In one of the earlier posts on this series of posts about my river cruise I included a photo that showed how many times this Danube river floods and how high those floods go. Actually, when booking the cruise, we had heard that sometimes you spend more time being shuttled by bus from town to town because the river is too dry or too high for using the long boats. It cannot be helped. We had read that the spring floods were more of an issue, so we booked in the fall and lucked out with gorgeous weather except for the colder rain on our last day in Nuremberg.
These ships are high tech including 110 and 220 outlets, wi-fi for passengers, and a flat screen TV in every room!
Since the Danube has numerous bridges across it, ten built in the last decade, the ship has a wheel house that lowers to go under the older bridges and sometimes the top deck will be closed to passengers if the bridge is deemed too low for safety.
This cruise also goes several hundred miles through three countries and I am guessing over 40 locks...but I did not count. Most of them are entered during the evening when we were sleeping. It took less than 30 minutes to go through most. Some of the locks rise or lower the ship 100 feet and there is a high wall on each side of the ship during that time. Lock time must be reserved ahead with the lock master since dozens of passenger and cargo ships go up and down the Danube each day. Sometimes we had to wait for a ship to go through the lock before us and sometimes it was wide enough for two ships to go through at the same time.
During our cruise there was a strike in Germany by the lock masters. Technology has made these jobs more obsolete with the trend to have many locks being managed by one lock master via computer. Therefore, our schedule was bumped up just a little so that we got through the regular locks before the strike. We were bused back to one of the cities for our day tour as a result of that.
These locks can be a tight fit and yet were rarely felt a bump! But the piloting did require miniscule movements.
In the photo below is a boat transferring cargo. The interesting thing about these is that they are called "family ships" because a family lives on them in the back cabin. They eat, sleep and work there. Usually these ships are operated 24 hours for economic reasons. We were told that the husband does an 8-hour shift, the wife an 8-hour shift and then there is a mate that is hired who lives in the front area of the ship and he/she pulls the third shift. Children are raised on the ship until they are of school age and they are sent to a special school with the children of other families that work on cargo ships. There is even a 'town' of 'family ships' somewhere on the river which includes a hospital ship and repair ship. etc. It is like a little water world community. The children usually follow in their parents footsteps when they become adults starting out as mates.
Well, that is the end of my journey and I have enjoyed reliving it through my blog posts. Yes, I did enjoy every bit of it and had not a single complaint for the whole time! Thanks for enduring this memory and am so happy that some of you enjoyed this series.