St. Louis River Cruises

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Riverboats at the Gateway Arch

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Riverboats at the Gateway Arch - All You Need to Know BEFORE You Go (with Photos)

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American Queen Voyages

Lower — mississippi River Cruises

Follow the currents of the Mississippi Delta that have inspired storytellers and creators for centuries, where strains of Memphis blues and New Orleans jazz fill the air and the flavors of Southern cooking comfort the soul. Visit the hallowed grounds of Civil War battlefields in Vicksburg and the South’s largest existing historic mansion during an exclusive call to Nottoway.

New Orleans, LA

st louis river cruises

hot crawfish fiestas and

st louis river cruises

Baton Rouge, Louisiana

Baton Rouge is strikingly different from the small-town stops along your voyage. In this energetic port, history-facing museums and landmarks fraternize with forward- looking art and industry. Explore the diversity this city has to offer on one of our deluxe motorcoach tours or take a walk down the river.

st louis river cruises

Natchez, Mississippi

This charming river town, founded in 1716, is known for its elegance, Southern hospitality, and preservation of history – found on every street corner. Enjoy the unique shops, restaurants, museums, and historic homes, all of which inspired Hugh Bayless to include Natchez in his book “The 100 Best Towns in America.”

st louis river cruises

Memphis, TN

st louis river cruises

With bluegrass banjos and Memphis soul.

Lower Mississippi River

Explore Civil War battlegrounds, indulge in Southern cooking, and enjoy the sounds of New Orleans’s jazz on your once-in-a-lifetime Mississippi River cruise. Join an immersive excursion in every port tailor-made for you and return onboard the iconic paddle-wheeler to sophisticated entertainment and fine dining. Adventures through America’s heartland await.

Mississippi River Cruise FAQs

What is the best time to go on a Mississippi River cruise? The best time of the year to embark on your Mississippi cruise is in spring or fall. During these seasons, you avoid the summer heat and the winter chill and enjoy more pleasant weather as you explore every port.

Where do Mississippi River cruises start and end? Because of its vastness, the river is divided into Lower Mississippi River cruises, Upper Mississippi River cruises, and Ohio & Mississippi River cruises. When sailing the Lower Mississippi River, the adventure starts or ends in Memphis, New Orleans, or St. Louis. You can choose your ideal itinerary from our variety of voyages.

How long is a Mississippi River cruise? The cruises last from eight to nine days, but if you want to conquer more of the Mississippi River, you have the option to embark on another cruise back-to-back.

What are some of the most popular ports to visit along the Mississippi River when cruising? New Orleans, Louisiana Wander around the beautiful French Quarter neighborhood, taste Southern and Creole cooking and listen to world-renowned jazz music.

Vicksburg, Mississippi Visit the site of the Civil War battlefield, discover the heritage of historical plantations, and learn how Vicksburg’s ancestors used to live along the river.

Baton Rouge, Louisiana Explore Louisiana’s state capital and uncover its intriguing mix of cultures and cuisine. Home to numerous festivals throughout the year, Baton Rouge has much for travelers to discover.

Memphis, Tennessee Visit the city’s biggest tourist attraction – Elvis’ home. Embrace the diversity of Memphis and learn its incredible history at The National Civil Rights Museum.

St. Louis, Missouri Marvel at the iconic Gateway Arch and take in the panoramic views it offers over St. Louis and the mighty Mississippi. Sit back and relax at the Missouri Botanical Garden, where the aroma of flowers greets you with open arms.

Do Mississippi River cruises include airfare? Airfare is not included in our Mississippi River cruises. Our voyages include an all-inclusive experience with a one-night pre-cruise hotel stay, ground transfers between hotel & vessel, unlimited guided tours, regionally inspired cuisine, unlimited wines, beers, and spirits, Wi-Fi, and live daily onboard entertainment and enrichment.

What to wear on a Mississippi River cruise? During the day, river cruisers dress casually with comfort in mind. Bring items to explore the ports and pack layers just in case the weather takes a turn. At dinner, most cruisers opt for country club casual attire.

What sets American Queen Voyages apart from other cruise lines that do Mississippi River cruises? Embarking on a Mississippi River cruise with American Queen Voyages is the adventure of a lifetime with all-inclusive value. It’s a one-of-a-kind cruise on the most iconic and authentic riverboats. Each voyage includes timeless luxury, five-star hospitality, fine dining that highlights local flavors, and unforgettable experiences tailor-made for you. The intimacy of small ship cruising allows our gracious crew to provide personalized service to each guest.

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Rolling on the River: Gateway Arch Riverboat Cruises

No visit to the Gateway Arch in downtown St. Louis is complete without a riverboat tour of the Mississippi! Step back in time as you board the Becky Thatcher or Tom Sawyer and take a tranquil tour of the riverfront.

tom sawyer riverboat at the St. Louis Arch

Before interstate highways crisscrossed the nation, people did their luxury traveling by train and steamboat. St. Louis was a bustling river town in the 1800’s with hundreds of steam powered paddlewheelers docked on riverfront! There’s a cool display of what St. Louis looked like back then at the Arch’s new museum –be sure to check it out on your next visit.

gateway arch museum riverfront

Riverboat Cruise at the Arch

riverboat dock at Arch St. Louis

The riverboats can take your family on a hour long tour of the riverfront –there’s a sightseeing cruise running every day from March to November.

But if you want to make it really special–book a dinner or brunch cruise! The Becky Thatcher is set up with a double decker dining room and takes visitors on a two-hour tour of the riverfront while you dine on a delicious buffet.

Brunch on the Riverboat Becky Thatcher

brunch with my boys on the riverboat at the Arch

Sunday Brunch Cruises are a great way to celebrate Easter, Mother’s Day and Father’s Day. Of course you don’t need a special occasion to enjoy a wonderful weekend at the Arch with your family! There’s one or two brunch cruises scheduled every month the boats operates. Check out their current schedule under “specialty cruises” here.   There’s also dinner cruises, dancing cruises, and a couple cruises up to see the lock and dam where the Missouri and Mississippi Rivers meet!

