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Choosing The Best Danube River Cruise For You

Let the beautiful Danube, the "River of Kings," waltz its way into your heart on an unforgettable journey. Find the best Tauck Danube River cruise for you and follow its siren song past medieval towns, romantic castles and lush vineyards.

Best Danube River Cruises

Best For First Timers - The Blue Danube

Is the Danube truly blue? While composer Johann Strauss may have taken a few liberties with the Danube's color, he was right about one thing: it is certainly beautiful! The reviews agree: The Blue Danube is Tauck's #1 best-selling itinerary worldwide. You'll see why as you soak up picturesque scenery on a 12-day journey through five countries with stops in Prague, Bratislava, Regensburg, Vienna, Budapest and Salzburg.

Life onboard our best-rated river cruise line is one of refined pleasures. Along the way, you'll discover architectural and cultural treasures, taste locally made wine and dine like an aristocrat at Tauck Exclusive private royal palace dinners. Your Danube River Cruise begins and ends with 2-night stays at premier, city-center hotels in Budapest and Prague, as well as a 2-day docking mid-cruise in Vienna—giving you ample opportunity to further explore these romantic capitals of Europe.

View the full itinerary for the Blue Danube River Cruise here.

Biking Along the Danube River

The river is ready for adventure, the hills are alive with music and medieval castles are game for modern play on the best-rated Blue Danube: Family Riverboat Adventure . Tauck has thought of everything to make your family vacation stress-free and full of fun. This 8-day river cruise takes you through four countries with stops along the way for geocaching, marzipan making, and bicycling along the Danube. Discover the secrets of a royal maze, see a knight's tournament and, of course, eat strudel!

Experience family harmony on a tour of Salzburg, where you'll step into scenes straight out of the classic family film The Sound of Music . Everyone will thrill to iconic views from atop the 19th-century Riesenrad (giant Ferris wheel) at the Vienna Prater, one of the world's oldest amusement parks. And fairytales come true at a Tauck Exclusive: a private dinner with Viennese entertainment, held in the ballroom of a Baroque palace.

View the full itinerary for Tauck's Family Danube River Cruise .

Best For Experienced Travelers - Royal Danube, Berlin & Kraków

Enjoy more time to discover the Danube east of Vienna on the 14-day Royal Danube, Berlin & Kraków . This insightful, revealing excursion begins and ends with 3-night stays in premier, city-center hotels in Berlin and Kraków. In between, your river cruise will take you past picture-perfect scenery, with stops to sample wines in the Wachau Valley and party like its 1799 in Vienna at a Tauck Exclusive palace dinner. Another must-see is the impressive Danube Gorge at the confluence of the Danube River and Danube-Main Canal.

While your itinerary features unforgettable outings (like dining underground in the Wieliczka Salt Mine near Kraków), you're also free to customize as you please. Learn more about WWII history or make a pilgrimage to the home of Wagner and Liszt. Visit an ancient abbey or a working BMW factory. Take a boat ride, bike ride or a mountain tram. Pay tribute to an unlikely hero at Schindler's Factory or breathe in views and fresh air at Poland's best-known mountain resort. This is the Danube, your way!

Explore Tauck's Poland River Cruise today!

Vienna Austria Christmas Market

What is the best time to experience a celebration 700 years strong? Join Tauck in November and December for Christmas Markets Along the Danube . This 8-day river cruise unwraps all of the charms and treats of this age-old tradition. The festivities begin as you join the crew and your fellow travelers in trimming the riverboat's Christmas tree. You'll definitely be in the holiday spirit as you visit Christmas markets in Vienna, Salzburg, Passau, Regensburg and Nürnberg. Whether called Christkindlmarkt or Weihnachsmarkt , each one sparkles with unique character that you won't want to miss!

This river cruise is truly a feast for the senses. You'll see why as you nibble gingerbread and bratwurst, listen to impressive pipe organs and heavenly choirs, sip warming mugs of glühwein and gaze at stands loaded with local crafts. Be sure to save room for wonderful outings, including a tour of the Baroque Melk Abbey, a chance to explore Thurn und Taxis Palace and its private Christmas market in Regensburg and a holiday lunch and choir performance at Vienna's Palais Pallavicini.

Explore Tauck's Danube Christmas Markets River Cruise .

Best For Music Lovers - Musical Magic Along the Blue Danube

Pay homage to the river that inspired a beloved waltz and was home to the world's most lauded composers. Musical Magic Along the Blue Danube is a 12-day "master class" in musical greatness, as you revel in the prodigious talents of Mozart, Beethoven, Bartók, Schubert, Liszt, Strauss, Haydn and more.

Your itinerary is a glorious full-out symphony of Tauck Exclusive experiences. In Budapest – where you'll stay two nights in a premier, centrally located hotel—enjoy a guided tour of the gilded 1884 State Opera House. On board your river cruise, you'll be immersed in workshops, seminars and performances by Tauck's "maestros." Listen to works from Mozart's operas, as well as a fascinating talk by a Mozarteum University professor, in Salzburg. And the crescendo of your musical journey is a visit to Vienna, the Imperial City. Sit in on an orchestra rehearsal at Auersperg Palace before a night you'll never forget: a gala evening at Palais Ferstel, with a sumptuous dinner, orchestra, ballet, and Mozart…now that's musical magic!

Learn about our music-focused Danube River Tours .

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AmaWaterways-Danube-River

  • WHY CRUISE THE DANUBE?
  • DANUBE ITINERARIES
  • LOCAL CULTURE

The Legendary Danube River

Europe’s legendary Danube River offers the quintessential river cruise experience for first-time cruisers and repeat guests alike. Cruise through up to four countries in seven nights or eight countries on our all-encompassing 14-night journey, discovering grand capitals as well as charming off-the-beaten-path hamlets. Along this storied waterway, empires were built, kings and queens were crowned and some of the world’s greatest music was composed and performed. Our distinctive sailings include such a wide variety of excursions that many who have previously sailed are compelled to return. Read on to learn more about the Danube River and the one-of-a-kind experiences you’ll only have with AmaWaterways.

Geography of the Danube

Europe’s Danube River begins in Germany, flowing through 10 picturesque countries and four iconic capital cities – Budapest, Hungary; Vienna, Austria; Bratislava, Slovakia; and Belgrade, Serbia. The portion of the waterway stretching southeast from Budapest is known as the Lower Danube, and showcases the lesser visited countries of Croatia, Serbia, Bulgaria and Romania.

amawaterways-danube

Destination Highlights

Each city and town we visit holds its own special charm. From magnificent Old-World architecture to medieval town squares to historic UNESCO World Heritage Sites, discover some of the top destinations and experiences we offer on our Danube River journeys.

wellness-amenities

The destinations we visit along the Danube River each offer their own unique history, traditions, local delicacies and enriching experiences. Get inspired for your Danube River journey by reading the stories below.

a-tale-of-rieslings-gruner-veltliners-and-apricots

View Danube Sailings

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The 10 Best River Cruise Lines in 2022

The best river cruises blend refined onboard accommodations with exciting itineraries along some of the world’s most memorable waterways.

best river cruise lines on the danube

Note: If you’re looking for our most recent recommendations, check out the 2023 list of our favorite river cruise lines.

After pandemic-related challenges at the beginning of last year, river ships got back to what they do best: exploring inland waterways in Europe, the United States, and select other destinations around the world. Travel + Leisure readers enthusiastically returned, setting out on voyages both classic and new.

Every year for our World's Best Awards survey, T+L asks readers to weigh in on travel experiences around the globe — to share their opinions on the top hotels, resorts, cities, islands, cruise ships, spas, airlines, and more. Readers rated individual cruise ships on their cabins and facilities, food, service, itineraries and destinations, excursions and activities, and value. Those assessments were combined to generate results for the cruise lines in six categories, including river cruising.

The top three in the river cruise lines were very close in their scores. Viking, the world's largest river cruise company, moved up two spots into the lead position. Tauck, the well-known tour and river-ship operator, retained its No. 2 spot. "The itinerary was thoughtful as well as instructive," wrote one reader who traveled on the Joy . In the No. 3 spot is Uniworld Boutique River Cruises, with praise that included this rave from one voter who sailed on the Maria Theresa : "This was an exceptional cruise. The staff was excellent. I can't say enough about this cruise line and this ship."

Aqua Expeditions, with journeys on the Peruvian Amazon, ranked No. 4, thanks in part to the sophisticated onboard dining. "Its cuisine is rich in local products and designed by one of the most renowned chefs in Peru," noted one reader. Closer to home, No. 5 American Queen Voyages (formerly American Queen Steamboat Company) earned praise — especially from older adults — for its leisurely cruises on the Columbia, the Mississippi, the Ohio, and other U.S. waterways.

Top-ranked Viking does all the major riverways of Europe, with ships also on the Nile and the Mekong, and, new in 2022, on the Mississippi. Readers praised the line's value proposition and shore experiences that go beyond the norm. The "Thinking Man's vacation" is the way one reader who sailed on a Viking ship on the Rhine river put it.

Find the full list of the best river cruise lines — and more on what sets Viking apart — below.

With its fleet of more than 50 contemporary "longships" on rivers such as the Rhine, the Danube, and the Seine, plus additional ships in Europe, Egypt, and Vietnam, T+L's top-ranked river cruise line for 2022 is often praised for its steadiness. "Having traveled on seven Viking longships that are virtually indistinguishable from one another, I believe it's the consistency that makes Viking one of our favorite ways to travel," said one reader. The longships are light-filled floating boutique hotels with a Scandinavian-design aesthetic, indoor and outdoor dining, and herb gardens up on top. Viking's carefully crafted itineraries and "good value" also received praise from readers. "Met wonderful new friends. Absolutely outstanding service and terrific food," said one fan.

WBA Hall of Fame honoree. Score: 96.77

More information: viking.com

WBA Hall of Fame honoree. Score: 96.60

More information: tauck.com

3. Uniworld Boutique River Cruises

WBA Hall of Fame honoree. Score: 96.31

More information: uniworld.com

4. Aqua Expeditions

Score: 93.27

More information: aquaexpeditions.com

5. American Queen Voyages (formerly American Queen Steamboat Company and Victory Cruise Lines)

Score: 92.82

More information: aqvoyages.com

6. Grand Circle Cruise Line

Score: 90.64

More information: gct.com

7. AmaWaterways

Score: 90.12

More information: amawaterways.com

8. Avalon Waterways

Score: 89.88

More information: avalonwaterways.com

9. Vantage Deluxe World Travel

Score: 84.71

More information: vantagetravel.com

10. American Cruise Lines

Score: 81.17

More information: americancruiselines.com

Related Articles

The Definitive Danube River Cruise Guide

A Danube River cruise showcases some of the finest scenery in Europe, passing grand castles, stunning cathedrals, ancient sites and elegant cities which have inspired travelers for centuries.  

Unveiling Europe’s rich and dramatic history, a Danube River immerses you in the glittering cultural capitals, lush vineyards, magnificent monasteries and endless scenic splendor that line the river’s banks. 

Danube River Basics

Ideal for first-time river cruisers as well as seasoned travelers seeking to experience yet another dimension of some of Europe's most-loved destinations, a Danube River cruise is a  journey that any culturally curious world traveler will love , featuring old-world capitals, charming towns and villages and world-class food and culture.

