WHEN AND WHERE
One of the most frequently asked questions we hear for any journey is, “What will the weather be like at that time of year?”
Every European River cruise itinerary is unique and different. This depends on the amount of time spent cruising vs. time on shore, as well as the weather and water levels. One factor that will have the greatest affect on your experience is the weather, as such being in the right place at the right time is vital.
Just like Canada, there are certain areas of Europe that varying weather and temperatures should be thought of when considering your vacation experience. The weather generally changes in Europe with the western coast enjoying warmer temperatures first. Gradually this changes as the warm weather works its way inland and temperatures start to rise.
It is important to be mindful of the different seasonal changes as well. For example, the best place to be in April weatherwise and for the famous bulbs is in the Netherlands. Yet March is too early (cool & wet) and May too late for the bulbs.
May is a wonderful time to experience the Rhine, Mosel and Saar Rivers, the temperatures are ideal and the flowers and trees are in full bloom.
The Danube River has a life of its own. Although not the longest river in Europe, it does boast the largest volume. This means that it is very susceptible to changing water levels due to high and low temperatures and precipitation. During April and May the Danube tends to suffer from high water levels due in part to cooler temperatures, high amounts of rain and melting snow in the Alps.
In the past 10 years, all the rivers in Europe have been suffering from low water levels during the summer months. Even in 2012 when Europe suffered record floods in the spring, this was quickly followed by low water levels in the summer months. 2015 set new records all across Europe. For example, Vienna recorded the longest stretch of days with temperatures over 39 degrees Celsius and the Main Danube Canal was shut down to shipping traffic due to a lack of water for the first time since it opened in the fall of 1992.
Typically the Danube River is the most affected by low water levels in July and August between Regensburg and Passau. However in 2015 there were days where many vessels could not reach Budapest. In the fall months the Danube changes again as the water levels will rise as the temperatures drop and it starts to rain in the higher elevations that feed this great river.
This is why the design of your European River boat is essential. A two deck riverboat such as our Da Vinci has a much shallower draft than a three deck riverboat. When the water levels drop a two deck vessel will be able to continue long after a three deck vessel cannot.
Learn more about changing Water Levels here…
September tends to be one of the best times to explore Europe as the temperatures are moderate and the tourists less in numbers.
The Rhine River during the fall has its own climate with temperatures generally 5 degrees warmer than most of the rest of Western Europe. This is one of the reasons why there are more vineyards along the Rhine and Mosel Rivers than any other river in Europe. This is one of the reasons we end our cruising season the first week of October with our Rhine and Mosel River cruise.
As we only operate one vessel on the European Waterways we can make sure it is in the right place at the right time while larger international shipping companies have fleets and need to keep these vessels moving along all the rivers at all times of the year.
A great rule of thumb is that if you see a European River cruise being offered at a price too good to be true, chances are it’s in the wrong place at the wrong time.