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River Cruises - Europe

"These river cruise & small-ship cruise ships all feature elegant interiors with abundant glass, vibrant colors, modern designs with contemporary appointments, state-of the- art technology, personalized service, fine dining, remarkable amenities, and spacious outside staterooms."


Europe River Cruises Guide

A river journey is about life in the slow lane - watching towns and villages, mountains and monuments drift by in a peaceful, unhurried, adult environment. The increasing popularity of river cruising can be attributed to the way in which it offers a unique insight into countries and cultures. River journeys are a great alternative to coach tours and city breaks providing an ideal way to visit a number of cities and towns while just unpacking once.

River ships carry on average 150 guests and offer a relaxed and informal environment. They are geared for viewing the passing landscape with large picture windows and usually dock in the centre of town with great, easy access ashore directly down the gangway, giving plenty of time for exploration. On a river journey you will travel through the heart of countries with constantly changing scenery, making this a wonderful way to unwind with waterways being usually smooth and calm.

With many river ships docked alongside into the late evening, guests are able to head off to find restaurants and theatres while those who stay on board will often find local entertainment provided. Excursions are organized at each stop for those who want them and depending on the cruise operator, these may be included within the price.

You can choose from numerous cruise destinations - travelling on European river cruises means you're likely to visit several countries in one itinerary. The long, narrow shape of river ships usually means fewer cabin choices than on large ocean-going vessels, but there are almost no inside cabins - most are outward facing with either balconies or large windows, so whichever river you are on you will always get a great view.

European rivers such as the Seine, Rhine, Danube and Douro are very popular.

When it comes to river cruising, leisurely travelling down one of the many European rivers remains the most popular choice - these voyages provide a constant change of scenery as they pass through major cities, towns and rural villages.

A river cruise along the Danube can take you through nine countries - Germany, Austria, Slovakia, Hungary, Croatia, Serbia, Romania, Bulgaria and Ukraine, giving the opportunity to explore the rich cultural legacies of Central Europe's ancient heart on the way to the Black Sea. Across Germany the Rhine dominates the landscape all the way to the Netherlands, while the Rhone and Moselle rivers, twisting through Central Europe are two of the most scenic on the continent. Finally the Douro sweeps dramatically through northern Spain and into Portugal, past steep valleys and terraced vineyards before arriving at the Atlantic.

Click to see some of the best European River cruises.

from Viking River Cruises - or - AMA Waterways Cruises


The Rhine is one of the most important rivers in Europe, flowing through Germany, France and finally the Netherlands and Amsterdam. One of the appeals of the Rhine is that along the route you can discover many different countries and cultures andall the while you need to unpack only once. The Rhine dominates the German landscape and it is here that the river encounters some of its main tributaries, such as the Neckar, the Main and, later, the Moselle. Some of the cities to be found along the Rhine are Basel, Strasbourg, Mainz, Koblenz, Bonn, Cologne, Düsseldorf and Rotterdam whilst one of the most famous stretches of the river is in the wonderful Rhine Gorge, a steep-sided valley and a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

The Moselle starts in the western slope of the Ballon d'Alsace in the Vosges mountains and flows through France, Luxembourg, and Germany. The Moselle is best known for its beautiful scenery and also for some of the wines that are famously made along its banks - most well-known is the German Mosel wine region, and the most famous wines produced here are the Riesling and Elbling. Towns along the Moselle River include Épinal, Toul and Metz in France; in Luxembourg:Schengen and Wasserbillig in Luxembourg and and in Germany, Trier, Cochem (where you will find the famous Reichsburg Castle) and Koblenz.


The famous River Danube originates in the Black Forests of Germany and flows through ten countries - Germany, Austria, Slovakia, Hungary, Croatia, Serbia, Bulgaria, Moldova, Ukraine, and Romania before reaching the Black Sea. The scenery varies considerably along the route and includes medieval monasteries perched on hills, fairy-tale castles, many vineyards and chocolate box towns and cities. And it is the towns and cities that proivde much of the colour and excitement of the Danube - Linz, Vienna, Bratislava, Budapest, and Belgrade - indeed the Danube has more capital cities on its banks than any other river and it is often this variety of cities mixed with stunning scenery that accounts for much of its popularity.

