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A beginner’s guide to cruising

Guidebook

Cruising is a great way to see the world at a different pace. It can give you a totally different perspective on places you’ve already visited, and is also a great way of experiencing places you’ve never seen before. If you’ve never been on a cruise, it’s important to know how it differs from other kinds of holiday. Here’s our rundown of the most important things to keep in mind before booking your first cruise.

Choose where you want to go, and find out when it’s best to go there
Just as when you’re booking any holiday, it’s important to go to the right place at the right time. While cruising the Amazon river can be a life-changing experience, you may not fancy it in June, which is when the mosquito population reaches its almost unbearable height. Make sure to thoroughly research the destination you’re hoping to cruise on travel websites like TripAdvisor and Lonely Planet before booking the trip to ensure you get to see the very best of the destination. As a country which takes Christmas markets to a whole other level, Germany is a great place to visit in the winter, while foodies will love a trip along the Rhône in summer, when the local delicacies are at their best and the vineyards are bursting with grapes. If you’re looking for a spring getaway this year, a cruise through Holland is the perfect choice, as the spectacular bulb fields are in full bloom and the Keukenhof Gardens are at their best. River Cruise Line offers a spring cruise along the Dutch waterways which includes a visit to the famous gardens, which you can book online here.

Know what you’re paying for
Make sure to check what’s included in the listed price of your cruise before you set off. Cruises are often full-board, but you should double-check this before you board to avoid any surprises. You’ll also need to know how much it will cost to join the optional excursions offered by the cruise line, as this may affect your budget. Another thing to know when drawing up your budget is the tipping situation, which varies depending on which part of the world you’ll be enjoying your cruise. On many European cruises, a service charge will be automatically added to your bill. Other cruise lines have a fixed tipping rate, which you can choose to vary according to how you’ve found the service. On US-based ships, you’ll often be given an expected gratuity you’ll be expected to pay in cash at the end of the trip.

Don’t get left behind!
Make sure not to lose track of time when exploring when you’re in port, as there’s a real threat that the ship might leave without you. While they’ll always give you a bit of leeway, make sure to always get back to the ship on time to ensure you aren’t left stranded.

Don’t ignore the dress code
Even the most relaxed cruises will usually have at least one formal night where guests are expected to dress up for the evening meal. Keep this in mind when packing for the trip — a blazer and tie will be suitable for men, and a smart dress will suffice for ladies. If you need any last-minute formal wear before setting of on your cruise, Marks and Spencer offers a great selection with next-day delivery.

Keep these things in mind when booking your first cruise, and you’ll be sure to have a great time.


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Excursion Fürst Löwenstein wines at Kleinheubach Palace

  • Wine Tasting
  • Lowenstein
Wine TastingLowenstein

Enjoy a tour and tasting at the Löwenstein estate during a Main cruise with The River Cruise Line. The history of the Löwenstein family and their wine goes back to the time of the Roman empire, when wine played a major role. Today, the estate is a fascinating place where tradition and modernity meet high quality and rural tranquillity. It is especially well known for its excellent dry riesling, silvaner and pinot noir. During our excursion you are invited to explore the estate and visit the wine cellar in the historical stables where we take part in an informal wine tasting and become acquainted with the wines.

Facts:

• The history of the Löwenstein family and their wine goes back to 1611

• The vineyards are in three wine regions of Germany: Franken, Rheingau and Baden

• Around 155,000 bottles of wine are produced at the estate each year

• The cellar holds a maximum tank capacity of 160,000 litres for white wine and 12,000 litres for red wine

Highlights:

• The baroque buildings on the banks of the Main and the magnificent old trees provide an exceptionally beautiful background

• See the former royal stables with their breathtaking vaulted ceilings where the wines mature

• Enjoy different wines from the Franken and Rheingau regions with bread and water

Book our Fürst Löwenstein wine tasting excursion as part of a package and save money. For more information on our optional excursions, please feel free to contact our Holiday Advisors.

Excursion Würzburg Wine

  • Wine Tasting
  • Wurzburg
  • Wine Tasting
Wine TastingWurzburgWine Tasting

Join our Würzburg wine trip during a Main cruise with The River Cruise Line. Würzburg and wine are inextricably linked, with many wine festivals taking place in the city and the surrounding Franconian wine country. We go behind the scenes at Bürgerspital, one of the largest and most important wine estates in Germany. Our guided tour starts at the estate courtyard and takes you to the wine presses before continuing through the wine cellars, taking in one of the most beautiful cellars of precious wood barrels in Germany and the treasure chambers that protect the oldest wine from the Stein appellation. We also see the filling and shipping departments, and end our tour with an obligatory glass of wine.

 Facts:

• The Bürgerspital wine estate covers 120 hectares

• The first vineyards were planted here in 1334

• In the 16th century, water was mixed with wine as punishment for unruly behaviour!

Highlights:

• Enjoy an informative guided tour of one of Germany’s largest and most important wine estates

• See the wine presses where the transformation of the grapes into wine begins

• Walk through the wine cellars which are home to the oldest wine from the Stein appellation

• See the filling and shipping departments, from where the wine goes to all parts of the world

• Enjoy a complimentary glass of wine

Book our Würzburg wine excursion as part of a package and save money. For more information on our optional excursions, please feel free to contact our Holiday Advisors.

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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.

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