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Danube River Cruises & Riverboats

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A cruise on the Danube River takes you through lush vineyards, castles, and some of Europe's most culturally rich cities. Extending from southern Germany's Black Forest and 1,777 miles later emptying into the Black Sea, the Danube River is the second-longest river in all of Europe meandering through 10 countries including GermanyAustria, Slovakia, HungaryCroatiaSerbiaBulgaria, Romania, Ukraine and Moldava. A cruise on any of the riverboats that sail the Danube acquaints you with a diversity of cultures and inspired European landscapes through classic European river port cities like Vienna, Budapest, Passau, Regensberg, Melk and Bratislava. Enjoy wine tasting, bicycling, and walking along one of Europe's most scenic rivers. Contact one of our Danube River cruise specialists to start planning your dream trip.

10 Best Danube River Cruises for 2019

Danube River Cruises (115 Results)
All Danube River Cruises

Best Danube - Main - Rhine River Cruises

Trip NameFromDaysLevelSummary
Magnificent Europe (Christmas Cruise) - Cruise Only$669915RelaxedEmbark the Amastella for a 15-day cruise visiting Europe's renowned Christmas Markets on the scenic river route from Budapest to Amsterdam. This …
Magnificent Europe (Christmas Cruise) - Cruise Only$539915RelaxedEmbark the MS Amaserena for a 15-day cruise and visit Europe's renowned Christmas Markets on the scenic river route from Budapest to Amsterdam. With …
Magnificent Europe - Cruise Only$669915RelaxedEnjoy this 14-night cruise from Amsterdam to Budapest through the heart of Europe and across the continental divide aboard the MS Amaviola
Medieval Treasures (Wine Cruise)$549915RelaxedBegin your 15-day river cruise of the Rhine & Main Rivers with two nights in Zurich, followed by two nights in Lucerne before boarding the MS …
Magnificent Europe$733917RelaxedThis 17-day river cruise aboard the MS Amastella takes you from the Netherlands through Germany, Austria, and Slovakia before ending in Hungary, …
Holland and the Romantic Rhine Route all the way to the Danube$648919RelaxedBoard the MS Symphonie for a 19-day river experience through the enchanting waterways of Holland all the way to Danube. Sail along the romantic Rhine …

Top Riverboats Cruising the Danube River for 2019

Ship NameCapacityFromSummary
MS Amalea158$2699The AmaLea debuts in 2018 and features the most advanced design of any river cruise vessel currently in operation. With a guest capacity of up to 158 …
MS Amaviola158$2699The AmaViola – set to debut in 2016 – is a sister ship to the AmaSerena and features the most advanced design of any river cruise vessel …
MS Amasonata164$2699The MS Amasonata is among the most luxurious and advanced river vessels in Europe, with occupancy for up to 164 passengers in comfortable cabins, …
MS Amacerto164$2699This luxurious river cruiser features panoramic views from the sundeck, a pool and swim-up bar, gourmet meals, luxurious lounges, and comfortable …
MS Vivaldi176$1000The MS Vivaldi sails on the Danube and Rhine rivers, and was built in 2009. She features three floors, an upper sun deck, and 88 guest cabins. The …
MS Modigliani160$759The MS Modigliani is a 4 anchors class ship, designed with 78 cabins for a maximun of 160 passengers. The ship is small enough to moor at a town or …
MS Amaserena164$2699Making its debut in 2015, the AmaSerena features the most advanced designs in river cruise vessels. This 164-passenger ship boasts spacious …
MS Amadante148$2899Launched in 2008, the MS Amadante is part of the newest, state-of-the-art fleet of river cruise vessels in Europe.

Danube River Cruise Tips & Travel Guide

When should I plan my Danube River cruise?

Most experts agree that best time to go on a Danube River cruise is during the fall when you'll have best chance for pleasant weather, smaller crowds, and consistent river levels.

