Q – Just discovered your site and am hopeful I can get an answer to a question that my engineer’s mind can’t help asking, We’re contemplating a Danube Riverboat cruise, company to be determined based on my spreadsheet results, but I really want to know how I can best minimize the high river flooding that has led to some past river cruise vacations becoming bus tours. My wife and I have no interest in bus touring. Is there any data on when one should avoid river boats on Europe’s rivers? I’ve been through the various company brochures and they never mention the flooding issue.
A – You have raised one of the river boat industry’s best kept secrets. There is a season for flooding. That season is spring with April the month you definitely want to avoid, given your concerns. April and early May are the months when a combination of melting snow and predictable rains can cause a considerable rise in water levels. The issue is that river boats must be built within certain strict size parameters to be able to fit under low-hanging bridges along the major rivers. High waters mean the boat portion of the cruise must be cancelled.
The problem is that high water has occurred in May and even into early June. To minimize the risk of high water ruining your riverboat experience you might want to avoid sailing the Rhine or the Danube on the scenic stretch between Vienna and Cologne. As a rule, the Moselle is less likely to flood.
Our Editors would urge you to carefully consider our ratings of the major riverboat lines. Tauck is rated # 1 for a great many reasons not the least of which is their policy of not operating bus tours when people have paid for riverboat vacations. In the event of flooding, Tauck has issued full refunds or credits to all guests. To date, no other river boat line has adopted this policy.