Rhine water levels 2017 and similar topics

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#1
Rhine, Germany
2,126 Posts
Joined Oct 2013
Hello everyone,
Greetings from a wintery Rhine valley . Here is the thread for 2017 for everything related to the water levels of the Rhine and bits of information on the river.


The beginning of the year has been relatively quiet and uneventful apart from a couple of days of severe storms. One morning I got up hoping that all the roof tiles would still be in place. But everything was fine. We have had some snow and quite cold temperatures. A typical winter month as it should be.


But the river level has been strangely low. So low in fact that the largest river cruise ships might have had problems on some days getting through the Rhine gorge just like in October, when it got very close to such a situation. Well, they are not sailing the Rhine again before the middle of March, though. It is too early in the year to predict what the situation will be like in March or April. Experts say there has been too little rain (and snow) in December resulting in the low water levels. It is too cold for much snow to melt during the day.

Actually, I did see a couple of Viking ships, they might be training the crew or relocating the ships from one embarkation port to another. Yesterday the William Shakespeare (built by the Veka Group in the Netherlands for Riviera Travel UK) made its way upstream. I would love to have a trip on this splendid vessel from 2014.

I hope you have trips to look forward to, on the Rhine or another river, or indeed an ocean. Wherever the trips will take you, have a splendid time. Safe travels.

notamermaid
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Transocean Belvedere Danube April 2013
English Channel Crossings 1984 to present:
Calais - Dover
Ostend - Dover
Dutch island hopping 1980's
Many Rhine river short trips
#2
New York
8,309 Posts
Joined Aug 2011
Thanks notamermaid -- your posts are always such an asset to this board.
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Email me: [email protected]
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#3
Albany, NY
4,328 Posts
Joined Jul 2009
Glad to see this thread started! Even though our travel plans so far will not take us to the Rhine Valley this year, I will happily read along with you and dream of our next visit.

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JP and Chris

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#5
Northern KY
1,045 Posts
Joined May 2006
Thanks, notamermaid. We will be on one of those "early" cruises, leaving in late March. Hoping for pleasant weather, and smooth sailing. Looking forward to your updates!

Robin
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#6
302 Posts
Joined Jan 2016
Thanks notamermaid, glad to see you back and hope all is well. I look forward to your posts, they are always so informative.
#7
alabama
661 Posts
Joined Mar 2009
Thank you, Notamermaid. I will be following this thread closely until we sail on June 15 on the AmaDante. We are very excited about our first visit to your country. Last year, enjoyed our stories and the history of the region you shared.
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#8
7 Posts
Joined Jan 2014
Thank you for the update. I was wondering about that and if anyone had information about the possible delays due to the lock repair at Kemb? We travel on the Viking Mani from Basel to Amsterdam March 31, 2017.
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#9
Texas
40 Posts
Joined Apr 2016
Thank you Notamermaid! I was an avid follower for the 2016 thread and glad to see you started 2017. Cruise is July 2nd... Our first ever anything cruise and our first time to Europe! Really looking forward to the vacation! Thank you for being a great resource for many of us!


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#10
Rhine, Germany
2,126 Posts
Joined Oct 2013
Thank you everyone - especially our host, of course - for your wishes and enthusiasm about this thread. I am touched.

Originally posted by cruisin231
Thank you for the update. I was wondering about that and if anyone had information about the possible delays due to the lock repair at Kemb? We travel on the Viking Mani from Basel to Amsterdam March 31, 2017.
According to the Viking website the repairs will affect sailings up until June. But I remember that few cruisers actually mentioned any delays last year. It seems to be minor. Perhaps a past cruiser could comment. I am sure Viking will be happy to give you some info if you contact them directly.

Noone is sailing so the low water level only affects barges, but for those interested anyway: Kaub is at 54cm, Koblenz at 62cm.

notamermaid
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Transocean Belvedere Danube April 2013
English Channel Crossings 1984 to present:
Calais - Dover
Ostend - Dover
Dutch island hopping 1980's
Many Rhine river short trips
#13
Rhine, Germany
2,126 Posts
Joined Oct 2013
Hello sitraveler,

Generally I do not like to give too detailed info on the Elbe as I am too far away from the river (around 500 km) to relate what I read to the situation over there. Concluding from the water levels right now, I can say that the Elbe is doing better than the Rhine, i.e. is at a reasonable level to leave room for lots of water for the first sailings but being not low enough to prevent ships from sailing (exceptions possible -again, I am not close enough). However, things can change within a few days and nobody knows - not even the best experts - what will be in March. The Elbe is in a different region of Germany with sometimes quite different weather patterns from the Rhine area.

If you need any info closer to your date please always contact the cruise line and if you fly in early try to stay in contact with them. I am afraid to say that the Elbe was a "tricky" river last year, but in March I do not expect low water. If snow melt and lots of rain coincide in March high water is much more likely.

Have a great trip.

notamermaid
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Transocean Belvedere Danube April 2013
English Channel Crossings 1984 to present:
Calais - Dover
Ostend - Dover
Dutch island hopping 1980's
Many Rhine river short trips
#14
Frisco, TX
68 Posts
Joined Jun 2011
New to River Cruising (have only taken one on the Danube) and wondering what July along the Rhine is typically like.

