Reasons to take a river cruise

By | Category: Travel tips & opinions

1. There’s so much to see
River cruising is all about sightseeing, from the key highlights en route to the countryside as you travel from one stop to the next. On a typical seven-night cruise on the Danube, you could visit Budapest, Bratislava, Vienna (Wien), Salzburg, Melk and Dürnstein. On a two-week journey through the centre of Europe, you could include major cities including Amsterdam, Cologne (Köln), Nuremberg (Nürnberg), Vienna (Wien) and more.

2. The clear, upfront pricing
The upfront pricing on a river cruise package means that there are few additional costs, making your holiday budgeting simple. Accommodation, all meals (usually including wine, although it may be quite basic), snacks, destination talks, some (or all) excursions, occasional entertainment and, possibly, transfers to get to and from your river cruise are all included, which makes it good value for money.

Affinity Romantic Rhine (9)

3. They are small, friendly and comfortable
Rivership size is governed by the length and width of the locks that they need to negotiate. Most riverships carry between 100 and 200 passengers. The atmosphere on board is usually friendly, and fellow passengers tend to have similar interests. On most riverships there is open-seating restaurant dining, which allows you to sit with different people each night and make new friends.

4. It’s so easy
Simply embark, unpack and enjoy the scenery as your floating inn takes you from one historic destination to the next. There are no tenders to take to go ashore, and no formalities, and you will no doubt learn something new every day.

5. There’s always something to see and do
Unlike ocean cruising, on a river cruise you always have a view of something along the bank, whether an urban landscape or the countryside. On a typical river cruise, you spend half the day ashore and the other half cruising. In addition to enjoying the view from the water, you can listen to talks by guest speakers, and, sometimes, partake in wine- or beer-tasting sessions or cooking demonstrations.

Uniworld Queen Isabel suite

6. You’ll most likely have a room with a view
Almost all riverships except three (Dertour Mozart, Primadonna and Rossini) have outside-view-only cabins, so you’ll at least have a window to admire the scenery. Most new riverships now come with balconies, although this is most likely to be a French balcony (doors opening onto a safety railing) due to the size restrictions. (Some suites and cabins come with a full balcony that you can sit out on.)

7. You don’t have to look like a tourist on tours
Many river cruise operators provide guides with microphones and passengers with wireless receivers and earphones, so you can hear what is being said without having to crowd around the guide. You won’t have to miss the guides’ narration, even when they need to speak quietly in cathedrals or other churches.


8. It should all be smooth sailing
Some first-timers worry about seasickness, but there’s no need to – the gentle waters of the river are different to those of the ocean, with no waves for a start. Itineraries can, however, be affected by low or high water: not enough water and the riverships can’t cruise; too much and they can’t get under the bridges (in such cases, comfortable coaches take you to and from the key attractions).

9. Many riverships are surprisingly chic
The newest riverships are very different from those that previously dominated the market, which were mostly over 10 years old. Choose one of the newest examples for your cruise and you can have a balcony, various dining options (eg restaurants in different areas of the rivership, including, perhaps, on an outdoor deck), Wi-fi (sometimes at no charge) and a flat-screen television/entertainment system. Minimalist decor is the norm, although there are exceptions – Uniworld, for example, provides grand hotel-style decor and furnishings and the drawing-room look of yesteryear.

10. You don’t have to cook
It’s all done for you, and so is the washing up. Additionally, you don’t have to make the bed either! Or drive!

Book Jacket

Extract taken from the first edition of Berlitz: River Cruising in Europe by Douglas Ward (published June 2014, 256 pages, £14.99) – available now  from all good bookshops.

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