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5 Budget River Cruises in Europe
Alina Sbitueva on Panoramio

5 Budget European River Cruises

River cruising tends to be pricier than ocean cruising, but for good reason. Rather than sharing a ship with possibly thousands of other passengers as on an ocean cruise, you’ll have only 100 to 200 fellow passengers on a river cruise. And often much more is included in the base price for river cruises, including port excursions and other perks. Cabin selection can m ...

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Delicious salads in Berlin, Europe Delicious salads in Berlin, Europe

Essence of the Elbe: Berlin to Prague

$ 2,095 13-days trip View More

Great for: Travelers seeking an affordable European river cruise. Grand Circle, which caters to passengers age 50 and up, offers this Elbe cruise for as low as just $167 per person, per day. The German cities of Wittenberg, Meissen and Dresden are among ten port stops, with tours included. Grand Circle touts its low-cost single supplements, too, as well as airfare discounts for early bookers (late May of each year for the following year).

River Douro view of Porto, Europe River Douro view of Porto, Europe

Pleasant Portugal – Porto and the Douro Valley

$ 1,447 6-days trip View More

Great for: Travelers seeking an affordable European river cruise. CroisiEurope, one of Europe’s largest river cruise lines yet little-known in the U.S., is French-owned with French as its primary onboard language, though English is widely spoken by the crew. It’s a “no superfluous frills” line, with high standards of cuisine and comfort. This cruise starts at under $150 per day per person and includes beverages in the price, though shore excursions are not. Sailing from the hillside city of Porto in northern Portugal to the Spanish border and back, this scenic Douro Valley cruise presents plenty of opportunities to taste and learn about the celebrated wines of the Porto region.

Romantic Danube  tour Romantic Danube  tour

Romantic Danube

$ 1,999 8-days trip View More
Roman city gate in Trier, Germany Roman city gate in Trier, Germany

Romance of the Rhine and Mosel

$ 3,195 16-days trip View More

Great for: Travelers seeking an affordable European river cruise.Starting at t $133 per day, per person, this cruise is a true bargain. Traveling through five countries – Belgium, The Netherlands, Germany, France and Switzerland – in two weeks, it includes a dozen port excursions. The starting price goes up to $2,395 in 2015, however, so you may want to act fast. Besides early-booking airfare discounts and low-cost single supplements, Grand Circle cuts five percent off the cost of the second cruise you take with them, a savings averaging $300.

Nature view of Bratislava, Europe Nature view of Bratislava, Europe

Danube Discovery Cruise

$ 3,199 15-days trip View More

Here are several other ways to minimize costs on a river cruise:

  • Choose a less expensive cruise line. Four river cruise lines operating in Europe tend to be less expensive than others: Grand Circle Cruise Line, CroisiEurope, Avalon Waterways and Viking, with Grand Circle and CroisiEurope the most budget-oriented. Since river cruises usually spend more time in port than ocean cruises, you may not need all the onboard bells and whistles offered by the luxury lines.
  • Book early. Some river cruise lines, such as Viking Cruise Lines, frequently offer two-for-one pricing if you book well in advance. These deals typically end in May or June for cruises the following year.
  • Compare itineraries. You can often find better deals on the most highly competitive routes, such as the Danube and Rhine rivers. Shorter cruises tend to be less expensive than longer, of course, but the per-day cost determines true value.
  • Travel in the shoulder or off-seasons. Early spring, late fall, and, especially, colder-weather Christmas market cruises are usually less expensive than high summer-season (May-September) voyages.
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