There’s so much to see in Europe that you could spend years taking multiple trips and still feel as though you had not seen all that you would like to. From romantic castles in Germany’s Black Forest to the windmills of Holland and the canals of Venice, perhaps there is a way you’ve not yet thought of?
Consider a European river cruise! It’s a great way to cover a lot of territory in a short period of time – and you can see some of the major capitals of Europe while also making some side trips to smaller, out of the way villages and towns.
Unlike a cruise on a sea-going ship, river cruises are more about the journey and less about the ship. Don’t be surprised – luxury amenities are becoming more common on river cruises. Still, you won’t want to spend a lot of time in your cabin as you’ll be floating by some of the most iconic scenery in Europe, including UNESCO world heritage sites. During shore excursions, you can visit historical or archaeological sites, or explore Europe’s cobblestone streets by bicycle.
Top Reasons to see Europe via river cruise:
1. Convenience. A ship is a floating hotel – everything is taken care of for you. Once you’re on board the ship, no more cooking, no more laundry, no dishes to wash, and you don’t have to respond to emails or calls unless you just choose to. You don’t even have to worry about money, because frequently tips for the staff are included in the final cost of the cruise, as well as your on-shore tours and excursions. However, if you loved your tour a tip is always welcome.
2. You don’t have to worry about getting seasick. Rivers are notoriously calm bodies of water. This alone could be a deal maker for a lot of folks who’d like to take a cruise, but are afraid of getting seasick.
3. See things from a completely different perspective. To me, there’s nothing more exciting than coming into a port. Usually there are spectators watching the ships come in and everyone seems to be quite happy and upbeat. It’s just fun. The scenery also lends itself to some memorable photography and video coverage. You’ll get a completely different perspective of Europe from the water.
4. Tour guides are part of the package. What could be easier than having your very own historian, storyteller, translator, and tour director all in one? You can choose to wander on your own or go with your guide for a walking tour and get the low down before darting off for some private explorations. Another important detail: all guides speak impeccable English.
5. You can really get into the interior of a country, not just skim the big tourist highlights. Many cruises offer tours that include cooking and dinner with a local family. This is an experience that you’ll remember for a lifetime.
How do you decide which cruise is for you?
First, you’ll need to know some details: where you’d like to go, when, and for how long. For example, if the tulips and canals of Amsterdam beckon, you can choose a spring cruise that includes Amsterdam.
If you’ve always wanted to shop the European Christmas markets, then you’ll probably want to cruise down the Rhine River, making stops in Germany and Vienna.
When you book will also affect your costs. The European cruise season begins in early spring and continues into late fall, a good time to find great values. If you can go a bit off season, you can often find great deals and of course, fewer crowds.