Tuesday, 29 September 2015
From Amsterdam adventures to sailing in Serbia: The top European cruises on offer for travellers in 2016
There is no more relaxing way to tour Europe than on a river cruise.
Waking up in a new place every morning, you step from your floating hotel right into the centre of a vibrant city or picturesque village.
Here are some of the best cruises for next year.
Flights of fancy: Paragliders drift towards the horizon over former Roman fort Boppard on the Rhine
Raise a glass to a new Charms Of Holland And Belgium cruise visiting Amsterdam, Antwerp and Ghent, the pretty towns of Willemstad and Middelburg and the windmills of Kinderdijk.
The first of seven departures in 2016, sailing on April 12, will have a beer expert on board to guide guests through the region’s wonderful ales and in Amsterdam you’ll visit the Heineken brewery. Fares start at £1,996pp with Avalon (avaloncruises.co.uk, 0800 668 1801).
A new mini-cruise on the Rhine from Shearings (shearings.com, 0844 209 7143) makes a great no-fly short break. Sail for three nights from Cologne, calling at Bonn, the walled town of Andernach and then Boppard, which is set in a horseshoe bend in the Rhine.
The six-day trip, departing on September 20, 2016, costs from £579pp including coach travel.
On an Iconic Danube cruise you’ll visit three capital cities – Vienna, Bratislava and Budapest – sail through the Wachau Valley and call in at Durnstein – all in a week.
You’ll also have the choice of a day trip to Salzburg, or to the Czech town of Cesky Krumlov. There’s also a private recital of works by Strauss and Mozart in Vienna’s Palais Liechtenstein.
Cesky Krumlov, which is known for its 13th-century castle, can be seen on an Iconic Danube cruise
These and more excursions are included in the price, from £2,895pp. Depart on April 11, 2016 with Scenic (0808 102 0155, scenic.co.uk)
If you’ve already explored the Danube, it is time to discover two of its less famous tributaries, the Drava and Sava rivers, on a new cruise, In the Wake Of The Ottomans, a round trip from Budapest.
As well as visiting Serbia’s capital, Belgrade, and sailing through the Iron Gates Gorge, this itinerary (saga.co.uk/rivers, 0800 300 400) will take you off the beaten river-cruise track. First call is Vukovar, Croatia’s largest river port.
The new Charms Of Holland And Belgium cruise will visit the windmills of Kinderdijk in the Netherlands
Then, in eastern Croatia’s largest city, Osijek, on the Sava, you’ll see the Hapsburg citadel.
You’ll also visit Sremska Mitrovica in Serbia, once a capital of the Roman Empire. The nine-night cruise departs on April 13, 2016, costing from £1,449pp including UK travel service, insurance, flights, and Saga escort, but not excursions.
An all-inclusive Grand Bordeaux River Cruise with APT (aptouring.co.uk/royal, 0800 046 3002) has many special excursions.
Sailing on the Gironde, Garonne and Dordogne rivers from Bordeaux, you’ll see the art of wine-barrel-making in Medoc and be led along the dark Les Cordeliers network of cellars beneath St-Emilion. Seven-night cruises depart from April to September 2016. The price is from £3,045pp, if booked by October 31.
Starting in Lyons, where the Saone meets the Rhone, a Portraits Of Southern France cruise with Viking (vikingcruises.co.uk, 0800 319 6660) heads north to Macon and the Beaujolais wine region before turning south, down the Rhone to Arles. One-week cruises sail from March to November costing from £1,395pp including flights.
Start a cruise holiday on the Rhine with a three-night stay in Cologne. The seven-night round trip cruise sails to Strasbourg, Basel, Breisach on the edge of the Black Forest, Boppard, Koblenz and Mainz. Choose from 12 departure dates in 2016 costing from £1,399pp for the ten-night trip with Imagine Cruising (imaginecruising.co.uk, 0800 840 5809).