Generally, European river cruises provide fairly busy holidays, often much more so than ocean cruises, as most include a shore excursion each day. The daily sightseeing programme is optional of course; however, you’ll find that the best European river cruises are those that include these excursions in your fare. You might like to experience a walking tour or a coach tour of cities and towns, for instance, or visits to local historic buildings. Alternatively, you might opt for food tastings, wine sampling or biking trips. If you are interested in particular types of activities, you can always look for a cruise that provides the kind of experiences you enjoy most.
Comparison websites will present you with a list of the world’s top cruise lines and the discounts available. Since river cruising is relatively recent compared to ocean cruising, ships tend to be newer and smaller with fewer passengers. This can make for a really good experience for customers, as service is excellent and the cabins are really comfortable. Using an agent can mean that you get to choose from the best cruise deals, as agents often have access to special promotions, resulting in cheaper prices for their clients.
When searching for the best last minute cruise deals, check out those along the Danube, Douro, Rhone, Moselle and Rhine as these are among the most popular. Excursions on the River Danube, for example, often include and link with other waterways in Central and Eastern Europe. The Moselle River is a tributary of the Rhine and in Germany becomes the Mosel. A cruise here will take you across the western parts of Germany and the northeastern parts of France. If wine is your passion then a cruise on the River Moselle will be a delight.
It’s not easy to find many last minute cruise deals for cruises on the Rhone and the Saone in France as these are among the most popular. Having said that, there are some 2018 luxury cruises along these rivers that are tailor-made for couples and solo travellers. A particularly lovely journey is one that departs from Lyon, first taking in Chalon and Beaune, then Vienne and Tournon, before arriving at the Ardèche Gorge in the south of France. Avignon is the final port of call and disembarkation point after visits to Arles and Pont du Gard.
Portugal’s River Douro features many scenic landscapes and guests also enjoy overnight stays in hotels in a number of the local towns and cities. The Douro River Valley is the world’s oldest demarcated wine region and a UNESCO heritage site. A 10-day cruise includes the added bonus of a visit to Spain.
Besides booking your river cruise, some operators offer extensions to your original holiday at a very reasonable price. For instance, if you plan to enjoy a cruise from Amsterdam in spring to see the tulip fields and windmills in The Netherlands, you can add on an extra few days before or after the cruise to explore the city itself.
To get the most from your European river cruise opt for one that includes a wide range of different destinations and activities, such as a trip to explore Eastern Europe, taking in Romania, Bulgaria, Serbia, Croatia and Hungary. You will really feel that you have sampled the delights of each country, even if only for a day or two in each case.