Castles and cities along the Danube River

Flowing  through Germany, Austria, Hungary and seven other European countries , the Danube is the soul of Central Europe and its  second longest river after the Volga. The Danube originates in the Black Forest of Germany and flows southeast for 1,770 miles before emptying into the Black Sea. It passes through and borders many magnificent cities, including four capitals: Vienna, Bratislava, Budapest and Belgrade.

Insider Tip: After dark, gorgeous waterfronts illuminate the surrounding cities, and sailing into the famed city of Budapest, with its impressive palaces bathed in golden light is a memory you won’t soon forget.

Some categorize the Danube into two sections with Budapest being the dividing point. To the west are places like Germany and Austria with their extravagant medieval towns, villages and beautiful cities like Vienna. The Eastern Danube weaves its way through Hungary, Croatia, Serbia, Bulgaria and Romania, bringing the chance to experience the region’s rich history and cultural offerings.

Danube River Cruise Lines

Nearly every river cruise line sails the Danube as it’s one of the most popular itineraries for cruising in Europe, ideal for first-time river cruisers as well. Even those who’ve embarked on several river cruises over the years are bound to discover something new when sailing the Danube.

Our CruiseInsider experts can help you find the perfect cruise line and ideal time of year to travel the Danube , but some of the most popular lines for Danube river cruising include:

  • Viking Cruises
  • AmaWaterways
  • Crystal Cruises
  • Uniworld River Cruises
  • Tauck Cruises

Insider Tip: While sailing along the Danube, keep your eyes peeled for wildlife ranging from primitive fish species to white pelicans and European pond turtles.

A week or multi-week grand adventure.

We recommend at least a week to experience the mighty Danube and all it's culture, scenery and history. Along the Danube, there are plenty of longer river cruise options like Viking’s 22-night European Soujoun Cruisetour. If you're looking for elegance and style onboard, then Crystal, Uniworld and AmaWaterways also offer many luxurious Danube river cruise options. 

Or, if you’re interested in both a land and cruise option, there’s the 23-night Grand European Cruise on Tauck. An experience of a lifetime, this grand adventure begins in Amsterdam with ports of call in all capital cities the Danube passes and a number of others, including spectacular Cologne with its over 2,000-year history, iconic cathedral and Roman remains.

Danube castle

The Danube is widely considered one of the best itineraries for first-time river cruisers.

Danube river cruising also brings the opportunity to visit charming Bavarian villages like Rothenburg along Germany’s Romantic Road, a place that inspired Walt Disney to create Pinocchio. Travel writer and television personality, Rick Steves, once called this village a “fairytale dream town.”

Insider Tip: After your cruise ends in Bucharest, don't miss an excursion to Romania’s famous Bran Castle, the place where myths like werewolves and vampires first took hold.

Those limited by budget, time or who just want a short taste to determine whether river cruising is for them may want to try a shorter cruise like Crystal’s 6-night Danube Getaway River Cruise. This itinerary starts in the German city of Passau on the Austrian border with stops in Bratislava and Budapest before culminating in beautiful Vienna, the epitome of European elegance and grace.

Highlights Along the Danube

Whether you choose an all-inclusive luxury river line or yearn for a more authentic and immersive family adventure, there is a Danube River cruise for everyone and something to see at every stop along the way including:

  • Enchanting Passau, set where three rivers meet
  • Lush vineyards of the Wachau Valley
  • The baroque splendor of Melk Abbey
  • Vienna’s elegant architecture
  • The splendid Benedictine Abbey of Göttweig
  • Scenic beauty of the picturesque Danube Bend
  • Budapest’s stunning Chain Bridge and Parliament Building
  • Soaring cliffs of the scenic Iron Gate
  • Romania’s rural culture and rich folklore
  • Belgrade’s impressive Kalemegdan Fortress
  • Viewing the acclaimed art collection of the Kunstkammer Vienna
  • In Winter, visiting the famed Christmas Markets 

When to Cruise the Danube

May through September is the prime cruising time on the Danube. However, fall can be ideal as well, especially early fall from around mid-September through October.

While the Danube covers a lot of territory and the weather can be inconsistent, temperatures are usually quite pleasant – water levels are good, the crowds of summer have diminished, and fares are usually cheaper.

And if you’re lucky, you might be able to enjoy some of the sights framed with vibrant fall foliage, too. Although late November and December will be chilly, a cruise on the Danube is especially magical with all the holiday lights and neighboring Christmas markets.

Christmas Market along Danube

The springtime can be quite damp due to heavy rain and snowmelt in the mountains. If water levels get too high, cruising vessels won’t be able to pass under some bridges or locks, which means you’ll have to be transported to destinations by bus.

During the summer months, there is more hustle and bustle around central Europe with excellent, warm weather. The days will be wonderfully long as well, which means you’ll have plenty of daylight for seeing the incredible sites and cities along this majestic European waterway.

Insider Tip: If you sail the Danube during the summertime, be sure to book one of the river cruise ships that have a pool - our Insiders know each ship's features well - and you’ll have the perfect way to cool off if it gets too hot.

Connect with a CruiseInsider expert today at 1 (877) 734-6858 to discover your next Danube river cruise adventure or CLICK HERE to search for the perfect Danube voyage!  

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Danube River Cruises in Summer 2025

96 danube river cruises in summer 2025 with 93 reviews.

Classical Danube (Passau - Budapest - Passau) Tour

River Cruise Family

Classical Danube (Passau - Budapest - Passau)

"The ship was clean, the food was excellent, the staff was friendly and courteous." Gary, traveled in April 2024

The beautiful blue Danube (port-to-port cruise) (from Passau to Budapest) Tour

River Cruise Family Historical +1

The beautiful blue Danube (port-to-port cruise) (from Passau to Budapest)

"The boat is 18 years old and needs updating. Florian was excellent in keeping everyone informed and on time." Christine, traveled in September 2019

Danube Serenade: Romantic Journey from Vienna to Bucharest (Turnu Magurele) , MS Fidelio Tour

Danube Serenade: Romantic Journey from Vienna to Bucharest (Turnu Magurele) , MS Fidelio

"You have time to see everything." Jane, traveled in July 2022

Enchanting Danube (2025) (Passau to Budapest, 2025) Tour

River Cruise Historical

Enchanting Danube (2025) (Passau to Budapest, 2025)

Enchanting Danube (2025) (Budapest to Passau, 2025) Tour

Enchanting Danube (2025) (Budapest to Passau, 2025)

From the Black Sea to the Blue Danube (port-to-port cruise) Tour

From the Black Sea to the Blue Danube (port-to-port cruise)

"The food was excellent. We enjoyed our trip and would use Croisi again." Karyn, traveled in May 2024

Grand Danube Cruise 2025 Start Giurgiu, End Vilshofen (from Giurgiu to Passau) Tour

River Cruise Historical Wine tasting +1

Grand Danube Cruise 2025 Start Giurgiu, End Vilshofen (from Giurgiu to Passau)

Grand Danube Cruise 2025 Start Giurgiu, End Vilshofen (from Giurgiu to Vilshofen an der Donau) Tour

Grand Danube Cruise 2025 Start Giurgiu, End Vilshofen (from Giurgiu to Vilshofen an der Donau)

Danube Rhapsody (Passau - Passau) Tour

Danube Rhapsody (Passau - Passau)

"The trip far exceeded our expectations on the positive side. The elegance of the Amadeus Riva ship, the spacious cabins." Bodo, traveled in September 2023

Spectacular Danube Metropolises Tour

Spectacular Danube Metropolises

Danube river cruise summer 2025 reviews.

Highlights: The locations chosen for the stops were great and so were the activities; the staff were amazing and kind (the restaurant staff was beyond amazing! Special kudos to Ninna and Igor). The cruise was clean, pretty and the overall experience was great! Lowlights: The boat broke down on the last day and left us to figure out ourselves how to return to Passau, the person responsible for our group left us behind, as there was no tour coordinator and this was above his pay grade. At the end, the leader from the front desk (Marya) kindly called/ arranged us cabs and reimbursed us (quite fast) the cost of the trip. Conclusion: It was a lot of fun, the recommendation is that if several travel agencies are going to be working together, there should be someone responsible for each group, so no one is left behind and keep up the good work on the cruise! :)
Enjoyed every crew member -- very accommodating and friendly. Food was great. The multi-language tours were challenging however.
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Best river cruise lines around the world

Fran Golden

River cruising is the original slow way to travel, as you cruise the calm waters of inland waterways just like Cleopatra did on the Nile. The best river cruise ships are floating hotels with views galore, such as the castles and vineyards of the Rhine or the rice paddies and villages on stilts along the Mekong.

River ships dock near key attractions and feature mostly-inclusive pricing; fares include such perks as basic daily walking tours and wine and beer at meals. But beyond that standard, there are differences in the products. One person's idea of a great vacation may be extraordinary excursions such as an exclusive dinner in a chateau, while others may want spacious cabins or as much foie gras and French cheese as you can possibly eat. Want to relax in a swimming pool? That's doable on some but not all ships. And some river cruises are much more active than others with, for instance, biking and hiking tours.

For more cruise news, reviews and tips, sign up for TPG's cruise newsletter .

Here's a rundown of the best river cruise lines traversing inland waterways around the world.

best river cruise lines on the danube

The world's largest river cruise line, Viking has a fleet that in Europe includes dozens of cutting-edge, 190-passenger "longships" with light-filled atriums, an appealing contemporary Scandinavian decor, and cabins with step-out balconies. An outdoor restaurant on the bow means you never miss a chance to take in unobstructed views.

The value-packed experience is geared toward adults and is consistently high quality. Destinations include all the popular rivers of Europe — such as the Danube, Rhine, Seine, Bordeaux, Rhone, Elbe and Douro — as well as the Nile in Egypt, the Mekong in Vietnam and Cambodia, and the Mississippi.

For those seeking consistency and value, Viking is the best of the mainstream river companies.

Learn which card in your wallet will help you reach your travel goals for 2022 – just download the free TPG App .

AmaWaterways

AmaWaterways offers such popular upscale features as a top-deck swimming pool with swim-up bar and a big focus on cuisine; its multiple dining venues use high-quality ingredients and its Chef's Table experience is focused on fine local food and wine. The 106- to 196-passenger ships in Europe also have a wellness focus with small spas and fitness rooms and a fleet of bikes for use either on your own or on organized excursions.

AmaWaterways' partnership with Adventures by Disney means families are on board select chartered sailings on the Seine, Rhine and Danube. In addition to a big presence on all the main rivers of Europe, the line sails the Mekong and Nile, as well as the Chobe River of Botswana.

AmaWaterways hits a sweet spot for both foodies and active travelers (and families on the Disney sailings).

Related: Best river cruises in Europe

best river cruise lines on the danube

Uniworld positions itself as a high-end luxury line. Its ships are designed as floating palace hotels, employing marble, Murano glass and expensive fabrics in its over-the-top decor. Don't be surprised if you find yourself lounging in a room decked out in animal prints. The 159-passenger S.S. Catherine on the Rhone and Saone, for instance, boasts a $1 million art collection.

For foodies, foie gras, fresh oysters, regional cheeses and other local delicacies appear on menus. Guests in suites on select ships have butlers on call. Bikes are available to borrow, and the ships have gyms and spas, and, on some ships, lavish indoor pools. Family departures add active excursions, arts and crafts, and visits to amusement parks.

