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250+ European river cruises with 1,198 reviews

Danube Serenade: Romantic Journey from Bucharest (Turnu Magurele) to Vienna, MS Fidelio Tour

River Cruise Family

Danube Serenade: Romantic Journey from Bucharest (Turnu Magurele) to Vienna, MS Fidelio

Classic Rhine cruise (Basel-Amsterdam) MS Crucevita Tour

River Cruise Family Historical +1

Classic Rhine cruise (Basel-Amsterdam) MS Crucevita

Grand Danube Cruise 2024 Tour

River Cruise Historical

Grand Danube Cruise 2024

"The food was exceptional, the excursions fun and enlightening and the entire crew was exceptional, fun, and professional." Warren, traveled in August 2022

Jewels of Europe 2024|2025 - 15 Days (13 destinations) Tour

Jewels of Europe 2024|2025 - 15 Days (13 destinations)

"Best trip ever. We can't think of what we can do to top this trip." CynthiaRoth, traveled in October 2022

Jewels of Europe 2024|2025 - 15 Days (15 destinations) Tour

Jewels of Europe 2024|2025 - 15 Days (15 destinations)

"The inclusions were excellent, walking tour guides at most locations were brilliant and well informed." Chrisopher, traveled in October 2019

Romantic Rhine (Southbound) 2024 Tour

Romantic Rhine (Southbound) 2024

"The food was amazing, the crew was really helpful, and the tours and tour guides were great." Hal, traveled in June 2022

From the Blue Danube to the Black Sea (port-to-port cruise) (from Vienna to Oltenita) Tour

From the Blue Danube to the Black Sea (port-to-port cruise) (from Vienna to Oltenita)

"Food excellent. Staff were awesome." David, traveled in April 2024

The beautiful blue Danube (port-to-port cruise) Tour

The beautiful blue Danube (port-to-port cruise)

"The tour exceeded all our expectations. We will definitely recognize this company to all our friends and family." Dexter, traveled in August 2019

Classical Rhine Cruise (Amsterdam - Basel) Tour

Classical Rhine Cruise (Amsterdam - Basel)

"A good balance of excursions and relaxation and good food and wine." Frances, traveled in September 2022

Captivating Rhine 2024 Start Amsterdam, End Basel Tour

Captivating Rhine 2024 Start Amsterdam, End Basel

"It was a trip that I would highly recommend to friends." Eurico, traveled in July 2019

European River Cruises Reviews

The cruise was beautiful and very scenic especially the loreley strip. The restaurant staff were extremely friendly and warm. Special mention of Ida, Kenan and Sugana . The rest of the crew were very accommodating too. The tour leader Jessica and Jordi was super and helpful although we were the only few English speakers she made us feel included. On the whole it was a very beautiful experience although the rooms are a bit old design and the boat is not a very new but the staff were phenomenal .
Really enjoyed the cruise. The food was exceptional, the excursions fun and enlightening and the entire crew was exceptional, fun, and professional. Bully for the Captain and Hotel Manager for setting the tone onboard. The Amabella experience must be the best! P.S. Cruise Manager Stefan is is star.
Best trip ever. We can’t think of what we can do to top this trip.

Popular Cruise Ships

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European River Cruising

The magic of our award-winning European river cruises goes far beyond the riverboat you're aboard or the landmarks you'll visit. It's in the intimate ambiance and personalized service... the places you'll discover off the beaten path... and in the uncommon access to local culture and exclusive destination driven experiences you can't get on your own, as you experience a true slice of European life and return home transformed.

  • Danube River
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Tauck European River Cruising

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Welcome to European River Cruising

Whether you're experiencing the Rhine or the Danube, the Douro, the Rhône, Seine, Maas or Moselle... the magic of our award-winning European river cruises goes far beyond the riverboat you're aboard or the landmarks you'll visit. It's in the intimate ambiance and personalized service... the places you'll discover off the beaten path... and in the uncommon access to local culture and exclusive destination driven experiences you can't get on your own, as you experience a true slice of European life and return home transformed.

What to expect on europe's rivers.

Although there's no better way to explore Europe's great cities, castle-dotted countryside and vineyards by riverboat, situations may arise that are beyond our control. In the event we need to modify your journey for any reason, you can trust that we will make every effort to communicate with you and to preserve your experience.

Portugal's golden Douro River, home to our newest cruises

The river of kings – the danube, wine country – france's rhône valley, old world europe – rhine river cruises, paris to normandy – the river seine.

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Featured River, Small Ship and Land Journeys

Inspired by the destination.

For 90+ years, the Tauck family has had a passion for sailing — aboard small ships and yachts at sea, riverboats along great inland waterways, and at home on the rivers and lakes of Connecticut and New York. When we began blending our land experience with our strong passion for cruising in our first European river cruise back in 1992, we knew that no "ordinary" river cruise experience would do for our guests. We wanted them to travel Europe's rivers in the same beyond-the-ordinary Tauck style they experienced on our land trips. With that in mind, we searched to find a company to partner with that would share our values and our commitment to "do the right thing" by our guests... and found it in another family-owned company, Scylla. Together, we crafted a river cruise experience that was ahead of its time and inspired by the destinations we explore.

Guest Favorites in River Cruising

Along the Danube... the Rhine... the Rhône... the Seine... or the Douro... our European river cruises are all about the unique cultural access you'll enjoy wherever we visit... the strong connections you'll make with the people you'll meet... and the traditions and genuine little moments they'll share with you  along the way...

Budapest to amsterdam by riverboat, the romantic rhine: basel to amsterdam, rendezvous on the seine, blue danube: family riverboat adventure, tauck's river cruise guide, european river facts.

Tauck shares the basic facts you need about Europe's rivers – plus the history, culture and more.

What to Expect On Europe's Rivers

Unforeseen circumstances may occur on the rivers of Europe from time-to-time, including high and low water levels. Tauck is always prepared to deal with these eventualities in order to preserve your Tauck experience.

Why Take A Tauck River Cruise

Tauck River Cruising means traveling in good company, exclusive access to cultural experiences, distinctively inclusive pricing and more!

Choosing The Best European River Cruise For You

Tauck's European river cruise guide will help you find the right Danube, Rhone, Rhine, Seine or Douro river cruise for you.

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  • River Cruises

15 of the Best River Cruises in Europe

See fairy-tale villages, iconic landmarks, and vineyards as you explore the continent's waterways.

european riverboat cruises

Much of the appeal of European river cruises lies in the small size of the ships, casual atmosphere, and accessibility. Unlike oceangoing ships that carry thousands of passengers, these vessels typically accommodate around 150 guests for a more intimate experience. Balconies, floor-to-ceiling windows, and open-air viewing are features of most river cruise ships. Many also include fitness centers, spas, and internet access.

Cruises usually offer several daily shore excursions with options based on interests and activity levels. Biking and walking tours are available in most ports. On boats traveling along rivers at all hours, collecting passengers from another port, guests can choose a leisurely day in a comfortable lounge enjoying the passing scenery.

While there are several famous rivers in Europe, the Danube and the Rhine are the most popular cruise options, according to  River Cruise Advisor . The Danube River tends to be more scenic, studded with charming cities and the UNESCO-recognized Wachau Valley. Alternatively, the Rhine offers access to bustling metropolises and passes Europe's industrial hubs. Both rivers flow through excellent wine country as well. Whether you want to explore an iconic route or less-traveled waterways, these are the best river cruises in Europe.

Viking Cruises

Perhaps the best-known river cruise company, Viking Cruises promotes its “longships,” which are designed to deliver maximum space and comfort. There are ample staterooms with full balconies to choose from — including two-room suites. Guests enjoy Viking's destination-focused dining as well as the variety of itineraries.

Trip to Try: Portugal's River of Gold

This nine-night trip begins in Lisbon with a walking tour before heading to Porto, home of Port wine, to board the ship on the Douro River. Guests can explore baroque palaces, vineyards, and lush scenery along the way, arriving in the World Heritage city of Salamanca, Spain, on day six. The itinerary includes visits to Portuguese villages Pinhão and Régua to sample local food and wine before returning to Porto.

AmaWaterways

A family-owned and -operated cruise company, AmaWaterways focuses on excellent food and wine, tasteful decor, stateroom views, and innovation in its luxurious fleet. Fares include fitness classes, shore excursions, and all dining on board, including The Chef's Table specialty restaurant. New ships debut each year, but the AmaMagna, which traverses the Danube, features the most spacious suites available. Rooms outfitted with full-sized balconies are worth the splurge on these small ships; it's like having a bonus room in your cabin. For a wider berth, book a part-charter to accommodate large groups.

Trip to Try: Taste of Bordeaux

Wine lovers will want to experience this seven-night journey with visits to iconic châteaux, timeless vineyards, and delicious wine tastings while cruising the Garonne and Dordogne rivers. Excursions include a Saint-Emilion tour and tasting, a stop in the Medoc wine region, and a tasting of Sauternes in medieval Roquetaillade Castle. Returning to Bordeaux, guests will explore this UNESCO World Heritage Site and capital of the wine world.

Adventures by Disney River Cruises

Chloe Rice/Adventures by Disney River Cruises

Partnering with AmaWaterways, Adventures by Disney offers cruises on the Seine, Rhine, and Danube rivers. In true Disney style, specially designed itineraries create experiences for parents, children, and teens, from active excursions to unique onboard activities. Entertainment for guests of all ages includes adults-only dinners and wine-tasting experiences, teen programming, Disney movie nights, karaoke, and trivia nights.

Trip to Try: Danube River Cruise

The seven-night trip starts in Budapest where excursions include a horse show at an equestrian park, a petting zoo, and a goulash-making competition. In Bratislava, wander cobblestone streets on a walking tour. Visit Schönbrunn Palace, enjoy a marionette show, or learn to make strudel while in Vienna. In Melk, Austria, hike to a castle or bike along the Danube for an active day. Dock in Linz, then visit Salzburg to see famous film locations featured in “The Sound of Music.” A stop in Passau, Germany allows guests to walk among treetops on a high-ropes course or spend a more leisurely afternoon with a monastic brewery tour and tasting. Say farewell to the ship in Vilshofen, Germany, before transferring to Munich for the flight home.

Uniworld Boutique River Cruises

Uniworld River Cruises

Uniworld's one-of-a-kind vessels are inspired by the locations they visit, making them luxurious destinations in their own right. Amenities include in-suite butler service, world-class cuisine, and all-inclusive rates that cover premium spirits and wines as well as gratuities.

