EU’s Danube cruise almost left high and dry

The EU’s leaders met without Britain at a summit in Bratislava on Friday to chart a course for the future–but found their own journey plans scuppered by a lack of water in the River Danube.

Low river levels on the famed waterway meant Slovak authorities had to cancel a visit to a museum by the 27 leaders that was meant to be the highlight of a special river cruise on a luxury ship.

Instead the prime ministers and presidents were left to cruise aimlessly up and down the Danube during a two-hour working lunch to discuss relations with Britain once it jumps ship from the European Union.

“Due to the extremely low water level of the Danube River, we won’t be able to take a short break at the Danubiana (art museum),” Slovak Prime Minister Robert Fico told journalists.

“Instead, the ship will turn around there, and we’ll continue by sailing back to Bratislava.”

The Dutch-founded Danubiana Meulensteen Art Museum is in Cunovo, close to the border between Slovakia, Austria, and Hungary.

But the leaders couldn’t feel too blue as they were lucky to get their Danube cruise at all, after water levels rose overnight, officials said.

“Today from 7am local time cruising was restored on the Bratislava part of Danube,” Pavel Machava, of the Slovak Water Management Enterprise, said.

Slovak authorities have rented the Regina Danubia vessel, built in 1992 and described as a “floating festive and congress hall on the Danube”, for the working lunch.