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European river cruises: Choosing your river

If you’ve been considering going on a cruise holiday, then you might fancy one of the big hotspots, such as the Caribbean or the Mediterranean. But you probably haven’t considered taking a river cruise along one of Europe’s great rivers.

Several of the largest rivers in Europe span more than one country. So rather than choosing a country of interest, you should research which big river is right for you. You may like to make a list of your top European countries, then work out which river runs through most of them—or at least two of your top choices. Below, find an overview of the biggest rivers and the countries found along their banks.

The Volga
The largest river in Europe, the Volga runs through Russia and feeds into the Caspian Sea. The river cuts through 11 cities, including the capital. As there is so much to do in Moscow, you may like to go through The Lonely Planet’s guide to Moscowand make a few notes before you go. However, many people cruise in order to see several countries in one trip, so perhaps the Volga, which never leaves Russia, won’t appeal to many readers.

The Danube
The Danube is over 2,000 miles long. Along its meandering journey, the Danube visits Germany, Austria, Slovakia, Hungary, Croatia, Serbia, Romania, Bulgaria, Moldova, and Ukraine. The River Cruise Line offer specialist Danube cruises, with an impressive range of excursions. Find out more on the site.

The Rhine
Where the Danube travels into Eastern Europe, the Rhine sticks firmly to Central and Western Europe. It begins in Switzerland and passes through Liechtenstein, Austria, Germany, France and finishes in the Netherlands. The German leg of the river is famous for its vineyards, so it’s the perfect cruise for any wine lovers. The Rhine perhaps has the most impressive roster of countries of any European river, but there’s also a good chance the most hardened travellers will have already been to many of the countries on the list and would prefer somewhere less touristy and more exciting places.

The Moselle
The Moselle passes through France, Luxembourg and Germany. It is a tributary of the Rhine, but a substantial river in its own right. A river cruise along the Moselle will show you Germany’s impressive castles, French mountains and Luxembourg’s charming medieval towns. A much smaller river than the others on this list, the Moselle is perfect for those who want to see some of Europe’s smaller towns and cities.Whether you take the Moselle, Rhine, Danube or something else altogether, you’ll see Europe from a completely different perspective. Bon voyage.


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Cruise Ports & Destinations - Captain's Choice

Captain

The eight-day Captain's Choice cruise has proved so popular that there will now be six sailings through his Dutch homeland to little-known gems including the Dutch Lake District of Roermond; Nijmegen, the country's oldest city; the star-shaped town of Heusden and historic Dordrecht for a tour or the Royal Delft Pottery. Capt Arts says he is delighted by the response.

He said: "There are many more modern ships operating on the rivers, offering luxurious experiences that arc quite different to the cosy atmosphere we offer aboard the Lady Anne but we find that passengers keep coming back to us." Capt Arts was born on the rivers in the Netherlands' and says he was interested in ships from a young age.

He said: "My family always had various boats and I had my first small boat at the age of six. It was inevitable that my career would be somehow linked to ships." However; he had not originally planned to be a ship's captain and studied shipbuilding.

He said: "I found I didn't like having to work inside and didn't enjoy jobs such as welding so eluting my free time I helped on a neighbour's clay boat. From there I moved to working on river cruise ships but my shipbuilding studies have always been useful in understanding the mechanics involved work as a first officer and after sitting his exams he was handed the job as captain on the 106 passenger Lady Anne.

Capt Arts, 44, said: "Lady Anne was originally called Avanti. She was built in 1903 as a cargo vessel and was converted for passenger use in 1964. She is one of the oldest vessels on the river."

Capt Arts also has another lady in his life, Jana, who he married last year. They honeymooned on the Greek island of Santorini and it was one of the only times he has taken a holiday during the sailing season.

He said: "There are 19 crew, including me, and the River Cruise Line passengers particularly like the atmosphere we create on board. They are almost always very happy and there are a lot of repeat clients. On other ships there can be many different nationalities travelling together but with the River Cruise Line, the passengers are all British and for us it works very smoothly. British clients are happy to brave all weathers and travel most of the year; we have one of the longest sailing seasons, starting in March on the Dutch Waterways and running through to Christmas and New Year on the Rhine."

