Way back in 2014, we posted the What is the Best River Cruise Itinerary blog. In it we discussed the many factors that might determine the best itinerary for you – including: when you want to go, what your interests are, previous vacations and cost. And there’s lots more good stuff to review in that post.
In this post, we want to be a bit more specific and review some of the different itineraries that are possible. What really is the best river cruise itinerary for you?
Central Europe: most popular
The two most popular river cruise itineraries are on the Danube and Rhine Rivers. The Danube is typically from Budapest to Nuremberg and the Rhine is between Amsterdam and Basel. Note – different cruise lines stop at different places and there’s even some variety within a particular line, but this gives you a general idea.
Why are these so popular? The Rhine has the beautiful castles and the Danube has world class cities like Budapest and Vienna. The rivers in these sections are lined with lovely little towns that make for great stops along the way. For many people these become their defacto favorite river cruise itinerary because it’s the only one they do.
Central Europe: limited time only cruises
Running from March to May is an opportunity to see Tulips in Holland. These cruises are generally round trip from Amsterdam and highlight Belgium and Holland. Even if you’re not a huge flower person, the views are spectacular and visiting cities like Ghent and Bruges is fantastic and exposure to World War II battlegrounds is a bonus.
Another specialty timing itinerary are the Christmas cruises. These are generally on the Rhine and Danube but feature the famous Christmas markets of Europe. These run from November and December. But be aware, the markets close before Christmas Day.
Central Europe: less traveled
Less traveled is the Moselle River. Perhaps the most scenic of rivers, this flows from Luxumberg to the Rhine. Itineries combine the Moselle with the Main Danube canal as well as other Rhine River cruises. Lots of white wine, history, castles and Franconian culture is featured on these cruises.
The Lower Danube is less popular as well, though that’s quickly changing. On these cruises you’ll travel through Eastern Europe between Hungary to Romania.
Each of these is a great river cruise itinerary.
There’s three separate itineraries entirely with France:
- The Rhone river cruises generally run between Arles and Lyon. These cover the French countryside, wine country, medieval villages, impressionist art and Roman history.
- The Seine river cruises will be round trip from Paris and feature the beaches of Normandy as well as Monet’s gardens and of course Paris.
- The Bordeaux cruises feature – what else – great wines. It’s a fascinating area of the country that is fun to explore.
Portugal has become extremely popular. Here you’ll cruise along the Douro river from Porto. These feature Port wine, beautiful terraced hills, giant locks and an easy going relaxed atmosphere.
Vietnam and Cambodia
Sailing along the Mekong is an experience unlike any other. And when combined with an extensive land extension, you’ll also explore Hanoi, Siem Reap and Saigon. From 12th century empires to modern day wars, from super friendly people to experiencing third world cultures, this is a true bucket list destination.
Africa – a different kind of River Cruise itinerary
When combined with safaris and included land excursions, this is a great way to see South Africa, Botswana and Zimbabwe. These are intimate tours where you’ll be up close and personal not only with the wildlife but beautiful Cape Town and Victoria Falls. This is another bucket list trip plus you’ll come back with incredible pictures and stories.
But wait, there’s more
Virtually all the major river lines offer the above itineraries. But there are other available from certain cruise lines:
- Po River out of Venice Italy
- India ( Along the Ganges including land from New Delhi to Kolkata
- Russia (Moscow to St. Petersburg)
- China along the Yangtze including land from Bejing to Shanghai
- Egypt along the Nile including Cairo and Aswan
- Elbe River in Germany and Czech Republic
- Ukraine from Kieve to Odessa
- The Irrawaddy in Myanmar round trip from Yangon
- The USA. Including the Columbia River, the Mississippi and others
Which one is the best river cruise itinerary?
So now what?
The next step is to talk with your trusted travel agent who can guide you as to what’s the best river cruise itinerary for you. We’ll go back to all the parameters in that 2014 post to see what really makes sense for you. There’s so many great possibilities as you can see. And that’s one of the many reasons river cruises have become so popular.
Here’s some more posts about river cruises:
- Typical day on a river cruise
- 3 questions about river cruises answered here: itinerary, time and cost
- River Cruise comparison Part I
- Myths about River Cruises – debunked (except one)
And of course check out some of our trip blogs