Did you know that we at Premiere Travel Planners LOVE river cruising? And really, what’s not love? You are traveling between cities on a floating luxury hotel, unpack once, and see many different cities. Your sightseeing is included in every port and the friendly crew on board is always ready to welcome you back with great local food, wine, and beer!
Between Debi and me, we have sailed the Danube, Seine, Rhone and Saone Rivers in Europe and the Mekong River in Asia. I’m getting ready to embark on my next European adventure on the Rhine river. And in March, we are both attending a River Cruise Expo in Budapest, Hungary. There are only a few rivers left for us to personally check out and believe me, we are working on it!
Picking the Right Cruise for You
When dreaming about your river cruise vacation, there are several aspects to consider to pick the river and cruise line that’s just right for you. Consider how long you want to be gone; which ports, countries, and sights are most important to you to see; which cities do you want to begin and end in; and what price range fits your budget best.
In the newsletter today, I’m going to give you a summary of the different European rivers, and then over the next few months I’ll be doing a deep dive into each river. But first, there are a couple of things you should know about river cruises:
1) You don’t really spend much time on the ship – it’s primarily your transportation between cities.
2) You won’t get seasick. Sometimes, you hardly even know you are moving.
3) When you are on the ship, the scenery is amazing!
Exploring Europe’s Rivers
Let’s start with the Danube River. It’s probably the most popular river to sail on and the river that many people start with for their first river cruise. The Danube goes through 10 countries total from Germany to Ukraine but most of the itineraries include 5-7. You can see all 10 on a 2-week cruise which is on my Wanderlist for sure! There are also a few shorter sailings of 4-5 days to give you a taste of river cruising. The Danube is a great choice if you are interested in capital cities, historical architecture, old-world charm, and awe-inspiring scenery. See a sample Danube itinerary here.
The Rhine River is probably the next best well known. It runs through 6 countries, from the Netherlands to Switzerland and the majority of the cruises go at least 4. While sailing you’ll see castles, forts, and ruins. The Rhine is a great choice if you are interested in viticulture, fairytale style buildings, and the folklore of the Black Forest.
The Main River connects the Danube and the Rhine so it’s possible that you will sail on it with an itinerary on of them. You can sail just on the Main between Frankfurt & Nurenburg. Those cruises will be about 6 days. This would be a great choice for you if your primary interest is visiting Germany, seeing the timber-framed buildings of Bavaria and you are interested in spending time in the beginning and ending cities.
The Moselle River is a tributary of the Rhine in northeastern France and western Germany. You won’t find any cruises that just sail the Moselle but it definitely worth taking one that includes it. You’ll get to see some charming little villages and breathtaking scenery of castles and hillsides covered in vineyards.
The Rhone River runs from Switzerland and France and goes through 6 countries. It’s probably most known for going through Provence and Burgundy in France, including France’s food capital, Lyon. A cruise on the Rhone is for you if you love amazing food and wine, are intrigued about what France has to offer beyond Paris, and would like to see incredible UNESCO World Heritage sites.
The Seine River is probably best known for the romantic dinner cruises in Paris but it really should be known for its visit to the historic Normandy Beaches. There are several great itineraries on the Seine including a round trip from Paris and Paris to Le Havre. You should consider a cruise on the Seine if you are an art and or history buff.
We’ll wrap up the European rivers with the Douro River in Portugal. Cruises on the Douro are typically round-trip from Porto or from Porto to Vega de Terron. Lisbon and Madrid are great pre-cruise and post-cruise options. Cruising on the Douro is a bit different than other rivers in Europe because of some restrictions Portugal has. No sailing is allowed at night so you’ll sail early mornings and late afternoons. Beautiful weather, scenery, and the world-famous Port wine are reasons enough to sail the Douro.
Cruises Beyond Europe
Look for river cruise options outside of Europe in a future newsletter!
As you can see, there is a lot to think about when you are choosing a river cruise. We are experts in matching clients with the trip that fits them best. As you become ready to travel again, we would be honored to help you plan your trip.