Introduction to River Cruising
If you’re thinking about a European cruise vacation but have already sailed the Mediterranean and the Baltic, another option awaits you: a river cruise.
A river cruise offers a relaxing, scenic way to visit Prague, Vienna, Cologne, Budapest and many more centers of European history, art and culture. Between the cities, you’ll find charming villages and idyllic countryside.
River cruise ships are different from their ocean-going counterparts. On these smaller, lower-profile ships, you’re not likely to find amenities such as swimming pools or casinos. However, you will find comfortable cabins and public spaces, which often have expansive windows and wide-open decks for viewing the ever-changing scenery. The boat’s flat bottoms provide a smooth ride, minimizing any worries about motion sickness.
The smaller size of river cruise ships also means they can go places that their larger, ocean-going cousins cannot. River cruise ships can literally sail into the heart of each destination, docking close to city centers. There will be something new to do and see on shore each day, and most shore excursions are included in the base price of a river cruise.
The most popular river cruises in Europe may be those that float down the Rhine or the Danube, but cruise ships also travel on the Main, the Seine and many others.
For example, in the Low Countries of The Netherlands and Belgium, cruise ships sail the Nieuw Maas, Waal and Schelde Rivers to call on Amsterdam, Antwerp and Rotterdam. Spring is a wonderful time to cruise there, as the windmill-dotted landscape comes alive with colorful tulips.
Many river cruise guests enjoy spending a few extra days in the cities – such as Amsterdam, Berlin, Paris or Lucerne – where their cruises begin or end, taking time to get to know a city that can’t be reached by an ocean cruise.