European River Cruises Stay Afloat Despite Drought Concerns

European River Cruises Stay Afloat Despite Drought Concerns

Avalon Expression on the Danube. (photo via Avalon Waterways)

Here is how dry the spring and summer of 2022 have been around the world.

It’s the first week of September and we are just now getting our first named hurricane of the season. In New York, the grass is so brown that it looks more like late fall and early winter. In Europe, the mighty Danube River – which passes through 10 countries – is so epically low that that Nazi warships from right decades ago have been visible. And in Texas, a lack of rain recently exposed dinosaur tracks believed to be 113 million years old.

Yet somehow, river cruising has been able to not only survive, but according to Avalon Waterways President Pam Hoffee it is meeting and, in some cases, surpassing expectations.

“River cruising really is thriving, and it is becoming the most popular and fastest growing style of travel worldwide,” Hoffee told Yahoo Finance. “So, when these headlines (about drought conditions in the U.S. and Europe) were really happening quite a bit, we booked more travelers for the 2022 travel year than what we did in our record in 2019 for travel in that year. So that really says a lot about the resilience of the river cruise traveler and what people are hearing about how we’re handling the situation, and the confidence they have in Avalon Waterways.”

Hoffee said the rains have begun returning to Europe, making the problem a bit easier to navigate. But Avalon still only had to chancel just three river cruises this year due to the droughts.

While there were water level challenges, Hoffee spoke for the industry when she said it’s not the first time river cruises have faced drought conditions – nor would she call it a trend.

“This hasn’t happened since 2018 in a similar way to what we saw this year,” she said. “So, at this point, I’m not calling it a trend. I’m not calling it something that we can predict into the future.”

Rainfalls of late are replenishing rivers, including those bodies of water that were most severely affected.

“The rainfall Europe has received in recent weeks has improved the water levels and as a result, Avalon Waterways’ cruises are operating normally,” Steve Born, chief marketing officer of the Globus family of brands, said in an interview with Travel Weekly. “The nature of rivers is to ebb and flow, and we’re thrilled our guests are enjoying their vacations as they were intended.”

River cruises did offer their guests options to change their booking and receive partial or full refunds if a change of itinerary or boats was needed.

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