Europe river cruise sunset in Budapest
River cruising in Europe

River Cruises - Best Tours & Trips

River cruising is quickly becoming one of the fastest growing and most popular modes of leisure travel. The ships are much smaller and more intimate than larger ocean-going ships and onshore excursions are usually included in the price. Then there's the continuous sights all along the riverfront, not just in port stops. Stride can help you navigate smoothly to the right river cruise for you.

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Top River Cruises Experiences and Attractions


Top River Cruises Experiences

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Top River Cruises Attractions

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River Cruises Trip Reviews


17
River Cruises Tour Reviews - Summary
88% Recommend

4.5 out of 5
Excellent 90 Great 21 Average 0 Disappointing 0 Terrible 2
Value
4.5 Guide
4.6 Activities
4.7 Lodging
4.5 Transportation
4.5 Meals
4.6

R

Recommends

Outstanding private group tour November 2018

5.0

China & Yangtze River Cruise with Hong Kong

  • Value 5.0
  • Guide 5.0
  • Activities 5.0
  • Lodging 5.0
  • Transportation 5.0
  • Meals 5.0
We were a group of 34 seniors departing from JFK on 12 Oct 2017. The itinerary was the same as the standard 17-day tour and it was well-paced for our group. Mark Ma was our Tour Director, and he was very helpful, friendly and made sure that everyone was safe and enjoying the trip. My group has been on several guided international tours, and this was one of the best. smarTours helped us set up the tour, get our visas and got us first-class hotels throughout the trip. I recommend that you consider them for your travel group. Ms. Suzanne Anderson at their NYC office was specially helpful. Thanks to everyone at smarTours for this excellent experience. Read more

Operator SmarTours

M

Recommends

18 Amazing Days in China November 2018

5.0

China & Yangtze River Cruise with Hong Kong

  • Value 5.0
  • Guide 5.0
  • Activities 5.0
  • Lodging 5.0
  • Transportation 5.0
  • Meals 5.0
Julian and I are still talking and telling everyone we meet about the surprisingly wonderful trip we recently took. Our guide, Mr. Li Bo, Oscar, was our mother, father, savior, historian, bathroom locator and best friend throughout the entire trip. He seemed to have a second sense and was there when we needed him, either for a pharmacy, help with our luggage or credit cards and the ATM's. The local guides, especially Allie, in Shanghai were extremely helpful and knowledgeable. The hotels and Yangtze River rooms were excellent. All the shows, parks and extras and river cruises were wonderful. The food was pretty good but the hot pots and dim sum that we had when we ventured out on our own was sensational. It's an amazing country with beautiful and unusual sites. I look forward to more trips with SmarTours and I can only hope that they are as great as this trip was for us. Thank you Oscar. Read more

Operator SmarTours

L

Does Not Recommend

Misleading and often just plain dishonest. October 2018

1.0

European sojourn

  • Value 1.0
  • Guide 3.0
  • Activities 5.0
  • Lodging 3.0
  • Transportation 1.0
  • Meals 3.0
We paid for a 3 week luxury river cruise but received a large group bus trip across Europe with many days of packing and unpacking. I called our Viking representative when we received an email message just 2 days prior to departure that mentioned a possibility of problems with low river levels. I was assured that everything was "normal" In reality, as we learned later from ship personnel, nothing has been normal for at least 3 months. About 2 weeks prior to departure, we received by mail, lovely personalized booklets describing all the details of our voyage on the Viking Lif, which we were to board in Russe, Romania. Instead, we boarded the Viking Aegir but not at Russe, because the Danube was too low. Instead we rode buses upstream to a port on the Romanian side directly opposite our first scheduled stop at Nikopol, Bulgaria. We had a beautiful cruise through the Iron gate gorge, but after three more scheduled stops in Bulgaria, Serbia, and Croatia, our voyage was terminated in Mohacs, Hungary, an unscheduled place two days short of reaching Budapest. So we were herded into buses for a 1.8 hour ride each way to our scheduled stop at Kalocsa. The next day we retraced the journey to Kalocsa and continued an extra 1.5 hours to reach Budapest. We lost the entire morning in Budapest and spent the night at the Marriott hotel. The next day we lost the entire afternoon in that city because we had to take a 4 hour bus ride to Vienna. Where we were put aboard the Viking Embla. Our voyage on that ship ended two steps later at Passau Germany. After a day in Passau we went upriver for a short distance and it seemed that we had entered the canal to take us to the Main river. But much to our surprise, it was a dead end channel for an industrial port. We spent two days there with our balcony room moored tightly against another Viking ship so there was nothing to look at but the scenery at that site was even worse than looking at someone else's window and the balcony was unusable anyway due to the unpleasant odors at that site. The pattern continued with a long round trip bus ride the next day to our scheduled stop at Regensburg and a 3 plus hour trip the following day to Nuremberg where we finally boarded the Viking Lif. A crew member told us that the Lif had not traveled east of Nuremberg for 3 months. We sailed from Nuremberg to scheduled stops in Bamberg, Wurzburg, and Werthiem and then our voyage terminated for good at an unscheduled port in Mainz. Once again we endured a long round trip journey to our next scheduled stop at Koblenz, followed by a 10 plus hour bus trip (with lunch and a walking tour in Cologne) to Amsterdam and a night in a hotel. Despite a promise that our bags would be in our rooms (they did take great care to provide us with tags so they could easily keep our bags organized) all the baggage was dumped in the hotel garage and it took a good 15 minutes of searching to find it and then take it to our rooms ourselves. There is much more, but it would only be more descriptive of the misery of this trip. We know Viking didn't cause the low river levels, but they did not need to lie to us and make us suffer because of it. Read more

