Both Viking River Cruises & CroisiEurope operate Elbe River Cruises. Which is right for you?
The Elbe River is like the stereotypical socialite: It’s shallow and gets around, but no one seems to get to know it all that well. One of the major rivers of Central Europe, the Elbe stretches 678 miles, from the Czech Republic and all the way across north central Germany before emptying into the North Sea. The Vltava River is a tributary of the Elbe, which passes through Prague before joining the Elbe River in Czech Republic’s city of Mělník – the mouth of the river located about 70 miles northwest of Hamburg.
There are a few tributaries that link the Elbe to both Prague and Berlin. The Havel River flows through Berlin and is connected to the Elbe via the Elbe-Havel Canal just north of Magdeburg. Elbe River cruises are typically between Berlin and Prague. However, the Elbe River is not located in either city.
Although both Prague and Berlin are connected to the Elbe by one or more waterways, transportation to the river cruise ship is usually by motor coach rather than by boat. Embarkation usually takes place in Magdeburg or Dresden in Germany or in Melník. Berlin is about 90 miles east of Magdeburg, and Prague is about 30 miles south of Melník and 93 miles southeast of Dresden. All Elbe River cruise itineraries include one or more nights in Berlin and Prague.
The exception is CroisiEurope, which has two paddlewheelers that can cruise right into the center of Prague and Berlin. The company offers 7-day to 12-day cruises that also cruise between Berlin and Hamburg, and Berlin and Amsterdam.
CroisiEurope is French, family-owned and operated. CroisiEurope’s all-inclusive product impresses us with its French flair and innovative designs. The company also serves up one of the best values in river cruising.
The 321-foot-long paddlewheel-driven Elbe Princesse features 40 staterooms, all of which have river views, spread across two decks. Able to accommodate up to 80 guests, Elbe Princesse is furnished with fabrics from MissoniHome, an Italian fabrics company headquartered in Rome.
Earlier this year, CroisiEurope took delivery of a second paddle-wheel riverboat to operate between Berlin and Prague on the Elbe and Vltava Rivers. Delivered in February 2018, the Elbe Princesse II measures 331 feet in length, with an overall width of 34 feet. The ship’s sleek, contemporary design is quite similar to the Elbe Princesse, and features 45 outward-facing cabins measuring 150 square feet, with French balconies featured in cabins on the upper deck. The ship also boasts a restaurant, panoramic lounge, patio and a large sun deck. See Elbe Princesse: Summing Up.
Viking River Cruises’ Elegant Elbe
Viking River Cruises has one program for Elbe River cruises. “The Elegant Elbe” 10-day itinerary is either from Prague to Berlin or from Berlin to Prague.
The Elbe has always been a tricky river to navigate. Some who book Elbe river cruises return home disappointed because their ships were unable to sail due to low water. They end up sleeping on the ships and doing bus tours during the day. The Elbe saw some of its lowest water levels ever in 2015, which prompted AmaWaterways to shuttle its plans to place a new ship on the river. CroisiEurope’s solution, with its two paddlewheelers, seem to be the right product for this river, as it is for another region where CroisiEurope operates a paddlewheeler, the Loire.