Trip to Try: Enchanting Danube

The seven-night Danube cruise aboard the S.S. Maria Theresa or the S.S. Beatrice begins in Budapest with a choice of tours, such as a food tour or a panoramic drive with a guided visit to the Franz Liszt Academy. In Vienna, walk between the city's best attractions or take an early-access guided tour of the Vienna Art History Museum. Excursion options include a vineyard visit and tasting or a saffron workshop in Dürnstein, or a stop at an abbey library in Melk. Dock in Linz for a full day of culinary exploration or transfer to Salzburg to visit music-themed highlights like Mozart's birthplace and "The Sound of Music" filming locations. The cruise ends in Passau after a walking tour of the city and a riverside stroll or a hike along the Ilz, a Danube tributary.

Avalon Waterways

When you cruise with Avalon Waterways, you can observe the riverfront scenery from the comfort of your bed. The line's spacious staterooms and suites boast wall-to-wall, floor-to-ceiling windows, luxurious linens, and ample closet space. Large bathrooms include full showers and L'Occitane bath amenities. Avalon offers “Active and Discovery” river cruises with options for a variety of fitness levels, from traditional sightseeing to action-packed experiences like hiking or rail cycling, which is a bike fitted to a former train track.

Trip to Try: Active & Discovery on the Rhône

Southbound on the Rhône River, this cruise begins in Lyon and heads south through the French countryside with picturesque towns and villages. Throughout Provence, stops include Avignon, Port-Saint-Louis, and Arles. During the seven-night journey, Avalon Choice excursions include culinary walks with cooking classes, hikes with panoramic views, a painting workshop, wine tastings, classic sightseeing, and more directed by three available activity levels.

Started as a New England motor coach tour company, Tauck is a family-owned travel firm offering tours and cruises to destinations worldwide. Its award-winning European river cruises are praised for personalized service, exclusive destination experiences, luxurious cabins and suites, fine dining, and professional, caring staff.

Trip to Try: Impressions from the Seine: Paris to Normandy

This seven-night round-trip cruise from Paris features stops in historic small villages and towns after sightseeing in the City of Light. In the days following embarkation, highlights include a guided tour of Versailles, Louis XIV's magnificent palace and gardens, Rouen Cathedral, and Joan of Arc Square. See the D-Day beaches of Normandy, and the American Cemetery at Omaha Beach. Art lovers will enjoy a private experience of Claude Monet's home and gardens at Giverny and a visit to the Impressionist Museum.

Scenic Luxury Cruises & Tours

Scenic Cruises offers both ocean and river voyages. Both feature its fleet of “Space-Ships,” which are meticulously designed for spacious quarters. Guests enjoy personalized butler service and all-inclusive cruising. Ships offer a wellness area, massage services, a gym, and onboard entertainment. Scenic's “FreeChoice” excursions offer something for all activity levels.

Trip to Try: Charming Castles & Vineyards of the Rhine & Moselle

Board the ship in Basel, Switzerland. For seven nights, slowly sail up the Rhine to Breisach in the Alsace region of France. Stops include Koblenz, where guests can take a walking or e-bike tour. There's a private classical music concert and tour of Reichsburg Castle along the way, as well as optional visits to the iconic Eltz Castle or a walking tour of Strasbourg and its magnificent cathedral. Disembark in Mainz to conclude the trip with a transfer to Frankfurt.

Emerald Cruises

For its European river cruises alone, Emerald features a fleet of eight “Star-Ships” with stylish suites, first-class amenities, and room for 180 guests. Most carry bicycles, and all staterooms are equipped with hiking poles. Excursions include EmeraldPlus, a program of special experiences to connect with destinations, and EmeraldActive, which offers faster-paced guided tours, bike rides, hikes, and other activities.

Trip to Try: Sensations of Lyon & Provence

Travel from Lyon to Marseille on a seven-night cruise on the Rhône River. Overland to a quaint village before returning to Lyon to set sail. The ship cruises south toward Tournon, with its 16th-century castle. Other stops include Avignon and Arles. Throughout the cruise, choose from optional activities such as canoeing, hiking through vineyards, walking tours of villages, or onboard wine tastings.

CroisiEurope Cruises

Established in 1976, Croisi holds a fleet of oceangoing ships, canal barges, and river cruise ships. The company's innovative approach stems from basing its ships' design on the characteristics of the waterways. This allowed them to be pioneers on several European rivers including the Gironde, Loire, Po, and Elbe.

Trip to Try: Hamburg to Berlin: Discover the Medieval Charms of Hanseatic Cities

CroisiEurope's six-night cruise starts with guided tours of Hamburg and Lübeck, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. After a morning cruise, the ship passes through the Scharnebeck twin ship lift. This industrial marvel vertically raises vessels to 125 feet where the River Elbe connects to a canal. An optional visit to the Autostadt theme park, dedicated to German car design, and an afternoon cruise fill day four. The next day, there's a tour of Magdeburg, known for its fascinating architecture and culture. In Potsdam, wander the Sanssouci Palace gardens before enjoying an evening gala. The boat then docks in Berlin, where guests can tour the city before disembarking the following day.

A-ROSA River Cruises

This German cruise company's distinctive ships are easy to recognize by the large red lips and rose on the bow. The 15-strong fleet includes a hybrid-powered ship, A-Rosa Sena , that cruises the northern Rhine almost silently and emission-free. Family-friendly amenities include a kids club, heated outdoor pools, and free passage for children ages 15 and under.

Trip to Try: Highlights of the Rhine

This five-night, round-trip Rhine river cruise begins in Cologne, Germany, followed by stops in Rotterdam and Amsterdam. Each city has a unique style of architecture and a thriving art scene. Sightseeing options include guided tours by bus, private car, or even pedal boats on Amsterdam's canals, each at an additional cost. Turning back toward Cologne, enjoy two days in Utrecht before disembarking.

Lüftner Cruises

Lueftner Cruises

This Austrian family business dates back more than 40 years and offers European river cruises on its fleet of 11 Amadeus ships. Five-star service, facilities, and cuisine are hallmarks, and the ships feature panoramic windows and a spacious sundeck.

Trip to Try: Saar and Moselle Fairytales

Board the ship in Cologne and spend seven nights cruising down the Rhine River to its tributary, the Moselle River, one of Europe's best-kept secrets , and the Saar River. The ship passes the Mosel vineyards and docks in the medieval town of Cochem for a guided walking tour. Guests can tour the town of Bernkastel-Kues and enjoy a wine tasting. After a morning tour of medieval Saarburg, the ship cruises along the Saar with panoramic views of Great Bend, an impressive curve in the river. It then stops in Luxembourg and Koblenz, where the Rhine and Moselle rivers meet, before returning to Cologne.

Nicko Cruises

Plying Europe's rivers since the early 1990s, this German company has a fleet of over 20 river ships. Nicko Cruises focuses on giving guests a flexible itinerary to explore destinations in a way that best suits their tastes. While guests might have to pay more for a drinks package or additional excursions, this river cruise line delivers value.

Trip to Try: Renaissance and Reformation

The seven-night cruise sets off along the Elbe and Havel rivers from Potsdam, Germany, aboard the Katharina Von Bora . In Magdeburg, visit the Green Citadel, a unique space with shops and cafes designed by Austrian artist Friedensreich Hundertwasser. The next stop is Wittenburg, home to the Castle Church where Martin Luther sparked the Protestant Revolution in 1517. From Bad Schandau, guests have the option to take an excursion by bus to Prague for the day. Having seen the impressive architecture, cathedrals, and Prussian fortresses, travelers sail back to Dresden to end the week.

Teeming River Cruises

Jeff and Gina Paglialonga/Teeming River Cruises

Founded in 2017 with the goal of making European river cruises more economical and personalized, this American company developed a different model. Teeming River Cruises offers a mix of programmed group activities and free time, and guests get a complimentary city tour app to explore each destination on their own. Passengers can also opt for excursions on top of the basic itinerary for an extra fee.

Trip to Try: From the Canals of Venice to Renaissance-infused Mantua

Set in northern Italy along the Po River, this six-night trip starts in Venice where guests can discover the most popular sites like St. Mark's Square. In partnership with CroisiEurope aboard the M.S. Michelangelo , the ship heads west to Chioggia. Join an excursion to Vicenza before boarding again in Porto Viro and cruising to Rovigo. After arriving in Torretta, spend time in Verona, with its ancient amphitheater and Giusti Gardens. The next days are spent in Cremona, with a visit to a violin workshop, and Mantua, where key properties of the House of Gonzaga are located. After disembarkation, take a bus back to Venice.

Les Bateaux Belmond

Belmond has another way to cruise some of Europe's rivers — on luxury barges with private chefs and excursions like truffle hunting, hot-air ballooning, canoeing, and wine tasting. Seven private charter barges make up Les Bateaux Belmond, each with its own style and size. The elegant barges cruise the waterways of Burgundy, Provence, Camargue, and Champagne. Each can accommodate four to 12 passengers, making this a personal experience.

Trip to Try: Les Bateaux Belmond's Napoleon

On the Belmond Napoleon , which runs scheduled trips as well as private charters, guests cruise the Rhône River past châteaux, rural river towns, and expansive vineyards. Begin the journey in Tain l'Hermitage and enjoy a wine tasting. After a stop at the medieval village of Viviers, the cruise continues to Grignan, where you can participate in a luxurious truffle tasting at a farm. Visit the palace where 14th-century popes lived in Avignon. In Arles, explore the surrounding landscape that inspired Van Gogh's work. Along the cruise, enjoy fragrant fields of lavender and wild roses, too.

Riviera River Cruises

WESTEND61/GETTY IMAGES 

United Kingdom-based Riviera River Cruises has four decades of experience traversing Europe's best-known waterways and lesser-visited regions. The ships, many named after British literary greats, feature standard amenities such as Wi-Fi, a fitness room, a pool, and a sauna. Staterooms have plush furnishings and balconies for outdoor lounging.

Trip to Try: Budapest to the Black Sea

While many European river cruises cover the most popular stretches of the Danube, this itinerary picks up where most end, in Budapest. The 15-day cruise follows the Danube through Croatia, Serbia, Bulgaria, and Romania to the Black Sea. Along the way, passengers see pastoral lands and steep river canyons. Picturesque stops include Novi Sad with its beautiful baroque architecture, the Iron Gates Gorge marking the boundary between Serbia and Romania, and Oltenița from which guests can visit Bucharest. After reaching the Danube Delta, travelers return to Budapest for disembarkation.

Related Articles

The 10 best places to go on a river cruise in Europe 

Jun 7, 2024 • 8 min read

european riverboat cruises

Appreciate the beautiful architecture of Budapest from the Danube © Sanga Park / Shutterstock

Cruising down a quiet, traffic-free river, surrounded by scenic riverfront views is an ideal way to see Europe . You can sip your wine while watching picture-perfect scenery breeze past – taking in castles, medieval villages and fields of flowers. 

By necessity, European riverboats are small and passenger numbers are often fewer than 200, making these cruises a far more social and intimate experience. There’s also plenty to do and see onshore, and with more frequent stops you can enjoy more onshore activities. Cruise lines are now also offering more immersive learning experiences such as cooking classes and home visits, or activities like bicycle trips and long hikes.