What’s included with my ticket?

Your brunch ticket includes a buffet full of scrambled eggs, blintzes, French toast, sausage, prime rib, stuffed chicken, veggies, pasta, dessert, and coffee, iced tea, orange juice, milk and chocolate milk. Soft drinks, beer and cocktails are available at the bar for an extra charge.

brunch on the riverboat at the Arch

What to Expect on your Riverboat Brunch Cruise

First, you’ll want to reserve your spot early by getting tickets online . Tickets are $45 for adults, $18 for kids 3-12 and free for little ones under 2. 

The boats are docked at the foot of the Gateway Arch. Stop by the ticket office to pick up your tickets by 12:30 — the boat leaves promptly at 1pm!

riverboat tour Arch st. Louis

Then you’ll come aboard and be directed to your seat. Unlike the sightseeing tours, the Brunch Cruise has reserved indoor seating with white linen table clothes. Tables are located by the windows, so you can enjoy the whole cruise from the comfort of the cabin, or pop upstairs to watch from the observation deck. 

The food might be served buffet style, but you’ll also get a friendly waiter to serve your drinks and clear the plates. Don’t worry about standing in line either, the serving staff dismisses diners by table so the buffet isn’t overwhelmed.

And while you wait, enjoy a little Dixieland music!

live Dixieland music

Where do I park?

levee parking

Best Photos of the Arch are Here

If you’re looking to get a postcard photo of the Gateway Arch, a riverboat cruise is where to be! You can also get a pretty cool one from the Malcolm W. Martin Memorial Park over on the East Side, but you don’t need to worry about pesky power lines messing up your shot here. ( Here’s a few more ideas for great photos with the Arch! )

arch skyline

Gateway Arch Riverboats

Photo of Gateway Arch Riverboats - Saint Louis, MO, US. Tom Sawyer ready to take us on our voyage

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Review Highlights

gateway-arch-riverboat-cruises-saint-louis photo IQZQdCQhxHPpK6_t1m8wLg

“ Louis we decided to ride this riverboat along the river and it was such a fun experience! ” in 17 reviews

Ben S.

“ There were concessions on board, but no one minded that I brought a drink onboard with me that I had purchased in the arch cafe . ” in 2 reviews

gateway-arch-riverboat-cruises-saint-louis photo iZg6K7BKgPMSpzjE9_81XQ

“ You'll pass your dock and go under a few more bridges before turning around and heading back to the dock . ” in 11 reviews

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50 S Leonor K Sullivan Blvd

Saint Louis, MO 63102

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Take a relaxing cruise and discover the best view of the St. Louis skyline from replica nineteenth-century paddle-wheel riverboats, the Becky Thatcher and the Tom Sawyer. They were brought to St. Louis in 1964 so spectators could get a close-up view of the Arch as it was being constructed, and are the only riverboats on the St. Louis Riverfront today. During a variety of cruises offered, hear the waters churn and admire the view as you ride along the mighty Mississippi River, where Lewis and Clark completed their historic journey. Choose a One-Hour Sightseeing Cruise, Skyline Dinner Cruise or one of many specialty cruises. Hours Cruises run March-November, rain or shine. Departure times and costs vary for each cruise. Tickets Advance ticket purchases are recommended, and are required for certain cruises. Tickets available by phone or online. On-board concessions vary for cruises. Also your entire family may enjoy casual dining, dockside at the Paddle Wheel Café, with a spectacular view of the Gateway Arch. Parking is available on the levee in front of the riverboats. Parking on Leonor K. Sullivan Boulevard is illegal and cars will be ticketed. Accessibility Ramps from the street to the levee provide wheelchair access to the riverboats. The first floor of both riverboats and the riverboat dock are wheelchair accessible. The second and top decks of both riverboats require using stairs. …

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Photo of Tiffany J.

The Arch is always a nice touch to a STL visit! The entire experience was fun and informative. Going up the arch was fun. Before we got on the tram, we participated in a learning session. We saw videos of how things were constructed and about the builders. I believe that there are sessions held with the founders and builders as well. I love how organized everything was. We stayed with our group took fun photos and learned so much! Once we made it to the top, it was a really nice view. Now I don't know if it was my fear of heights or what, but I became super dizzy and nauseous. But I did get a few pics and videos. Once we came back down, we stopped in the restaurant to eat. They have a really good system to make sure you get your food quickly. We had the ribs and wings. All of the sides come with original lays potato chips. We also had the juices. They were good! Finally, we shopped in the souvenir shop. It had so many great items. I always get a magnet for my refrigerator collection. If you are in St. Louis, this is definitely a place to visit!

st louis river cruises

Take a cruise on the Mighty Mississippi River. Board on a replica 19th century paddle-wheel riverboat for a different view of the Gateway Arch and the banks of the Mississippi. Love the names, the Becky Thatcher and the Tom Sawyer, that were originally used to take sightseers to view the construction of the Gateway Arch in the 1960s. Today, the cruise goes under several bridges, the Eads, the MLK, the MacArthur. On a beautiful sunny fall day, it was nice to be on the river enjoying the sunshine, but the tour itself was not that interesting and it was hard to hear the narration. Buy tickets at the National Park Service office inside the Arch and then walk down the steps to the riverbanks to board. The sixty-minute cruise is $25 ($24 plus a $1 service fee). If I had to do it again, I'd opt for a themed cruise like the Blues Cruise or Halloween for $30.

st louis river cruises

See all photos from Helene S. for Gateway Arch Riverboats

Photo of Jennifer P.

I wanted to do a riverboat tour when in town as I had fond memories of doing it when I was a kid. Boarding process was quick, they take your photo ( you can skip it) and they bring it to you on the boat hoping you buy it. We initially sat on the upper deck but it started raining with thunder and lightening so we went down to a covered deck. Should have went indoors as it had the air conditioning! As you go down the river there is a staff from the Missouri history society talking about what you are seeing and changes in history. The sites themselves were actually pretty depressing. As someone who grew up here and came down to visit the floating McDonald's, eat or shop in Laclede's landing it was very bleak. Lots of unhoused person encampments, a rotting casino dock. You cruise up the river for 30 minutes and come back down for a total of an hour. They had food and drinks at the dock, as well as restrooms. It wasn't a terrible experience just sad if you remember this area in it's former glory.

