European Luxury River Cruises

Cruise to Festive Fun!

Goodness, it’s that time of year coming up again!

Can Christmas really be upon us so soon?

Do you join the crowds of bustling shoppers – or do you do something different?

There’s no more evocative way to experience the festive season than by a cruise that takes you to the heart of Europe’s Christmastime markets.

A river cruise is a great way to experience and enjoy the wonderful European festivities over the Christmas and new year period. Their amazing Christmas markets are something to behold!

Delight in the amazing sights and sounds of  Christmas past, wander around the beautiful Christmas stalls and soak up the traditional festive atmosphere.

Savour the delicious Christmas treats, behold the beautiful decorations and wonder in the magical twinkling lights on a crisp winter’s day!

A river cruise can take you to all these delights and allow you to observe the local traditions and customs typical of places like Germany, Austria and Alsace. All the while enjoying the fun atmosphere on board a ship decked out splendidly for the season.

 

 

 

Enjoy Christmas and the festive season in the heart of Germany aboard a deluxe 5-night Main River cruise tour. Explore enchanting winter wonderlands and traditional Christmas Markets in Miltenberg and Rothenburg. Visit the Bishop’s Residenz in Würzbur ; take an included excursion to the famed Romantic Road; and enjoy a baking demonstration in Miltenberg. In Prague, see the city’s best known treasures and stroll through the wonderful Christmas market in the Old Town.

Alsace and Germany – another wonderful combination to visit during the festive season! Savour Gemütlichkeit, Glühwein and Lebkuchen and see the amazing highlights of the towns along the Rhine with a local expert, visit the picturesque Black Forest, beautiful Strasbourg and the glorious market town of Heidelberg.

 

 There’s no better way to experience Christmas traditions – but don’t take my word for it, take a look at the video below and let it blow your festive mind away!!

 

 

Discover the Rhine Jewels on a River Cruise!

Travelling along the majestic Rhine River can be an amazing experience, and even better when sailing on a river cruise ship.

Not as big as a cruise liner but just as luxurious, a river cruise ship has that added benefit of a more relaxed, intimate experience.

In fact, just the type of surroundings you would want when exploring the vast waters of the Rhine and the magic that hits you at every turn.

 

You can begin a journey wherever you want on the Rhine but starting in Amsterdam and ending in Basel is also a good choice.

The marvelous places to discover on the way will stay with you forever!

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Amsterdam is always a good way to start any journey with its picturesque canals filled with world-class museums, theatres and cafés.

In fact Amsterdam has over 50 world-class museums – including the Rijksmuseum, Van Gogh and Stedelijk museums – wow!

From Amsterdam you can travel on to CologneGermany’s largest, oldest but most modern cities.

 

 

 

Cologne is famous for its magnificent UNESCO World Heritage listed Kölner Dom Gothic Cathedral which stands almost 160 metres high.

You can also explore its twelve Romanesque churches and the historic centre of the old city, with its colourful houses and delightful town hall.

A visit to the modern art exhibition at Ludwig Museum is also a must before a mesmerizing  journey to Koblenz. 

 

 

Koblenze is a 2,000 year old town situated at the confluence of the Rhine and Moselle rivers. 

Once there, you will find the Ehrenbreitstein Fortress which was part of the Prussian defences against the French in the 19th century, it was later used as a headquarters for the American military during WWII.

Next, you can sail through the spectacular Rhine Gorge, passing countless castles and vineyards as well as the famous Lorelei Rock – a truly mystical and magical place!

Following that, you could make your way to the wine making town of Rüdesheim, and then board the Winzerexpress mini-train to Siegfried’s Mechanical Music Instrument Museum.

Further upstream is the town of Mannheim which is located at the confluence of the Rhine and Neckar rivers. This city was a pivotal place during the invasion of Germany by the Allies in WWII, and has also long been associated with inventions in industry including the world’s first compact diesel-powered car built by Karl Benz in 1923, and the first rocket plane built by Julius Hatry in 1929 – fascinating!

Even further along you will come to the  beautiful and magical Black Forest region of Germany, steeped in wonderful fairy-tale tradition.

 

 

There, you shouldn’t miss the opportunity to visit Germany’s largest Cuckoo Clock which is a remarkable 12 feet wide, 10 feet high and 3 feet deep.

You could also try  to sample the perfect Black Forest Gateau that is abundant there!

End your amazing journey with  Basel’s beautiful riverbanks as your backdrop, and the wonderful experiences still fresh in your thoughts, something to indulge in for another day!

 

 

Delightful Danube – A Voyage of Discovery!

Have you ever wondered what it would be like to leave your old world behind and just experience an old world of times past?

A time to forget the hustle and bustle of modern life where our digital age just does not allow us the time to be free from life’s constraints!

Would you want to go on a voyage of discovery and find places that are simply reflections from a long gone age, filled with authentic architecture of past times and steeped in tradition?

To just stand on a place and soak up its past and wonder what and who has stood there before you?

