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Great Waterways & Grand Voyages

River Douro

Great Waterways & Grand Voyages

Since the beginning of time, rivers have been the lifeline of civilisation. Their meandering course tells a story at every turn, flowing from country to country where little settlements have grown into some of the world’s greatest cities, while other areas remain completely untouched. And it’s this variety that make them a key feature in today’s popular holiday choice – river cruising. The appeal of a river cruise is found in the simplicity that it offers. There’s no need to worry about hotel bookings, meals or getting from one place to another. Once you arrive at your ship, you can just unpack, relax and let the sights come to you. Basically, every second counts towards your holiday, whether we’re moored along the river or cruising to our next port of call. The only problem will be choosing which river to explore, so we take a look at five of our favourite destinations to help you.

The Danube

The Danube is the second longest river in Europe, covering over 2,000 miles and linking 10 countries on its incredible journey from the Black Forest in Germany to the Black Sea in Romania. Over the centuries it has been a long-standing frontier of the Roman empire, a crucial shipping route, a vital fishing ground, an important cultural landmark – it’s even one of central Europe’s main sources of fresh water, supplying millions of people with drinking water, and it’s a haven for wildlife. More recently, it has become a valued tourist destination and one where you can discover four national capitals which are among the most culturally significant cities in Europe: Vienna, Bratislava, Budapest and Belgrade. The natural scenery is equally impressive, from the rolling hills of Austria’s Wachau valley and the cliffs of the Iron Gate Gorge to the rich waters of the Danube delta in Romania. Quite simply, the Danube offers the ultimate river cruise experience.

Cruise the Danube to Vienna & Budapest aboard ms Serenity – 8 days by air from £1149 | 10 days by coach from £1099
Up the Rhine & Down the Danube aboard ms Serenity – 15 days by air from £1999 | 16 days by rail from £2199
The Danube to the Black Sea aboard ms Serenity – 15 days by air from £1999 | 17 days by rail from £2199

The Rhine

With more castles along its length than any other in the world, as well as celebrated vineyards, magnificent cities and beautifully preserved medieval towns, the Rhine has everything you could want for a relaxing river cruise. It starts out as a small stream high in the Swiss Alps, before increasing in pace and volume as it flows through Switzerland, Liechtenstein, Austria, Germany and the Netherlands on its way to the North Sea. For this reason it has served as a vital waterway for Europe and has been at the centre of countless historical and political events, along with a host of myths and legends that will spark even the tamest of imaginations. It has also inspired a catalogue of artists and authors to create some of their greatest pieces, and continues to be one of the most popular river cruising destinations. Whether you have an interest in history, geography or scenery, or you just want an unforgettable holiday, the Rhine will deliver.

Rhine Discovery aboard mps Lady Anne – 5 days by coach from £469
Cruise the Rhine to Switzerland aboard mps Lady Anne – 10 days by coach from £979
Rhine in Flames aboard mps Lady Anne – 8 days by coach from £819

The Baltic Sea

The Baltic Sea lies between central and northern Europe and is bounded by the Scandinavian peninsula, mainland Europe and the Danish islands. At around 1,000 miles long with an average width of 120 miles, it is a large body of water, but it is relatively isolated from the ocean. This makes for smooth waters that are perfect for cruising on. The communities in this area date back further than the Viking times, when the waterways were the only way to navigate the region – many are in agreement that it is still the best way to explore this captivating part of the world. Cruising along the Baltic Sea offers visitors a rich history to explore, unspoiled nature to enjoy, and beautiful beaches on which to relax. It takes you to places you may not usually have access to as a tourist. It is also the perfect gateway to explore mainland Europe with the delights of Germany and Poland within easy reach.

2016 & 2017 CRUISES
Baltic Isles, Berlin & Poland aboard ms Princess – 9 days by air from £1399 | 10 days by rail from £1549

The Douro

The Douro is one of the major rivers of the Iberian peninsula and forms the natural border between Spain and Portugal, flowing through both countries before emptying into the Atlantic Ocean. It was originally a fast-flowing river with many tributaries branching off into deep canyons, but in the second half of the last century its power has been harnessed by a series of dams which have rendered it tranquil and lake like. Still, only around a quarter of the river is navigable and many cruise companies do not include the Douro in their programme. This makes it all the more appealing as it hasn’t been bombarded by tourism, and the quaint little towns and villages that line the riverbanks remain much as they were hundreds of years ago. Even the cities offer a fascinating insight into the tradition and culture of the Douro valley, much of which is woven around the cultivation of its distinguished port wine.

2016 & 2017 CRUISES
River Douro Cruise 
aboard ms Douro Queen (2016) – 8 days by air from £1099
aboard ms Douro Spirit (2017) – 8 days by air from £1299

Dutch Waterways

The Dutch waterways are the densest network of inland waterways in Europe, with many fed by the Rhine as it crosses the border from Germany into the Netherlands. The numerous rivers and canals skirt across the flatlands of the country, reaching into Belgium before emptying into the North Sea via a maze of tributaries, channels and the IJsselmeer. Spring is without doubt the best month to cruise in the Netherlands, allowing you to take full advantage of the swathes of bright tulips which cover this gentle landscape. Then there’s the vibrant city of Amsterdam, which is a top destination for any Dutch cruise and the perfect complement to the ancient villages built on the water, where tradition is still very much a way of life. A Dutch cruise will leave a lasting impression.

Dutch Towns & the Spring Gardens of Keukenhof aboard mps Lady Anne – 7 days by coach from £579
Captain’s Choice aboard mps Lady Anne – 8 days by coach from £749

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