Photo of Valerie C.

Now I can say I've been on a riverboat on the Mississippi. Otherwise not much to write home about. We did this before going up in the arch, so we knew some landmarks to look for from the top. I was glad they had food on board because we had totally run out of time to grab lunch after landing at the airport and needing to head straight to the riverboat!

View of the arch from the boat

View of the arch from the boat

Photo of Nicole S.

Good food is not something I would have expected from a riverboat, but the food on our boat was really good. I'm still thinking about the gooey butter cake. The service was amazing and very friendly, too. You should know: When the boat is up and running, it gets very loud in the dining room area of the riverboat. I was trying to hold up a conversation with people at my table while I was eating, and I felt like I had to shout and ask them to repeat what they said. Upstairs on the deck, it's a little more quiet. But inside, you hear the roar of the engine from start to finish. But you should't spend too much time inside, anyway. The point of these riverboat cruises is to look out at the scenery, and your best view is from the deck. There is no bad seat on the deck, so just pick a spot and relax while the St. Louis skyline whooshes past you. From the riverboat, you can see the St. Louis Arch really well, as well as the behind-the-scenes graffiti and whatnot that you typically don't see from land. I love urban decay, so this is right up my alley. You also pass under bridges and see other watercraft go by. Our riverboat ride was about two hours. Just enough time to eat, snap some selfies on the deck, and bask in the sunshine on a really cool boat that's chugging down the Mississippi River.

Photo of Aswathi C.

The Riverboats at the Gateway Arch: we did the Tom Sawyer riverboat cruise. Actually took it as part of the Arch ticket. The margarita by the bartender was really good. Some history is narrated throughout about the bridges etc seen while sailing on the Mississippi River, but the cruise is just too slow; and the speaker had this crackling sound while announcing, didn't feel like listening to it. Super hot as well. Overall didn't feel worth the money. We went at 4.30 pm. Don't know if they have a better experience at other times.

Photo of Lauren T.

Ehh... This really isn't a "must do." The Mississippi River water is pretty disgusting and the sights around aren't that spectacular. The approximately one hour narrated tour (by a park ranger and also the captain) seemed to be a little strapped for fun facts around the area.

Photo of Sadig A.

On our trip to St. Louis we decided to ride this riverboat along the river and it was such a fun experience! The riverboat was really big and had lots of seats for people to sit and relax in... but it really didn't help that it was a pretty humid day, but we were prepared beforehand. As we cruised down the Mississippi River, we got to see so many cool things such as historic sites and landmarks. There were big bridges that we went under, and we even saw some big cargo ships that were carrying all kinds of goods. We also saw some wildlife, like birds and fish jumping out of the water. The best part of the cruise was when we got to see the Gateway Arch from the river. It looked even bigger and more impressive from down below! The captain of the boat also told us lots of interesting facts about the history of St. Louis and the river. Overall, I would definitely recommend the Gateway Arch Riverboat cruise if you're ever in St. Louis. It's a great way to see the city and the river from a different perspective, and it's a fun and relaxing way to spend an afternoon.

View right before we went under the bridge.

View right before we went under the bridge.

The old power plant, I think. I was melting due to the heat so I would forget some things the tour guide  would say.

The old power plant, I think. I was melting due to the heat so I would forget some things the tour guide would say.

Photo of Monica D.

My friends and I were looking for something convenient to our location (Busch Stadium) it's only about 3 blocks away and right past the Arch, down the stairs. It was sadly only an hour but filled with lots of info. Bar on board had nice choices.

st louis river cruises

It's nice and scenic and informative, and it's nice you can bring your own drinks on and enjoy the view. However the plastic chairs are old and filthy, you can't tell me for one second they can't afford to buy new chairs to make it look a little better. It would make the experience so much nicer. They are simple plastic lawn chairs that run for 20-30 a piece at most stores. Those chairs need to be thrown out immediately. If the company is reading this, do better.

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Gateway Arch Riverboat Cruises

Gateway Arch Riverboat Cruises

The St. Louis riverfront offers two 19th-century replica steamboats, the Tom Sawyer and the Becky Thatcher, for cruising the Mighty Mississippi River. A variety of cruises are offered for any occasion. There are sightseeing cruises such as a cruise to Kimmswick or to mouth of the Missouri to experience going through the lock and dam system. There are entertainment cruises such as the Blues Cruises and dinner cruises such as the Sunday Brunch Cruises. And there are seasonal cruises that feature dinner and entertainment such as the New Year's Eve Cruise or the Octoberfest Cruise. The Gateway Arch Riverboats can be chartered to share a special occasion, such as a wedding, reunion or birthday party with family and friends.

Take a Cruise on the Gateway Arch Riverboats

Times and prices vary according to type of cruise. Both boats are equipped with indoor and outdoor seating areas, tables, chairs, restrooms, and a concession area and are wheelchair accessible. See website for cruise schedule and more info.

Gateway Arch Riverboat Cruises Address and Phone Numbers

Gateway Arch Riverboat Cruises St. Louis Riverfront 50 N. Leonor K. Sullivan Blvd St. Louis, MO 63102 877-982-1410

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St. Louis: Guided Small Group City Tour With River Cruise

St. Louis: Guided Small Group City Tour With River Cruise offers an immersive and informative experience for those looking to discover the historic and cultural gems of this vibrant city.

Picture yourself standing atop the iconic Gateway Arch, taking in the panoramic views of the cityscape.

But the adventure doesn’t stop there. This small group tour takes you on a guided exploration of Gateway Arch National Park, revealing the fascinating stories behind this national monument.

And what better way to truly appreciate the city’s connection to the mighty Mississippi River than by embarking on a riverboat cruise, where you’ll gain a unique perspective of St. Louis accompanied by insightful commentary.

