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Rhine River Cruises & River Ships

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Nearly all Rhine River cruises wind their way through the German heartland, and France, though it is recommended to cruise the full length of the Rhine from between its headwaters in Switzerland all the way to Amsterdam.  Float by castles nestled in famed vineyards, ride bicycles along charming river paths, and explore the cultures and architecture of Strasbourg and Cologne, whose cathedral highlights the Gothic architecture of Europe's medieval period. Many cruises either start or end in Amsterdam and explore KoblenzCologne, Mainz, Rudesheim, Strasbourg, Basel, and the castle-lined Rhine Gorge. Some cruises connect with the relaxing Moselle River, while some even sail down the Main River, later connecting with the Danube to explore eastern Europe. Contact us to start planning your dream European river cruise on the Rhine.
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10 Best Rhine River Cruises for 2023-2024

All Rhine River Cruises

10 Best Luxury Cruises on the Rhine River for 2023-2024

Trip NameFromDaysNext DepartureSummary
Rhine & Moselle Fairytales - Cruise Only$529912May 9, 2023Board the MS Amaprima for an 11-night cruise from Amsterdam to Zurich. Enjoy an extensive lineup of included tours and in many cases, choose between …
Rhine Holiday Markets$32998Nov 25, 2023Switzerland, France and Germany provide the perfect backdrop for this true connoisseur’s Christmas market cruise. Embark the S.S. Antoinette from …
Castles along the Rhine$29998Apr 1, 2023Cruise the Rhine between France and Germany on this 8-day cruise aboard S.S. Antoinette. Alsace's mixed French-German ancestry gives it great …
The Enchanting Rhine - From Basel to Amsterdam$32998May 11, 2023Experience 8 days full of discovery and wonder on this complete cruise along the enchanting Rhine, one of Europe´s most fascinating rivers. Enjoy …
Castles along the Rhine$33998Apr 23, 2023Cruise along the Rhine - Germany on one side, France on the other. Discover Alsace, whose dual French and German heritage has given it fabulous food …
Rhine Christmas Markets$44458Dec 13, 2023Admire festive decorations and twinkling lights along streets and squares, and even the Scenic Crystal will be decked out in all its Christmas …
Jewels of the Rhine$34458May 13, 2023Emerald Dawn hosts this exciting 8-day Rhine River cruise from Zurich to Amsterdam. Biking, hiking, and urban exploration tours highlight this …
Jewels of the Rhine$34458May 13, 2023Level up your vacation with this 8-day getaway with Emerald Dawn. Cruise from Basel, Switzerland to Amsterdam in the Netherlands.
Jewels of the Rhine$32958Jun 18, 2023Discover the Rhine region's architecture, history, and natural beauty on this delightful cruise from Amsterdam to Basel, Switzerland. Explore the …
Tulips & the Rhine$36958Apr 17, 2023Discover the architecture, history, and natural beauty of the Rhine region on this delightful cruise from Zurich, Switzerland to Amsterdam. Admire …

Best 4 Rhine - Main - Danube River Cruises for 2023-2024

Trip NameFromDaysNext DepartureSummary
Splendors of Europe$619515Jun 4, 2023Embark on an unforgettable journey along the famous Danube River and experience traditional Hungarian folklore. Over the next fourteen days, cruise …
Jewels of Europe$839515Jul 19, 2023On this 15-day European river cruise along the Rhine, Main, and Danube rivers, meander past forested slopes, picturesque vineyards, and enchanting …
Grand European Tour$399915Apr 1, 2023Join this 15-day Grand European Tour from Budapest to Amsterdam. Explore the beauty, nature, and architecture of Netherlands, Germany, Austria, and …
Enchanted Europe$895416Sep 4, 2023Embark on Avalon Visionary and sail through Main, Rhine and Danube Rivers visiting Europe’s most beautiful views in Basel, Strasbourg, Frankfurt, …
Top Rhine Riverboats

