River Cruising in Europe: The Best Way To See It All

Europe is a dream destination for many travelers.

The history and beauty of the architecture paired with the sophistication and generally safe destinations leads many to place several hot spots in Europe on their travel “bucket” lists. For many, goal number one is to absorb as much culture, scenery, and food as time will allow. For those who want to, “see it all,” an all-inclusive European River Cruise is perhaps the best way to explore. Here’s why.

Ease of Travel

With a cruise, you pack and unpack just one time. Contrast that with traditional land based travel where you either live out of a suitcase for several weeks, or conversely pack and repack every time you travel to a new hotel. To make river cruising even more convenient, To make river cruising even more convenient, many cruise lines such as Uniworld offer a “pack and unpack” butler service to guests booked in a suite category stateroom. That means you never have to unpack or repack to head home.

Additionally, with cruising, you never have to worry about a delayed train, an unfriendly seat neighbor, or searching for hotels or restaurants. At the end of your day in you simply get back on the ship, unwind, and enjoy Uniworld’s onboard entertainment and award-winning dining at your leisure. After an impeccable dinner and good night’s sleep in a plush bed, you’ll wake up to jaw-dropping views outside your stateroom window, rested and ready to explore. When you cruise, travel time between destinations is not wasted; it’s part of the experience.

Uniform, Luxury Expectations

Part of what makes a European river cruise the most comfortable way to see many destinations in one trip is the hassle-free experience. You don’t have to worry about the hotel room in your next city having a poor quality bed or unacceptable customer service. At Grand European Travel, we proudly offer a selection of exciting itineraries operated by Uniworld, named the World’s Best River Cruise Line by Travel + Leisure. This means that you can expect an unwavering, uniform standard of excellence as you travel from city to city, even country to country, over the course of your journey. Don’t waste time reading hundreds of reviews for hotels in many different countries. Instead, book once with us and trust that your experience will be first class from start to finish.

All Inclusive

Perhaps the most relaxing aspect of our European River Cruises from Uniworld is that they offer an unmatched, all-inclusive experience. This means that the price you pay at booking includes complimentary airport transfers, 5-star accommodations, award-winning dining, a selection of fine wines and spirits as well as onboard entertainment, personally tailored shore excursions and all gratuities included. You won’t find an experience like this with any other river cruise line. Plus, Uniworld’s all-inclusive service brings you great peace of mind. You don’t need to find a restaurant every evening, and hope that their food quality standards are up to par. Additionally, and perhaps more excitingly, you can order whatever you like off of the menu without having a care in the world as to what the cost would be for a similar meal if you were at a terrestrial restaurant. What a simple way to be bold and try inventive new foods. Don’t like it? No problem. You can pick something else from the restaurant’s endless menu options and daily specials, or have something else prepared!

You’re With the Pros

Booking a European river cruise, especially through Grand European Travel, means that you can breathe a huge sigh of relief.  With nearly 40 years of experience and the best Travel Specialists in the industry, GET will assist you every step of the way, from your first call to a welcome home. Our Travel Specialists go the extra mile to deliver a hassle-free vacation experience from start to finish. They’ll even find you the best rates on airfare (without any booking fee) and offer expert advice on your destination. Simply put; you’re working with the best.

The expert advice won’t stop once you’re on board, either. From the moment you arrive at your destination you’ll be in excellent hands of Uniworld’s warm and inviting staff. Unlike other river cruises that offer a one-size-fits-all walking tour of a place, Uniworld features a number of personally tailored options for a variety of activity levels and interests. Whether you want to explore a city on one of Uniworld’s bikes, go for a guided hike in the hills with a tasting of local wines, or opt for an easy paced city tour, you’ll find the perfect activity that meets your needs and interests.

