sábado, 23 de março de 2013

River Cruises around Europe

Europe is a small continent, according to Mistupid it is the seventh continent representing 6,95% of the earth when measuring the square kilometres.
When you look at the biggest rivers in the world, if you look at the length Europe has none in the top 10, it is only on the 18th position that you can find the Volga, that only flows in Russia, and in the 26th position you can find the famous Danube, which according to Touropia is the forth most important river in the world.

These are some of the river cruises you can make in Europe.

River Cruise in the Danube
The Iron Gate

Inter-country Cruise
The Danube is the second biggest river in Europe and due to its route, it passes by ten countries! Including some of the countries capitals. Due to the "Rhine-Main-Danube Canal" completed in 1992, some of the Danube cruises include a cruise by the Rhine river and the Main river.

The Danube Only Cruises can last for more than ten days. During these days you can see cities as Regensburg, Passau, Melk, Vienna (Austria's Capital), Budapest (Hungary's Capital), Kalocsa, Osijek, Belgrade (Serbia's Capital), Iron Gate (Wikipedia Link), Vidin, Veliko Tarnovo, Bucharest (Romania's Capital)
The Danube + Rhine Cruises can last twenty three days, and can also include the cities of Amsterdam, Kinderdijk, Cologne, Koblenz, Rhine Valley (My Trip to the Rhine Valley), Miltenberg (Main River), Würzurg, Bamberg, Nuremberg, and then you continue to the Danube.

River Cruise in the Seine
City Cruise
The main focus of the Seine river cruises is the French Capital, known as the city of love and lights, Paris.
The river has importance to the French economy, but regarding tourism, it is Paris that concentrates the tourist cruises, most of them are not famous for sleeping, but for dinners and sightseeing. 
If you are going to Paris, do not miss a cruise by the Seine, it is an enjoyable part of visiting Paris. You probably don't need to book your cruise early, you can do it one the place.
If you are thinking on cruising the Seine to the north, you will pass by the city of Rouen, where the Seine goes as an "S", and end in the industrial and port city of Le Havre, which is 150 km far from the Disembarkment beaches.

River Cruise in the Rhône

If you want a river cruise in the south of France, this is it, a cruise in the Rhône include a passage by the famous vineyards in the south of France and the Lavender Fields.
The most important cities that you can see are Lyon, Vienne, famous for the Roman ruins, Arles, with some World Heritage Sites and Avignon, the city of the Popes

River Cruise in the Saône

The Saône is the most important tributary of the Rhône river, it is in Lyon where they meet. One of the famous cities near the Saône is Dijon, famous for its mustard. Chalon sur Saône was once a busy port and it is nowadays a port for some cruises, it is a small city with a nice city square with cafés and a busy market on Fridays and Sundays. Sundays are a great day to visit a market in a southern France village.

River Cruise in the Elbe

Intercity + UNESCO
The Elbe is one of the most important rivers for the north German economy, specially in Hamburg, but it is lower on the Elbe that you can find some of the nice cruises that can pass by Prague, if they include the Vltava river. The other cities that you can visit during a cruise in the Elbe are, Magdeburg, Dessau, Torgau, Dresden (Dresden Elbe Valley - UNESCO Heritage) and Melnik, where the Vltava river finds the Elbe.

River Cruise in the Douro

Gourmet + UNESCO
The Douro river is located in the west edge of continental Europe and the main city for its cruises is Porto in Portugal, which is also known for its wines. That is why part of the cruise is focused on the UNESCO Alto Douro Wine Region.
The Douro cruises are focused on the nature and on the valleys where you pass, you will not see many important cities since the visit goes through the Portuguese countryside.

River Cruise in the Rhine

Castles + UNESCO
The Rhine river starts in Switzerland, divides France from Germany, and then it is inside German that assumes a great importance in the German economy and in the Rhine Valley, after that it ends in the Netherlands where it has also its economic important, being a vital way to ship many of the freight.
The Rhine river has its glamour specially on the valley that starts in Bingen and ends in Koblenz, which is part of the UNESCO Heritage Upper Middle Rhine. In Koblenz you can find many companies that from April to September make cruises for the Rhine Valley that last more than an hour.
The big cruises that pass in the Rhine can last more than twenty days, if you include the Danube. If you want to do a Rhine only cruise you can take a trip between Amsterdam and Basel which last for a week due to the cultural richness you will find on the trip.

River Cruise in the Moselle
The Moselle river is a tributary of the Rhine river, so some of the crises can include part of the Rhine, others may include the Main river. It is in the Moselle where you can find two beautiful German cities, Trier and Cochem. Trier is considered the oldest city in Germany with vine-covered Hills and Cochem has its beautiful castle in the top of a hill.

River Cruise in the Main
The Main is another tributary of the Rhine, with a special importance since it also connects to the Danube. The cruises in the Main are mainly cruises that also pass by the Rhine or the Danube, in the Main you will see the city of Würzburg, a wine town, other important cities are Bamberg, Mainz in the connection between the Main and the Rhine, and Frankfurt.

Many of the river cruises in the Moselle or the Main rivers include a passage by the Rhine, and some cruises pass by the three rivers.

River Cruise in the Volga

City + Scenic
The Volga river is the biggest river in Europe, but to connect the two most important cities in Russia, Moscow, the country's capital and St. Petersburg, it is needed to pass by other rivers. Many of the cruises of the Volga include the two cities, since they are an important part and a must see if you go to Russia.
In the Volga river you can see the Russian cities and villages including Kizhi, Kuzino, Goritsy, Yaroslav and Uglich.
A trip in the Volga including the cities of Moscow and St. Petersburg lasts for thirteen days.
If you want a more Volga cruise, you can make it from Moscow to Astrakhan, near the Volga delta, this trips include more history and a taste of an Asian trip.

Later I will talk about some of the cruises with detailed information, some nice images and my personal experience.

Companies & Websites
Grand Circle Cruise Line
Avalon Waterways
Euroriver cruises
Douro Azul
Express to Russia

I have seen some of the river cruises options and although the pass through unique places, as the Iron Gate and other valleys, they still seem an activity for older people, probably starting at the age of fifty. The reason is the relation between the age, length of the trip and the amount of activities during the day. This may be a biased opinion, but it is based on what I have seen so far.
I would not like to be in such a long cruise for now due to the trip length and to not be limited by staying near the river, and sleeping on the cruise. I have already done a twenty four hour "special" cruise between Turku and Stockholm and return and I did not feel comfortable passing so much time in the water, even having a lot of activities, but that can depend on what you like and even your fears.

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