The hardest part is choosing where to go — which is why we've rounded up the 10 best places to go on a European river cruise. (Once you've chosen your cruise, check out our definitive cruise packing guide .)

River cruise boats float down a village-lined river in Germany.

1. Northern Rhine (Germany)

From gorgeous river meanders and noble German cities

The northern section of the Rhine features dramatic landscapes and a host of interesting towns. Cologne (Köln), Germany ’s fourth-largest city, offers numerous attractions starting with its famous cathedral, while Koblenz, at the confluence of the Rhine and Moselle Rivers, is a park- and flower-filled delight. Heading south, the Rhine meanders between hillside castles and steep fields of wine-producing grapes. Idyllic villages appear around each bend, their half-timbered houses and Gothic steeples seemingly plucked from a fairy tale. Scarcely damaged during WWII, handsome Speyer is crowned by a magnificent Romanesque cathedral. 

2. Southern Rhine (France, Germany & Switzerland)

Explore intriguing towns in this border land

The Southern Rhine forms the border between Germany and France before becoming Switzerland ’s northern frontier. Strasbourg is the perfect overture to all that is idiosyncratic about Alsace – walking a fine tightrope between France and Germany, between a medieval past and a progressive future. Further south, the Black Forest spills into Alsace in the German town of Breisach. Unsurprisingly, given its geographical and cultural proximity to France, the locals here have a passion for a good bottle of wine. Basel, at the juncture of the French, German and Swiss borders, is perhaps where Switzerland’s Franco-Germanic roots are most evident.

3. Rhône (France)

Indulge in gourmet experiences cruising the south of France

Commanding a strategic spot at the confluence of the Rhône and Saône Rivers, grand old Lyon is France’s gastronomic capital. Downstream, the Rhône forges past Vienne’s Roman ruins and the centuries-old Côtes du Rhône vineyards, opening to sunny vistas of fruit orchards, lavender fields and the distant Alps as it continues south. During the 14th century, the Provençal town of Avignon was the center of the Roman Catholic world. Its impressive legacy of ecclesiastical architecture most notably includes the soaring, World Heritage-listed Palais des Papes .

Sunset's golden light signs on the Italianite city of Passau and the Danube river.

4. Western Danube (Austria & Germany)

Romantic landscapes in the heart of Europe

The baroque streetscapes and imperial palaces set the stage for Vienna ’s artistic and musical masterpieces alongside its coffee-house culture and vibrant epicurean and design scenes. Moving into Germany, the Danube gently winds its way to the Italianate city of Passau . Top billing in eastern Bavaria goes to Regensburg, a former capital and one of Germany’s prettiest and liveliest cities. Nuremberg (Nürnberg), Bavaria’s second-largest city and the unofficial capital of Franconia, is an energetic place with a history that ranges from undeclared capital of the Holy Roman Empire to the trials that judged Nazi war crimes.

5. Eastern Danube (Hungary & Serbia)

Travel a cross-section of Europe’s less-touristed east

The two great cities of this stretch of the Danube are the capitals of Hungary and Serbia respectively. Budapest has something for everyone – from dramatic history and flamboyant architecture to healing thermal waters. Outspoken, adventurous, proud and audacious: Belgrade ("White City") has a gritty exuberance and eclectic architecture making it one of Europe’s most happening cities today. While it hurtles towards a brighter future, its past unfolds before your eyes: socialist blocks are squeezed between art nouveau masterpieces and remnants of the Habsburg legacy contrast with Ottoman relics.

Lush green vineyards line the banks of the Duoro.

6. Douro (Portugal)

See spectacular terraced vineyards, the home of port wine

The Douro region, home to port wine, is simply one of the most glorious spots on earth. The Douro Valley showcases steep terraced vineyards carved into mountains, granite bluffs, whitewashed quintas (estates) and 18th-century wine cellars that draw visitors from around the world. Humble-yet-opulent Porto entices with its higgledy-piggledy medieval center, divine food and wine, and charismatic locals. Its charms are as subtle as the nuances of an aged tawny port, best savored slowly.

7. Elbe (Czech Republic & Germany)

A little-cruised but picturesque stretch of Central Europe

Covering the Czech Republic and a thick slice of eastern Germany, Elbe cruises are under-the-radar options. Prague , not on the Elbe but usually included on river cruises, contends with cities like Budapest and Paris in terms of beauty. Its maze of cobbled lanes and hidden courtyards is perfect for the aimless wanderer. The classic view of Dresden from the Elbe’s northern bank takes in spires, towers and domes belonging to palaces, churches and stately buildings: hard to believe that the city was all but wiped off the map by Allied bombings in 1945. While the city of Wittenberg is first and foremost about Martin Luther, the monk who triggered the German Reformation in 1517.

The pedestrian Pont des Arts crosses the River Seine, linking the Palais du Louvre (shown) and the Institut de France

8. Seine (France)

Cruise out of Paris through northern France

Paris has a timeless familiarity, with instantly recognizable architectural icons, memorable cuisine and chic boutiques. Dining is a quintessential part of the Parisian experience, and its art repository is one of the best, showcasing priceless treasures in palatial museums. Don't miss Rouen is one of Normandy’s most engaging and historically rich destinations, with its soaring Gothic cathedral, beautifully restored medieval quarter, excellent museums and vibrant cultural life. At the mouth of the Seine, Le Havre is a love letter to modernism, evoking France’s postwar energy and optimism.

9. Main (Germany)

A seductive German river connecting to the Rhine and Danube

Rising in Franconia and joining the Rhine near Mainz, the Main (pronounced "mine") is the longest German-only river. From Bamberg to its confluence, it travels some 400km through locks and picturesque scenery, dotted with historic towns. Frankfurt ’s skyscrapers are quite a contrast to the picturesque towns that follow, though it too has a rather traditional and charming old town. Scenic Würzburg is renowned for its art, architecture and delicate wines. A disarmingly beautiful architectural masterpiece, Bamberg’s entire Altstadt is a UNESCO World Heritage site. 

A river flows through lush farmland in Germany.

10. Moselle (Germany)

An intimate stretch of the wine-producing German region

Having traversed France and Luxembourg , the Moselle heads through Germany to meet its destiny with the Rhine at Koblenz. It’s a very pretty stretch of river flanked by vineyards, and makes for great leisurely cruising and exploration. With an astounding nine UNESCO World Heritage sites, gorgeous Trier shelters Germany’s finest ensemble of Roman monuments, and is enlivened by a characterful medieval center and large student population. Bernkastel-Kues are lovely twin settlements in the heart of wine country, while Cochem’s castle and pretty buildings make it a visual highlight of the Moselle .

How do I choose a route for a European river cruise?

The two major rivers for European cruises are the Rhine and the Danube. Together, they were once the northern boundary of the Roman Empire. Rhine cruises often run from Amsterdam to Basel, following the course of the river through Germany. Danube cruises start in southern Germany, wend their way through Bratislava, Slovakia; Linz and Vienna, Austria; and Belgrade, Serbia; then skirt the Bulgarian and Romanian border to reach the Black Sea.

While many first-time European river cruisers stick to these two rivers, there are many other options available. In Western Europe, you can cruise through the French countryside on the Rhône and Seine, or check out the vineyards of Portugal on the Douro. 

Even on the same river, distinct routes can be offered. One company might zip up the Rhine, allowing you to see the highlights in a few days; another might take longer, exploring smaller places along the way and offering more time for onshore experiences. You'll need to decide whether you’d like to get a look at more destinations, or more of a feel for fewer places.

When is the best time to go on a European river cruise?

Cruises on European rivers tend to begin in the spring, around March, and go through to October. Some cruises, operating in areas where Christmas markets are a feature, run right through December but inclement weather or river flooding could put a dampener on plans. Winter cruises tend to focus on places where Christmas experiences are on offer. Shorter daylight hours mean you’ll see less scenery, but the charm of the festive season has its own appeal. 

Choosing your season is very much a matter of personal preference, and there are pros and cons for each season. Summer cruises offer the most spectacular scenery, the longest daylight hours and the best weather, but the towns you visit will be far busier and you won’t be alone in port; in some smaller places, you may have to scramble across the decks of other boats to reach the shore.

Spring and autumn mean less time around the pool on the top deck, but quieter times ashore. Expect rains in spring, but also blooming flowers. Autumn is a great time to cruise the Douro, with grapes being picked and clement temperatures.

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9 best river cruises in Europe

Fran Golden

River cruising in Europe is one of those delightfully slow and easy modes of travel. You're in a small floating hotel, exploring calm inland waters, gliding past castles and vineyards and scenery that changes by the hour.

Daily escorted walking tours and other excursions provided by the river line take you to key UNESCO World Heritage Sites and other city and village attractions you've come to see. Or you can choose to explore on your own, which is easy since your ship often will dock right in town.

Lazy afternoons on the ship afford the time to sit in a lounge chair and watch the world go by — kids swimming from the riverbanks, farmers tending their crops, river birds flapping their wings — as you glide to your next destination.

Which European river should you explore? The choices are broader than you might expect.

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The main rivers in Europe are the Danube and the Rhine and their tributaries. They are, by far, the most popular, doable either on one-week segments or longer itineraries that combine areas and sometimes combine rivers. Even if your cruise is only a week, don't underestimate the allure of relaxing for seven days on a river in France or on the dreamy Douro in Portugal.

Here are the best river cruises in Europe.

Upper Danube

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When it comes to Europe river cruises, a perfect seven-night starter sailing is the Upper Danube, which takes you through centuries of history as you explore Germany, Austria, Slovakia and Hungary.

Ships visit such cultural hubs as Vienna, with its opera and art museums and elaborate royal palaces, and Budapest, Hungary, with its magnificent architecture and modern vibe. If your ship passes the Hungarian Parliament building at night, you're in for a treat; magnificently lit, it's one of the most photographed sights on the river.

Along the route, between Melk and Krems in Austria, you cruise through the Wachau Valley, a key wine-growing region producing rieslings and gruner veltliners, with sipping opportunities available. It's also a great place to bike, which is why it's nice to sail with lines, such as AmaWaterways , that carry bikes on board for passengers to use.

You might also have the option of a side trip to Salzburg, Austria, the birthplace of Mozart — and also where several scenes for the movie "Sound of Music" were filmed. A surprise for many is Old Town Bratislava, Slovakia, which might not have been on your must-do list but which charms with its beer culture and castles.

Related: Booking your first river cruise? Here's what you need to know.

Lower Danube

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For a deep dive into Eastern Europe's past and present, the fascinating Lower Danube route between Budapest and Bucharest, Romania, explores history from the medieval times and Victorian era of Dracula to the rise of communism and the Bosnian War.