I am assuming the weather, while always hard to predict, would have the possibility of being fine given that it is summer. While also hard to predict, what about the water levels? Is July any better than other times of the year regarding any possible issues with water levels.

Any other comments would be welcome. Considering Basel to Amsterdam which I understand is a fairly popular route.

Thanks!
#15
Rhine, Germany
2,126 Posts
Joined Oct 2013
Hello Just2guys,

July is a nice month to travel in if you do not mind school holidays having started in all German states and are fond of hot temperatures. Usual is 22 to 26 degrees in the afternoon, but it can often be a little cooler on cloudy, rainy days. Peak temperatures of 35 degrees are possible. Towns can feel a little stuffy.

The water level is normally fine, there is enough water left over from the snow melt and rainy spring days to make sailing pleasant.

Basel to Amsterdam is the most popular route, but do consider the Amsterdam to Basel direction. Upstream, due to the slower "pace" of the ship, there are variations on the times in port. You can compare the directions in the brochures and on the roll call pages of previous years.

If you have the time you might consider including the Moselle, this is possible as 10 day or 13 day trips for example. But you might want to leave out the Moselle for future cruises.

Some companies, especially from the UK offer itineraries starting in Cologne, leaving out the slightly boring stretch of the lower Rhine/Waal/Canal in Germany and the Netherlands. That of course would mean you do not see Amsterdam.

I highly recommend the stickies on the top of the page for great advice and tips on river cruising.

Have fun planning.

notamermaid
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Transocean Belvedere Danube April 2013
English Channel Crossings 1984 to present:
Calais - Dover
Ostend - Dover
Dutch island hopping 1980's
Many Rhine river short trips
#16
Rhine, Germany
2,126 Posts
Joined Oct 2013
As I have mentioned, it has been quite cold in the the last three weeks. It means that many small rivers have frozen over. The Sauer in Luxembourg was completely frozen over, the Moselle is currently carrying small ice floes. A few years ago the river froze near Koblenz and an icebreaker had to free ships.

Can the mighty Rhine freeze over? It could in former times, but all those who know the Rhine professionally agree that we are highly unlikely to ever see it happen again. The Rhine has had many manmade changes to endure over the last century and is flowing faster than it used to. Industrially used water, although cleaned before it flows into the river, has warmed up the river. In winter we do not have the long cold spells we used to see.

Very memorable was the frozen river in 1929. In 1963 in a long harsh winter ice floes did cover the Rhine, in a couple of bends the ice got stuck piling itself high. A spectactular sight! Many photos on the internet show the situation along the Rhine. Bands played, people crossed the river as their Sunday afternoon stroll and ice skating was of course very popular. On the Moselle near Koblenz a car could drive on the ice. It was the last time the river Moselle and the Rhine were really covered and could be crossed on dry foot.

Here is a nice photo from 1929 at the Loreley: https://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eisgan...ang1928-29.jpg

I myself struggle with the cold and am looking forward to the Spring.

But first we need to get through the Rhenish Carneval...

River cruise ships are safe in harbours, I counted 28 (might be a few more) in Cologne alone. No real change to the river level.

notamermaid
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Transocean Belvedere Danube April 2013
English Channel Crossings 1984 to present:
Calais - Dover
Ostend - Dover
Dutch island hopping 1980's
Many Rhine river short trips
#17
Midwest, USA
1,109 Posts
Joined Aug 2007
Very interesting post, especially about historical changes to the Rhine. Loved the old picture!
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Susan

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#19
Rhine, Germany
2,126 Posts
Joined Oct 2013
Hello xmaser,

oddly, I was just in the middle of roaming around the archives of the German water engineering board (I think their official name is slightly different from my "free" translation) when you posted! They have some great historic photos. Here is the website: http://medienarchiv.baw.de/cdm/ My search was "Rhine" and "1929". But for that particular year - the coldest winter in the 20th century in Germany - you can find photos of other rivers as well.

On the general internet you can find photos when you look for Eisgang (the term for ice floating on a river) and 1929. "Eisgang" also has a wikipedia page. Or other years, like 1963, for the "Rhein" and "Mosel". One of my favourite photos is of a "Eissprengung", blasting the ice to free the navigation channel and prevent damage from the ice piling up. You can find it in the archives under its marker name HB9126, which you enter in the "Suchen"-bar.

notamermaid
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Transocean Belvedere Danube April 2013
English Channel Crossings 1984 to present:
Calais - Dover
Ostend - Dover
Dutch island hopping 1980's
Many Rhine river short trips
#20
Rhine, Germany
2,126 Posts
Joined Oct 2013
And for some moving pictures here is an old video courtesy of British Paté of ice on the Elbe: http://www.britishpathe.com/video/ice-bound-europe

The Main-Danube-Canal, it being a slow moving manmade waterway, froze and was closed to shipping a few days ago. Not sure if it has reopened, but it will probably do so within the next few days as day temperatures are now well above zero in many parts of the West of Germany.

notamermaid
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Transocean Belvedere Danube April 2013
English Channel Crossings 1984 to present:
Calais - Dover
Ostend - Dover
Dutch island hopping 1980's
Many Rhine river short trips