Advantages & disadvantages of each each season:
  • Spring - March, April, and May - can be rainy. March can be very cool, but by May temperatures are quite pleasant. Snow melt makes the river levels rise so boats can't pass under bridges, so getting rerouted by bus downstream is a risk.
  • Summer - June, July, August - can be hot and crowded, but longer nights let you explore more and see more of the countryside.
  • Fall - September and October - are good for Danube River cruises due to mild weather and less crowding at hotspots. It's best to reserve in advance, as the word is getting out.
  • Christmas - in December, we feature a rare opportunity to see the Christmas markets of the Danube River, where the holiday spirit that has characterized the Advent season in central Europe will come to life for you as you witness these fascinating yule-tide markets.
From January through early March, the temperatures along the Danube and throughout Europe fall between cold and frigid, making this a bad time to visit the Danube region. 

If you want help selecting the best month for you, please contact one of our Danube cruise experts.
Specialized Wine-Themed Cruises on the Danube

Experience some of central and eastern Europe's most famous and unique wine regions like Austria's Krems and the Wachau Valley, a UNESCO World Heritage Site on a wine-themed cruise on the Danube such as the Melodies of the Danube on AmaWaterway's Amaviola.

Each voyage features one or two wine experts or onboard sommeliers that will host tastings and food-and-wine-pairings of local wines that complement our visits to historic vineyards, wine villages, wineries, and famed wine cellars of the Danube River valley.

The Wachau Valley is unique due to its unique man-made stone terraces that enable cultivation of Grüner Veltliner and Riesling varieties on the steep river banks of the Danube. 

Downriver near Budapest, Hungary, we'll taste exotic Hungarian varieties such as Egri BikaverZierfandler, Cserszegi Fuszeres, and Juhfark. Slovakia, Croatia and Serbia also have local varietals that shouldn't be missed. 

Highlights of the Danube River by Country
Though united by the winding Danube River, each of the countries that we visit on our many eastern European river cruises have a distinct cultural identity. You might recognize these highlights as you visit:
Popular Trip Extensions of Danube River Cruises
  • Czech Republic: The sites of Prague, like Rudolfinum National Museum, Wenceslas Square, the Hundertwasser Dancing House, and the 1,000 year-old Prague Castle, just to name a few. Explore historic Prague including Prague Castle and the city's many ornate bridges over the Vltava River. 
    Bicycling Tours Along the Danube River
    For many, the favorite way of exploring the countryside, small village or riverside bike paths in iconic European cities is by bicycle. Our cruises down the Danube give ample opportunities to leisurely pedal your way through Europe. Here are some of our favorite spots:
    Beautiful Blue Danube Cruise
    Melk, Austria - Ride along the picturesque Danube River between Dürnstein and Melk through one of Austria’s Wachau Valley.

    Passau, Germany - take guided bike tour along the Danube from Passau to Erlau passing breathtaking castles & cathedrals.

    Romantic Danube Cruise
    Vienna Austria - ride along the Danube through the Donaupark or the Klosterneuburg Monastery accompanied with tasting Viennese coffee and pastries in a traditional cafe. 
    Linz, Austria take a guided bike tour around the Old City Center, along the Danube River, and past the ultra-modern Ars Electronica Center.  

    From the Black Sea to the Blue Danube
    Further down the Danube ride through historical bike-friendly cities such as Belgrade, Serbia and Budapest, Hungary.
    Fun Facts about the Danube River

    Did you know...
    • Not counting Russia's Volga River (which is partially in Asia), the Danube is Europe's longest river, at an incredible length of 1800 miles (2,860 km).
    • German warships were sunk to avoid Soviet capture towards the end of WWII, and their remains can still be seen peering through the water in the summer months.
    • The Danube crosses through 10 countries, which helped certain cities like Vienna, Budapest, and Belgrade gain importance in European affairs.
    • Biking and walking trails are very common along the whole river.
    • Home to more than 200 species of fish, it was once a main source of food for the region and before becoming a river cruise destination was primarily a major economic waterway through Europe.
    UNESCO World Cultural Sites Near the Danube River
    • Germany: Old Town of Regensburg
    • Austria: Vienna Historic Center, Wachau Cultural Landscape, Salzburg Historic Center; Schönbrunn Palace
    • Czech Republic: Cesky Krumlov Historic Center, Prague Historic Center
    • Hungary: Budapest & Danube Banks, Early Christian Necropolis of Pécs (Sopianae)
    • Romania: Danube Delta, Villages with Fortified Churches in Transylvania
    Favorite Castles to Visit on the Danube
    • Melk Abbey - Melk, Austria
    • Buda Castle - Budapest, Hungary
    • Schonbrunn Palace, Vienna, Austria
    • Palais Liechtenstein, Vienna, Austria
    • St Emmeram Castle, Regensberg, Germany
    Danube Cruises with Wheelchair Accessibility

