Once you know your choice of rivers and a little geography, it’s easier to choose your river cruise. Besides Europe river cruises, you’ll also find what you need to know about cruising on other rivers around the world.
EUROPE RIVER CRUISES
Bordeaux Waterways – World’s premiere wine region in Southwest France, includes Garonne, Gironde and Dordogne rivers. Great for wine lovers, castle hunters.
Danube River – From Germany’s Black Forest mountains the Danube flows west through 10 countries into the Black Sea. Cruises available from 7-14 days itineraries and from various cities. Upper and Lower Danube options.
Douro River – Located in northern Portugal in the scenic wine-producing Douro valley. Very relaxing scenery.
Elbe River – Flows north from northern Czech Republic through Germany and into the North Sea near Hamburg. Be sure to allow time to spend a few days in beautiful Prague.
Loire River – Begins in the mountains of Central France, flows north and abruptly veers west to the Atlantic Ocean. Shallow water makes this river difficult to navigate so you’ll find mostly barges and 2-3 river cruise lines that ply these waters. Worth the effort to find your cruise here.
Main River – Picturesque little river runs through Central Germany, and since 1992 is a connector between the Rhine and Danube rivers. Memorable medieval cities dot the region.
Mosel River – From the Vosges Mountains of Northern France, the delicate Mosel (Moselle in France) flows north past steep slope vineyards in Germany til it meets the Rhine in Koblenz, Germany. Twisty, turny river with sleepy towns and castle ruins.
Po River – The Po flows from northern Italy into Adriatic Sea near Venice. Because a Po river cruise relies on weather conditions, smaller river cruise ships are able to traveler further inland on the Po. Most include overnights in Venice. Short cruises to Murano and Burano, the Po isn’t much of a traditional river cruise as you’ll motor coach into nearby cities like Padua.
Rhine River – The mighty Rhine begins high in the Swiss Alps flowing north and west until it meets the North Sea in The Netherlands. The most popular Europe river cruise, past UNESCO World Heritage sites and regions including the Rhine Gorge with its dozens of medieval castles, fortresses and ruins.
Rhône River – The Rhône starts its journey near Lake Geneva in Switzerland and travels over 500 miles west and then south to the distant Mediterranean Sea. Foodies will love Lyon, the culinary capital of France as well as Burgundy along the way to Provence.
Saône River – This 300-mile long river begins in Chalon-sur-Saône, the Burgundy region of central France until Lyon, where the Saône meets the Rhône. Saône river cruises are usually combined with the Rhône.
Seine River – Rising in northwest France, the Seine flows past the romantic river banks of Paris and continues north to the shores of Normandy to empty into the English Channel at Le Havre. From Paris to Normandy and may include Rouen and Honfleur, WWII history buffs will appreciate the itinerary as will anyone who wants to see Paris.
Scotland Waterways – Skim along the rugged western coast of Scotland and explore the lochs and visit quaint seaside villages. Wildlife abounds along these waters and is a real treat for bird lovers. Ancient castles dot the horizon waiting to be explored while marine life dances all around. Absolutely beautiful scenery, too.
Volga River – The longest river in Europe, the Volga travels some 2000 miles from Moscow into the Caspian Sea. Volga cruises go between St. Petersburg and Moscow and include the Svir and Neva rivers. Adventure-seekers and those who don’t mind a less luxury than they’d have on a Europe river cruise.
USA RIVER CRUISES
Columbia River – The Columbia River actually begins in the Canadian Rockies, but in the US, Columbia river cruises span the length of the border between Washington and Oregon, between Portland and Lewiston, Idaho. Lewis and Clark and Sacajawea fans will be overwhelmed with the history of this route. The scenery is gorgeous; from snow-capped mountains to high plains deserts and rugged gorges, this is one fabulous itinerary.
Erie Canal – Located in New York state, the engineering marvel of the Eric Canal runs for 363 miles and connects Lake Erie with the Hudson River.
Hudson River – The Hudson River forms in the Adirondack Mountains of upstate New York and empties into the Bay in New York City.
Mississippi River – From its source in northern Minnesota, the mighty Mississippi flows through 10 states along its 2,320-mile route until it reaches the Gulf on Mexico. Ply the southern half for the historic richness, Confederate history, southern cuisine and thriving river cities. Cruise the upper Mississippi through St. Louis to St. Paul and cruise through America’s heartland.
Ohio River – This 1,000-mile long river begins near Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and continues westward until it meets up with the Mississippi River in Cairo, Illinois.
Tennessee River – Meandering through four states (Alabama, Tennessee, Kentucky and Mississippi) on its 652-mile route to flow into the Ohio River at Paducah, Kentucky.
CANADA RIVER CRUISES
St. Lawrence River – One of the lesser known but incredibly unique is Canada’s St. Lawrence River. Flowing in a north-easterly direction from the Great Lakes, the St. Lawrence flows into the Gulf of St. Lawrence and the Atlantic Ocean.
Saguenay River – A tributary of the St. Lawrence, a cruise on the Saguenay river also includes cruising the longest fjord in North America.
AFRICA RIVER CRUISES
Chobe River – Located in south-central Africa, the Chobe River is part of a vast network waterways that include the Cuando and Linyati Rivers. In northern Botswana this waterway becomes the Chobe River. Teeming with wildlife along its banks and breathtaking scenery, the Chobe meets the Zambezi which plummets over Victoria Falls and flows to the Indian Ocean.
Nile River – Though the Nile is the world’s longest river, Nile River cruises generally only 4 nights aboard a specially designed river boat, cruising between Aswan and Luxor. The remaining days are usually spent in Cairo, Jordan or Israel.
ASIA RIVER CRUISES
Ganges River – Cruises on India’s sacred and mysterious Ganges River are usually 7- to 8-nights and are on the Lower Ganges River usually round-trip from Kolkata/Calcutta. Cruises are supplemented with hotel stays and touring to extend the time spent in India.
Irrawaddy River – Steeped in ancient culture, the exotic Irrawaddy River runs for 1,300 miles through Burma (Myanmar). It is possible to cruise upstream from Rangoon to Mandalay on 14-day cruises.
Mekong River – The 12th longest river in the world, from its beginning in distant Tibet, the Mekong River flows south through six countries including Cambodia and Vietnam. Finally, the Mekong reaches China where the river meets the South China Sea, a journey of 2,700 miles from the source.
SOUTH AMERICA RIVER CRUISES
Amazon River – The world’s largest river when measured by outflow, there are two options for an Amazon River cruise. One option is to cruise round-trip from Iquitos, Peru. The other option is from Brazil, where the Amazon meets the Atlantic ocean. From there, cruise ship and river boats travel upstream to Manaus, Brazil.
Sherry is editor and creator of CruiseMaven.com. An expert on ocean and river cruises plus trains in the US and Europe, Sherry’s goal is to share her experiences to entertain, inform and inspire readers to travel the world.