Elbe River Cruises
Elbe River cruises itineraries are between Berlin and Prague. However, the Elbe River is not located in either city. Embarkation takes place in Madgeburg or Dresden in Germany or in Mělník, Czech Republic. Although both Prague and Berlin are connected to the Elbe by one or more waterways, transportation to the river cruise ship is by motor coach rather than by boat.
Berlin is about 90 miles east of Madgeburg, and Prague is about 30 miles south of Mělník and 93 miles southeast of Dresden. All Elbe River cruise itineraries include one or more nights in Berlin and Prague.
Although, there are some beautiful sights to see and intriguing cities to visit, most river cruise companies do not offer cruises on the Elbe River.
About the Elbe River
The Elbe River begins in northern Czech Republic. It flows for about 670 miles in a northwesterly direction from Czech Republic through north central Germany. The mouth of the river is located about 70 miles northwest of Hamburg where it empties into the North Sea.
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 Madgeburg.
In Czech Republic the Vltava River is a tributary of the Elbe. The river flows through Prague before joining the Elbe River in Mělník.
Elbe River Cruises
Elbe River cruises begin in either Germany or Czech Republic. Itineraries are available from March through December, depending on the river cruise company. Currently, there are only three companies operating on the Elbe River. AmaWaterways shuttled its plans to launch a new ship on the Elbe in 2017.
River cruises are between Madgeburg and Dresden or Mělník. For trips that begin or end in Dresden, a trip to Mělník is not included in the itinerary and a trip to Litomerice is by motor coach rather than by boat.
Before and after the river cruise, there is an overnight stay of at least one night in Berlin and Prague or Dresden.
Prominent cities often visited on Elbe River cruise include:
- Prague, Czech Republic
- Saxon Switzerland, Germany
- Dresden, Germany
- Meissen, Germany
- Wittenberg, Germany
- Madgeburg, Germany
- Potsdam, Germany
- Berlin, Germany
Companies That Offer Elbe River Cruises
This information is intended to give you an overview and a general idea of what different river cruise companies offer. With regard to itineraries – they change from year to year and sometimes within a year.
AmaWaterways aborted its plans to offer cruises on the Elbe River in 2017. See One Company Exits The Elbe & Another Enters: Should You Consider An Elbe River Cruise?
A-ROSA does not offer cruises on the Elbe River.
Avalon Waterways does not offer cruises on the Elbe River.
Emerald Waterways does not offer cruises on the Elbe River.
Grand Circle has two packages that offer reverse itineraries. The Essence of the Elbe cruise is available from late March through mid November. The trip begins or ends with three nights in Berlin and two nights in Prague. And the 8-day river cruise is between Madgeburg and Dresden.
The other cruise is seasonal and is available in late November through mid December. The Christmas Markets Along the Elbe cruise begins or ends with three nights in Berlin and three nights in Dresden.
- Packages: 11 to 13 days
- Number of Itineraries that include the Elbe River: 2
- Ships on the Elbe: M/S River Allegro
Interesting to Note: Grand Circle is the only company that offers Christmas Market cruises on the Elbe River.
Scenic Cruises does not offer cruises on the Elbe River.
Tauck does not offer cruises on the Elbe River.
Uniworld does not offer cruises on the Elbe River.
Viking River Cruises has one package for Elbe River cruises. The Elegant Elbe itinerary is either from Prague to Berlin or from Berlin to Prague. The trip begins and ends with an overnight stay in Prague and Berlin, and the 8-day river cruise is between Mělník, Czech Republic and Madgeburg, Germany.
- Packages: 10 days
- Number of Itineraries that include the Elbe River: 1
- Ships on the Elbe: Viking Astrid, Viking Beyla, Viking Fontane and Viking Schumann
Interesting to Note: Viking River Cruises is the only company that has four cruise ships on the Elbe River.
What’s the Best Choice for an Elbe River Cruise?
Only one company does the Elbe effectively, CroisiEurope. The Elbe is too shallow to provide a good cruise experience. Because of this AmaWaterways pulled out from the Elbe. See One Company Exits The Elbe & Another Enters: Should You Consider An Elbe River Cruise? On Viking you won’t cruise much, if at all. You’ll be bussed around from place to place and stay on the ship overnight. CroisiEurope has a new paddlewheeler that seems to be performing well. See Elbe Princesse: Summing Up
If you would like to spend a few days in Berlin and Prague, it’s included in Grand Circle’s itinerary along with an 8-day Elbe River cruise.
And for travelers who love Christmas Markets, Grand Circle Travel offers an 11-day package that includes a visit to the Christmas Markets in Berlin, Potsdam, Wittenberg and Dresden. That’s something you won’t find with any other river cruise company.
Our choice, however, is CroisiEurope. In 2016, the company introduced a new ship specifically designed to cruise the Elbe River. The MS Elbe Princesse is the only paddlewheeler cruising on the Elbe. See Elbe Princesse: Summing Up
Read more about Elbe River Cruises.