A guide to river cruising

08 Dec 2017

For an unforgettable and enriching travel experience, a river cruise holiday is hard to beat. If you’re put off by large crowds and the floating resorts of ocean cruise ships, then the small intimate and sociable ships that travel along the majestic European rivers may be the perfect choice for you.

Why choose a river cruise?

There are many reasons why you should consider a river cruise. You may have been put off by the prices you’ve seen when compared to the price of an ocean cruise. When you realise just how much is included, you’ll understand how great value for money river cruising is. Unlike most ocean cruises, all your food, most drinks, excursions, and gratuities is included in the cost, so once onboard there’s very little you need to pay.

Most river operators include complimentary excursions, so you’ll have the chance to explore far more than you would independently. See how the locals live, try local produce, and soak up the history and culture. While lavish entertainment and late night partying isn’t common on river cruises, the evening is still a special time. Dining takes centre stage as you enjoy the amazing gourmet cuisine, using the finest ingredients, and local regional dishes. After, relax with a drink in the main lounge, meet fellow travellers and share stories and discuss all the wonderful experiences you got up to during the day.

The main rivers


The Rhine is one of the most popular and spectacular rivers in Europe. It’s easy to see why people fall in love with the sweeping meandering curves, fairytale castles, and rolling valleys. The Rhine flows from Switzerland, through Germany and ends in Amsterdam.


The Danube navigates through Eastern Europe from Frankfurt in Germany, and passes through several countries including Austria, Slovakia, and Hungary, before ending in the Black Sea. From the parliament building standing majestically on the river bank in Budapest, to the cultural city of Vienna, home to the greats of classical music, Mozart and Beethoven, sailing along the Danube is an impressive experience.


Starting in the romantic city of Paris and flowing into the English Channel near Le Havre and the picturesque medieval town of Honfleur, the Seine is a popular river to cruise on. From the grand palace of Versailles and the historic streets of Rouen where Joan of Arc was burned at the stake, to the tranquil gardens in Giverny, where Claude Monet fell in love with the water lilies. A river cruise along the Seine is a journey through history.

The main operators

Viking River Cruises

One of the biggest operators who pioneered the way for river cruise holidays, Viking have a staggering amount of ‘Viking Longships’ – over 60 – which sail on all the main rivers around the World, including the Mokong in Asia, and the Mississipi. Viking is perfect for those with a keen interest in geography, culture, and history and its Scandinavian design offers a comfortable and refined onboard atmosphere. With Viking Inclusive Value, you won’t have to reach into your wallet every time you want a drink or an excursion ashore. From meals and beverages to shore excursions and Wi-Fi – it’s all included with Viking River Cruises.

Avalon Waterways

See the world your way, in relaxed luxury with Avalon Waterways. Your holiday starts from your front door – literally. Enjoy private transfers from your home to the airport before you board your river ship. Enjoy an impressive choice of food throughout the day with perfectly matched wine to compliment your meal. Avalon’s elegant staterooms are 30% larger than the average on Europe’s rivers, and over 80% of their staterooms feature a private balcony. Shore tours are included too, so you can explore local life.


Derived from the Latin word for love, AmaWaterways will exceed all your expectations. Ships are a floating sanctuary, carrying at most just 164 guests. With less guests onboard, there’s more room for public spaces to relax in. Most of the staterooms feature not one, but two private balconies – a French balcony and a full outside balcony. Each day, you’ll be free to choose from one of several shore tours which are included in the price. Or why not delve deeper into a destination on one of the Special Interest Tours. Stay in touch with family back at home with complimentary Wi-Fi, and enjoy unlimited wine and beer with lunch and dinner.


Uniworld river ships are like boutique floating palaces. Carrying an average of just 130 guests, in-suite butler service will make your experience extra special. With Uniworld, more is included in the price, from gratuities, transfers, personalised excursions, beverages, Wi-Fi and even bike hire. There’s nothing more rewarding that an enriching cruise with Uniworld.

For more information about river cruising, and for help in finding the perfect river cruise for you, speak to our friendly sales team on 0800 368 9055.