Our 12 Favorite Rhine Riverboats for 2023-2024

6 Best Rhine River Cruise Deals for 2023-2024

Trip NameSaveFromDaysNext DepartureSummary
Rhine HighlightsSavings$47458Jul 31, 2023From Amsterdam to Basel, journey along the Rhine in all-inclusive luxury. Witness Amsterdam's famous canals, explore castles along the river, wander …
Rhine HighlightsSavings$47458Jun 21, 2023From Amsterdam to Basel, journey along the Rhine in all-inclusive luxury. Explore Amsterdam's famous canals, relax in the spa town of Baden-Baden, …
Rhine HighlightsSavings$45458Apr 10, 2023From Amsterdam to Basel, journey along the Rhine in all-inclusive luxury. Witness Amsterdam's famous canals to enjoying a sublime classical concert. …
Rhine HighlightsSavings$45458Apr 17, 2023Journey along the Rhine in all-inclusive luxury aboard Scenic Crystal. Visit delightful towns and cities along the Rhine river valley, such as …
Rhine Christmas MarketsSavings$44458Dec 13, 2023Admire festive decorations and twinkling lights along streets and squares, and even the Scenic Crystal will be decked out in all its Christmas …
Jewels of EuropeSavings$839515Jul 19, 2023On this 15-day European river cruise along the Rhine, Main, and Danube rivers, meander past forested slopes, picturesque vineyards, and enchanting …
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Rhine River Cruise Tips & Travel Guide

When is the Best Time to do a Rhine River cruise?

The Rhine cruising season runs from March to December but most cruises are best taken between April and October. May and October are considered the best months to sail and the months with the most demand (and highest prices)

The European summer when the weather is warm and sunny and the higher temperatures allow you to get the most out of the activities like hiking, biking, and walking city tours, but crowds at tourist attractions during the summer can be a turn off. 

The Rhine River does offer a unique opportunity during the month of December: The Christmas Markets along this waterway are a sight to behold and give travelers a unique chance to witness a cultural celebration that has taken place in the region for over 700 years. 

Other than Christmas, the winter months should generally be avoided unless you are hoping to ski in the Swiss Alps. Few if any cruises depart in the months of January and February when Europe's temperatures can be downright cold.
Major Routes of Rhine River Cruises

Between Amsterdam and Basel, Switzerland 

Over about 8 days, navigate nearly the entirety of the Rhine from Basel Switzerland, starting below the river's headwaters in the Swiss Alps through Germany, France and reaching the Atlantic Ocean at Amsterdam, Netherlands.

Between Cologne and Strasbourg
On 5 or 6 day cruises we explore the Romanesque, Gothic and Baroque cathedrals of Mainz, Worms, Speyer, Koblenz, Heidelberg, Mannheim and more.

Rhine - Main - Danube River Cruises
The Main River connects the Rhine with the mighty Danube, creating an amazing two week plus adventure through a diverse set of countries, cultures and 
What to Expect on a Rhine River Cruise (Castles galore!)

River cruises are a unique experience for even seasoned travelers.

A cruise on the Rhine River allows you to explore central European cities from Germany, Switzerland, and France all the way down to the Netherlands. If you like beer, wine, pretzels, and sausage, then this is the European river cruise for you!

Aboard your river boat, you will find that the first-class accommodations, while not huge, are ample for comfort and feature central air conditioning and heat, standard 220v electricity, and social spaces like lounges, dining areas, and a sun deck from which you can enjoy the scenery as you cruise along.

We are also confident in the friendliness of the crew and expertise of the local guides on each of these journeys. River cruises along the Rhine are a distinct way to witness and experience first-hand the culture and traditions that this historic part of Europe has to share. 
Best Rhine River Cruises with Bicycling

On bicycle is the best way to get to know the countryside, villages or urban riverside bikepaths taking in panoramic views of the rolling hills and valleys of the Rhine. Most of our cruises include optional gentle rides that complement your cruise. . 

Ride the Enchanting Rhine
On this 8-Day Cruise aboard MS Amastella you'll leisurely pedal through vineyards lined with castles near Rüdesheim, ride Cologne's historic Stadtgarten, and the stunning Parc de l’Orangerie in Strasbourg, France.

Biking Along the Rhine 9-day cruise from Amsterdam to Basel is our ultimate cycling trip on the Rhine. This is a specialized cycling trip where riders will be pedaling 10-30 miles per day with some challenging rolling hills.
Rhine and 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
Favorite Wine Tasting Cruises on the Rhine River

The Captivating Rhine - This 14-day cruise from Amsterdam to Zurich aboard the luxurious MS Amaviola samples legendary wines from Germany and France. 

