Your River Cruise Experience

River cruising is the best way to travel through many of the world’s most fascinating places. Comfortable and convenient, it offers a greater variety of destinations than you could encounter any other way—and lets you get in-depth exposure to the culture and history of each region. Both experienced and first-time travelers have discovered the joys of river cruising, making it the fastest-growing segment of the travel industry.
Paris, Vienna, Moscow…because so many cities and towns developed along waterways, they were literally made to be accessible by river. Some of these cities are just not available to ocean cruisers, and bus passengers spend precious hours on the highway, checking in and out of hotels. River cruising brings you more of these destinations than you could see any other way.
River cruising has enjoyed a significant increase in popularity in the past few years. Travelers have realized that it is a very efficient and affordable way to see the best of the area where they are traveling. Each region and itinerary is different and offers exciting and intriguing adventures. In central Europe, Rhine River cruises sail past stately castles, terraced vineyards and picturesque old towns. Passengers on Danube River cruises spend time in some of Europe's most intriguing Old World cities, like Vienna and Budapest. Cruises of the Mosel River meander through the German region famous for Riesling wines, while Elbe cruises travel through Germany and the Czech Republic on a route characterized by towering cliffs, Gothic fortifications and medieval villages. Explore France on a Seine River cruise between Paris and the coast of Normandy and stop at Claude Monet's Giverny and the D-Day landing site at Omaha Beach. Saone River cruises offer opportunities to sample the wine and cuisine of Burgundy, while Rhone River cruises showcase the lovely Provence region. Experience the warmth and friendliness of Portugal on a Douro River cruise as you sail past charming villages, deep gorges and lush vineyards. click here for Europe river cruise offers

River Cruise Checklist: Weather and Water Levels

If travel sellers could accurately predict the weather, that would obviously make selling vacations a lot easier.

Absent such skills, however, one thing river cruise sellers can (and probably should) do is check how recent weather has affected water levels on rivers their clients are soon to be traveling on.

As worldwide weather patterns become increasingly erratic, sudden dry spells or, conversely, unforeseen heavy rains can have a significant impact on river cruise itineraries. As with the Mississippi River last year, a drought can limit vessels’ ability to pass through certain stretches if water levels are too low.

And if a river is subject to severe rains, the higher water levels can make it impossible for ships to pass under bridges or make the rivers unsafe to travel on, as was recently the case on the Douro River in Portugal.

Having been on the Douro in early April during a period of higher-than-average water levels that prevented river cruise vessels from sailing for a short period, one thing passengers repeatedly expressed was that prior to that experience, checking the river’s water levels was not something they would have necessarily thought to do before leaving for a river cruise. A lot of passengers just assumed that rivers are pretty reliable.

Enter the travel seller, who can help monitor those water levels. And the easiest way to do so is to simply research local news articles (as well as Travel Weekly, though we admittedly don’t catch every single rise and fall of the world’s inland waterways) about the rivers or regions the river cruise will be on/in.

If regional weather patterns look like they might affect water levels, then the next step is to simply ask the river cruise line point blank whether the itinerary will proceed as planned. The challenge, of course, is that oftentimes even the river cruise companies themselves don't know whether there will be changes up until the last minute. It’s in everyone’s interests for the sailings to go as planned, and so they will often try to hold off on any premature cancellations or itinerary alterations. But it doesn’t hurt to ask, several times if necessary.