Cruise to Rhine River

Drone ship of river ship cruising through Europe with sunset in background

Rhine River Cruises: Your guide to sailing one of Europe's iconic waterways

  • Scenic ship cruising down the Rhine river
  • APT ship cruising down the Rhine river
  • River ship cruising down the Rhine river

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Frequently asked questions

The Rhine River flows through Switzerland, Liechtenstein, Austria, Germany, France, and the Netherlands. Your Rhine River cruise will take in the natural beauty, historical sites, and cultural experiences of all these incredible places. 

In Switzerland, your journey might begin in Basel, a vibrant city known for its rich history and impressive architecture. Liechtenstein, while small in size, is fascinating to explore, with mediaeval castles, alpine landscapes and villages linked by a network of trails.  

In France, Strasbourg is a popular French destination on Rhine River cruises, and Germany has many stunning cities along the Rhine River such as Rüdesheim and Cologne. A Rhine River cruise often culminates in the Netherlands, with Amsterdam being a key stop.  

While Austria is not directly located on the Rhine River, many cruise companies offer combined land and river tours that allow you to experience the best of both worlds. These holidays often include a land tour of Austria—one of Europe's most scenic countries—and a river cruise along the romantic Rhine. In Austria, you can explore stunning cities like Vienna, known for its imperial palaces, vibrant music scene, and rich history.

The best time to cruise the Rhine River largely depends on your personal preferences and cruises operate year-round. Late April to early June and September to early October are widely considered the best times due to ideal weather conditions and manageable crowds. These shoulder seasons of spring and autumn are particularly scenic, with blooming flowers or fiery-hued foliage. If you prefer warmer temperatures, the summer months of July and August can be hot and humid, but still bearable while cruising on the river. For those who enjoy festive atmospheres, early December can be a magical time to go on a Rhine River cruise as nearly every stop has delightful Christmas markets.

As a general rule river cruising is not as family-friendly as ocean cruising and some river vessels are not safe or suitable for very small children. However, several cruise lines do welcome families on board. AmaWaterways partners with Adventures by Disney to create the best line for kids, cruising along Europe's most stunning rivers, including the Rhine. There are tailored excursions with onboard entertainment and special treats (like Mickey-shaped snacks and Disney movies) that are suitable for the whole family. Other family-friendly lines cruising the Rhine River include Uniworld, Emerald Cruises and Tauck. Some cruise lines only welcome children during European school holidays, so check before you book.

Expect a mix of international dishes and specialties from countries along the Rhine, like German sausages or French pastries. Each cruise offers a diverse culinary experience, but expect familiar favourites along with delicious dishes inspired by the regions you’re visiting. Special onboard events like wine tasting, cheese tasting, cooking classes or themed meals will allow you to experience more of the local cuisine. Shore excursions also regularly visit local wineries, food markets and restaurants.

The Euro is widely accepted in most countries along the Rhine. You’ll also find Australian and international credit cards will work in most destinations.

The classic Rhine River cruise generally lasts around eight days, with itineraries available between Basel, Switzerland, and Amsterdam, Netherlands. However, there are also more comprehensive cruises that range from 14 to 20 days, offering a more extensive exploration of the Rhine Valley. Different cruise lines will offer varying itineraries, with cruises lasting anywhere from eight to 11 days.

Yes, many cruises offer themed nights, live music, dance performances, and cultural lectures related to the regions along the Rhine. Expect onboard entertainment tailored to European culture and to the traditions of the ports you’ll visit. Many cruise lines offer a variety of cultural enrichment programs that include lectures, cooking demonstrations, language lessons, and performances by local musicians and dancers.

All countries included in a Rhine River cruise are part of the Schengen Area. Citizens from Australia, the United States, Canada, New Zealand and the UK don’t need a visa for these countries. You can travel freely within the 27 nations of the Schengen Area for a maximum stay of up to 90 days in any 180-day period.

Yes, some cruises focus on wine tasting, Christmas markets or historical events. Themed cruises offer guests an enchanting experience to delve into their interests, while watching the beautiful riverbanks of the Rhine pass by. Riviera River Cruises offers an Enchanting Rhine and Yuletide Markets River Cruise, which explores Germany's traditional Christmas markets. And Amadeus River Cruises has special-interest cruises, including golf cruises on the Rhine.

Absolutely! If you like to travel in style, luxury river cruise lines feature spacious cabins with private balconies and butler service, all-inclusive fine dining and fine wines, plus features like swimming pools and wellness retreats. Try Scenic, Uniworld, Viking, Tauck and the Avalon Waterways.

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