    Although river cruising on the Danube is not particularly set up for those in a wheelchair or accessibility issues, these riverboats cater to mobility-challenged guests: AmaSerena, AmaSonata, AmaReina, AmaPrima and AmaCerto have specially designed cabins that have slightly wider doors and modified bathrooms that allow wheelchair access. CroisiEurope's MS  Vivaldi, MS Beethoven, MS Gérard Schmitter, MS L’Europe, MS Lafayette, and MS Modigliani have elevators and rooms for accessibility challenged guests. It is recommended that you be able to go up or down short flights of stairs in order to make the most of your trip. 
    Danube Cruises for Solo Travelers

    River cruises aren't particularly set up for solo travelers, but an amazing time can be had if traveling alone.

    Very few riverboats have single rooms and the majority of cruise lines will charge a single supplement fee (usually +50%) in order to occupy a double room onboard. Keep a look out for special deals that waive the single supplement fee on last minute trips and other occaisions
    Best Danube River Cruises for Families

    In general, river cruises don't focus on the needs of children, but there are some riverships that cater specifically to children and some cruise lines are open to infants, toddlers and children of any age. 

    AmaWaterway's Amaviola was designed in conjunction with Adventures by Disney specificaly with the needs of children and families in mind. Few of the departures during the year are managed by Disney, but the ship and the crew are prepared to create fun-filled voyages for younger passengers. 

    CroisiEurope's fleet of European riverships allow children of all ages including infants, but extras like cribs and high chairs are not provided, so you should consider bringing your own. 

    Contact one of our Danube cruising specialists for help planning the perfect family cruise.
    If you tend to avoid cruises because the rock and sway of the boat makes you feel nauseous, then a river cruise might be a great alternative - these boats don't really rock too much since they are on a river. 

    If you're still concerned this might be a problem, most people find that packing Dramamine or OTC seasickness medications work well. 

    An alternative might be the pressure point motion sickness wrist bands. 
    Expect your meals to be served buffet style for breakfast and lunch and sit-down style for dinner. 

    Make sure you are arriving at the times indicated on your itinerary. Unlike bigger cruise ships where meal time is flexible, on river cruises you are expected to be punctual as each meal will only be served during the indicated hours. 
    Quick Tips Before you Go
    • Notify your bank and credit cards that you will be traveling to avoid any inconvenient holds being placed on your cards.
    • Pack casual - other than perhaps one nice outfit for an upscale dinner, you can expect casual attire to be appropriate for the cruise.
    What to expect on a Danube River cruise
    • River cruises tend to be more structured with less time for independent exploration
    • Danube cruises tend to focus on one specific geographic region of Eastern & Central Europe (unless you choose one of the longer cruises that are more comprehensive)
    • Day activities are "relaxed active," including frequent walking tours and similar activities
    • A more mature crowd - typically baby boomers hoping to enjoy a structured vacation
    • Intimate atmosphere onboard, seldom with more than 200 passengers
    Is River Cruising Right for Me?
    River cruising isn't ideal for everyone, so consider these factors...

    • European civilization was built around the rivers, so these cruises offer a great way to see the main attractions and sites.
    • It's essentially a floating hotel - unlike bus tours, you will awake every morning in a new destination without having to pack or unpack or deal with uncomfortable overnight buses.
    • The price is (basically) all-inclusive (transport, tours, meals are all covered)
    • Not ideal for DIY travelers who like flexible itineraries
    • Tend not to go too far from the banks of the river for day-tours
    • Cruise vessels are smaller because of size constraints of locks and bridges
    Why go through Adventure Life?

