European River Cruises

Danube River cruises

Scenic Jasper cruising the Danube. © 2015 Ralph Grizzle

Danube River cruises are among our favorites. The Danube, in fact, is our number one choice for people new to river cruising. You’ll find itineraries that sail between Passau, Germany and the Black Sea and packages that range in length from 5 to 23 days.

What We Like About European River Cruises

Cesky Krumlov

An excursion on Danube River cruises, Cesky Krumlov. © 2015 Ralph Grizzle

About the Danube River

Flowing through Central and Eastern Europe, the Danube is the second longest river in Europe. It spans for 1,777 miles from Germany to Ukraine. On a Danube river cruise, you’ll typically travel between Germany and Hungary, although some Danube river cruises sail all the way to the Black Sea.

The Danube River is connected to the Main River via the Main-Danube Canal. Some itineraries include Nuremberg, which is located on the Main-Danube Canal and the Pegnitz River.

Danube River Cruises

The most common itinerary for a cruise on the Danube River is between Passau, Germany and Budapest, Hungary. Prague is often listed as a starting or ending point of a cruise; however, Prague is not located on the Danube River. It’s about 140 miles north of Passau and about 190 northeast of Nuremberg.

Danube River cruises are often combined with other waterways, such as the Main-Danube Canal, the Main River, the Rhine River and sometimes the Moselle and the Dutch and Belgian Waterways.

Cycling through Wachau Valley

Cycling through charming towns in the Wachau Valley on Danube River Cruises. © 2015 Ralph Grizzle

The Wauchau Valley is located in Austria between Melk and Krems. It’s one of the most beautiful stretches of the river.  A few cities in Austria that are often featured are Linz, Melk, Durstein, Vienna and sometimes Salzburg, as an excursion.

Other prominent cities often visited on a Danube River cruise include:

  • Passau, Germany
  • Bratislava, Slovakia
  • Belgrade, Serbia
  • Vidin and Belogradchik, Bulgaria
  • Bucharest, Romania

If you travel to Bucharest, you will cruise through the Iron Gates, which is a river gorge that forms a border between Serbia and Romania.

Also see How Do Danube River Cruises Prices Compare? and Rhine, Main & Danube River Stateroom Size Comparisons.

Companies Offering Danube River Cruises

This information is intended to give you an overview and a general idea of what different European river cruise companies offer. With regard to itineraries – they change from year to year and sometimes within a year. The number of itineraries listed for some of the companies does not include reverse itineraries. For example, a reverse river cruise from Passau to Budapest would be Budapest to Passau.

Most of the ships that are listed also cruise on other waterways that are connected to the Danube. You might notice a ship you’re familiar with that cruises on the Rhine River, too.

AmaWaterways

AmaWaterways offers two options for all cruise packages. You can take the cruise only, or you can choose to combine land and cruise packages. The river cruises are between Vilshofen and Budapest or Rousse, or they are between Budapest and Rousse

Most European river cruises begin or end in the German city of Vilshofen, which is located on the Danube River about 65 miles southeast of Regensburg. If your trip begins in Prague, you will be transported to Vilshofen to board your ship. If your trip ends in Prague, you will be transferred from Vilshofen to Prague.

For European river cruise itineraries that include Istanbul, your Danube River cruise will end in Rousse, Bulgaria. You will take a motor coach to Plovdiv, Bulgaria where you will begin you will fly to Istanbul for a three-day journey.

There are also cruise packages that include the Main-Danube Canal and are between Nuremberg and Budapest.

  • Packages: 8 to 23 days
    • Danube River Only:  8 to 23 days
    • Danube and Other Waterways: 8 to 21 days
  • Number of Itineraries that Include Danube River: 10
    • Danube River Ony: 4
    • Danube + Main-Danube Canal: 3
    • Danube + Main + Rhine: 2
    • Danube + Main + Moselle + Rhine: 1
  • 7 Ships on the Danube: AmaBellaAmaCertoAmaDolceAmaLyraAmaPrima, AmaSerena, AmaSonata

Interesting to Note: AmaWaterways is the only river cruise company that begins and ends cruises in Vilshofen.

A-ROSA

A-ROSA keeps it pretty simple.  You won’t see cities like Prague or Munich listed in their itineraries, which can seem confusing to travelers who are not familiar with the rivers in Europe. The two cities listed in the itinerary are where your river cruise will begin and end.

The company has cruises that travel to and from Passau, Germany. Itineraries are from Passau to Budapest, Belgrade or Bucharest. The company also has one itinerary from Bucharest to Passau.

  • Packages: 8 to 12 days
  • Number of Itineraries that Include the Danube River: 8
    • Danube River Only: 6
    • Danube and Main: 2
  • 2 Ships on the Danube: A-ROSA DonnaA-ROSA Silva

Interesting to Note: AROSA does not combine the Danube River with any other waterways on any ot its itineraries.

Avalon Waterways

Avalon Waterways features cruises between Budapest and Vienna, Bucharest and Passau and from Vienna to Passau only on the Danube River. For itineraries that include the Main-Danube Canal, there are cruises between Nuremberg and Vienna, Budapest and Bucharest.

You’ll notice the cities of Prague and Munich listed in several of the itineraries. If your Danube River cruise begins or ends in Passau, transportation by motor coach will be to or from Munich or Prague. And if your cruise begins or ends in the city of Nuremberg, you will be transferred to or from Prague by motor coach.