The seven-night river cruise takes you through Hungary, Croatia, Serbia, Bulgaria and Romania. The most beautiful stretch of the river is a 62-mile passage through a gorge between the Balkan and Carpathian Mountains. It's also one of the deepest stretches of river in the world.

Other sights accessed on shore excursions via bus include Bulgaria's Belogradchik Rocks, which are naturally carved towering red rock pinnacles that appear to take forms such as "Madonna with child," and Veliko Tarnovo, Bulgaria's stunning medieval capital.

european riverboat cruises

When it comes to top cruising rivers in Europe, the Rhine wins for natural beauty and fairytale landscapes. A cruise on the river between Amsterdam in The Netherlands, and Basel, Switzerland — a typical one-week route — takes you past expanses of slope-side vineyards, forests and mountains, historic cities and medieval half-timbered villages.

That's even before you get to the Upper Middle Rhine Valley, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. This 40-mile stretch of river, between Rudesheim and Koblenz, Germany, has castles galore — you might imagine Rapunzel letting down her hair — and Lorelei Rock, the legendary cliff said to distract sailors with the mesmerizing song of a maiden.

The French city of Strasbourg, with its famous Gothic cathedral and robust Alsatian culinary scene, is often a favorite stop on Rhine itineraries, with other highlights including Heidelberg, Germany, and its imposing castle.

Related: Christmas market river cruises: What to expect on a holiday sailing

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Sure, you can catch sight of the Eiffel Tower when boarding a river ship in Paris, but you can do that while staying in a hotel, too. The real attractions of a Seine River cruise are sailing on the river outside the city toward the English Channel and a visit to the beaches in Normandy for a perspective on World War II.

Your visit there and to the Normandy American Cemetery and Memorial, as well as other memorials and monuments to the fallen, is a poignant experience (one that requires a two-hour bus ride from your ship, however). Avalon Waterways brings a World War II expert on board to add insight on select sailings.

Other treasures exist along the Seine, not the least of which is Giverny, the home and gardens of impressionist artist Claude Monet. If you are a fan of his art, much of the property might seem familiar.

In historic Rouen, where Joan of Arc was martyred in the Middle Ages, stop by the Rouen Cathedral (another subject of Monet) before losing yourself on cobblestone streets with wonderful cafes.

Related: River cruise packing list: What to pack when traveling by riverboat

european riverboat cruises

Bordeaux river cruises are different from other water routes because you explore two short waterways — the Dordogne and Garonne Rivers — and the Gironde Estuary in Southwest France.

You'll spend more time ashore than floating down the river on this itinerary, with your ship docked for two nights in the city of Bordeaux, a mini-Paris with grand 18th-century buildings. Who cares when you are in the epicenter of French culture, in one of the most celebrated wine regions in the world?

Bordeaux serves up the opportunity to sip Medoc, Margaux, Saint-Emilion, Pomerol and Sauternes wines as you expand your wine education. You'll visit vineyards and gorgeous chateaus. Your cruise line might even host a dinner at a wine estate one evening. If you plan your cruise for September or October, you'll be able to admire the grape harvest.

Related: The 5 best cruise lines for solo travelers

Rhone and Saone

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Another must for wine-lovers is exploring the interior of France, sipping Cotes du Rhone in such famous winemaking regions as Hermitage and Chateauneuf-du-Pape in Provence and Beaune in Burgundy.

Rhone and Saone River cruises typically sail between Lyon and Arles or Avignon, and they're top-loaded with such non-wine attractions as the Roman aqueduct Pont du Gard and the Roman Arles Amphitheater, as well as the massive Palais des Papes (Papal Palace) in Avignon. You'll also be able to take in the lavender fields, haystacks and other scenes that inspired painters like Paul Cezanne and Vincent Van Gogh.

european riverboat cruises

For a lazy, dreamy, wonderful river cruise experience, nothing quite beats exploring the wine regions of Portugal on the Douro, one of the major rivers through the Iberian Peninsula. The home base for these river cruises is Porto, Portugal, with its historic city center, spectacular bridges and port houses.

On one-week cruises, you'll follow the river 130 miles past green hillside vineyards in the Douro River Valley, a UNESCO-recognized destination, before turning around at the Spanish border. The river cruises typically include a visit to the university town of Salamanca in northern Spain. Viticulture is very much the lesson en route, as you learn about port production on the "River of Gold."

Related: 5 cruise lines to try if you just can't stand being around kids on vacation

european riverboat cruises

Due to fluctuating water levels and narrow passages, the Elbe is a challenging river that runs 680 miles between the Czech Republic and Germany. Historically, it formed part of the border between East Germany and West Germany.

River cruising here is a rare experience. Viking River Cruises is one of the few lines that visits (another is the French line CroisiEurope), offering 10-day itineraries that combine hotel stays in the cities of Berlin and Prague with a stretch of river between Prague and Wittenburg, Germany.

The cruises are on ships built specifically for the Elbe route. They stop in places such as resurgent Dresden, heavily bombed during World War II but expertly rebuilt; the Saxon Switzerland region of Germany with its striking sandstone rock formations; and the spa town of Bad Schandau.

european riverboat cruises

The Po River in northern Italy is tidal, making it another challenging waterway. However, it affords the opportunity to combine a visit to Venice with a river cruise. Uniworld Boutique River Cruises does the Po in high style with its 126-passenger S.S. La Venizia, completely decked out with a sense of place, from Fortuny fabrics and Murano glass to its gilded accents.

The one-week route doesn't take you far but does include the walled city of Padua, the charming fishing village of Chioggia, and the culinary mecca of Bologna.

For those looking for a longer experience, Uniworld cleverly combines a Po cruise with luxury rail journeys to places like Istanbul, Switzerland and beyond.

Planning a cruise? Start with these stories:

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Journey through picturesque European river waterways

Be inspired by the history, culture, cuisine and magnificent sights of Europe. From the charming castles and fairy-tale villages on the Rhine, Main and Danube, and the iconic sites of France, to the renowned Portuguese wine regions along the Douro River. Explore these incredible destinations while enjoying truly all-inclusive ultra-luxury in a class of its own. 

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Choose your European Destination

A world of enriching experiences awaits you as you cruise past an array of towns rich in culture and history.

Enjoy a truly all-inclusive river cruise in a class of its own.  

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Why travel on a Scenic Europe river cruise?

Our luxury, purpose-built Scenic Space-Ships get you closer to shore to create a real sense of immersion in the heart of European life and culture. Let time stand still as you discover the limitless wonders of Europe and enjoy a premium all-inclusive experience.

Innovative Scenic Space-Ships

Our innovative ships feature an abundance of luxurious outdoor, dining and wellness areas, along with spacious suites. Low guest numbers of only up to 163 guests provide an intimate experience. These sleek ships are also able to dock in the heart of towns, so you can enjoy more time to explore.

A couple on the sun deck of a Scenic cruise ship, being served a beverage by staff in Budapest, Hungary.

Luxurious Suites

Each suite offers you the luxury of personal space. Our generously-sized suites are elegantly appointed with premium amenities including a queen-size Scenic Slumber Bed, a pillow menu and luxurious bath products. The Balcony, Junior and Royal Suites* feature your very own window to the world with our signature Scenic Sun Lounges – some of the largest balconies offered on European waterways. 

A man and woman having a beverage in the Scenic Sun Lounge area of a Royal Owners Suite.

Up to Five Dining Options

Whether you prefer a fine dining experience with a six-course degustation, a relaxed café setting or dining in the privacy of your suite, you’ll find delectable options to suit your tastes and mood. Premium international beverages^ – wine, beer, cocktails, spirits – are included and available all day, every day. It’s more than outstanding food and wine – it’s the fresh flavours of each region prepared by our innovative chefs. 

A man and woman toasting with a glass of wine at Crystal Dining on a Scenic river cruise ship.

Scenic Freechoice

Personalise your river cruise and pursue your own interests as you set off on curated excursions throughout Europe. Scenic’s extensive and diverse list of Freechoice excursions offer an Active, Moderate or Relaxed pace so you can choose activities best suited to you based on your passions. Whether it’s a guided hike up beautiful Buda Hill or delectable wine tastings in the French town of Châteauneuf du Pape, the choice is yours.

Groups of guests sitting at tables for a wine tasting at Chateauneuf de Pape, France

Scenic Enrich

Our Scenic Enrich experiences are exclusive to Scenic guests and place you at the heart of the world’s most refined art, music and architecture. You’ll go behind the scenes to enjoy moments inaccessible to the ordinary traveller, from a classical concert at the opulent Palais Liechtenstein in Vienna to after hours access at Bassins de Lumières, a former submarine base turned immersive digital art installation. These carefully curated experiences are destined to be the highlights of your journey. 

Guests watching a classical concert and performance at Palais Lichtenstein, Vienna

Salt Therapy Lounge

Scenic is the first and only river cruise company to feature a therapeutic Salt Therapy Lounge* on board its Scenic Space-Ships cruising Europe’s waterways. Mimicking the environment of a salt cave, the Salt Therapy Lounge can assist with healing, improving respiration and boosting the immune system.

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Unforgettable Douro

A truly timeless place

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Spectacular South of France

Awaken your senses in the South of France

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Black Sea Explorer with Bucharest & Budapest

Hidden Treasures Rediscovered

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Christmas Markets

Soak up the Christmas magic

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Jewels of Europe

Europe’s most spectacular river discovery

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Romantic Rhine & Moselle

Romance is alive and well on the Rhine

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Riverside Luxury Cruises

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Experience an, unique luxury river cruises in europe.

A river cruise touches the senses. It combines space and time to create a contemplative experience. Sitting on the upper deck in an intimate atmosphere, watching unspoiled, beautiful scenery pass by – these are moments you will never forget.

Marvel at the engineering prowess of the locks. Immerse yourself in the culture of Europe's most beautiful cities. Enjoy the culinary specialties of the regions the ship passes through. And you only have to pack your suitcase once. Yes, a river cruise in Europe with Riverside Luxury Cruises also means setting out to find yourself.

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TRAVEL WITH RIVERSIDE LUXURY CRUISES

Luxury on water, three ships for your luck.

Do you enjoy personalized service? Do you appreciate the interplay of culture and nature as much as an uncompromising culinary experience? Do you love the fusion of space and time and are you looking for experiences that you will talk about for years to come? And yes, you like it sophisticated? Then there's a good chance that a river cruise in Europe with Riverside Luxury Cruises will be the trip of a lifetime. Our ships are second to none - and they make guests happy. Take a look at the Mozart - the first ship in our fleet, it's something special.

The Riverside Mozart is an exceptional vessel. As the largest and most luxurious river cruise ship on the Danube, she, like her famous namesake, knows how to captivate and surprise her guests.

He was considered meticulous and obsessed with detail. His famous Boléro is an idiosyncratic composition that nevertheless appeals to a wide range of tastes. The Riverside Ravel bears his name with good reason. Like the Boléro, it glides slowly along the Rhône and Saône rivers in a steady rhythm. Curious? Great! We work hard to put together the best trips for you.

