A river cruise offers the convenience and luxury of an ocean cruise combined with the in-depth experience of a land tour, plus the personal freedom of a river cruise. Step aboard. Unpack once. Explore and enjoy.
For many travelers, a journey along the river is just the right pace for getting the lay of the land. Sitting on the top deck of a ship under brilliant blue skies, you gaze on fabled landscapes dotted with castles, villages, vineyards, lush forests and historic sites. A flight of stairs down, and you have all the amenities of a modern hotel — restaurants, bars, lounges, fitness facilities, spas, internet access and comfortable staterooms.
Itineraries range from three to thirty days in length. Book one year in advance, if possible, and consider cruising March through May or September through December, when the crowds are thinner and airfares may be more reasonably priced than during peak periods.
Some river cruises overnight in ports and cruise during the day; others cruise during the night and tie up in port during the day. Both approaches allow for dinners ashore and late-evening strolls into town. Prepare to step ashore in fairy tale towns and fabled cities, immerse yourself in contemporary culture and learn something about the history of the towns along the world's greatest rivers.
Why Choose A River Cruise?
While most first-time river cruisers are drawn to the experience because of the itinerary, and the opportunity to conveniently explore the interior of a country, it's the on board experience that transforms them into avid river cruisers.
Enjoy service that can be compared to how you might treat your best friends and family, which means “no request too large, no detail too small.”
Plus, because the ships are small, you will enjoy getting to know the on board staff and crew, all of whom take pride in offering guests truly personalized, gracious and consistently exceptional service and hospitality.
Each stateroom and suite is furnished with quality that you would find at the best luxury and boutique hotels of the world. Luxurious appointments include: Supremely comfortable beds draped in lavish linens and other modern conveniences such as flat-screen televisions with satellite, a vanity, generous built-in closets, hair dryer, safe, individual climate-control thermostat, direct-dial telephone and bottled water in staterooms.
The European-influenced cuisine is excellent and often inspired by local dishes of the towns or region you are visiting. Breakfast and lunch are usually buffet style. Breakfast usually consists of cereals, yogurt, fruit, pastries, egg dishes, meats, juices, tea and coffee. At lunch there is often a salad bar, soups, several hot and cold dishes and desserts. Dinners are generally three-course meals with table service and complimentary beer and wine.
The majority of meals are served on board in the restaurant or in alternative dining areas like the smaller aft lounge or on the top deck. Sometimes meals will be at restaurants or other dining venues at various ports of call.
ACTIVITIES & ENTERTAINMENT
Cruising from one destination to the next often takes place at night while passengers are sleeping, but sometimes the cruises will also sail during the day, giving passengers an opportunity to relax or enjoy the scenery.
Also, depending on the itinerary, there could be local performers or musicians offering entertainment onboard the ship.
Below are some of the most popular destinations:
Danube River Valley
The Danube (or Donau, in German), Austria's most famous river, offers travelers a glimpse of a peaceful idyll, complete with rolling hills, castles and vineyards. It meanders across the regions of Upper and Lower Austria, through Vienna and then on to Slovakia and Hungary.
Immortalized in Johann Strauss’s Blue Danube Waltz, the Danube River is full of surprises for those who embark on Continental Europe’s most popular river for cruising. Flowing through six countries, the Danube meanders for nearly 1,800 miles — from Germany’s Black Forest through Austria into the Balkans before ending in the Black Sea. Many elegant ships offering a variety of itineraries cruise the legendary river and take you to some of Europe’s most fabled cities along the way.
Though cruise ships ply the entire length, the short stretch between Melk and Krems is the prettiest and best served by boats in the summer. The longer Linz-Vienna section (through the scenic Wachau wine-growing region) is highly recommended.
Not all visitors see the Danube by boat: A cycling tour of the region is another popular option. The bike route follows former bridle paths that run along the river from Passau to Vienna. The trail, away from the sights and smells of automobiles, winds along the flat river valley across small bridges and crossings formerly reserved for saddle and packhorses.
Loire River Valley
The Loire Valley is rich with meandering streams, majestic oaks, quiet roads and lush green countryside. Its royal châteaux and pastoral villages grace its overwhelming natural beauty. Easy access from Paris, breathtaking architectural masterpieces, tiny discoveries hidden in the gentle folds of the landscape, accommodations from delightful to sumptuous, the excitement of great food and wine, and sports and leisure activities make this an ideal spot for an unforgettable holiday.
Visitors can delight in picturesque cobblestone streets and take day tours to many points of interest just minutes from every major Loire Valley town. The patchwork fields, cool forests and lazy rivers of the Loire Valley invite active vacationers to walk, cycle, windsurf, sail and canoe in the gentle countryside. Visitors can drift leisurely over the châteaux and countryside in a hot air balloon or enjoy spectacular sights while floating along on a houseboat or barge.
Rhine River Valley
Weaving through the Slate Mountains from Bingen to Koblenz, this UNESCO world heritage site is brimming with picturesque panoramas of hills and forests, a latticework of medieval villages and more castles than any other river in the world are found within the Rhine Valley's sprawling landscape. Mythology is part of the land here, found in the Song of the Nibelungs from 1200 that tells of a treasure that was sent to the bottom of the river and the story of the siren Lorelei. A modern day outdoor theater has taken Loreley's name and lures visitors not with a dangerous song, but with lively music and cultural events.
You'll see plenty of castles and steep vineyards as well as the legendary Lorelei, a dangerous cliff from which a beautiful siren reportedly enticed sailors. Enjoy sipping regional wines in small towns overlooking the serene Rhine River. Visit the Siebengebirge Hills for hiking and exploring uniquely shaped hills, hop on a bike, or idle away your afternoon on a boat while enjoying the Rhine Valley's beauty.
Rhone River Valley
Wandering across the sun-drenched landscapes in Côtes du Rhône, you will discover vineyard-covered plains, the oppidum of Caesar's camp, as well as numerous Romanesque chapels, medieval sites and picturesque villages. In the Rhône Valley vineyards predominate. The southern part of the Rhône Valley area, around Orange and Avignon, is home to some of the finest wines anywhere. Come explore this beautiful countryside and partake in some its renown wine.
River cruises allow you to learn about local history, culture and cuisine from knowledgeable onboard experts, see Europe’s most picturesque skylines from their most appealing vantage points, and enjoy optional escorted or independent excursions at exciting ports of call.