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The beautiful Danube River, running from Nuremberg to Budapest, is one way of experiencing the delights of  ‘Old Europe’  where ancient Abbeys, beautiful palaces, and historic landmarks can be discovered and explored, taking you back in essence to where it all happened in ancient times.

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The famous River Danube originates in the Black Forests of Germany and flows through ten countries – Germany, Austria, Slovakia, Hungary, Croatia, Serbia, Bulgaria, Moldova, Ukraine, and Romania before reaching the Black Sea.

The scenery varies considerably along the route and includes medieval monasteries perched on hills, fairy-tale castles, many vineyards and chocolate box towns and cities. And it is the towns and cities that proivde much of the colour and excitement of the Danube – Linz, Vienna, Bratislava, Budapest, and Belgrade – indeed the Danube has more capital cities on its banks than any other river and it is often this variety of cities mixed with stunning scenery that accounts for much of its popularity.

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Go on – lose yourself in this magical world and get a taste of what it would have been like a long, long time ago!!

Relax the Riviera Way!

Ever fancied experiencing the magical charms of the Moselle and Rhine Valleys, with their majestic river bends, imposing castles and picture perfect postcard villages?

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Always wanted to see the astonishing Heidelberg and half-timbered Strasbourg, iconic cities like Cologne, the natural beauty of the Black Forest and the outstanding Swiss Alpine scenery?

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Or indulged in thoughts of the Danube River savouring the delights of Vienna, Bratislava, Salzburg, Esztergom and Budapest?

 

 

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Lovers of France may want to experience the spectacular Rhone Valley and take in its world renowned Burgundy vineyards, the enchanting wildness of the Ardèche gorges and the sun-kissed hills of Provence.

 

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On the other hand, the Seine takes you to romantic Paris through timeless impressionist countryside to medieval Rouen, historic Bayeux and the D-Day Normandy beaches.

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Germany’s Elbe river snakes through  historic Berlin, baroque Dresden and enchanting Prague.

 

 

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If Portugal takes your fancy, then there’s the dramatic Douro to explore, with Oporto and Salamanca just waiting to be discovered.

 

 

 

Amsterdam and the Dutch bulbfields combine a rich mediaeval history with world-class art and breathtaking floral displays.

 

 

 

The best way to see all the above?

Well, you can’t beat a river cruise, and more importantly, you just cannot beat a Riviera river cruise

The reason I know is that I am a travel consultant and can see for myself which cruise line is the most popular at any given time!

At the moment Riviera is leading the race and it’s not hard to see why.

 Published in June 2013, the most notable Which? Magazine voted Riviera Travel one of the UK’s finest Holiday Companies and awarded them their coveted

‘Recommended Provider’ status. Late last year, they improved their ranking in the ‘Guardian and Observer’ Travel Awards, achieving second place in the ‘Best

Large Tour Operator’ category and in the prestigious ‘Telegraph Travel Awards’ were voted their second ‘Favourite Escorted Tour Operator’ and second

‘Favourite River Cruise Operator’ – wow, like I said, takes some beating!

 

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One of Riviera’s outstanding ships!

 

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Standard cabin!

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Bar area!

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Even a gym for those wanting to keep their fitness levels up!

 So Europe is waiting and Riviera Travel can’t wait to show what all the fuss is about and provide you with the most memorable holiday you will ever experience!!

Set sail for a Danube River cruise!

The Danube  River can be found in Central and Eastern Europe and boasts  the European Union’s longest river as well as the continent’s second longest River.

It is classified as an international waterway and originates in the town of Donaueschingen (situated in the Black Forest of Germany) at the confluence of the rivers Brigach and Breg. The Danube then flows southeast  passing through four Central European capitals of Vienna, Badapest, Belgrade and Bucarest before emptying into the Black Sea via the Danube Delta in Romania and Ukraine.

A fascinating fact about the Danube River is that it was once a long-standing frontier of the Roman Empire! Unbelievably, the Danube passes through or touches the borders of ten countries which include Romania, Hungary, Serbia, Austria, Germany, Bulgaria, Slovakia, Croatia, Ukraine, and Moldova. Furthermore, its drainage basin extends into nine more countries comprising of  the Czech Republic, Slovenia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, Italy, Switzerland, Albania, Macedonia and Poland – WOW!

The best way to travel down this majestic river is on a river cruise ship.  

These ships are specially designed to navigate  great rivers such as the Danube River. They provide an amazing opportunity to access  some of the most wonderful destinations in Europe and the world. They enable you to gain insight into some of our most loved countries and experience their diverse cultures and beliefs .

Once more, you get to do all this while enjoy all the comfort and elegance of river cruising! 

Christmas Wishes on a Rivercruise

I’m so excited – just been told I’m going on a Christmas Markets River Cruise by my wonderful husband . Apparently it’s going through Alsace and Germany which I can’t think of any better place to be during the festive season to savour Gemütlichkeit, Glühwein and Lebkuchen? I can’t wait to be enthralled by the beautiful decorations adorning the magnificent buildings and the twinkling lights on the market stalls.The festive atmosphere which these Christmas Markets conjure would be one to beat on a beautiful crisp winter’s day.

