Q – I have read as much as I can about river cruising, although this site has so much more info than anyplace else I’ve looked. Our concern about river cruising is that with all of the new boats being launched and the popularity of the this kind of vacation, we wonder if we would constantly be bumping into other boats as we sail the route. Our ideal scenario is something tranquil where we can get off the boat and walk along beside it as it moves slowly downstream? Are we dreaming?
A – There is a severe shortage of berths along Europe’s most popular river river routes so tying up next to other boats and having to walk across them to get to you boat is not at all uncommon. But you would find that the cruising portion of your trip is filled with wonderful scenery and just a little bit of passing traffic. If you cruise portions of the Rhine, you will find a bit more commercial boat traffic, a feature most river boat guests find adds another dimension to their experience. To put it all in perspective, there are approximately seventy river boats currently plying the Danube between Vienna and Budapest.
You have used the word tranquil and we really don’t think that you would be totally satisfied with the pace of a European river cruise. We would urge you to look carefully at French Hotel Barging in the southern portions of France. The pace is ideal for what you want, the food is better than anything you will encounter on a riverboat, and there are walking paths along the canals that would allow you to walk to your heart’s content while easily keeping up as the boat glides along. Most barging experiences are six nights and most of the boats do not meet our standards in terms of space and overall quality. Think extremely small cabins, most with twin beds, and a tiny bathroom. If you can handle that, barging might be best for you. The ideal scenario would be to find two other couples who would join you so you could charter one of the top-quality three-bedroom barges with lovely accommodations and facilities.