    Sure, we know that you can plan a great vacation independently. But any veteran river cruiser will tell you to always work with an agent - the tour operators let us know about exclusive deals.

    Plus we're here to help you through the whole process. Got a question? We're just a phone call or chat away.
    Port Taxes and Fees
    Don't be caught off guard when you get to a port and have to pay. There are certain ports that require port taxes and fees for entry. These will generally be around $150-$200. 

    Some cruise lines include these fees in their price, while others leave it to the guests. Make sure to ask us whether your cruise includes this so that you can budget accordingly.
    How have river cruises improved recently?

    If you were on a river cruise through Europe before, then you might be surprised by how much has changed in the last decade. Competition has resulted in:
    • nicer cabins, often with balconies or French balconies (full windows that open)
    • gourmet cuisine
    • more exciting and engaging onshore experiences.
    Tipping on River Cruises
    Tipping is a personal decision, and no one will force you to leave a gratuity. However, you should know that on European river cruises, this is an expectation. Here are a few guidelines:
    • Generally not included in the cost
    • Tip $20 per guest per day
    • Tip in a lump sum at the end with either cash or or card
    • Give tour guides $3-$5 per tour
    • Give bus drivers $1 per ride
    Danube River Cruise Packing List
    Don't leave home without...
    • Toiletries, razor, hygiene products, medications
    • Sleeping clothes
    • 2-4 jeans or comfortable pants
    • One week’s worth of shirts (t-shirts and dress shirts)
    • Enough socks and underwear to avoid laundry
    • Sweater or sweatshirt
    • Waterproof jacket or lightweight raincoat
    • Sunscreen and bug spray
    • Sun glasses and a wide brimmed hat
    • Camera, lenses, accessories (like a charger, extra battery pack, memory cards, and cleaning kit), binoculars
    • Umbrella
    • A couple pairs of comfortable walking shoes
    If you still have space in your suitcase, consider bringing...
    • First aid kit
    • Day trip bag (or small backpack – maybe your carry-on)
    • Travel alarm clock (if your phone doesn’t have an alarm)
    • Plug adapter
    • Extra contacts and glasses (just in case)
    • Freezer bags for waterproof storage
    • Plastic bag for dirty clothes
    I've been on ocean cruises -aren't river cruises pretty much the same thing? Not at all!

    For one, you can expect a level of intimacy and elegance that ocean liners just can't compete with - not only are there fewer passengers which guarantees a comfortable onboard atmosphere with your shipmates, but the boom in river cruises in the last decade has taken the quality, comfort, and design of the cruises to the next level.

    You shouldn't expect a lot of nightlife or onbard entertainment. Not only are the ships smaller and have fewer entertainment areas onboard, but the cruise atmosphere is quite distinct as well. Your vessel might have an evening DJ or pianist, but usually not much more.

    Smaller group size means faster embarking and disembarking at each site and shorter lines. 

    Nightly briefings will give you a peek at the next day's activities and some interesting info about what you will see and experience.
    How to choose your cabin
    There aren't a lot of options like you might find on a bigger ocean liner, so choosing a good cabin might be a bit easier. The trick is to think about the least noisy areas of the boat. Try to avoid these places when booking your cabin:
    • Anywhere near a lounge, restaurant, bar, elevators, or stairs
    • Cabins above the engine room
    If you want a very upscale room, consider the suites. Just beware that you will pay a premium for these rooms.
    What is "rafting"? 
    If you've been reading about river cruising, you may have come across the word "rafting", but what on earth does it mean? 

    When certain smaller ports receive more vessels than there are docks, the vessels will line up next to each other and "raft." 

    Passengers will then cross other ships to board and de-board. Don't worry - this is normal and you shouldn't feel uncomfortable. Just make sure to glance out your window to make sure there aren't any ships beside you before throwing open the curtains in the morning in your birthday suit!
    Are river cruises good for honeymoons?
    River cruises can be an excellent honeymoon option for certain couples, as long as you keep a few key things in mind:
    • The crowd tends to be a bit older
    • The itinerary is more fixed with daily activities and tours
    • Relaxing and alone time are hard to come by, as you will likely dine with others and be on the move.
    • Staying in your cabin might mean missing tours.
    Can I smoke onboard?

