When it comes to European river cruising, the options are plentiful and varied. Ships primarily traverse parts of Germany, Austria, France, Switzerland, and the Netherlands, but you'll also find itineraries in Russia, the Ukraine, Portugal, Italy and Spain. No matter where you cruise, you'll find Europe's rivers traditional and picturesque, with sightseeing opportunities often included in the fare.
Popular Europe River Content
While it's not exactly in a forgotten corner of Europe, Portugal's Douro River does tend to be off the beaten river cruising track in comparison to the popular Rhine, Danube and Rhone. Yet, a week spent cruising the Douro is full of unforgettable experiences that may surprise those unfamiliar with
Sponsored by AmaWaterways Many of Europe's most fabled cities -- Paris, Amsterdam, Budapest and Vienna, for starters -- have grown up along the Continent's waterways and there's no easier or more comfortable way to explore them, and the stretches of forest, gorges, water meadows and vineyards in between, than by ship. River cruising has its similarities with ocean voyages: great food, service and value for money being just three of them. There are differences, too. Ships are much smaller, carrying no more than around 160, and are therefore more intimate. And, most important, you'll always have a view, whether you're lazing on deck gazing up at the medieval castles along the Middle Rhine or docked in the heart of Budapest, with all the bridges over the Danube lit up at night.
Sponsored by AmaWaterways Once upon a time, river cruises presented a very basic way to travel in Europe. As recently as the mid-1990s, the few ships cruising the Rhine were functional rather than elegant. The crew spoke little English, even during the single rudimentary shore excursion offered in each port. Cabins didn't just lack balconies -- the bathrooms were minuscule, the showers had clingy curtains. Dining was a meat-and-potatoes dirge, and greens were used strictly for ornamentation. "I went on a Viking cruise on the Danube back then," recalls Sue Bryant, cruise editor for The Sunday Times, who says the quality of the ships was completely different from what we know today. "The cabins were so much more basic, with pull-down bunk beds and nothing more than a porthole for the scenery."
Sponsored by AmaWaterways The Danube River, and the cities, towns and villages that lie alongside it, is crisscrossed by a massive patchwork of transportation infrastructure that serves planes, trains and automobiles. And yet, there's no better way to experience the ebb and flow of this dynamic, historic region than to center your travels along the region's most ancient transportation channel: the Danube River. What's special about a Danube cruise? It's rich with all kinds of history, much of which is ancient – representing Gothic, medieval, baroque and other fascinating periods of time. Much of the landscape is hilly or mountainous and frames beautiful views of darling villages and towns. And, the stops along the way balance destinations you've certainly heard of, including Vienna, where we begin, and Nuremberg, where the cruise ends. In between are some delightful surprises, like the village of Durnstein, where Austria's winegrowing industry is centered, arty Linz, sleepy Passau and super-charming Regensburg.
Popular with first-time cruisers, the 1,775-mile-long Danube River flows through 10 countries, from Germany to the Ukraine, and passes along several major capital cities, including Vienna and Budapest. Often called the "Blue Danube," thanks to Austrian composer Johann Strauss II's famous waltz, the
A trip down the 500-mile Rhone rewards cruisers with excursions to medieval villages, opportunities to visit world-class wineries and meals of exquisite French cuisine, among many other delights. As you can see by the Rhone River map, the river makes its way through Provence and the heart of French