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mark-hodson david-wickers
The Sunday Times Travel writers Mark Hodson and David Wickers.

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River cruises in Europe

Our verdict:

Cruising the great rivers of Europe has more in common with a touring holiday by coach or car than conventional cruising. Sightseeing is the big draw, like a string of city breaks with lovely, lazy interludes in between and, a big plus, you only unpack once. There's scenery on both banks, the water's always calm and boats moor up bang in the city centres.

Recommended company: Mundy Cruising

Mundy Cruising says

Cruising Europe’s historic waterways is the perfect way to explore its most fascinating cities, monuments, fairytale castles and rural landscapes.

  • Excursions included
  • Historic waterways
  • Intimate ships

On a river cruise, you can enjoy the best of both worlds. Unpack, relax in comfort, enjoy superb dining (often with drinks included) on board your chosen ship and look forward to each day’s new port of call. In some cities, such as Vienna, there’s an overnight stay so you can explore further.

Unlike the huge ocean cruise ships, river cruise vessels are more intimate and sociable, typically accommodating between 100 and 190 passengers. Cabins are generally spacious, light and most have a private terrace.

You will find that a lot more is included in the price, not least daily excursions with expert-led sightseeing and experiences such as wine-tasting, special concerts or access to historic places of interest not usually open to the public. Of course, you can also opt to explore each port of call by yourselves or with new-found friends, with bicycles available if you want to be more energetic.

From the ever-increasing range of river cruise companies, we have selected the best operators on the Danube and the Rhine, Main and Moselle rivers. They include AmaWaterways, Tauck River Cruising, Uniworld River Cruises, Viking River Cruises and, arguably the best of the best, Crystal Cruises. You can choose from a week up to as long as 24 days, from Amsterdam all the way to the Black Sea, and we can add on additional hotel stays.

The Danube is the most popular river cruise option, flowing through nine countries from the Black Forest in western Germany to the Black Sea.

Cruises on the Rhine generally start in Amsterdam and visit Germany, France and Switzerland, often including time on the Main and Moselle, the Rhine’s romantic and picturesque tributaries.

We also offer river cruises on the rivers of France, Portugal’s Douro river, the Po river in northern Italy, the river Elbe and the waterways of Russia.

Our service is seamless, thoughtful and knowledgeable. We were the first company to specialise in cruise holidays, established in 1970, and we pride ourselves on offering first-hand and honest advice to help you find the very best cruise to suit your budget and the sort of on-board experience you are looking for.

Find out more about our river cruises in Europe.

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