He was a charmer. Poetry and charm characterized his work. His compositions were considered to be the beginning of a "new music" and the tours with the Riverside Debussy can also be seen as the beginning of a new kind of river cruise on the Rhine. Are you curious? Great! We are working at full speed to put together the most beautiful trips for you.

OUR SERVICE PROMISE

When you book a cruise with Riverside Luxury Cruises, you experience unparalleled luxury. Amazement in every suite. The finest fabrics and materials. Every guest enjoys butler service – and an incredible amount of space.

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EXCEPTIONAL ENJOYMENT

Culinary on board.

Luxury means choice. On our river cruise ship, the choice is yours. Several restaurants offer culinary delights from all over Europe. You can feel where you are not only by the scenery, but also by the creations of our chefs. As the ship glides along, the specialties on board change, inspired by the different regions. Accompanied by exquisite wines.

ROUTES TO MARVEL AND RAVE

Karte mozart alle städte en

Our creative team has designed routes for all the rivers that will leave you amazed and raving long after your trip. There is so much to see, discover and experience. Immerse yourself with us in the life of the genius Van Gogh, visit Gothic cathedrals with us, taste exquisite wines with us. Sharpen your senses. Enjoy French esprit and Austrian humor - and above all the life aboard our floating jewels. With the Mozart as an example, you can already see the variety of possibilities that a river cruise on the Danube offers you.

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Captivating Danube Capitals Westbound

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Danube Highlights Westbound

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Culture. spaces..

Their history and geographical location make the Danube, Rhine and Rhône rivers prime destinations for a river cruise in Europe. They became famous as trade routes. As natural landscapes, they are hard to beat for beauty. Here you can experience architecture, art and culinary delights in a very special way. No matter what ship or destination you choose, Riverside Luxury Cruises will make it right.

EXCLUSIVE EXCURSIONS BY LAND OR AIR

Special experiences.

Our excursions are special. They guarantee surprising and unforgettable experiences. Architecture lovers, art admirers, music enthusiasts, nature lovers and gourmet lovers will find new experiences during our excursions. Let yourself be inspired by the excursions we have created for the Mozart. And soon we'll be sailing the Rhône and Rhine.

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RIDING SCHOOL

What an experience to watch the training of the “Lipizzaners”, the white stars in the imperial ambience of the baroque Spanish Riding School. Accompanied by classical Viennese music. With a bit of luck, the famous jumps performed by the horses can be seen as part of the morning training. A guided tour behind the scenes is also possible. It is not without merit that the Spanish Riding School is considered “the most beautiful riding stable in the world”. Book now or contact your Travel Advisor.

Salas Traditional Vojvodina Village Home Novi Sad

SALAS (TYPICAL SERBIAN FARMHOUSE)

Novi Sad is a little Serbian dream. Pastel-coloured houses in narrow streets. Museums and the Petrovaradin Fortress. And then there is the beautiful farm of the Matic family. The Matic family have been farmers for generations. For guests of the Riverside Mozart, they offer a Vojvodin breakfast with homemade delicacies like doughnuts – as well as Serbian music. Book now or contact your Travel Advisor.

Ilok Countryside Beauty by Train and Wine Tasting

WINE TASTING

Even the ancient Romans called Ilok a “delicium mundi”. This means as much as deliciousness of the world. Wine growing in the Croatian town of Ilok and its villages Bapska, Šarengrad, Radoš and Mohovo goes back to a 2000-year-old tradition. The drive there is like a picture book and the famous and award-winning wines are a pure delight. Book now or contact your Travel Advisor.

Budapest Ballon Fly

BALOON RIDE

Do it like Tom Sawyer in his adventurous balloon ride and enjoy the world from above. What an adventure to fly silently over Budapest – in a traditional hot-air balloon at a height of 150 metres. And afterwards, stroll through the city and discover fancy shops and stand in amazement in front of architectural jewels. Book now or contact your Travel Advisor.

Eztergom Celebrating Slovakian Wine

What an estate! Château Béla in the south of Slovakia. Wine was already grown here in the time of the Roman Empire. Today, the team – led by the renowned Slovakian winemaker Miroslav Petrech – produces mainly Riesling and Cabernet Sauvignon. Absolute top wines, recognised many times with numerous awards. The wine tasting with Miroslav Petrech will take place in the historic wine cellar. It is located under the castle and is not otherwise accessible to the public. And, of course, you get to see the castle as such. Book now or contact your Travel Advisor.

Bratislava Danubiana Museum

It is located south of Bratislava, directly on the banks of the Danube. Its modern architecture is impressive. Its collection and its exhibitions of world-renowned artists have already inspired personalities such as Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands or Prince Albert of Monaco. One particular bijou is the sculpture garden of the Danubiana Meulensteen Art Museum with impressive sculptures by El Lissitzky, Magdalena Abakanowicz, Jim Dine or Hans van de Bovenkamp, to name but a few. Book now or contact your Travel Advisor.

Linz Helicopter Flight over the Austrian Alps

ALPINE HELICOPTER FLIGHT

Ready to take off? Off you go on a private helicopter flight over the Austrian Alps. What a panorama. The flight also passes over the famous “Salzkammergut”, one of Austria’s most beautiful cultural areas with mountains, lakes and meadows. You first have to come down from this event, even if you have already landed. Perfect for all you adrenaline junkies out there. Book now or contact your Travel Advisor.

Mauthausen Concentration Camp Memorial

MEMORIAL SITE

What would a society be that hides its past? This 90-minute tour of the Mauthausen Memorial offers a glimpse into the history of the Second World War, its pogroms and the deaths of countless people. Afterwards, you can visit the exhibition, which deals, among other things, with the harsh prison conditions, the hierarchy in the camp and the horrific abuse of the prisoners for medical experiments. Book now or contact your Travel Advisor.

Krems Kittenberger Garden Experience

GARDEN GUIDE

He started 40 years ago with a small garden shop. Today, a botanical life’s work has emerged from this: the Kittenberger Gardens, named after its founder, Rainhard Kittenberger. In the midst of the vineyards, he and his family have created a lush flowering landscape with a total of 50 themed gardens. A natural source of magic at any time of year. And certainly an inspiration for your own garden. Book now or contact your Travel Advisor.

Dürnstein Wachau Valley by Helicopter

HELICOPTER FLIGHT IN THE VALLEY

The Wachau is a synthesis of nature’s arts: rugged mountains up to more than 900 metres high, terraces for winegrowing and, time and again, churches and castles from the Romanesque, Gothic and Baroque periods. During your cruise, you can transfer to the helicopter for a sightseeing flight. What a beauty. You don’t want to have your gaze clouded by a blink of an eye. If the term were not so overused in tourism these days, you’d say: A paradise! Book now or contact your Travel Advisor.

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10 Best European River Cruises: Discovering the Charm and Beauty

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Are you dreaming of embarking on a mesmerizing journey through Europe’s most enchanting waterways, but finding it difficult to navigate the plethora of river cruise options available?

Choosing the perfect river cruise that matches your interests, comfort preferences, and travel goals can indeed be a daunting task.

This is where we step in.

In this blog post, we’ve curated a list of the best European river cruises, combining stunning itineraries, luxurious accommodations, and immersive experiences.

Let us guide you through your options, from exploring the fairy-tale castles along the Rhine to wine tasting on the Douro, and help you set sail on your dream European river cruise. Read on to discover your perfect floating getaway.

Table of Contents

Best River Cruises in Europe

Danube river cruise: from budapest to vienna.

Danube River Cruise

Sailing through the heart of Central Europe, a Danube River cruise offers a delightful blend of stunning scenery, historic cities, and vibrant cultures.

Begin your journey in the enchanting city of Budapest before exploring the picturesque towns of Bratislava and Dürnstein. Conclude your cruise in the elegant Austrian capital, Vienna, where you can explore grand palaces, impressive museums, and charming coffeehouses.

Luxury cruise lines such as AmaWaterways and Viking River Cruises offer exceptional itineraries and service on this iconic route.

Rhine River Cruise: From Amsterdam to Basel

Rhine River Cruise

A Rhine River cruise offers a captivating journey through the heart of Europe, featuring a wealth of historical treasures, charming towns, and breathtaking landscapes.

Starting in the vibrant city of Amsterdam, sail through the scenic Dutch countryside and explore Germany’s picturesque wine country. Marvel at the dramatic Rhine Gorge, dotted with centuries-old castles, before ending your cruise in the Swiss city of Basel.

Luxury cruise lines such as Uniworld and Scenic River Cruises offer outstanding itineraries and accommodations on this popular route.

Seine River Cruise: Paris to Normandy

Seine River Cruise

A Seine River cruise offers the perfect opportunity to explore the romantic landscapes and rich history of Northern France.

Embark on your journey in the City of Light, Paris, before sailing through the picturesque landscapes that inspired Impressionist painters like Monet and Van Gogh.

Visit the historic towns of Rouen and Giverny, and pay tribute to the heroes of World War II at the poignant Normandy beaches.

Luxury cruise lines such as Avalon Waterways and Tauck River Cruises provide top-notch experiences on this beautiful route.

Douro River Cruise: Porto to Salamanca

Douro River Cruise

Discover the soul of Portugal and Spain on a Douro River cruise, an enchanting journey through the sun-drenched valleys and terraced vineyards of the Iberian Peninsula.

Begin your voyage in the colorful city of Porto, famous for its port wine, and sail through the idyllic Douro Valley, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Explore charming towns and historic sites, such as the ancient city of Salamanca, before returning to Porto.

Luxury cruise lines like Emerald Waterways and CroisiEurope offer unforgettable itineraries and accommodations on this captivating route.

Rhône River Cruise: Lyon to Avignon

Rhône River Cruise

A Rhône River cruise is a feast for the senses, showcasing the culinary delights, world-class wines, and stunning landscapes of Southern France.

Embark on your journey in the gastronomic capital of Lyon, and sail through the picturesque vineyards of the Rhône Valley. Visit historic towns such as Avignon and Arles, known for their Roman ruins and charming Provençal ambiance.

Luxury cruise lines like APT and Riviera Travel offer superb itineraries and service on this delectable route.

Elbe River Cruise: Berlin to Prague

Elbe River Cruise

An Elbe River cruise offers a journey through the heart of Europe, combining the cultural riches of Germany and the Czech Republic.

Begin your voyage in the dynamic city of Berlin before sailing through the lush landscapes of the Saxon Switzerland National Park. Explore the historic cities of Dresden and Meissen, known for their exquisite porcelain and stunning Baroque architecture.

Conclude your cruise in the enchanting Czech capital, Prague, where you can wander through the cobblestone streets of the Old Town and marvel at the Gothic splendor of St. Vitus Cathedral.

