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notamermaid

Rhine water levels 2018 and similar topics

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It is slightly cooler this morning but more humid. Rain is coming according to the radar images but it currently looks as if it will mostly come down in the regions draining into the Moselle rather than the Rhine. The Moselle meets the Rhine at Koblenz of course but that does not help the river where it is most likely to impact your cruise: Kaub with the Rhine gorge. Kaub is the most important "marker" for low water as the navigation channel is at its shallowest at that gauging station and a bit downstream and upstream from there: 190cm. The draft of the biggest river cruise ships is between 1.80m and 2.05m (with full water tanks). Kaub has entered low water status along with two more stations. This lunchtime I count 17 stations with low water status. It sounds bad and it is for barges, farmers and nature but as the navigation channel is deep enough for river cruise ships this is only a problem in that bottle neck where we have the shallowest stretch and in parts also a narrow "highway". The Rhine being a very busy river we can therefore get slowed down traffic. Authorities have so far never issued a ban, it is up to the captains to decide what is safe and what is not.

 

Leaving the navigation channel to dock ships might encounter a problem. Andernach has reported problems in the past for 135m ships. This would be an issue for APT and the AmaReina for example as she is scheduled to drop of her passengers in Andernach for the tour to Namedy castle. Fingers crossed, the local authorities there have found a way to reduce the likelihood of problems now.

 

Viking have updated their website now: https://www.vikingrivercruises.co.uk/my-trip/current-sailings/index.html

 

 

Sailings on other ships that are 135m long (I mean apart from the Viking longships that have some of the deepest drafts - not the deepest, that is a German ship judging from my research) are likely to be impacted.

 

 

 

Here is an article on the heat wave in Germany: https://www.dw.com/en/germany-swelters-under-heat-wave/a-44839919

 

 

More to follow later.

 

 

notamermaid

Edited by notamermaid
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Kaub has fallen to 75cm, that is below the figure given as the "GlW". It is a term describing the guaranteed depth of the navigation channel. This means that in the stretch around Kaub in the Rhine gorge ships can encounter spots that have a depth of less than 190cm. See post above. More rain fell in the Rhine valley during the afternoon than the radar images had suggested at lunchtime but not enough to add crucial centimetres to the levels upstream from Koblenz. That town, by the way, has a navigation channel depth of 210cm. Tomorrow will see a rise in the level as a reaction to the rainfall today but that is short-lived.

 

 

I found a nice webpage with a comparison of the situation now to what Cologne saw in January. The difference is astounding: https://www.ksta.de/koeln/bilder-vergleich-sieben-meter-niedriger---der-rhein-im-januar-und-heute-31047494 Seven metres lower than in January, the headline says.

 

 

I hope you have pleasant sailings with uninterrupted itineraries and if not - great alternative plans organized by the river cruise company. And have an extra smile ready for your captain - it is difficult sailing indeed.

 

 

notamermaid

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As predicted, the water level has risen in the Upper Rhine valley at Maxau with the Middle Rhine valley reacting slightly. Kaub is still a little under GlW (see explanation above) and Koblenz has just gone above that marker. All previously mentioned stations are still on official low water level.

 

 

I found this video on youtube (a ship spotter) with footage of the Avalon Imagery II sailing along in low water in the Rhine gorge at Oberwesel (jump to 15:28). Note all the exposed sandbanks and rocks:

 

 

While the Elbe is suffering badly, the consensus here on the Rhine is that "it is bad, but it could be worse". And indeed, the situation is not as dire as during the drought of 2003. In that fateful year, on 28 September the excursion ship "Loreley" ran aground opposite the - you might have guessed it - "Loreley" rock. 45 people were injured. This website shows the river at Oberwesel on 24 August 2003 (photo 3): http://undine.bafg.de/rhein/extremereignisse/rhein_nw2003.html

 

notamermaid

Edited by notamermaid
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I found this video on youtube (a ship spotter) with footage of the Avalon Imagery II sailing along in low water in the Rhine gorge at Oberwesel (jump to 15:28). Note all the exposed sandbanks and rocks:

notamermaid

 

Not surprised to see an Avalon ship getting through. They have the newest ships in the fleet with a very shallow draft. On two different cruises we have sailed right through when many, many other ships, especially Viking, were docked and busing their people everywhere. Not to say that a river can't be so low that even an Avalon ship can't get through, just that, if anyone can, Avalon can. Viking seems to be the first ones to get grounded.