    Most (if not all) river cruise vessels ban smoking anywhere inside the boat, including your cabin. 

    Many vessels allow you to smoke in designated areas of the sun deck. 

    Note that there are also smoking restrictions in certain parts of towns and visitor sites. 

    How to Choose a Riverboat on the Danube

    We have hand-selected the most comfortable riverboats that explore the Danube. The average capacity of a riverboat is 160 passengers, with some smaller vessels having an occupancy as low as 100 and some that are around 200 passengers. Every boat features multiple social areas, exquisite food, and friendly crews & guides.

    Bigger riverboats might have more common areas onboard, so if having a pool, dance floor, or exercise room is important, then shy away from the smaller boats. The biggest factor in choosing your boat is the itinerary - each boat sails certain routes, so knowing which cruise you'd like to take will make your boat choice much easier.

    Contact us if you need guidance in selecting the best boat for you. 

    What is it like aboard a riverboat on the Danube?

    On the outside, you'll notice that riverboats strike a contrast with traditional ocean-going cruise ships. Most notably, they are very long, frequently over 100 meters (300 feet), and low having only two or three decks in order to fit under low bridges.

    While not particularly spacious, riverboat cabins are comfortable. All of our featured riverboats offer luxury or first-class accommodations, and most have a big lounge, an open-air sundeck, a restaurant/ dining room area, and some even have pools and hot tubs.

    Days will be spent visiting ports of call, exploring quaint villages and castles, bicycling, wine tasting or cruising along the scenic Danube. Evenings may include concerts and waltzes on the boat and in major cities like Vienna. Most nights are spent in transit to the next spectacular port.

    Danube River Cruise FAQs

    Why should I choose a river cruise?
    If you choose to take a Danube River cruise, you will have an all-access pass to some of the greatest destinations in central and eastern Europe, including all tours, meals, lodging, and transportation on a comfortable river vessel. They take advantage of the down time to make the long journeys, like during meal times or at night. Each day when you wake up, you'll be in a brand new destination, without ever having to pack & unpack your bags. 

    What should I look for on a riverboat?
    Due to space constrictions of Danube riverboats, riverboats generally don't have a lot of amenities like multiple dining areas or casinos, but you can expect to have a spacious sun deck from which to view the amazing sites of central & eastern Europe, a large dining room & bar where you can enjoy the gourmet cuisine, and a pool, spa, or fitness center on the finer vessels. The cabins range from comfortable to luxurious, and you will find that the captain and crew are very friendly and welcoming. 

    Are there 5-star riverboats in Europe?
    Whereas seafaring ships have the luxury of spacious deckplans, riverboats on the Danube follow a stricter design with three to four long decks, one dining room, lounge, and bar, and a sun deck on the top level. Because their space is limited and they feature necessarily fewer social areas and amenities, they aren't considered five star vessels. However, this is a quickly advancing business in Europe, so it's likely that within the next few years there will be five-star river vessels, as we already feature a fair number of vessels that are truly luxurious. 

    Should I get a room with a balcony?
    The Danube River can be appreciated in its full beauty from the panoramic sundeck, so balconies don't generally improve the overall experience that much – they will cost hundreds of dollars more and could cost you valuable floor space in cabins that are already smaller than typical cabins on larger ships. A room with a floor to ceiling window or a window that opens can be almost as good on a riverboat. 

    What is dining like?
    All of our featured boats will treat you to some of the finest local delicacies and comfort food, all in the decadent dining rooms/ bars of the vessels. Excellent chefs guarantee a wonderful menu. Ask about our wine themed cruises down the Danube for insight into the top regions, varieties and unique viniculture on the steep river banks. 

    Do river cruises ever visit destinations that aren't on the river?
    Yes, on most trips. While many of the Danube visitor sites are right on the shores of the river, there are also a fair number that are a bit more isolated. To get to these destinations, you will just take a bus from the river vessel, but this is included in the price. Some cruises may offer optional excursions that have an additional cost.

