Get More For Your Money: Here Are The Best Times For A European River Cruise
February 10, 2020 By Britton Frost
Are you planning a river cruise in Europe on your upcoming holiday? Before you book your flights, know that some months are better for river cruising than others. You need to consider factors like water level and temperature. By choosing the right month to cruise, you can save money. Plus, youll likely have a better experience when the weather and crowd levels are optimal.
Ready to plan your river cruise in Europe? Keep reading to learn which months are best for sailing some of Europes most popular rivers.
Rhine River Cruise Itineraries
There are almost as many itineraries along the Rhine River as there are departures. Here are some of the most common types you’ll see.
Short Rhine River cruises: Short and sweet, these sailings last three, four or five nights and are a great alternative to a city break, as your “hotel” travels with you and shows you a range of places instead of just one. A typical three-nighter will run roundtrip from Strasbourg to Koblenz, with an overnight at Rudesheim, while a five-night trip might run from medieval Andernach to Cologne via Rudesheim, Boppard , Koblenz and Bonn.
Christmas Market cruises: Short cruises are particularly popular in November and December, when thousands flock to the banks of the Rhine to enjoy the region’s spectacular Christmas markets. If you love sugar and spice and all things nice — and want a festive experience straight off a Dickensian Christmas card — you should definitely go.
Make sure any Christmas markets cruise you choose spends time in Cologne. It’s a great place to be at Christmastime, as it has seven markets to choose from, each with a different theme. A small floating market set on a riverboat and selling mainly Christmas tree trinkets might be the most convenient for river cruisers, but the prettiest is set around Cologne Cathedral, a 10 minute walk from the riverbank.
Reasons To Take A Fall Danube Cruise
|River cruise in Fall through Austrian Danube Wine Region||Austria offers one of the most popular wine regions along the river, with wines like Riesling and Gruner Veltliner being indigenous to the country. In addition, Germany brings a ton of great wines to the table at the Danube Rivers start. Located near the Black Forest, the Baden Wine Region is a popular place for connoisseurs. The area features a climate thats similar to Burgundy, France — making for some unique wines. Some of the greatest wines of the Baden Region include German-styles of Pinot Noir, Pinot Gris, and Chardonnay. Some voyages from our cruise lines, like Uniworld River Cruises, focus specifically on the Danube Rivers wine.|
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The Best Time To Book A Douro River Cruise Summer
While the Douro Valley is a must whatever the time of year, summer is still our pick of the best time to plan a visit. The blazing Portuguese sun suits the rugged landscapes of the river to a tee, and gives you the opportunity to combine cultural discovery with lazy afternoons sunning yourself on-board your Scenic Space-Ship.
Here are some more reasons why you should consider a summer escape to the Douro River.
Why Is The Danube Called Blue
Strauss recalled a poem by Karl Isidor Beck . Each stanza ends with the line: By the Danube, beautiful blue Danube . It gave him the inspiration and the title for his new work although the Danube could never be described as blue and, at the time the waltz was written, it did not flow through Vienna.
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What Side Trips Are Available
Whether its Mozart or Maria that makes you sing, dont miss a day trip to Salzburg, usually offered from Linz and invariably featuring Sound of Music heritage. From Passau, some cruise lines offer day trips to the lovely old Czech town of eský Krumlov, a fairytale vision of cobbled streets clustered around an imposing castle. From Bucharest, on eastern Danube cruises, add on a night or two in Transylvania, to see the castles and scenery that inspired Bram Stokers Dracula.
River Cruises In Asia
The best time to visit the Mekong delta on a river cruise is during the dry season, from November through to March. The temperature is at its most comfortable as well as being less humid. But the prices reflect that this is the preferred time for most visitors.
Exploring the Mekong is a once in a lifetime experience especially with a luxurious river cruise. March and April are a great alternative to the peak months of November until February to go on a Mekong river cruise as youll find a good balance between costs, weather as well as the number of tourists visiting the region.
A journey along the Mississippi is a lesson in Americas Civil War history, as well as a chance to visit grand plantation homes and storybook towns of the Deep South. This is Mark Twain territory, after all.
In general, the best time to river cruise on the Lower Mississippi is from February to early June/late May. Spring offers mild temperatures and is in general the most pleasant times to visit.
Rhine River Cruise Tips
If you’re in love with the idea of the fairytale castle-lined “Romantic Rhine” and don’t want to see its more industrialized aspects, your best bet is choose a cruise that includes a sailing through the Rhine Gorge but then heads for the Danube and Vienna along the River Main and the Main / Danube Canal.