Luxury cruise lines such as Viking River Cruises and Avalon Waterways provide unforgettable itineraries and accommodations on this fascinating route.

Moselle River Cruise: From Koblenz to Trier

Moselle River Cruise

A Moselle River cruise is a delightful journey through the romantic landscapes and charming towns of Germany’s picturesque wine country.

Embark on your voyage in the historic city of Koblenz, where the Moselle and Rhine rivers meet, and sail through the enchanting Moselle Valley, known for its steep vineyards and fairy-tale castles.

Visit the ancient Roman city of Trier and explore the medieval town of Cochem, famous for its majestic Reichsburg Castle.

Luxury cruise lines such as AmaWaterways and Scenic River Cruises offer exceptional itineraries and service on this captivating route.

Po River Cruise: Venice to Milan

A Po River cruise offers an unforgettable journey through the diverse landscapes and rich history of Northern Italy.

Begin your voyage in the magical city of Venice, famous for its labyrinth of canals and stunning architecture.

Sail through the serene waterways of the Po Delta, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and explore the historic cities of Ferrara and Mantua. Conclude your cruise in the vibrant fashion capital of Milan, where you can admire the iconic Duomo and shop for exquisite Italian design.

Luxury cruise lines such as Uniworld and CroisiEurope provide top-notch experiences and accommodations on this charming route.

Volga River Cruise: Moscow to St. Petersburg

Volga River Cruise

A Volga River cruise offers a unique opportunity to explore the rich cultural heritage and stunning natural beauty of Russia.

Embark on your journey in the bustling capital of Moscow, where you can marvel at the iconic sights of the Kremlin and Red Square. Sail through the picturesque landscapes of the Russian countryside and visit historic towns and cities, such as Uglich, Yaroslavl, and Kizhi Island.

Conclude your voyage in the imperial city of St. Petersburg, famous for its grand palaces, world-class museums, and enchanting canals.

Luxury cruise lines like Scenic River Cruises and Viking River Cruises offer exceptional itineraries and accommodations on this captivating route.

Dordogne and Garonne River Cruise: Bordeaux to Sarlat

Dordogne and Garonne River Cruise

A Dordogne and Garonne River cruise is a journey through the heart of France’s famed wine country, offering an intoxicating blend of stunning scenery, historic sites, and world-class wines.

Begin your voyage in the elegant city of Bordeaux and sail through the picturesque vineyards and charming towns of the Dordogne and Garonne valleys. Explore the medieval city of Saint-Émilion, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and visit the historic châteaux and wineries of the region.

Conclude your cruise in the enchanting town of Sarlat, famous for its well-preserved medieval architecture and vibrant local markets.

Luxury cruise lines such as AmaWaterways and CroisiEurope offer outstanding itineraries and accommodations on this delightful route.

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Luxurious river cruises in russia.

Explore authentic Russian cities. Enjoy premium service and engaging activities as you sail the Volga River.

Moscow. Red Square. St. Basil Cathedral

2022 Cruise Season

Join our signature small group journeys and cruise in luxury along the Russian Volga river!

St. Petersburg. Palace bridge

The Russian Odyssey

An extended 'South to North' view of Russia from Astrakhan to St. Petersburg through Moscow.

Kizhi Island

Explore Moscow, St. Petersburg and Russia’s Golden Ring in greater depth. Stay at gorgeous Four Seasons hotels. Enjoy special access to iconic cultural sites.

Moscow. Red Square

Lower Volga

Treat yourself to an unforgettable experience cruising the Volga river from Moscow to Astrakhan. The tour includes 2 nights in Moscow.

Yaroslavl. Local Church

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A Volga river cruise is more than a geographical voyage; it’s also a journey through Russia’s rich and captivating history. No other experience takes you so completely to another place and time. The Volga is Europe’s longest and largest river; it meanders through the stories of Ivan the Terrible and his rise to power, the two historic ‘Greats’ Peter and Catherine, and then on into today. It’s a unique opportunity to see modern Russia in the context of its intriguing history, ably assisted by friendly and professional academics and tour guides. A Volga Dream Russian river tour promises to leave you with an unforgettable afterglow of fond memories.

St. Petersburg. Petehof

Moscow to St. Petersburg River Cruise

Moscow and St. Petersburg are Russia’s best-known cities, but the towns of Russia’s historic Golden Ring are delightful too. The luxurious Volga Dream offers a unique opportunity to visit these Russian gems by sailing gently along the Volga River on an unforgettable cruising experience. In small, exclusive groups you’ll enjoy preferential access to some of Russia’s most significant cultural sites.

Volgogard. Mamaev Hill

Moscow to Astrakhan River Cruise

Your River Cruise on the luxurious MS Volga Dream takes you from Moscow along Russia’s grand Volga River to the legend that is Volgograd (formerly Stalingrad) and Astrakhan on the Caspian Sea. Along the way, you’ll discover the treasures of Yaroslavl, the oldest city on the Volga, medieval Nizhniy Novgorod and beautiful Kazan, the ancient Tatar capital. We plan our tour carefully to combine the very best of Moscow with a world-class Volga River cruise.

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european riverboat cruises

We love hearing from guests about their time in Russia and one comment often hear is how surprised people are by the Russian capital. We can’t say for certain what people expected but we do know that it’s always far removed from what they imagined! It’s been called a modern metropolis, a cosmopolitan city, an historic gem, an architectural treasure and a cultural powerhouse, among other descriptions. Majestic Moscow has always surprised our guests and left them with lasting and fond memories.

Russia’s famous Golden Ring is an archipelago of historic towns surrounding Moscow. Uglich is one of the oldest and was founded under Igor, the last Varangian prince. It once resisted the Mongol invasion and its ancient walls saw the grisly murder of young Dmitri, son of Ivan the Terrible. The impressive Church of St. Dmitri on the Blood, with its classic onion domes and blood red walls, is a fine example of classic Russian architecture. The tour ends with an enchanting choral concert.

This, the oldest city on the Volga River, and now a UNESCO World Heritage site, boasts a wealth of ancient orthodox treasures. The impressive Transfiguration of the Savior, adorned with murals depicting St. John’s apocalyptic visions can be seen in the Spassky Monastery. The Church of St. Elijah the Prophet is decorated with an awe-inspiring selection of rich frescoes. For a real taste of pre-revolutionary Russia, visitors are entertained by a costumed reception at the Governor’s House.

Close to the shores of White Lake once were the ‘tsar’s fishing grounds’. It lies in a place so serene that ancient monks chose to build no fewer than three holy sites here, including the Ferapontov Monastery. Listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site, its chapels boast magnificent frescoes by Dionysius, one of Russia’s most renowned icon painters. The Kirillo-Belozersky Monastery was a refuge for many nobles during tumultuous times and later a fortress that successfully repelled invading armies.

The Karelia region is a vast and naturally beautiful wilderness that spreads all the way from St. Petersburg to the Arctic Circle. The glorious island village of Kizhi consists almost entirely of the traditionally styled wooden buildings of ‘Old Russia’. Among them is the famous Transfiguration Church built in 1714. Remarkably, and in testament to the craftsmen of the time, not a single nail was used in its construction! Kizhi is one of the favorite stops on the river cruise to St. Petersburg.

A typical rural hamlet brought to life by warm and welcoming villagers. Volga Dream guests are invited into local homes to enjoy classic Russian fare, tea with jam and ‘pirozhki’ (pies). Enthusiastic hosts share Russian traditions and the appeal of village life while proudly showing off their scrupulously kept homes and kitchen gardens. The tour continues with a brief bus ride to see a unique World War II memorial and then, for a real glimpse of Russian life, a visit to a local primary school.

Nizhny Novgorod

This was once a wealthy city thanks to its proximity to rich eastern trading routes. During the Soviet era, the city was closed to outsiders because of its military importance. It’s also where many political prisoners were sent to live out their days in exile. The 16th-century Kremlin ramparts offer spectacular views and the city is known for its elaborately decorated churches. For Volga Dream cruise guests, the highlight of the day is an evening folk concert performed by local children.

Sailing along the Volga river, the riverbank gradually ceases to be dominated by Orthodox churches. Instead, beautiful mosques appear as the river crosses into Tatarstan where the first stop is scenic Kazan, the region’s capital. Inside the white walls of the citadel, the famous Kul Sharif mosque and the old Cathedral of Peter and Paul stand side-by-side symbolizing the two faiths’ long and peaceful coexistence in the region. A concert of traditional Tatar music ends the Volga Dream tour in Kazan.

Passing the Zhigulevskie Mountains offers wonderful views from the sundeck before touring the city. One of the key attractions is the fascinating Space Museum, which offers a revealing glimpse of how the Soviet Union pursued its ambitious journey to the cosmos. The town is also noted for its beautiful esplanade, perfect for a relaxed stroll beside the Volga river. This in turn leads to the Samara State Art Museum. Founded in 1897, it is home to a collection of more than 16,000 works of art.

This city is best known for its close associations with cosmonaut, Yuri Gagarin. The Russian hero who achieved worldwide fame as the first man in space lived and studied here. Saratov used to be home to a large German community, a heritage that can still be seen in the local architecture. The Volga Dream tour visits the Radishchev State Art Museum, the first picture gallery in Russia outside Moscow and St. Petersburg.

Originally called Tsaritsyn, the city was renamed Stalingrad from 1925 to 1961 in honor of the USSR’s leader. During World War II, the city’s residents put up a heroic defense, repelling an advancing Nazi invasion. The battle for Stalingrad has gone down in history as a pivotal moment in the bloody conflict on the eastern front. The most ferocious and deadly fighting took place on Mamayev Hill, where an imposing memorial now stands close to the excellent Battle of Stalingrad Panorama Museum.

Saint Petersburg

If Moscow surprises, then St Petersburg delights. Peter the Great founded the city to showcase Russia’s newfound enlightenment. He wanted to show the modern world a cultured and advanced society. In short, he built the city to impress and in that he succeeded splendidly! The striking buildings were designed by some of the finest architects Europe had to offer and even now, the ‘Venice of the North’ never fails to enchant with its spectacular buildings and impressive canal network. It is a city of true grandeur.

Cocktails with the Captain

Commanding any ship is a complex role that calls for a long list of skills. Captains know their vessels inside out as well as well as the routes they sail and when things don’t go to plan, they have to make instant decisions. Above all though, the most important part of the job, underpinning everything they do, is to keep the ship and everyone aboard safe. The Captain’s cocktail party is a great and a wonderful opportunity for passengers and crew to get acquainted as the gets underway.

Matryoshka doll painting

There is nothing more typically Russian than a Matryoshka. It embodies the fact that there’s always something deeper to be found in every aspect of Russian life. Learning the traditional designs and techniques used to decorate these iconic dolls offers a pleasant diversion and some cathartic creativity!

