There is something magical about a river cruise. The relaxed pace gives travellers the opportunity to fully absorb the beauty and romance of the European landscape.
Meandering slowly past the quaint riverside villages, lush vineyards and centuries old castle ruins, guests on a river cruise holiday are able to take in the beauty across multiple countries or regions. Some may even concentrate on a specific region, like Bordeaux in France, or the Douro in Portugal.
Evoking a sense of wonder and enchantment, a river cruise is unlike anything experienced on an ocean cruise.
While the large ocean liners carry thousands of passengers, river cruise ships are more like floating boutique hotels – big enough to offer the roomy, sumptuous surrounding travellers crave, while still providing intimate experiences for less than 200 people.
On a river cruise, passengers don’t usually have to contend with long queues, or the delays that come with disembarking thousands of passengers off a single gangway. The ship simply pulls into a city or town, and guests can leisurely disembark at their convenience, stepping in to the heart of the destination.
With almost every day spent in a new town or village, river cruising on European waterways can feel more like a friendly small-group tour, than a standard ocean cruise for the masses.
Of course, there are similarities when comparing ocean cruises to a river cruise. On both, guests only have to unpack once. Enjoying a massage or beauty treatment in the spa is always a cruise favourite, as is a work out in the fitness area, or jumping in the pool or Jacuzzi.
But here are some very appealing ways in which a river cruise is different.
More intimate ships
With less than 200 passengers, the river cruise experience is a much more intimate affair. While there are still bars and lounges to accommodate group gatherings, you won’t find pulsating dance clubs, ice-skating rinks, rock-climbing walls, children’s waterparks or mega casinos.
To navigate their way through the many river locks along Europe’s water arteries, river cruise vessels measure in at less than 450-feet long, and 40-feet wide.
More inclusive fares
Unlike ocean cruising’s al-a-carte approach to additional extras and services, river cruising will typically include extras such as wine and beer with meals, speciality restaurants, Wi-Fi, tours in each port, transfers to the ship, gratuities and more.
With most things included in your fare upfront, there is no need for your credit card at check-in, or your room key to charge expenses back to. Just factor in some cash for your souvenir shopping.
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Exquisite 5-Star dining
As with all cruises, food is an important part of the experience. Local seasonal fare is used wherever possible and during select port days, you can follow the chefs as they walk through the small villages and farms in search of the freshest ingredients for the evening’s menu.
Breakfast and lunch may be buffet style; but not as you know it. Expect a selection of European favourites such as smoked salmon, meats and cheeses, fresh baked breads, and other traditionally European brekky fare.
An a-la-carte menu for hot dishes cooked to order is usually available with table service.
Lunch is often included on extended shore tours.
If sailing through the Rhône or Bordeaux regions of France, Scenic River Cruise guests have the option to participate in a culinary experience known as “Scenic Culinaire.”
Whether it’s a classic French pastry, a chocolate dessert, a succulent bouillabaisse seafood meal, or a hearty meat and vegetable dish, you’ll enjoy the classic French flavours that you and your chef prepare in the bespoke cooking area onboard.
More days in port
Your next destination is never far away on a river cruise. Each day brings a new port, and often a new country.
Most cruising is overnight, so there are no endless sea days between ports. Some days may see designated hours for scenic cruising when the relaxed pace of the cruise provides excellent views of the passing scenery.
Steps from your destination
While river cruises still offer coach tours for those more distant shore excursions, passengers almost never have to rely on this kind of transport. That’s because the ship is able to dock near the heart of the city or village.
Because time isn’t wasted piling onto busses, or standing in long lines to disembark the ship, there’s more time to explore and see the sites.
Immersive shore excursions
Most river cruises include a variety of shore excursions in the price of the ticket. From immersive tours that focus on a destination’s culture and food, to onboard activities that include lectures and entertainment, passengers are able to get a unique flavour for the destination.
Explore the narrow cobblestone lanes by foot, or try an e-bike to get around. Fun and easy to ride, these electronically-assisted bicycles bring the quaint villages and scenic countryside within easy reach.
You won’t get seasick
Motion sickness can be a holiday killer when inclement weather approaches. No one wants to be stuck in their cabin, unable to experience the wonderful benefits of cruising.
While the river systems are tidal, you won’t find large swells as you would on an ocean cruise, so there’s hardly a hint that the ship is even moving.
Discover Europe the Scenic way
From humble beginnings, to what is now a world-renowned luxury cruise and tour operator, Scenic is a leader in European river cruising, and one of Australia’s most loved travel companies.
Discover the hidden gems of Europe as you cruise along the Danube, Rhine, Main River, Seine and more.
Scenic European river cruises include transport from the airport to the ship. Each suite comes with a butler, world-class dining, unlimited top-shelf beverages and a shore tour in every port.
With Scenic’s all-inclusive luxury, you can expect:
- Beautiful suites
- Free Wi-Fi throughout
- All-inclusive beverages, including unlimited top-shelf
- Mini-bar replenished daily
- Scenic Freechoice activities for more options
- Scenic Tailormade GPS guide devices
- Six dining options
- Butler service for every cabin
- Scenic Enrich – handpicked inclusions not available elsewhere
Scenic European river cruise itineraries you’ll love
ARE YOU READY TO CRUISE EUROPE?