Cruising the Rivers of Europe
European river cruises sail to wonderful places where their ocean-going cousins can’t go. Smaller and sleeker, river cruise ships are designed to glide under bridges and into docks along historic rivers like the Rhine and the Danube. So, what can you see and do on a European river cruise?
A typical cruise of the Rhine River sails between Amsterdam and Basel, Switzerland. Stops often include Cologne, the cultural center of Germany’s Rhineland, where the cathedral contains possible relics of the Three Magi; and Koblenz, which looks up to the Ehrenbreitstein Fortress, an impressive fortification that houses the State Museum. Your ship may also stop at Rudesheim, where wine is made from Riesling grapes; and Heidelberg, where the Old Town is watched over by the ruins of Heidelberg Castle.
The Danube River begins in Germany’s Black Forest and runs through 10 countries before it joins the Black Sea. Highlights of a Danube cruise may include the Austrian capital of Vienna, famous for its musical legacy and the Hofburg Palace, the seat of government for various empires and republics since 1279. Another stop along the way, Budapest, is Hungary’s historic center of government and culture. You may also stop at Linz, in Austria’s wine region; or at Melk, to tour the Benedictine Abbey.
A cruise of the Saone and Rhone Rivers is a good choice for wine lovers because it sails through two wine-making regions of France, Provence and Burgundy. Typical stops include Lyon, a capital of French cuisine; Avignon, home of the medieval Papal Palace and Pont d’Avignon; and Arles, where you can see remnants of the Roman Empire.
Portugal’s Douro River offers spectacular scenery, including dramatic rock formations and steep, terraced vineyards. Cruises sail between the city of Porto and Portugal’s border with Spain. Stops may include Regua in the heart of port wine country, and Vega de Terron for an excursion to Salamanca, Spain.
A cruise of the Seine River often includes a day in Paris; a stop at Vernon for an excursion to Giverny and Claude Monet’s famous gardens; and Rouen, where Joan of Arc was burnt at the stake. From Rouen, you can take an excursion to the Normandy beaches stormed by Allied troops during World War II.
If your travel window falls in Mid-March through the end of April, consider a "Tulip Tour:” a cruise of the canals and rivers that wind through blooming tulip fields in The Netherlands.
Finally, European river cruises aren’t limited to the warm weather seasons. There are a number of options for exploring Europe’s "Christmas Markets” via river cruise ships, too!
For more information on European river cruises, talk with your Cruise Holidays personal cruise expert.