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River cruises, sometimes referred to as river tours, offer travelers a relaxing and intimate way to experience countries and cultures centered around the world's major waterways. Guests on a river cruise enjoy the ever-changing scenery gently rolling past, while they avoid crowds and float along in great comfort. Visit chateaux, vineyards and villages on river cruises, and enjoy leisurely meals with fine wines onboard.
Travel companies operate river cruises all over the world. Often combined with a land tour, a river cruise is an ideal way to see the natural and historical treasures along such famous waterways as the Nile River, the Danube River, the Amazon River and the Yangtze River.
Some River cruises may be part of longer tour itineraries which include hotel stays. When packaged this way, River cruises can save you up to 40% off the price of traveling the same itinerary on your own. That's because tour operators negotiate low group rates on everything from hotels to cabins and pass the savings on. And that's not all. River cruises are hassle-free because all the details are handled for you. They're easy to budget, as so much is included in one price. And, local guides with years of experience help you discover more sights than you could possibly find on your own.
European River Cruises
Danube River Cruises
A Danube River cruise is the best way to experience the storied landscapes, cultural heritage and centuries-old architecture of the Old World. On a Danube River cruise, you'll discover Europe's vineyard-lined valleys and beautifully preserved medieval towns in countries such as Germany, Austria, Hungary, Serbia and Romania.
Many Danube River cruises visit Nuremberg, Germany, where you can see the Imperial Castle and the Justice Palace, the meeting place for the War Crimes Tribunal in 1946, before transiting the Main-Danube Canal. On your Danube River cruise, you may also enjoy visits to the Vienna Opera house in Vienna, Austria; the world-famous Benedictine Monastery in Melk, Austria; or St. Stephan's Basilica and the Fisherman's Bastion in Budapest, Hungary. Many Danube River cruises also sail the Iron Gates, a spectacular gorge that runs between the Carpathian and Balkan mountains, forming the boundary between Serbia and Romania.
Douro River Cruises
There's no better way to discover Portugal's lush vineyards, storied culture and stunning natural beauty than on a Douro River cruise. On a Douro River cruise, you'll see restored palaces in modern cities and lovely rural villages along one of Europe's most charming rivers.
Many Douro River cruises visit Porto, founding place of Portugal's famous port wine. Visit a local cellar and enjoy a glass while learning about making and trading port. On your Douro River cruise, you'll sail through towering hills lined with terraced vineyards. You may enjoy the gardens of the baroque manor house, Solar de Mateus, near Vila Real, or join an excursion to Lamego's Gothic cathedral and 11th century castle. Many Douro River cruises visit the Spanish city of Salamanca, home to one of the oldest universities in the world and one of Europe's most impressive squares.
Elbe River Cruises
On an Elbe River cruise, you'll drift past majestic sandstone mountains, ornate Gothic castles, and modern cities that are connected to the past by remnants of medieval monuments and architecture. There's simply no better way to discover Germany and the Czech Republic's past and present than on the banks of the Elbe River.
Many Elbe River cruises visit Magdeburg, where you can explore the Old Market and visit the tomb of Emperor Otto. On your Elbe River cruise, you may also enjoy a stop at Wittenberg Castle and the Castle Church where Martin Luther posted his 95 theses and sparked the Protestant Reformation. Or, you may visit a porcelain factory, or Albrechtsburg Castle, or sample Saxon wine in Meissen. Many Elbe River cruises also sail through the sandstone formations of Dresden, the capital of Saxony, and journey into Prague for visits to Wenceslas Square, Old Town City Hall and Charles Bridge.
Mosel River Cruises
Cruises on the Mosel River (known as the Moselle River in France) are often combined with Rhine River cruises and are a great way to experience some of Europe's oldest and most enchanting cities. On a Mosel River cruise, you'll discover stately castles built more than 1,000 years ago, towns with architecture that ranges from Roman to rococo, and lush vineyards, as you slowly drift along the river's banks through Germany, Luxembourg and France.
Many Mosel River cruises visit Trier, Germany's oldest city, founded in 16 B.C. by Roman Emperor Augustus. Here you can see Roman, Gothic and Renaissance monuments and churches. You may also explore the Reichsburg Castle in Cochem, or the U.S. Memorial Cemetery in Hamm, Luxembourg, where General George Patton is buried. Take an excursion to Cathedral St. Etienne's in Metz, France, to see a famous Silbermann organ. Your Mosel River cruise may also sail to Nancy, a medieval city in Lorraine, France, where you can visit La Place Stanislas and tour a chocolate factory.
Oder River Cruises
Oder River cruises are a great way to discover the Old World charm of interesting and little-known towns in Germany and Poland. From nature preserves to lively cultural centers and beautiful riverside landscapes, you'll experience some of the finest parts of central Europe on an Oder River cruise.
