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Cruising Europe

River Cruising Across Europe

River Cruising Across Europe Part I – The Danube

Kinderdijk, Holland

Europes main street is a waterway. It starts at the North Sea with the Rhine River, flows into the Main in Germany and then transitions to the Danube River. As it flows southeast across the continent it touches nine countries before finally emptying into the Black Sea near Romania. If you are thinking about a river cruise in Europe there’s an 80% chance that you will cruise a portion of this waterway. The itineraries that are available along this route are so popular that on any given day you’ll usually find a dozen or two riverboats tied up along the river in Budapest, Hungary.

Most cruises will fall into one of four itineraries:

  • The Grand European Cruise – One of the most popular these cruises usually start in Budapest and heads west to end in Amsterdam or vice versa. The cruise normally lasts from 12 to 16 days.
  • A Week Long Cruise West From Budapest – These itineraries sail one of the most historic stretches of the Danube and end in Passau or Regensburg, Germany.
  • Amsterdam And The Rhine – Often characterized as “the romantic Rhine” this itinerary includes Holland’s Kinderdijk with the iconic windmills and the Rhine with its castles and German vineyards. They usually take about a week.
  • The Eastern Danube – Sailing west from Budapest these cruises explore the Balkins through Serbia, Croatia, Bulgaria and Romania ending near Bucharest or vice versa and take 10 to 14 days.

What Makes River Cruising Special?

One of the biggest appeals of river cruising is the ability to dock right in the middle of popular cities or villages where so much is right at hand. Often there are no buses or taxis to take and it’s easy to go and come as you please. In addition, unlike ocean cruising, there’s usually a constant flow of changing scenery. From city scapes, small villages, castles and interesting locks , it’s a pleasure to sit and watch the world drift by.

Sights And Cities

Traveling west on the Danube from near Bucharest and the Black Sea you’ll pass and visit a number of memorable cities, towns and sights. Sail through the Danube’s Iron Gate canyon, spend a day in a number of Croatian and Serbian villages and stop in Belgrade. Spend time in one of the greatest cities on the river, Budapest, Hungary. Sailing west from Hungary you’ll explore amazing Vienna and Passau in Germany. Continue on for stops in Ragensburg, Nurenberg and Wurzburg, Germany with opportunities for numerous side trips. Switching to the Rhine River there are opportunities to spend time in Germany’s Koblenz and Cologne before sailing on to Holland’s Kinderdijk and ending in Amsterdam.

Canals, Locks And River Conditions

Unlike ocean cruising, river cruises are more subject to river conditions like flooding and low water. Droughts in Europe can cause the rivers to get too low for the river boats to navigate and flooding will prevent the boats from getting under bridges. While most companies will offer options like using buses and hotels to run the itinerary others will simple cancel. For those reasons it is recommended that you keep an eye on what’s happening so you won’t be surprised and shocked when that trip falls through.

Europes rivers are connected and controlled by a large series of locks and dams. Any cruise along the Danube or Rhein will require using any number of locks.

Companies Sailing The Danube

While there are easily a dozen companies offering river cruises on the Danube the five with the best reputations and reviews are:

  • Avalon Waterways HERE
  • AmaWaterways HERE
  • Emerald Waterways HERE
  • Uniworld Boutique River Cruise HERE
  • Viking Cruises HERE

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