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.
European River Cruise Destinations
Europe is one of the most beautiful continents when it comes to exploration. The entire region is filled with stunning natural landscapes, beautiful historic monuments, architectural marvels, exquisite art pieces, and the best entertainment options in the world. Cities like Paris are at the forefront of global art and fashion industries, featuring beautiful landmarks like the Eiffel Tower and the Louvre museum. Vienna is home to some of the most beautiful architectural pieces in the world, with buildings that date back centuries and are visited by tourists from around the globe.
European countries like Switzerland offer beautiful snow-capped mountains that can be admired for hours on end. Cities like Berlin, Germany, invite people to learn more about their rich history and culture while engaging in fun activities that cater to a wide range of age groups. There is no shortage of beautiful European locations to visit, and you can count on your cruise itinerary to take you to all the places that comprise the quintessential European experience.
The 7 Best European River Cruises
Relax and Flow With The Best European River Cruises
If you are looking to immerse yourself in the magical and captivating old-world charm of Europe then sailing on a river cruise is just the perfect getaway option. You can enjoy the pristine waters of the Danube, Rhine and Seine while discovering the rich cultural history and and delectable food along the way. Europe is known for its beauty and serenity. So, it is no surprise that discovering Europe through its rivers adds up so much more to the entire experience. Each of Europes rivers has a distinguishing characteristic of its own that you must experience for yourself.
Below is my list of seven of the best European river cruises that will make your trip exquisite, unforgettable and full of new adventures.
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On A River Cruise In Europe New Rules And Regulations
At the end of August, I hopped in a car to take a plane from New Yorks John F. Kennedy International Airport to Amsterdam. My mission, from there: a Rhine River cruise, traveling from the Netherlands to Germany, then France, Germany , before ending in Switzerland. My vessel? The new-as-of-2021 AmaSiena, a 156-passenger ship from AmaWaterways thatat just 38 feet wide and 443 feet longwould carry me and 102 other passengers through Europe, stopping in seven cities along the way.
Though this had a typical cruise schedule, it wasnt a typical cruise. For one, as of August 4, AmaWaterways required all guests to be vaccinated, and the ship was capped at 75 percent capacity. In between new sailings, the crew spent four hours deep cleaning cabins and common areas, and a fogging system is deployed to sanitize surfaces. Temperatures were to be taken before boarding and at breakfast. All guests were required to be masked unless seated and dining, and all staff wore masks and manned sanitizing stations that flanked all entry and exit points of the ship. Gone was buffet dining, and the gymwhich normally could fit eight for workoutswas limited to two people. Dancing? Forbidden. Says Kristin Karst, executive vice president and cofounder of AmaWaterways: Things have changed since the Delta variant. But these protocols are better for everyone, and safer for everyone.
For those planning or thinking about a European river cruise, here are some details about what to expect.
What To Know Before Buying A River Cruise
A river cruise is just what it sounds like, a smaller-scale cruise along inland waterways throughout Europe, Russia, Egypt, China, Vietnam and many other locations. Sailing along narrow waterways means stopping at more destinations than you would on a typical ocean cruise, with easier docking and more picturesque shoreline views along the way. River cruises can be a great way to cover a lot of ground in Europe and Asia.
If you prefer to stay closer to home, there are abundant offerings for U.S. river cruises along the Mississippi, Columbia and Snake Rivers in Oregon and Washington, and Alaskan river cruises.
What has propelled the boom in river cruises are the unique cultural, historical and culinary themes offered by many river cruise lines. Some river cruises focus on wine or art from a region, others on cooking or cultural lessons.
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.
River Cruise Prices And Fees
River cruises are typically all-inclusive, meaning Wi-Fi is usually free, along with regular meals and sometimes alcohol. How much and the type of alcohol and the times of day or night served may depend on the details of your booking. If drinks are an expected part of your vacation, make sure your upfront fee includes unlimited, premium alcohol. Your river cruise package price may or may not include tips, so be sure to confirm the tipping policy before going on board.