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The Avalon Imagery II has an "inbuilt advantage" over the Viking longships: she is only 110 metres. Almost all the ships of that length that I have looked at over the years are given with a lower draft than the 135m ships. It is not much but those 10cm or so are crucial in the current situation in the Rhine gorge. Should the level fall much lower, as you have already hinted at, Kenster, then even the Avalon ships (and others of that length) will have to stop sailing. By the way, the local excursion boats are still sailing but some small ports cannot be reached now by them as it is too dangerous to go there, the ship has to leave the navigation channel and could hit gravel or stone/rock with the propeller. This hardly affects the large river cruise ships and their often larger landing stages (Andernach having been an exception, see above).

 

 

 

No real change to the river levels, Kaub and Koblenz keep fluctuating around their respective "GlW" figures (i.e. worryingly low for sailing, see explanation above).

 

 

Update to follow.

 

 

Temperatures forecast to rise today to between 33 and 37 in the valley.

 

 

 

Any of you on the river right now drop us a line with info on how your ship is doing. How are you managing sightseeing and heat?

 

 

notamermaid

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Just a quick tip to see how river cruise ships are doing in that most shallow of stretches today. Track the Viking Skirnir on her way to Koblenz and the Viking Ingvi on her way to Rüdesheim. Both are currently (3.20pm local time) in the Rhine gorge and should reach their destinations soon. It appears that they are sailing at the appropriate speed and making it through the shallow parts. https://www.marinetraffic.com/en/ais/home/centerx:7.582/centery:50.284/zoom:12

 

 

notamermaid

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Thanks for all this information Nota.

We're booked on the Scenic Opal for the September 12 cruise Amsterdam to Budapest and we're hoping like crazy that levels will be sufficient for "bus-free" travel.

Fingers (and toes) crossed!

Mark

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On the Viking Gefjon, after transferring from Viking Ve previously. We were told last evening that ships cannot go to Amsterdam. We are stopping this AM, maybe 8:30 or 9:00am, at Mainz. Transferring by bus to Cologne tomorrow, hotel, and then by bus to Amsterdam and hotel. We choose to leave ship as soon as dock this morning and go directly to Amsterdam. Also told ships in south cannot make it now to Budapest from the north. More info to follow as soon as we know. Good luck to fellow travelers.

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Sorry to hear that, prudence passenger. I thought the ships might just make it still. Hmm... I am currently tracking the Viking Baldur, she is approaching Andernach going upstream to Koblenz. Hope you have a safe journey. If you can please come back to us with news.

 

 

 

Hardly any change to water levels.

 

 

Update later today.

 

 

notamermaid

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The Viking Baldur has an unplanned stop in Andernach North of Koblenz. It is not a regular on any Viking itinerary I as far as I know. The Baldur was supposed to leave tomorrow on a Grand European tour, so she is definitely in the wrong place, I have no clue what is in store for her, but she is mentioned as having an interrupted itinerary on the Viking website (under the heading Danube on the updates page). There is certainly a lot of rearranging of ships going on with Viking. I could spot many ships of other companies in the Rhine gorge on marinetraffic but did not check their individual lengths.

 

 

 

No real change to river levels. Prediction is for minimally falling levels until Tuesday.

 

As a side note: early yesterday morning a barge ship ran aground while doing a manouvre turning round coming from a factory North of Cologne. Luckily a rescue tug boat was available quickly and freed the barge during the morning. The river was closed to traffic for a few hours only.

