Tel Aviv beach

Tel Aviv beach


Malcolm Ginsberg

Malcolm Ginsberg

By Malcolm Ginsberg, Editor in Chief – Business Travel News

River cruising is a completely different product to the deep sea variety and should be treated rather like a car expedition with someone else doing the driving, or a coach tour.  The real big adjustment is that you don’t change your accommodation every night and at the most, certainly in Europe, you will be joining not more than around 200 people.  Compared to the ocean-going liners the cabins are generally smaller and the catering (exclusive kosher cruises are on offer too), due to space considerations, more limited.  Wi-fi is usually free and some boats even have small swimming pools.

The atmosphere on board is very congenital with the cruise director often doubling up as the port lecturer, usually assisted by specialists at each town/city visited.  The Danube and Rhine are the most popular rivers in Europe, St Petersburg to Moscow on the Volga fascinating and other waterways include the Douro (Portugal) and Rhone (France).

The larger river cruise operators such as Emerald, Scenic and Viking have their own dedicated all year round fleets.  Others charter in a boat for the summer season and brand it in their name.  John Ward, doyen of the cruise review business, has published “River Cruising in Europe”.


APRIL 30:  Save £280 per person on a seven-day Holland & The Romantic Rhine Valley cruise from Amsterdam to Strasbourg.  The cruise, onboard the MS La Boheme, departs Amsterdam and visits Cologne, Rudesheim, Heidelberg and Mannheim.  Cruise only prices from £615 per person (previously £895 per person) for accommodation in an outside cabin with all onboard meals, complimentary beer and wine at lunch and dinner as well as open bar throughout the voyage (not including Champagne, special wines or fine brandies), entertainment, briefings and port taxes.  Travel from the UK is not included, nor airport transfers.  The ship essentially caters for French speakers.

MAY 6: Enjoy a luxury seven-night Tulip Time cruise on board the award-winning  AmaSonata, including first class rail travel and saving up to £600pp.  Embark from St Pancras to Amsterdam, via Brussels, and board the elegant five-star cruise ship, for a trip along the Dutch and Belgian waterways.  Admire the spectacular tulip carpets in Keukenhof Gardens and visit the great medieval cities of Antwerp and Ghent while sailing through the lush green countryside of Kinderdijk, home to the country’s greatest concentration of windmills.  Prices start from £1,395 per person (two sharing) including all meals on board, wine, beer or soft drinks with lunch and dinner, guided excursions, plus Standard Premier service on Eurostar, and private transfers.

MAY 19:  Cruise Portugal’s Douro has a seven-night round-trip cruise from Porto along the Douro valley for £1999pp, saving £445pp (was £2439pp).  The offer includes return UK flights, transfers, breakfast, lunch and dinner with wine, beer and soft drinks, complimentary daily excursions and free wi-fi.  Begin in Porto and continue on to the ancient and picturesque city of Lamego.  Enter Spain to visit Salamanca, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, as well as the beautiful inland countryside and the palace and gardens of Mateus.  Explore the Alpendurada Monastery before concluding your cruise in

JUNE 1:  Amsterdam – Nuremburg on Scenic Jade is up market with an irresistible selection of on-board dining venues available during the cruise including Portobellos Restaurant, the Crystal Dining Restaurant, River Café, the Riverview Terrace, and an exclusive invitation to Table La Rive for Diamond Deck, Royal and Junior Suite guests.  There is unlimited complimentary drinks for everyone and no service charges.  Prices start at £1145 and also includes a personal butler service for every guests, irrespective of cabin grade.  This cruise embraces an incredible array of spectacular experiences including a fabulous onshore dining experience in magnificent Marksburg Castle.

JULY 28: Emerald is a new, 2014, addition to the long established Scenic product, without the bells and whistles, but still of a very high quality, and well received by the cruise market travel trade.  All new ships including swimming pools that become cinemas in the evening.  “Enchantment of Eastern” is an enchanting experience, showcasing the best of what this very different area of the Continent has to offer.  Bucharest to Budapest visiting destinations rich in Ottoman, Byzantine and Tsarist history.  From £2021.