Q – Thank you for all of this truly helpful information. We are going to take one of your suggestions to do a European “sampler” 14-Day cruise that includes sailing on the Danube, the Main, the Rhine between Budapest and Amsterdam. It sounds like a great way to experience the best of European river cruising. Each of the major lines seems to offer this itinerary and, with the help of our agent, we’ve narrowed it down to Uniworld or AMA.
We think we’ve got most everything figured out since we’ve been so well educated on this site. But we are not certain if we ought to be locked in to sailing downstream from Amsterdam to Budapest. As it happens, the date that matches perfectly with our schedule is the reverse direction.
A – You have uncovered an itinerary that is a bit counterintuitive. The prevailing opinion is that you are traveling straight downstream when you begin in the north in Amsterdam. In fact, you are not. This itinerary is actually a combination of upstream and downstream currents produced by the various waterways and their tributaries. The Danube portion through Austria, Slovakia, and Hungary is southbound if you begin in Amsterdam. But if you sail out of Budapest the first half of your journey will be upstream but, as you head north into the Rhine, you will be going downstream. For this reason, we think you should feel comfortable doing the Grand European itinerary between Amsterdam and Budapest in either direction.