European River Cruises Explained

European river cruises are a great option for exploring the historic cities and regions of Europe.  This continent is criss-crossed by a number of large navigable rivers and the European waterways provide an excellent gateway to some of the most popular destinations in Europe. Aboard a river cruise you can experience a variety of destinations without ever having to unpack your suitcase or worry about transportation issues or traffic jams.

A wide range of destinations can be explored on a European river cruise: Europe’s navigable rivers include the Rhine, Main, Moselle, Elbe, Rhone, Seine, Saone, Danube and the Douro. The countries you can visit on a boat include Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, the Czech Republic, France, Germany, Hungary, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Russia, Serbia, Spain and Switzerland.

Europe is phenomenally accessible when you travel on a river cruise. Some of Europe’s largest cities can be visited during a river cruise: think of romantic destinations like Paris, Amsterdam, Cologne, Vienna, Prague, Budapest, Moscow, Bordeaux and many more. Christmas cruises are also becoming a lot more popular and many beautiful smaller towns with their amazing Christmas markets and unique holiday traditions can be visited on a river cruise as well.  Click here to browse through a great selection of European River Cruises.

Paris -easily reachable on a river cruise
Paris – easily reachable on a European river cruise

TravelToe is a well known tour and cruise company that offers special discounts on European river cruises:  by clicking on this link you can save $100 per person on selected Viking river cruises when you book online. You will also get savings on selected 2013 Avalon river cruises and early booking discounts for 2014 with Viking and Avalon if you book online.

First of all, a distinction needs to be drawn between ocean cruises and river cruises. While ocean cruises mostly take place on large cruise ships with several thousand passengers on board, river cruises are much smaller and more intimate. River cruise boats can usually accommodate anywhere between about 100 to 250 passengers. The smaller number of guests also allows for much more interaction between the guests and lasting friendships are often formed after such a journey. As distances are smaller passengers generally enjoy more time on shore than during ocean cruises. And the shoreline is always in view, so for those passengers who don’t like the open sea a river cruise would be a great option.

Even the boats’ construction is very different: river cruise boats are very long and low as compared to the multi-story floating hotels of the ocean cruise ships. This low design makes them able to pass underneath the many bridges that cross European rivers. River cruise ships generally have a flat bottom which makes them a lot safer and more stable than other vessels. The majority of staterooms on river cruise ships have balconies, providing breath-taking views of the landscapes that are floating by.

Vienna, another popular river cruise destination
Vienna, another popular destination for European river cruises

Accommodation, onboard meals  and entertainment are generally included in the price. Often concerts, festivals or contests are included as well. Most river cruises include soft drinks, beer, wine and specialty tees and coffees. Expenses that are generally extra include spa treatments, massages, laundry services and phone calls while Wifi access is generally free. Some river cruise boats even offer fitness facilities, casinos, lounges or swimming pools. Basic shore excursions are generally included in the cruise price. while special excursions may incur a fee. In addition to guided tours, often wine tastings, museum visits, bicycle tours and special activities are available as well.

A river cruise in Europe usually provides an upscale travel experience. Cabins are often luxuriously appointed; unique artwork adorns the common spaces; meals are of gourmet quality and often prepared by renowned chefs; customer service and attention to detail are generally exceptional. An on-board Cruise Director will generally aspire to provide the best possible service and experience to the passengers. Some river cruises may even offer a personal butler service, complimentary bikes or on-board beauty and spa services. Activities on the ship include lectures, cooking lessons or art classes, so there is lots to keep you busy.

Prague, also a port of call for European river cruises
Prague, also a port of call for European river cruises

European river cruises tend to provide a supremely relaxing atmosphere, cruising slowly past bucolic landscapes, vineyards, castles and fortresses, small villages, historic towns and major cities. Most river cruises have a duration of about 7 to 10 days, but some cruises can also be three weeks or longer. With its A European river cruise can provide a much needed break from the hectic lifestyles of a fast-paced world.

Travellers who enjoy a sophisticated culture-focussed vacation will tend to like river cruises. Many of Europe’s most charming cities and towns are accessible from the river, and the cruise boats generally dock right in the centre of town which allows the cruise passengers easy access to all the main attractions of these destinations. Check out a selection of European River Cruises where you can conveniently search by country and get a feel for the broad offerings on the European waterways.

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