The Captain's Choice cruise departs in June and July 2016, price from £749 includes return travel from the UK (by coach, rail or air as appropriate), transfers and services of a cruise director.


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Excursion Würzburg & the Prince Bishop’s Palace

  • Wurzburg
  • Prince Bishop's Palace
  • Wurzburg
WurzburgPrince Bishop's PalaceWurzburg

Enjoy a fascinating Würzburg trip during a Main cruise with The River Cruise Line and visit the Prince Bishop’s Palace. Würzburg is located on both sides of the Main river in Bavaria, Germany. The Prince Bishop’s Palace of Würzburg, also known as the Würzburg Residence, is one of the most eminent palaces in Europe and an absolute must-see for visitors to Würzburg. It was originally constructed in the first half of the 18th century under the patronage of two successive prince bishops, Johann Philipp Franz and Friedrich Karl von Schönborn, and it is a wonderful example of baroque architecture influenced by the chateau style architecture of France and the imperial style of Vienna. Our guided tour is a great opportunity to step inside and see the magnificent interiors of this former residence of prince bishops.

Facts:

• Würzburg is the capital of Lower Franconia

• Around 90% of the city was damaged in the second world war

• It took 60 years to build the Prince Bishop’s Palace

• The palace is home to what is believed to be the largest ceiling fresco in the world

• Napoléon stayed at the Würzburg Residence for one night in May 1812 en route to his unsuccessful invasion of Russia

Highlights:

• A guided tour of the Würzburg Residence

• The stunning staircase with its magnificent ceiling fresco

• The Garden Hall

• The Imperial Hall

• The stunning imperial rooms housing beautiful furniture, tapestries, paintings and other 18th century treasures

Join our Würzburg Residence guided tour as part of an excursion package and save money. For more unique attractions, take a look at our superb range of optional excursions and browse our range of cruises online. You can also contact our Holiday Advisors for further information.

Excursion Bamberg & its beer

  • Bamberg
  • Bamberg
BambergBamberg

Enjoy a fascinating Bamberg trip during a Rhine cruise with The River Cruise Line. The German city of Bamberg has a beautifully intact old town which was bestowed with Unesco world heritage status back in 1993. It’s an area filled with narrow alleyways, cosy corners and beautiful buildings, and it’s a great example of how a town would have appeared in the middle ages. Probably one of the most interesting sides to the city, however, is its association with beer – Bamberg’s brewing industry goes back almost 900 years to the days when monasteries were the first breweries. Our guided tour takes you around the old town so you can see the highlights, whilst also telling us about Bamberg’s beer and the importance it has in daily life.

Facts:

• Bamberg is built on seven hills and each one is crowned with a church or castle

• Its location has led it to become known as ‘Franconian Rome’

• The first book printed in German language was published in Bamberg in 1459

• The city is home to one third of all the country’s breweries

Highlights:

• Explore the old town of Bamberg

• Benefit from the company of an experienced guide

• Learn about Bamberg’s beer and the importance it has in daily life

Join our Bamberg guided tour as part of an excursion package and save money. Take a look at our country guide to see the other fascinating cities you can visit on a cruise with us. You can also contact our Holiday Advisors for further information and advice.

Excursion Medieval Nuremberg

  • Nuremberg
  • Nuremberg
  • Nuremberg
NurembergNurembergNuremberg

See the magic of medieval times on a Nuremberg trip with The River Cruise Line. This excursion is a great addition to a Rhine cruise in Germany and an ideal way to ensure you don’t miss any of the highlights. After the second world war, the old town of Nuremberg was painstakingly rebuilt using the original stone of almost all the city’s main buildings. Today, it is very much a 21st century city with a unique medieval flair that attracts people from around the world who come to explore the treasures within the ancient city walls. With the help of an experienced guide, our walking tour takes you around the old town as we listen to valuable facts about the castle and fountains, the churches and art, along with the city’s past and present.