Operator Viking River Cruises

D

Does Not Recommend

Viking Rescheduled my Flight to CHRISTMAS Without my Consent June 2018

1.0

Pathways of the Pharaohs

  • Value 1.0
  • Transportation 1.0
  • Guide 1.0
  • Activities 1.0
  • Lodging 1.0
  • Meals 1.0
I received an email day before yesterday stating that my trip has been moved and now my flight will leave Denver on CHRISTMAS EVE and arrive in Cairo on CHRISTMAS.
And they are sorry if this causes me any inconvenience.
The young people who answer the phone cannot change my cruise to one of the same value since my dream New Years cruises are now unavailable. I spoke to three of them and each one just gives me an email address to send a complaint. No response as of yet. I feel so embarrassed for trusting this company. But I am grateful that I was able to see their true colors before I booked again. I as going to take a Mediterranean cruise with more availability a bit sooner because I was so excited. I feel sick now.
When we read in the disclosures that there may need to be some flexibility in the dates, no reasonable person actually believes that they would deliberately change the schedule in such a way to force you to miss spending Christmas with your family. But they did. And they did it by email. My $20,000 wasn’t even worth a phone call.
Read more

Operator Viking River Cruises

M

Recommends

The China & Yangtze River Cruise w/ Hong Kong was truly amazing! June 2018

5.0

China & Yangtze River Cruise with Hong Kong

  • Value 5.0
  • Guide 5.0
  • Activities 5.0
  • Lodging 5.0
  • Transportation 5.0
  • Meals 5.0
The China & Yangtze River Cruise w/ Hong Kong was truly amazing! Smartours had all arrangements down to a science, with all tours and transfers running like clockwork. Our tour director, Jason Hu, was a wonderful, caring young man who went the extra mile to take care of our group of 19....always with a smile. Our tour guides, Jennifer, Tom, Alun, Kenny, Linda and Kelly were very knowledgeable and smoothed the way for some interesting tours, as well as being very attentive. The Yangtze River cruise was wonderful and the scenery magnificent. We could not have asked for better accommodations or meals in China....all places were truly the best, as was the Hong Kong hotel. I would definitely recommend this tour to anyone seeking a top notch tour to see the highlights of China! Read more

Operator SmarTours

River Cruises Tours and Travel Guide


River Cruises Attractions & Landmarks Guide

River cruising is quickly becoming one of the fastest growing and most popular modes of leisure travel. The ships are much smaller and more intimate than larger ocean-going ships and onshore excursions are usually included in the price. Then there's the continuous sights all along the riverfront, not just in port stops. Stride can help you navigate smoothly to the right river cruise for you.

As has been true across the globe, many of the great cities of Europe -- Paris, London, Rome, Florence, Budapest, Vienna, and Cologne to name just a few -- grew up along rivers, which have served as water-borne trade and transportation routes for thousands of years (and still do).

Rivers have also served as the lifeline for atmospheric European small towns and villages, many of them seemingly right out of the Middle Ages. So when you take a European river cruise, it’s a wonderful way to view both grand cities and picturesque towns that you often won’t experience by driving, walking -- or by ocean cruising.

The same is true for river cruises in other parts of the world as well. Manaus, Brazil, was settled along the Amazon; Cairo and Luxor in Egypt, flourished along the Nile; Mandalay, Myanmar, lies along the Irrawaddy; Shanghai, China, straddles the Yangtze; Calcutta (Kolkata), India, grew up along the Hugli River, an arm of the Ganges; Chiang Mai, Thailand, is set along the Ping River; and Memphis, Tennessee, St. Louis, Missouri, and Minneapolis, Minnesota are all situated along the Mississippi.

Top River Cruise Destinations

River Cruising is a delectable, luxurious, fun, and relaxing way to see the world. There are far more choices for destinations than ocean cruises which only traverse major ports and don’t manage the intimacy of a River Cruise, both literally and figuratively.

1. The Danube - One of the most classic and recognizable river cruise destinations in the world, the beautiful blue Danube is truly magical. You can travel the Danube several different ways - for most travelers who have a regular week or two week available, choosing a westbound or eastbound river cruise on the Danube is the only major decision you need to make.

