Wednesday, May 6, 2009

European River Cruise Ideas

So far I've only taken cruises on the ocean, but I'm definitely planning to try some river cruises in the near future. After we do Alaska this summer, that is!

Europe has some great rivers, and there are a number of cruise options if you'd prefer to see the inland areas by boat rather than by tour bus or train. Technically I've been on a "European river cruise" since our Rick Steves tour sailed the Rhine for about an hour after some castle hopping. The cruise ideas I'm going to list below are a little longer than an hour though. You can find lots of multiple day river cruises that can be a part of your vacation or the cornerstone. Let's take a look at some options:

European Rhine River Cruise

Lots of outfits send ships up and down this famous European river, and you can book sailings for anything from a couple of hours to two weeks or more.

The Amsterdam to Strasbourg run is a popular one, and you can book with Euro River Cruises for just about any week during the primary tourist season (April through October). As with ocean-going cruises, prices include most of your room, board, and transportation expenses: "Full board cruise from dinner of the first day to the lunch of the last day in a double cabin with shower and toilets, welcome drink, entertainment, the Captain's Evening, the assistance of our hostess on board, and port taxes."

Click the link above for an itinerary and more information.

Black Sea & Ukraine River Cruise

If you've never been to Eastern Europe, then a cruise through Ukraine to the Black Sea would be a unique experience. Visit the Land of the Kosacks by river boat.

Smart Tours offers Ukraine cruises with prices starting at $1400 (including air fare from New York) for 11-nights aboard the MS Dnieper Princess cruise boat in an outside cabin on the Lower Deck, with private bath. "The first class MS Dnieper Princess was built for cruising the Ukrainian Waterways and can accommodate 240 guests. All cabins are river facing and cozy, with two lower beds and a private bath/shower."

Visit their site to see a sample itinerary.

Holiday River Cruise Along the Danube

While you may think of cruises as something to be done in the warm weather of late spring and summer, this particular cruise, put on by Viking River Cruises, departs later in the year.

"Celebrate a variety of Central European countries in just 8 days, and mingle with locals as they prepare for the holidays during this refreshing cruise along the storied Danube. Get a taste of Germany in beautiful Passau. Cruise through Austria, stopping in riverside towns along the way, and enjoy a full-day excursion to picture-perfect Salzburg. Experience the Old World capitals of Budapest, Hungary and Bratislava, Slovakia."

14-Day European River Cruise That Visits Multiple Waterways

Here's a vacation for those who don't want to settle for one river. Hosted by Avalon Waterways, this vacation hits four countries, three rivers, and the Main Danube Canal.

"Start in Zürich, Switzerland, then enjoy guided sightseeing in the cities of Strasbourg, Würzburg, Nuremberg, and Vienna. There’s an excursion to Heidelberg with its imposing castle ruins, and a visit to the beautiful Benedictine Abbey of Melk. Guided walks of the smaller towns show you their highlights, and there’s a chance to sample some of Germany’s famous beers on this Rhine river cruise vacation."

As I write this, prices run about $3500 for 2010 sailings (airfare not included).

Are there any other European river cruise destinations that should be mentioned here?