Facts:

• The first documented mention of Nuremberg was in 1050

• Nuremberg was key to the administrative structure of the Holy Roman Empire

• Much of the city was rebuilt after the second world war using the original stone wherever possible

• Nuremberg is the second largest city in Bavaria

Highlights:

• Explore the old town of Nuremberg with its half-timbered houses and gothic churches which nestle in the shadow of the imperial castle

• 2 hour walking tour

• Benefit from the company of an experienced guide

• Listen to interesting facts about the city

Join our Nuremberg walking tour as part of an excursion package and save money. Take a look at our country guide to see the other wonderful cities you can visit on a cruise with us. You can also contact our Holiday Advisors for further information and advice.

Excursion Medieval Regensburg & Organ Recital

  • Regensburg Catherdral
  • Regensburg
Regensburg CatherdralRegensburg

Enjoy a fascinating Regensburg trip during a Rhine cruise with The River Cruise Line. Despite being bombed extensively during the second world war, this German city survived with surprisingly little damage; but it still faced an uncertain future when in the 1960s there were plans to tear down the historical buildings and replace them for new ones. Fortunately, this didn’t happen and the last few decades have actually been spent carefully restoring and preserving a rich heritage that can be traced back over 2,000 years. Our excursion is a great opportunity to explore Regensburg and see the highlights of this beautiful city in the company of a knowledgeable guide, before listening to organ recital.

Facts:

• Regensburg is located at the confluence of the Danube, Naab and Regen rivers

• After the second world war, Oskar Schindler lived in Regensburg before emigrating to Argentina in 1948

• Stone Bridge is Germany’s oldest arched stone bridge and was regarded as the eighth wonder of the world on its completion in 1146

• The organ was the most complex structure invented before the Industrial Revolution

• The old town was nominated a Unesco world heritage site in 2006

Highlights:

• Regensburg Cathedral, the finest gothic building in Bavaria

• Stone Bridge, a prominent landmark which has straddled the Danube since the 12th century and up until the 1930s was the only way of crossing the river

• Porta Praetoria, the most impressive reminder of the city’s Roman heritage, built by Marcus Aurelius in AD179

• Krauterermarkt square which is surrounded by historical buildings, including St John’s church where we listen to an organ recital

Join our Regensburg guided tour as part of an excursion package and save money. For more fascinating destinations, take a look at our range of cruises online or contact our Holiday Advisors for further information.

Excursion National Botanic Garden of Belgium (Meise) & the Plant Palace

  • Meise
  • National Botanic Garden of Belgium
MeiseNational Botanic Garden of Belgium

Book your Botanic Garden Meise excursion with The River Cruise Line as part of a relaxing Belgian waterways cruise. The Botanic Garden Meise, which up until 2014 was called the National Botanic Garden of Belgium, is located in the grounds of Bouchout Castle in the Flemish town of Meise. Covering 92 hectares (227 acres), it is one of the most diverse groups of plants located in a single garden in the entire world and is an important facility for the discovery, research and conservation of plant species. It’s also a paradise for nature lovers, where you are free to explore the glasshouses, garden and arboreta.

Facts:

• At present, the total number of plant species on earth is unknown and many are yet to be discovered, especially in the tropics and in certain groups like fungi and algae

• Botanic Garden Meise is the only scientific institute in Belgium which is focused on botanical taxonomy (the practice and science of classification)

• The garden contains more than 18,000 plant species, which equates to approximately 6% of all known plant species of the world

• More than 10,000 plant species from around the world are housed in the Plant Palace

• Scientists at the garden conduct research particularly on Belgian and African plants

Highlights:

• Follow the trails set around the age-old trees, ponds and broad lawns

• Admire open air collections of medicinal and herbaceous plants

• Explore the glasshouse which houses unusual tropical and subtropical plants from America, Africa, Asia, New Zealand and Australia

• Take a journey through 500 million years of plant history in the Evolution House

Enjoy a fascinating Botanic Garden Meise trip as part of an excursion package and save money. For more fascinating destinations, take a look at our range of cruises online or contact our Holiday Advisors for further information.

Excursion Floralia Spring Flower Show

  • Floralia
  • Floralia
  • Floralia
FloraliaFloraliaFloralia

Join The River Cruise Line for a Floralia Spring Flower Show trip – the perfect addition to a springtime Belgian waterways cruise. This spectacular exhibition first took place in 2004 and has become a popular event thanks to the participation of major Dutch bulb producers and exporters. During our excursion you can explore the beautiful grounds set around Château de Grand-Bigard and discover 500 varieties of flowering bulbs, including muscari, violets, azaleas, daffodils, hyacinths and rhododendrons, as well as 400 tulip varieties. The tulips are divided into three categories: early flowering, midseason and late flowering. These categories are further divided into different types. There are also floral displays in the greenhouses and beautiful arrangements in the chapel and the tower, plus you can purchase bulbs for your garden back home.