With so much to uncover, this tour promises an unforgettable journey through the heart of St. Louis.

Best Place To Reserve: I highly recommend using GetYourGuide to reserve. They are the most reliable and have the best cancellation policy. This means you can save your spot now and can cancel for free right up to the day before.

Good To Know

St. Louis: Guided Small Group City Tour With River Cruise - Good To Know

  • The St. Louis: Guided Small Group City Tour With River Cruise offers a 4-hour experience with a live tour guide who speaks English.
  • Participants can enjoy a 360-degree view of the city from the St. Louis Arch and explore Gateway Arch National Park to learn about its history .
  • The tour includes a relaxing riverboat cruise on the Mississippi River and a visit to the stunning Basilica of Saint Louis, King of France.
  • The activity is wheelchair accessible, offers pickup and drop-off at major hotels, and is limited to 7 participants for a small group experience.

Activity Details

St. Louis: Guided Small Group City Tour With River Cruise - Activity Details

The activity details for the St. Louis City Tour with River Cruise provide essential information for participants to plan their experience. This tour is wheelchair accessible, ensuring that everyone can enjoy the sights and attractions of St. Louis.

Pickup options are available, with convenient pickup and drop-off at all major hotels in downtown St. Louis. This makes it easy for participants to join the tour without worrying about transportation logistics.

The tour duration is 4 hours, giving participants ample time to explore and learn about the city’s history and landmarks. With a live tour guide who speaks English, participants can expect an informative and engaging experience.

Plus, free cancellation is available up to 24 hours in advance for a full refund, providing flexibility for those who may need to change their plans.

Experience Highlights

St. Louis: Guided Small Group City Tour With River Cruise - Experience Highlights

As participants explore the St. Louis City Tour with River Cruise, they can look forward to a range of experience highlights that showcase the city’s iconic landmarks, history, and natural beauty. One of the best spots for city views in St. Louis is the St. Louis Arch, where visitors can enjoy a 360-degree view of the city. The tour also includes a visit to Gateway Arch National Park, where participants can learn about its history. Another highlight is a relaxing riverboat cruise on the Mississippi River, offering a unique and exciting way to witness the Arch and its surroundings. Plus, you will have the opportunity to explore the stunning Basilica of Saint Louis, King of France, and pass by other points of interest such as Busch Stadium, City Hall , and Botanical Gardens. With a small group tour limited to 7 participants, the benefits include a more personalized experience and the opportunity to ask questions and interact with the knowledgeable tour guide.

Additional Recommendations

St. Louis: Guided Small Group City Tour With River Cruise - Additional Recommendations

Consider exploring other activities and attractions in St. Louis to make the most of your visit to the vibrant city.

St. Louis has much more to offer beyond the guided small group city tour and river cruise.

For nature lovers, the Missouri Botanical Garden is a must-visit, with its stunning displays of plants and flowers.

Discover the rich history of the city by visiting the Missouri History Museum or take a stroll through the historic Soulard neighborhood.

Sports fans can catch a game at Busch Stadium, home to the St. Louis Cardinals baseball team.

For a fun-filled family day, head to the City Museum, an interactive playground like no other.

Whether you’re interested in art, history, sports, or simply exploring the city, there are plenty of attractions and activities to keep you entertained in St. Louis.

Customer Reviews

St. Louis: Guided Small Group City Tour With River Cruise - Customer Reviews

After exploring the various attractions and activities in St. Louis, it’s time to hear what customers have to say about their experiences.

The overall rating of the St. Louis guided small group city tour with river cruise is 4.2 out of 5 based on 14 reviews. Customers have provided positive feedback about the transportation provided during the tour, giving it a rating of 4.5 out of 5. However, the value for money aspect received a rating of 3.8 out of 5.

One highlight mentioned by reviewers is the knowledgeable guide, Melissa Smith. They highly recommend her and appreciate her adaptability in changing the itinerary based on their preferences.

These positive reviews confirm the helpfulness and availability of more reviews for potential customers to make an informed decision.

Review Summary

St. Louis: Guided Small Group City Tour With River Cruise - Review Summary

The review summary highlights the positive aspects of the St. Louis guided small group city tour with river cruise. Customers were pleased with the transportation during the tour, giving it a rating of 4.5 out of 5. The river cruise experience was also highly regarded, with the knowledgeable crew providing informative commentary throughout the journey. One reviewer specifically mentioned Melissa Smith’s adaptability, as she was able to modify the itinerary based on their preferences. The guide’s knowledge and flexibility received high praise, with the reviewer highly recommending Melissa. The review summary confirms the helpfulness of the reviews and highlights the positive feedback about the transportation, river cruise, and the guide’s adaptability .

St. Louis: Guided Small Group City Tour With River Cruise - Directions

To ensure a seamless and enjoyable experience, it’s important to familiarize yourself with the directions for the St. Louis City Tour with River Cruise. Here are some key points to keep in mind:

Transportation Options : The tour includes pickup and drop-off at all major hotels in downtown St. Louis, making it convenient for participants. This eliminates the hassle of finding parking or navigating unfamiliar streets.

River Cruise: The tour includes a relaxing riverboat cruise on the Mississippi River. As you sail along, you’ll have the opportunity to enjoy a 360-degree view of the city and listen to informative commentary from the knowledgeable crew.

Limited Group Size: The tour is limited to just 7 participants, ensuring a small group experience. This allows for a more personalized and intimate tour, where you can easily interact with the tour guide and ask questions.

Frequently Asked Questions

St. Louis: Guided Small Group City Tour With River Cruise - Frequently Asked Questions

What Is the Best Time of Day to Take the Guided City Tour in St. Louis?

The best time to take the guided city tour in St. Louis is during the day, when you can fully appreciate the 360-degree view from the St. Louis Arch and explore the city’s iconic landmarks and attractions.

Are There Any Age Restrictions for the St. Louis Arch Tour?

Age restrictions for the St. Louis Arch tour may apply due to accessibility requirements . It is recommended to check with the tour operator for specific guidelines regarding age limitations and any necessary accommodations.

