We hated it! (to be over)…Our European River Cruises on the river Elbe, April 2017, was way too short for us…. we love riverboats.
Since 1984, we’ve enjoyed over 130 ocean and European river cruises departures worldwide. Our riverboat cruise experiences include over 20 voyages in Europe and Russia. Our ship experience on the new 55-cabin “Astrild” was 5 nights long plus Berlin Hilton 2-nights before and 2 nights at the Prague Corinthian afterward, both wonderful properties in downtown locations.
Fellow guests were adult couples and singles from ages the 40s to 70s with a lust for life, adventure, and discovery. Most hailed from North America and the U.K. All staff, program director on board and guides spoke excellent English.
European River Cruises Itineraries
Our river cruise on the Elbe totaled 9 nights, including the 5- night cruise and 4 nights’ hotel stay in both Berlin and Prague.
Berlin, Germany: After almost 3 decades since German unification, we compared Berlin then and now. Our first visit was 1990 during German unification weeks after the infamous Berlin Wall came down. Berlin city tours and guides were both excellent and included in the 9-night hotel/river cruise package.
First impression April 2017: East Germany ceased to exist either physically or emotionally. Berlin has combined its storied past with today’s contemporary architecture and modern city features including world-class dining, a vibrant nightlife coupled with mainstream marketing and shopping. Walking and bus tours were excellent where we re-visited the infamous Berlin Wall: Erected officially August of 1961and demolished September 11, 1989.
TIP: Bring plenty of 50 cent Euro coins for public restrooms. Your walking tours include frequent rest stops – be prepared.
TIP: Change your dollars to Euros before you arrive or at the airport. Dining was quite affordable in tow and credit cards accepted most places.
TIP: Springtime travel for a river cruise in Europe? Check the weather forecast: Plan to bring a light or heavy jacket, an umbrella or poncho in case of rain. Some days were perfect, others were cool or rainy.
Next to our Berlin Hilton Hotel is the largest chocolate shop (and chocolate ship) in Europe, Fassbender & Rausch, with huge chocolate displays. And did we mention numerous great German restaurants and beer gardens are nearby? You won’t go hungry OR thirsty….Christian, our waiter made sure of that when we dined at Maximilians around the corner from our hotel.
On our way from Berlin to Pottsdam and our ship, we passed over the local river where the Tom Hank’s spy thriller was filmed in a movie titled: “Bridge of Spies“
Wittenberg & Torgau, Germany: Famous as the residence of German Protestant reformer, Martin Luther. You’ll see his home, church, and school where he was a scholar in the early 16th century. Of course, there are lots of souvenir shops, featuring lots of nick nacks, probably “Made in China”
The river village nearby, Torgau, is the site where the U.S. Army and Russian Army met from two directions to celebrate victory over Nazi Germany in April 1945, end of WW II. The wife of Martin Luther, Katharine von Bora, was from there. Don’t miss the castle and city gate.
Observation – Speaker highlight onboard: A retired former East German teacher shared his experiences during World War II, Russian occupation, fall of the wall, reunification and contemporary Germany. He joined us on board for a sumptuous dinner, as usual, for these perfect excuses to indulge. Well you can’t let that food (or wine) go to waste, can you?
Meissen, Germany: Famous for Meissen Porcelain since the 1700s. You’ll tour the factory and town…complete with cobblestone streets. Don’t worry, coffee houses are at the end of your walk in the town square.
TIP: The walking tour is up and down, lots of steps; wear sturdy, comfortable shoes. Enjoy excellent strudel at the coffee houses on the square.
TIP: For a good cup of plain coffee in a standard cup, order “American coffee”- they’ll know what you mean. Of course, cappuccino and café latte are always options plus a taste of schnaps warms you up, too.
Dresden, Germany: Our best surprise and highlight of our riverboat cruise in Europe: Dresden – it’s literally risen from the ashes from bombing at the end of World War II and rivals Berlin for attention. The town square is stunning with many restored, one-of-a-kind 17th and 18th-century buildings, museums and churches all within walking distance from the ship. One of the highlights was a tour of famous Grünes Gewölbe (English: Green Vault) in Dresden, a unique historic museum that contains the largest collection of treasures and gold in Europe.
TIP: Consider optional, full day tour of Dresden and Elbe Valley (and wineries!) to see the area, ride the steam train, walk the city tour.
TIP: Best choice- Take a half-day walking tour. Use the afternoon enjoying culture, shopping, and sights of Dresden’s city center for yourself. For German gifts and baubles, enjoy Dresden’s “shopping mile” from the train station down the Pragerstrasse to Altmarkt Galerie, Centrum Galerie malls and city shops.
Wish: Wish the ship could have stayed overnight in Dresden.
Bad Schandau, Germany: Famous for its National Park (Nationalpark Sächsische Schwei) with one-of-a-kind impressive rock and sandstone formations in the German Elbe Sandstone Mountains. The park is widely regarded as the most spectacular national park in Germany.
TIP: Bring solid shoes as catwalks and pedestrian bridges include lots of steps.
Saxony Cruising on the Elbe: Scenic 10-mile “Saxon Switzerland” stretch is a UNESCO World Heritage site.
Decin, Czech Republic: Operational stop at the dock to take a coach to Prague.
Prague, Czech Republic: We added on the optional 2-night hotel/tour package. Prague has it all: Hradny Castle, the Charles Bridge, town square, excellent restaurants, the famous Astrological clock and a young vibe you’ll enjoy throughout the city.
TIP: Change your dollars and Euros to Czech kroner before you arrive or at the airport
TIP: Dining was quite affordable in town. Eat out and enjoy. Start your adventure at the Charles Bridge….numerous restaurants and bars serving great beer and meals are on both sides of the bridge.
Features Most Ships Use for River Cruising in Europe
A river cruise in Europe is leisurely, quality time, not only a journey, the ship IS the destination, conveniently docking in villages and towns you’ll tour. Pack and unpack only once. Ship life is casual so don’t expect Broadway shows, gambling or nightclubs…guys, no ties or suits needed!
Meeting the crew and passengers are highlights on board. Ships are 400-500 feet long with 55-95 cabins so you’ll have a chance to meet most guests.
Fox Travel Experiences
For unforgettable European river cruises, contact Fox Travel. We and our staff have sailed throughout Europe’s rivers on AMAWaterways, UNIWORLD River Cruises, Crystal, Avalon, Emerald, Viking and the French company, Croise Europe.
Most all suppliers include numerous features while on a river cruise in Europe.
- Each river cruise in Europe is typically all inclusive except gratuities and liquor packages (some riverboat cruise companies include open bar)
- Luxury cabin, many with balconies – all with river views
- All meals for breakfast, lunch and dinner plus snacks
- Beer and wine with lunch and dinner on most cruises.
- At least one or more shore excursion daily plus optional day and night time concerts or tours
European River Cruises are a luxurious, relaxing and convenient holiday with great value to enjoy the rivers, towns, and villages at a leisurely pace for most adults and perfect for families to spend quality time together.
She is also Fox Travel's Destination Wedding and Honeymoon specialist.