Q – Three years ago, we did a bus tour through Germany and we vowed we would never do another one. The hotels were awful, there was one large, extended family that dominated the tour, and our guide was a real snob who couldn’t relate to the people in the group. So we were really excited about the prospect of returning to Europe on a river cruise. But lately I’ve been hearing that there is a good chance we will end up with a bus tour if flooding occurs. We’re looking at a boat in France but don’t know the good ones and what will happen if the rains come.
A – Given the press reports, we understand your concern. Here is what you need to know: The summer of 2013 saw the worst flooding on Europe’s rivers in three decades. The Rhine, Danube, Rhone, and Saone all saw flooding. The situation was so bad that the French Government ordered all navigation along their rivers to cease operations. But this was truly a “once every 20 years” event. It could happen again, although it is unlikely as many sailings would be affected.
The solution is to sail with a company that has a “No Bus Tour Substitution” Policy. To our knowledge, only one company currently has that policy – Tauck River Cruises. That is one reason they are the top-rated line at the present time. Other lines, such as Uniworld and AMA, Vantage, Scenic, or A-Rose might provide similar levels of on-board service but they do not have a policy of cancelling a scheduled trip if flooding does not permit normal operation of the boat.
The majority of lines simply refer you to their liability statement which has words to the effect that they will not accept any liability for an inability to perform based on weather or other conditions out of their control.