Day Five: What happens when a cruise goes sideways

Barbara Orr just had a very unusual cruise experience. Over the next few days she will explain what happens when a trip does not work out as planned. We thought it important to share this information with you, our readers, because these things do happen when you travel and it is wise to think ahead as to how you might react in a similar situation. — Cynthia Boal Janssens, editor

Cruises are expensive investments of money and time. But sometimes, for a variety of reasons, the cruise goes wrong. And then what?  Who’s at fault? Is there any compensation?

Here’s the day by day record of a cruise that didn’t roll out as it should have – read it to see what to expect when Mother Nature throws a curve ball, to learn your rights and the obligations of the cruise line, and to see how you can plan best to avoid disappointment.

This was to be a week long cruise from Basel to Amsterdam aboard the new Emerald Sky river ship, scheduled for the first week in May. But heavy rains and rising water levels changed the whole character of the cruise.

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Day 5: Wednesday

 a private cruise along the Rhine allows us to see many of the villages that we would have passed on the ship's cruise.
A private cruise along the Rhine allows us to see many of the villages that we would have passed on the ship’s cruise.

Up at five thirty, bags in the hall by six, a quick breakfast and then it was time to bid goodbye to the ship. It’s a very nice looking ship, bright light colours, contemporary design and a beautiful pool area. It is sad that we will not have the chance to sail down the Rhine with her.

This morning’s bus ride was about three hours, with a forty-five minute stop, mandated for the bus driver. The weather was cool but clear and the Rhine scenery is pretty. We arrived in Rudesheim about 1 p.m., in time to board a river boat that took us along part of the Rhine we would have sailed, and through the Lorelei section, past the castles and small towns along the river. We were served an excellent lunch on board, with roast chicken and white asparagus, as well as all the wine, beer, cocktails and liqueurs you wish.

cruise along the Rhine
Cruise along the Rhine

At about three we were in Rudesheim again and there is a visit to the Musical Instrument Museum plus free time in the town.

We overnight in a hotel in nearby Weisbaden, a large contemporary hotel where we also have dinner.
Some of the passengers are forming a kind of pressure group, led by one of the passengers who is collecting emails and names. They hope to force some kind of compensation from Emerald Waterways, but there are rumors that the company is already planning to do so.

I know it is disturbing for passengers who have been planning this trip for some time, but the plain truth is that this is a situation caused by nature, not by anyone’s negligence.  Emerald is doing everything it can to make the rest of the trip as good as it can be. But it’s hard to replicate a cruise itinerary without a ship. I am impressed that they were able to book hotels and guides and meals for close to 150 passengers at such short notice.

Next: Bus ride to Koblenz

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