    Will my riverboat have WiFi?
    Most but not all Danube River boats have WiFi. Most boats have free WiFi, others charge, and some have reception only on deck and not in the rooms. It's important to check with your Adventure Life representative to confirm that your river boat of choice has WiFi.

    What kind of power outlets are there? Will I need a converter?
    All of Europe uses 220v power, different from 110v power in North America, but fortunately most devices can handle both voltages so you probably won't need a 220v to 110v power converter. You will need plug adapters to convert the two flat prong American style plugs to the two round prong European style.

    How can I save money on a river cruise?
    Save thousands of dollars on your cruise by checking out the latest promotions for your destination on our Danube River Cruise Deals page or by letting one of our travel experts help you find the best deals. Don't look to save money by getting cheaper rooms since the lower class cabins are sometimes less comfortable or simply have less space.

    Are Danube river cruises a good family vacation?
    The Danube river is a wonderful destination for families of all ages, but the best cruises for families with children or teens are the active cruises that offer biking and walking tours. Check out our family travel article for more information.

    Do Americans and Canadians need a passport and visa to travel to the Danube?
    All citizens of North America traveling to Europe need a passport that is valid for at least 6 months. In recent years, it has not been necessary to apply for a visa before traveling to Europe if you plan to stay less than three months, however, this situation may change in the future. See current European visa requirements.

    How to choose a Danube River cruise

    Where to Go?
    The Danube River flows from the heart of Germany throughout some of the most historic regions of eastern Europe, including Austria, Slovakia, Hungary, Serbia, Romania, and Bulgaria. Since most of our cruises visit the popular destinations throughout central Europe, the majority of the Danube River cruises only go as far as Slovakia & Hungary. You will likely visit towns like Budapest, Bratislava, Vienna, Melk, Passau, Nuremburg, and other German towns. If your cruise connects to the Main or Rhine Rivers, you might also make your way all the way to Amsterdam in the Netherlands.

    How Long?
    Danube River cruises average 8 days, which most travelers find to be the perfect length. There are longer Danube River cruises that range in length from 11-15 days. On these trips, you will likely navigate a large portion of the Danube, from the Netherlands through Germany, and into the eastern European countries of Austria, Hungary, and Slovakia. Shorter itineraries tend to stay in one or two countries.

    On which riverboat?
    The vessels we have hand-selected for the Danube River cruises were specifically designed to explore Eastern and Central Europe. Their length, comfort, and style reflect classic riverboat design. All of the vessels feature a panoramic sun deck, a lounge and bar, elegant dining rooms, and comfortable air-conditioned rooms. Several of the Danube River boats, including the Amastella, Amaserena, Amasonata, and Amacerto, have an onboard pool. Others feature massage spas and salons. Contact us if you need guidance in selecting the best boat for you.

    What is there to do and see?
    Danube River tours offer all kinds of activities for travelers of all interests. Wine tasting tours are very popular, visiting local vineyards and sampling the regional vintages and unique local cuisine. Hiking and biking in the rolling hills and verdant valleys are active ways to explore the Danube region. And urban exploration and historic tours of the ancient city centers and architecture fill out any central/ eastern Europe itinerary. If you travel during the Christmas season, you will see and experience the treasured Danube River Christmas Markets, which bring centuries of tradition and craftsmanship to life in vibrant artisan markets.

    Cruising the Danube River with Adventure Life

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    How many days do you need to cruise the Danube?

    How many days should I cruise on the Danube?
    Danube River cruise itineraries range from 6 to 20 days in length, and the most popular itineraries are 7 or 8-days.
    A few 6-day cruises sail between Passau and Budapest, and there are dozens of week-long cruises will give you a good sampling of the culture and highlights of the Danube.
    The longer itineraries of two weeks or more usually explore Germany, Austria, and Hungary, with most venturing further down river to Slovakia, Serbia, Bulgaria, and Romania.

    20-day trips either include extensions to Prague or combine the Rhine River with the Danube in the Ultimate River Cruise

    Off the Beaten Path on the Danube: Bulgaria

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