Remember the Titanic?…Posted: December 30, 2012
When we got on the train 3 days before Christmas, we anticipated that things were not going to go according to plan. It was as if we knew somehow we had to adjust and be flexible in our upcoming adventure. Our plan to have Christmas on a river cruise down the Donau River seemed to be a good idea at the time we booked. We really gave no consideration to the challenges we would encounter, I know how crazy was that.
So, when we got on the ICE train in Nuremberg, Germany with 4 heavy luggage pieces it seemed only fitting that the reserved seats we had were occupied. Explaining in broken German that we had a right to be in the seats was not easy to three other weary Holiday travelers. Some things reach across all cultures, cramped Holiday traveling, yelling and certain hand gestures. Bless the heart of our fourteen-year-old daughter who seemed to be able to express calmly that we reserved the seats. After displacing other travelers to standing room only, we sat down and began to wonder what have we done.
Outside the weather was stirring and when we arrived in Passau we had a vague idea of how to get to the Boat. We were to pick up a shuttle at the station but there were no signs, no shuttle bus and well, we started to resort to finding anyone who may have the same tags that we had on our luggage so to see if they knew something we did not. Finally a shuttle arrived and after a series of gestures, broken conversations we did make it to the ship. Our vacation was about to begin…Hooray!
When we finally got on the boat, unpacked and explored the cabin, we were smiling and happy. Then, I opened the cabin curtain to look out over the river and saw how fast the river seemed to be traveling. The current was very strong and I began to wonder, was this normal? My “what if” thoughts started to kick in.
There is something about cruise directors and staff, they know how to keep you calm by just smiling. They are well versed in making sure you are happy and having a good time. The thing is, when you do not know the language, you focus more on body language than words and they seemed a bit nervous. I figured it was all okay and we waved goodbye to the dock and started down the river. We were to begin our cruise to Vienna, Budapest, Bratislava, Melk and back to Passau, so many places and so much fun.
It was the huge jolt to the boat in the middle of the night that made me bolt from the bed. I was not really sleeping as the boat seemed to be having a “little problem.” Two German words I learned from the announcements over the loud speakers. A seasoned boat person I knew that this was not good. I do not get sea sick but the boat was swaying so much that I began to rethink how this trip was going to go and wondering if we were going to make it thru the night. Our daughter had kidded about the Titanic and I told her, “it is a river cruise, we will be fine.” I think I may have underestimated the power of the Donau.
I once again pulled back the curtain and looked at the river. Since we had to anchor the boat we were swaying back and forth as the river debris was racing passed us. Another cruise boat was anchored near us and from the looks of how it was straining its anchor line I knew we were barely hanging on and wondering what would happen if we lost our anchor.
I did not sleep at all. I was trying to figure out the best way to explain to my teenager that maybe she was right, maybe we had boarded the Titanic but I was not ready to admit it quite yet.
As we approached morning, we found out by the cruise staff that we in fact had a hole in the boat as river debris had caused damage and we were not going to make it to our first destination, Vienna. We were docked safety at some small town along the river and “Do not be alarmed but we need to repair and gain permission to continue down the river.” I have to say, writing it here in English does not give justice to how the conversation went. We figured it out by watching the Captain talk to the emergency crew that had boarded the boat.
My husband started to say, ‘Well, we gave it a try, we may need to look over that travel insurance now.” I was not ready to admit maybe this adventure was over our head and packing up was a good idea. Instead of throwing in the towel, we decided to check out the small town along the river. It was adorable and offered some wonderful views of the river. By the time we got back on board, the boat was cleared to continue.
Maybe by boarding the boat under calmer conditions the trip seemed to take on new meaning.
Here’s the thing… Life is full of adventure. This one was going to change us forever we just did not know how much and the river was going to show us.