When you think about going on a cruise, you probably think about huge ocean-liners with all-you-can-eat buffets, elephants made of bath towels, in-ground pools, and luxury amenities. Of course, on a huge cruise ship you also have to contend with high costs, large crowds, long wait times, and a greater possibility of contracting an airborne illness. There’s an awesome alternative: river cruises. And Europe’s river cruises are some of the best in the world.
What’s So Special about a European River Cruise?
Europe’s river cruises allow cruise-goers to explore inland Europe and literally go where no ocean-liner has gone before. Their smaller size allows them to port in places big ships can’t access; it also makes the experience more intimate. While ocean-going ships can carry up to 5,000 people, most river cruise ships top out at 150. Less people means there’s less of a chance of contracting Covid or another virus while aboard a riverboat cruise.
These factors are endorsements for river cruises in general, but what about Europe’s river cruises? Why is Europe such an amazing destination for river cruises? It’s one of the best ways to visit inland Europe. You’ll end up with off-the-beaten-path experiences you’ll remember for a lifetime.
What is the Best European River Cruise?
The answer is not that simple. The best river cruise in Europe depends on what you’re looking for. The good news is that it’s not an understatement to say that there is a European river cruise out there for every kind of traveler. From beer-themed river cruises to cruises where each stop is a mystery, if you’re looking for a river cruise that suits you perfectly, with some internet sleuthing, you’ll find it. To help you get started, here’s a roundup of some of the most unique and wonderful river cruises in Europe.
Unique River Cruises in Europe
Christmas market cruises
Enjoy the most wonderful time of the year on a river boat touring some of the many Christmas markets on the continent. In the mood for a more traditional holiday? The famed Christmas markets in Germany are waiting for you. Drift along the Rhine or the Danube as you stop at the Christmas markets in places like the Netherlands, Switzerland, Hungary, or Vienna.
Food, beer and wine-themed river cruises
One of the perks of an ocean-liner cruise is the all-you-can-eat buffet. Meals on river cruises may not be large-scale productions but they will each have their own roster of culinary delights. Whether you’re a foodie, a wine snob, or a craft beer enthusiast, there are a number of food-themed river cruises to choose from.
Mystery river cruises
If you like surprises, you’ll love mystery river cruises. Just like the name implies, these are cruises throughout Europe with mystery itineraries. Passengers aboard these riverboats will know their departure port and their last arrival port but where they stop in between is a mystery. You may not know your ports-of-call, and some tricky captains like to keep you guessing by changing course in the middle of the night, but there’s one thing you can be sure of: all the usual river cruise amenities still apply. You may not know what you’ll be seeing but you can count on the views being great, the rooms being comfortable, and the food excellent.
Luxury river cruises
If you feel like splurging a little, luxury river cruises offer a lot of high-end comforts you won’t get on regular cruises. How does unlimited drinks, your own butler, and plenty of shore excursion options sound? Some of the top-shelf luxury river cruises in Europe will even offer connecting transportation to and from the airport.
Travel Trends for European River Cruises 2023
Looking ahead to 2023, there are a lot of things to look forward to when it comes to river cruises in Europe. Here are just a few of the trends we’re expecting to see in the year ahead.
Covid requirements for Europe river cruises will likely ease
Earlier this year, Uniworld Boutique River Cruises, one of the world’s leading providers of one-of-kind European river cruise experiences, announced that they’d be dropping the Covid vaccination requirement for their European river cruises in 2023.
The debut of long river cruises
Along with Uniworld, two other river cruise lines, AmaWaterways, Antara Luxury River Cruises, have announced that they will debut long river cruises in 2023. These river cruises can last as long as 50 days. So if you want to sail away on the Rhône or witness the majesty of the Danube now is the time to book.
Disney European river cruises
Adventures by Disney will set sail in 2023 and reservations are already being booked. If you want a little Disney magic when you sail down the Rhine stopping in France, Switzerland, Germany and the Netherlands, or drifting down the Danube for an eight-country tour of Europe, you’ll want to line up your reservations soon.
Smooth Sailing Starts with Trip Insurance from VisitorsCoverage
If you’re ready to book your European river cruise, getting trip insurance is an excellent way to protect your vacation investment. From flight disruptions and luggage loss, to emergency medical evacuation and medical care, trip insurance helps keep American travelers safe while saving them money.
When you’re going on a cruise, whether on a riverboat or an ocean-liner, cruise trip insurance is especially useful. While these boats should have medical staff on board, they may lack the resources to handle a more serious medical event. If the cruise-line offers any form of trip coverage, it is usually minimal and will not include emergency medical evacuation, a procedure in which the ill or injured traveler is airlifted to the nearest medical facility for urgent care. Without comprehensive cruise insurance, the airlift alone could cost upwards of $100,000. With cruise trip insurance, the policyholders would be covered. Whether you’re ready to buy cruise trip insurance or still have questions, head over to VisitorsCoverage, where you can compare trip insurance plans, get quotes and find coverage in minutes.