Which River Should You Take a River Cruise On
River Cruises offer a great way to experience the sights and culture of a country, while allowing you to relax and allow someone else to navigate! With so many options and different Rivers to choose from, how do you know what river is right for you? Here are some tips and facts about The different Rivers you can take your next River Cruise on….
The Rhine has more castles than any other river, and t combines centuries of history, culture with spectacular scenery and some of the oldest and most historic cities in Germany. The lesser-known Moselle river, runs through northeast France and Luxembourg, joins the Rhine at Koblenz. The Main river flows into the Rhine from eastern Germany; cruise along this, and you’ll end up in the Main–Danube Canal, which enables vessels to sail into the iconic “Blue Danube,” the gateway to Hungary and beyond.
The Rhine winds its way through six countries — Switzerland, Liechtenstein, Austria, Germany, France and the Netherlands – it is 776-miles long which makes The Rhine number one river for cruise vacations and also a great starting point for first-timers.
Rhine cruises typically lasts one-week between Amsterdam and Basel, or vice versa, where you can take in the landscape of steep vineyard slopes, fairy-tale castles and medieval towns.
Music is traditionally played on the sun deck, often accompanied by complimentary cocktails, when ships pass the legendary Lorelei rock, a 433-foot slate cliff, where a beautiful siren was said to lure passing sailors to their doom.
Things to Do:
Why not take two weeks to explore from Amsterdam to Basel? That way you get to see many more fascinating towns and cities. In spring, you can take mini-cruises from Amsterdam to see the tulip fields.
The Danube is an enchanting river. A Danube cruise is also a history lesson about the days when Vienna ruled an empire and, more recently, an Iron Curtain divided Europe.
The Danube flows from the Black Forest in Germany to the Black Sea in Romania, passing through Austria, Slovakia, Hungary, Serbia, Croatia and Bulgaria on the way.
Popular sailings are one-week sailings between Budapest in Hungary and Passau, situated in Germany and close to the Austrian border, or weeklong round trips from Passau.
You’ll also visit the city of Linz at the center of Austria’s wine-growing region, from which it might be possible to take excursions to Durnstein and Esztergom in Hungary; Salzburg, the birthplace of Mozart and also famous for its “Sound of Music” connections; and Melk with its vast Benedictine Abbey.
Things to Do:
Cruises on the Lower Danube take passengers east from Budapest through Serbia, Croatia, Bulgaria and Romania toward the Black Sea. This is a much less explored and quieter stretch of the Danube that is also known for its rich wildlife.
If you like food and wine, The Rhone/Saone is the river cruise region for you! It sails through Provence and Burgundy, the heartland of France and two of the country’s top wine-making regions. You’ll cruise past acres of vineyards and have many opportunities to taste the local grapes.
The 505-mile Rhone river flows from the Swiss Alps through southern France and into the Mediterranean Sea, west of Marseille.
Once an important trading route for the Greeks and Romans, today’s cruises run along the southernmost stretch. The main itinerary is a seven-night cruise from Lyon to Arles or nearby Avignon, or the reverse. Some cruises also depart from Chalon-sur-Saone, just north of Lyon.
Unlike Rhine and Danube itineraries, which include long periods of cruising, French programs on The Rhone River are generally much shorter with more time offered ashore and less ground covered during the duration of the cruise.
Things to Do:
There really is only one option on the Rhone; take advantage of being in France and add a couple of nights in Paris to the start or end of the cruise – It will give you time to have a taste of the highlights, including the Eiffel Tower, the Louvre, the Champs-Elysees and the Arc de Triomphe.
The Seine River flows thru Northern France. You will see Paris, Monet’s garden in Giverny and poignant wartime cemeteries and the Normandy landing beaches are among the unique features of The Seine river.
Rising in Burgundy, the Seine flows north through Paris into Normandy and empties into the English Channel at Le Havre.
Often Cruises are about 7 nights and are sailing from the heart of Paris to Rouen or Caudebec or back. At the start of the cruise, ships provide passengers with some of the best views in town as many moor close to classic sights such as Notre Dame Cathedral or the Eiffel Tower (although check; some lines do dock in an alternate location outside downtown). They all spend at least one night docked in Paris with a guided panoramic tour taking in the main sights, plus free time to shop or order a coffee and croissant in one of the many street cafes before setting sail and meandering through idyllic scenery toward the Normandy coast.
In a Nutshell:
If you like scenery, you’ll love cruising on Portugal’s Douro river, rising in Spain and winding through rugged and dramatic green landscapes until it reaches the Atlantic in Porto, home to famous-name port houses. The fortified wine is the national drink and there’ll be plenty of opportunity to taste it en route.
There is only one itinerary on the Douro or “River of Gold”; a 130-mile seven-night sailing from Porto to Vega de Terron, on the border with Spain. Here river vessels have to turn back because the river is no longer navigable. Most cruises begin or end with an overnight stay in the hilly UNESCO World Heritage city of Porto and the option to take a trip on a traditional rabelo, the wooden vessels that once carried port.
Once a wild, turbulent waterway, the Douro has been tamed by five dams including the landmark Carrapatelo, the world’s deepest lock, and sailing past the 115-foot walls is an incredible experience. Cruises stop at Regua, in the heart of port wine country. You’ll also make a stop at Pinhao, a favorite haunt for port wine tastings, and Vega de Terron for a full-day excursion to the city of Salamanca in Spain. A two-hour drive from Vega de Terron, Salamanca is an architectural gem with a grand main square built in Spanish baroque style and surrounded by three-story arcade buildings.
Since no nighttime navigation is permitted on the Douro, you won’t miss out on any of the passing landscapes. River ships on the Douro are smaller than those on the Rhine and Danube, creating a more intimate on board atmosphere.
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In a Nutshell:
An Elbe cruise is for anyone who loves discovering the past. During an Elbe River Cruise you will explore Europe’s lesser known rivers. There will be time in the fascinating cities of Berlin and Prague at the start and end of the cruise, plus the chance to discover the birthplace of the Reformation along the way.
The Elbe rises in the Czech Republic, flows into Germany and empties into the North Sea at Cuxhaven, near Hamburg.
There is only one cruise option — seven nights, sailing either from Magdeburg in Germany to Melnik in the Czech Republic, or vice versa. Cruises run between the culture-rich cities of Berlin and Prague, and in between are the vineyards of Saxony and rocky landscapes of the soaring sandstone massif south of Dresden. This restored city of Dresden, immortalized by Italian painter Canaletto as the “Florence on the Elbe,” is among the must-see sights. Destroyed during World War II, the city rose from the rubble and highlights include the rebuilt Cathedral of Our Lady, with its distinctive bell-shaped dome, which is the symbol of Dresden.
Things to Do:
There is only the one itinerary on the Elbe, but you really must add extra days in Berlin and Prague at the start and end (included in some itineraries) to make this vacation complete.