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Top River Cruises in Europe

Traveling around Europe is a wonderful adventure for any travel enthusiast. But while many people get Interrail passes and see the continent from the railroads, some travellers are seeing Europe from its riverbanks, cruising along on the Rhine, the Danube and the Moselle. This article looks at a few of the hotspots on Europe’s top river cruises.

The Danube
The Danube is the second-longest river in Europe, next to the Volga in Russia. Through the course of its 1,780 miles, the Danube passes through Germany, Austria, Romania and seven other countries. River cruises along the Danube are now very popular, with companies like The River Cruise Line offering specialist Danube cruises. There are many hotspots that rest on the banks of the Danube, with Vienna, Budapest and Bratislava at the top of the list. The Schönbrunn Palace in Vienna, make sure you check out the Schönbrunn Palace, which, at over 300 years old, is one of the most historically and architecturally significant buildings in Austria. You can find out more about it on the Unesco website. In Bratislava, make sure you visit Bratislava Castle. It overlooks the city, so you can’t miss it! Its pristine white walls and terracotta roof make it a bright, beautiful focal point.

The Rhine
Travelling through six countries, a Rhine river cruise is a great way to visit Switzerland, Germany, the Netherlands, Liechtenstein, Austria and France. The Rhine runs through some impressive big cites on its 766-mile journey, such as Strasbourg, Koblenz and Rotterdam. If any of these cities strike your fancy, then a Rhine river tour might be the right choice for you. When in Strasbourg, make sure you visit the Palais Rohan, which is a beautiful example of local, baroque architecture, but also the source of three fabulous museums: the Museum of Decorative Arts, the Museum of Fine Arts, and the Archaeological Museum. Find out more about them on the official Strasbourg Museum website. A real highpoint for any Rhine river cruise is visiting the vineyards of the Rhine Valley in Germany and sampling their local wines. Drosselgasse in Rüdesheim is also particularly popular, with its traditional German architecture and relaxed atmosphere.

The Moselle
If you’re interested in ancient history, make sure you visit Trier, Germany’s oldest city. Trier had previously been taken over by the Romans and was renamed Trevorum or Augusta. The city has lots of well-preserved Roman ruins and churches. Trier also contains the Rheinisches Landesmuseum — one of the most important Roman archaeological museums in Germany. Visit the website to find out more.

Wherever you go in Europe, consider taking the rivers instead of the roads or railways. It’s a completely different vantage point and a wonderful way to experience the diverse array of towns, cities and attractions Europe has to offer.


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Cruise the Danube to Vienna & Budapest with The River Cruise Line

Budapest

This ten-day cruise departs from Passau, with departure dates running from June to October 2018.

This cruise along the Danube will take you through Europe’s magnificent heartland, where you’ll make stops at some of the continent’s most beautiful cities and iconic sites.

The cruise begins in Passau, known as the ‘three rivers city’ due to its unique location at the meeting point of the Danube, Inn and Ilz rivers. Lower Austria’s Melk is the first stop, where you can join an optional excursion to the famous Benedictine Abbey. You’ll then move on to Austria’s beautiful capital, Vienna, which is famous for its magnificent opera houses and dance halls. The next stop is Budapest, Hungary’s glorious capital, where you can explore traditional ‘Buda’ and cosmopolitan ‘Pest’. Before returning to Passau, you’ll stop at Bratislava, the Slovakian capital, and Dürnstein, famous for the ruins of the castle that once imprisoned Richard the Lionheart.

The Cruise the Danube to Vienna and Budapest trip costs £995 per person, and the prices of the optional excursions vary. Book your tickets online here.


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Thames cruise aboard the African Queen 2018

African Queen

The Thames cruise aboard the African Queen is the perfect way to experience the quaint towns of southern England at a fittingly leisurely pace. Along the way, you’ll pass picturesque villages and rolling countryside, and at each stop you’ll be able to soak in the rich history of this beautiful part of the UK.

At Goring-on-Thames, you can enjoy a stroll along the river to the impressive Goring Lock, and at the market town of Wallingford, you can visit the former home of the crime writer Agatha Christie. You’ll stop at Sonning, where you can watch a performance in the 18th-century watermill that is now home to the Sonning Dinner Theatre. The final stop is at Henley-on-Thames, home to the famous Royal Regatta rowing event and the setting of the novel The Wind in the Willows.

Book a spot on the Thames cruise aboard the African Queen 2018 here.


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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.

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