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Top 3 European River Cruises

Douro River ValleyAlthough ocean cruise lines like Royal Caribbean and Norwegian have been suffering some setbacks lately, the river cruise industry in Europe is booming. Instead of spending days traveling between islands with nothing to see but water, river cruises offer a never-ending, constantly changing scenery full of old-world wonders. Europe’s vast network of waterways is just waiting to be explored.

What’s so great about a riverboat?

  • Luxurious
  • Fine dining
  • Countless amenities
  • Easy access to the heart of many cities

You might want to look into budget airlines because you’ll be shelling out more than $3,000 per person for any of Europe’s luxury river cruises. Relax from your cabin, the deck, a dining area, or the pool as you watch the fairytale countryside of Europe pass you by. You’ll see famous cities, vineyards, and majestic cathedrals all without buying tickets or standing in line. This is sightseeing at it’s best! DouroAzul, Avalon Waterways, and Viking River Cruises offer many different excursions including themed and holiday trips. We’ve picked our favorites.


#3 – DouroAzul: Douro River Valley

DouroAzul is Portugal’s largest river cruise operator. They just released two new ships, the AmaVida (holds 106) and the Queen Isabel (holds 118). Wine lovers will enjoy this cruise through the heart of Portugal’s wine country. Onboard the Queen Isabel you will find a spa, fitness center, heated pool, and gourmet restaurant. The cruise is seven days, departs from Porto, Portugal, and ends in Salamanca, Spain. The Douro River Valley excursion is available between the months of April and November. Excursions ashore expose guests to the region’s finest wines. The cruise takes guests to five UNESCO (United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization) World Heritage Sites including Porto’s Ribeira district and the Alto Douro wine region. The price includes three nights in Lisbon, Portugal prior to embarkation.


#2 – Avalon Waterways: The Legendary Danube

Avalon Waterways announced the launch of their sixth ship in May 2013: the Avalon Expression. This 166-passenger luxury ship has all the amenities you’d expect from a five-star hotel. Floor-to-ceiling windows give guests a great view from practically anywhere on the ship. Cabins include open-air balconies from which guests can watch the landscape flow by. The Legendary Danube varies slightly each year. The 2014 trip departs from Nuremberg, Germany and ends in Budapest, Hungary. The price includes three nights in Prague prior to departure during which you can explore places like the Jewish Quarter, Hradcany Castle, and Wenceslaus Square. The seven-night cruise passes through the medieval cities Regensburg, Passau, and Vienna. Guests have the opportunity to attend events in each city.


#1 – Viking River Cruises: Rhine River

Viking LongshipViking River Cruises is consistently at the top of the charts. A cruise on one of their new Longships is like staying in a five-star hotel (not to mention the Longships are equipped with hybrid engines and solar panels). With a disciplined Swiss staff and a team of chefs that prepare meals onboard (they even have a herb garden on the ship), all your needs will be taken care of. The Rhine River cruise is the perfect romantic getaway. The trip takes up to 190 guests through five countries. Guests glide by the magical castles of Black Forest, Germany and are treated to a fun stop in Amsterdam. Without worrying about taxis or trains, you can sit back, relax, and enjoy the view.

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