River cruising has been growing in popularity for the last two decades, with more and more cruise companies and ships plying the great rivers of Europe. Taking a Europe river cruise appeals to a wide range of travelers, which also makes it especially great for a multi-generational trip. Whether you’re traveling with your kids, parents, grandparents, or the whole extended family, river cruising makes it easy to explore Europe with a diverse group of travelers. Here are five reasons to take a river cruise in Europe
Europe River Cruises offer Lots of options
Whether you are interested in historic castles, beautiful vineyards, top museums, or off-the-beaten-path villages, there’s a cruise that will cater to your passions. France, Switzerland, Germany, Hungary, the Netherlands, Austria, Romania, Russia–river cruises touch nearly every corner of Europe and can last 7, 10, 14, 21 days, or even longer. And in addition to the many options for destination locations and rivers, you’ll have just as many options for your ship and style of cruising.
Viking River Cruises is one of the best known companies and offers one of the less expensive options. AmaWaterways is a luxurious option that offers offers wine- and beer-themed trips, as well as cruises partnered with Adventures by Disney. Uniworld is also an upscale option, with a European flair. Avalon is a mid-range option and is known for its “bed with a view” as the beds face floor-to-ceiling windows. Those traveling with younger children will appreciate the kid-friendly aspects of Tauck. A new company to the American market is Scenic. An Australian company, Scenic offers 5-star luxury cruising with everything included from transfers and gratuities to top drawer beverages. Plus, every cabin has a butler to make your trip as comfortable as possible.
There is no stress on your Europe River Cruise
Like ocean cruises, river cruises appeal to travelers who don’t want the stress or hassle of planning all the logistics. With a river cruise you don’t have to worry about getting from town to town, you don’t have to research your own tours and activities, you don’t have to book any hotels–you don’t even have to unpack your bags more than once! Once on board your biggest decisions will be which entree to order for dinner, which day tour to choose, or whether you want to have a drink in the lounge or on the top deck.
River cruises are also typically immune to the troubles of larger ships. Should something go wrong, it’s easy to pull the boat over to the the side of the river, and in case of a medical emergency, there’s usually a town within a few miles.
River Cruises offer a Good value
The cost of each cruise varies, but typically river cruises provide an excellent value. On many, in addition to all meals, the cost also covers tours, transfers, WiFi, beverages, and extras like bikes and walking poles; on Scenic,every detail is covered. AmaWaterways even loans out curling irons and walking sticks! And since most everything is included, you don’t have to worry about making sure each family member pays his or her share, and there’s never any need to argue over who’s picking up the check.
You’ll love the easy access to cities
While you’ll never have quite as much time visiting excursion destination cities via cruise as you would if you stayed overnight, a river cruise generally provides more access to the destination than an ocean cruise. That’s because river cruise ships are smaller and can dock right in the heart of a city, so there’s no need to wait for a bus or tender to ferry you to the destination; you can simply walk off the ship and into the city. Since river cruises carry a smaller number of people–usually no more than 200–there are also no lines to get on or off the ship.
Travel with a view on your Europe River cruise
Most people take a river cruise to explore the cities along the river, but when it comes to traveling between cities, a river cruise provides the most scenic views. In addition to small balconies off select rooms, most ships also have a large sundeck on the top deck; some ships even have top-deck pools so you can soak up the sun while you watch the changing scenery. Many river cruise lines offer French Balconies, a type of sliding door with a railing that opens to view the river and beyond. Scenic cruises offer special balconies with automatic windows, so you can enjoy your balcony any time of the year! With some itineraries, particularly scenic stretches of the river are celebrated; for example, in the beautiful Rhine Gorge, AmaWaterways serves Rudesheim coffee (a local speciality) while passengers marvel at dozens of castles along the river bank. The destinations visited on a river cruise are the main appeal for most travelers, but it doesn’t hurt that the journey is equally enchanting.
Be sure you talk with a river cruise specialist before booking your cruise. Specialists are familiar with all the different cruise lines and can help you find the right one to fit your needs and budget. All-inclusive means different things on different lines. Some do not cover port charges, while some charge extra for special tours. Cabin sizes vary and so do bathrooms and showers. It may be a bit confusing, but a river cruise specialist can help you make your choice.
If you are interested in taking a Europe river cruise, or if you want more information, contact our sister site, Euro Escapes, where river cruise specialists are available to help seven days a week.
Written by Katie Hammel for EuropeUpClose.com Photos from Euro Escapes