Oder River cruises often visit Stralsund, a Hanseatic League city in northern Germany, where you can walk through the historic old town on your way to the market and the impressive Church of Mary. On your Oder River cruise, you may also enjoy a stop in Szcsecin, Poland's largest port, to see St. Jacob's Cathedral or the Loitz House, the 16th century house where the Russian empress Catherine the Great was born. Other highlights of an Oder river cruise may include an excursion to Spree Forest outside Eisenhuttenstadt, Germany, or a visit to Wroclaw, Poland's parks, museums and theaters.
Rhine River Cruises
Rhine River cruises are perhaps the most popular of all European river cruises. Some riverboats sail strictly on the Rhine River (known as the Rhein River in Germany), while others combine the Rhine with other waterways in Germany, Austria, Hungary or the Netherlands. Whatever itinerary you choose, a Rhine River cruise allows you to experience some of Europe's most interesting river ports.
Your Rhine River cruise may visit Basel, Switzerland's second largest city, where you can stop at the medieval town hall, see works by Pablo Picasso and Salvador Dali at the museum of fine art and catch a great view of the Rhine River from Wettstein Bridge. On your Rhine River cruise, join an excursion to Strasbourg, a town in the heart of France's Alsace region that is characterized by a mix of French and German influences. Enjoy a stop in Bamberg, Germany, for a taste of smokebeer and a visit to the 11th century cathedral of Holy Roman Emperor Heinrich II. Rhine River cruises may also sail to Koblenz, Germany, at the convergence of the Rhine and Moselle Rivers, where woodlands, lakes and meadows fill two-thirds of the city's landscape. Rhine River cruises that journey into other waterways may include stops at ports like Passau, Vienna, Budapest, and Amsterdam.
Rhone River Cruises
There's no better way to experience the romance of the South of France than on a Rhone River cruise. On a Rhone River cruise, you'll discover French history, culture and the country's stunning scenery. And, you'll see architecture and works of art that are almost as famous as the wine and cuisine you'll taste throughout the region.
Most Rhone River cruises visit Lyon, at the convergence of the Rhone and Saone Rivers, where you can taste succulent French cuisine before visiting St. Pierre Palace, Place des Terraux and Fourviere Hill. On your Rhone River cruise, you may see Roman treasures and some of Vincent Van Gogh's favorite views in Arles, the Gothic Palais des Papes (Pope's Palace) in Avignon. Many Rhone River cruises also sail to Vienne, 30 miles south of Lyon and home to the second largest Roman theater in France. There you can climb one of the city's five surrounding hills for stunning views of the Rhone River.
Saone River Cruises
A Saone River cruise is a great way to experience the picturesque, vineyard-covered countryside in France's famed Burgundy wine region. On a Saone River cruise, you'll not only discover the magnificent wines and cuisine of the region, but you will also explore French history, culture and a wealth of notable buildings with varied architectural styles.
Most Saone River cruises visit Macon, where you can walk the Parcours Patrimonial heritage trail and see Old St. Vincent Cathedral, the dome of Hotel Dieu, Soufflot Chapel and numerous museums. On your Saone River cruise, you may also enjoy excursions to Tournus, home to St. Philibert, an abbey and church completed in the 12th century. You'll stop in the important wine trading port of Chalon-sur-Saone, where the 17th century Church of St. Pierre and the crypt of St. Benigne are not to be missed. Many Saone River cruises also sail to Beaune, where you can sample wine as you look out at miles of Burgundy's renowned vineyards.
Seine River Cruises
There's no finer or more convenient way to experience the splendor of northern France's Normandy region than on a Seine River cruise. You'll discover the history, culture and beauty of this region, known as the birthplace of Impressionism.
Most Seine River cruises visit Paris, the City of Lights, where you can see world famous architectural masterpieces and museums. Be sure to visit the Eiffel Tower, Notre Dame, the Arch de Triomphe and Louvre museum, home of the Mona Lisa.
On your Seine River cruise, you may also enjoy an excursion to the farmhouse and gardens where Claude Monet lived and worked in Giverny or a stop in Les Andelys to see Richard the Lionheart's Chateau Gaillard and the Nicholas Poussin museum. Many Seine River cruises also sail to Le Havre, where you can join an excursion to the Normandy beaches and the D-day landing site. Some Seine River cruises are combined with journeys along the Rhone and Saone Rivers in the South of France and stop in ports like Avignon, Lyon and Macon.
Russia River Cruises
Volga River Cruises
Discover the stunning architecture and unique cultural heritage of Russia's most interesting cities on a Volga River cruise. Russia's two most important cities, Moscow and St. Petersburg, can be visited on a magical river cruise that combines the Volga River, the Moscow Canal and other waterways.
Many Volga River cruises visit Kostroma, where the streets fan out from a central square in a classical 18th and 19th layout and you can see medieval peasant homes and the golden dome of Ipatievsky Monastery and museum. On your Volga River cruise, you may also enjoy an excursion to Nizhni Novgorod, home to political exiles for years and recently opened to tourism, or a stop in the ancient seat of the Tatar Empire, Kazan, where a unique blend of Muslim and Christian influences still exists. Most Volga River cruises also sail to Uglich, one of the oldest towns in Russia, and Volograd, which used to be called Stalingrad and is the site of the famous WWII Battle.
