Last updated on May 12th, 2024

River Cruising – Pick a Cruise Line

River Cruising – Europe

The River cruising industry in Europe was revolutionized in 1992 with the connection of the Rhine, Main and Danube rivers by the Main – Danube Canal. A series of locks now allow for river travel from Amsterdam at the Atlantic to Bucharest at the Black Sea:

  • Amsterdam to Basel (Rhine): 14 locks
  • Koblenz to Remich (Moselle): 12 locks
  • Mainz to Bamberg (Main River): 34 locks
  • Bamberg to Kelheim (Main-Danube Canal): 16 locks
  • Kelheim to Budapest (Danube): 17 locks
River Cruising, Danube River, Passau

Danube River, Passau, © Bergfee –

Size of River Cruising Ships

The size of river cruising ships in Europe is limited by the length of the locks and the low clearance under bridges. Many ships use hydraulics to lower the captain’s pilot house, so that the ship will fit under bridges.

Advantages of River Cruising

  • A more intimate experience with less than 200 passengers, as compared to over 6,000 on some ocean cruise ships.
  • Docking downtown in the cities along the rivers.
  • 100% outside facing staterooms.
  • Many Shore Excursions included in the price.
  • Travel Your Way – join the excursions or plan your own activities.
River Cruising, Viking Hlin, Basel

Viking Hlin, Basel

Rhine River – West to East

Amsterdam, Kinderdjik (Rotterdam), Cologne, Koblenz (Moselle junction), Romantic Rhine, Rudesheim, Mainz (Main – Rhine junction), Manheim (near Heidelberg), Speyer (near Heidelberg), Strasbourg, Breisach and Basel.

Main River

The Main (pronounced “mine”) River flows from the Main-Danube Canal to the Rhine River, so this section is essential in the transition between the Danube and the Rhine. Starting at Bamberg the Main River flows through Kitzingen, Ochsenfurt, Würzburg, Marktheidenfeld, Wertheim, Miltenberg, Frankfurt and Mainz. In Mainz the Main River enters the Rhine.

Egypt and China

Get more exotic with a cruise along the Nile River, the Mekong Delta, the Ganges, the Peruvian Amazon or along the Three Gorges on the Yangtze in China. The major river cruise companies cover the world.

River Cruising, Rhine - Danube Map

Rhine – Danube Map

Main – Danube Canal

The Main-Danube Canal was opened for traffic in 1992. The canal covers 106 miles and joins the Main River to the Danube. The completion of the canal made it possible to cruise 2,200 miles from the Atlantic to the Black Sea. Towns along the Main-Danube Canal, from west to east are: Bamberg, Nuremberg and Kelheim. At Kelheim the canal joins with the Danube just west of Regensburg.

Western Danube

Towns and cities along the western Danube include Regensburg, Linz (near Salzburg), Passau, Melk, Durnstein, Vienna, Bratislava and Budapest.

Eastern Danube

Towns and cities along the eastern Danube include Budapest, Osijek, Belgrade, Kostolac and Bucharest.

River Cruising, Rhine River, Pfalzgrafenstein Castle

Rhine River, Pfalzgrafenstein Castle

Mosel (German) or Moselle (French) River

The Moselle River is situated in the Moselle Valley, famous for its beautiful scenery and excellent wines. Rising in northeastern France, the Moselle forms part of the border between Germany and Luxembourg. Then the river flows northeast to Koblenz, Germany, where it becomes a tributary to the Rhine River. The towns along the river include Koblenz, Cochem, Bernkastel and Trier. A Moselle River cruise is ideal for wine lovers. Riesling, Elbling, Müller-Thurgau, and Kerner wines are all produced in this area.

Seine River

A Seine River cruise typically visits Paris, Giverny and Rouen.

Rhône & Saône

The Saône River in France flows into the Rhône River. Prominent towns on the Rhône include Lyon, Avignon and Arles.

River Cruising Slide Show