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European River Cruise

What would be the best itinerary to consider for a spring river cruise? We are interested in a 7 day cruise and are most interested in an active itinerary, with stops that are interesting. Which would be recommend: the western Danube, or Bordeaux or Provence, or the Rhine, or Tulips? We usually plan self guided trips and are new to river cruising. Thanks to all for considering a response. What are some of your favorite cruise memories?

Posted by
11350 posts

Which of the countries these river cruises feature are you most interested in visiting? For me it would The Netherlands. We did a Danube Cruise
and the countries it passed through were low on my interest list.

Posted by
6619 posts

We took a Danube cruise, Budapest to Passau, about ten years ago and enjoyed it, though a cruise is a "limited" way to see places like Budapest and Vienna that deserve more time. Some areas along the river were scenic, like the Wachau Valley, others more industrial, mostly travelled at night.

What you should choose depends on what cities and sights appeal to you most. I think you could expect an "active" itinerary on any of the routes you listed, in the sense that you'll be off the boat seeing something new every day. You'll most likely have some free time at every stop, but of course no overnights off the boat. Cruising appeals because you don't have to pack and unpack, most of your meals are provided, and you don't have to arrange for city tours and such.

We like ocean cruises because we like being on the water with basically no "work," but I doubt if we'll do another river cruise because the river limits the places to be visited, and they're very expensive compared to alternatives. But you may have a different reaction -- certainly it's worth a try.

Posted by
70 posts

Agree pick the location you're most interested in! Danube is the quintessential river cruise. Bordeaux for wine experience? Tulips especially if your time coincides with tulip festival? Provence in spring, less likely to be limited by low water compared with summer/autumn? Bordeaux and Tulips sail back and forth within smaller distance, fly in/out of same gateway city? Danube/Rhine/Provence point to point, fly open jaw in/out different cities?

Refreshing to unpack once (not including any pre/post hotel stays). Usually one seating for meals in main dining room, though there may be early risers continental breakfast and buffet like option in secondary restaurant. Usually includes shore excursions with some free time, but you can research and explore on your own instead. Just a taste of each port, rather than in depth experience.
Which gateway cities would you also want to add time in or easiest travel logistics for you? Which itineraries/ports would you like to taste, and maybe return someday for more in depth trip? Or which itinerary would you not likely do on your own, but would be open to brief taste on a river cruise? Bon Voyage!

Posted by
18519 posts
Posted by
242 posts

Although we have cruised popular rivers like the Danube and Rhine, our favorite river cruise was on the Elbe from near Prague to near Berlin. Much less crowded and commercial with abundant history and scenery. Of course we stayed a few days before and after the cruise in Prague and Berlin on our own at half the price of the “extensions” offered by the cruise company. Spring is good time for river cruising since less likely to be impacted by low water levels.

Posted by
7813 posts

The Danube is great for river cruises. We have one booked with Gate 1 Travel from Regensburg to Budapest next July.

The Douro Valley in Portugal is amazing, add that to your list.

Posted by
2145 posts

Any river cruise you choose will be nice. We did the Rhine (Basel to Amsterdam) on Viking and thought it was very scenic. Lots of castles. We spent a week in Murren before embarking and a few days in Amsterdam post. One of our best trips ever!