Ukraine River Cruises
Dnieper River Cruises
Experience the best of the Ukraine on the Dnieper River, the third largest river in Europe, flowing 1,370 miles from the heart of the Ukraine to the Black Sea.
Most Dnieper River cruises start in Kiev, Ukraine's capital city, and visit the Monastery of the Caves. Founded by St. Anthony of the Caves in the mid-11th century, this religious complex was built above an underground network of tunnels and caves excavated by monks. On your Dnieper River cruise, you may also enjoy a folkloric performance in Nova Kachovka or a Cossack horseman show in Zaporozhye. Most Dnieper River cruises also sail to Yalta on the Crimean Peninsula where you can visit botanical gardens and tour the Tsar's Imperial winery at Massandra and the White Palace, which was built as a summer residence for Russian Tsars.
Exotic River Cruises
Amazon River Cruises
Ready to discover the awe-inspiring natural beauty and culture of South America on an Amazon River cruise? Whether you are looking for adventurous expedition-style trips to the heart of the Amazon or luxury cruises with a more relaxed Amazon experience, we can help you find the perfect Amazon River cruise.
The most exploratory Amazon River cruises travel the Upper Amazon River by expedition vessel and normally cruise roundtrip from Iquitos, Peru to Manaus, Brazil (or vice versa), and visit ports like Leticia, Colombia and Lago Sao Paulo. On these exciting journeys, you will cruise Amazon River tributaries by Zodiac or even local canoes, and you are sure to spot exotic wildlife and a vast array of indigenous people.
Five and six-star ships cruise the Amazon River as part of longer Caribbean and South America itineraries and typically begin or end in Manaus, Brazil, the capital of the State of Amazonas. Between Manaus and the Atlantic, your Amazon River cruise will likely visit Santarem to view the "wedding of the waters" where the Tapajos and Amazon rivers meet but don't mix for miles. Typical shore excursions include visits to Boca da Valeria, where you can barter for goods and observe Amazon Indians living as they did hundreds of years ago, or to Parintins, a small village on Tupinambarana Island known for the Boi-Bumba festival, a ritual of magic, mystery, passion and faith that has been held for over 80 years.
Nile River Cruises
If you've ever dreamed of exploring ancient Egypt, longed to follow the footsteps of the Pharaohs or imagined the desert sun setting over the emerald Nile, you're ready to step aboard a Nile River cruise. For over five thousand years the Nile has been the lifeblood of Egypt and there's simply no better way to experience the wealth of Egyptian history, culture and architecture than on a Nile River cruise.
Most Nile River cruises visit Luxor on the site of ancient Thebes, where you'll see the Temple of Queen Hatshepsut, ancient Egypt's longest ruling female pharaoh, and the Temple of Karnak, the largest temple complex built by man. Excursions are offered from Luxor to the Valley of the Kings, the resting place of more than 60 pharaohs, including the mysterious boy-king Tutankhamun. On your Nile River cruise, you may also visit the 2,000-year-old, beautifully preserved Temple of Horus, the falcon god, or hop aboard a felucca, a traditional Egyptian sailing vessel. Many Nile River cruises also visit the High Dam at Aswan, one of Egypt's modern marvels.
Nile River cruises are part of longer Egypt tour itineraries, many of which visit the legendary pyramids and Sphinx in Giza, the Museum of Egyptian Antiquities in Cairo and Djoser's Step Pyramid in Sakkara -- all must-see Egyptian treasures.
Yangtze River Cruises
There's no better way to experience China's stunning landscapes, ancient culture and unique architecture than on a Yangtze River cruise. On a Yangtze River cruise, you'll discover China's unique blend of ancient traditions and modern cities, explore world treasures like the Great Wall and visit palaces where Emperors ruled for centuries.
Many Yangtze River cruises visit Shibaozhai, home of the 12-story temple built in 1650 that offers spectacular views of the winding Yangtze and villages below. On your Yangtze River cruise, you may also enjoy excursions through Yangtze tributaries like the clear Daning River, known for its breathtaking canyon views and remote rural villages. Most Yangtze River cruises also sail to the Three Gorges Dam, a controversial construction project that will be the largest hydroelectric and flood-control dam in the world.
Yangtze River cruises are part of longer China tour itineraries, many of which visit world renowned Chinese treasures, like the Great Wall, Tiananmen Square, Yu Yuan gardens, the Jade Buddha Temple and the Terracotta Soldiers that were sculpted to protect the tomb of Emperor Qinshihuang.
North American River Cruises
Columbia River Cruises operate seasonally from Portland, Oregon and visit charming riverside towns. Traditional ocean-going vessels navigate Canada's storied St. Lawrence Seaway on Canada & New England itineraries.
Pacific Northwest Cruises are offered by Cruise West