Superb Service & Dining

Our restaurant serves the highest standard of international cuisine, freshly made by our Cordon Bleu Chef. Choose either a sumptuous buffet or set menu for lunch while dinner is always four or five courses with full service. High praise for the exquisite quality of meals is yet another constantly recurring feature in feedback from our guests.

Meet the Professor

From the Mongol hordes to Soviet times, Russia’s history is, like all of Europe’s, a complex web of political intrigue, war and peace, trade and treaties, as well as heroes and villains. Academics devote whole lifetimes to studying Russia’s long past and one of them presents a series of lectures shedding light on everything from Gorbachev to Chekhov, Khrushchev to Ivan the Terrible and of course, contemporary Russia. Our Professor is on board throughout the river cruise for informal conversation.

Beginner’s Russian

The Russian language can be rather beautiful and poetic and we know that many seasoned travelers enjoy trying their hand at different languages. Our onboard teachers provide an introduction to the riches of Russian, so guests can try out a few useful words and phrases on real Russians during the exciting river tours from Moscow to St. Petersburg or from Moscow to Volgograd!

Russian tea tasting

The drink we tend to associate with Russia is vodka, but tea, in fact, is the much more universal beverage of choice throughout the country. Guests will get acquainted with the Russian tea etiquette, a fundamental component of the country's social culture, and enjoy the traditional tea ceremony while cruising from St. Petersburg to Moscow or taking a Grand Volga river tour.

Russian Dinner & Vodka Tasting

All our dining is international but for Russian Dining night, the Chef includes a selection of traditional Russian dishes: Chicken Kiev, Kulebyaka and no Russian table is complete without Borsch. To add to the ‘Taste of Russia’ optional Russian dress, or at least a touch of Russian style, is provided along with enthusiastic help from our staff!

Russian Cooking Class

A plate of pelmeni might not look like much to the untrained eye, but it forms the heart of Russian cuisine and culture. Basically, it's a type of dumpling: small portions of meat and onion wrapped in a thin sheet of unleavened dough and boiled, a little like ravioli. Guests can join a Russian cooking class onboard the MS Volga Dream to learn how to cook this delicious Russian dish.

Tchaikovsky and Rachmaninov Piano Recital

Some of the greatest classical music ever written comes from Russia. It’s hard to imagine a more fitting stage for a virtuoso solo recital by our resident concert pianist than the mighty Volga or a better backdrop than the heart of Tchaikovsky and Rachmaninov’s own serene homeland.

Russian River Cruise Aboard Volga Dream

Moscow to St. Petersburg

Why Volga Dream

Kizhi Island

Family Owned & Operated

MS Volga Dream is Russia’s only family-owned river cruise ship. She can accommodate up to 100 guests, far fewer than most other cruise ships on the river making for a uniquely friendly and intimate atmosphere aboard.

Moscow. Four Seasons view

Five-Star Central Hotels

We at Volga Dream are completely convinced that, our guests should stay in great 5-star hotels in Moscow and St. Petersburg within comfortable walking distance of all the major attractions, theaters and restaurants, rather than having to waste time in traffic.

MS Volga Dream. Owner's Suite

Luxurious Accommodation

The MS Volga Dream is the most intimate and elegant 5-star cruise vessel in Russia. She boasts 56 cabins, all river facing, ranging from comfortable Standard Cabins to spacious Junior Suites and the luxurious forward facing Owner's Suite.

Yaroslavl. Local Church

Russian Cultural Experience

Explore Russia's past with the help of professional tour guides. Our on-board program includes fascinating talks on Russian history and politics, Russian language lessons, a festival of Russian cuisine (including vodka tasting!), and much more.

MS Volga Dream cuisine

Gourmet Dining

Our on board restaurant serves international cuisine to the highest standard, all freshly made by our Cordon Bleu Chef. For Russian Dining night, he prepares a selection of traditional Russian dishes: Chicken Kiev, Kulebyaka and Borsch.

MS Volga Dream bartenders

Tailored Service

All our service crew members are native Russians who are fluent in English and handpicked by the Owner. Proudly, the Volga Dream is famous for her hard working and very hospitable personnel who take care of every aspect of your life aboard.

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It's never been easier to plan your next holiday in Russia. Download our free brochure to learn more about authentic Russian river cruises.

Volga Dream Brochure

Escape the hassle and bustle and add a satisfyingly informative element to your trip and bring together a colorful mosaic of people, history, traditions,  religion, music and art. These are the many strands that time has woven into what is known today as Russia.

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A cruise line for every type of traveler: How to choose the right one for you

european riverboat cruises

  • Cruise lines have their own identities and areas of focus, and some lend themselves more to certain vacation types than others.
  • Royal Caribbean International, Norwegian Cruise Line and Disney Cruise Line are solid options for families.
  • Aurora Expeditions, Celebrity Cruises and Silversea Cruises offer trips with a spirit of exploration at their core.

No matter what kind of vacation you're planning , there's likely a cruise for you.

Whether you want to spend your trip kayaking and scuba diving or prefer to lounge on a sun deck sipping a cocktail, cruise lines have a wide range of offerings. But not every line or ship is right for every passenger.

Cruise brands have their own identities and areas of focus, and some lend themselves more to certain vacation types than others (amenities can also vary from ship to ship within the same line). Here's what to know.

Best cruise line for families

▶ Royal Caribbean International ships have an array of onboard offerings for kids and adults. The line's most recent addition, Icon of the Seas , for example, has been billed as the ultimate family vacation .

The vessel – the largest cruise ship in the world – has an entire neighborhood designed for young families, a large water park and activities ranging from a FlowRider surf simulator to Crown's Edge, where guests can walk more than 150 feet above the ocean. The line's Bahamas private island, Perfect Day at CocoCay, offers plenty of thrills and places to chill , too.

▶ Norwegian Cruise Line also offers a range of activities like free-fall dry slides, go-kart tracks, and high-caliber stage shows. Disney Cruise Line draws on a huge catalogue of stories to bring magic to life on the water, with character appearances, themed dining and special events like Marvel Day at Sea .

▶ Carnival Cruise Line and MSC Cruises also cater to families, and Princess Cruises and Holland America Line are solid options for multigenerational travelers. Mainstream cruise lines generally have kids clubs that are included in the fare, as well.

Best cruise line for adventure and expeditions

Adventure seekers may want to consider expedition ships and lines that offer sailings to less common destinations such as Antarctica .

▶ Aurora Expeditions offers a range of activity-centric itineraries, including Zodiac boat outings, kayaking, snowshoeing and more. Celebrity Cruises, meanwhile, has a vessel designed  especially for the Galapagos Islands .

▶ Operators like HX (formerly Hurtigruten Expeditions) , Lindblad Expeditions and Silversea Cruises also offer trips with a spirit of exploration at their core.

Best cruise line for letting loose

▶ Virgin Voyages offers adults-only sailings and a unique onboard atmosphere with its immersive Scarlet Night celebration and innovative performances . There is also no main dining room or buffet, with a focus on a variety of different food and drinks instead.

▶ Guests can also find parties on other lines, such as Carnival . But the length of the sailing and the time of year play a role in a cruise's vibe. Spring break cruises, for instance, may be rowdier than times when school is in session.

▶ Parties can take different forms, too. Cunard Line , for example, hosts formal gala nights .

Best cruise for rest and relaxation

Upscale cruise lines can lend themselves to a more relaxed and pampering experience. Guests are less likely to encounter rock-climbing walls or ice-skating rinks but will find amenities like pools and carefully curated dining. The following operators are all in that category:

  • Regent Seven Seas Cruises
  • Oceania Cruises
  • The Ritz-Carlton Yacht Collection

However, even on mainstream lines, guests can often get away from the bustle of the ship in onboard spas and adults-only areas. Luxe ship-within-a-ship concepts like Norwegian's The Haven or MSC's Yacht Club can also offer a more intimate, laid-back experience.

What should I pack for a cruise?: Here are 5 essential items to bring

Best lines for river cruising

River cruising tends to be small-scale and destination-focused.

▶ European river itineraries from lines like AmaWaterways, Uniworld Boutique River Cruises and Viking often stop at a mix of marquee and less-visited ports, so guests aren't fighting crowds the whole time.

▶ In the U.S., American Cruise Lines offers a diverse selection of itineraries, from sailings on the Columbia and Snake Rivers to round-trip cruises from Washington, D.C. Viking also has a ship purpose-built for the Mississippi River .

Nathan Diller is a consumer travel reporter for USA TODAY based in Nashville. You can reach him at [email protected].

The Key Points at the top of this article were created with the assistance of Artificial Intelligence (AI) and reviewed by a journalist before publication. No other parts of the article were generated using AI. Learn more .

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Boats cruise the Seine river in a rehearsal for the Paris Olympics’ opening ceremony

Dozens of boats on River Seine participated in a rehearsal on Monday with only 39 days to go until the Summer Olympics in Paris. A total of 205 delegations will parade on more than 80 boats on the Seine. The ceremony will drift slowly from east to west, bridge to bridge, snaking six kilometers (3.7 miles) from Pont d’Austerlitz to Pont d’Iéna. (AP Video by Oleg Cetinic)

Barges cruise on the Seine river near the Eiffel Tower during a rehearsal for the Paris 2024 Olympic Games opening ceremony, Monday, June. 17, 2024 in Paris. The river will host the Paris 2024 Olympic Games opening ceremony on July 26 with boats for each national delegation. (AP Photo/Thomas Padilla)

Barges cruise on the Seine river near the Eiffel Tower during a rehearsal for the Paris 2024 Olympic Games opening ceremony, Monday, June. 17, 2024 in Paris. The river will host the Paris 2024 Olympic Games opening ceremony on July 26 with boats for each national delegation. (AP Photo/Thomas Padilla)

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A rescue boat cruises on the Seine river near the Eiffel Tower during a rehearsal for the Paris 2024 Olympic Games opening ceremony, Monday, June. 17, 2024 in Paris. The river will host the Paris 2024 Olympic Games opening ceremony on July 26 with boats for each national delegation. (AP Photo/Thomas Padilla)

Barges cruise on the Seine river during a rehearsal for the Paris 2024 Olympic Games opening ceremony, Monday, June. 17, 2024 in Paris. The river will host the Paris 2024 Olympic Games opening ceremony on July 26 with boats for each national delegation. (AP Photo/Thomas Padilla)

Police officers stand on a bridge as barges cruise on the Seine river during a rehearsal for the Paris 2024 Olympic Games opening ceremony, Monday, June. 17, 2024 in Paris.The river will host the Paris 2024 Olympic Games opening ceremony on July 26 with boats for each national delegation. (AP Photo/Thomas Padilla)

Police officers stand on a bridge as barges cruise on the Seine river during a rehearsal for the Paris 2024 Olympic Games opening ceremony, Monday, June. 17, 2024 in Paris. The river will host the Paris 2024 Olympic Games opening ceremony on July 26 with boats for each national delegation. (AP Photo/Thomas Padilla)

A police boat cruises on the Seine river during a rehearsal for the Paris 2024 Olympic Games opening ceremony, Monday, June. 17, 2024 in Paris. The river will host the Paris 2024 Olympic Games opening ceremony on July 26 with boats for each national delegation. (AP Photo/Thomas Padilla)

Police officers stand on the banks on the Seine river as a rescue boat and a barge cruise near the Eiffel Tower during a rehearsal for the Paris 2024 Olympic Games opening ceremony, Monday, June. 17, 2024 in Paris. The river will host the Paris 2024 Olympic Games opening ceremony on July 26 with boats for each national delegation. (AP Photo/Thomas Padilla)

PARIS (AP) — Curious onlookers gathered on bridges as dozens of boats snaked along the Seine river on Monday in a rehearsal for the Paris Olympics’ unique opening ceremony next month.

