Cruise along the majestic rivers of Europe

Travel Advice: You can cruise from the North Sea to the Black Sea, across Northern Italy, down the Rhone and along the Douro and Guadalquivir

Cruise ship passing on the River Danube in Passau, Bavaria, Germany

Cruise ship passing on the River Danube in Passau, Bavaria, Germany

 

One of the fastest growing sectors of the cruise industry is river-cruising, and new ships are being added every year. The lure of the rivers of Europe is the ease of sight-seeing and staying in riverside cities and towns. The most popular rivers are the great waterways of Europe, the Danube, the Rhine, the Moselle, the Vlatava, the Vistula, the Volga. You can cruise from the North Sea to the Black Sea, across Northern Italy, down the Rhone and along the Douro and Guadalquivir.

River cruise ships are restricted in size by the locks on the rivers, and the biggest ship is limited to 135m, so no behemoths hogging the waterways. Passenger numbers are usually from 90-280, a nice number to get to know your neighbours. With size competition not being a factor, cruise companies put a lot into the interiors, cuisine and shore excursions.

Uniworld river cruise ships are like a floating Shelbourne Hotels, elaborately ornate with gilt and Ormolu, super luxury beds, stuffed with art chosen by the owners who also own Ashford Castle, so you can imagine the style.

Celebrity Cruises have just entered the river market and will trade on their contemporary style and exclusive excursions. Ama Waterways is around for 15 years and devoted to foodie passengers, not easy when the galley is small.

Viking Cruises are ideal for the independent traveller who is more interested in the destinations than spas or pools. Crosi Europe, the French line, is the biggest with 52 ships and covers some unusual destination like historical cities of Spain. River cruises are a premium product and you can expect to pay from €140-€450 per night all inclusive, with food, entertainment and tours. Watch out for special offers with Uniworld.com, Cruisescapes.ie, cruiseholidays.ie, and sunway.ie.

jscales@irishtimes.com

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