In addition to the major rivers of Europe, Uniworld cruises the less-traversed Po River in Italy (from Venice) and has ships on the Nile and Mekong as well as the Ganges in India.

If you are looking for Old World-style luxury with dramatic flair, Uniworld is your line.

Related: Booking your first river cruise? Here's what you need to know.

Sleek ships with marble lobbies, mid-century furnishings and impressive art collections mark the Australian-owned Scenic as all about luxurious, high-end river cruising. Butler service is part of the scene, and so are free-flowing cocktails, e-bikes and six dining options – all for a passenger contingent of fewer than 170.

Included shore excursions go beyond the standard tours that most lines offer, such as a visit to the Szechenyi baths in Budapest. If you prefer independent travel, Scenic provides a nifty GPS gadget about the size of a cellphone, loaded with maps and commentary that is automatically activated at points of interest. Most of the ships have a pool on the sun deck, along with a fitness center and spa.

Routes include the Rhine and Danube, the Seine, Saone, Rhone, Garonne and Dordogne in Bordeaux, and Portugal's Douro, as well as the Mekong.

When it comes to an active, contemporary, luxury experience, Scenic is at the top.

Emerald Cruises

best river cruise lines on the danube

A sister line to Scenic but priced for budget-conscious travelers, Emerald continues the cool decor on its 182-passenger "Star Ships." The design highlight is an amazing infinity-style indoor/outdoor pool that converts (with a cover) into a movie theater at night.

Fares include most tours, even well-programmed full-day tours with lunch ashore. Destinations include the Danube, Rhine, Main, Rhone, and Douro, as well as the Mekong.

For those watching their pennies, Emerald is the best of the budget-priced ships.

Related: Are river cruises right for kids?

Leading luxury tour operator Tauck has its own fleet of award-winning 84- to 130-passenger river ships cruising the Danube, Douro, Rhine, Rhone and Seine. The big selling point here is that a Tauck tour director and three Tauck cruise directors are on board all departures, assuring that guests are catered to.

The ships deliver great food and wine and beyond-the-norm experiences on shore, such as the chance to sip local varietals in a wine cave. Special family departures — Tauck Bridges — cater to multigenerational families, adding such kid-friendly adventures as a scavenger hunt at the Louvre in Paris. Some staterooms on the newer ships are lofts with high ceilings and a raised seating area; some ships have a Jacuzzi and putting green on the sun deck. Local performers including dance troupes come on board to entertain.

The hand-held, everything-taken-care-of luxury experience that Tauck provides is hard to beat.

Avalon Waterways

best river cruise lines on the danube

Avalon is owned by the Globus Family of Brands, a tour operator company, and that experience comes into play on shore, with such VIP experiences as skipping the line at the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam. Pricing on this line is middle of the road, with everything comfortable, reliable and not overly fussy. That said, on the company's sleek, 166-passenger Suite Ships, you can splurge on a Panorama Suite with sitting areas and glass doors that open to bring the fresh air in.

The company lets you personalize your experience down to the kind of pillows you prefer. All ships have a fitness room and fleet of bikes for tours in places such as Amsterdam and Cochem, Germany. There are also hiking excursions. The ships traverse waterways that include the Seine, Rhine, Danube, Douro, Main, Moselle, Rhone, Saone and Mekong.

Avalon is your best choice in the affordable, active category.

CroisiEurope Cruises

French line CroisiEurope caters to travelers on a tight budget and does river cruising in a friendly European style. Among the differences here is you won't just be cruising with fellow Americans. The passenger contingent is mostly bargain-seekers from France and Germany, and you'll hear onboard announcements in multiple languages. Everything from the food and service to the entertainment caters to that crowd. Some will love the idea of cruising like a European, while others may miss, for instance, a wide breadth of entree choices at dinner.

The family-run line has several dozen mostly older ships that operate on rivers that include the Danube, Rhine, Rhone and Saone but also such less-traversed waterways as the Elbe between Berlin and Prague, France's Loire, Spain's Guadalquivir and the Markermeer in the Netherlands. CroiseEurope also has ships on the Nile, Mekong, and Chobe River in Africa.

Try CroisiEurope if you want to grab super-low bargain fares and see Europe with a local crowd.

Grand Circle Line

Part of tour company Grand Circle Travel, this line is a popular affordable choice for travelers age 55-plus in Europe. The fleet of 46- to 140-passenger ships cruises waterways that include the Seine, Rhine, Mosel, Main, Danube and Rhone. Always onboard are Grand Circle program directors supplementing the onboard team and assuring a certain amount of handholding on ship and shore; your American tastes and expectations will be catered to. The line focuses attention on onboard enrichment, such as lectures, dance performances and cooking demonstrations. On shore, Grand Circle's signature experiences are a home visit with a local family and a school visit.

Grand Circle is a top choice company for solo travelers because the ships feature a good number of small cabins designed and priced for one, plus reduced single-supplement pricing for solos who want larger rooms.

American Cruise Lines

best river cruise lines on the danube

American Cruise Lines offers cruises on more U.S. waterways than any other river line. Of course, the company's fleet of U.S.-flagged 100- to 190-passenger river ships (including authentic paddlewheelers) travels the popular Mississippi and Columbia and Snake rivers in the Pacific Northwest. But it also offers itineraries along the rivers of the San Francisco Bay Area (including a stop in Napa Valley's wine country), Florida's east coast (visiting Amelia Island and St. Augustine) and New York (offering overnight trips on the Hudson). Multi-state trips via the Ohio, Tennessee and Cumberland Rivers round out the offerings.

The crew is all-American, and the ships play up the American theming. Civil War theme cruises are particularly popular.

The river cruises command big prices — from about $575 per person, per night for an ambiance that is comfortably upscale. Particularly on the newer ships, guests stay in big, hotel-like staterooms with indoor sitting areas and balconies (on the 175-passenger American Symphony, for instance, cabins range from 250 to 650 square feet). Local entertainment comes on board, the food is often locally sourced, and cocktail parties are included in the cruise fare.

These river cruises attract mostly older travelers. There are no bars, but that's a bonus in terms of socializing. Everyone goes to the cocktail parties, and getting to know your fellow passengers is a big part of the experience.

Aqua Expeditions

best river cruise lines on the danube

Crowd-free and high-end luxury cruises are this line's calling card both on the Peruvian Amazon and the Mekong. On the 32- to 40-passenger ships, you are embraced in designer decor and expanses of glass, so you don't miss any views. Exquisite gourmet cuisine in both destinations is overseen by top chefs known for their award-winning land-based restaurants, with local ingredients a focus. Tours ashore (sometimes two a day) are often via private, 10-passenger skiffs.

For the privilege of sailing with this line, you may have to pay $1000 per person, per night. The shortest sailings are three nights on the Amazon. Families with kids ages 7 and up are welcome.

Aqua Expeditions is hands down the best luxury product on the Amazon and Mekong; intimate cruising at its finest.

Planning a cruise? Start with these stories:

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Quick-Reference Guide to Cruising on the Danube River (With Prices + Map)

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The Danube River is one of the most famous rivers in the world and the second longest in Europe, and cruising on the Danube River is most enjoyable.

Our quick-reference guide to Danube River cruises in Europe will provide an introduction and overview of cruise options, where they go, and reasons to sail this popular European river.

Disclosure: This page has affiliate links, meaning we may earn a small commission if you click the link and proceed with a purchase  at no cost to you . We truly only recommend cruises, experiences, products, and services we personally use. As Amazon Associates, we earn from qualifying purchases.

Table of Contents

What is the history and importance of the Danube River?

The Danube River, also known as the “Blue Danube,” has served as an important natural resource for thousands of years. It begins in Germany’s Black Forest area (partially flowing from the Brigach stream, fed by resources in the Black Forest). The river goes on for 1,770 miles through 10 countries. Its mouth flows out to the Black Sea between Romania and Ukraine, right by Moldova.

The ten countries it flows through are Germany, Austria, Slovakia, Hungary, Croatia, Serbia, Bulgaria, Romania, Moldova, and Ukraine. It gets its name from the Celtic word “danu,” which means “to flow.”

Highlights while sailing on the river include the Wachau Valley, which is a UNESCO Cultural Landscape (pictured below), and the Iron Gate in the Balkans, between Serbia and Romania.

Colorful fall foliage along the rolling hills and vineyards of the Wachau Valley along the Danube River in Europe.

Is a Danube River cruise worth it?

100%, yes!!! We love river cruising. Though it may not be for everyone, it’s a real winner for us. There are several great things about river cruises in general, and we do a great job of spreading the word about what to expect on a river cruise if it’s your first time .

But in terms of the Danube River, in particular, it’s a beautiful river that offers fantastic ports and charming scenery as you sail. It’s also one of the most popular European river cruise itineraries. You may stop at some classic big cities, depending on your itinerary, like Budapest and Vienna. You’ll certainly stop in incredibly charming smaller cities you may not otherwise have visited along the way, no matter your Danube River itinerary.

Why choose a Danube River cruise?

If you love Europe’s charm and are drawn to castles and small European cities, this is the cruise for you. It also has some seriously impressive scenery along the way. Not all rivers provide great scenery between cities, but the Danube River does in this regard in several key areas.

Truth be told, not every mile of the Danube River cruise is photo-worthy. For instance, some stretches are simply through the water with grass on the bank and a few trees here and there.

Absent are castles, churches, or fortresses towering above the town. It goes through several locks that are cool and worth taking photos of but are not magazine-worthy if you know what we mean. But you’ll experience locks and some scenery better than others on most European river cruises.

The Danube is special for the countries it goes through, the moments and areas that do have phenomenal scenery along the way, the destinations along the river, and its history.

Can other rivers claim a waltz named after it, like “The Blue Danube,” by famed Austrian composer Johann Strauss II in the 19th century? You also can’t beat the Christmas Markets in the cities along the Danube River during Christmas time.

Where does a Danube River cruise start and end?

Your cruise’s embarkation and debarkation points depend on the precise Danube River cruise you book.

However, some of the most popular cruise lines and itineraries start in Budapest, Hungary, and end in Nuremberg, Germany. Or they do the opposite cruise, from Nuremberg to Budapest.

Yet the Danube River is a sizeable length, as we mentioned at over 1,700 feet! And there are many more itineraries to consider that have different starting and ending points.

These include:

  • Bucarest (Romania) to Budapest (Hungary)
  • Amsterdam to Budapest
  • Munich to Budapest
  • Budapest to Regensberg (Germany)
  • Passau (Germany) to Budapest
  • Budapest to Vilshofen (Germany)
  • Vienna to Nuremberg
  • Vienna to Prague (transfer from Nuremberg because Prague isn’t on the river)

A journey between points like Amsterdam and Budapest will typically be a longer cruise than eight days (even 12-15 days). It also starts in The Netherlands, where the Danube River doesn’t exist yet, so you partially sail on other waterways.

Uniworld river cruise boat in front of the parliament building on the Danube River in Budapest, with a pink and purple sunset sky.

Where does a Danube River cruise go?

To charming towns and wonderful cities in Europe! For more specific port information, we’ve listed the ports where cruise lines stop. There’s a lot of overlap for more popular cities, like Vienna, Nuremberg, Melk, and Budapest, for example. And not a lot of cruise lines go to lesser known cities , like Roth, Emmersdorf, Weissenkirchen, and Kalocsa.

