Cruising is usually associated with large ocean going ships, however river or canal cruising can offer both a relaxing and comfortable way to slowly travel through beautiful rural areas and cities. Whether you’re travelling on a self-skippered rental boat, a river cruiser or a hotel barge, you can appreciate the unusual aspects of a live-aboard lifestyle. In Europe, choose to go in either Spring or Autumn; although summer has obviously the best weather, the crowds, lock delays and/or prices (including flights) may deter you.
Cruises in Europe commonly take in major destinations like Venice and St Petersburg or on rivers such as the Rhine, Douro, Elbe, Danube, Rhone and the Seine. River cruise ships can be more intimate than ocean liners due to their relatively smaller size. Meals on board offer quite a gastronomic experience. Most cabins permit riverside scenery views, some from French-style or full sit-on balconies.
You could cruise along Ireland’s Rver Shannon and the scenic Erne waterways. In Holland there are many canals through scenic towns and villages, as well as in cosmopolitan Amsterdam. Penichettes are modern boats inspired by traditional French barges and were designed especially for canal cruising.
Cruising is mainly during daytime and docking in convenient locations in the afternoon can mean a night out in a different town almost every evening. You can also look forward to new scenery and experiences the next day without having to pack and unpack every day.
Modern river cruise ships usually provide wi-fi, a library, a gym and possibly even a spa. Mooring in town centres sometimes even includes shore excursions or you can explore under your own steam.
You should find out about boat driving licenses that are endorsed for European canals and cover inland waterways, before planning a self-drive trip. Also, consider the tolls and other incidental costs, such as fuel, before booking.
Posted : Wednesday, March 7th, 2012 at 11:00
As well as writing about travel, Karen Bryan offers tips on saving money, frugal living and how to live well on less, on her site Help Me To Save