River Ship Line #: Avalon Waterways
With a fleet of 20 river ships, Avalon has quite a few itineraries throughout Europe, India, Southeast Asia, Egypt, and Peru, though it charters ships in those last two destinations. Avalons own purpose-built ships are incredibly spacioussuites are 30 percent larger than the industry standard and feature fully retractable floor-to-ceiling windows.
Small Ship Line #1: American Cruise Lines
American Cruise Lines has the unique distinction of operating not only old-school paddlewheelers in the United States, but also contemporary river ships. And they dont just sail on the Mississippiyou can also explore the Columbia and Snake Rivers in the Pacific Northwest, too. Beyond that, the 13-strong fleet also has oceangoing vessels that explore the coasts surrounding the entire country, from New England to Alaska to the Gulf of Mexico.
Large Ship Line #: Holland America Line
As its name indicates, Holland America is a cruise line that was established in 1873 to primarily ferry passengers, many of whom were emigrants, between the Netherlands and the United States. Of course, these days, the cruise line sails more broadly to more than 470 ports around the world on its 11 shipsand its highly regarded for its Alaska itineraries. While passengers can enjoy classic cruise activities like swimming, sports, and gambling, Holland America is particularly noted for its culinary and musical programs: it has a partnership with the TV show Americas Test Kitchen for cooking demonstrations, cooking classes, and a number of live music venues , and stage productions dedicated to the history of music on many of its ships. It also partners with O, The Oprah Magazine, on lifestyle programming, like daily meditation classes. The next addition to Holland Americas fleet will be the Rotterdam, which is due to set sail in 2021, with a capacity of 2,650 passengers.
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Mega Ship Line #: Norwegian Cruise Line
Known for its colorful ships, Norwegian Cruise Line first broke into the mega-ship category in 2010 with the launch of Norwegian Epic, which can carry just over 5,000 passengers at full occupancy, and have since introduced five others in the Breakaway and Breakaway-Plus classes. The crowd aboard these vessels, which primarily sail in North America, the Caribbean, and the Mediterranean, often consists of families who take advantage of amenities like waterparks, virtual-reality gaming, and go-kart racing, though the cruise lines newest ship, Norwegian Bliss, has a decidedly more mature atmosphere. In November 2019, Norwegian launched the newest member of its fleet, Norwegian Encore, which is the most luxurious of its mega-ships.
Best Cruise Lines For European Cruises
The best cruise lines for european cruises as ranked by verified reviews submitted over the past 12 months. This list is continuously updated as we receive new reviews from our members, so be sure to check back often! Note, a minimum of 40 reviews are required to be part of this list.
Expect a true British cruising experience aboard comfortable, intimate and inviting vessels. Enjoy traditional formal dining or a more relaxed experience in the buffet restaurant. Stay active at the fitness center, lounge by the pool or work on your golf game. Along with afternoon tea, an internet cafe and evening cabaret productions are just some of the highlights onboard…
Crystal Ocean sails to a number of European destinations among its longer around the world sailings which start in Miami and sail through the Panama Canal, Pacific, Australia, Middle East and stop in either London or Rome. These sailings make port stops in Greece, Italy, Spain, Portugal, Morocco, England, and France.
P& O Cruises is one of the most recognizable names in European cruising. As the oldest cruise line in the world, P& O has established a presence in European destinations that include Denmark, Finland, Lithuania, Estonia, British Isles, Italy, Spain, Norway, and of course England.
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Small Ship Line #: Metropolitan Touring
Operating three expedition vessels in the Galápagos, Metropolitan Touring is the ideal cruise line for those seeking a casual experience in the wildlife hotspot. The tiny ships, which only accommodate between 40 and 78 passengers, have a laid-back atmosphere where the focus is very much on wildlife spotting. The company also offers land-based tours in mainland Ecuador, Peru, and Colombia that can be combined with a Galápagos expedition.
Why Is River Ship Length Important
One of the real subtle differences in river cruising is what the cruise line has on board their ships.
For accommodations, this includes # of passenger cabins, what is in the cabin & views from the cabin.
Unlike Ocean Cruising, there are no inside cabins, but there is a significant difference in window size & balconies.
On board facilities & equipment is another factor that should be considered.
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Choosing The Best European River Cruise For You
Savvy travelers know that European River Cruises arent just for seniors. On board every Tauck riverboat, youll find couples young and young at heart groups of friends and groups who share common interests or alma maters solo travelers and families all having the best time of their lives. No matter which waterway you want to journey along in Europe, who youre traveling with and what you hope to take away from the experience, youll find the best European river cruise for you with Tauck, voted to Travel + LeisuresWorlds Best Awards list for 22 consecutive years.
Best Eastern European Cruises
Crushing through the Eastern Mediterranean can be one of the most satisfying travel experiences youll ever have, from its beautiful coastline and ancient architecture to its renowned cuisine and fascinating culture. The cities in this area are the patriarchs of Europe, and many of them are visited by the finest Eastern Mediterranean cruises. The ideal itinerary is ready and waiting if you want to stand on top of the Acropolis in Athens or discover Dubrovniks old towns ancient gateways.