 

It is between 33 and 36 degrees in the valley. Thunderstorms are forecast for parts of the Black Forest and around Lake Constance.

 

notamermaid

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The Viking Baldur is still in Andernach. The Viking Gefjon has made it safely through the Rhine gorge to Koblenz. prudence passenger, were you able to sail or did the Gefjon sail without passengers?

 

 

The river level at Kaub has fallen to a new low, 73cm. It may fluctuate upwards by a couple of centimetres overnight though.

 

 

I hope you cruisers that are on your plan B itineraries can still enjoy the best of the Rhine (IMO), the Rhine gorge with the highest density of castles in the world. If you have to transfer from Mainz to Cologne, or vice versa, or similar, by coach I hope the companies do not take you along the motorways but the more scenic route through the valley. What I mean by that and how else you might get to see the sights despite the changed itineraries in my next post.

 

 

Safe travels.

 

 

notamermaid

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We and 2 other couples left the Gefjon early in the am at a quick stop in Mainz

We all flew to Amsterdam to spend our last few days instead of on river boat with so much uncertainty. Not sure what is happening to tours, Viking was unable to arrange enough hotel rooms , so we received an email from a fellow traveler that people will stay on ship, Things PACKED in Amsterdam, today is end of 3 day Pride festival, streets filled with people and music

Hope to hear from others on Viking to find out how all are faring, any ships making it to Cologne or Amsterdam? How about Budapest?

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We depart today 8/5 from Chicago to Zurich, then bus to Lucern until 8/8 ... we board Kvasir in Basel heading to Amsterdam. Appreciate any river travel updates or how Viking is handleing route disruptions. So far, we do not have a Kvasir notification on Viking site ... good thing we are both seasoned travelers! We are bringing our adventurous brains .... happy sailing!

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I am currently enjoying sailing towards Cologne from Amsterdam - APT AmaVenita - 4th Aug-18th Aug. We know we will be changing to the AmaReina at the weekend but no other changes have been announced at this stage.

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I am bit busy working today so here is just a quick note saying that Maxau is a little higher than yesterday but overall the situation is unchanged.

 

More info to follow tonight or tomorrow morning.

 

notamermaid

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Changing on Saturday - head out of Nuremberg on excursions, return to new ship AmaReina at Regensburg at about 4.30pm. So far everything else as normal - although excursions starting an hour later tomorrow due to Captain needing to go slower due to water level. Anything can still happen but looking good at the moment. Loving our sailing along the Rhine today.

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Changing on Saturday - head out of Nuremberg on excursions, return to new ship AmaReina at Regensburg at about 4.30pm. So far everything else as normal - although excursions starting an hour later tomorrow due to Captain needing to go slower due to water level. Anything can still happen but looking good at the moment. Loving our sailing along the Rhine today.

Thank you for this - we are due to depart from Budapest to Amsterdam on the 20th but keep reading different messages which make us very concerned. Keeping fingers crossed. Glad you are enjoying your trip and the scenery.

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We've arrived in Cologne without concern. Heading to Bonn this afternoon. Apparently a lock we passed through was closed to traffic after we passed - meant ships had to go via Rotterdam, an extra 10 hours. Not sure how long such situations last.

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Thank you ohmuriel for your info from the your journey. This is very reassuring for fellow travellers. Past Bonn you will see the seven mountains range, a nice landscape and perhaps someone can even explain the legend of the Drachenfels to you, a recital of Lord George Byron's poem (The castl'd crag) would be appropriate! :D

 

Maxau is at 364cm, Kaub at 73cm, Koblenz at 68cm. No real change, then. On Friday the river will react to the rain on Thursday. For once I hope the weather people are right! Rain desperately needed for everyone including fish...

 

About the Rhine gorge: if you could not to it on your normal itinerary you would be able to do it on an amended one or on your own. Details to follow.

