Seeing Europe while cruising the many historic rivers can easily be considered the best way to tour Europe. There are significant advantages when compared to a typical tour. First and foremost, it isn’t necessary to constantly be checking in and out of hotels, some of which will be fine and some will be definitely not fine. Consider all the time spent just packing and unpacking. Then compare a cruise ship, large or small, to a tour bus. Sitting on deck with coffee or a glass of wine is infinitely better than being stuck on a bus next to someone who is rapidly becoming your least favorite person ever.
A European river cruise is perfect for someone who wants to tour (and shop) Europe. Unlike an ocean voyage where days are spent on board, a river cruise offers frequent stops for sightseeing. Because commerce through the ages has relied on ports and rivers, many of the most famous and interesting cities in Europe are located on waterways. This allows the traveler to tour cathedrals, castles and multiple points of interest without finding it necessary to travel far from the ship.
The hardest part of a European river cruise is deciding which cruise to take. What are the cities of most interest? Would a large ship with all the conveniences or a smaller vessel that can go to less well-known destinations be preferable? Most trips last one week. Many travelers plan to extend their trip with extra time spent in the city at either the beginning or end of the cruise. Expect the cruise line to provide daily shore excursions. Generally, these will be visits to the most commonly visited attractions but some companies offer more unusual tours. April to October is the best time to go. Flooding or drought can severely impact river travel, especially in the spring (although if the boat can’t travel, other transportation will be provided).
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