When the rivers run

Floods in Europe this year played havoc with cruise de­par­tures and itin­er­ar­ies

The Weekend Australian - Travel - - Destination Afloat - KEN­DALL HILL

THE ris­ing pop­u­lar­ity of Euro­pean river cruis­ing hit a snag this north­ern spring. Sched­uled de­par­tures were rerouted or aborted due to phe­nom­e­nal rains that left con­ti­nen­tal rivers im­pass­able. Op­er­a­tors spoke darkly of ‘‘the chal­lenge of a once-in-500-year flood event’’ (Scenic Cruises) and ‘‘the worst floods in my time in the river cruis­ing in­dus­try’’ (Uni­world gen­eral man­ager John Moli­naro).

APT Cruis­ing’s CEO Chris Hall de­scribed the floods as ‘‘a rare and un­usual event. It was, we hope, a once-in-al­ife­time event.’’

Just imag­ine. You’ve al­ways dreamed of cruis­ing the Danube to cities such as Bu­dapest and Vi­enna. But be­fore you can say ‘‘Bat­ten down the hatches!’’ the fan­tasy turns into a sod­den night­mare. Your land­mark trip has been can­celled, or di­verted, or con­fined to port where a fleet of wait­ing coaches can of­fer only a pale imi­ta­tion of the promised itin­er­ary.

What hap­pens when things go wrong? Why don’t we ever read about that? A T&I reader posed those ques­tions to us af­ter re­turn­ing home from a dis­ap­point­ing hol­i­day adrift.

In late May, she sailed from Am­s­ter­dam to Bu­dapest. Or she was sup­posed to, ex­cept spring’s freak­ish flood­ing closed the Rhine, Main and Danube rivers as well as the Main-Danube canal. The ship was forced to dock at Mainz in Ger­many on day four of a 15-day itin­er­ary. The

AFP

Deer ne­go­ti­ate the flooded Danube in Hun­gary ear­lier this year

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