Pending your specific itinerary, we’ve also included cities that Danube River cruises may reach via bus from the port yet aren’t directly off the Danube River.

An example of that is Veliko Tarnovo in Bulgaria. It’s approximately an 80-minute ride from the Danube River on the Yantra River. And while it’s not on the Danube itself, it is a town that Viking River Cruises transports its guests to on some itineraries because it’s an interesting place to visit and not that far from the Danube.

  • Engelhartszell

Austria (cont’d)

  • Wachau Valley
  • Weissenkirchen
  • Veliko Tarnovo

River cruises on the Danube River that begin in Amsterdam also sail the Rhine River and Main River. We have not listed the cities it stops at before it reaches the Danube River in the bulleted list above.

River cruises that sail into Serbia, Croatia, and Romania may also travel on the Drava River.

Danube River Cruise Map of Ports

Danube River Cruise Highlights

You may visit these must-see places when you’re Danube River cruising:

  • Melk’s Benedictine Abbey, a UNESCO World Heritage Site
  • Budapest’s Parliament building
  • St. Stephan’s Cathedral in Passau
  • Palace of Parliament in Bucharest

When is the best time to cruise the Danube River?

Now that you have a better idea of what cruising the Danube is like, you’re probably wondering when to go. There’s no wrong answer because any time a cruise line has an available cruise means they have already considered the time of year.

But the answer could depend on what kind of season you want to experience:

  • Spring : Mother Nature is in her splendor during spring and colors dot the European towns. Choose April or May for a spring cruise when you’ll also experience cooler temperatures, with flower bulbs popping up and leaves beginning to show on the trees.
  • Summer : If you want to enjoy the pool on a river cruise ship (not all have a pool, but some do), then choose summer. It’s also great for packing a little lighter since you won’t need sweaters, long sleeves, or fall or winter coats.
  • Fall : Consider fall if you envision wearing a lightweight coat as you walk around charming European towns (and maybe even a scarf during late fall). Temperatures are slightly lower (between 45 to 65 degrees), but the fall colors are awesome if you’re lucky enough to see them.
  • Winter : The dazzling lights at the Christmas Markets will warm your heart along with warm mulled wine! If you want to experience Chirstmas in Europe with one-of-a-kind holiday markets, then going during December is a must. You’ll definitely need to wear a winter coat and pack a scarf, gloves and a hat because it will be cold. But it will be magical!

How much does a Danube River cruise cost?

In general, river cruises are inclusive of many things, like wine and beer with lunch and dinner and walking tours in each city. We’ve written extensively about the cost of river cruises , overall, and what to expect in that regard.

Depending on the cruise line, Danube River cruises can cost anywhere from $1,200 per person based on double occupancy of an onboard cabin, to upwards of $7,000 per person for double occupancy.

Sometimes you’ll find them at lower starting prices, depending on the season (like if they’re running holiday sales) and depending on the cruise line. The level of “luxury” of the cruise line and the length of the cruise could also be determining factors for the Danube River cruise cost.

What is the best Danube River cruise line?

That’s up for debate, of course. It depends on your travel style (including your preferences when you vacation) and your budget.

Here are a few well-known cruise lines that market to United States consumers. They all have Danube river cruise boats that sail the famous river:

  • Emerald Cruises
  • AmaWaterways
  • Adventures by Disney
  • Avalon Waterways

best river cruise lines on the danube

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For more on river cruising check out:

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  • Why are River Cruises So Expensive? Or are They the Best Cruise Value Out There?
  • 12 Reasons Why Cruises are the Safest Way to Travel Right Now (Pandemic and Beyond)

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Best Danube River Cruise Lines

european river cruise companies

Find the best Danube river cruise lines with the help of CruiseExperts.com

Whether you are new to river cruising or are a longtime fan, Danube River cruises are a top choice for a variety of reasons. When you select from the best Danube River cruise lines , you know you are in for an unforgettable vacation that will transport you to breathtaking landscapes and fairy-tale towns and villages.

The second longest river in all of Eastern and Central Europe, the Danube River goes on for almost 2,000 miles. It travels from Germany to the Ukraine and offers visitors the opportunity to see Passau, Germany, Belgrade, Serbia, Bucharest, Romania, Vienna and more. While traveling with European river cruise companies, you will have the chance to experience bicycle and walking tours through historic cities and wineries, evening concerts, and be able to witness UNESCO World Heritage Sites up close.

Depending on your availability, you are sure to find that some of the best Danube River cruise lines offer a variety of trip length options. For short cruise vacations, consider a seven or eight day option. If you have more time to spare, consider a longer sailing that include multiple rivers and can last up to several weeks time.

While there are several European river cruise companies that are known for providing cruisers with world-class experiences, two of the most popular are Avalon and Viking. Avalon offers cruises that range from eight to 24 days, and the cruise line is known for their open-air staterooms with floor to ceiling windows, incredible panoramic views, sophisticated décor, and distinctive cuisine.

Viking is known to have the largest fleet in the river cruising industry. Considered one of the best luxury river cruise lines, Viking ships are built with eco-friendly designs, full balconies, unique excursions and top-notch service.

No matter which of these river cruise line companies you choose, you are sure to experience a memorable cruise vacation that offers a chance to see historic port cities not accessible by larger cruise ships.

Are you ready to browse some European river cruise companies and decide if Avalon or Viking is a good fit for your upcoming endeavor? Here are a few Danube River cruises happening soon that are among our favorites:

  • 9 Day Active Discovery on the Danube – Sail from Linz to breathtaking Budapest on this Eastbound Danube river cruise. On this unforgettable journey, you will have the opportunity to stroll through extravagant castle, try wine and cheese produced from Trappist monks, immerse yourself in history with WWII’s largest concentration camp, and take guided hikes along the blue Danube. With sailings on the Avalon Luminary throughout September of 2018, and prices starting at $3,439 per person, you can’t beat this incredible river cruise vacation deal!
  • 12 Day Danube River Cruise – Imagine sailing from Prague to Budapest, visiting Linz, Engelhartszell, Spitz, Wachau Valley, Vienna, Visegrad and more along the way. See a medieval knights tournament, browse the Fisherman’s Bastion, take bike tours through vineyards, or stop by Prague beloved Astronomical Clock. There is so much to do on this incredible 12 day river cruise vacation that starts at just $4,428 per person!
  • 8 Day Danube Waltz River Cruise – Step onboard one of the best luxury river cruise lines and take an incredible river cruise from Budapest to Passau for a hot deal price of just $1,999 per person! Get ready to immerse yourself in art, culture, cuisine and history with complimentary excursions. On this cruise vacation, you will stop at some of the most popular ports of call on the Danube including Slovakia, Austria, Czech Republic and more.
  • 8 Day Romantic Danube River Cruise – A popular choice that sails from Budapest to Nuremberg, get ready to discover Great Market Hall in Budapest, the National Opera House, Vienna’s Hofburg Palace, and the quaint streets and villages around Passau. For the affordable price starting at $1,999 per person, this is the dream cruise you have been waiting for.

Not sure which one of the European river cruise companies is right for your travel preferences? Let an experienced  CruiseExperts.com  agent help you.

Visit CruiseExperts.com or call today at 1-888-804-CRUISE (2784) . Don’t forget to like us on Facebook and join our InnerCircle for exclusive offers and cruise news you can use! Also, check out our new Resource Center , where you can receive expert knowledge from us before your next cruise or cruisetour!

european river cruise companies

Don't Overpay for Your Cruise

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This River Cruise Line Is One of the Best-Kept Secrets on Europe’s Rivers

Some of the most luxurious river cruise sailings in europe are also some of the most affordable..

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A suite on Riverside Luxury Cruises, featuring a bed with green decorative pillows and a desk with a mirror above it

Riverside Luxury Cruises has resurrected the formal Crystal Cruises river cruise ships, some of the most luxurious vessels plying Europe’s inland waterways.

Per Karehed/Riverside Luxury Cruises

When Riverside Luxury Cruises entered the crowded and highly competitive river cruise market last year, it had the advantage of starting with one of the newest, most luxurious fleets of ships on Europe’s inland waterways.

But anyone who travels regularly knows that luxury is about so much more than just the physical aspects of a ship or resort. It’s also about the people, food, amenities and, of course, the service.

By all appearances, Riverside is committed to not just competing, but excelling across all aspects of luxury river cruising. After a week of sailing the Rhine and Main Rivers aboard the 110-passenger Riverside DeBussy , the most recently launched Riverside ship, I had to agree with a fellow traveler and frequent river and ocean cruiser who said the food was the best she has ever had on a ship. And she has sailed with a lot of luxury cruise lines.

And while there were a few minor service quirks in the dining room—as one would expect on any ship’s first season—it was clear that this new player in the luxury river cruise space has the service-oriented chops and the luxury-hospitality background needed to maintain the high standards set by the ships’ previous owners, the now-defunct Crystal Cruises .

Even more important, the cruise was fun. I knew it would be when, on our first afternoon of sailing, at the beginning of a cocktail-making demonstration, Miroslav, the bartender, asked us for the definition of mixology. When no one had an answer, he replied, “The art of getting hammered.” The next hour flew by as we laughed our way through demonstrations and samples.

The swimming pool on 'Riverside Debussy' with a couple lounge chairs

Among the unique onboard amenities: a swimming pool

Ian Schemper/Riverside Luxury Cruises

Riverside DeBussy is one of five ships that German luxury hotel company Seaside Collection acquired during Crystal Cruises’ bankruptcy process. Because the ships sailed just a season or two prior to the COVID-19 pandemic and Crystal’s ultimate demise, they are like new and feature the original elegant yet simple and contemporary decor (like a classy boutique hotel, with lush velvet fabrics and nods to sleek art deco design, that’s not overdone). Top-of-the-line amenities include heated bathroom floors and incredibly comfortable true king-size beds in the staterooms and suites.

One of the biggest luxuries on board is the luxury of space. The Riverside ships have larger-than-average cabins ranging from 194 to 706 square feet, with walk-in closets and double vanities in the bathrooms. The public areas are also generous in size. And with a maximum of just 110 guests, the ships have the highest staff-to-guest ratio of any river cruise line, with one crew member for every two guests. There are also lots of indulgent extras, such as butlers for every stateroom, 24-hour room service, high-end Natura Bissé products from Barcelona in the spa and the cabins, an indoor pool, a small but well-equipped fitness center, and a self-serve guest laundry (in addition to laundry and dry-cleaning services.)

The Vintage Room on 'Riverside Debussy,' featuring a long dining table, large, curved, almost armchair-like dining chairs, and geometric art and textures on the walls

An elaborate six-course tasting-menu dinner takes place in the intimate Vintage Room.

Courtesy of Riverside Luxury Cruises

From homemade cookies to a special eight-course tasting-menu and wine-pairing dinner, Riverside’s locally sourced culinary offerings are where the cruise line really excels. I am not easily impressed when it comes to food. But I didn’t have a single dish I didn’t enjoy during my seven days on board, whether it was eggs Benedict for breakfast, homemade soups at lunch, or the fine-dining options each evening.