We fly to Frankfurt on the 10th December (which will soon come round) and go on to board the cruise ship Avalon Vista. Apparently we are all to meet the crew at a welcoming reception so we can get to now them and vice versa.

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Avalon Vista on the Rhine River

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Royal Suite Avalon Vista

On the second day we arrive in a place called Speyer to admire the Christmas markets or enjoy an included excursion to the university city of Heidelberg where a Local Guide will show you the imposing castle ruins and the Great Vat – the world’s largest wine barrel!

The following day we should be visiting Strasbourg which has the oldest and most finest Christmas markets in Europe which date back to 1570! The City’s famous Christkindelsmärik‘ is also found around Place de la CathÈdrale and Place Broglie and  a giant Christmas tree is traditionally seen as its centrepiece.

I’m particularly looking forward to the fourth day as I believe there is an excursion to the famous Black forest which is best known for its cute cuckoo clocks, fabulous woodcarvings, Black Forest ham and the delicious Black Forest Gateaux!

Basically, I can’t wait to spend my whole time exploring the wonderful Christmas Markets whilst savouring the aromas of mulled wine and cinnamon cookies and listening to the sounds of festive Christmas songs – roll on December  10th!

Living the dream on a once in a lifetime river cruise tour.

Oh, to be young again with your whole life in front of you and the thought of middle age a good distance away. I don’t mean to sound morbid but my imminent arrival into middle age has got me thinking all kinds of whimsical thoughts regarding ‘living the dream’ or at least a little excitement to break the days up ( there I go again).

My first thought is to do a bit of travelling, maybe see some of the world and experience different cultures. However, as I’m now getting on a bit, I also want a bit of relaxation time as well. In fact I want the best of both worlds – a bit of excitement as well as a bit of a rest (not asking for much am I). Anyway, it’s now occurred to me that the type of travel I will need is something along the lines of a coach tour or cruise as I’ve heard you can both relax as well as explore on these types of trips.

Looking further into these two possibilities, I browse the internet for websites that cater for both these types of holidays and come across a very good one River Cruise Tours.co.uk that offers very attractive river cruises as opposed to your usual large cruise ships which travel the sea.

One in particular interests me as they are offering a free case of wine with every booking ha, ha. Its called the Viking Grand European Tour and travels along the Rhine, Main and Danube Rivers, visiting some of the most beautiful places to be found in Holland, Germany, Austria, Slovakia and Hungary.

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It begins in Amsterdam and ends 15 days later in Budapest. This amazing river cruise also has all-inclusive pricing which includes 13 guided tours, 14 breakfasts, 13 lunches and 14 dinners, as well as complimentary wine, beer and soft drinks with on board lunch and dinner – WOW. That’s it, I’ve convinced myself this is the once in a lifetime trip to go on – bon voyage my friends!

Romantic second honeymoon on a Viking Longship!

I remember our first wedding with a mixture of fondness and slight embarrassment as it was celebrated in 1989, the end of a rather dubious decade in regards to fashion at least. My dress was a wonderful mixture of blue polka dots on a green back ground courtesy of Laura Ashley at the time and I thought I was in the height of fashion ( but maybe not for a wedding ha ha).

Anyway, the point I’m trying to make is that I’ve decided that I want a second wedding or a ‘Blessing’ with my husband next year to celebrate 25 years of marriage ( gulp). I will also get a chance to wear something a little more stylish I hope.

Of course, there should also be a second honeymoon, and hopefully something a bit more exotic than Scarborough where we had our first but got burnt to a crisp ( but that’s another story).

I was thinking more in the lines of a cruise or river cruise which would be more relaxing and romantic, while also giving us the chance to experience other cultures. My husband’s  parents swear by them and his grandmother went on a lot of cruises in the 1960′s and couldn’t get enough of them apparently – bless her.

River cruising in the 1960′s !

Love the 1960′s fashion though !

After much searching I’ve managed to find a very good website called River Cruise Tours which caters just for what I’m looking for and is very user friendly. I’ve decided on a wonderfully named tour called the ‘VIKING Romantic Danube’ which ticks all the boxes for a very exciting second honeymoon !!

Map of the tour.

The tour starts in Budapest, travels through Austria and Germany, before ending in Nuremberg. It will also be of great interest to my husband as he has family originating from all these areas but has never visited there.

The magnificent river cruise ship we sail on is called the Viking Idun and its features are outstanding. Not only does this Viking Long-ship offer state-of-the-art engineering, design and luxury, it also has eight different types of accommodation to choose from (2 Explorer Suites, 7 Veranda Suites, 39 Veranda Staterooms, 22 French Balcony Staterooms, 25 Standard Staterooms). It also has an observation lounge and bar with floor-to-ceiling glass doors, a restaurant with floor-to-ceiling windows for panoramic views, library corner and on board boutique – the list goes on.

Veranda Stateroom (A)

I’m for one booking our places now with rivercruisetours.co.uk as I’ve heard they are snapped up very, very quickly. With that done, I can be rest assured we have the most amazing (second) honeymoon to look forward to – only the ‘Blessing’ to sort out now…….!!

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