Special report: What to expect when your cruise goes sideways

Emerald Sky
Emerald Sky

Barbara Ramsay Orr, one of our most experienced writers, 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 — in this case, due to weather and flooding.

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. Most travelers will spend significant effort selecting the cruise experience they think will be the best travel adventure for them, and will carefully and willingly set aside the funds to pay for the anticipated experience.

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.

Travel Day: I’m determined to continue to travel light, so I have set out with a carefully curated carry-on suitcase and the nice backpack that the cruise line sent.  The Emerald Sky is a casual ship, I am told, so it should be fine.

I am happy to be traveling light when we get to Munich, as my flight on to Basel was first delayed, then cancelled, and I had to be rebooked on a later flight.

To complicate things, the recent heavy rains have left the water levels in the area quite high, so the boat has been unable to dock in Basel but is instead docked outside the city, in the French countryside, in a small town called Kemps. So,I will have to come back sometime to visit the city of Basel, which looked lovely during a quick drive-through.

I was met promptly in the airport at Basel by an Emerald Waterways representative and then a driver took me to the ship, about a twenty minute drive.

Check in was quick, and I dropped my bags and went for tea and the port talk and then on to dinner. Tonight it was a simple but fresh buffet. This seems like a group of light hearted and convivial fellow passengers, and I meet several friendly travellers at dinner. No problem finding someone to talk to or dine with.

A nice touch, on return to my cabin was the crackling fire in the fireplace- on the widescreen tv.  On this cool evening, it was a warming comfort.

Next: The ship makes some progress and we take a day-long excursion to the Black Forest.

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