The Enchanting Rhine from Zurich to Amsterdam - Join us on this highly-praised 12-day wine-themed cruise aboard the classy MS Amasonata.

Rhine & Moselle Fairltales - the less-travelled Moselle River winds through verdant French and German vineyards where we'll stop for local tastings. 
Due to the increasing number of river cruises on the Rhine, you might come to a port where you will need to "raft".

Rafting is when ships line up next to each other because the port is not big enough to accommodate all of the ships docked there. When this happens, you may have to walk over the other ships to de-board. Don't worry - this is common and should not make you feel uncomfortable.

Do note that sometimes ships will raft overnight, so when you wake up in the morning, it's possible that your window view will be temporarily obstructed by a neighboring ship.
Solo Travelers
Don't fear the dreaded single supplement fee! If you're a seasoned solo traveler, then you've probably run into this before - essentially paying double occupancy for a single ticket. 

More and more river cruise lines are offering discounts for solo travelers, so make sure to let us know when you're planning so that we can guarantee you the best rate. 

Booking a last-minute cruise is a good way to secure a great deal too. 
Port Taxes and Fees

Don't be surprised by these additional fees! Although they are only about $150-$200 total, no one likes to be caught off guard by a port tax. 

Some cruise operators include these in their ticket price, while others leave it to you to pay. 

Just make sure to ask us whether or not these are included in your itinerary price and we will let you know. 
Choosing your Cabin
Unlike on the ocean liners which may have over 10 categories of cabins, river vessels tend to have only a handful of options. Almost all cabins will be nearly luxurious (a benefit of the boom in the industry and increased competition). 

Try to avoid cabins by noisy areas like elevators, staircases, restaurants, bars, lounges, and rooms above the engines. 

Suites don't necessarily connect - in the river cruise language, a 'suite' refers to a master cabin that offers a bit more space and in-room amenities. 
Schedule and Meals

Expect structure. River cruises tend to be fairly strict with timing and don't allow a lot of wiggle room for flexibility. The pace is relaxed, but you are expected to follow the itinerary pretty closely.

'For many travelers, that's one of the major appeals - the itinerary is set and organized, and all you have to do is show up, no need to spend hours planning.

That also means that you should arrive on time to the breakfast and lunch buffets and your sit-down dinner.

Fun Facts about the Rhine River Region
  • The name "Rhine" derives from the from a Celtic word 'Rēnos'.
  • The Rhine River watershead spreads from Belgium, Luxembourg, and even Italy.
  • The origin of the Rhine is high in the Swiss Alps.
  • The Rhine is a hotbed for UNESCO World Heritage Sites, as featured in many of our cruises.
  • The Christmas Markets are a unique tradition in towns along the Rhine River.
  • Depending on what country you are in, you might see this river called "Rhein" or even "Rijn" based on various translations.
  • It is considered one of the most important trade routes in Europe.
Motion Sickness

You'll find that there isn't a lot of rocking on the Rhine River vessels. The river is fairly tranquil, and you aren't being affected by waves or tides like you might on small ship cruises in open water. 

If you do get seasick easily, don't let that deter you from a river cruises. Dramamine or motion sickness wrist bands are usually plenty to combat the minimal swaying you might detect on a river cruise. 
Why should we book with Adventure Life?

The bottom line: Booking with us secures you the best access to exclusive deals and excellent service. 

Sure, you can plan your trip independently, but since we work with the cruise operators directly, they tell us when they have discounts that we can share with you. 

And of course, it's always helpful to have someone to call if you have any doubts, and we are always happy to answer your questions.
If you are a smoker, please note that most ships restrict smoking to designated areas of the sun deck (if they allow it at all). Make sure to check with us before booking to be sure. 

Smoking indoors, including in your cabin, is forbidden.

You might also encounter certain smoking restrictions at various visitor sites and in certain parts of town. 