The Danube is the second longest river in Europe (the first being the Volga), and as such many different directions to travel and things to see on a Danube river cruise. Westbound Danube River Cruises often begin in Budapest or Prague. You will typically hit Slovakia, Austria, and Germany. Eastbound Danube River Cruises often begin in Germany and travel through many of the Balkan States to end in Romania. There are many variations on these routes however.

2. The Nile - What could be more enticing than floating down one of the most ancient and historical significant rivers in the world. Nile river cruises are generally shorter than more traditional river cruises, and are often incorporated into tours of Egypt, Jordan, and the wider Middle East (rather than the other way around).

3. The Rhine - A river cruise on the Rhine is one of the best ways to see Germany (though the Rhine flows through Amsterdam and parts of Switzerland as well). Typically Rhine river cruises focus mainly in Germany. You’ll get a wonderful view of the country, including the food, culture, and architecture.

4. The Rhone - The Rhone is one of Europe’s smaller rivers by length, passing through France and Switzerland. On a river cruise down The Rhone you’ll be traveling on what was an ancient and important trade route during the time of the Greek and Roman Empires, and remains one today. You’ll also enjoy delicious food and wine from the wine region of the same name.

5. The Seine - A classic France experience, the Seine is beautiful and quintessentially European, lazily drifting by incredible historical landmarks and under spectacular bridges. River cruises tend to be history focused, visiting such incredible sights as Versailles, Notre Dame, and many significant regions from Avignon to Bordeaux to Giverny. Excursions to the Normandy beaches and tours that delve into their significance during one of the most important days of WWII, are also common.

6. The Amazon - Forgo the castles and medieval villages of Europe for an entirely different kind of river cruise experience all together when you enter the Amazon. The sounds of the jungle replace the sounds of church bells. And the mysterious, beautiful rainforest hides enticing secrets just beyond the banks.

The Amazon is the world’s largest river, stretching a whopping 4000 miles, across the northern part of South America from Peru to Brazil. River Cruises along the Amazon typically focus on specific sections, though they can last for up to 20 days, often encompassing a tour to the Galapagos as well.

7. The Ganges - The Ganges River in India is one of extreme contrasts, and has been gaining steam and popularity as a river cruise destination. The river is sacred to Hindi’s and one of the more mysterious and ancient rituals you will observe is people gathered on the tiered banks to wash themselves, gathered in large groups by the water.

Access to Ports 

Many great cruise port stops are only available via riverboats. Riverboats have the advantage of being much smaller and more intimate than most ocean cruise vessels, some of which are now the size of small cities. Most riverboats hold between 100 and 200 passengers, compared to up to 5,000 or more on the largest ocean cruise ships. That means you can get on and off the ships much faster -- especially since riverboats are usually able to dock right in the center of a city or town, which the ocean-going behemoths often cannot.

Port stops tend to be longer on river cruises as well, allowing for additional sightseeing time, while organized shore excursions and tours are usually included in the price (along with food and often drink). And there’s almost always something to keep your viewing interest -- whether it’s vineyards in Austria or temples in Cambodia -- while you’re on a riverboat, since you’re seldom far from shore. The chances of getting seasick on a river are also not nearly as high.

Cabins Fill Fast

There are some things to keep in mind when booking a river cruise. Because of their popularity, river cruises -- especially the most coveted cabins -- can fill up fast. So it’s a good idea to book early, especially for European itineraries - such as a classic Danube river cruise. Lines like Viking River Cruises and CroisiEurope are adding ships as fast as they can, yet the demand is still greater than the supply on some routes.

If you travel during the rainy season at your destination, occasional flooding may make river travel difficult or impossible (in this case, passengers may have to travel part of the route on buses) -- though off-season travel does often bring good discounts, and the chances of severe flooding in any given year are fairly rare.

Be sure to check out our other river cruising guides as well: The Top 12 European River CruisesThe Top Seven Non-European River Cruises; and individual river guides including those to the Danube, Rhine, and Seine, among others.

River Cruising and Accessibility

River Cruising has a lot of positives. Only unpacking once, seeing the world in comfort, and getting to know everyone on board in a more intimate, personalized setting. However, if you have accessibility concerns, know that not all river cruise vessels are outfitted to properly host wheelchairs or other handicap assists.

This is due to a few factors. River Cruises are by nature smaller than ocean and small ship cruise vessels. Therefore, less space exists for implementing elevators, wider doorways, and larger bathroom space for example. Additionally, gangways from port to ship are often precarious, and very difficult to manage with a cane, walker, or wheelchair.

Many river cruise operators are beginning to add more handicap friendly accoutrements to their fleets, but if you’re not finding enough flexibility as a handicapped traveler, you may find that a small ship cruise provides better options for you.

Related Trips & Tours


Top River Cruises Travel Companies


Things to Know Before You Go


All River Cruises and packages. Find the best guided trips and expert planned vacation and holiday packages. Average rating of 4.5 for all River Cruises trips.

745 trips from 64 tour companies with 17 reviews

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