By Hank Schrader, USMA ’71, Europe Destination and Europe River Cruise Expert
We love Europe River Cruising. Europe River cruising is a trip that will make memories of a lifetime and once you take one, you will want to do more—almost all we have sent on a river cruise have booked another one. We have some great opportunities to experience Europe on 4 different AmaWaterways (our favorite river cruise line) sailings later this year and for 2017. Group River cruising always offers a discount and saves you money. We hope you will want to join one of these groups and see Europe up close from the shores of its mighty rivers. Here is a brief description 4 great cruises you might want to join. There are some very good savings on these cruises that end 31 May 2016, so you might want to contact us soon to learn more!
Our 2016 River Cruise Groups
Provence & Spain November 11-18 2016—7 Night Lyon to Arles Cruise.
We just returned from this route in April but in the direction of Arles to Lyon. It was our 3rd time in this area on an AMA cruise and it just gets better each time. This cruise takes you through the wine growing regions of Beaujolais and Cotes du Rhone. You will see Roman ruins (Vienne & Arles), visit Provence to see truffle farms and a hill top castle in Grignan. At Avignon, in the famed walled city, you can visit the Palace of the Popes or take a ride to see Pont du Gard, the incredible Roman aqueduct (only the Roman colosseum is taller) and end the cruise with a visit to Les Baux, the hill town fortress and an olive farm.
The Enchanting Rhine December 14-21 2016—7-Night Basel to Amsterdam Cruise
The tour starts in Basel sailing north. The cruise visits the Alsace region of France, a great blend of Germany and France. Next on the trip includes a visit to Rüdesheim, a cute little wine village and sailing the stunning Rhine River Gorge with over 30 medieval castles & fortress. Next visit Cologne, with its majestic Gothic cathedral, as well as Heidelberg with its neat old town and castle high on the hill. Finally, enjoy a tour of Amsterdam’s canals with its narrow buildings and unique roof lines and view life on its canal.
Our 2017 River Cruise Groups
Paris & Normandy October 26-November 2 2017—7 Night Seine River Cruise
This cruise starts and ends in Paris. Among the highlights are a visit to Giverny, Monet’s home and gardens, an excursion to Honfleur, the scenic port; and a full day visit to the D Day Normandy beaches. Also, you will visit Rouen, with its historic old town and the place where Joan of Arc was burned at the stake. At the end of this cruise, we may conduct a special 2 extra night D Day tour (a little more comprehensive than the tour we led in 2014) if 10 or more make a firm commitment.
The Enchanting Rhine November 11-18 2017—7 Night Basel to Amsterdam Cruise
This is the same route as above but is a special wine cruise. Nice winery are the wine hosts. They specialize in good red wines. Join winemakers, Ryan Levy and Ian Eastveld, for a 7 night cruise up the Rhine River from Basel to Amsterdam. The cruise, hosted by AmaWaterways aboard the AmaSonata, will be a lot of fun.
Finally, here a short question and answer session, so you can learn more about River cruising. Enjoy!
5 Frequently Asked European River Cruise Questions
Q. Why Should I take a river cruise?
A. A river cruise is, in our opinion, the best way to experience Europe–there is just so much to see! The ships are small and comfortable, and the crew and staff are friendly. Most river cruise lines have good food and wine. Unlike ocean cruises, there is a clear upfront price that includes most of the expenses of the trip–food, wine & beer, excursions, accommodations, snacks, destination talks, free Wi-Fi, and usually local entertainment. There are no inside cabins–all have a view. With all that is included, it is a good value for the money!
Q. What is the size of a rivership?
A. There are basically 2 sizes of river cruise ships. River cruise ships have some limitations in width & height. To fit under bridges, they generally have only 3 decks. All are usually 38 feet wide. The big difference is their length. There are two types. First are: Longships which are 443 feet (135 m). The second are 360 feet long, and they are known as 110 m Class Ships. River boats are limited in size to insure they will fit into the various locks on European rivers. How the limited space is used on the vessel is an important factor in your choice of which company to use.
Q. Why is river boat ship length important?
A. One of the real subtle differences in river cruising is what the cruise line has on board their ships. For accommodations, this includes number of passenger cabins, what is in the cabin & views from the cabin. Unlike Ocean Cruising, there are no inside cabins, but there is a significant difference in window size & balconies. On board facilities & equipment is another factor that should be considered.
Q. What is the dress code?
A. River cruising is casual. No formal wear is required. For the dinner meal, most men wear slacks and a nice shirt. Some men will wear a sports coat–maybe a tie for the Captain’s dinner, but it is not required or even expected. Maybe the best way to define the dress code is casual elegant for dinner and comfortable day time wear during the day.
Q. What are meals like?
A. Breakfast and lunch often include a self-service buffet and an option to order from a set menu. There is a full-service dinner with complete waiter service on most cruise lines. The dinner meal is at a set time and often lasts an hour and a half or more. The dinner menu varies between different river cruise lines, as some offer several choices while others have limited selections and may even serve all guests the same meal without any choice. There are no reserved tables, so it is most common you will be sharing your meal with others. The better river cruise lines include beer & wine for lunch and dinner. Some cruise lines have better food than others–according to the Berlitz River Cruising in Europe guide book, AMAWaterways has the best food. It is also our choice for the best food. Some lines have more than one dining facility and offer specialty dining options, which may be available to all guests or restricted to a certain cabin category. There usually is not an extra charge for these dining options.
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