Dry October follows dry summer on Europe rivers

An unseasonably warm fall following this year’s hot, dry
European summer is continuing to disrupt river cruises.

Walter Littlejohn, vice president and managing director of
Crystal River Cruises, says he’s lost track of the number of itinerary changes
the company has made with its five European river ships because of low water
levels this year.

Littlejohn on Wednesday said he had just returned from
Germany, where it was sunny and 75 degrees with no rain in sight for at least
the next 10 days.

“We had guests on the top vista deck who were tanning
and drinking cocktails,” he said. “The weather is fantastic, but it’s
creating low water situations.”

Littlejohn said that just a few centimeters can make the
difference in whether a ship can sail. And since water levels fluctuate from
hour to hour, the situation is unpredictable. Littlejohn said Crystal changes
sailing routes in advance to avoid last-minute disruptions.

“We usually communicate changes seven to 10 days in
advance,” he said. “In some instances, people may not like it, but
our philosophy is to keep sailing. … We may not be cruising to where the
guests originally intended to go, but they still get to enjoy the region and
amenities and comforts of a river cruise vacation.”

When there is an impassable portion of the river, other
river cruise lines commonly put passengers on motorcoaches and in hotels to
begin or complete their journeys. When possible, they also swap passengers
between ships going in opposite directions to keep guests on the river and as
close to their original itinerary as possible.

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