Facts:

• Tulips were first brought to Europe by a Flemish diplomat in the 16th century

• 2016 will be the 13th year for the Floralia Spring Flower Show

• Grand-Bigard Castle dates back to the 12th century

• All the bulbs – more than 1 million of them – are planted by hand by the castle’s gardeners, under direction of specialists from the Netherlands

Highlights:

• You are free to explore the 14-hectare (34-acre) park which incorporates nearly all spring bulb varieties

• Look out for the tulip display by the lake near the entrance

• Browse the indoor exhibition which houses around 150 beautiful flower arrangements reflecting the latest trends and fashions

• Bulbs can be purchased at the entrance to the castle

Book your Floralia Spring Flower Show excursion as part of a package and save money. For more fascinating destinations, take a look at our range of cruises online or contact our Holiday Advisors for further information.

Excursion Appeltern Gardens

  • Appeltern Gardens
  • Appeltern Gardens
Appeltern GardensAppeltern Gardens

Visit Appeltern Gardens and admire over 200 stunning model gardens on a Dutch waterways cruise with The River Cruise Line. Covering 23 hectares in the heart of the Netherlands, Appeltern Gardens is described as the largest and most beautiful park for gardening ideas. Exhibitors range from large suppliers in the horticultural and construction trade, and famous contemporary garden designers in the Netherlands and Europe, to individual designers, with every type of open space you can imagine. The most popular is the Wilde Weelde Wereld Garden, an environmentally friendly space where you can discover which plants grow in different biospheres; the Living Garden area which explores the many aspects of sustainability; and Lounge Gardens which show how gardens can be used for relaxation and wellbeing as well as aesthetic beauty.

Facts:

• Appeltern Gardens is spread across 23 hectares

• It is home to the largest collection of plants in the Netherlands

•  There are over 200 model gardens to see, some of which are permanent displays while others change each year

Highlights:

• Enjoy the beautiful outdoor landscape

• Browse the colourful, scented plant market

•  Take advantage of the free audio tour to learn the story behind Appeltern and listen to extra information about the gardens

Book your Appeltern Gardens trip as part of an excursion package and save money. For more destinations, take a look at our full range of cruises online or contact our Holiday Advisors for further information.

Excursion Rotterdam Skyline

  • Dutch Waterways
  • View from the Euromast
  • Rotterdam
Dutch WaterwaysView from the EuromastRotterdam

Enjoy a trip to Rotterdam during a Dutch waterways cruise with The River Cruise Line. This city is strikingly different compared to others in the Netherlands, mainly because of the colossal damage it suffered during world war two. But in a bizarre twist of fate, its modern architecture has earned Rotterdam a worldwide reputation, with people visiting from all corners of the globe to witness the fantastic skyline. Our Rotterdam excursion includes a trip up the Euromast, an observation tower built between 1958 and 1960, which stands 185 metres above the city. We also see the cube houses, a set of innovative buildings which are tilted 45 degrees and rest upon a hexagon-shaped pylon.

Facts:

• The name Rotterdam is derived from a dam built on the river Rotter

• During the first world war, Rotterdam was the world’s largest spy centre because of Dutch neutrality and its location between England, Germany and occupied Belgium

• The port of Rotterdam is the largest in Europe

• On a clear day you can see as far as The Hague and Antwerp from the observation platform of the Euromast

Highlights:

• Take the superfast lift up to the viewing platform of the Euromast and enjoy the view across Rotterdam

• See the curious cube houses, an architectural wonder in the heart of the city, one of which we have the chance to look around

•  Keep an eye out for the red lights set in the pedestrian walkways around the city – altogether there are 128 which surround an area completely destroyed during the bombings of world war two

Book your Rotterdam trip as part of an excursion package and save money. For more fascinating cities, take a look at our range of cruises online or contact our Holiday Advisors for further information.

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