  • Packages: 8 to 24 days
    • Danube River Only: 8 to 14 days
    • Danube and Other Waterways: Up to 24 days
  • Number of Itineraries on the Danube River: 18
    • Danube River Only: 5
    • Danube and Main-Danube Canal: 4
    • Danube and Main: 1
    • Danube, Main and Rhine: 7
    • Danube, Main, Rhine and Moselle: 1
  • 9 Ships on the Danube: Avalon AffinityAvalon Artistry II, Avalon Expression, Avalon Illumination, Avalon Impression, Avalon LuminaryAvalon PanoramaAvalon Visionaryand Avalon Vista

Interesting to Note: Avalon Waterways is the only company that includes Munich in the package. (Other companies might offer a visit to Munich as an add-on destination.)

CroisiEurope

CroiseEurope has cruises to and from Budapest to Passau, Budapest to Belgrade and Zagreb, Budapest to Tulcea, Vienna to Budapest and Linz to Budapest.

For cruises that travel to Constanta, Romania, the river cruise ends in Tulcea where you will be transferred to Constanta by motor coach.

  • Packages: 5 to 12 days
  • Number of Itineraries on the Danube: 18
    • Danube River Only: 13
    • Danube, Main and Rhine: 4
    • Danube and Tisza: 1
  • 6 Ships on the Danube: MS La Boheme, MS Vivaldi, MS L’Europe, MS Victor Hugo, MS Monet, MS Beethoven

Interesting to Note: CroisiEurope is the only company that departs from Linz, Austria and the only company that cruises from the Tisza River in Hungary to the Danube River near Novi Sad, Serbia.

Emerald Waterways

Emerald Waterways has one itinerary on only the Danube River. It’s from Budapest to Bucharest. The other cruises include the Main-Danube Canal and are between Nuremberg and Vienna, Budapest and Nuremberg to Bucharest.

If Prague is listed in the itinerary, you will transported between Nuremberg and Prague by motor coach.

  • Packages: 8 to 17 days
    • Danube River Only: 8 days
    • Danube and Other Waterways: Up to 17 days
  • Number of Itineraries that include the Danube River: 4
    • Danube River Only: 1
    • Danube, Main, Rhine: 3
  • Emerald Waterways does not list specific ships for each itinerary. These are the ships that sail on the Main, Danube, Rhine and Moselle Rivers – Emerald Dawn, Emerald Sky, Emerald Star & Emerald Sun.

Interesting to Note: Emerald Waterways has one one itinerary for just the Danube River. The other itineraries extend to or from the Main-Danube Canal in Nuremberg.

 Grand Circle

Grand Circle offers cruises from Budapest to Bucharest with travel to Istanbul and from Budapest to Linz with travel to Prague. There is also an itinerary that includes the Main-Danube from Nuremberg to Vienna.

  • Packages: Between 9 and 27 days
    • Danube River Only: 12 days
    • Danube and Other Waterways:  Up to 27 days
  • Number of Itinerarles that include the Danube River: 3
    • Danube River Only: 2
    • Danube, Main and Main-Danube Canal: 1
    • Danube, Main and Rhine: 2
  • 4 ships on the Danube: M/S River Adagio, M/S River Aria, M/S River Concerto, M/S River Rhapsody

Scenic Cruises

Scenic Cruises has packages that travel between Budapest and Bucharest and Vienna and Bucharest. For trips that include the Main-Danube Canal, cruise travel is between Nuremberg and Budapest.

If Prague is a featured city, you will be transported by motor coach between Nuremberg and Prague.

Tauck

Tauck offers cruises on the Danube River betweenVienna and Passau, Budapest and Passau and Budapest tand Bucharest. There is also a Christmas itinerary between Nuremberg on the Main-Danube Canal and Vienna.

For packages that include Prague, you will be transported between Passau and Prague. And if Transylvania or Targoviste in Romania are part of your itinerary, you will be transported to or from Bucharest.

  • Packages: 8 to 24 days
    • Danube River Only: 12 days
    • Danube and Other Waterways: Up to 24 days
  • Number of Itineraries that Include the Danube River: 7
    • Danube River Only: 3
    • Danube and Main-Danube Canal: 2
    • Danube, Main and Rhine: 2
  • 3 Ships on the Danube: ms Swiss Jewel, ms Savor, ms Treasures

Interesting to Note: Tauck is the only company that features Targoviste or Translyvania in the itinerary.

Uniworld

Uniworld offers cruises between Budapest and Passau and Budapest and Bucharest. The company also has itineraries that extend to the Main-Danube Canal and are between Nuremberg and Vienna and Nuremberg and Budapest.

If Prague is listed in the itinerary, transportation will be by motor coach between Nuremberg and Prague.

Viking River Cruises

Viking River Cruises offers cruises on the Danube between Budapest and Passau and Budapest and Bucharest. The company also has an itinerary from Nuremberg on the Main-Danube Canal to Budapest.

There are add-on options available. Otherwise, what you see in the itinerary is where your European river cruise will begin and end.

  • Packages: 8 to 23 days
    • Danube Only: 8 to 11 days
    • Danube and Other Waterways: Up to 23 days
  • Number of Itineraries that Include the Danube River: 5
    • Danube River Only: 3
    • Danube, Main and Rhine: 2
  • 22 Ships on the Danube: Viking Aegir, Viking Alsvin, Viking Baldur, Viking Delling, Viking Eistla, Viking Embla, Viking Freya, Viking Gullveig, Viking Idun, Viking Jarl, Viking Legend, Viking Lif, Viking Mimir, Viking Modi, Viking NjordViking OdinViking Prestige, Viking Rinda, Viking Skadi, Viking Tor, Viking Var and Viking Vidar

Interesting to Note: Viking River Cruises has fewer Danube River cruise itineraries than most suppliers; however, the company has the highest number of vessels that cruise on the Danube.

Read more Danube River Cruises.