European River Cruises Appeal to Many Different Tastes

European River CruiseEuropean river cruises are all the rage these days, but if you think they are anything like excursions at sea, think again. Leisurely days with only the wind and water on the horizon are not the norm. For the most part, cruise passengers spend packed days touring the cities and towns that make up their ports of call. Neither will you be an anonymous face among thousands of passengers on board. Most European cruise ships accommodate only a few hundred passengers at best, making for a much more intimate cruise experience.

One of the most difficult aspects of booking a river cruise in Europe is choosing one that is right for you from among many different possibilities. River cruises in Europe usually last seven days, but some bookings are 10 days to two weeks in length, particularly if they traverse multiple rivers. Most start from and end at exciting cities such as Amsterdam, Paris, Berlin and the like, so travelers must add days onto their vacations if they want to explore these destinations.

Unlike cruising experience on the high seas, the per person price usually includes all shore excursions, however, you will find that most are basic city tours that will not give you an in-depth experience. High season for cruises on European rivers runs from April through October, although some specialty excursions, like those that visit German Christmas markets, run at other times of the year.

Wine cruises are becoming increasing popular. One of the most picturesque is on the Duoro River in Portugal, generally between Porto on the Atlantic Ocean and Salamanca in Spain. Here you will pass terraced vineyards and wine estates where passengers can partake in local food and wine tastings. Similar cruises are available on the Rhone, Rhine and Moselle rivers, which also boast terraced vineyards that cater primarily to white wine grapes, along with historical ports of call.

Rhine/Moselle/Main cruises are among the most popular because of the region’s varied possibilities. Not only does this area have wine cruises, but many Christmas market excursions occur in this area, along with general tours that explore the beauty of the Rhine River and its famous castles in the area from Koblenz to Mainz. Rhine cruises start in either Amsterdam or Basel, Switzerland and include stops at Cologne, Germany, to see its famous cathedral, or veer to the east on the Main to visit Frankfurt, or to the west on the Moselle for short forays into France and Luxembourg.

Booking a river cruise on the beautiful blue Danube of song is just as popular as traversing the Rhine. Most begin and end at Passau, Germany, easily reached from Munich. Danube cruises are a lesson in history, starting in Germany’s Black Forest and passing through Austria, Slovakia, Hungary, Serbia, Croatia, Bulgaria and Romania along the way. The European capitals of Vienna, with its magnificent Schoenbrunn Palace and Spanish Riding School, and the separate twin cities of Buda and Pest in Hungary are the highlights here.

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