I'll admit... Europe is a HOT destination. Now I am not referring to the temperature. I continually get requests from my clients who have a bucket-list trip they'd like to fulfill, which includes exploring at least one European country. Once they return from that trip, they want to see more!
A River Cruise can be a wonderful experience for you and your significant other! Especially if you’ve food and wine lovers! It's also a fantastic way to explore many of the smaller towns and cities of Europe and literally arrive right in the heart of the destination. Imagine waking up right in the middle of Vienna, walking on to your french balcony and letting the fresh breeze in. It's truly amazing.
Many know what ocean cruising is, where many of the ships visit, and what activities, entertainment, and cuisine is like onboard. River cruising, although it has been around for a while, is still a new concept for many.
Why choose a River Cruise vs. an Ocean cruise? It's quite simple really. Ocean cruising takes you TO a country. River cruising takes you THROUGH it. Based on where you'd like to explore, the choice will become obvious. If you look at a map (below), it's very easy to see that not all European countries have a port of entry on an ocean or sea. Without that, no ocean-going ship can access it. In fact, very few do. What you find with ocean cruising is this, you port at the closest point (if reasonable) and are transferred to the area/city of interest by motorcoach to tour for the day. This is not always ideal, or possible. To truly get into the heart of certain European cities, a river cruise is the best option.
Rivers of Europe
What are the rivers you can cruise in Europe? There are several and although this may sound very basic, many of my clients have not yet experienced river cruising, but are perfect for this type of experience! The most popular are the Danube, Rhine, Douro, Seine, Rhone, Moselle, and more!
How is River Cruising different? In addition to the logistics above, there are many differences. Let's review some of them here. The size of the ships. Ocean liners (even the smaller luxury liners) are fairly large. Holding anywhere from 300 people, many hold much more than that, almost like a floating city in itself. River cruise ships are smaller, with some that hold a maximum of 180 passengers, and most are only 2 decks high. Remember they are built to fit in the canals and under bridges within the river systems. The atmosphere on a river cruise is completely different than ocean ships as well. It's much more laid-back. Featuring the culture of the destination in regards to food, wine pairings, entertainment, etc. A very important note, unless it's a special sailing, most river cruises do not allow children.
Smaller Ships, Means Fewer Guests
One of my favorite benefits of river cruising is the size of the ships, or should I say the number of guests. With fewer guests on board, they are able to offer an array of amenities and more personalized services for you to enjoy. From wine, spirits, freshly prepared dining, to massage services, a sun deck with a pool (and swim-up bar) and local entertainment.
More Included To ensure that you have the opportunity to experience the destination to its fullest, many tours and cultural experiences are included with several of the cruise lines. Delve into the city for the first time with a local, English-speaking guide. Connect with the destination through its food and wine. Explore the countryside by bicycle or hike. Remember, you don't just pass through a destination, you experience it. The goal is for you to indulge in activities that fit your tastes and preferences, with activities that surprise and delight you along the way.
The best part of any vacation is doing what you love. Some river cruises include specific excursions, giving you the option to choose from one or several options in each port (all of which are included in your cruise fare). Explore the major sights led by a local, English-speaking guide. Or instead of taking a city tour, indulge in a bratwurst and beer tasting, or maybe a guided bike tour along the Danube. There are options for every taste and interest. If not, it can be customized for you.
Specialty Cruises Many river cruises offer specialty cruises throughout the year. For example, if you love wine, there are wine-themed cruises. Want to see the tulips in the Netherlands? There is a river cruise to take you there. What about the Christmas Markets? This is on quite a few bucket-lists these days. Many of the river lines offer Christmas Market cruising between Thanksgiving and Christmas. Do you enjoy golf? There is even a new golf program where you can enjoy a luxury cruise and golf at courses in Germany, Austria, and others.
Immerse yourself in the many flavors of Europe, while indulging in wine-related experiences, on and off the ship. You'll taste local cuisine, discover how wine is made and partake in tastings. Enjoy exclusive excursions designed to bring the rich wine history and culture of Europe to life. Visit private cellars, renowned wineries, and stunning vineyards.
With a variety of dining options on each ship, you are sure to enjoy meals that feature exquisite, locally-inspired cruise as well as traditional, Western offerings. Have food allergies, sensitivities, or aversions? You'll love the custom options here. Once onboard, meet with the head chef who will design a custom menu for your entire journey allowing you to enjoy the items you love and not have to settle for something you don't.
Some of the most fascinating European cities are right on the rivers. If you've ever wanted to explore Amsterdam, Rotterdam, Passau, Vienna, Budapest, Vilshofen, Basel, Nuremberg, Cologne, Luxembourg (and more), up close and in the heart of it all, river cruising delivers that wow! This is something that's difficult to describe in words, but a must-do travel experience.
I'm confident you'll return with more memories and favorite experiences than any vacation thus far. River cruising delivers a completely different "view" of Europe. Leaving you yearning to return for more.
With the holidays approaching, this is the perfect gift for you and your significant other, a group of friends, or in celebration of a special anniversary, birthday or life milestone! The gift of making memories traveling through the heart of Europe is something that will stay with everyone forever.
Celebration Worthy! If you haven't figured it out yet, I love celebrating around the world, and so do my clients. Life is all about celebrating, right? , here are a few ideas for your next celebration on a river cruise...
Honeymoon or Anniversary
Making time for that Bucket-List Journey
Discover history, art, culture, food, and wine
Find a reason, and make the time! It's worth it.
As a final note... not all river cruise companies are created equal. There are many differences between the various river cruise lines and ship options available today. They can range drastically in regards to quality, comfort, level of service, quality of food, size of accommodations, inclusions, tour options available, entertainment, amenities onboard, and much more!
I'm here to remove the uncertainties. Ensure that you are matched with the best choice for your travel style. I'd love to explore it with you and see if river cruising is right for you. If you're interested in learning more about cruising the rivers in Europe, Asia and beyond, please contact me here and I'd be happy to get started.