River cruise companies play down effects of drought in face of ‘fake news’

By Linsey McNeill
22/08/2022
Home » River cruise companies play down effects of drought in face of ‘fake news’

River cruise operators insist that Europe’s continuing drought is having minimal impact on their operations, despite claims on social media that some rivers have dried up entirely.

One person tweeted a photo of a dry river bed and wrote: “This is the Loire, the longest river in France. It’s gone now. It’s evaporated.”

The tweet received around 70,000 ‘likes’ and was re-tweeted more than 27,000 times.

Other photos of a dry river bed were also posted on Twitter, however, they were actually of one arm of a tributary of the Loire; the other arm, not seen the in the photos, was still flowing.

Cruise operators insist that, while they have been forced to make some changes, they are still able to operate cruises across much of Europe.

A spokesperson for Riviera Travel said: “We have seen minimal disruption so far as we have put measures in place, such as ship swaps and minor itinerary changes, to ensure guests can still make the most of their cruises.

“We are monitoring the situation closely and working hard with our partners on-the-ground to ensure this continues. We’d like to thank guests for their support and understanding.”

Scenic Group said: “We are closely monitoring the ongoing record high temperatures across Europe, which is impacting the water levels in some key sections of the river we operate our cruises. The river conditions can change significantly, depending on rain fall and other local factors. Thus, we are adjusting guest travel arrangements when required and altering some river cruises to allow for the safe navigation of our ships. This is to ensure the minimal disruption to our guests experience and itineraries.”

Phil Nuttall, CEO of cruise specialist Travel Village Group said: “We are seeing some cancellations but we are rebooking our guests to later sailings.”

He said where cruise ships are not able to sail along the entire length of a river due to low water levels, some operators are sailing two identical ships from different ends of the river and transferring guests between ships midway. Phil said this is ‘working well’. AmaWaterways is using this tactic to get around the low water levels around the Rhine Gorge.

Phil said some operators had offered customers due to sail on Amsterdam to Basel routes the option to switch to the Dutch waterways instead.

“The river operators are doing a great job under difficult circumstances and we just need travel agents to get behind the alternatives on offer,” he said. “River cruising is an adventure and like all adventures, you sometimes have to take a slight detour and immerse yourself in the whole experience.”

“The nature of rivers is that they ebb and flow with the seasons, and we have made adjustments as necessary with current low water levels caused by the staggering summer heat,” said Ellen Bettridge, President & CEO of Uniworld. “Our guests are always our first priority, so while we may have to make changes to some of our itineraries and have had to cancel a few voyages, impacted guests and travel partners have and will receive transparent updates and the opportunity to re-book onto another sailing. Guests can be assured that we will still provide the 5-star Uniworld experience that they know and expect.”

River cruise operator, Avalon, has made some changes, including cancellations, to its Rhine and Danube sailings, according to CruiseCritic.

The photo above was taken of the Rhine during the last drought in 2018.

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