While The Ultimate River Cruising Handbook features peak season pricing for 2019 river cruises in Europe, you’ll find shoulder season pricing at the links below.
Shoulder season river cruises can provide exceptional value. Airfares are generally cheaper than they are in peak season; river cruise rates can be up to 20 percent less than they are during the height of the summer; cities and tourist attractions are generally less crowded; restaurants and cafes are often a little less busy. And the weather? You may need to bring along a sweater or a wind-breaker, and it’s not a bad idea to pack a rain jacket, but on the plus side you’ll almost always escape the heat of the summer.
When is shoulder season? There are no set rules, but for the purposes of comparison, think April and May at the front end, and September, October and November on the back end.
My shoulder season 2019 price comparisons should be viewed as general guidelines for comparing prices across the major companies operating on a particular river (or region) in Europe or for a particular itinerary. The intent of the charts is to provide a baseline for matching a cruise company to your budget. I’ve calculated what I believe to be the “true per diem” for each cruise company, after factoring in, or out, the various items that are included, or not included, on a particular river cruise.
Pricing is anything but straightforward among the major river cruise companies, as many companies offer two-for-the-price-of-one river cruises, reduced or free air- fare incentives, early-booking discounts and many more pricing tactics that make purchasing a river cruise vacation a complex and confounding exercise. Using a spreadsheet until we were bleary-eyed, my team and I have tried to decipher the various offers and inclusions to arrive at meaningful guidelines for comparisons. The bottom line, the true per diem, is what you can expect to pay per person for each day of your cruise for a lead-in standard stateroom, or where applicable, a lead-in balcony stateroom.
Price, however, should not be the only consideration when selecting a company for your river cruise. There are a boatload of variables to be considered, not the least of which is what’s included in your cruise. If you’re someone who prefers everything included, an open bar, for example, and prepaid gratuities, you’ll want to look to companies that provide those as part of your cruise fare. For help in figuring out which cruise company includes what, see “Attributes Of The Top River Cruise Companies,” a chart that outlines inclusions.
All prices and inclusions were current as of June 2018.
- Shoulder Season Price Comparisons: Bordeaux 2019
- Shoulder Season Price Comparisons: Danube 2019
- Shoulder Season Price Comparisons: Douro 2019
- Shoulder Season 2019 Lower Danube Price Comparisons
- Shoulder Season Price Comparisons: Rhine 2019
- Shoulder Season 2019 Rhine-Main-Danube Price Comparisons
- Shoulder Season 2019 Rhone Price Comparisons
- Shoulder Season 2019 Seine Price Comparisons
As always, I welcome your comments and feedback. While I try to get things right, I do goof now and then, which is why I am extremely grateful to readers who bring errors to my attention so that I can correct them as quickly as possible. And if you run into any bumps along the road (or rapids along the river) while doing your river cruise research, feel free to reach out to me using the comments form below. – Bon voyage, Ralph Grizzle
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