Right now, we’re dreaming about next summer’s trips from the comfort of our homes.
A few weeks ago, we polled our readers about when they would be ready to return to the rivers and about 70 percent said that they would be ready to sail again by the summer of 2021. There’s nothing better than cruising through the landscapes of Europe on a riverboat and exploring different ports. Since we can’t currently sail the rivers, we will use this time to dream about future travels.
Here are five itineraries I’m dreaming of sailing next summer.
1. The Lower Danube
The Lower Danube has been on my list of aspirational cruises for a while now. Having sailed the Upper Danube multiple times, I am curious to continue on past Budapest to see what the other side of Europe’s most famed river has to offer.
The Lower Danube flows from Budapest all the way to the Black Sea. On most itineraries, you will visit Hungary, Croatia, Serbia, Romania, and Bulgaria. This itinerary a good opportunity to travel on a less-frequented part of the river, and also to see countries that you may not visit otherwise.
We recently held a webinar with Avalon Waterways where Pam Hoffee highlighted some of what Avalon does on the Lower Danube, which only furthered my desire to explore the region.
2. The Moselle River
I don’t know how I couldn’t be inspired to sail the Moselle after Ralph’s coverage of his Crystal Bach cruise last fall. The Moselle is a tributary of The Rhine river that flows through Germany, France, and Luxembourg. Ports on the Moselle include Koblenz, Bernkastel, Trier and Cochem.
When looking, you might not find a “Moselle” itinerary, as the Moselle is usually combined with itineraries on the Rhine and Main Rivers.
If you are interested in sailing the Moselle, you can do so next fall with Ralph aboard Crystal Bach. More information can be found here.
3. The Upper Danube
The Upper Danube is an itinerary that I have sailed many times, so why does it continue to make my list for aspirational cruises each time I compile one? Simple. An Upper Danube itinerary often allows me to visit some of my favorite cities in Europe.
The Upper Danube is my number one recommendation for people looking to river cruise for the first time. Guests are able to see three of Europe’s capital cities, Vienna, Bratislava and Budapest, but also many smaller towns and villages. One of my favorite stops on the Danube is Linz. Linz is usually the port where guests are able to travel to Salzburg if they opt for that excursion, which I often do, but recently I’ve been enjoying the city of Linz itself. There is a wonderful art museum right on the river bank that is easily accessible from your ship.
Of course, there are many highlights along the Danube. The Wachau Valley is a wonderful place for a bike ride. Budapest is a beautiful city with bustling nightlife, should you choose to go out. Bratislava is known for its craft brewing. Even just highlighting the cities along the river gets me excited to go back.
4. The Mekong River
I have only sailed the Mekong once, over a decade ago, but it still remains my favorite river cruise itinerary that I have ever taken. Sailing through Vietnam and Cambodia was so different than anything I had ever experienced before.
It was great to do this sailing at such a young age, but I feel like I missed a lot of what I would gain from the experience now. When sailing the Mekong you get to experience the rich culture of Southeast Asia, but equally important you learn so much about the history of the region. I wasn’t alive during the Vietnam War and had yet to study the war in school at the time of my sailing, which is one of the main reasons I want to travel back.
Apart from history and culture, there are so many amazing sites to see. I can still remember standing at Angor Wat posing for a photograph with our group from the sailing. Though sailing the Mekong is likely a once in a lifetime experience for most, I hope to be able to do it again soon.
Check out Paulette Hannah’s coverage from her Mekong Cruise:
5. The Douro River
A great starting point for cruises is along the Iberian Peninsula’s longest rivers in the city of Porto, Portugal. It’s home to Port and Sherry houses, two bridges designed by Gustave Eiffel and medieval cobbled streets and chic cafes.
I’ve been talking about this itinerary quite a bit with my friends recently. I daydream of the hillsides covered in vineyards and drinking amazing wine. Another thing that makes sailing the Douro special is the scenic cruising. Ships are not allowed to sail on the Douro at night, meaning that you will have plenty of time to look out on the beauty of the region as you sail down the river.
Look out for itineraries that include Port and wine tastings, medieval villages, and towns. Most Douro itineraries include a stop in Spain with an excursion to the UNESCO-listed medieval city of Salamanca.