The Douro is one of Europe's most charming rivers, full of history and romance, cutting a dramatic path through Spain and northern Portugal as it sweeps through a landscape of steeply sided valleys, themselves classified as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, unspoilt villages, and terraced vineyards, finally ending at the Atlantic near the historic city of Oporto. A river cruise on the Douro combines the unmistakable scenery of any trip to the Iberian Peninsula: rural, unspoilt villages and towns with restored Palaces, baroque buildings and picturesque fishing villages and sweeping landscapes, combined with the chance to visit two of the greatest cities in the region - Porto and Salamanca.

France's Rhone River is a perfect setting for a great river cruise as it flows through wonderful wine regions like Burgundy and Provence, UNESCO World Heritage Sites and beautiful valleys and towns. The Rhone starts its 500-mile journey to the Mediterranean in Switzerland, on the shores of Lake Geneva, before flowing though south-eastern France. At Lyon, which is the biggest city along its course, the Rhone meets its biggest tributary, The Saône. Beyond Lyon the Rhone heads into one of the most beautiful stretches as it flows through Provence.

Why Choose a River Cruise?


• Smaller ships with fewer passengers provide a more intimate and relaxing cruising experience.

• Stunning scenery 24-7.

• Boutique hotel style accommodations and amenities.

• More inclusions for one price, such as shore excursions and specialty dining.

• Dock in exciting port cities and historic charming villages.

• Explore beyond coastlines and get closer to the heart of your destinations attractions and local culture.

• Rich itineraries covering the most popular destinations worldwide.

• Theme cruises—Such as culinary, wine, holiday markets, wildlife and active adventures.

River Cruise Lines
Although there are about a dozen river cruise line choices, Travel Leaders recommends these award-winning river cruise companies:


• AmaWaterways: A luxury river cruise line with an award-winning fleet, critically acclaimed dining and unique tour options.

• Viking River Cruise: A leading river cruise line offering journeys of discovery aboard premium ships on the rivers of Europe, Russia and China.

You’re about to discover the most convenient way to see the world.


This is cruising on an intimate scale, with a personal touch. You’ll meander along at the easy pace of the river: Sloping vineyards, storybook villages and hilltop castles mark your progress through Europe’s great waterways . . . China’s towering Three Gorges usher you along the mighty Yangtze . . . riverside temples and pagodas guide you through the ancient civilizations and verdant countryside of the Mekong and Irrawaddy Rivers of Southeast Asia. All this, and you’ll unpack your bags just once. Be our guest aboard one of Viking River deluxe ships - on an unforgettable journey enriched by knowledgeable local guides, activities and excursions that immerse you in the culture, and fine regional wines and cuisine. Here's 4 great reasons to take a river cruise;


1. River cruising is a relaxing alternative to other types of travel.

2. Each river is unique - offering an ever-changing mural of scenery from your ship.

3. It’s convenient & comfortable – with no packing and unpacking, switching hotels or lugging baggage around. Think of river cruising as life on a fine, floating hotel; light, airy, with no motion sickness.

4. Travel by river allows you to dock right in the heart of both historic cities and quaint villages. You’ll gain a unique perspective of a land and its people.

Today’s river cruise experience is nothing like the historic tales of paddle wheel steamboats on the Mississippi, though you can now do an updated version of that!  Modern river cruise ships traverse major waterways across the globe creating a boutique luxury cruise experience, a relaxed pace of travel, and access to authentic local culture. Unlike a large ocean cruise ship, most river cruises offer all exterior cabins, featuring large floor to ceiling windows or balconies. But it’s not just your room that’s different, river cruises include daily guided shore excursions as well as wine, beer and other drink options at lunch and dinner, and spend most of their time in port docking in the heart of historic cities and small villages along the river.
Selecting the right river cruise for your style comes down to four primary choices: the season, the river, the cruise line, and the cruise ship. That’s where it can get more complicated since there are hundreds of river cruise ships and dozens of itineraries to choose from that change each year. Which is where our experienced and well-traveled team can help. We’re river cruising experts that can help you select the best itinerary and handle of all of the arrangements, from pre and post cruise hotel stays and flights, to transportation to and from your ship.

For your amazing voyage through stunning landscapes and scenic towns, contact us today. 800.365.1445

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