Most Popular Cruise Ports
- Athens, Greece
Today, when cruises to Athens, tourists flock from around the world to explore its history. After all, across the fabric of entire cultures, Athens sculpture, theater, architecture, and philosophy had ripple effects. Today, Athens is a blend of ancient and modern. Piraeus serves as the
main port for Athens. Archeological and maritime museums, the hilltop quarter of Kastella, Mikrolimanos seafood restaurants, and the Piraeus Walls remnants are attractions here.
- Venice, Italy
Eastern cruises very often depart from Venice, so a cruise from Venice is an utter must.
Youd be astonished everywhere you look by the sheer beauty of the citys architecture and its ridiculous richness of art by the organic nature of the place, as if it had evolved rather than built. The creative ways Venetians have found both to adapt their city to the modern world and ensure that it does not sink into the lagoon is impressive.
- Istanbul, Turkey
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Best Christmas Markets River Cruises
If you look forward to the holiday season all year long, December is the best month to board a Tauck Christmas Markets River Cruise on the Danube or Rhine Rivers. Delivering equal parts old-world charm and a festive holiday mood, these itineraries include guided visits to Europes traditional Christmas markets as well as on board celebrations to make your spirits bright.
European Cruise Tips And Tricks
Before going on your European cruise trip, make sure you do all your research on all the ports of call. It can come in handy to have a plan B of what to do. Theres much to do anywhere you dock, but its essential to see whats most interesting for you. Also, check the wheater. It can be unpredictable sometimes, and you wouldnt want to spoil a good mood.
Another critical question before your river cruise is tipping. You need to know what to do in Europe with tips on river cruises. You may be familiar with either pre-paying your tips or adding them to your onboard account if you have sailed on an ocean cruise, or they are included in the cost of your cruise. You will not have to think about tipping anyone with some river cruise lines, as all gratuities for onboard workers, onshore tour guides, and bus drivers are included in your cruises upfront price. This is not always the case, however. A range of river cruise lines will provide onboard workers gratuities. Make sure you review the tipping policy for the cruise line.
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Small Ship Line #: Ecoventura
As Ecoventura operates a fleet of three expedition yachts with a capacity of only 20 passengers, you know youre getting a personalized experience on board. The ships sail two week-long itineraries in the Galápagosyou can combine them both if you want more time with the islands incredible wildlife. The luxurious ships each have 10 well-appointed cabins, a lounge where naturalists provide lectures and briefings before excursions, a dining room and bar, a library filled with scholarly tomes on the Galápagos, and a sundeck for relaxation.
River Ship Line #: American Queen Steamboat Company
If nostalgias the name of your game, book a trip with the American Queen Steamboat Company, whose four paddlewheelers sail the Mississippi, Columbia, Snake, Ohio, Tennessee, and Cumberland Rivers. These are leisurely sailings: most are nine days long, with some outliers like the 15- or 16-day journey from Minneapolis to New Orleans.
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Small Ship Line #1: Seadream Yacht Club
Sailing through the Caribbean, around Europe, or across the Atlantic on either of SeaDreams two 112-passenger yachts means quickly getting to know your fellow guests. Facilities on the six decks include a pool, whirlpool, and casino, but the real highlight is the watersports marina that can be lowered down to the waves for easy ocean swimming, kayaking, and more. The ships often overnight in port, allowing guests the opportunity to experience the local nightlife before taking off for their next destination. In 2021, SeaDream will launch a 110-cabin luxury expedition yacht, SeaDream Innovation, that will sail to all seven continents.
Most Popular Destinations For European Ocean Cruises
This is one of the most important distinctions between the cruises, and probably the most important decision to make when choosing. Do you feel like warm temperature, sunsets on beaches and Mediterranean food or maybe youre more into colder climate and Scandinavian vibes.
Maybe you want something more medieval or landscapes of astounding hills and changing scenery. Whatever it is you want, you can be sure Europe will offer it to you. But that will also determine the type of cruise youll be taking.
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Large Ship #1: Costa Cruises
Italian cruise line Costa Cruises, which operates under parent company Carnival, has quite a history: It was founded in 1854 as a cargo shipping company, transporting olive oil and textiles around the world. Transferring to the leisure cruise side of the business in 1959, Costa now operates 17 shipsthe majority of which accommodate between 2,800 and 5,300 passengersthat sail all over the world, with two more scheduled to join the fleet by the end of 2021.
The Giant On The Danubethe Amamagna
Launched in May 2019, the AmaMagna, is a double wide vessel, & carries 196 passengers.
It has expanded on board facilities4 restaurants 5 bars, 2 massage rooms, and a water sports platform.
It can only sail on portions of the Danube, as their extra width does not allow it to use some of the locks on the Danube River
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Large Ship Line #: P& o Cruises
The United Kingdoms premier cruise lineand the worlds oldest, having commenced passenger operations in 1837P& O sails Europe, North America, and the Caribbean with a crowd made up primarily of British nationals. As such, prepare for the ships amenities to have a British bent . Three of the fleets five current ships fall into the large category, while its two upcoming ships, MS Iona and her as-of-yet unnamed sister, will be mega-ships.
