The Main-Danube canal – and cases of gastro

Entering a lock

The morning talk from the cruise director was not good news. Our resident gremlin had struck again, and a number of the guests on the Amaverde had contracted a gastro illness. At that stage, no one was sure if this would be the dreaded, highly contagious, Nova virus, or just plain food poisoning. And if the latter, where or what from?

Jude and the hotel director took immediate steps to try to minimize the problem. All guests who were ill, or had a partner who was ill, were asked to stay in their cabins (duh). All buffet services were cancelled. No more soup and finger food lunches in the lounge, everybody had to go to the restaurant. No guest was permitted to handle food. If you wanted bacon from the hot box at breakfast time, you had to ask a staff member (wearing surgical gloves) to serve you. The same with fruit, cereal, and everything else. The public toilets in the ship were closed – if you needed the loo, you had to go to your cabin.

Most people took the measures in good grace. As Jude pointed out, if more than a given percentage of the people on the ship became ill, the cruise would have to be cancelled. I think she and the hotel director were at pains to try to ensure that none of the staff fell ill. That would have been disastrous.

After some detective work, talking with the other ships on the river, Jude was told one ship a few days ahead of us had half the ship down with gastro. Working backwards, she concluded that the culprit had been sausages from a butcher in Rothenburg. Not everyone was convinced, though. At least one person hadn’t been to Rothenburg. Others had doubts about the timing (food poisoning tends to hit within a few hours.) So everything related to food was a tad awkward for several days. Again, the main impact was on the crew. The staff did a wonderful job attending to the quarantined guests in their cabins, as well as handling the extra work of having to serve everything.

The good news was that Pete and I were not affected. Not by the gastro, anyway. At the same time, the usual respiratory infections were passing around. One in five seemed to have a cough or splutter, and Jude urged us to employ the antiseptic hand-wash dispensers often.

Going down

The tour for the day was a few hours in Nuremberg. We did that last time, so we stayed on board. That link also talks a bit about the canal. We were looking forward to the visit from Markus Urban, who would give a presentation on the building of the Main-Danube canal The concept of a waterway goes back as Charlemagne in the ninth century and although Mad King Ludwig of Bavaria (he built Neuschwanstein, the fairytale castle in the Alps) had a go in the nineteenth century, a real canal wasn’t possible until after WW2. The canal was finally finished in the 1990s. You’ll find info about the canal here. We bought a copy of Markus’s book, which we should have done last time we were here.

One of the things about this cruise is that because we’re going the opposite way, we arrive at places at different times. It was bright daylight when we reached the European watershed. Apparently a competition was held to design a suitable marker for this important place. I couldn’t find a reference, but I believe it. I’ve shown the marker in the photo below.

The European watershed. With its underwhelming marker.

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