unable to get to their destinations until the floodwaters subside) to adding land arrangements.

Most of Viking’s itineraries are bypassing a visit to the German city of Passau, which was hit particularly hard by flooding.

Viking has updated sailing and customer service contact information at its website.

Uniworld Boutique River Cruise Collection has also canceled departures due to the flooding: the June 7 Grand Danube & Prague on the River Ambassador; the June 9 Enchanting Danube Passau to Budapest; and the June 16 European Jewels on the River Empress.

Several of Uniworld’s cruises in progress have been impacted, either by itinerary alterations or cancellation of the remainder of cruises. In the case of a cruise cancellation, guests are being given a full refund and a future cruise credit.

“The rise and fall of water levels can change rapidly, and we will continue to monitor the situation closely,” Uniworld stated on a page on its website devoted to the floods.

Avalon Waterways over the weekend canceled three departures over the next 10 days. Impacted passengers were offered full cruise refunds along with a discount voucher for a future cruise.

On current sailings in Central Europe, Avalon has made adjustments such as having passengers transfer from one ship to another to be able to continue sailing, or combining a sailing with hotel stays.

Avalon said it is offering passengers compensation depending on the number of cruise days affected.

AmaWaterways had not yet canceled any departures but had been transferring passengers from one ship to another, as vessels have not been able to pass through the Main-Danube Canal in southern Germany.

Tauck has canceled the May 30 and June 6 departures of its Blue Danube itinerary and will offer guests a full refund.

Devastation from the flooding threatens to surpass that of the 2002 floods, which cost Germany an estimated $15.3 billion and Austria an estimated $4 billion in damages, the Wall Street Journal reported.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel toured the Bavarian city of Passau on Tuesday and pledged an initial $130 million in federal emergency aid to the flood-ravaged region, according to the Journal.

Follow Michelle Baran on Twitter @mbtravelweekly.
 

Photo of a flooded street in Steyr, Austria, courtesy of Lisa S. at Shutterstock.com. 

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