6 European Cruises You Should Check Out for Your Next Vacation
There’s no better way to experience Europe than by way of its beautiful rivers. The views are spectacular, the pace of travel is leisurely, and many fares are all-inclusive.
If you’ve got a case of wanderlust, here are six options to consider.
1. Romantic Danube, Budapest to Nuremberg – Viking River Cruises
Lose yourself in the breathtaking scenery and rich history of Hungary, Austria, and Germany. From glittering cities to serene vineyards to centuries-old monasteries, this cruise couldn’t offer greater diversity. Budapest, Vienna, and Nuremberg are among the picturesque stops.
Viking throws in six complimentary excursions. Options include a tour of filming locations for The Sound of Music, a concert of Mozart favorites, and a Viennese coffee workshop with plenty of apple strudel.
Guests on Viking ships are pampered with twice-daily housekeeping, regional cuisine, and romantic alfresco dining.
Cruises start at $1,999 for eight days. Also, pre- or post-cruise extensions, such as Prague, are available at very affordable prices.
2. Passage to Eastern Europe, Bucharest to Budapest – Viking River Cruises
The eastern Danube was once behind the Iron Curtain. This cruise reveals long-hidden treasures.
It all starts in splendid Bucharest, Romania. Old-world architecture at each stop is marked by imposing domes and magical minarets. For instance, Serbia’s Iron Gate is one of the world’s most striking natural wonders.
There are seven complimentary guided tours, but Viking leaves plenty of time for guests to party in Belgrade on the last night in Serbia. It has also planned a festive evening in Kalocsa, Hungary. Enjoy a lavish dinner seasoned with local paprika and watch an astonishing performance by the daredevil Puszta horsemen.
Award-winning Viking Longships boast the largest suites on European rivers, full-size verandas, and sleek Scandinavian décor.
Starting at $2,899, this 11-day cruise of five countries is a real bargain.
3. Amsterdam Roundtrip – Crystal Cruises
Pristine forests, lush vineyards, and majestic mountains provide a rare treat for the senses. The Moselle River is so narrow that passengers can hear the trees on the banks rustling in the wind.
The 10-day cruise begins and ends in Amsterdam, Netherlands. Stops in Germany include Dusseldorf, Bonn, and Cologne. The trip features bike and cable car tours, castle tours, several wine and cheese tastings, visits to art museums, a Jewish heritage walk, and a string quartet performance.
Crystal is famous for award-winning service with a staff-to-guest ratio of one to 1.6. Not surprisingly, its motto is “Luxury is personal.”
The all-suite Crystal Bach features spacious accommodations and Michelin-quality cuisine. Fares start at $5,299.
4. Burgundy and Provence, St. Jean-de-Losne to Port-Saint-Louis-du-Rhone – Avalon Waterways
The Saone and Rhone rivers meander through the gorgeous countryside and scenic villages of southeastern France. This seven-stop cruise showcases the region’s Renaissance architecture, legendary cuisine, and outstanding wines.
In Lyon, take in the remarkable La Fontaine Bartholdi from one of Place des Terreaux’s bustling outdoor cafes. Charming Arles, on the Rhone, still inspires just as it did in Vincent van Gogh’s day. In fact, Avalon has arranged a painting workshop in Arles for artistic types.
There are several perks for gastronomes and connoisseurs on this cruise: a chocolate, cheese, and wine tasting; a dinner with instruction on wine pairings; a pastry demonstration; a cooking class; and free-flowing Lavazza cappuccino.
Live entertainment is yet another reason to book your passage. Avalon also gets high marks for comfortable beds, designer lighting, and excellent soundproofing in staterooms.
Cruises start at $2,499.
5. Gems of Northern Italy, Milan to Venice – Uniworld Boutique River Cruise Collection
This delightful exploration of northern Italy starts in Milan, home of Leonardo da Vinci’s “The Last Supper.” It then wends through Verona, Padua, Bologna, and Ferrara before culminating in enchanting Venice.
Since there’s no shortage of rustic Italian fare, the all-inclusive cruise is ideal for romantics, history buffs, art lovers, and foodies. Uniworld has even planned a multicourse lunch and wine tasting at a historic wine estate. Plus, all beverages on board the ship are complimentary.
There are eight excursions with “Choice Is Yours” options. Uniworld provides Nordic walking sticks and state-of-the-art headsets.
10-day cruises range from $2,499 to $5,199. The price includes a two-night hotel stay with complimentary breakfast in Milan.
6. Thames Cruise – The River Cruise Line
Experience the fabled river and verdant countryside from aboard the restored, award-winning African Queen. The five-day cruise explores the quaint farming villages at the very heart of England. On the livelier side, Henley-on-Thames is home to the annual Royal Regatta.
The River Cruise Line has some real treats in store. A special tour and riverside lunch are scheduled for Wallingford, home of mystery writer Agatha Christie. At Sonning, site of an 18th-century water mill, an evening of dinner theater is included. Sonning captivated writer Jerome K. Jerome, who referred to the village as “the most fairy-like nook on the whole river.”
If you prefer quiet, slow-paced vacations, this cruise is perfect for you. The African Queen accommodates just 14 passengers.
The captain and cook are a husband and wife team, so there’s a very homey, personal vibe. The final meal on board is a classic roast dinner with traditional English trimmings.
Prices start at £549 or about $697 USD.