As most commerce occured along rivers in the history of Europe&39s cities and towns, life along the river was central to the growth of these areas, and there is much to be seen and appreciated from the comfortable deck of a European river cruise ship as one crosses through the heart of a country.
While the vessels plying the world&39s rivers certainly vary in standards and quality, a European river cruise vacation generally entails cruising on a river ship which provides your accommodations, meals onboard, and some light entertainment. During your European river cruise, the ship stops at various cities or towns, where passengers can disembark and enjoy shore excursions or wander on their own.
Several of the European river cruise operators include shore excursions as part of the package price, usually an optional cost on an ocean cruise, increasing the value they provide. Be sure to compare what is included when shopping for a Europe river cruise.
Many new European river cruise ships have been built in recent years, while some are of older vintage. Generally, though not a hard rule, newer ships offer more amenities and comforts (such as WiFi access). Also some ships and/or staterooms offer picture windows, while others offer French balconies, where you can open the full length sliding glass door.
Amadeus Waterways: Amadeus Waterways has a fleet of six ships cruising the rivers of Europe, Russia, China and Egypt. They offer two of the newer, more deluxe ships MS Amadagio and the MS Symphony, which operate exclusively for the English-speaking market). They operate Europe river cruises on the Rhine, Moselle, Danube, in Holland & Belgium and Russia.
Deluxe cruise accommodations and on-board amenities range by ship and destination. Amadeus Waterways also offers an enhanced shore excursion program that gives an in-depth, authentic view as you discover highlights as well as places only locals know about. In the evening, savor gourmet dinners with complimentary local wines accompanied by great local musical performances on-board or the pre-arranged activites that take place in town. Afterwards, there is always time to explore local nightlife ashore.
Avalon Waterways: Avalon is owned and operated by tour operator Globus, and its European river cruise ships are the newest fleet, generally with slightly larger cabins, at over 170+ square feet, than some of its competition. Avalon offers cruises on the Rhine, Moselle, Danube, Black Sea, Russia. China and Tulip Time cruises in spring. Search for Avalon Waterways Europe river cruises from Globus.
Peter Dielmann Cruises: Peter Dielmann is in the deluxe category of European river cruises, a German company which markets a number of river vessels, and one ocean-going cruise ship, to English-speaking markets, and which has some of the largest cabins -- some from 190 to 200 square feet. There are never more than 2.5 passengers for each staff member, ensuring a high level of attention and service. The company offers its Europe river cruise programs on the Rhine, Moselle, Danube, Rhone, Saone, Elbe, Vltava, and Oder rivers. Of note is the Cezanne which cruises in southern France.
The product is distinctly multi-lingual, unlike some others that cater exclusively to English speaking markets. Peter Dielmann also offers theme cruises around hiking, biking, music, golf and gardening. Search for Europe river cruises from Peter Dielmann.
Uniworld: A longtime player in this market, Uniworld has always specialized in tailoring products exclusively for the American market. It&39s newest Europe river cruise vessel, River Royale, is also the first to have Wi-Fi access. Upgrades this year (2006) include flat screen televisions, terrycloth bathrobes, higher-count thread linens, wool-cashmere throws, and European-style comforters. A new series of Grand Value Cruising includes shore excursions. Search our Europe river cruises from Uniworld.
Viking River Cruise One of the larger Europe river cruise operators, Viking, has some ten river ships in central Europe plus a few more in Russia and Ukraine. In addition to standard European river cruise programs, Viking also operates a program on the Seine in France. Search for Europe river cruises from Viking River Cruises.