(CNN) — A Viking River cruise ship heading north on the Mississippi River is unable to finish its journey due to low water levels, according to a statement from the company Thursday.
“Unusually low water levels along the Mississippi River have caused sections of the river to close, affecting all northbound and southbound shipping traffic,” the statement said.
“The closures have caused delays that will prevent the Viking Mississippi from completing its ongoing navigation and reaching St. Paul. [Minnesota] for her next scheduled outing on October 15,” the statement said.
The cruise line said guests had been notified of the problem, though it did not provide details on how many passengers were 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 voyage in October from St. Paul to New Orleans starting at $12,999.
Thursday was not the first time the Viking ship had problems with low tide on this voyage.
Tom Trovato and his wife, Trish, were among those on the cruise ship when the ship stopped in the middle of the Mississippi River. Trovato, who lives in Phoenix, told CNN the boat stopped Monday night after a barge hit the bottom of the river, blocking all water traffic in the area.
“We were caught in the middle of this,” Trovato said. “We were detained for about 24 hours with no movement.”
Trovato said there were about 300 passengers on board and everyone he spoke to had a good attitude about the situation.
“It’s like nothing happened,” he said. “We just sat on the boat, we still had 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 ship passed under the bridge in Greenville, Mississippi, which crosses into Arkansas on Thursday. A short time later, passengers were informed that the cruise had been cancelled, Trovato said.
The ship was docked in an area just north of Greenville, which is about 150 miles south of Memphis, Tennessee.
The passengers disembarked in groups on Friday and were then put on a two-hour bus ride to Memphis to catch their flights home, he said.
This was Trovato’s fourth Viking river cruiser.
CNN Travel emailed Viking to confirm the ship’s location and other details, but Viking said Friday afternoon that it was unable to provide further comment at this time.
Mississippi River Caught in Growing Drought
The Viking Mississippi isn’t the only ship facing trouble on America’s major 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. Their most recent report says nearly 53% of the lower 48 US states are in drought. Much of the West is in some state of drought.
Drought and abnormal dryness “continue to develop and intensify from the Plains to the Mississippi River Basin, and have now spread further into the Midwest and Southeast. Low water levels are affecting barge traffic on the Mississippi River during the harvest, a crucial moment”. the NOAA site said.
CNN weather forecasts on Friday afternoon don’t point to much relief in sight in key cities along the river through Oct. 15: No rain expected in Minneapolis. Memphis has morning showers expected for one day. St. Louis is forecast to receive light showers next Wednesday and Thursday.
Extreme weather has claimed lives and ruined travel plans in the United States this summer and fall: wildfires threatened Yosemite National Park; flash flooding paralyzed the normally bone-dry Death Valley National Park; and Hurricane Ian impacted tourist sites in Florida and the hard-hit Carolinas.
Repeat of the European summer?
The Mississippi River situation has played out in other parts of the world this year.
For example, a merciless heat wave seared Europe last summer, and the continent’s fabled waterways fell to shockingly low levels.
The River Rhine is one of the most important trade routes in Europe, and a very popular cruise itinerary filled with fairytale castles and breathtaking views. Those cruisers were affected.
Some river cruisers were able to lighten the load and carry on. Others had to change itineraries, while some riverboats had to cancel trips altogether.
And now those same decisions are being reviewed on America’s mightiest river.