The crème de la crème, of course, was the seven-course tasting menu, offered for an additional 295 euros per guest (around US$317 based on current conversion rates), in the ship’s Vintage Room, a private 10-person venue off the main dining area with sweeping views of the passing scenery from its floor-to-ceiling windows. The night I dined there, the dinner menu included roasted yellow capsicum soup with a fresh anchovy, coriander, and a paprika chip; surf and turf of beef sirloin and seared scallop; and tender pink spring veal cooked with pistachios. Just as good as the dinner were the exceptional wine selections from France, Germany, Switzerland, and Hungary. Among my favorites: Donatsch Completer Malanserrebe, a white wine from the rare and ancient grapes native to the Graubünden region of Switzerland.

A dessert plate from the Vintage Room featuring two balls of green and yellow dessert and two fig quarters along with some other shavings for presentation

Elaborate meals, cooking demonstrations, tastings, and pairings, are all an integral part of the Riverside experience.

“CHRISTOPHER WARREN 561714427O”

The itinerary and excursions

I sailed on the DeBussy between Amsterdam and Basel, Switzerland. The seven-day cruise (with an option to sail another seven days and end in Budapest ) started with an overnight that included a nighttime canal cruise in Amsterdam. After a morning walking tour in central Amsterdam that included a stop at Café Luxembourg, where we tasted local Dutch Bols gin and apple pie. Then we learned about cheese making and tasted some samples (of course) at the family-owned Henri Willig before setting sail. The next morning we cruised through the famed castle-lined Rhine Gorge. From there it was on to Dusseldorf, known for its art and architecture, before we split off from the Rhine onto the Main River and its lesser-visited, well-preserved medieval towns and villages of Miltenberg, Wurzburg, and Bamberg. In keeping with the culinary theme, the excursions (all are included) offered demonstrations and tastings of local Bavarian beers and wines. Rainy weather canceled our bike and art tours in Dusseldorf, but otherwise there were three to four activities to choose from every day. In Miltenberg, I chose the witch-hunt–themed excursion, where we learned about the history of witchcraft and how deadly epidemics, bad harvests, and storms fueled an era of witch hunts that landed some in prison while others were killed and burned. We also visited the last remaining witch’s cottage, which is hidden in the garden of a private residence. Active travelers can take advantage of Riverside’s hike and bike tours, and guests can also check out bikes to ride on their own.

The lounge on 'Riverside Debussy' with a central grand piano and black-and-cream club chairs all around

The lounge is where the majority of the evening entertainment takes place on Riverside Debussy .

Onboard activities

While every day offered a choice of off-ship activities, I would have also been happy to spend most of my time on board, sipping mimosas on the sun deck or getting spa treatments from the experienced masseuse and aesthetician. As we sailed, the fun-loving crew kept us well entertained with the aforementioned mixology classes, a pastry demonstration, and bingo, which offered spa treatments as prizes. Evening entertainment varied, from the onboard pianist to a Bavarian brass band and an amusing parlor game put on by the crew called “Liar’s Club,” during which some of the crew stood at the front of the lounge to answer questions, and we had to figure out who was and wasn’t telling the truth.

As a startup, Riverside may be the best-kept secret on Europe’s rivers. That means good deals and lots of choices for travelers as the company works to build its brand recognition internationally. Riverside Debussy sails 3- to 22-night itineraries on the Rhine, Moselle, Main, and Danube Rivers. All-inclusive (including gratuities, transfers, wine, beer, and spirits) rates start at $2,413 per person for a three-day cruise, based on double occupancy.

Kayaking in Alaska

The 10 best places to go on a river cruise in Europe 

Jun 7, 2024 • 8 min read

best river cruise lines on the danube

Appreciate the beautiful architecture of Budapest from the Danube © Sanga Park / Shutterstock © Sanga Park / Shutterstock

Cruising down a quiet, traffic-free river, surrounded by scenic riverfront views is an ideal way to see Europe . You can sip your wine while watching picture-perfect scenery breeze past – taking in castles, medieval villages and fields of flowers. 

By necessity, European riverboats are small and passenger numbers are often fewer than 200, making these cruises a far more social and intimate experience. There’s also plenty to do and see onshore, and with more frequent stops you can enjoy more onshore activities. Cruise lines are now also offering more immersive learning experiences such as cooking classes and home visits, or activities like bicycle trips and long hikes.

The hardest part is choosing where to go — which is why we've rounded up the 10 best places to go on a European river cruise. (Once you've chosen your cruise, check out our definitive cruise packing guide .)

River cruise boats float down a village-lined river in Germany.

1. Northern Rhine (Germany)

From gorgeous river meanders and noble German cities

The northern section of the Rhine features dramatic landscapes and a host of interesting towns. Cologne (Köln), Germany ’s fourth-largest city, offers numerous attractions starting with its famous cathedral, while Koblenz, at the confluence of the Rhine and Moselle Rivers, is a park- and flower-filled delight. Heading south, the Rhine meanders between hillside castles and steep fields of wine-producing grapes. Idyllic villages appear around each bend, their half-timbered houses and Gothic steeples seemingly plucked from a fairy tale. Scarcely damaged during WWII, handsome Speyer is crowned by a magnificent Romanesque cathedral. 

2. Southern Rhine (France, Germany & Switzerland)

Explore intriguing towns in this border land

The Southern Rhine forms the border between Germany and France before becoming Switzerland ’s northern frontier. Strasbourg is the perfect overture to all that is idiosyncratic about Alsace – walking a fine tightrope between France and Germany, between a medieval past and a progressive future. Further south, the Black Forest spills into Alsace in the German town of Breisach. Unsurprisingly, given its geographical and cultural proximity to France, the locals here have a passion for a good bottle of wine. Basel, at the juncture of the French, German and Swiss borders, is perhaps where Switzerland’s Franco-Germanic roots are most evident.

3. Rhône (France)

Indulge in gourmet experiences cruising the south of France

Commanding a strategic spot at the confluence of the Rhône and Saône Rivers, grand old Lyon is France’s gastronomic capital. Downstream, the Rhône forges past Vienne’s Roman ruins and the centuries-old Côtes du Rhône vineyards, opening to sunny vistas of fruit orchards, lavender fields and the distant Alps as it continues south. During the 14th century, the Provençal town of Avignon was the center of the Roman Catholic world. Its impressive legacy of ecclesiastical architecture most notably includes the soaring, World Heritage-listed Palais des Papes .

Sunset's golden light signs on the Italianite city of Passau and the Danube river.

4. Western Danube (Austria & Germany)

Romantic landscapes in the heart of Europe

The baroque streetscapes and imperial palaces set the stage for Vienna ’s artistic and musical masterpieces alongside its coffee-house culture and vibrant epicurean and design scenes. Moving into Germany, the Danube gently winds its way to the Italianate city of Passau . Top billing in eastern Bavaria goes to Regensburg, a former capital and one of Germany’s prettiest and liveliest cities. Nuremberg (Nürnberg), Bavaria’s second-largest city and the unofficial capital of Franconia, is an energetic place with a history that ranges from undeclared capital of the Holy Roman Empire to the trials that judged Nazi war crimes.

5. Eastern Danube (Hungary & Serbia)

Travel a cross-section of Europe’s less-touristed east

The two great cities of this stretch of the Danube are the capitals of Hungary and Serbia respectively. Budapest has something for everyone – from dramatic history and flamboyant architecture to healing thermal waters. Outspoken, adventurous, proud and audacious: Belgrade ("White City") has a gritty exuberance and eclectic architecture making it one of Europe’s most happening cities today. While it hurtles towards a brighter future, its past unfolds before your eyes: socialist blocks are squeezed between art nouveau masterpieces and remnants of the Habsburg legacy contrast with Ottoman relics.

Lush green vineyards line the banks of the Duoro.

6. Douro (Portugal)

See spectacular terraced vineyards, the home of port wine

The Douro region, home to port wine, is simply one of the most glorious spots on earth. The Douro Valley showcases steep terraced vineyards carved into mountains, granite bluffs, whitewashed quintas (estates) and 18th-century wine cellars that draw visitors from around the world. Humble-yet-opulent Porto entices with its higgledy-piggledy medieval center, divine food and wine, and charismatic locals. Its charms are as subtle as the nuances of an aged tawny port, best savored slowly.

7. Elbe (Czech Republic & Germany)

A little-cruised but picturesque stretch of Central Europe

Covering the Czech Republic and a thick slice of eastern Germany, Elbe cruises are under-the-radar options. Prague , not on the Elbe but usually included on river cruises, contends with cities like Budapest and Paris in terms of beauty. Its maze of cobbled lanes and hidden courtyards is perfect for the aimless wanderer. The classic view of Dresden from the Elbe’s northern bank takes in spires, towers and domes belonging to palaces, churches and stately buildings: hard to believe that the city was all but wiped off the map by Allied bombings in 1945. While the city of Wittenberg is first and foremost about Martin Luther, the monk who triggered the German Reformation in 1517.

The pedestrian Pont des Arts crosses the River Seine, linking the Palais du Louvre (shown) and the Institut de France

8. Seine (France)

Cruise out of Paris through northern France

Paris has a timeless familiarity, with instantly recognizable architectural icons, memorable cuisine and chic boutiques. Dining is a quintessential part of the Parisian experience, and its art repository is one of the best, showcasing priceless treasures in palatial museums. Don't miss Rouen is one of Normandy’s most engaging and historically rich destinations, with its soaring Gothic cathedral, beautifully restored medieval quarter, excellent museums and vibrant cultural life. At the mouth of the Seine, Le Havre is a love letter to modernism, evoking France’s postwar energy and optimism.

9. Main (Germany)

A seductive German river connecting to the Rhine and Danube

Rising in Franconia and joining the Rhine near Mainz, the Main (pronounced "mine") is the longest German-only river. From Bamberg to its confluence, it travels some 400km through locks and picturesque scenery, dotted with historic towns. Frankfurt ’s skyscrapers are quite a contrast to the picturesque towns that follow, though it too has a rather traditional and charming old town. Scenic Würzburg is renowned for its art, architecture and delicate wines. A disarmingly beautiful architectural masterpiece, Bamberg’s entire Altstadt is a UNESCO World Heritage site. 

A river flows through lush farmland in Germany.

10. Moselle (Germany)

An intimate stretch of the wine-producing German region

Having traversed France and Luxembourg , the Moselle heads through Germany to meet its destiny with the Rhine at Koblenz. It’s a very pretty stretch of river flanked by vineyards, and makes for great leisurely cruising and exploration. With an astounding nine UNESCO World Heritage sites, gorgeous Trier shelters Germany’s finest ensemble of Roman monuments, and is enlivened by a characterful medieval center and large student population. Bernkastel-Kues are lovely twin settlements in the heart of wine country, while Cochem’s castle and pretty buildings make it a visual highlight of the Moselle .

How do I choose a route for a European river cruise?

The two major rivers for European cruises are the Rhine and the Danube. Together, they were once the northern boundary of the Roman Empire. Rhine cruises often run from Amsterdam to Basel, following the course of the river through Germany. Danube cruises start in southern Germany, wend their way through Bratislava, Slovakia; Linz and Vienna, Austria; and Belgrade, Serbia; then skirt the Bulgarian and Romanian border to reach the Black Sea.

While many first-time European river cruisers stick to these two rivers, there are many other options available. In Western Europe, you can cruise through the French countryside on the Rhône and Seine, or check out the vineyards of Portugal on the Douro. 

