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Cynthia Czarnik

Scottsdale, Arizona Travel Agent

River Cruising in Europe and Beyond

River cruising is a very intimate way to travel and explore new destinations. I especially love cruising along the rivers of Europe. Before there were highways, there were rivers and many of Europe’s interesting cities and towns can be visited by river cruise. Because the ships are small—as they must be to use the canals along the way--you can usually dock right in the center of the cities you visit and walk right off the ship to go shopping or have lunch or dinner at a local bistro or Michelin-star restaurant.  

You will also stop at small villages, where you can get a feel for the rhythm of local life. Unlike ocean cruising where you might spend a day or two cruising at sea out of sight of land, on a river cruise, you are never far from shore and can watch the scenery as you cruise from place to place.  

River cruising is also an opportunity to experience unique areas that you would probably not see any other way. The lines offer wonderful opportunities to get inside the cultures of each place you visit. For example, in France, we visited with a local pottery maker and toured a winery with a family that had recently taken it over, and they talked with us about their plans to open a bed-and-breakfast. In Germany, we met a pretzel maker, who tossed them out to us as he described how he was making them.  

In the evenings, the ships often bring on local entertainers, so you might hear a classical string quartet in Austria or a cabaret-style singer in France. Plus, port talks and special interest lectures provide great background on the places you visit. 

Active travelers can join hiking and biking excursions and many lines offer morning yoga and other fitness activities while other tours cater to those who prefer to take in the sights in a more laid-back manner. 

River cruising is also a great value. Most river cruise lines include all meals, including wine, and daily tours in their price. Plus, on most lines, I can enhance your trip with value-added amenities, find hidden specials and help match you with the line that best matches your interests and travel style.

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