Can I Bring My Own Food and Drinks on the Riverboat Cruise?

Yes, participants can bring their own food and drinks on the riverboat cruise. There are no restrictions on outside items during the cruise, allowing for a more personalized and enjoyable experience.

Is There a Dress Code for the Basilica of Saint Louis, King of France?

There is no specific dress code mentioned for the Basilica of Saint Louis, King of France. However, it is always a good idea to dress respectfully when visiting religious sites. St. Louis has many other tourist attractions to explore as well.

Can I Bring a Stroller or Wheelchair on the Small Group City Tour?

Yes, you can bring a stroller or wheelchair on the small group city tour. The tour is wheelchair accessible and accommodates accessibility options for all participants, ensuring a comfortable and enjoyable experience.

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  • Best of St. Louis Small Group Tour W/St Louis Arch & River Cruise
  • KATY Self-Guided Tours 6-Days From Clinton to St. Charles. #1 Tour on the KATY
  • St. Louis: Guided Tour With Boat Cruise and Helicopter Ride
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St. Louis: Guided Small Group City Tour With River Cruise - The Sum Up

To sum it up, the St. Louis Guided Small Group City Tour with River Cruise offers a captivating and immersive experience of the city’s rich history and vibrant culture.

With the iconic Gateway Arch, informative guided tours , and a scenic riverboat cruise, participants are able to explore St. Louis from various perspectives.

This small group tour ensures an intimate and personalized adventure, making it the perfect choice for those seeking a comprehensive and convenient way to discover all that St. Louis has to offer.

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US News & World Report - Travel

The 10 Best Mississippi River Cruises for 2024

T he more than 2,300-mile Mississippi River invites travelers to discover its multifaceted heritage, with a vast range of deeply rooted culture, music and history. A cruise is a fantastic way to discover many of the riverfront cities on a single trip, from the comfort of your modern riverboat or traditional paddle-wheeler.

The following Mississippi River cruise itineraries can help you choose from cruises of various lengths and options for the Lower and Upper Mississippi. Note that all fares are listed as double occupancy (based on two people per cabin), and that they might not reflect taxes, port fees or gratuities. The itinerary availability listed is also subject to change.

American Cruise Lines

American Cruise Lines operates small ships accommodating between 90 and 180 passengers that are built, flagged and crewed in the U.S. – and it's the only company in the world operating a 100% U.S.-flagged fleet of riverboats and cruise ships. ACL's itineraries traverse waterways across 35 states, with 11 itineraries dedicated to the Mississippi River. Cruisers can choose to sail on modern riverboats with a sleek interior design or while away their time aboard classic paddle-wheelers reminiscent of days gone by.

ACL offers variety as well as versatility: This line boasts both the longest and shortest sailings on this list with cruises ranging from eight to 60 days in length, including The Great United States. This inaugural 60-day voyage spans four major rivers and 20 states, making it the longest U.S. river cruise in history.

Complimentary hotel and transportation packages are available from every departure city before your cruise. You can book certain premium packages for added perks, such as two nights spent next door to Graceland in Memphis – with VIP tickets and a city tour included in the price.

Music Cities Cruise

Length: Eight days

Price: Starts at $3,610 per person

Spend a week getting lost in the sounds of the Memphis blues, rock 'n' roll and country music legends on the seven-night Music Cities Cruise. A hotel stay the night before your sailing is included, but embarking in Memphis means you also have the chance to splurge on a two-night pre-cruise package near Elvis' former home Graceland .

Ports of call include Paducah, Kentucky; Dover, Tennessee; and Clarksville, Tennessee, with an overnight in Nashville and an included excursion to a show at the Grand Ole Opry. Two scenic sailing days feature picturesque views of America's Heartland along the Mississippi, Ohio and Cumberland rivers as well as Lake Barkley.

2024 dates: In 2024, there are two available itineraries in September and November.

Grand Heartland Cruise: St. Paul to New Orleans

Length: 15 days

Price: Starts at $9,455 per person

This 15-day voyage allows you to explore America's rich history in towns along the Upper and Lower Mississippi River. The immersive voyage covers six states and 12 cities including St. Paul, Minnesota ; Dubuque, Iowa; St. Louis, Missouri ; Memphis, Tennessee; Natchez, Mississippi; Baton Rouge, Louisiana ; and more.

Take a step back in time while visiting Mark Twain's boyhood home in Hannibal, exploring stately historic estates in Natchez and Civil War sites in Vicksburg. At the end of a busy day ashore, you'll have plenty to chat about with fellow passengers during the evening cocktail hour.

2024 dates: American Heritage – ACL's traditional paddle-wheeler – and three modern riverboats set off on this journey from August to October in 2024.

Complete Mississippi River Cruise: New Orleans to St. Paul

Length: 22 days

Price: Starts at $14,935 per person

If you want to see the entire Mississippi in one shot, check out this multiweek sailing that begins in New Orleans and ends in St. Paul, Minnesota. Along the way, you'll sail 1,393 miles, visit 10 states and experience a staggering 20 ports of call as you tour Louisiana and then head northbound to Minnesota.

In the South, walk the battlefields of the Civil War and sample delicious Southern barbecue before listening to the rhythms of jazz, the blues and rock 'n' roll. Then, explore the small and larger cities along the upper parts of the river. Remember to take time to gaze out at the picturesque scenery and the rolling farmlands of America's Midwest before disembarking in St. Paul.

2024 dates: Three of ACL's modern riverboats sail this itinerary in May, June and August in 2024.

The Great United States

Length: 60 days

Price: Starts at $51,000

This two-month long journey – the longest domestic itinerary ever created – will check all the boxes for U.S. history and Civil War buffs, music and nature lovers, culinary enthusiasts, and beer and distilled spirits aficionados alike as the ship traverses America's iconic waterways through 20 states and 50 ports of call.

This epic journey showcases the natural beauty and living history of the U.S. from sea to shining sea. The sailing embarks in Portland, Oregon , on the Pacific Coast before traveling east to the Atlantic shore along four major rivers that highlight some of the country's most stunning coastlines. Upon arrival in New York Harbor, guests will have an unforgettable view of one of the most iconic landmarks in the U.S.: the Statue of Liberty .

