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5 Best River Cruises in Europe

Can you feel it? A light breeze hitting your face, the smell of fresh air mixed with the unfamiliar scents of the river. OK, maybe we’re taking this too far, but river cruises are really that beautiful. And in case you’re wondering, yes! They are different from regular ocean cruises. 

Difference between river cruises and ocean cruises 

The first difference is the amount of time you’re on board. With ocean cruises, you get plenty of sea days where you’re just cruising around on the water. River cruises, not so much. Sightseeing is the thing, so you’ll likely be making daily stops to jump onto the land. Most river cruises last about a week and span two or three countries. Plus, expect to travel between April and October. The flooding the rest of the year makes it tough to pass through some of the locks. 

Can’t miss European river cruises 

Here are five European river cruises you absolutely should not miss: 

1. Seine River 

Route: Your cruise will typically start in Paris before floating northwest to Honfleur. There you’ll cruise on the English Channel then head towards Rouen. Your final stop is usually along the beaches of Normandy, the site of D-Day itself. 

Cruise lines: Uniworld, Viking River Cruises, AmaWaterways 

2. French Canals

Route: We’re staying in France for the moment. You’ll journey through the countryside regions like Champagne, Burgandy, and the Upper Loire. Expect to drink plenty of wine when you get off the ship to go sightseeing. 

Cruise Lines: French Country Waterways, Le Boat, Abercrombie & Kent.

3. Rhine River 

Route: The Rhine River passes through four different countries, including Switzerland, Germany, Netherlands and France. This cruise can stretch up to two weeks and takes you from Cologne to Heidelberg over to Rudesheim. 

Cruise lines: AmaWaterways, Uniworld, Sea Cloud, Grand Circle, Viking River Cruises.

4. Danube River 

Route: Nuremberg, Budapest, Vienna, Passau, Regensburg and Bratislava are all countries touched by the Danube River. This is definitely Europe’s most popular cruising river and great for those of you with broad cultural interests. 

Cruise lines: AmaWaterways, Sea Cloud, Grand Circle, Viking River Cruises, Uniworld.

5. Mekong River 

Route: OK, so we know this isn’t Europe, but we just couldn’t resist. Imagine seeing the temples between Siem Reap in Cambodia and Ho Chi Ming City in Vietnam. Most of the scenery of the cruise will be rural and you’ll be making stops in small villages along with the French Gothic Church.

Cruise lines: Pandaw Cruises

We know we told you that the best time to go is between April and October, but there are some specific Christmas time cruises that you can take advantage of. Either way, it’s stimulating passing through these beautiful countries and offers a different experience than ocean cruises. 

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