(CNN) — A Viking river cruise ship heading north up the Mississippi River can’t finish its voyage because of low water levels, according to a statement from the company on Thursday.
“Unusually low water levels along the Mississippi River have caused sections of the river to be closed, impacting all northbound and southbound shipping traffic,” the statement said.
“The closures have caused delays that will prevent the Viking Mississippi from completing the sailing underway and from reaching St. Paul [Minnesota] for her next scheduled departure on October 15,” the statement said.
The cruise line said guests have been notified of the issue, though they did not provide details on how many passengers have been affected.
The Viking Mississippi can hold up to 386 guests and was built in 2022, according to the company’s website. Viking was advertising a 15-day trip in October from St. Paul to New Orleans starting at $12,999.
Thursday wasn’t the first time the Viking ship ran into low-water trouble on this voyage.
Tom Trovato and his wife, Trish, were among those on the cruise when the ship came to a halt in the middle of the Mississippi River. Trovato, who lives in Phoenix, told CNN the ship was stopped on Monday evening after a barge hit the bottom of the river and blocked all water traffic through the area.
“We were caught in the middle of it,” Trovato said. “We were stopped for about 24 hours with no movement.”
Trovato said about 300 passengers were on board and those that he talked to all had a good attitude about the situation.
“It’s like nothing happened,” he said. “We just sat on the ship, still got our meals, but we just couldn’t do our excursions.”
“This wasn’t Viking Cruises fault, it was Mother Nature.” Trovato said. “It is what it is.”
The cruise passed under the bridge in Greenville, Mississippi, that crosses into Arkansas on Thursday. A short time later, passengers were informed that the cruise was canceled, Trovato said.
The ship was docked in an area just north of Greenville, which is about 150 miles south of Memphis, Tennessee.
Passengers disembarked in groups on Friday and then were placed on a two-hour bus ride to Memphis to catch their flights home, he said.
This was the Trovato’s fourth Viking river cruise.
CNN Travel emailed Viking for confirmation of the ship’s location and other details, but Viking said Friday afternoon that it was still unable to provide further comment at this time.
Mississippi River caught in growing drought
The Viking Mississippi isn’t the only vessel facing problems on the United States’ premier river.
Amid drought conditions, low water levels along the Mississippi have forced several barges to run aground over the past week, the US Coast Guard said Tuesday.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration maintains a drought information website. Its most current report said almost 53% of the lower 48 US states are in a drought. Much of the West is in some state of drought.
Drought and abnormal dryness “continue to develop and intensify from the Plains through the Mississippi River Basin, and have now extended further into the Midwest and Southeast. Low water levels are impacting barge traffic on the Mississippi River during the harvest, a crucial time,” NOAA’s site said.
CNN Weather forecasts on Friday afternoon don’t point to much relief in sight either in key cities along the river through October 15: No rain is expected in Minneapolis. Memphis has morning showers expected for one day. St. Louis is forecast to get light showers next Wednesday and Thursday.
Extreme weather has taken lives and messed up travel plans across the United State this summer and fall: Wildfires threatened Yosemite National Park; flash flooding crippled normally bone-dry Death Valley National Park; and Hurricane Ian impacted tourist sites in hard-hit Florida and the Carolinas.
Replay of Europe’s summer?
The Mississippi River situation has played out in other parts of the world this year.
For instance, a merciless heat wave baked Europe this past summer, and the continent’s fabled waterways fell to shockingly low levels.
The Rhine River is one of Europe’s most crucial trade routes — and a wildly popular cruise itinerary replete with fairytale castles and stunning views. Those cruises took a hit.
Some river cruise ships were able to lighten the load and carry on. Others had to change itineraries while some river ships had to cancel voyages altogether.
And now those same decisions are being revisited on America’s mightiest river.
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