European River Cruises 101

A river cruise is one of the best ways to explore cities and towns in the heart of Europe. Passengers sail aboard small, well-appointed ships that often dock near the center of town, and daily sightseeing excursions capture the highlights of each port.

Champagne Vacations offers the widest variety of itineraries along every major river in Europe, plus excellent customer service, special discounts and promotions. Below are brief summaries of each waterway…

The Rhine River:

Many sailings start or end in Amsterdam at the northern end of the Rhine. It’s a city of narrow gabled homes and winding canals, and home to sites like Anne Frank’s house and a Van Gogh museum. Basel, Switzerland, is often the southern terminus of Rhine River sailings, and it boasts an ornate town hall and some very fine art museums.

The Middle Rhine is often thought to be the most scenic part of the river. This is where ships pass Lorelei Rock, where legend says an irresistible siren once lured sailors to their deaths. In Cologne, see the soaring twin steeples of the Gothic cathedral, and in Rudesheim, walk along the pedestrian-only Drosselgasse, lined with restaurants, shops and wine gardens. Passengers also travel to Heidelberg, one of Europe’s best-preserved medieval cities and home to a Gothic castle and centuries-old university.

Rhine River sailings are among the most popular European river cruise vacations.

The Danube River:

Captured in art, poetry and music, the Danube River is one of the world’s most romantic waterways. Danube itineraries wind through Germany and Austria, and often to Slovakia and Hungary as well. A few travel all the way to the river’s end at the Black Sea.

The Danube River  flows from Germany’s Black Forest to the Black Sea. Vienna, Bratislava, Budapest and Belgrade are among the main cities that line the route. Other stops can include Melk, where most visitors head straight for the 900-year-old Benedictine Abbey that overlooks the town, and Passau, where you may be treated to a concert on the 17,774-pipe organ in St. Stephan’s Cathedral. Some Danube River cruises sail through the Iron Gates, a spectacular gorge that forms the boundary between Serbia and Romania.

The Elbe River:

Elbe River cruises travel through Germany and the Czech Republic on a picturesque route characterized by soaring cliffs, storybook castles and medieval towns.

Elbe River cruises stop at cities and towns in Germany and the Czech Republic. In Germany, see the Castle Church in Wittenberg where Martin Luther posted his 95 theses and sparked the Protestant Reformation, and tour the factory in Meissen that has produced delicate porcelain since the early 1700s. In the Czech Republic, roam the cobblestone streets of Litomerice and discover the architectural treasures of Prague.

The  Mosel River:

The Mosel River courses through the peaceful countryside of Germany, Luxembourg and France. Sailings of the Mosel — or the Moselle, as it’s known in France — are often combined with cruises of the Rhine River. The route is lined by some of Europe’s most enchanting cities, as well as grand castles, lush vineyards and picture-perfect medieval villages.

The Mosel River flows through Germany, Luxembourg and France. Highlights include Trier — it is Germany’s oldest city, founded by Romans in 16 B.C. — and Cochem, home to a striking Gothic castle. In Luxembourg, passengers often visit Gen. George Patton’s grave at the American Cemetery and Memorial in Hamm. Sailings along the Mosel are frequently combined with Rhine River cruises.

The Douro River:

Learn about Portugal’s wine region on a cruise of the Douro River. Itineraries typically stop at Regua, where port wine is produced; the Baroque-style Mateus Palace and its gardens in Vila Real; and Porto, located at the mouth of the Douro.

The Rivers of France:  Saone, Rhone & Seine:

Meander through France’s Burgundy region on a Saone River cruise. Walking tours of Macon take in the Wooden House, a charming, half-timbered Renaissance home. Chalon-sur-Saone is an important center for France’s wine trade; from here, passengers often join an excursion to the Hospices of Beaune, a 15th-century hospital complex famous for its intricately detailed, colorful roofs.

Saone River cruises are often combined with sailings of the  Rhone River, which runs south through France’s Provence region to the Mediterranean coast. Itineraries call at Lyon, best known as France’s gastronomic capital; Arles, one of Van Gogh’s favorite places; and Avignon, a walled city with a 14th-century papal palace.

Seine River  itineraries spend time in Paris, where included sightseeing tours typically feature photo ops at the Eiffel Tower, the Arch of Triumph, Notre Dame and the broad, busy Champs-Elysees. Beyond the capital, highlights include Monet’s home and beautiful gardens at Giverny; Chateau Gaillard, Richard the Lionheart’s stronghold in Les Andelys; and Le Havre, where passengers typically set out for D-Day landing sites along the beaches of Normandy.

The Volga River:

Russia’s most famous cities, Moscow and St. Petersburg, can be visited on a  Volga River itinerary. St. Basil’s Cathedral, Red Square and the Kremlin are featured on Moscow sightseeing excursions, while the Peter and Paul Fortress and magnificent Hermitage Museum are the must-see spots in St. Petersburg. Elsewhere on the Volga, ships call at Yaroslavl, a city of wide, tree-lined streets and parks, and Uglich, best known for the blue-domed church built on the spot where Prince Dmitri, son of Ivan the Terrible, was murdered in 1591.

The Dnieper River:

Finally, the Dnieper River slices through the Ukraine to the Black Sea. Typically, itineraries will combine sailings of the Dnieper — up to Kiev, the Ukrainian capital — with cruises to Black Sea ports such as Yalta and Sevastopol on the Crimean Peninsula.

Don’t worry… there is no test!

As you can see.. there are so  many different rivers through out Europe that you could sail for weeks on end and not see them all… River Cruising is my favorite form of travel now.. and it the fast growing segment of travel!  Call 888 877 8464 or email us at for more information or a brochure today!


About Champagne Vacations

Owner of Champagne Vacations and Travel Consultant for almost 20 years. If I can't go myself, I will send you there!
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2 Responses to European River Cruises 101

  1. Robin Matthews says:

    I am just absolutely amazed at all the places you get to see when going on these cruises. I have always wanted to go and with all the packages you get, it would be like a dream come true. The best part of a cruise is that it’s almost as if you get two vacations in one. Cruising on a luxurious ship is already a plus. Not to mention the great places you get to experience while doing it. I think that I have made up my mind. I must just choose which river I want to cruise and make my dream come true.

  2. You are right Robin… river cruises are a great way of seeing those small, quaint European cities with less muss and fuss! If you are thinking of taking a river cruise though remember that this ships only hold a little over 100 people.. so they do sell out fast… currently I am already setting up these wonderful vacations for people into 2012~~!!

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