Passengers can follow in the footsteps of Lewis and Clark along the Snake and Columbia rivers; cruise along Ol' Man River in search of Mark Twain and Elvis; see the vibrant colors of fall during peak season on the Hudson River; and take in the coastal breezes (and fresh seafood) along New England's rocky coastline.

This curated adventure also includes two flights: Jackson, Wyoming , to New Orleans as well as St. Paul to Portland, Maine , plus a land package through Glacier , Yellowstone and Grand Teton national parks. All-inclusive pricing covers the pre-cruise hotel stay, all flights and hotels between cruise segments, an ACL jacket and gear pack, daily excursions, all meals and beverages, gratuities and port charges, entertainment, and Wi-Fi.

2024 dates: The inaugural cruise sets sail on August 16, 2024.

Raw HTML : Tips on Trips and Expert Picks

American Queen Voyages

American Queen Voyages – formerly the American Queen Steamboat Company, in a nod to its acclaimed riverboat roots – has expanded to lake, ocean and expedition voyages, in addition to the line's river cruises. AQV Mississippi River sailings include a pre-cruise hotel stay with transportation to your ship, as well as included shore tours.

These all-inclusive cruises also boast open bars, multiple dining venues, live onboard entertainment, complimentary bikes and more. The cruise line owns four paddle-wheelers to traverse rivers, including the American Countess, unveiled in 2020, and its flagship American Queen, the largest steamboat ever constructed.

Nashville to St. Louis cruise

Length: Nine days

Price: Starts at $4,019 per person

Set sail from Clarksville, Tennessee – a charming city about 50 miles from Nashville – bound for a more than weeklong Mississippi River adventure. The sailing disembarks in the small town of Alton, Illinois, around 25 miles from St. Louis, Missouri. (Riverboat docking locations are sometimes in the closest town to a more touristed city.)

An included hotel stay kicks off your cruise, and then you'll board American Countess, a classic 245-passenger paddle-wheeler, with daily calls on towns in Tennessee, Kentucky, Illinois and Missouri. During the cruise, guests will explore the area's culture, nature and history, including sites significant to Native Americans and the Civil War.

2024 dates: There's one sailing on American Countess in August 2024, as well as a June 2024 cruise on American Queen.

St. Louis to Minneapolis cruise

Price: Starts at $4,069 per person

The Upper Mississippi is Mark Twain territory, so you might have to succumb to a recited passage or two. The line's traditional paddle-wheelers are on hand to glide you through this hallowed territory, from Alton, Missouri, to Red Wing, Minnesota (docked a little more than 50 miles from Minneapolis).

This cruise stops in small towns like Hannibal, Missouri – featured frequently in Mark Twain's writings since it's his hometown – and Bettendorf, Iowa, for a hop-on, hop-off tour. You can also opt for a premium excursion to learn about family-run farms and industrial-level farm operations, beginning with a stop at the John Deere Pavilion in Moline, Illinois. Meanwhile, in Wisconsin, the picturesque town of La Crosse sits along the 3,000-mile Great River Road National Scenic Byway, regarded as one of the most scenic drives in the U.S.

2024 dates: AQV's two paddle-wheelers, American Countess and American Queen, will sail this itinerary between July and September in 2024.

Ottawa to St. Louis cruise

Price: Starts at $4,259 per person

For a unique approach to a Mississippi River cruise, consider this itinerary on American Countess sailing from Ottawa, Illinois, to Alton, Missouri (near St. Louis). The voyage highlights the small towns and cities along the Illinois and Mississippi rivers in the Midwest. In contrast to the metropolitan centers, you'll also cruise past the river bluffs and lush prairies of America's Heartland.

Before embarking, and once on board the ship, there are several days to explore Ottawa, which sits at the confluence of the Fox and Illinois rivers. Located about 80 miles from downtown Chicago , the city has a vibrant cultural and culinary scene and offers outdoor adventure, including Illinois' most popular park, Starved Rock State Park. There are four other ports before disembarking the ship, including the towns of Peoria, Havana and Grafton in Illinois and Hannibal, Missouri.

2024 dates: This cruise has one scheduled sailing for July 2024 on American Countess.

Viking River Cruises

Viking is no stranger to sailing Europe's rivers; the brand is synonymous with river cruising worldwide aboard its dozens of ships. However, Viking River Cruises is a newcomer to U.S. rivers, with its purpose-built ship: the 386-passenger Viking Mississippi. Looking to carve out its own niche in the American river cruising category, Viking claims it has the region's "first truly modern cruise ship" with its distinct Scandinavian design and expansive top sun deck with an infinity plunge pool.

Viking's mostly all-inclusive fares include a complimentary excursion in each port, destination lectures and performances, beer and wine at meals, free Wi-Fi, specialty coffees and teas, and more. The line offers five itineraries ranging in length from eight to 22 days along the Mighty Mississippi. Pre- and post-cruise extensions can be added to all voyages for an additional expense.

New Orleans & Southern Charms: Round-trip from New Orleans

Price: Starts at $3,999 per person

If you don't know which Viking Mississippi itinerary to choose, start here. A round-trip voyage from New Orleans is convenient for booking flights and offers an excellent opportunity to extend your stay in NOLA. Six guided tours are included across eight days, from the historic estates of Natchez to Vicksburg National Military Park. A stop in St. Francisville gives you the chance to marvel at some of the 140-plus buildings it has on the National Register of Historic Places.

If you extend your stay in New Orleans, plan to sample the local Creole cuisine and take in some of the city's nightly jazz entertainment. In the morning, grab a beignet and a steaming cup of chicory coffee au lait at the original Café du Monde in the French Market.

2024 dates: This itinerary is available on select dates in February, November and December.