Leaving gratuities for service staff is always discretionary - no one will know if you do or do not and how much you leave is up to you. However, you should note that tips are an expected and appreciated custom on Rhine River cruises, so here are a few courtesy guidelines to help inform your decision:
  • $20 per guest per day of the cruise can be left for the crew and ship staff, either in cash or on your card at the end of the trip.
  • Tour guides appreciate a $3-$5 tip depending on how long their tour is.
  • Tip bus drivers around $1 per ride per passenger. 
  • For a 7-day cruise for two people, budget around $400 for gratuities. 
Ocean Cruises vs. River Cruises
If you've never been on a river cruise, don't assume that they are the same as ocean cruises! Think of Rhine River cruises more like bus tours on a boat than ocean cruises. 

Key differences include:
  • Smaller vessels - to navigate the rivers, locks, and bridges, the vessels are physically much smaller than the giants that roam the oceans. This means there are fewer dining options, amenities, and entertainment onboard.
  • More intimate atmosphere - along with the small size, you will get to know your ship-mates and enjoy much faster boarding and de-boarding, plus shorter lines at sites.
  • Rooms are smaller but generally more elegant and comfortable, often including a balcony (or at least a French balcony- floor to ceiling window).
  • All-inclusive price (other than cocktails and gratuities) - from transportation to meals and most beverages to shore excursions, what you pay covers pretty much everything, no nickel-and-diming you along the way.
A Rhine River cruise can be a fun way to see central Europe on a honeymoon, but when you're planning your romantic getaway, consider that:
  • River cruises generally attract an older crowd
  • There is not a lot of flexibility for DIY exploration
  • Activities are more relaxed active than adventure
  • Alone time may be limited to when you are in your cabin since dining is generally an experience shared with the other passengers
While some river cruise vessels do have wheelchair ramps, people with physical disabilities tend to find river cruises very difficult for several reasons:
  • Getting off the ship often requires walking down a gangway.
  • Some parts of the ship (even those with elevators) might not be wheel chair accessible
  • Tours are walking-heavy, and many of the old towns in Europe have difficult walking surfaces like cobblestone streets 
Best Rhine River Cruise Lines for 2023-2024

AmaWaterways - Consistently celebrated for exceptional cuisine, fine wines, luxury accommodations, and excellent activity-focused trips with bicycling and wine tasting Ama is perhaps the premier cruise line sailing the Rhine. 

Scenic - Their 'Space-Ships' feature some of the largest and most stylish suites on the Rhine river with a wealth of luxury amenities like five restaurants, a wellness area, complimentary WiFi, electric bikes, and a spacious sun deck. You'll share the ship with Australians, Brits, South Africans and North Americans.

CroisiEurope - An excellent choice for the budget-conscient and those who wish to have a more authentic European experience being surrounded by Europeans onboard. The French cruise line caters to French, English, and Spanish speakers.

Avalon - Features larger than normal rooms with a floor-to-ceiling window wall with sliding glass doors that that open turning the room into a balcony. 

Viking - Perhaps the best-known European river cruise line, as they were largely the pioneers in the North American market and have invested a lot in marketing. The Viking formula works - producing world-class river cruises consistently at a good value. 

Emerald Waterways
- Catering to a somewhat younger, more active crowd than the average Rhine River cruise, Emerald is a particularly good value.

Uniworld - With luxurious and opulent design, the Uniworld river ships are consistently top-rated and they have a large following and excellent reputation. 


Rhine River Cruise FAQs

Why should I choose a river cruise?
River cruises are quickly becoming the hot new way to explore Europe, and the Rhine River is one of the main arteries through central Europe, providing access to some of the most popular attractions in the region. Once you board your riverboat, you won't have to worry about anything else – unpack your bags and settle into your room for the duration of the excursion and enjoy the various destinations and gourmet cuisine included in the price tag. Some boats even offer free bicycle rentals to explore the towns along the way. 

What should I look for on a riverboat?
Riverboats are a relatively new way to explore the Rhine River, so they haven't quite reached five star status due to space constrictions and limited amenities. However, that doesn't mean that they aren't comfortable, and some of the finer vessels are quite luxurious. You can expect to enjoy incredible views from the panoramic sun deck and get to know the other passengers in the multiple social areas, like the ample dining room and bar. You can get a room in varying styles and classes as well, and some vessels even feature spas, fitness centers, or pools.