Even on the same river, distinct routes can be offered. One company might zip up the Rhine, allowing you to see the highlights in a few days; another might take longer, exploring smaller places along the way and offering more time for onshore experiences. You'll need to decide whether you’d like to get a look at more destinations, or more of a feel for fewer places.

When is the best time to go on a European river cruise?

Cruises on European rivers tend to begin in the spring, around March, and go through to October. Some cruises, operating in areas where Christmas markets are a feature, run right through December but inclement weather or river flooding could put a dampener on plans. Winter cruises tend to focus on places where Christmas experiences are on offer. Shorter daylight hours mean you’ll see less scenery, but the charm of the festive season has its own appeal. 

Choosing your season is very much a matter of personal preference, and there are pros and cons for each season. Summer cruises offer the most spectacular scenery, the longest daylight hours and the best weather, but the towns you visit will be far busier and you won’t be alone in port; in some smaller places, you may have to scramble across the decks of other boats to reach the shore.

Spring and autumn mean less time around the pool on the top deck, but quieter times ashore. Expect rains in spring, but also blooming flowers. Autumn is a great time to cruise the Douro, with grapes being picked and clement temperatures.

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High water (european rivers) – as of june 3, 2024.

Currently, sections of the Rhine, Main and Danube rivers are experiencing high water levels. To varying degrees, these conditions may affect select itineraries. Our Switzerland-based nautical team is continually monitoring the situation and will make any necessary adjustments to accommodate the conditions. Guests and their Travel Advisors will continue to be notified directly if we think that their itinerary might be impacted. Viking has two key advantages with regard to handling water level disruptions. First, we own and operate our ships. We have a Switzerland-based nautical team and a network of local partners and authorities that are focused on monitoring and adapting to current water levels to ensure our guests experience the least possible disruption. Second, we strategically launch sister ships on the same itinerary, but sailing in opposite directions. In the event of high (or low) water, this tactic allows us to implement a ship swap that is typically seamless for guests – both they and their luggage are able to be transferred to their exact, identical stateroom on a sister ship that was purposefully sailing on the other half of the river in preparation for such a disruption. These advantages allow us to minimize the impact that water levels can have on itinerary, which means our guests are better able to focus on enjoying themselves and having a great journey, rather than worrying about potential changes or cancellations.

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The best river cruise line in the world, according to our fussy travel editor

Posted: 6 June 2024 | Last updated: 6 June 2024

<p>A river cruise line you might never have heard of, especially if you’re used to sailing with the biggest players in the industry, <a href="https://www.uniworld.com/uk">Uniworld</a> can't be beaten when it comes to luxury holidays on water - and we're here to tell you why.</p><p>Offering an exceptional travel experience, even beyond <a href="https://www.goodhousekeeping.com/uk/cruise-holidays/">cruise holidays</a>, Uniworld's offering left us in awe after we experienced the cruise line for the first time on a seven-night <a href="https://www.goodhousekeeping.com/uk/lifestyle/travel/g38960124/best-hotels-venice/">Venetian</a> cruise on its stunning ship, S.S. La Venezia (<a href="https://www.goodhousekeepingholidays.com/tours/venice-tom-kerridge">try it with celebrated chef Tom Kerridge next year</a>). </p><p>We're not the only ones to be blown away by the company, either. The boutique cruise line has dozens of awards and accolades under its belt, including the Best River Cruise Line award in the prestigious <a href="https://corporate.telegraph.co.uk/2019/11/20/2019-telegraph-travel-awards-winners-announced/">Telegraph Travel Awards</a> and a top three spot in Travel & Leisure's <a href="https://www.travelandleisure.com/worlds-best/best-river-cruise-lines-2022">World’s Best Awards</a>. </p><p>There's simply nothing else like it, perhaps because it is a cruise line founded by a five-star boutique hotel brand, which believes 'no request is too large and no detail is too small.' Everything from the service to the food is delivered to impress and once you take to the water with Uniworld, you are unlikely to ever look back.</p><p>To give us the most authentic feel for the river cruise line, which attracts only the few in search of extraordinary holidays, we explored the ship from top to bottom (including going below deck in the most luxurious way possible) and spent a week hearing first-hand what guests from, Kent to Australia, thought of the company before we felt confident to declare Uniworld as the world's best river cruise line.</p><p>With a high returning guest rate (it's not unheard of to be sailing with guests who are on their seventh or even their 50th Uniworld cruise) and staff who are proud to say "we don't consider ourselves to have any competitors," this is the bucket list cruise line you'll want to tick off again and again. </p><p>Read on for our honest review of why Uniworld is the best river cruise line in the world…</p>

A river cruise line you might never have heard of, especially if you’re used to sailing with the biggest players in the industry, Uniworld can't be beaten when it comes to luxury holidays on water - and we're here to tell you why.

Offering an exceptional travel experience, even beyond cruise holidays , Uniworld's offering left us in awe after we experienced the cruise line for the first time on a seven-night Venetian cruise on its stunning ship, S.S. La Venezia ( try it with TV's James Martin later this year ).

We're not the only ones to be blown away by the company, either. The boutique cruise line has dozens of awards and accolades under its belt, including the Best River Cruise Line award in the prestigious Telegraph Travel Awards and a top three spot in Travel & Leisure's World’s Best Awards .

There's simply nothing else like it, perhaps because it is a cruise line founded by a five-star boutique hotel brand, which believes 'no request is too large and no detail is too small.' Everything from the service to the food is delivered to impress and once you take to the water with Uniworld , you are unlikely to ever look back.

To give us the most authentic feel for the river cruise line, which attracts only the few in search of extraordinary holidays, we explored the ship from top to bottom (including going below deck in the most luxurious way possible) and spent a week hearing first-hand what guests from, Kent to Australia, thought of the company before we felt confident to declare Uniworld as the world's best river cruise line .

With a high returning guest rate (it's not unheard of to be sailing with guests who are on their seventh or even their 50th Uniworld cruise) and staff who are proud to say "we don't consider ourselves to have any competitors," this is the bucket list cruise line you'll want to tick off again and again.

Read on for our honest review of why Uniworld is the best river cruise line in the world…

<p>Stepping onto a Uniworld ship is like entering a boutique hotel - but better. The style is as elegant and refined as it gets, with the finest details and luxury wherever you turn. Uniworld's <a href="https://www.goodhousekeeping.com/uk/lifestyle/travel/g40868116/small-ship-cruises/">small ships</a> take inspiration from their destinations, complementing their surroundings while maintaining the sophistication of the brand. Modelled after sister company Red Carnation Hotels, which has the likes of <a href="https://www.goodhousekeepingholidays.com/offers/london-rubens-hotel">Rubens at the Palace</a> in London and <a href="https://redcarnationhotels.com/our-hotels/south-africa/the-oyster-box">The Oyster Box</a> in South Africa among its collection, the ships are essentially luxury hotels on water. </p><p>You won't hear loud announcements and the high staff-to-guest ratio means you're not just a number - they'll remember your name. You can expect the finest decor, with bespoke fabric, original works of art and beautiful antiques. On La Venezia, the fabrics are by Venetian maker Fortuny and the chandeliers and mirrors made from Murano glass. </p><p>The suites throughout Uniworld ships have marble bathrooms, and in every room or suite an incredibly comfortable Savoir bed awaits for restful nights on the water.</p>

The style and decor

Stepping onto a Uniworld ship is like entering a boutique hotel - but better. The style is as elegant and refined as it gets, with the finest details and luxury wherever you turn. Uniworld's small ships take inspiration from their destinations, complementing their surroundings while maintaining the sophistication of the brand. Modelled after sister company Red Carnation Hotels, which has the likes of Rubens at the Palace in London and The Oyster Box in South Africa among its collection, the ships are essentially luxury hotels on water.

You won't hear loud announcements and the high staff-to-guest ratio means you're not just a number - they'll remember your name. You can expect the finest decor, with bespoke fabric, original works of art and beautiful antiques. On La Venezia, which you can experience with Good Housekeeping , the fabrics are by Venetian maker Fortuny and the chandeliers and mirrors made from Murano glass.

The suites throughout Uniworld ships have marble bathrooms, and in every room or suite an incredibly comfortable Savoir bed awaits for restful nights on the water.

<p>While we're almost certain we could enjoy a Uniworld cruise, wherever it's heading, the river cruise specialist does its utmost to bring travellers the most gorgeous locations to explore in style. Want to visit <a href="https://www.goodhousekeepingholidays.com/tours/venice-tom-kerridge">Venice and its islands</a>? Uniworld will take you to discover the highlights and see the islands many tourists haven't heard of. Fancy experiencing a <a href="https://www.uniworld.com/uk/river-cruise/egypt">Nile cruise</a>? You can tick off the Pyramids, the Valley of the Kings and the sounds and sights of Cairo while enjoying the luxuries of Uniworld. </p><p>Or, maybe you have a far-flung cruise in mind? Uniworld's <a href="https://www.goodhousekeepingholidays.com/tours/cruise-vietnam-cambodia-mekong-river-cruise">Mekong River cruise</a> in Cambodia and Vietnam takes you to ancient temples and gives you the chance to meet local villagers, while sleeping in five-star surroundings on stunning ship, Mekong Jewel. </p><p>The cruise line's <a href="https://www.uniworld.com/uk/river-cruise/france/brilliant-bordeaux/2023-bordeaux-to-bordeaux">Bordeaux</a>, <a href="https://www.uniworld.com/uk/river-cruise/central-europe/danube">Danube</a> and <a href="https://www.uniworld.com/uk/river-cruise/portugal-and-spain/douro-river-valley/2023-porto-to-porto">Douro</a> itineraries are other popular itineraries guests keep returning for.</p>

The destinations

While we're almost certain we could enjoy a Uniworld cruise, wherever it's heading, the river cruise specialist does its utmost to bring travellers the most gorgeous locations to explore in style. Want to visit Venice and its islands ? Uniworld will take you to discover the highlights and see the islands many tourists haven't heard of. Fancy experiencing a Nile cruise ? You can tick off the Pyramids, the Valley of the Kings and the sounds and sights of Cairo while enjoying the luxuries of Uniworld.

Or, maybe you have a far-flung cruise in mind? Uniworld's Mekong River cruise in Cambodia and Vietnam takes you to ancient temples and gives you the chance to meet local villagers, while sleeping in five-star surroundings on stunning ship, Mekong Jewel.

The cruise line's Bordeaux , Danube and Douro itineraries are other fantastic itineraries guests keep returning for.

<p>We can't praise Uniworld's staff enough and neither can other guests. Guest Deb, from Pennsylvania, who has been on six Uniworld cruises, told us: "Every staff member makes you feel special. They really want to make your experience wonderful." Meanwhile, Joanne, from New Jersey, said: "The staff get to know you quickly and intuit what you want and need. They bring you something before even you know you want it. I don't think you get the same attention at a hotel."</p><p>With a 1 to 2.4 staff-to-guest ratio, it's clear that service is a high priority for Uniworld, but as Joanne added, "they're helpful but not in your face." </p><p>Wendy, from Warwickshire, told us how she would frequently help herself to the orange water available for guests at the bar and one time made a passing comment to the bar staff about how much she enjoyed the drink. By the end of the day, she found a carafe of orange water in her suite. </p><p>Another guest, Charlotte, from New Hampshire, described the staff like a "relative who knows you, knows your likes and your dislikes," saying that it makes the cruise "special."</p>

We can't praise Uniworld's staff enough and neither can other guests. Guest Deb, from Pennsylvania, who has been on six Uniworld cruises, told us: "Every staff member makes you feel special. They really want to make your experience wonderful." Meanwhile, Joanne, from New Jersey, said: "The staff get to know you quickly and intuit what you want and need. They bring you something before even you know you want it. I don't think you get the same attention at a hotel."