Heart of the Delta: New Orleans to Memphis

Price: Starts at $4,299 per person

Similar to its round-trip New Orleans Southern Charms itinerary, the Heart of the Delta cruise begins in New Orleans and calls on the same five ports, before sailing through the Lower Mississippi and disembarking in Memphis. Enjoy scenic views of the serpentine river route – perhaps with expert commentary or a local cooking demonstration – and then take time to explore the birthplace of the Memphis blues, which is also a center of civil rights history.

2024 dates: In 2024, this cruise is available in February, March, April, May, June and November.

America's Great River: St. Paul to New Orleans

Price: Starts at $12,999 per person

This Viking voyage sails from St. Paul to New Orleans on a two-week trip that calls on 13 ports with one day of scenic sailing. This itinerary combines the best of Viking's other Mississippi sailings for an all-encompassing Midwestern and Southern experience with 12 guided tours.

Included in the fare is a tour of Graceland; a stroll through small-town Burlington, Iowa, to see Snake Alley, deemed the most crooked street in the world; and a visit to the National Eagle Center of Red Wing, among others. For an additional fee, hop on an airboat ride through the Atchafalaya Swamp in Baton Rouge or tour the Anheuser-Busch Brewery of St. Louis.

2024 dates: Viking has availability for this itinerary in July, September and October.

Want to cruise the Mississippi River? See the top cruises on GoToSea , a service of U.S. News.

FAQ Module : Travel - Top Mississippi River Cruises FAQs

Why Trust U.S. News Travel

Gwen Pratesi has been an avid cruiser since her early 20s. She has sailed on nearly every type of cruise ship built, including the newest megaships, paddle-wheelers on America's waterways, and an 18-stateroom river ship on the Mekong River in Vietnam and Cambodia. Most recently, she traveled on a small luxury expedition vessel in Antarctica and crossed the notorious Drake Passage twice. She covers the travel and culinary industries, specializing in cruises, for major publications including U.S. News & World Report.

You might also be interested in:

  • The Top River Cruise Lines
  • The Top All-Inclusive Cruises
  • Cruise Packing List Essentials
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What Is a River Cruise?

Aerial view of a Viking river ship sailing past Dürnstein, Austria along the Danube river

Nothing Compares to a River Cruise

River cruising is a relaxing, immersive and thoroughly enjoyable form of travel where you can enjoy ever-changing scenery along the banks of waterways such as the Danube, Rhine, Seine, Douro, Volga and Yangtze. Unpack just once on an award-winning, state-of-the-art 190-guest Longship and journey into the very heart of iconic cities and charming towns.

A river cruise can be defined as:

  • A form of leisure travel that takes guests along inland waterways.
  • Usually there are several port stops over the course of each passage.
  • Typical river cruises often last longer than a week.
  • Carry anywhere from 100 to 250 guests, depending on the ship size.
  • Are popular on many of the world’s major rivers, including the Danube, Rhine, Volga and Yangtze.

Explore the world’s great cities

The most cosmopolitan cities developed along the rivers, the world’s first trade routes. From iconic “must-sees” like Paris, Amsterdam and Budapest to quaint villages and towns waiting to be discovered, a river provides you easy access to savor the delights of both. Cities like Berlin, Lisbon, Prague, Vienna, Moscow, Cairo and Beijing are just a few that are accessible on a river cruise. In addition to the rivers listed above, cruises along lesser-known rivers like the Mekong in Southeast Asia and the Main in Germany are options.

What to Expect on a River Cruise

While river cruises can be enjoyed by people of all ages, they generally appeal to people more advanced in age -- baby boomers, in particular. Many river cruise lines allow children aboard their ships, although they may have age restrictions in place and usually there isn't much for kids to do. The makeup of a liner can include people of a wide range of nationalities, but more often than not, guests come from English-speaking countries.

Best Times to Go

Whether you choose to travel in the on-season or the off-season, you’ll be able to gain a deep cultural experience in each of your destinations. In the spring and summer, you may witness local outdoor events and lively activities that only occur during the warmer months of the year. Cooler weather in the fall may mean you’ll run into fewer people in the streets of cities and ports you visit, which will allow you to take your time and get a closer look at sites that interest you without feeling rushed or crowded. And in the winter season, you’ll be delighted by festive Christmas markets and enchanted by the holiday traditions and celebrations of the locals.

What You Should Pack

Given that weather will be variable depending on where your river cruise takes you, bringing along both warm and light clothes is wise. Even during warm months, there is wind on the rivers, so it’s best to plan for layers even if the weather is hot. Additionally, you’ll likely be doing a lot of walking, so bring along comfortable shoes. Lastly, pack some dressier clothes in case you attend a formal event while visiting one of your cruise destinations.

How They Differ from Ocean Cruises

Although river cruises and ocean cruises share a number of similarities, there are also various—and considerable—differences between the two. For one, ocean liners are bigger and offer more stateroom accommodations on average. Appropriately, they’re able to host significantly more guests. The smaller scale of river ships means fewer guests, but more opportunities to get to know fellow travelers, which often lead to lifelong friendships.

In contrast to ocean cruises that may include multiple sea days, you will rarely experience a full day of sailing on a river cruise. Typically, guests will awake each morning to find themselves in a new port. With river cruising, you can also enjoy an ever-changing mural of breathtaking scenery from your ship, so the journey itself becomes part of your discovery.

For those without sea legs, river cruises have the advantage of smooth trekking, shallow waters and the gift of land that’s always in sight. Lastly, most river cruises offer inclusive value, meaning your Wi-Fi, water, alcohol and included excursions are covered in the price. However, ocean cruises tend to offer more upscale amenities, like fitness centers, multiple dining options and a variety of live entertainment.

Who Would Enjoy a River Cruise?

River cruises are great for everyone, especially those desiring a more relaxed and intimate form of travel. Individuals who've never stepped foot on a ship before will enjoy the relative ease of a river-bound trip with little chance of seasickness. Furthermore, with a focus on cultural exploration of locations, river cruises are perfect for those with a curiosity about art and history, or a general interest in travel.  Every river is unique and each tells a different story—not only of the countries through which it flows, but also of its locks, canals, scenery and bridges. Ready to set sail? Start by browsing our selection of river cruises now!