Should I get a room with a balcony?
While the Rhine River is one of Europe's most scenic waterways, a room with a balcony isn't a necessary expense when you consider that it will likely cut into the floorspace of your cabin and you have an expansive and comfortable sundeck where you can take in the breathtaking panoramic views. If you get a balcony, you will end up paying hundreds of dollars more on the overall ticket price. Instead, book a room with floor-to-ceiling windows, windows that open, or we can help you find a vessel that features a "French balcony" (a sliding glass door that converts your whole room into a "balcony."

What is dining like?
All of your meals will be a mouthwatering mix of local and international flavors. The Rhine River is famous for its traditional central European cuisine, which you will have plenty of opportunities to sample throughout your cruise.

Do river cruises ever visit destinations that aren't on the river?
Definitely! Germany and the Rhine Valley are full of incredible sites and destinations, but they aren't all on the river's shores. To get to the more isolated destinations, your vessel will dock at a port, from which point you can take a luxury coach to the destination. The bus fare is included in your ticket price already.

Will my Rhine riverboat have WiFi?
Most but not all Rhine Riverboats have WiFi. Most, especially the newer riverboats, have free WiFi access in your room, a few 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 riverboat of choice has WiFi onboard. 

What kind of power outlets are there? Will I need a converter?
Unlike North America, which runs on 110v power, Europe uses 220v power. You probably won't need a power converter since most devices are built to handle both voltages. You will need a plug adapter for the European style plugs with two round prongs.

How can I save money on a river cruise?
If you want to save money on a Rhine River cruise, your best bet is consulting our deals page frequently to see what the latest promotions are for various destinations. Or you can tell one of our Europe travel experts where you'd like to go and we'll let you know as new deals are offered. DON'T try to save money by getting cheaper cabins, since these also offer less space and occasionally less comfort.

Are Rhine river cruises a good family vacation?
Absolutely! Rhine river cruises can be an engaging way to see central Europe with your whole family. Just make sure that if beer tasting or wine tasting is a feature of the tour that all of the family is 18 or older. If you are traveling with younger children, then the more active tours are the best option. Check out our family travel article for more information.

Do Americans and Canadians need a passport and visa to travel to the Rhine River?
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 Rhine River Cruise

Where to Go?  
If you want to see all that central Europe has to offer, then a Rhine River cruise is the best way to do so. As the main artery from Switzerland, through Germany, France, Belgium, and the Netherlands, it offers travelers a scenic journey through some of Europe's most enticing cultural & historic capitals. If you choose a longer cruise that joins the Danube River, then you will also visit eastern European gems like Hungary, Austria, and Romania.
How Long?
While we do offer cruises as short as 4- or 5-days, the most popular itineraries are 7 or 8 days. If you do choose a 4-day itinerary, you will likely visit just one or two destinations on the cruise before departing; these are great extensions to other trips through Europe, but generally don't stand alone as a great value or opportunity to really see & experience Europe. Week-long cruises, on the other hand, are an excellent balance of exploration, adventure, and destinations. Each cruise visits a new destination every day or two, meaning that within a week, you could travel from Amsterdam all the way to the heart of Germany. Our ultimate cruises range from 14- to 20-days and offer a comprehensive way to visit all of the major destinations in the Rhine Valley and perhaps even some stops along the beautiful blue Danube.

On which riverboat?
With close to 30 classic longboats to choose from, the choice might seem overwhelming. Fortunately, most of these vessels offer the same basic amenities and atmosphere - each one has a panoramic sun deck, multiple social lounges, elegant dining areas, and friendly crews. The more luxurious vessels also might feature a pool, spa, gift shop, and fitness room. Since most boats have fixed itineraries, the easiest way to choose a vessel is to decide which cruise best suits your interest and then choose from the few vessels that offer that itinerary. Contact us if you need guidance in selecting the best boat for you. 

What is there to do and see?
The Rhine River cruises are among the most active cruises we feature in Europe, with many diverse and engaging options for you to experience this culturally rich part of the continent. You will have opportunities to visit castles, palaces, and cathedrals that reflect the high points of Baroque, Renaissance, and classical architecture; explore the Roman ruins and archaeological sites dating back thousands of years; taste some of the region's finest wines; stop by quaint local villages; try the beer and pretzels that have made Germany famous; bike and hike through the picturesque mountains and storybook forests; and marvel at the seamless blend of the ancient and modern edifices of the major cities. A December tour will even acquaint you with the unique traditional Christmas markets of central Europe.
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