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European river cruises - when is flooding most likely?

European river cruises - when is flooding most likely?

Jun 2nd, 2006, 09:39 AM
  #1  
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European river cruises - when is flooding most likely?

My husband and I took a Danube Christmas Market river cruise last Dec. and would like to do another river cruise. I'd be happy to go again before Christmas, but he just told me that while he'd do it, he wasn't all that happy about the cold weather. (We've lived in FL for almost 30 yrs. now.)

I have read posts about trips where the cruise or a part thereof has been canceled or altered significantly because of flooding but the trip took place via land. And I understand that there can be problems when the water level is too low, too. I think I'd cut my throat before I'd get on tour buses with 100-150 other people.

Can anyone give me any recommendations for seasons/months to plan cruises for various rivers when there is less likely to be flooding or low water? Or is it pretty random? The Rhine & Danube in particular but also the Seine & Rhone are possibilities. I'd love to do it again a time or two but don't want to risk having to do myself in if something goes wrong.
polly229 is offline  
Jun 2nd, 2006, 12:30 PM
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When flooding might happen is really hard to predict--like in the U.S., European weather has been a bit unpredictable in the past couple of years.

You might think about September and October, before the winter rains begin.
Underhill is offline  
Jun 2nd, 2006, 01:04 PM
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A river can flood anywhere, anytime, if you get enough rain in a short enough period of time. It's a game of statistics - what are the chances of X amount of rain falling in Y amount of time at Z time of year? And then...how much water can the river hold before it floods? Rivers in broad valleys (the ones that tend to have cruises on them!) are often shallow and are more likely to "spread out" into their floodplain. Rivers that pass through dense urban areas are also more prone to flooding because of all of the runoff they receive from paved surfaces.

For most temperate climes (i.e. most of Europe), the most likely time for heaviest rains (possibly combined with snowmelt) is late winter / early spring. The lowest likelihood of heavy rains is late summer / early fall, but this can also be the period of lowest water levels.

Given all that, I would probably place my bets on early summer or mid-fall as the best times for a river cruise.
hausfrau is offline  
Jun 2nd, 2006, 01:51 PM
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I don't believe there really is any way to predict this, and you're right that low water causes another set of problems. Our cruise barely made it through because of low water and the only way we did was by off loading all of the passengers and driving them an hour further down to meet up with the boat later. We happened to be lucky and received just enough rain as the previous cruise and one right after weren't able to go through. The year before our cruise, high water was the problem.
Patty is offline  
Jun 2nd, 2006, 09:11 PM
  #5  
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I wonder how one could find out if things were looking pretty dicey right before departure. If I do Grand Circle again, I'd take their insurance that allows you to bail for any reason until the day before and get credit for the price of the trip toward another one within a year. But I wonder if it would be possible to find out if things were looking bad or favorable. (For sure Grand Circle wouldn't tell me.)
polly229 is offline  
Jun 3rd, 2006, 12:40 AM
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I imagine that you could tell from a good local weather forecast whether a major storm system was moving in. Alternatively, if the river levels are dangerously low in the days leading up to your cruise, they are unlikely to rise dramatically in a short time.
hausfrau is offline  
Jun 3rd, 2006, 06:21 AM
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Floodings occurs rarely, maybe every five or six years, usually after a period of three weeks continuous rain. The most likely month for floods have been November, but I wouldn't go on a river cruise in November anyway. I don't know if a cruise in December is a good idea. Keep in mind that it will be dark from 5 p.m. until 9 a.m. Weather will be rainy and cold. You will spend the day running around in towns and you will be happy to get dry and warm up in the afternoon sipping a hot drink and relaxing. A sauna or jacuzzi will be very welcome this time of year.
traveller1959 is offline  
Jun 3rd, 2006, 08:08 AM
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You just have to follow reports here and on other message boards. Cruismates has a Viking forum. It doesn't matter which cruise line you're taking as the river conditions will be the same. Just check for returning travelers who have sailed on the same river. I believe Cruisecritic also has a river cruising forum. We knew for weeks beforehand that the situation was dicey and were able to at least make an informed decision rather than be surprised when we got there. BTW our cruise was in late November.
Patty is offline  
Jun 3rd, 2006, 08:08 AM
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Actually, the past few years (2002 and 2005) the flooding occurred in August or September, after many days of heavy rain. We were there at the beginning of the 2002 floods, which the Germans were calling a "100 year flood". That one severely affected the Danube; I'm not sure about last year's but I know it damaged areas of Switzerland.
enzian is offline  
Jun 3rd, 2006, 08:13 AM
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The low water year was 2003. I think weather patterns are changing and becoming very unpredictable.
Patty is offline  
Jun 7th, 2006, 08:29 AM
  #11  
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I'm wondering if I might not be safer booking river cruises close to departure time when our schedule permits and there's room. Looks like there is no particular "season" for either high or low. Might try to see if I can get something last minute next year. If that doesn't work, I'll go back to the drawing board.

Regarding Nov. & Dec. cruises, the cold and the dark, we did a Christmas cruise in Dec. and I thought it was fine - dark early meant more time to enjoy the Christmas lights that seem much more elaborate than in towns of similar size in the US. (Though my husband, who doesn't complain much, recently told me he'd do it again but he didn't much enjoy the cold part.) I've accumulated some wool sweaters (via eBay)and silk long underwear, so I can tolerate the cold (better than I can the heat in buildings since I can't strip down to the long underwear). Enjoyed snow flurries in Vienna at the end of the trip as well. But because I knew that it was finite, that soon I'd be on my way home to FL and 60 or 70 degrees.
polly229 is offline  
Jun 7th, 2006, 04:19 PM
  #12  
 
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Seeing the lighted decorations along the Danube as we drifted by in the evening was marvelous--some were very elaborate.
Underhill is offline  

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