Some hotel ships are forced to dock in Bratislava (Pozsony), Esztergom and Komárom instead of Budapest due to the earlier than usual and sudden drop in the Danube water level. There is no panic, but the agencies serving the groups often have only a few hours to reschedule the programme in Hungary. Continue reading below for more details.
“At 4 PM on Wednesday afternoon, it became clear that, contrary to earlier plans, two of our Thursday groups would have to disembark in Komárno, and their boat could not continue. We had only a few hours to plan the bus, reschedule lunch, sightseeing and guided tours,” explains Katalin Sarlós, Managing Director of Svada Office, which serves passengers from German-speaking countries, with a telling example of why it takes a lot of extra work and a lot of flexibility from all partners to resolve the situation.
Asked how the 90-100 cm water level in the middle of the high season affects the hotel boats, the expert could not give a general answer, as the depth of draught and the “shape” of the vessel also determine how long it can sail in the water, writes turizmus.com. This is how two of their groups arrived unhindered in Budapest on Wednesday, while another two had to choose between a port in Komárno and a bus ride.
“The water level is 256 centimetres at Bratislava and barely 100 at Budapest. It depends on the shipping company which scenario it uses to deal with this situation,” another hotel shipping expert tells the above source.
Larger companies with more ships are switching ships, i.e. unloading the luggage from the ship in Bratislava and transferring the guests by bus to a sister ship waiting in Budapest. Smaller companies typically have to make other, no less labour-intensive arrangements. They also bus the guests to the Budapest programmes after the ship has docked. In the case of Visegrád, Esztergom and Komárom, guests return to the ship by bus at the end of the day, while those arriving from Bratislava stay overnight.
It is clear from the expert’s words that those involved in the hotel industry are not unfamiliar with the current phenomenon and are prepared for emergency. Every year, there are more or fewer days when a ship does not arrive at the planned port and the original programme has to be changed at the last minute. This year’s situation is different from previous years in that the low water yields that used to occur in August and September have now occurred in mid-July, and very suddenly. While warmth and low flows were obvious, no one expected such a rapid and dramatic change.
As a result, the ports of Esztergom, Komárom and Komárno are full of deep-draft vessels, and passengers forced to stop are being brought to Budapest by bus.
There are no such problems on the upper Danube, due to the water steps that ensure the navigability of the river, but the situation is even more critical towards the Black Sea. Companies have cancelled several downstream programmes for safety reasons, and many of those going upstream from the Iron Gate has cancelled stops in Hungary (e.g. Kalocsa) to ensure they can get their guests back to Passau.
While there is a loss, proportionally there are many more groups that eventually arrive in Budapest. There are no complaints about spending either, even if they do not necessarily use hotel services, the cruise series bring in significant revenue for restaurants, the Great Market Hall and other service providers.