River cruising is one of the most popular ways to see Europe. With a river cruise, you can sit back, relax, and take in all the sights as you float down some of the most scenic waterways in the world. But with so many river cruises to choose from, it can be hard to know where to start. Here’s everything you need to know about river cruising in Europe based on my own experience.
Why take a river cruise?
There are many benefits to taking a river cruise. My top reasons for loving river cruising is that the calm river sailing doesn’t make me seasick and I love that I can unpack my suitcase only one time, while still seeing several countries and cities. River cruises are an incredibly relaxing way to travel, as they provide a slow-paced, scenic journey with stunning views of nature. You can also explore cities, towns, and villages that are not accessible by other modes of transportation. Additionally, river cruises are an intimate experience, allowing you to get to know other passengers, as well as the crew, and develop lasting friendships because there are only about 150 passengers maximum.
River cruises most often include shore excursions at each port which gives you the opportunity to explore the local culture and history. They also offer a variety of onboard amenities and activities, such as entertainment, lectures, and fitness and spa facilities, making them a great choice for travelers of all ages. However, I believe most river cruises seems to attract an older crowd and not families with small children. This can be appealing to some.
What rivers do you cruise in Europe?
Rhine River, Danube River, and the Seine River are some of the most popular river cruise options in Europe. Each offers its own unique scenery and destinations, from castles and vineyards to historic cities and charming villages. I’ve experienced a Danube cruise a few years ago and loved it so much that my husband and I will be taking a Rhine River cruise in the spring.
Types of European River Cruises
There are two main types of river cruises in Europe—north-south cruises and east-west cruises. North-south cruises typically start in southern Germany and end in Prague or Budapest. These cruises give you the opportunity to see a wide variety of European countries, including Austria, Hungary, Czech Republic, and Germany. East-west cruises, on the other hand, usually start in Amsterdam and end in Basel or Zurich. These cruises tend to focus more on the countries along the Rhine River, such as Netherlands, Belgium, Switzerland, and France.
What to Expect
Most river cruise ships hold between 100 and 200 passengers and feature a mix of cabins and suites. Cabins are typically located on the lower decks and have twin beds that can be converted into a queen-sized bed. Suites are located on the upper decks and have their own private balconies.
All cabins and suites come with en-suite bathrooms with shower facilities. When it comes to dining, most river cruise ships offer open seating at buffet-style breakfast and lunch meals. For dinner, however, there is sometimes assigned seating in the ship’s main dining room. Most river cruise companies also include at least one speciality restaurant onboard, though there may be an additional fee for dining there.
What You’ll See
The great thing about river cruising is that you can really tailor your trip to your interests. If you’re interested in history, there are plenty of options for itineraries that include visits to castles, museums, and other historical sites. If you love food and wine, there are also culinary-focused itineraries that include stops at local wineries and markets.
River cruising is a great way to see Europe while relaxing onboard a comfortable ship. And with so many different itineraries available, there’s sure to be a river cruise that’s perfect for you. So, why not give river cruising a try? You’re sure to love it!