Medium Ship Line #1: Norwegian Cruise Line
Until it launched Norwegian Epic in 2010, then the Breakaway and Breakaway-plus classes in 2013 and 2015, respectively, Norwegian primarily focused on mid-sized ships that carry around 2,000 passengerswhich still make up the majority of the fleet. A colorful atmosphere pervades the ships, as guests enjoy everything from water slides to silly pool contests like synchronized swimming to everyones favorite: bingo night. Norwegians ships have itineraries all over the world, with many focusing on North America.
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River Ship Line #: Aqua Expeditions
Aqua Expeditions has three river ships: Aria Amazon and Aqua Nera, which sail the Peruvian Amazon, and Aqua Mekong, which traverses the Mekong between Cambodia and Vietnam. Guests sailing aboard these modern, luxurious vessels will partake in daily excursions that introduce them to both the ecology and the culture of their destinations. Aqua also operates the expedition ship Aqua Blu, which sails through Indonesia.
Best Northern Europe Cruises
Cruise to Northern Europe and see a wide range of cultures, magnificent palaces, history, and stunning natural beauty. You have routes to explore some of the most remote and uncontaminated parts of the world, from the British Isles to Scandinavia, through the Baltic States and Russia, where nature flaunts all its splendor.
Most Popular Ports
- Geiranger, Norway
In the world ranking, Geiranger will comfortably make the top 10 cruise ports.
This does not include the most picturesque port of call on this list. Imagine that your ship is sailing through the famous Geiranger fjord and cruising to a small town that looks like a movie scene. Light cascades, steep rock walls, and snowcapped mountains all around you.
- Bergen, Norway
Set inside a protected cove on the North Sea, Bergen is Norways second-largest city after Oslo.
Although sunshine is not rare, its the prevailing mist that holds an umbrella close at hand for its people. Bergen is postcard-beautiful, nestled between green mountains, snow-capped fjords, and the unpredictable sea.
- Amsterdam, Holland
A stop in Amsterdam provides the opportunity to explore the sights of one of the most vibrant, diverse, and historic cities in Europe, one with a well-earned reputation for people of all stripes as a laid-back and welcoming city. Naturally, tourists are attracted to the historic center of the town, where you can find some of the worlds best art museums, including the Rijksmuseum and the Van Gogh Museum.
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European River Cruises Tips
- Choose from the delightful Danube for cultural immersion, the relaxing Rhine for an enchanting adventure or the stunning Seine for an intimate tour of Paris, there are many possibilities to ensure that you have the best river cruise experience.
- Get up at least once to watch the sunrise! Remember to wear warm clothes as it can be chilly as the mist rises up from the river and the sun peeks over the hills to wake up all the birds along the banks.
- It would be a crime not to sample the delicious flavours on your cruise ship! Indulge in a sweet stroopwafel in Amsterdam, a tasty trdelník in Prague, or a mouthwatering macaron in France.
- There is a wide range of cruises to choose from. Lueftner, Regina, or Nicko offer cheap and cheerful comfort cruises, or if you like living the life of luxury, AmaWaterways, Scenic and APT are for you!
- Make the most out of your river cruise by bringing some binoculars. They will help you zoom in on those fairytale castles scattered throughout the landscape. If you forget, the boat might have extras.
- Dont hesitate! European summer is prime-time for cruising so make sure you grab our last-minute 2019 deals so you can spend your days cruising on tranquil waters. Its pure bliss!
Medium Ship Line #: Cunard
While Cunards Queen Mary 2 fits more than 2,600 passengersand a number of cats and dogson board, her sister ships, Queen Elizabeth and Queen Victoria only have a capacity of about 2,000 passengers. Though theyre quite similar in layout, the QE and the QV differ in design. Both nod to the historic ocean liners of the early 20th century, but the QE takes on a bolder Art Deco vibe, while the QV features more subdued yet equally elegant decor. Guests on board both ships are likely to partake in afternoon tea before donning a glamorous gown for dinner.
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Discover The Best Of Europe In Unforgettable Ways
Immerse yourself in the incredible history, culture, cuisine, and undeniable beauty of the Old World on a Celebrity European cruise vacation. Whether youre traveling in the beautiful Mediterranean, or visiting the iconic cities of Northern Europe, there are plenty of ways to embrace the best of everything in the region.
Linger over a fresh croissant and café au lait in a Parisian patisserie, and then enjoy some fresh seafood paella at a restaurant on La Rambla, Barcelonas most famous street. Relax in a gondola as you glide through ancient waterways in Venice, one of the most romantic cities in the world, before driving the Amalfi Coast in Southern Italy, whose picturesque villages, lush gardens and incredible ocean views have inspired artists for centuries.
Experience awe-inspiring medieval architecture in Lisbon and taste wonderful Port wine at the source in Porto, Portugal. Its 25 de Abril bridge, the longest suspension bridge in Europe, looks amazingly like the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco. Were also returning to Kusadasi, and Istanbul in Turkey.
Unwind at The Retreat Lounge
Available 24/7 only to guests of The Retreat, It’s the perfect place to start or endyour day with a complimentary drink, or two.
The Retreat Lounge on Edge Series