If you are thinking about your first river cruise, A Rhine Cruise with Riviera Travel would be a great starting point.
The Rhine, one of the most important rivers in Europe, flowing for 765 miles through 6 different countries, is perhaps the most iconic of all of the European River Cruises. Doubtless the Danube will contest this, and everyone will have their favourites, but for me, the Rhine with its scenery, history and culture is the easy winner.
There is a vast array of choice when looking at Rhine River cruises in terms of suppliers and also the style of the holiday. There is a saying that there is a cruise for everyone and this is particularly so for the Rhine. Even for those people who do not like cruising or have not cruised before, there is likely to be a cruise there that will suit their interests and budget.
Avalon : For active persons with an emphasis on active shore based activities including biking and hiking, as well as kayaking along the canals of Amsterdam.
Family : Disney have combined with Amawaterways to provide very family friendly holidays with connecting cabins, child friendly food and age appropriate activities both on the ship and on shore.
Photography : Scenic , a luxury line which has also teamed up with National Geographic to provide excellent photography opportunities.
Wine : Ama Waterways provide some excellent wine tasting excursions to vineyards along the Rhine, coupled with good talks from wine talks on board.
Food: The Cruise Line Crystal have an excellent reputation for their ocean cruises. Their customers started to demand a similar level of service, luxury and quality from a river cruise, so Crystal have recently entered the river cruise market. Excellent food and experiences are the Crystal selling points.
Millenials : Uniworld have a number of cruises that are most certainly not for the blue rinse brigade, aiming for a much younger audience
Saga on the other hand are for the over 50’s (a companion can be 40+) . Their ships are of course luxurious and well appointed.
History is well served on Viking Cruises. This line is of course familiar because of its extensive television advertising.
There are a number of other suppliers, too many to mention, but I will feature some in subsequent posts.
Not only do we have multiple suppliers, there are many different themes to the cruises. Just look at some of the options that Fred Olsen (more of a budget option, but still comfortable with good food and drinks).
- History of the Rhine and Main
- German Beers and Traditions
- Tipples and Treasures of the Rhine
- Wines and Vineyards of the Rhine and Moselle
- Iconic Landmarks of the Rhine and Moselle.
For more information on this area of Germany, there is some useful information here: https://www.romantic-germany.info/seitenfuss/about-us/
For the purposes of this post, a general introduction to a Rhine Cruise, I will look at just one cruise, from Riviera Travel
Riviera Travel is a well established Tour company serving up a variety of ocean and river cruises, yachting, safaris, and land based tours to most of the world, just over 140 destinations. Their itineraries are well put together, their guides excellent, and attention is paid to every detail.
They have 6 ships on the Rhine, named after English literary figures, Emily Bronte, George Eliot, Oscar Wilde, Thomas Hardy, Jane Austen and Charles Dickens. The ships have slightly different passenger numbers, from just over 130 to just over 160, and are relatively new, being built either in 2015 or 27, with the exception of the George Eliot, which entered service in 2019.
As it is the newest, let is imagine that we are sailing on the George Eliot. It carries 132 passengers and 70 cabins. The main restaurant is on the Ruby Deck, serving buffet breakfast and lunch and a four course dinner. There is a bistro on Diamond Deck, which serves an early bird breakfast, light lunch and dinner. During the evening, the ship’s pianist will be playing.
A few things that you might look for on a river cruise are a spa and gym, which are not provided. However, the quality of the excursions are such that you may not find much of an opportunity to use these services
Let us look at their Rhine Cruise to Switzerland, departing from Cologne and taking 8 days to each Basel’ It is of course possible to undertake the return journey, from Basel to Cologne.
You will arrive by plane either to Cologne or Dusseldorf and then transfer to the ship, or alternatively take the train from Kings Cross. The cost of the flights is included in the overall price, but the train option is subject to a supplement.
It is possible to add flexible extensions to a Riviera holiday, so I would definitely add a day or two in Cologne.
Day Two: You wake to breakfast as you glide through the forested Siebengebirge, the seven mountains that inspired the Brothers Grimm, including the story of Snow White. You will pass by the ruined WW2 bridge of Remegen, pretty villages and well tended vineyards. Our first stop is Koblenz.
Koblenz was founded by the Romans and is now a maze of medieval buildings, with traditional shops and Rhineland café’s.17thCenturry houses, squares and churches. You will want to cross the 14thCentury Balduin Bridge. After dinner on board, take a stroll along the Deutsches Eck, German Corner, where the Rhine and Mosel meet.
Day 3, and we will be cruising through the Rhine Gorge to Rudesheim. We pass Markham Castle, Boppard, otherwise known as the Pearl of the Rhine, and the dramatic Rhine Gorge. The Cruise Director will be on hand to explain the many myths that have arisen from the river, of Lorelei who would sing to sailors to lure them to their deaths on their rocks, and of course Wagner’s Rhine Maidens.
After lunch we arrive in Rudesheim, a classic Rhine wine village. You will enjoy the walking tour through the marketplace and Bromserburg Castle. After dinner, perhaps you will treat yourself to a glass of Asbach, the local Brandy.
Day 4 and the landscape flattens now. We are in Liebfraumilch country. While the landscape and wine may be less interesting, the town of Speyer has more than enough to fascinate us. Speyer was founded by the Celts, and is one of Germany’s oldest cities. The impressive Cathedral is one of the largest Romanesque churches in the world and is a UNESCO World Heritage site.
Day 5, we are in France and approaching Strasbourg, passing through a series of spectacular locks. Strasbourg in the capital of the Alsace region, and we have another walking tour of the picturesque old town, and its half timbered houses. You will see the Gothic Notre Dame Cathedral and the multi-turreted Ponts-Couverts. Alsace wines are very good, and you may want to sample a few Reislings and Gewurtztraminer. Back on the ship, we have the Captain’s dinner.
Day 6: back into Germany and some impressive landscapes. We arrive at the Breisach, an ancient town, with impressive stone ramparts and cathedral. In the afternoon, we drive through the Black Forest Mountains, stopping at the pretty village of Titisee. We then return to the ship to cruise into Switzerland and stopping at Basel.
Day 7. We drive to Lucerne, perhaps the most beautiful town in Switzerland. The highlight here is the Chapel Bridge, a covered and very colourful wooden walkway across the lake.
We then drive into the spectacular Bernese Oberland, the grand alpine heart of Europe, and including the awe-inspiring Eiger.
Day 8 and it is time to go home. The transfers to the airport or train station are included in the price.
The total price for this holiday is around the £1,200 pp based on two sharing a cabin, for an 8 day trip, including flights and transfers. The price includes excursions and full board. Drinks are not included, but you can buy a drinks package for £110 per person. There is one point to note here, that if you are sharing a cabin, both must buy the drinks package.
Riviera Travel offer a good general introduction to River Cruise and to the Rhine. If you have a particular special interest, perhaps in wine tasting, this is not the cruise for you. If you want a good, all inclusive experience, Riviera is an excellent choice. Excursions are included in the price. Other cruises may have more exciting excursions but they will be more costly, and are very often added to the overall cost of the holiday. With a Rhine Cruise with Riviera Travel, you have much better certainty on the overall cost of the holiday. Food is excellent, and the ships are well appointed. Riviera Travel have a wealth of experience in putting together tours, and their expertise is truly evident on their River Cruises.
For more information on River Cruises, please contact me
Or you may be interested in my blog post on a Danube Cruise, here https://inspirationtravel.co.uk/blog/best-cruise-on-the-danube/