River cruises have been gaining in popularity in recent years. More than a ferry and smaller than an ocean cruise ship, river cruises travel along inland waterways, such as the Danube river of Germany; Austria and Hungary; the Elbe of Eastern Europe, the Seine and Rhone in France; or Italy's Po River. River cruises typically hold fewer than 250 people and last anywhere from 7 to 15 days.
European river cruises offer similar amenities to what you would find on ocean cruises, such as private sleeping cabins with decks, dining rooms, fitness centers, and even onboard entertainment.
But because they're smaller, river cruise ships go where ocean cruises cannot. You journey into the heart of Europe. Historic cities, green valleys, soaring walls of medieval castles, charming villages, and magnificent cathedrals are your constant views and all just a short walk from wherever the ship docks.
Journey right up to important historic and cultural sites. Much of the development of Europe's cities throughout history was tied to the river. By the water's edge, you'll see scenery straight out of history books, paintings and fairytales. When you travel on European river cruises, you're not limited to the coast and the heavily touristed ports of call frequented by big ocean cruise ships.
Experience more authentic travel. While river cruises stop in large cities, they also hit the small villages, castles and vineyards along the way. This provides for a more authentic experience where you can interact with the local culture. To further enrich that experience, local experts are usually onboard for one-to-one discussions with travelers.
Enjoy attentive service with a personal touch. In the intimate setting of the river cruise in which there are fewer guests, you have more opportunites to connect with individuals and get to know your crew.
Save on travel costs. Because your cruise includes transportation, accomodation and food all in one package, you'll save money on your overall trip, which protects against currency fluctuations.
Travel hassle-free because many of the details, such as ground transportation to/from the ship and airport and for sightseeing, accomodations and dining, are already taken care of in advance. Also, though you'll visit many places, you only have to unpack once.
Travel in comfort and luxury. Like a luxury hotel, many river cruise ships offer a full range of amenities, fine dining and gracious service. In fact, a number of river cruise line companies specialize in luxury travel.