Europe is built on Rivers

Finally, there is absolutely no better way to immerse yourself in Europe than from the banks of one of her many distinctive rivers. In the Old World, commerce, and therefore life, was centered on Europe’s great rivers. They were the arteries of the entire country and, as a result, many of the quaint, memorable European villages that you’re likely day dreaming about right now were built on the shores of these same rivers. Major thoroughfares include:

  • The Rhine River: Flowing through Switzerland, Holland, France, and Germany, the Rhine is known for quaint river towns rich in history and charm. Two smaller rivers, the Main and the Moselle, both flow into the Rhine, which ultimately ends up in the Danube Canal.
  • The Danube River: Perhaps the most well-known of the European rivers, Danube itineraries can visit a multitude of countries including Germany, Romania, Austria, Slovakia, Hungary, Serbia, Croatia, and Bulgaria. The mighty Danube offers a taste of many cities, cultures, and scenery that are sure to make any itinerary memorable.
  • The Rhone River: Renowned for routes sailing to some of the most respected wineries in Europe, namely Provence and Burgundy, France. Along many of these routes you will be able to view rolling vineyards and taste many native grape species. The course of the river sends you through Switzerland and France before ultimately emptying into the Mediterranean.
  • The Douro RiverWarmly recognized for emerald green waters and some of the best river scenery available, the Douro twists and turns through rocky cliff faces and steep vine covered walls as it creeps from Portugal to the Spanish border. This ideal route passes through five locks on her way from Portugal to the Atlantic Ocean.
  • The Elbe River: Winding through Berlin and Prague, this route is rich in reformation history. Other popular stops along this river include the Czech Republic and Germany, where the river eventually empties into the North Sea near Hamburg.
  • The Seine River: Pairing history with blooming beauty, this river is memorable for visiting many landing beaches during WW2 as well as Monet’s famed gardens in Giverny. Traveling through Paris and Normandy in France, the river ultimately empties into the famed English Channel near Le Harve.

Constant, Evolving Scenery

A European river cruise offers the ability to travel in comfort and to be constantly seeing something. You will never be forced to retrace your steps, thus seeing the same scenery twice. Your river vessel travels with the current, giving you witness to constantly changing scenery. Simply find an open deck, terrace, or window and watch as the landscape transforms before your eyes, all while you’re having a glass of wine, not driving!

This is NOT an Ocean Liner

In fact, it's quite the opposite. Not all cruises, or ships, are created equal. Loving an ocean liner doesn’t mean that a river cruise is your next great adventure. The good news is that this also means that a less than favorable opinion of an ocean cruise has very little impact on how river cruising will feel to you. There are many key differences to keep in mind as you look into your first river cruise. Among them:

  • Vessel SizeWhile ocean liners are made to be massive, think 5,000+ guests on a 14 story vessel, river cruises are simply not capable of that scale. They need to be able to fit beneath bridges that may be incredibly old, and close to the water. As a result, river cruise ships are much smaller and carry far fewer passengers. With Uniworld, you’ll enjoy state of the art ships carrying an average of 130 passengers per journey. The great news? You’ll feel like you’re in a boutique hotel, not a massive vessel—and a small ship takes you that much closer to everything!
  • DemographicsOcean liners tend to be made up of first-time cruisers who are younger, often traveling with children, and looking for a floating party at sea. Contrast that to river cruisers who tend to be a more mature audience, most often retired, well-traveled, and very rarely traveling with children. This subtle difference can color the entire feel of your vacation and should absolutely be considered.
  • Dining: Forget about massive buffets and 24-hour pizza, Uniworld’s dining options cannot be beaten. You’ll find a selection of dining options centered on local, high-quality ingredients. In fact, throughout your river cruise, Uniworld’s team of award-winning chefs get up early every morning to shop at local markets, ensuring meals that are not only fresh but also a reflection of the region you’re visiting.
  • Itinerary & Vistas: You’re not going to get those sweeping, endless ocean horizons on a river cruise. Instead, trade those long “sea days” with nothing in sight for some of Europe’s most breathtaking landscapes, including terraced vineyards, hilltop castles and an abundance of dramatic scenery.
  • Staterooms: Uniworld’s staterooms are unlike anything you’ll experience on an ocean liner. Whichever stateroom category you choose, you’ll enjoy large windows above water, as well as balconies in many rooms. Your room includes luxury amenities and plenty of space to unpack all your things and store your suitcase out of sight.

Intimate, luxurious, and customized, experiencing Europe by river offers more than just a carefree way of travel from town to town; it offers an experience all its own! Pairing two rivers together for an extended visit through Europe, or pairing a land-based stay to the start or finish of your cruise, allows for an even more customized experience.

Grand European Travel is able to assist you with any of these customized options or help you build something completely different as well.  Feeling inspired? Browse our River Cruise collection or simply give us a call to speak with a Travel Specialist who will answer all your questions and help you find the perfect trip.