Low bridges cross every river on the European Waterways and there are over 100 low bridges between Amsterdam and Budapest alone. Many of these bridges will have a clearance of 6 meters or less, depending on the water level.
Low bridges and the effect they have on time spent on the Sun Deck:
One of the highlights of a European River cruise is the cruise itself. The scenery and history of Europe is directly in front of you, surrounding you on every side. The best place to enjoy and experience this sensation is on the Sun Deck with unparallelled 360* views. This is where you can literally smell the flowers and speak to the locals on the bike paths beside the rivers, you can smell the bakery in the villages you cruise by and listen to the birds singing while you read your favourite book, all at an average speed of 17 kph.
This also means that the time you spend on the Sun Deck on your European River cruise will depend on the number of passenger cabin decks your vessel has.
Two deck vessels (two decks referring to two decks of passenger cabins), such as the Da Vinci are designed to cruise under low bridges while guests can remain on the Sun Deck, were-as three deck vessels have to collapse the Sun Deck to be able to cruise under the same bridges. Due to the time it takes to collapse the sun deck on a three deck design, and the sheer number of low bridges along the route, three deck vessels can have their sundecks closed to guests for days on end.
Due to time limitations on the sun deck due to low bridges, three deck vessels have been designed with balconies. Whereas balconies are great on Ocean voyages, on a European River boat they limit you to half the experience as you only see what’s on one side of the boat.
To further enhance our guest’s experience, we limit the number of guests onboard the Da Vinci to just 90, allowing for more personal space on the Sun Deck. This way you will always be guaranteed a chair with a view!
Low Bridges and the effect they have at time of High Water;
Every river in Europe fluctuates in height, sometimes as much as a meter a day. As the rivers rise, the clearance between the highest point of the vessel and the low bridges becomes a greater concern.
One of the greatest benefits to a two deck vessel is the extra clearance between the Sun Deck and the low bridges. Two deck vessels were designed to allow guests to remain on the sun deck as they pass under the bridges. This also means they have more space between the highest point of the boat and the bottom of the low bridges. In the end this means a two deck vessel is less likely to be affected by changing water levels.
To add a third deck of passenger cabins, three deck vessels are built as high as possible, but limited in height due to the low bridges. The clearance of the highest point between the bridges are built as close as possible, thus as the water levels rise these vessels have to pull over and wait for the water levels to drop before continuing. This results in long delays and extended time on coaches as your river cruise becomes a coach tour.