Q –  We have sailed with Silversea to four continents and now want to try River cruising in Europe. But we must admit to several levels of confusion regarding the “personality of each river. My husband is 63 and has been retired for almost 20 years. I am also in my sixties and currently work as a technology instructor at a local college. We live just outside of Seattle, and we would look forward to traveling with some Trumpies as long as they don’t wear their red hats into the dining room. Our intention would be to pass on most shore excursions and go on long walks by ourselves. One of the things we are most looking forward to is the ability to relax and enjoy watching life on the river. We would likely select the highest level stateroom so we can have our privacy and not have to go up on the top observation deck with everyone else. Any of your wonderful advice would be appreciated. 

A –  It seems to us that you are assuming more cruise time on the river than is typical of many itineraries. The river cruise ships are typically tied up all day and night with just a few hours of cruising. So look at times in port carefully. The Rhine is the busier of the waterways. It is wider and has all sorts of traffic on the river and some industrialization. For river “watchers” it can be the most exciting. You will pass many vineyards on the Duoro River in Portugal.  The shoreline is more serene and less trafficked. The rivers in France tend to be narrower and pass idyllic villages and towns. But you won’t find castles up on the hill. You will, however, see barges traversing the river. The Danube runs through some of Europe’s greatest cities and is relatively quiet and narrow.

You might want to look at one of the two owners suites on the aft end of the Scenic boats. Their positioning allows you to view both sides of the river. Crystal has the best suites on Europe’s rivers. We would urge you to be open to the idea of sitting up on the top observation deck with 360 degree views. The upper deck is often not crowded. 

Do check itinerary times carefully to be certain you have the time to enjoy sailing along whichever river you choose.There is our advice and all we ask in return is some advice from you about how your husband was able to return at age 43. Are you in the Witness Protection Program? Did your husband hang out with Bill Gates in his garage back in the day?