Imagine visiting a selection of Europe's most beautiful cities, rich in history and laden with culture, without ever having to pack up all your gear and haul yourself to the next point on your itinerary. You can bring those imaginings into the real world with a river cruise. Everyone knows that a cruise ship is an excellent way to see regions like the Caribbean, the Mediterranean, the South Pacific or Southeast Asia. Island nations and countries with long coastlines and multiple ports are perfect for cruise travel. However, when it comes to Europe, many of the most interesting cities and sights are to be found away from the coast, where no traditional cruise ship can ever go.
But all you have to do is trade the ocean waves for the flowing waters of a river, and you can have have your gâteau and eat it too.
Why try a river cruise?
River cruises are an opportunity to combine the best of both worlds- you can enjoy the stress-free environment of a cruise while experiencing the best of the landlocked European cities. Travel the natural highways of the continent, including the Rhine, the Saône, the Danube and the Dordogne, and you will be amazed at what there is to see. Castles, historic buildings, charming towns, beautiful countryside and much more.
Access to inland cities is not the only reason to choose a river cruise. They are also great for those who enjoy an intimate atmosphere, with most ships carrying fewer than 200 guests. This means you can get to know fellow cruisers, enjoy some peace and quiet and benefit from personalised service.
Time spent travelling between ports is greatly reduced on a river cruise, where the cities are close together. There is rarely a day without a new place to be explored, and when you are on the move, the views outside your window are ever-changing.
Sights and sounds
There are so many amazing places accessible via the waterways of Europe. Here are just a few which feature on river cruise itineraries:
- Budapest in Hungary is one of Eastern Europe's most ancient cities, straddling the Danube River and blessed with many hot springs.
- Vienna, Austria's capital, is famously beautiful and packed with history, art and music.
- Paris needs no introduction; city of lights and love, it is packed with famous sights, fabulous food, fashion and romance.
- Lyon flies under the radar as the gastronomic capital of France. It is built on the banks of two rivers: The Rhone and the Saone.
- Although not a city, the village of Chateauneuf-du-pape is an important port of France, centre of the largest wine region.
- Amsterdam in the Netherlands is a city of canals, museums and staggering diversity. Bikes and boats win out over cars in this picturesque capital.
- Cologne is home to one of Germany's most famed landmarks, the twin-spired Gothic cathedral in the city centre. It's an amazing sight!
- Nuremberg in Germany was an important centre in the Roman Empire, and has some splendid Bavarian architecture.
- Russia's most dazzling city, St Petersburg is an exhilarating place to begin or end your river cruise.
- Moscow is Russia's capital. Based around the Kremlin and the Red Square, it is a city of much history and host to many classical performing arts.
This is not an exhaustive list, and the rivers of Europe can take you to small towns, rural areas and much more beyond the major urban centres. With shore tours to whisk you away from the riverbanks and into the countryside, the continent is your oyster!
Cruise Sale Finder brings you great deals from two sister Europe river cruise lines, Scenic River Cruises and Evergreen River Cruises. Take a look at the itineraries and begin your planning! Here is what to consider when choosing the right cruise for you:
Scenic River Cruises
Scenic is a five-star line, with a dozen "space-ships" offering all-inclusive luxury cruises. This means you do not need to open your wallet at all onboard the ship. All meals and drinks are included in your cruise fare, WiFi is free and all accommodations are suites with butler service and 24-hour room service. Scenic offers an amazing staff-to-guest ratio of 1:2.
Shore tours and sightseeing experiences are also included in your Scenic River Cruise fare, along with hand-picked enrichment experiences such as private concerts and meals with locals. Tailored GPS guided tours are also available at no extra cost.
The ships have several gourmet dining venues, lounges with live music and open bars, with the occasional local talent showcase, and scenic terraces where you can enjoy the view of Europe from the best vantage point- the rivers around which the cities and nations were built. They also include spas and fitness centres.
Evergreen River Cruises
This is the four-star sister line of Scenic, with a fleet of "star-ships" carrying 182 guests each. Your cruise fare covers meals, wine and beer during lunch and dinner, WiFi, your stateroom or suite and some great enrichment experiences as part of the "You're Invited" program.
The ships all offer flat screen TVs in every stateroom or suite, a swimming pool which transforms into a cinema in the evenings, several dining venues and places to relax with a drink at night. There are also gyms, hairdressing salons and masseuses onboard. Grand Balcony suites and Owners suites receive Concierge Service.
New in 2016 is the "Emerald Active" program, offering a range of outdoor activities. This is a great addition for passengers who like a bit of physical activity and want to get up close and personal with a given destination.
Check out all of the deals on Cruise Sale Finder today and search for a cheap cruise that suits you.