River cruises tend to be booked well in advance. If you are planning a trip for next summer, a good time to book is in the fall when the most deals are to be found, according to travel experts. On the other hand, some cruises may offer last-minute deals closer to the booking cut off. A travel agent may help you find the best price, or you could contact each cruise line directly for help.
River cruises arent for the budget traveler. Its a sound financial practice to protect the amount youve paid for your trip with travel insurance to cover trip cancellations for any reason, delays, lost luggage, illness or injury while traveling and more. You will pay from $120 to $250 for travel insurance, depending on your age and the trip being insured. It is recommended that you check with your credit card company to see if they include travel insurance as a perk.
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Best Rhne River Cruises
From high in the Swiss Alps, the Rhône carves a scenic path to Lake Geneva and through France on its more than 500-mile journey to the Mediterranean Sea. Over the centuries, cathedral towns have sprouted up along its banks. And today, the Rhône is one of the worlds most revered wine growing regions. Youre certain to find Rhone River Cruises that will inspire you to raise a glass.
Snake And Columbia Rivers Cruise
One of the world’s best cruises can be found right in the US on the Snake and Columbia Rivers. This cruise, offered by American Cruise Lines, follows the theme of Lewis and Clark’s adventures through America prior to its modern development.
Theatrics are a big part of this cruise, as there’s an actor on board who tells tales of the pair’s adventurous journeys. The ship departs from Portland, Oregon, and passengers have the chance to climb aboard the newest ship, American Song, which made its debut in 2019. Gorgeous mountain views and lake vistas make up this cruise’s 8-day voyage.
About The Author Katie Machado
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Northern Italy River Cruise
Uniworld offers a 10-day cruise that sails around Milan, Verona, Venice, Chioggia, and either Bologna or Ferrara before ending with a stop in the Venetian Islands and back to Venice. Touring Italy by ship allows passengers to explore many aspects of Italian culture, from art to food and architecture.
A post shared by Uniworld River Cruises on Feb 19, 2020 at 11:58am PST
Cruising is a stress-free way to travel since it eliminates the need for public transportation between cities, and on this cruise, travelers have the chance to visit six of them. The rooms on this ship are elegant and classy, with classic design schemes and scenic river views right from the edge of the bed.
Frequently Asked Questions About River Cruises
What is river cruising?
Its a form of leisure boat travel along inland waterways most popularly along the worlds major rivers, including the Mississippi, Danube, Rhine, Volga and Yangtze. River cruise boats are smaller than ocean liners to maneuver smaller waterways and can carry up to 250 guests. This reduced capacity makes the whole experience of river cruising more intimate than typical ocean cruising.
Are river ships different from other cruise ships?
River ships are much smaller in size compared to giant ocean liners, so they cater to fewer guests. It is easier to get to know some of the other travelers on a river ship. Also, because rivers are shallow, river cruises tend to be smoother sailing than ocean liners.
How long does a typical river cruise last?
River cruises are typically just over a week in length and include several port stops during each passage. Instead of spending many days at sea, you will spend less time sailing on a river cruise and can expect to awaken each day in a new port.
What are some amenities found on river cruises?
Ocean liners often sail with amenities such as pools, fitness centers, casinos, entertainment venues and so on. River ships tend to have fewer onboard amenities and instead offer educational, cultural or culinary experiences to keep things lively on board.
What can I expect a river cruise to include?
Whats the best season for a river cruise?
What should I pack for a river cruise?
What type of person enjoys a river cruise?
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Travel Tips: Best Time Of The Year For European River Cruises
I know that this wasnt a very definitive answer to my initial question. But the truth is, I dont have one of those goofy hats , and therefore, Im not a river cruise climatologist and dont have a definitive answer.
Your best course of action? Be certain to include water level probabilities in your discussions and be aware of the possible risks. No one can ever promise you absolute perfection with every travel experience. Airline strikes, volcanoes, floods, and stifling hot weather are just a few of the things that can pop up to make a mess of your vacation. Do your best to contemplate the things that can go wrong, and then be flexible. You cant predict all things, but you can decide to make lemonade out of lemons. Right?
