In response to Coop's request, I would like to share how we have toured Europe in the last three years, which has been by river cruises, with wonderful and totally rewarding experiences. Many of the photos, including the beautiful one to the left, are links to full size images. Be sure to click on them.
The rivers of Europe are incredible, and a story within themselves. For centuries the rivers have been a reflection of Europe's history and destiny. From 3000 B.C. navigators from Crete sailed up the River Rhone to Arles. The Danube continues to be the chief route for commerce in central Europe, with over 3500 ships passing yearly through the delta. Today, these rivers host a major tourist industry- river cruises. The rivers most navigated are the Rhine, Moselle, Main, Danube, Rhone, Saone, Seine and Rio Douro. Click for a river map. There are locks on all these rivers, controlling the rivers' flow. By example the River Rhone has 12 locks with a maximum height of lift of 75 feet at Caderousse.
During our latest cruise, crew members' European river cruise fleet size estimates
ranged from 250 to 300 ships (all languages). One cruise group we deal with
is Uniworld. This last year they had 8 dedicated ships, 21 itineraries, and
will accommodate over 16,000 passengers.
Their newest ship is the River Royale, with a typical length of 360 ft., a width of 37.5 ft., a draft of 4 ft. and max. passengers of 132. Here is the layout, showing all four decks. Each journey has an itinerary, and here is the one for our recent journey down the Danube. A welcome letter identifies the crew and each function. The cruises range from one week to four weeks, with the longest from Amsterdam, on the North Sea, to Silistra, Bulgaria, on the Black Sea. Most tours offer extended options at the beginning and at the end of the tour. The costs appear reasonable, considering what is included. As example, our recent Danube journey was approximately $ 9,000 for both of us, ( reference features and highlights) and included a cabin upgrade and the travel protection/ insurance plan
Each journey has a tour manager/ host/ director. Hildegard, in front of the Notre Dame Cathedral, was our leader for our France trip. We all totally learned to love and to totally respect her, and we stay in contact. Each destination also has a local tour guide. Our guide at Prague, along with two of our traveling companions from Ontario Canada, was a retired physics/ math teacher and down hill skier, totally well informed and fun to be with as we walked thru Old Town.
We found the on board chefs and culinary staffs were 4 star. These menus are typical examples. Further, the sampling of the local wines and beers has allowed us to select new brews back in Seattle, like Weihenstephaner-Hefe Weissbier, a Bavarian beer from the world's oldest brewery.
Suggested cruise organizations-
Grand Circle Travel
Peter Deilmann Cruises
Viking River Cruises
Vantage Deluxe World Travel
The following series of pictures tell their own stories-
Finally, during these river cruise travels in Europe, we were fortunate to come upon a statue of Charles B. in Bratislava, Slovakia, and a statue of Capt. Linville in Speyer, Germany.
Thank you for allowing me to share.
Editor's note. Alan brings home one-liners
from his travels, which you can skip here.