With a 1 to 2.4 staff-to-guest ratio, it's clear that service is a high priority for Uniworld, but as Joanne added, "they're helpful but not in your face."

Wendy, from Warwickshire, told us how she would frequently help herself to the orange water available for guests at the bar and one time made a passing comment to the bar staff about how much she enjoyed the drink. By the end of the day, she found a carafe of orange water in her suite.

Another guest, Charlotte, from New Hampshire, described the staff like a "relative who knows you, knows your likes and your dislikes," saying that it makes the cruise "special."

<p>While life on board the ship is a joy, stepping off a Uniworld cruise will leave you with fabulous memories you can't miss. Uniworld cruises are packed with carefully-curated included and optional excursions, which include after-hours tours of popular attractions (the perfect way to skip the queues), walking tours that provide a look at local life, and the privilege of meeting working people in their workshops.</p><p>During our cruise, we had an outstanding after-hours visit of Basilica di San Marco, one of Venice's most popular sites, where we had the cathedral to ourselves and were able to bask in the tranquility and beauty of this world-famous attraction after the crowds had left. </p><p>One solo guest, who wished to enjoy Uniworld's excursions at her own pace, told us that she had booked the same cruise twice, back-to-back, so she could spread out her days and ensure she didn't miss out on anything.</p>

The incredible excursions

While life on board the ship is a joy, stepping off a Uniworld cruise will leave you with fabulous memories you can't miss. Uniworld cruises are packed with carefully-curated included and optional excursions, which include after-hours tours of popular attractions (the perfect way to skip the queues), walking tours that provide a look at local life, and the privilege of meeting working people in their workshops.

During our cruise, we had an outstanding after-hours visit of Basilica di San Marco, one of Venice's most popular sites, where we had the cathedral to ourselves and were able to bask in the tranquility and beauty of this world-famous attraction after the crowds had left.

One solo guest, who wished to enjoy Uniworld's excursions at her own pace, told us that she had booked the same cruise twice, back-to-back, so she could spread out her days and ensure she didn't miss out on anything.

<p>While you'll be treated to a personalised experience regardless of the cabin you book, suite guests on Uniworld cruises have the benefit of their very own butler who will take this service to another level. Working to the motto that 'no request is too large, no detail is too small,' the suite butlers, trained to the standards required by Buckingham Palace, do everything they can to make you feel important.</p><p>Whether you would like a special dinner organised just for you and your loved one, or a private sabering ceremony (a champagne sabering ceremony by the ship's butler at the start of a sailing is a Uniworld tradition), your wish is their command.</p><p>While we didn't have any extravagant requests for butler Marko during our time on La Venezia, we knew he was at our service for anything we needed, whether it was a cup of tea brought to our room, or help unpacking our suitcase.</p>

The butler service

While you'll be treated to a personalised experience regardless of the cabin you book, suite guests on Uniworld cruises have the benefit of their very own butler who will take this service to another level. Working to the motto that 'no request is too large, no detail is too small,' the suite butlers, trained to the standards required by Buckingham Palace, do everything they can to make you feel important.

Whether you would like a special dinner organised just for you and your loved one, or a private sabering ceremony (a champagne sabering ceremony by the ship's butler at the start of a sailing is a Uniworld tradition), your wish is their command.

While we didn't have any extravagant requests for butler Marko during our time on La Venezia, we knew he was at our service for anything we needed, whether it was a cup of tea brought to our room, or help unpacking our suitcase.

<p>If you've always wanted to see what life is like below deck, Uniworld has the most luxurious way to do it. Its Progressive Dinners (extra charge, with a maximum of 10 passengers) take you to the bridge to find out about life as a captain, from the captain himself. The dinners are usually a surprise so stop reading now if you'd prefer no spoilers...</p><p>They might take you into the kitchen to see how the ship's elaborate meals are meticulously prepared. A look inside the steaming hot engine could be part of the tour, as well as a chat with the laundry staff and a peek at the staff room. The best part is tucking into a different dish along the way, culminating with your main meal in the ship's private dining room, all while meeting the wonderful people who make the cruise holiday perfect.</p>

The behind-the-scenes dinner

If you've always wanted to see what life is like below deck, Uniworld has the most luxurious way to do it. Its Progressive Dinners (extra charge, with a maximum of 10 passengers) take you to the bridge to find out about life as a captain, from the captain himself. The dinners are usually a surprise so stop reading now if you'd prefer no spoilers...

They might take you into the kitchen to see how the ship's elaborate meals are meticulously prepared. A look inside the steaming hot engine could be part of the tour, as well as a chat with the laundry staff and a peek at the staff room. The best part is tucking into a different dish along the way, culminating with your main meal in the ship's private dining room, all while meeting the wonderful people who make the cruise holiday perfect.

<p>Whether its sustainability, guest safety or satisfying your hunger, Uniworld goes above and beyond. You'll find compostable slippers and a gifted water bottle for each guest to stay hydrated while caring for the environment. Breakfasts, lunches and dinners are elaborate enough, with a varied selection and locally sourced ingredients used to create delicious feasts, but if you find yourself feeling peckish in between, the Panini Bar has pastries and fruit you can help yourself to and panini that are made to order. </p><p>Another observation we made was the care and attention of the tour managers on the excursions. During our after-hours tour of Basilica di San Marco, the tour manager stood at the entrance of the crypt, with its low ceiling, and warned each and every guest to watch their head as they made their way down the stairs. </p><p>Back on the ship, the housekeeping team are nicknamed 'fairies' for being in and out of the rooms without a peep. Then there's the <a href="https://www.uniworld.com/uk/already-booked/river-heritage-club">River Heritage Club</a> that rewards your loyalty with complimentary laundry, cocktail parties and savings on your next trip. </p>

The thoughtful touches

Whether its sustainability, guest safety or satisfying your hunger, Uniworld goes above and beyond. You'll find compostable slippers and a gifted water bottle for each guest to stay hydrated while caring for the environment. Breakfasts, lunches and dinners are elaborate enough, with a varied selection and locally sourced ingredients used to create delicious feasts, but if you find yourself feeling peckish in between, the Panini Bar has pastries and fruit you can help yourself to and panini that are made to order.

Another observation we made was the care and attention of the tour managers on the excursions. During our after-hours tour of Basilica di San Marco, the tour manager stood at the entrance of the crypt, with its low ceiling, and warned each and every guest to watch their head as they made their way down the stairs.

Back on the ship, the housekeeping team are nicknamed 'fairies' for being in and out of the rooms without a peep. Then there's the River Heritage Club that rewards your loyalty with complimentary laundry, cocktail parties and savings on your next trip.

<p>On a Uniworld cruise, you can rest assured that everything is included. Premium drinks are part of the package at any time of day and there's an extensive programme of activities throughout the cruise without needing to put your hand in your pocket. Gratuities are included so you don't have to bring extra cash for crew and tour managers), either. </p><p>On board entertainment can be enjoyed at no extra cost and Uniworld goes the extra mile to offer an all-inclusive experience that doesn't compromise on quality. The food and drink is excellent, and when it comes to the sightseeing, each group has its own guide for a more intimate tour experience.</p><p>Of course, there are ways to upgrade your experience if you wish, with dinners, premium excursions and pre- or post-cruise land extensions available.</p>

It's truly all inclusive

On a Uniworld cruise, you can rest assured that everything is included. Premium drinks are part of the package at any time of day and there's an extensive programme of activities throughout the cruise without needing to put your hand in your pocket. Gratuities are included so you don't have to bring extra cash for crew and tour managers), either.

On board entertainment can be enjoyed at no extra cost and Uniworld goes the extra mile to offer an all-inclusive experience that doesn't compromise on quality. The food and drink is excellent, and when it comes to the sightseeing, each group has its own guide for a more intimate tour experience.

Of course, there are ways to upgrade your experience if you wish, with dinners, premium excursions and pre- or post-cruise land extensions available.

<p>As experts in luxurious holidays, Uniworld knows exactly how to make your cruise extra-special and has some amazing river cruises with five-star land or rail options. For example, in India you could enjoy seven nights on the Ganges Voyager II, as well as nights in the Golden Triangle staying in Oberoi Hotels.</p><p><a class="body-btn-link" href="https://www.goodhousekeepingholidays.com/tours/india-ganges-tour-cruise">FIND OUT MORE</a></p><p>Or you could sail the Mekong River for seven nights, before exploring the cities of Ho Chi Minh City, Hanoi and Siem Reap while staying in top hotels.</p><p><a class="body-btn-link" href="https://www.goodhousekeepingholidays.com/tours/cruise-vietnam-cambodia-mekong-river-cruise">FIND OUT MORE</a></p><p>Or you can pair a Venice sailing with a luxury Golden Eagle Danube Express journey through the Alps or a two-night hotel stay in Milan with private access to Da Vinci's Last Supper. There are various ways to extend your trip and experience a cruise and land holiday. </p>

You can combine your sailing with amazing land stays

As experts in luxurious holidays, Uniworld knows exactly how to make your cruise extra-special and has some amazing river cruises with five-star land or rail options. For example, in India you could enjoy seven nights on the Ganges Voyager II, as well as nights in the Golden Triangle staying in Oberoi Hotels.

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Or you could sail the Mekong River for seven nights, before exploring the cities of Ho Chi Minh City, Hanoi and Siem Reap while staying in top hotels.

Or you can pair a Venice sailing with a luxury Golden Eagle Danube Express journey through the Alps or a two-night hotel stay in Milan with private access to Da Vinci's Last Supper. There are various ways to extend your trip and experience a cruise and land holiday.

<p>After many conversations with other guests, we failed to find a reason not to love Uniworld. Not only do the staff think of everything a guest could possibly need before they've thought of it themselves, but they continue to look for ways to improve.</p><p>We received a feedback form on day two of the cruise (naturally, we struggled to provide anything negative) but one of our new friends told us that she mentioned that she would have liked some Greek yoghurt and additional healthy options at the breakfast buffet. The next morning and every morning for the rest of the cruise, there was Greek yoghurt and a large selection of fruit at the table.</p><p>Good Housekeeping has partnered with Uniworld to bring you two exclusive cruises for you to experience the world's best river cruise line for yourself. In April 2024, you can <a href="https://www.goodhousekeepingholidays.com/tours/venice-tom-kerridge">sail the Venetian Lagoon with chef Tom Kerridge</a>. </p><p><a class="body-btn-link" href="https://www.goodhousekeepingholidays.com/tours/venice-tom-kerridge">FIND OUT MORE</a></p><p>And between November 2023 and March 2024, you can explore the <a href="https://www.goodhousekeepingholidays.com/tours/cruise-vietnam-cambodia-mekong-river-cruise">Mekong River and save £500</a>.</p><p><a class="body-btn-link" href="https://www.goodhousekeepingholidays.com/tours/cruise-vietnam-cambodia-mekong-river-cruise">FIND OUT MORE</a></p>

You really can't fault it

After many conversations with other guests, we failed to find a reason not to love Uniworld. Not only do the staff think of everything a guest could possibly need before they've thought of it themselves, but they continue to look for ways to improve.

