What Is River Cruising Really Like? 15 day European Journey

Have you seen commercials or ads inviting you to explore some part of the world on a river cruise and thought to yourself, what is it "really" like? Or maybe you have 1 or more big ship experiences and wondered what the differences are. Well, I'm in both of these categories so I set out to find out and along the way I hope you will join me from wherever you are so that by the end, while you won't have been physically on this journey, you will have a much better idea for what a river cruise from A - Z really looks, feels, sounds and tastes like.

The cruise I picked was the 15 Day Magnificent Europe with Avalon Waterways, and goes from Budapest to Amsterdam travelling along the Danube and Rhine rivers. Why did I pick Avalon? There are many reasons which include their innovative Panoramic Suite Class ships that have the beds facing wall to wall windows. No wasted space on little balconies so more space in the room, large, modern bathrooms with high end products and a great reputation for their service (more on this later).

So, let’s start our journey together…


The day has finally arrived after months of planning, packing and travelling.

Embarkation begins at 4 pm and with everyone arriving at different times, they have a meeting place in a hotel so you can arrive anytime after 8 am, leave your bags, go explore the city and be back by 3:30 pm.Everyone is then transferred in fabulous busses to the ship which is not docked in the same location each time.Everyone boards together and your suitcases are placed in your room which is a very quick process.NO scanning process, or your picture taken, just a warm welcome by the crew and a welcome drink.Once everyone is on board, the check in consists of giving in your passport at reception for the night to clear customs and you are then free to go to your room – now how easy is that?With only 140 passengers the process is a breeze.

Once unpacked it’s back to the lounge area for our safety talk and to meet the Captain and staff – yes, we actually met who is running the ship and know a little about him.Also found out that the main concern on a river cruise is not drowning, it’s fire, as both rivers are shallow enough that if the ship sunk we could still stand on the top deck and be above water.

Then off to dinner – your first meal often sets the tone, and that it did! I'm happy to say it met all expectations. We already met some new friends with fellow passengers we sat with and not one of us had anything that wasn’t prepared well and delicious in our 4 course meal – and don’t forget the choice of wine that was freely given throughout the meal.The portions are not large so you don’t feel like you’ve eaten a whale by the time you leave the table.After a nice stroll on the top deck to view the beautiful city at night, then off to bed as it has been a long day.

Interesting findings and tips :

  • ·Arrive at least one day before you board the ship.You will be less stressed if your flight is delayed for any reason, plus you have a little time to deal with jet lag.
  • River cruise ships dock side by side so when in port people in the ship(s) not right next to the dock need to walk through each ship to get to theirs (there can be many ships docked together).This is a great way to have a quick view at other cruise lines.
  • Being side by side may also take away your view (well, you will have a view but not of the scenery) as if you have a ship right next to you, opening your curtains may offer your neighbour in the other ship more of a view than you want.Especially not great if you go to bed with your curtains open and wake up the next morning in port beside someone else’s room.
By Anita Jobs on 07/06/2017 in Budapest

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