The ABC’s of River Cruising
Whether you’re considering your first river cruise or simply planning for your next great journey along the waterways of the world, you’ll find lots of river cruise reviews here on River Cruise Advisor. We also have compiled a list of helpful articles and features designed with a single goal in mind: to help you navigate the ever-changing world of river cruising, from the planning stage right up to the conclusion of your voyage.
But first, some basics.
The Appeal of River Cruising
River cruising was an entirely new concept to Europe when it was introduced in the mid-1970s: a floating hotel that journeys between destinations. In its simplest form, a river cruiser is nothing more than a barge with a hotel on top. For many travelers, the slow chug along the river is just the right pace for getting the lay of the land. Sitting on the top deck of a ship under brilliant blue skies, you gaze on fabled landscapes dotted with castles, villages, and vineyards. A flight of stairs down you have all the amenities of a modern hotel—restaurants, bars, lounges, fitness facilities, spas, Internet access, and comfortable staterooms.
River cruises offer opportunities to step ashore in fairy-tale towns and major European capitals that can’t be reached on a traditional cruise ship. Most river cruisers take these trips to immerse themselves in Europe’s contemporary culture in a way they can’t when traveling between a different Mediterranean port every day and to learn something about the history of the towns along the Continent’s greatest rivers.
What is it Like Onboard?
The onboard ambience spans such a range that there are ships to suit most travel preferences and lifestyles. While some vessels emphasize elegance, others are much more casual. Travelers can find river cruisers that rival Europe’s finest boutique hotels at one end of the spectrum while at the other, it’s possible to cruise Europe’s rivers much like an independent traveler who opts only for basic accommodations and dining.
When Can I Sail?
The main river-cruising season begins in March and continues through the end of December, beginning with “tulip time” cruises in the Benelux countries and ending with “Christmas market” cruises in Hungary, Austria, and Germany. The majority of itineraries are seven nights, though longer cruises are available. For popular itineraries, you may need to book your cruise up to a year in advance, but if you can’t deal with so much advance planning, consider cruising from March through May or from September through December, when the crowds are thinner and airfares may be more reasonably priced than during peak periods.
River cruising is perfect for those who want a relaxed grand tour of Europe and for cruisers who want to explore Europe beyond the coastline. River cruising presents the grandeur and charm of Europe as well as the indelible landscapes that inspired Europe’s great artists. Few things in life can beat the views of Europe over the ripples of its rivers.
You have questions; we have the answers. To learn more about river cruising, you’ll find the links below helpful.
River Cruise History:
- The Emergence of River Cruising – The industry that is expanding so rapidly at present is the product of decades of innovation, luck, and iron determination.
- Barging: River Cruising’s Father – Read Part I and Part II of our coverage on the history of Barging.
- A River Cruising Pioneer – AmaWaterways’ co-founder Rudi Schreiner is profiled.
River Cruise Basics:
- Frequently Asked Questions – Learn more about all aspects of river cruising, including popular rivers, how river cruising compares to luxury ocean cruises, what’s included on a river cruise and more.
- Why River Cruising? – So why would you want to consider a river cruise in the first place? Because it’s a great way to see Europe. Don’t believe us. Check out Why River Cruising?
- Will I Be Bored? It’s not likely. Have a peek at what a typical river cruise offers.
- How River Cruises & Barge Cruises Differ – They’re not the same, so don’t confuse these two great products. Barges typically are smaller, carry fewer passengers and cost you more on a per-diem basis. However, a barge vacation may be just what you’re looking for.
- Why River Cruising Is Not For Everyone – Are you a smoker? Traveling with infants? River cruising may not be for you.
- How River Cruising Compares To Luxury Ocean Cruising – While it’s not an apples-to-apples comparison, taking a look at how river cruises compare to luxury ocean cruises can be relevant for those familiar with one but not the other.
- Choosing your Ship – Like all of us, each ship has its own distinct personality. Learn how to find the one that suits you.
- Choosing Your Stateroom – How River Cruise ships and oceangoing cruise ships differ in their accommodations.
- QuietVox: There’s two headsets in every stateroom, so what is it and why should you be excited about using it?
River Cruising: Tips and Tricks:
- River Cruise Line Beverage Policies – Not every river cruise line offers the same policies for included beverages; in fact, some vary wildly depending on your destination. Cut through the maze of policies with our handy chart.
- It’s Complicated: Exploring River Cruise Beverage Policies – A companion article to the above piece. Why do beverage policies vary from destination to destination and line to line? It’s complicated.
- Airports and Airfare – Learning more about the airlines you fly and the airports you connect through can save you time – and money – on your next river cruising adventure.
- Finding Your Ship – This sounds simple enough, and indeed it is in most ports. But there are a more than a few cities where finding your river cruise ship can be an exercise in frustration. Here’s how to ensure to arrive prepared.
River Cruising: In-Depth:
- Theme River Cruises – Looking for a river cruise that offers a little bit more? Theme Cruises are a popular way to explore your interests while you sail the waterways of the world.
- The Magical Christmas Markets River Cruise. Christmas Markets river cruises, while not widely known, provide the perfect platform for experiencing all of the different Christmas festivities along the rivers of Europe.
- Making the Most of Your Time Ashore – By their nature, river cruises allow for an extended amount of time ashore – but it’s still important to have a plan and do your homework.
- The Main-Danube Canal – Do you like locks? The engineering marvel of the Main-Danube Canal is for you.
- Feeling Queasy? – Your ship might be transiting a lock. Avoid vertigo with our handy guide.
- Old Ships vs. New Ships – They each have their pro’s and con’s.
Still have questions? We’re here to help. Don’t hesitate to contact us.