We received a feedback form on day two of the cruise (naturally, we struggled to provide anything negative) but one of our new friends told us that she mentioned that she would have liked some Greek yoghurt and additional healthy options at the breakfast buffet. The next morning and every morning for the rest of the cruise, there was Greek yoghurt and a large selection of fruit at the table.

Good Housekeeping has partnered with Uniworld to bring you a selection of cruises exclusive to our readers, including the Ganges and India's Golden Triangle , and Venice with after-hours sightseeing .

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best river cruise lines on the danube

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IMAGES

  1. The Best Danube River Cruise with AmaWaterways

    best river cruise lines on the danube

  2. 2022 Danube River Cruise Itineraries

    best river cruise lines on the danube

  3. 10 Best Danube River Cruises 2022/2023 (with 1,133 Reviews)

    best river cruise lines on the danube

  4. On a European river cruise along the Danube, watch beauty glide by from

    best river cruise lines on the danube

  5. Viking Danube

    best river cruise lines on the danube

  6. The Best Danube River Cruise with AmaWaterways

    best river cruise lines on the danube

VIDEO

  1. Danube River Cruise part 6 Regensburg

  2. Budapest River Tour

  3. River cruise on the Danube River in Hungary #duna 🛥️🥂

  4. The Old Danube River (A Water World in the Heart of Europe)

  5. Danube Dreams (Eastbound) Our 1st River Cruise 14th-21st July 2022

  6. You CAN'T GO WRONG with these River Cruise Lines

COMMENTS

  1. 25 BEST Danube River Cruises 2024 (Prices

    Seas the views with 70% off a 2nd Sailor. 70% off a 2nd Sailor: Available on all voyages including 2025 & 2026. Free balcony upgrades on most 2024 Caribbean & Mediterranean sailings. Experience ...

  2. 10 Best Danube River Cruises 2024/2025

    Average price. $214. Crucemundo is an expert in: River Cruise. A-ROSA. 4.0 (69 reviews) "We really enjoyed our A Rosa tour along the Danube River and would give it 5 stars except that there was an issue on the second last night with the boat impacting a lock wall and everyone needing to be bussed back to Passau.

  3. The Ultimate Danube River Cruise Guide

    Viking River Cruises' three most popular Danube River itineraries range from a 15-day Grand European Tour from Amsterdam to Budapest to two eight-day sailings, one from Passau, Germany, to ...

  4. 36 Best Danube River Cruises for 2024-2025

    A cruise on the Danube River takes you through lush valleys filed with vineyards, castles, and some of Europe's most culturally rich cities. Extending from southern Germany's Black Forest and 1,777 miles later emptying into the Black Sea, the Danube River is the second-longest river in Europe meandering through or bordering 10 countries including Germany, Austria, Slovakia, Hungary, Croatia ...

  5. Choosing the Best Danube River Cruise

    The reviews agree: The Blue Danube is Tauck's #1 best-selling itinerary worldwide. You'll see why as you soak up picturesque scenery on a 12-day journey through five countries with stops in Prague, Bratislava, Regensburg, Vienna, Budapest and Salzburg. Life onboard our best-rated river cruise line is one of refined pleasures.

  6. 10 Best Luxury Danube River Cruises

    Luxury Danube River Cruise Reviews. Nicholas Squire 24 Apr, 2023. 5. Al-Rosa did an excellent job. Food was good and lots of it, the cabin was clean and comfortable. The staff were always friendly and helpful and Sabrina did a great job of looking after everyone and made sure that we were always at the right place at the right time.

  7. Eight of the best Danube cruises to book for 2024

    How to do it: The 11-night Danube Kingdoms package (0800 810 8020; tauck.co.uk) comprises a four-night stay in Bavaria and one-week sailing from Vilshofen to Budapest; departs May to October. From ...

  8. 18 Best Danube River Cruises for 2024-2025 by Adventure Life

    Travel made your way ™. Build your ideal Danube River trip. Call 1.406.541.2677. Our cruises down the winding Danube River take you on an immersive tour of the cultures and traditions of 10 European countries, from the river's source in Germany, through Austria, Slovakia, Hungary, Croatia, Serbia, Bulgaria, Romania, Ukraine, and Moldova.

  9. 25 BEST Danube River Cruises 2024 (Prices + Itineraries): Cruises to

    Sponsored. $6,000 SAVINGS WITH SILVERSEA. Enjoy up to $6,000 savings per suite. Applies to a global collection of itineraries from June 2024 to 2026. Book before 31st July 2024 to enjoy this exclusive offer. Visit silversea.com, call 1300-306-872 or Contact your Travel Agent. Show more. Book Now. 10 Nights.

  10. The Legendary Danube

    A family-owned company since 2002, award-winning AmaWaterways offers unforgettable river cruises with 28 ships sailing through Europe, Asia, Africa and South America. 'Ama' means love - and we put love in everything we do, from our exquisite locally-sourced cuisine to our variety of included shore excursions in every port to our warm, personalized service. We are also proud of our innovations ...

  11. Danube River Cruises

    A Danube River cruise unveils Europe's rich and dramatic history. Glittering cultural capitals, lush vineyards, magnificent monasteries and endless scenic splendor line the river's banks. Here are some sample highlights you will see with Viking: Enchanting Passau, set where three rivers meet. Lush vineyards of the Wachau Valley.

  12. 5 Best Viking River Cruises on the Danube

    4. Viking Danube River Cruise: Discover the Other Half of the Danube. Dambrovita River Old Bucharest (Image: Viking) The majority of Danube cruises sail between Vienna and Budapest, with few ...

  13. The 10 Best River Cruise Lines in 2022

    1. Viking. With its fleet of more than 50 contemporary "longships" on rivers such as the Rhine, the Danube, and the Seine, plus additional ships in Europe, Egypt, and Vietnam, T+L's top-ranked ...

  14. The Definitive Danube River Cruise Guide

    A Danube River cruise showcases some of the finest scenery in Europe, passing grand castles, stunning cathedrals, ancient sites and elegant cities which have inspired travelers for centuries. Unveiling Europe's rich and dramatic history, a Danube River immerses you in the glittering cultural capitals, lush vineyards, magnificent monasteries and endless scenic splendor that line the river's ...

  15. 10 Best Danube River Cruises in Summer 2025

    We are about to sail them again in September, 2023 and in April, 2024! Can't wait! Show more. Classical Danube Cruise (Budapest - Passau) Find the best Danube River Cruises in Summer 2025 with TourRadar. Choose from 103 tours with 73 real tour reviews. Book now and save with TourRadar.com!

  16. Best river cruise lines around the world

    Tauck. Leading luxury tour operator Tauck has its own fleet of award-winning 84- to 130-passenger river ships cruising the Danube, Douro, Rhine, Rhone and Seine. The big selling point here is that a Tauck tour director and three Tauck cruise directors are on board all departures, assuring that guests are catered to.

  17. Best Danube Riverboats & Luxury River Cruise Ships for 2024-2025

    Avalon Passion. Sail away on an unforgettable Danube River cruise aboard the Avalon Passion ship, an Avalon Waterways Suite Ship making its mark with spacious suites featuring panoramic windows that transform the space into a breezy open-air balcony. Ship Details. $3,499.

  18. Quick-Reference Guide to Danube River Cruises in Europe

    Depending on the cruise line, Danube River cruises can cost anywhere from $1,200 per person based on double occupancy of an onboard cabin, to upwards of $7,000 per person for double occupancy. Sometimes you'll find them at lower starting prices, depending on the season (like if they're running holiday sales) and depending on the cruise line.

  19. Best Danube River Cruise Lines

    There is so much to do on this incredible 12 day river cruise vacation that starts at just $4,428 per person! 8 Day Danube Waltz River Cruise - Step onboard one of the best luxury river cruise lines and take an incredible river cruise from Budapest to Passau for a hot deal price of just $1,999 per person! Get ready to immerse yourself in art ...

  20. THE 25 BEST Luxury Cruises to Danube River (with Prices) on Cruise Critic

    Danube Dreams With 2 Nights In Prague For Wine Lov... 41 Reviews. Leaving: Budapest. Cruise Line: Avalon Waterways. No prices currently available for this sailing. Itinerary. Ship.

  21. A Review of the New European River Cruise Line Riverside

    This River Cruise Line Is One of the Best-Kept Secrets on Europe's Rivers Some of the most luxurious river cruise sailings in Europe are also some of the most affordable. Copy. ... and Danube Rivers. All-inclusive (including gratuities, transfers, wine, beer, and spirits) rates start at $2,413 per person for a three-day cruise, based on ...

  22. Cruise Destinations Overview

    Traveling by river, beyond the reach of roadways, you will discover the true nature of fascinating lands and the people who call them home.You will travel with ease, unpacking just once and enjoying the ever-changing scenery along the banks as you are gently carried on board an elegant, intimate ship to your next destination.Here is just a small sample of where a Viking river cruise will take you:

  23. The 10 best places to go on a river cruise in Europe

    The baroque streetscapes and imperial palaces set the stage for Vienna's artistic and musical masterpieces alongside its coffee-house culture and vibrant epicurean and design scenes. Moving into Germany, the Danube gently winds its way to the Italianate city of Passau.Top billing in eastern Bavaria goes to Regensburg, a former capital and one of Germany's prettiest and liveliest cities.

  24. Updates on Current Sailings

    Currently, sections of the Rhine, Main and Danube rivers are experiencing high water levels. To varying degrees, these conditions may affect select itineraries. Our Switzerland-based nautical team is continually monitoring the situation and will make any necessary adjustments to accommodate the conditions.

  25. The best river cruises for a boutique European cruising experience

    A river cruise is an unbeatable way to explore some of the cities straddling the Danube, allowing you to visit several towns, villages and cities on one trip, without having to organise local ...

  26. Best Time for Danube River Cruise

    Call 1.406.541.2677. Start Planning My Trip. The Danube River is a charming destination to visit at almost any time of the year, though most travel experts agree the that best times to take a Danube cruise are Spring (April and May) and Fall (September and October). Apart from the frigid months of January and February when most cruise lines don ...

  27. Danube River Cruise Reviews

    1 - 10 of 4,147 Danube River Cruise Reviews. First Viking cruise, already booked our next. Review for a Europe - River Cruise Cruise on Viking Vilhjalm. S. Dunn. 10+ Cruises • Age 60s. Read More.

  28. The best river cruise line in the world, according to our fussy ...

    Uniworld's Mekong River cruise in Cambodia and Vietnam takes you to ancient temples and gives you the chance to meet local villagers, while sleeping in five-star surroundings on stunning ship ...

  29. Cruises

    River cruise lines to consider encompass Viking, AmaWaterways, Avalon Waterways, Scenic Luxury Cruises & Tours, Emerald Cruises, Tauck, Uniworld Boutique River Cruises and Riverside Luxury Cruises, as well as American Cruise Lines for a domestic alternative. If you're an adventurer at heart, an expedition cruise might be best for you.

  30. Danube River Cruises

    Cruises on the Danube River are offered by lines like Viking, AmaWaterways, Avalon Waterways, Uniworld and Scenic. And while guided tours of major cities like Budapest and Vienna are a highlight ...