Cheap river cruises on the Rhine
The Rhine is one of the most important – and historic – European waterways. Flowing more than 800 miles from the Swiss Alps to the North Sea in the Netherlands, the river’s banks are lined with medieval castles, ancient ruins, and rolling vineyards.
Rhine River cruises are a wonderful way to explore Germany, and there’s a Rhine River cruise for virtually any taste and budget. From day cruises along the most scenic stretches of the river to month-long luxury voyages that continue on to some of Europe’s other great rivers, there’s a Rhine cruise for everyone.
If you have the time and money, European river cruises offer the best of all worlds. You can settle into a comfortable, well-designed stateroom, unpack once, and then lean back and watch the scenery roll by – right at eye level. Avalon, Globus, Uniworld, Viking River Cruises, and AMA Waterways all offer cruises along the Rhine. And service and amenities on these lines are first rate.
In most cases, a daily shore excursion is included in the fare. You’ll have time to explore on your own. And you can often go into town in the evening for a little nightlife or local cuisine.
An 8-night cruise from Amsterdam to Basel, Switzerland – or vice versa – provides a great introduction. Most programs have an overnight in Amsterdam before boarding the vessel, so there’s time to visit the Rijksmuseum, the van Gogh Museum, Anne Frank’s house or the flower market before getting under way.
The next stop is usually Cologne, known in Germany as Koln. The magnificent Gothic Cathedral here is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and the most visited site in Germany. Those interested in history should also check out the Roman-Germanic Museum, where there’s a fantastic, ancient mosaic.
Further downriver is Koblenz, where the Rhine is met by another of Germany’s majestic rivers, the Mosel. The attractions here are rich and varied, ranging from 9th-century St. Castor’s Church to a 17th-century pub. One of the highlights of any visit here is tasting the delicious local wines.
Medieval Rudesheim is a fairy tale village of wine stubes, cafes, and shops selling local crafts. During the holiday season, Christmas markets make this region especially appealing. Just be sure to pack plenty of warm clothes.
Heidelberg is home to Germany’s most prestigious university, which dates from 1386. The bridge over the Neckar River leads to a lively downtown populated by eclectic students and a mix of 16th- and 17th-century buildings.
The capital of the French province of Alsace, Strasbourg is a UNESCO World Heritage Site with half-timbered houses, cobbled streets, and quaint canals. The Cathedral of Notre Dame has a fascinating astronomical clock.
Art lovers will enjoy their time in Basel, where there are several excellent museums and galleries, including the Kunstmuseum and the Renzo Piano-designed Fondation Beyeler.
Those with more time can choose 10-day cruises that add Prague to the beginning or end.
For a relaxing European vacation with good food and wine, magnificent culture and scenery, and few if any hassles, Rhine River cruises are a great choice. And since many include free airfare, hotels nights, and more, they’re also a great value.