 

notamermaid

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Slightly oddly, Maxau has had a strong fall in the river level in the last 24 hours, now being at 359cm. This of course means less water for the river downstream in the Rhine gorge. Fortunately downstream stations have not reacted that much yet. Kaub: 71cm, Koblenz 66cm.

 

 

As regards ships: the Amaverde, a 135m ship, made it into the gorge (I tracked it), a good sign, she is currently in Boppard, which suggests she is on her normal itinerary.

 

 

The Viking Baldur is oddly still in Andernach. The passengers on board will have had a splendid evening on Saturday as Andernach celebrated a festival with huge fireworks in the evening. It is a little worrying that she has not moved since then. The Viking Skirnir is in Königswinter (South of Bonn) where she does not belong at all on a standard itinerary, very unusual. If she is on an amended itinerary it does make sense to park her there, though, as Viking has its own landing stage there. The Viking Gefjon did reach Cologne but, as the passengers had been informed would happen, did not get to Amsterdam. She is currently in the (winter) harbour at Niehl, which is a Northern district of Cologne. The Viking Vidar has made it through the Rhine gorge (hooray) and arrived in Koblenz a while ago. For those of you who have not seen it yet here is the webcam overlooking Deutsches Eck: https://www.bafg.de/DE/06_Info_Service/03_Webcam/webcam_node.html

 

 

Oh muriel, you mentioned the diversion via Rotterdam: it has been mentioned in the German press that some locks (mainly smaller ones) have had problems in the heat with the steel reacting so that locks do not function properly (something we know from rail tracks of course). Sounds bad. An article I found on this news website makes for unhappy reading: https://nltimes.nl/2018/08/03/officially-nationwide-water-shortage-netherlands I could never imagine the Netherlands having problems with too little water. Quite depressing (sigh!).

 

 

The temperature in the river at Cologne has reached 27 degrees. That is stressful for fish. As the river flows fast there is still enough oxygen in the water, but extended periods of overheated water weaken them a lot. Fish in lakes will suffer even more due to the reduced oxygen content.

 

 

Back to making the best of this situation (the lemons and the lemonade). The Rhine gorge luckily for everyone is right in the heart of life and a busy artery for traffic, so if you cannot do it on your itinerary you can implement plan B and or C and or D. In brief: The excursion boats can mostly still run and have seating for anything between 50 and 500 passengers. A coach trip is also possible, I hope river cruise companies do not choose the fast route but take you along the Rhine. You can also take fast and slow trains on both sides of the river. A fast train on the main line will give you a view of the Lorelei and if you then wanted to see Marksburg castle on the opposite bank a ferry is available. That ferry is not directly at the foot of Marksburg castle so that needs a bit of careful planning but is doable via switching embankments at Koblenz for example. Long-distance busses are available but might not take in the sights, for that a local bus might be better (but that is time consuming). A rental car is also an alternative, of course.

 

 

 

How taking an excursion boat might work within your itinerary in a later post.

 

 

notamermaid

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Thanks for your updates and suggestions - much appreciated.

 

We had a lovely morning in Cologne before rejoining the ship at Bonn. Currently we're sailing past some very picturesque scenery. Our little VOX machines/earpieces are loaded with great info as we pass certain landmarks and settings - complete with sound effects! Currently hearing about a political map redrawing in the early 1800s. Fascinating stuff eg reference to Thackeray's Vanity Fair and a Rhine connection. Heading towards Namedy Castle tonight.

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Ah, yes William Makepeace Thackeray, Vanity Fair! "The Kickleburys on the Rhine" is a novella he wrote after further travels and he satirizes the Rhine travels of pretentious Victorians...

 

 

Enjoy Namedy castle, I find it a lovely place:

 

 

notamermaid

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Notamermaid, your posts are really appreciated and helpful. Any word as to how the Emerald Waterways ships are doing on the Rhine?

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