Do pack a comfortable pair of shoes for walking ashore and, if your mobility is limited, be aware that many river stops involve climbing at least a few steps.
Take earplugs if you’re a light sleeper and don’t want to be roused by early-morning rumblings as your boat sets off from its overnight stop and makes its way through locks. Be prepared also for frequent calls to clear the top deck as your boat goes under low bridges.
If taking a three- or four-night Christmas Markets cruise in November or December, bear in mind that the markets are less busy during the day and midweek than they are in the evenings and on weekends.
Take binoculars for a close-up view of life on the riverbanks and to get a really good look at the statue of Lorelei, which, though pretty, is quite small and hard to see in detail with the naked eye. Some boats will supply binoculars in each cabin check before you go, and take your own along if necessary.
Vienna The City Of Music
Vienna at Christmas Time | Photo by Brennan Pang
The iconic city of Vienna, Austria is one of the most beautiful and sophisticated cities in Europe. It is certainly a mecca for any budding or accomplished classical musician. During an Upper Danube river cruise, youll have several opportunities to enjoy classical music concerts in various venues from medieval churches to grand palaces. Some sailings have a special focus on music.
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An Expert Guide To Cruising The Danube River
Autumn can be a golden time to experience Europes famously blue river, when the fruits of the apricot harvest taste all the sweeter
At the bottom of a stone path I reached several ochre-coloured buildings in the narrow, cobbled street, choosing to enter the first café. I was looking for somewhere to stop after a steep 30-minute walk up to the ruins of Dürnsteins 12th-century castle, balanced on a rocky outcrop, to gaze down on the shimmering Danube, where my ship looked like a toy on the water.
Even in mid-September my sweatshirt was too hot for the mild day and, back down again, I needed refreshment. Through the window I fixed my eyes on the pastel blue and white church tower my marker for finding our mooring spot. My plan simply to order a coffee was scuppered as the waitress twisted my arm with the house speciality, and out came a plate of four marillenknödel: Klosterneuburger apricots smothered in cream cheese dough, sprinkled with cinnamon and with a dollop of apricot jam on the side. After I finished I was persuaded to try a tot of apricot brandy before heading back to the ship with an unexpected spring in my step.
Thankfully, entry and quarantine restrictions have been lifted on the other destinations lining its banks of utmost importance for a transnational waterway. Rising in Germanys Black Forest, the Danube winds through 10 countries, including four capitals Vienna, Budapest, Bratislava and Belgrade before reaching the Black Sea.
The Thinking Person’s Guide To River Cruising
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Highlights Along The Danube
Whether you choose an all-inclusive luxury river line or yearn for a more authentic and immersive family adventure, there is a Danube River cruise for everyone and something to see at every stop along the way including:
- Enchanting Passau, set where three rivers meet
- Lush vineyards of the Wachau Valley
- The baroque splendor of Melk Abbey
- Viennas elegant architecture
- The splendid Benedictine Abbey of Göttweig
- Scenic beauty of the picturesque Danube Bend
- Budapests stunning Chain Bridge and Parliament Building
- Soaring cliffs of the scenic Iron Gate
- Romanias rural culture and rich folklore
- Belgrades impressive Kalemegdan Fortress
- Viewing the acclaimed art collection of the Kunstkammer Vienna
- In Winter, visiting the famed Christmas Markets
River Cruises In America
Mississippi river cruise itineraries are usually separated into the Upper and Lower part of the river. The Upper Mississippi is generally considered to be between St. Louis, Missouri and St. Paul and Minnesota. Unlike the Lower Mississippi river cruises which have their peak season in the spring, the Upper Mississippi river cruises take place in October and November. Sailing outside of the summer season will also mean you will have less trouble from those pesky mosquitos.
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The Definitive Danube River Cruise Guide
A Danube River cruise showcases some of the finest scenery in Europe, passing grand castles, stunning cathedrals, ancient sites and elegant cities which have inspired travelers for centuries.
Unveiling Europes rich and dramatic history, a Danube River immerses you in the glittering cultural capitals, lush vineyards, magnificent monasteries and endless scenic splendor that line the rivers banks.
Budapest The City Of Waters
Budapest Parliament Building at Night | Photo by Brennan Pang
Budapest is the largest city on the Danube. The river cuts right down the center of Budapest offering some of the most magnificent architecture along the banks of this great river. The Budapest Parliament Building by night is probably the most iconic image along the Danube. A visit to Budapest would not be complete without a nice long soak in one of the traditional Budapest baths.
