Why take a River Cruise?
River Cruising has become increasingly popular as a relaxing way to take a grand tour of the interior of Europe by water. It is a perfect transition for existing ocean cruisers ready to try something new and for brand new cruise travelers that prefer an intimate, cultural experience and don't want to be on an open ocean.
Couples, families and groups love the slower cruising pace, small ship sizes, immersive, up close personal experiences and encounters that only river cruising offers. You can see, touch and feel the different cultures, cities towns, and cuisines of Europe while unpacking once.
Think of a river cruise ship as a floating barge with a boutique, luxury hotel on the top. On the top deck you have a beautiful open deck to see the sights and down below you have the luxury and amenities of a deluxe and fully stocked hotel.
"Where" can you take a River Cruise?
Thanks to the completion in 1992 of the Rhine-Main - Danube Canal and locks connecting Europe's main rivers, travelers can now sail from the North Sea to the Black sea through the heart of Europe and many capitol cities while unpacking just once.
Besides the most popular Rhine and Danube rivers, Europe offers other attractive and totally different cruise itineraries so once you're hooked on river cruising you will not run out of new options and regions to explore.
Most river cruise itineraries are 7 nights or longer so can combine a river cruise with a land program and connect to other cities and regions by convenient high speed trains.
Insider Tip: Whenever possible, we prefer to sail in the direction of the river flow on one-way cruises to enjoy shorter cruising time and longer times in ports (see river flow directions below):
- Rhine - South to North into North Sea
- Danube - West to Southeast into Black Sea
- Seine - South to Northwest into North Sea
- Rhone - North to South into Mediterranean Sea
"When" to take a River Cruise?
European River Cruise Season is April to December
April - May - Spring and Shoulder Season - Spring Flowers and bright colored blooms
May to early Sept - Summer Peak Season - Long days, larger crowds, warmer temperatures and countless festivals
Mid-Sept to early Nov - Fall Should Season - Stunning Fall foliage with brilliant gold/orange harvest colors- great for wine cruises or combining with Oktoberfest festival
Mid Nov - Dec - Holiday Season - Festive Christmas Market Cruises on the Rhine and Danube sail to the fairytale towns and cities traditional Christmas markets. - can be cold but lots of holiday fun and warm cheer!
Inside Tip: Book your river cruise at least a year in advance for best pricing and availability as popular sailings sell out quickly.
Ship Size: River cruise ships are much smaller and intimate like a luxury boutique hotel (accommodating 120-200 guests compared to large ocean ships carrying 2,500-5,000 guests onboard (perfect size for social distancing).
Atmosphere: River cruising is a more casual and personalized onboard; no long lines ever, no formal nights, no casinos, no large entertainment venues and production shows, no sea days as most cruising is done at night, no late-night parties onboard and no onboard gimmicks or photographers at every event. You’ll wake up early and dock right in town with more port time and emphasis on cultural immersion and experiences. The crew will get to know your names and you'll make new friends onboard due to the intimacy of the ships.
Costs: River cruising costs more than mainstream ocean cruising and is more comparable to smaller ultra luxury ocean cruise ships. However, once onboard River cruising is easier to budget and offers many inclusions such as: all meals and snacks, beer and wine with lunch & dinner, all day coffee and tea service, daily shore excursions and onboard Wi-Fi.
Cabins: Typical, river cruise cabins are comparable in size to standard ocean ship balcony cabins (apx 180-220 sq. ft). but do not offer the variety of cabin and suite categories due mainly to the size of the ships. FYI, there are some River cruise ships that feature all large suites onboard and triple and quad cabins.
Dining: Meals are more casual with buffets for breakfast and lunch and no assigned seating or formal dress standards. Some river cruise ships do feature a chef’s table and onboard barbecue for lunch on their top deck.
No Rough Seas: Rivers are placid and flat with little boat motion compared to ocean cruising
Insider Tip: Take advantage of the extra savings when river cruise lines offer a free airfare with ground transfer promotion as this can really stretch your travel budget and makes for easier planning.
Additional Facts & Info:
- Most popular Rivers are Rhine, Danube, Rhone, Bordeaux, Seine, Main, Moselle and Douro which flow throughout the European continent
- European cities, commerce and trade evolved along the rivers so will see lots of regal castles, historic ruins, vineyard laced hills and famous landmarks
- River cruising is perfect for couples and groups due to the intimacy and casual atmosphere
You'll love the views, service, amenities and culinary delights of your luxury floating boutique hotel as you sail through the best landscapes of Europe.
Your boutique ship is fully loaded for a luxurious, fun and fulfilling vacation
Created with images by Jace & Afsoon - "untitled image" • chris1947 - "amsterdam flowers wood"