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Author: gaynell

Joined: 8/12/2010
Posts: 210
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Traveler Since: 2005

December 28, 2012

At what times of the year are you least likely to have a cruise's itinerary altered because of either high or low water levels? I understand that when the water levels are either excessively high or excessively low, bus transportation is sometimes substituted for cruising.  I want to avoid that.  I'm just guessing that water levels might be higher in spring, and lower perhaps in late summer?  I realize that the weather each year is different, but perhaps there is some sort of general pattern?

Author: piercove

Joined: 6/11/2010
Posts: 27
GCT Trips Taken: 6
OAT Trips Taken: 12
Traveler Since: 2003

December 29, 2012

 Last summer the water levels on the upper Danube were very low in late August and early September.  Our cruise ship could not operate between Vienna and Regensburg, so bus transportation and hotel accommodations were provided.  We were pleasantly surprised to receive a refund of a few hundred dollars for the portion of the cruise that didn't operate, even though Grand Circle absorbed all the extra expense of our land transportation.  The summer was very dry in 2012, which was the reason offered for low water levels.

Author: singsling

Joined: 6/23/2010
Posts: 250
GCT Trips Taken: 11
OAT Trips Taken: 0
Traveler Since: 1995

December 29, 2012

In June/July we were on River Elbe river cruise,starting in Hamburg.  North of Meissen, we got sand locked; the ship could not  move.  Not enough water through the spring and summer, so water table was very low.  We stayed on the ship for hotel land meals, but were bussed to Meissen one day 164 Km; next day, they bussed people to the next port city, Dresden, back, passed Meissen 164 km, to Dresden only 24 km from Meissen.  Both days were rainy, too rainy and cold for my husband and I to go to Dresden, besides we didn't want to go back 164 km then the 24km to Dresden, when we could have done that the day we went Meissen; instead of giving u s the 3 hours free time in Meissen, we could  have gotten on the bus and went to Dresden, and got back to the ship a little later.  But, no, they bussed those people who went all the way to Meissen then DResden the second day.  Too much driving, then we had to be bused to the last port on departure date, then bused to Prague, so too much bus riding.  We got reimbursed well, too, plus lunch euros each day each person.

At the same time we were sand locked, three or 4 GCT river ships were stuck in one city because the water on the Danube was way too high for the captain to go under the bridges, even though he brought the ship's top side as low as he possibly could.  So they had more water than they could handle, and we had none. 

Our captain did very well getting us to a safe spot but he was so landlocked he was prohibited from trying to go even though some ease occurred on the 3d day.

So, there you have it, August, June/July. 



Author: lyn

Joined: 3/14/2010
Posts: 74
GCT Trips Taken: 12
OAT Trips Taken: 0
Traveler Since: 2004

December 29, 2012

It's not only the water levels that can affect river travel.  In March of 2007 we were on a GCT river cruise on rhe Rhine River aboard the M/S River Melody.  One of the river barges turned too sharply and lost 32 containers of toxic chemicals in the river.  River traffic was shut down for 50 miles in each direction.  Our ship got as far as Bonn, Germany and then we became a "land" trip.  We were able to sleep on the ship and we had most meals on the ship, but were bused to various locations for the rest of the itinerary.  Some slight adjustments were made.  For example, we got to tour Cologne, Germany which was not on our original itinerary.  I must say that GCT  and the Program Directors worked very hard to make last minute changes and adjustments.  We made the best of it and really had a nice time.  Just goes to show you that anything can happen!

Author: svncontinents

Joined: 11/25/2011
Posts: 231
GCT Trips Taken: 8
OAT Trips Taken: 8
Traveler Since: 2007

December 30, 2012

 Gaynell-you are correct regarding your generalizations about river levels, however having had those very levels affect our trip and had bus transportation substituted, we did not find that detracted from our trip.  Grand Circle still gave us everything that we were entitled to, even to giving us 'lunch money' because had we been on the river boat, they would have provided lunch.  Our problem was on the Burgandy'Cote d'Azure trip, which we began in Nice, when the river levels were so high the river boat could not go further south than Viviens.  They bused us up to Viviens, used the boat as our hotel, and took buses back down to Arles and Avignon and back again.  We were always back on the river boat in time for dinner.  

Only one person in our group complained; the rest of us, most being veteran travelers, just accepted this as an act of G-d, that you have to accept when traveling.  Of, course, you can avoid the potential high/low water problems if you travel when such will not be a factor.  The times for exceptionally high water will be in early spring( usually the first couple of trips ), or low water, during the hot summer months. 

Author: captainlarry

Joined: 4/24/2010
Posts: 524
GCT Trips Taken: 10
OAT Trips Taken: 0
Traveler Since: 2002

December 30, 2012

Not much help on the basic question but a brief anecdotal response: In July 2006 the water levels were ideal on our Great Rivers of Europe cruise. In May 2010 the water level was on the high side but not enough to change the itinerary of our Romance of the Rhine and Mosel cruise. Those are our only European river cruise experiences.

Author: janice.

Joined: 3/18/2010
Posts: 322
GCT Trips Taken: 7
OAT Trips Taken: 0
Traveler Since: 1999

December 30, 2012

All seven of my river cruises have been free of water level problems. I have been on the waterways of Belgium and Holland, the Rhone and the Elbe in April,; the Russian waterways from Moscow to St. Peterburg in July and the Danube, Main and Rhine in December.

Singsling, I felt badly for you when I read that you had to miss Dresden, which was my favorite stop between Hamburg and Prague, and the last morning of cruising which was the most scenic part of the cruise. I went in early April of this year, and after reading traveler reviews, am glad I did. As you know, the Elbe is more shallow than the others so I think that is is not likely that high water is a problem. But there were several reviews that mentioned problems with low water including trips in late May and early October.

For anyone considering river cruises, I recommend deciding which would be your most likely choice(s) and then read all of the reviews for those trip(s) making note of those which mention water level problems. Also, I suggest you search for other discussion boards with a greater level of participation than this one.

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