A total of 55 boats made the journey from Pont d’Austerlitz, named after a French military victory in 1805, to Pont d’Iéna, a stone’s throw from the Eiffel Tower, the nation’s most striking and best known landmark.

Officials are confident that the near four-hour ceremony will run like clockwork on July 26.

“Six months ago we had like 10 minutes delay on the timing and today we are very close, almost to the second to our targets,” Thierry Reboul, the executive director for ceremonies said. “So it is very satisfying. We’ve respected an extremely precise level of timing.”

On the day of the eagerly-awaited event, around 200 Olympic delegations will join the parade on more than 80 boats. They will make the journey from east to west, along a six-kilometer (3.7-mile) route which has become a major talking point — for its audacity as a unique open-air event and for its exposure to potential danger.

Security concerns led French President Emmanuel Macron to say in mid-April that the ceremony could shift to Stade de France if the threat level was too high. But Reboul said Monday that authorities are preparing for the big day as originally planned, with no alternatives being prepared at this stage.

There will be a final rehearsal, involving the full armada of boats, before the opening ceremony — one which is expected to bring 100 world leaders to the city’s embankments, where more than 300,000 people will watch.

“We will give our heart and souls to make it a great success for the French people,” France’s Sports Minister Amélie Oudéa-Castéra said Monday. “They deserve it.”

The rehearsal saw 10 police speedboats shadowing the convoy, as well as speedboats equipped with television cameras. There were armed police officers stationed at various points along the way. The boats crossed 16 bridges, passing by iconic landmarks such as the green-tinged Grand Palais — where fencing and Taekwondo events will be held.

On each bridge, a few dozen people watched attentively.

“Fifty-five? That’s a lot of boats,” said 49-year-old Rosa Gabriel. Taking a break between walking from the Louvre and Notre Dame Cathedral, she watched it from the Pont des Arts bridge — fondly known as Love Lock Bridge, with its thousands of personalized locks attached to the railings.

One tourist even mistook the scene for something else.

“Maybe they are making a movie,” said Driss El Kaoutari, a 42-year-old from Morocco who was on vacation in Paris with his daughter.

What people actually saw were empty vessels bobbing slowly by. But they will be full of life, color, sound and movement next month.

“You will have many delegation members on the boats with their uniforms and their flags,” Reboul said. “Around them there will be many other things, as you can imagine.”

The water itself has become a sensitive and thorny topic for the organizers and politicians heading into the July 26-Aug. 11 Paris Games . A whopping $1.5 billion investment has already been made to improve the Seine’s water quality, with Macron and Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo both promising to take a dip .

This time, it was Oudéa-Castéra’s turn to give assurances about the river — where marathon swimmers and triathletes are set to compete during the Olympics.

She bristled a little when answering.

“Regarding the quality of the Seine’s water, we are confident. You shouldn’t ask us to be ready ahead of time,” Oudéa-Castéra said, adding that a new center for collecting waste will be opened next week.

AP Summer Olympics: https://apnews.com/hub/summer-olympics

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Ukraine war latest: Russian officials 'thrown out of meeting' for breaking custom; new photos emerge of Putin and Kim's day out

Vladimir Putin has arrived in Vietnam for a state visit after he spent the day in North Korea yesterday, where he signed a defence pact with Kim Jong Un. Got a question on the Ukraine war? Submit it below for our specialists to answer.

Thursday 20 June 2024 13:58, UK

  • Vladimir Putin arrives in Vietnam for state visit
  • Russia and North Korea sign new defence deal
  • Russian officials 'thrown out of meeting' for breaking custom
  • South Korea condemns pact and says it will reconsider weapons for Ukraine
  • New photos emerge of Putin and Kim's day out
  • Analysis: Putin wants to prove he still has friends
  • Listen to the Daily above and tap here to follow wherever you get your podcasts
  • Live reporting by Emily Mee

Ask a question or make a comment

Romania will donate two operational Patriot systems to Ukraine, the country's supreme defence council has announced.

The council said the decision was "based on an in-depth technical evaluation of the Romanian authorities" and "all measures were being taken to eliminate the risk of creating possible vulnerabilities for Romania". 

Romania's position is and will continue to be unequivocal in its multidimensional support of Ukraine, alongside the international community, in its legitimate right to self-defence against Russia's illegal and unprovoked aggression," it said in a statement.

The announcement was made as Romanian President Klaus Iohannis said he was withdrawing his bid for NATO's leadership and the country's supreme defence council will support Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte as the alliance's secretary-general.

Ukrainian troops have been examining a recently captured Russian battle tank in the eastern Donetsk region.

Donetsk is one of four regions illegally annexed by Russia, but Moscow's forces only partially control it.

Fighting along the roughly 620-mile front line has focused on the area in recent months, but both sides have failed to make any breakthroughs. 

An awkward moment during Vladimir Putin and Kim Jong Un's bilateral meeting was broadcast live on state-run TV yesterday. 

Part of Russia's delegation was unceremoniously thrown out of the meeting for entering the conference room before the two leaders, according to a report in the Moscow Times. 

It is customary on such occasions to wait to be summoned by the North Korean leader once he and his guest have entered. 

Among the group kicked out were foreign minister Sergei Lavrov, defence minister Andrei Belousov and the deputy prime ministers. 

They were seen entering the room, getting set for the meeting and taking their seats. 

Mr Lavrov apparently began to complain he had been made dirty by something, when a North Korean official told them off-camera to stop what they were doing and leave. 

"We have a protocol. We invite you to the table. Our leaders will join us shortly," they could be heard saying. 

The broadcast abruptly ended as a member of the Russian delegation team began to object, and viewers were instead shown an empty conference room.

A woman is facing up to 20 years in a Russian prison after making a small donation to a non-profit organisation raising funds for Ukraine. 

Ksenia Karelina was born in Russia but moved to the US more than a decade ago and has been working as an aesthetician at a Los Angeles spa. 

She was detained by Russia's Federal Security Service (FSB) in January while visiting her parents and young sister in Yekaterinburg. 

Her former mother-in-law, Eleonora Srebroski, told Reuters in February, Ms Karelina had travelled home in January after her boyfriend surprised her with a plane ticket.

She had told her boyfriend Russia was "safe" and he shouldn't worry about her travelling there.

Ms Karelina was initially arrested under a minor "petty hooliganism" statute, but was later charged with treason. 

The aesthetician, who is in her early thirties, had reportedly made a small donation to Razom for Ukraine, a New York-based non-profit that sends non-military assistance to the country. 

Her ex-husband described her as a fun-loving woman who didn't care much for politics.

Ms Karelina's social media profiles feature photos of herself and friends on the beach and on trips, but without political messaging. 

One photo from November 2021 shows her in a long dress, smiling and waving a small American flag, with the caption, "Citizenship".

The trial is being held behind closed doors in Yekaterinburg, with the next session set for 7 August. 

Vladimir Putin has reportedly invited top Vietnamese officials to visit Russia.

Russian state news agency RIA said General Secretary of the Communist Party Nguyen Phu Trong was among those invited. 

It comes as the Russian president continues his visit to Vietnam, with the two countries already signing a series of deals to bring their working relationship closer together. 

The two countries have agreed to strengthen their cooperation across multiple industries in a series of deals. 

Vladimir Putin and To Lam have vowed to have closer ties around education, science and technology, oil and gas exploration and health.

The two leaders also agreed to work on a road-map for a nuclear science and technology centre in Vietnam.

Following the talks, Mr Putin said the two countries share an interest in "developing a reliable security architecture" in the Asia-Pacific region based on not using force and peacefully settling disputes without "closed military-political blocs".

Russia is keen to maintain "close and effective cooperation" in energy, industry, technology, education, security and trade, said Russian ambassador to Vietnam Gennady S Bezdetko, according to Vietnamese official media.

Russia and North Korea's new defence agreement has been condemned by South Korea, with the country saying it will reconsider sending weapons to Ukraine as a result. 

The deal, which was signed by Vladimir Putin and Kim Jong Un yesterday, vows that both countries will help each other if they are invaded. 

South Korea's presidential office said Russia's military assistance to the North would have a negative impact on relations between Seoul and Moscow. 

It warned that any actions helping North Korea increase its military capability would be a violation of UN resolutions. 

It said that it would also strengthen South Korea's security cooperation with the US and Japan in light of the deal. 

Vladimir Putin was greeted with hugs, handshakes and music as he arrived in Vietnam today. 

The Russian president has already held talks with his Vietnamese counterpart To Lam, who met him personally as he landed in Hanoi. 

The pair have signed a series of deals to strengthen their cooperation on education, science and technology, energy, climate change and health.

Mr Putin's visit comes after a two-day trip to North Korea, where he signed a deal with the country's leader Kim Jong Un that pledges mutual aid in the event of war.

We're getting plenty of fond comments coming through between Vladimir Putin and Vietnamese President To Lam as they meet in Hanoi. 

Earlier Mr To said he wanted to boost ties with Russia - and now Mr Putin says he is interested in strengthening the "traditionally friendly" relationship between the two countries. 

"I would like to emphasise that the positions of Russia and Vietnam largely coincide or are close," Mr Putin said during a conference. 

He said both countries "firmly uphold the principles of the supremacy of international law, sovereignty, non-interference in the internal affairs of other states [and] coordinate efforts at key multilateral venues".

Mr Putin's comments came after an exchange of signed cooperation agreements between Russian and Vietnamese officials.

Ukraine has caused fires at several fuel depots in Russia in a wave of drone attacks, a Kyiv intelligence source has confirmed.

The strikes took place this morning, with Russian officials earlier reporting fires had broken out at two fuel facilities. 

The Ukrainian source told Reuters the depots in the central Russian Tambov region and the southwestern Adygea area had been supplying the country's military. 

Ukraine has been carrying out an increasing number of attacks on Russian territory in recent months, but it rarely claims responsibility publicly. 

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