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Why Choose River Cruising? A Guide for First Time River Cruisers...

Cruise Advice

Sometimes referred to as the grown-up alternative to backpacking, river cruising is the perfect way to explore an area in depth, delving each day into a new city or town, and learning about its history, culture and influences. By joining a river cruise vessel you can unpack just once, and then throw yourself into a very special travel experience. So why choose river cruising?

Each day, you awake somewhere new: river cruise vessels can dock right in the centre of key cities: their historical significance relates directly to their geographic position, dominating those highways of ancient times, the great European rivers.

After a day exploring, you set sail for somewhere new, watching the scenery pass as you enjoy a pre-dinner swim, or a cocktail on deck.

Why choose river cruising?

At each port of call you have a range of options. Maybe you will step ashore and explore independently: it's like staying at a lovely boutique hotel right in the centre of town!

Alternatively, there will be tours on offer for you to choose - a walking tour with a local guide, a market visit with the chef, or a coach tour to a nearby vineyard, schloss or abbey. Or you could borrow a bicycle from the ship and set forth into the countryside.


Some days you will spend the morning or afternoon cruising at a leisurely pace from one port to another. This is your opportunity to get a great feel for the region: unlike travelling in a car or a train, the scenery opens up before you rather than flashing by.

You can see village life as locals fetch their children from school or work in their gardens; understand more about the food or wine you will eat that evening as you see the crops grow, or the terraced vineyards along the river banks; and you can enjoy spectacular vistas as you lounge on deck, glancing up from a book or a relaxed conversation with new friends.

Tauck River Cruising - Cycling near Niederrhein

River Cruising Uncovered

Thinking about a river cruise but don't know where to start? Our informative guide is packed full of everything you need to know, including which cruise lines we recommend, what to expect on each river and how to make the most of your trip...

What sort of person enjoys a river cruise?

The short answer is: anyone, really, if you have an interest in seeing new places and learning about different parts of the world. So this is the holiday for you if you like to take city breaks - after all, a river cruise is simply a series of city breaks rolled into one. And it's a great choice for people who enjoy touring holidays, either driving yourself, or on an escorted coach or rail tour. The big bonus is that someone else does the driving, you don't have to be constantly packing and unpacking, and if you want to take time out for a day, that is absolutely fine - kick back and relax whilst your friends and family carry on at an exhausting pace if they want to.

If you like to learn something new whilst you are on holiday, have an interest in culture, history and architecture, love beautiful scenery, or are passionate about food and drink, you are going to have a ball on your river cruise, as you learn the language, drink the wine, see the galleries, listen to the music and eat the food.

Sanctuary Nile Adventurer - Cabanas on the sun deck

Your comfortable river-view accommodation will feature portholes, picture windows, French balconies or even spacious verandahs, perfect for enjoying the sunshine. Whichever you choose, you will also spend plenty of time up on the top deck for 360-degree views, particularly when watching the skillful manoeuvring through locks or alongside the quay in your latest destination.


You have an extensive choice of itinerary, from the lovely Danube where you can visit the capital cities of Bratislava, Budapest and Vienna on a single trip, to the mighty Rhine from Amsterdam at the North Sea all the way to Switzerland. In France you can taste the wines of Burgundy and see the great Roman ruins from the Rhone river as you enjoy the light that inspired the great impressionist painters.

Alternatively on the Seine you can visit the great cities of Paris and Rouen, the beautiful Norman countryside, and pretty towns and villages like Honfleur and Giverny. Further afield are the Normandy beaches where the D-Day landings took place. On the Garonne and Gironde you will love the elegant city of Bordeaux then explore the classic Bordeaux region vineyards and enjoy the local seafood. And in Portugal, the Douro river takes you through the spectacular scenery of Northern Portugal, with an opportunity to take an excursion to the amazing Spanish city of Salamanca.


A final word on costs: European travellers will be more than aware that hotel prices have skyrocketed so your room rate is high before you even start on food, tours or local experiences. When you book a river cruise, everything is paid for upfront, so the value really shines through.

Meet the author

Edwina Lonsdale is Managing Director and together with husband Matthew, owner of Mundy Cruising. Most recently she's cruised on Windstar and has also sailed with Silversea, Seabourn, Regent Seven Seas, Crystal, SeaDream, Ponant, AmaWaterways and Aqua Expeditions. Her favourite destination is the Galapagos however she's also enjoyed cruises in the Mediterranean, Danube, Middle East, East Africa & Indian Ocean, Brahmaputra, Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, the Mekong, Thailand, Singapore, Malaysia, the Philippines, the Caribbean and the Arctic. When she’s not travelling she loves reading, food and wine.

More about Edwina

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