Best Danube River Cruises
Waltzing its way from Germany’s storied Black Forest and through ten countries in Europe before spilling into the Black Sea, the Danube River has inspired countless artists, writers and composers with its stunning power and beauty. Discover the best Danube River Cruises for you from the always-popular Blue Danube to the ever-sophisticated Royal Danube, Berlin & Krakow.
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Best Douro River Cruises
Sharing the water with traditional, flat-bottomed Rabelo boats, youll peacefully glide along aboard the ms Andorinha, Taucks newest riverboat purpose-built for the Douro. Explore the historic villages towering above the rivers banks from coastal Porto to the Spanish border and drink in the quintas that produce the regions venerable Port wine on the Douro River Cruise that speaks to you.
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.
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The Best River Cruises In The World
River cruises are a more intimate and personal way to cruise, and these ones are providing views and multi-country travel.
International cruising might be on hold right now, but river cruises have been around for quite some time – far longer than the cruise lines we know today. These cruises often vary in length but provide a somewhat local and personal feel with an emphasis on exploring a new country rather than enjoying the luxuries aboard the ship. However, that doesn’t mean these cruises aren’t luxurious… or just for an older crowd.
Many river cruises today have been updated with modern amenities synonymous with what you would find on a luxury railway, and some have even more to offer than just cushy accommodations. Between the views and the comfort of these smaller ships, a river cruise can be a wonderful way to get away, without getting too far.
Concluding Thoughts On River Cruises
Bottom Line:River cruising is a great option for culture-hungry travelers. Pay attention to the travel package details to get the best value for your money.
River cruise lines make researching their adventures fun, with video tours and details to suit the needs of many different types of travelers. Our three river cruise lines, for example, have well over 100 river ships between them and offer destinations around the globe. Consumers who dive into this research and understand the details of the packages they consider will get the most out of the experience. It also helps to get input from friends, family and acquaintances who have taken part in a river cruise experience. Look for feedback on travel websites and customer review forums. Finally, working with a travel agent can help you understand your options, and get you started on the voyage thats right for you.
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Best Family River Cruises
The best part about experiencing Europes sophisticated cities, rich history and iconic sites is the pure joy of sharing every moment of it together. Thats why weve custom-crafted several itineraries specifically for families to highlight hands-on adventures, on board fun and all-ages accessibility. Now everyone can find the best European Family River Cruises for their family!
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They Differ From Ocean Cruises
The majority of river cruises are a week long — typically taking in three countries — with some lines offering longer trips from 10 days to two weeks or more. They almost always start in fantastic cities such as Paris, Amsterdam and Budapest, and most itineraries include an overnight onboard. Companies also offer pre- or post-cruise stays so passengers can spend more time in these cities.
It should be noted that virtually all ships on the Rhine and Danube are exactly the same size in order to fit into locks and pass below bridges. Price differences in fares reflect the number of passengers , onboard facilities such as massage rooms and gyms, plus inclusions .
Viking River Cruises Review
Great Destinations and Itineraries |
Getting its start in 1997, Viking River Cruises was among the first lines to set the standard for river cruising. The company has since built a strong reputation along with a large fleet of river-sailing longships, serving plenty of dates and destinations along the rivers of Europe, Russia, China, Egypt and Southeast Asia. The longships are made to be space-efficient and modern in design, accommodating 190 guests without feeling cramped.
Viking River Cruises start off at around $1,800 for 2019 and serve so many destinations throughout the year that new river cruise customers favor this company. If you are looking for an excursion with cultural and historical experiences, Viking has a proprietary Culture Curriculum featuring showcases for musicians and dancers, lectures and intellectual talks, or cooking lessons in the cuisine of the region, and other added onboard enrichment sessions. Onshore walking tours, lectures and experiences are also offered, although may come with an additional fee.
Viking River Cruises rate a 4.8 on a five-star scale. We found some complaints about spotty Wi-Fi access, small rooms and the crew being very busy. However, the overall opinion is that Viking offers quality excursions and the staff is very accommodating.
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