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Upriver Or Downriver On The Danube Or The Rhine: What If Any Is The Difference
Q My wife and I thoroughly enjoyed a Viking Cities of Light cruise from Prague to Paris last year and are now planning a second cruise with Viking. We are interested in travelling between Nuremberg and Budapest to see the elevated aqueducts in the eastern part of the Main-Danube canal and also travel through the Wachau Valley and the Danube Bend near Budapest. Vikings Grand European and Romantic Danube cruises travel between Nuremburg and Budapest but the itineraries visit different ports depending upon the direction of travel and both cruises appear to include a lot of overnight cruising. Can you recommend a cruise and travel direction that will provide the best opportunity to see the Wachau Valley and the elevated aquaducts in the Main-Danube canal? We were told that it is generally best to travel downriver, as the engines dont have to work as hard, the travel times are quicker and you spend more time ashore. Is this true?
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Danube River Cruises: What To Know Before You Go
Do you like the idea of time traveling through 10 countries and visiting central and eastern Europes most iconic capital cities like Vienna, Budapest, Bratislava and Bucharest? Then a Danube River cruise is perfect for you!
Between Danube River cities youll drink wines from ancient vineyards and visit 1000-year-old castles and abbeys. The romance of the Danube takes on a different tempo and melody as you cross from one region to the next. Silent Night and Edelweiss greets you in Salzburg Mozart, Strauss, and other classical favorites tantalize in Vienna Hungarian folk music gets you dancing in Budapest.
The Danube River is the Europe Unions longest river. It flows 2,872 km , beginning its journey in the town of Donaueschingen, in the Black Forest of Germany, and empties into the Black Sea via the Danube Delta in Ukraine and Romania. Cruising this river is one of the best ways for families to easily and conveniently see the region.
Read a comprehensive article which details the experience of an AmaWaterways Danube River Cruise.
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What Is The Best District To Stay In Budapest
The 5th district is the best overall neighborhood to stay in Budapest for tourists. Plenty of attractions, and loads of restaurants and cafés to enjoy. While it isnt exactly a nightlife hub, the 5th is well-connected by public transit youll be able to hop over to the Jewish Quarter if its bars you crave.
Danube River Map And River Cruise Itineraries
If your grasp of central and eastern European geography is a little rusty, heres a map of the Danube River. The Danube flows southeast crisscrossing 10 countries as follows:
The Upper Danube begins in Germany, then continues on through Austria, Slovakia, and Hungary. It keeps flowing east through the Lower Danube, crossing Croatia, Serbia, Bulgaria, and Romania. Then it brushes past Moldova, then sprawls over the Danube river basin in Ukraine, before emptying into the Black Sea.
A 7-Day Danube River cruise typically focuses on either the Upper Danube or the Lower Danube. While 10-15 Day cruises will cover both sections of the Danube.
The most popular route for a Danube River Cruise travels from Vilshofen or Passau in Germany to Budapest in Hungary. Sometimes an Upper Danube Cruise might begin further upstream along the Main-Danube Canal at Nuremberg.
Other Upper Danube River Cruise itineraries might also include a few days in Prague, which is actually not along the Danube. Its due about 2.5-3 hours east by road depending on your port of embarkation.
Via canals, its also possible for some Danube River itineraries to include ports of call along the Main, Rhine, and Moselle Rivers, and even along Dutch, and Belgian Waterways.
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How Much Is A River Cruise On The Danube
Ama Viola in Budapest | Photo by Brennan Pang
River cruise pricing can be a little complicated. Most river cruises are all-inclusive while others have hidden costs. There are so many different upgrade options, room configurations, and pre and post-cruise add ons.
Some cruise lines offer very attractive discounted pricing if you book last minute or during the shoulder season while others even throw in airfare as an incentive.
Comparing pricing between cruise lines is even more confusing. Speaking with a knowledgeable river cruise specialist can be invaluable!
Some cruise lines offer short river cruise itineraries on the Danube for just 3 or 4 days, and there are also 10-14 day itineraries. But the most typical is a one-week cruises on the Upper Danube. You can expect to pay between range between $2,700 $11,400 per person.
Here are some general guides for the 2020 River Cruising Fares from River Cruise Advisor.
- A-ROSA, CroisiEurope, and Riviera generally have the lowest fares under $3000 per person during both high and shoulder season.
- AmaWaterways, Avalon, Emerald, and UniWorld are comparably priced in the lower mid-range between $3,000- $3,600 in any season
- Tauk and Scenic are comparably priced in the higher mid-range $3900-$4500 in any season
- Crystal is the high outlier in all seasons with prices ranging from $8,000-$11,400 with dramatic savings during the shoulder season.