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All Inclusive River Cruising

Uniworld has redefined the concept of all-inclusive luxury, offering only the most exceptional amenities, experiences and service—including an ample selection of premium spirits and wines, bicycles, Nordic walking sticks, onboard gratuities, onboard fitness classes (like yoga and TRX), ship-wide Wi-Fi and private shore excursions in each city. As we see it, our guests deserve the absolute best of everything and the difference is truly in the details .

2021 Offers extended for a limited time only! Take advantage of our Early Booking Savings, Picture Perfect Savings and Solo Traveler Savings. So why wait? Book today!

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Holland & Belgium at Tulip Time

Holland & Belgium at Tulip Time

Brussels to Amsterdam | 8 days

You’ll find an ideal mix of old and new, historic and modern, in some of Europe’s liveliest cities on this journey. Spend time in Amsterdam and Maastricht, allowing you to discover great...

Ship: S.S. Victoria

Countries: Belgium, Netherlands

River: Rhine

4.6 /5 (81 reviews)

From $4,999 per person

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Castles along The Rhine

Castles along The Rhine

Basel to Amsterdam | 8 days

Cruise along the Rhine—Germany on one side, France on the other. Discover Alsace, whose dual French and German heritage has given it fabulous food and a winemaking tradition that goes back to...

Ships: River Queen, S.S. Antoinette, S.S. Elisabeth, S.S. Victoria

Countries: France, Germany, Netherlands, Switzerland

4.7 /5 (1844 reviews)

From $3,399 per person

Highlights of Eastern Europe

Highlights of Eastern Europe

Budapest to Bucharest | 10 days

Immerse yourself in new cultures as you travel from splendid Budapest to dynamic Bucharest, discovering the best that the revitalized nations of Eastern Europe have to offer along the way.

Ships: River Duchess, River Princess, S.S. Beatrice

Countries: Bulgaria, Croatia, Hungary, Romania, Serbia

River: Danube

4.4 /5 (342 reviews)

From $3,999 per person

Burgundy & Provence

Burgundy & Provence

Arles to Lyon | 8 days

Cruise the Rhône and Saône rivers, enjoying the region’s incomparable wine and cuisine and discovering its many treasures. Stroll the very streets of Arles made famous by Van Gogh....

Ship: S.S. Catherine

Country: France

Rivers: Rhône, Saône

4.6 /5 (932 reviews)

From $3,599 per person

Grand France

Grand France

Arles to Paris | 15 days

For Francophiles in love with the culture, history, cuisine and romance of France, this grand voyage is a dream come true. Soak up the joie de vivre that makes France one of the most adored countries ...

Ships: S.S. Catherine, S.S. Joie de Vivre

Rivers: Rhône, Saône, Seine

4.7 /5 (129 reviews)

From $6,799 per person

Remarkable Rhine & Historic Holland

Remarkable Rhine & Historic Holland

Amsterdam to Basel | 11 days

Dive deep into the region’s culture, natural wonders, traditions and historical significance in a one-of-a-kind experience along the Rhine. Delve into the region’s world-renowned museums. ...

Ships: River Queen, S.S. Antoinette

4.6 /5 (272 reviews)

Danube Holiday Markets

Danube Holiday Markets

Budapest to Passau | 8 days

Budapest has celebrated Christmas for a thousand years, since the reign of St. Stephen, the king who founded Hungary and encouraged the spread of Christianity throughout his realm. As you ramble...

Ships: River Princess, S.S. Maria Theresa

Countries: Austria, Germany, Hungary, Slovakia

4.6 /5 (138 reviews)

From $3,499 per person

European Holiday Markets

European Holiday Markets

Nuremberg to Vienna | 8 days

This cruise takes you to some of the most famous and delightful holiday markets in Central Europe. At each market, you’ll find wooden stalls displaying traditional crafts that range from quirky ...

Ships: River Princess, S.S. Beatrice

Countries: Austria, Germany

4.4 /5 (130 reviews)

Ultimate European Journey

Ultimate European Journey

Amsterdam to Bucharest | 25 days

Prepare for the cruise of a lifetime as you travel the length of Europe through eight nations, exploring wonders of the Old World and the New, the East and the West.

Sail the romantic Rhine, the...

Countries: Austria, Bulgaria, Croatia, Germany, Hungary, Romania, Serbia, Netherlands

Rivers: Danube, Main, Rhine

4.5 /5 (80 reviews)

From $10,199 per person

European Jewels

European Jewels

Budapest to Amsterdam | 15 days

From exotic Budapest, “Queen of the Danube,” to imperial Vienna, “City of Waltzes,” to the sky-high spires of Cologne’s Gothic cathedral—centuries of intriguing...

Countries: Austria, Germany, Hungary, Netherlands

4.6 /5 (544 reviews)

From $6,499 per person

Timeless Wonders of Vietnam, Cambodia & the Mekong

Timeless Wonders of Vietnam, Cambodia & the Mekong

Ho Chi Minh City to Hanoi | 15 days

Two of the most beautiful, historic and friendly places in all of Asia, dynamic Vietnam and pastoral Cambodia are intriguing studies in contrast. Each possesses its own unique charm and social...

Ship: Mekong Jewel

Countries: Vietnam, Cambodia

River: Mekong

4.7 /5 (274 reviews)

From $7,199 per person

Enchanting Danube

Enchanting Danube

The shimmering waters of the fabled Danube River flow for thousands of miles through the very heart of Europe, silent witness to centuries of artistic achievement and historical events. This...

Ship: S.S. Maria Theresa

4.7 /5 (775 reviews)

From $3,299 per person

Portraits of Eastern Europe

Portraits of Eastern Europe

Prague to Bucharest | 19 days

Beautifully preserved Prague has enchanted visitors for ages, but it is only a tiny part of this extraordinary voyage through eight nations. Sail past quaint villages and great cities on the glorious ...

Ships: River Duchess, S.S. Beatrice

Countries: Austria, Bulgaria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Germany, Hungary, Romania, Serbia

4.1 /5 (45 reviews)

From $7,599 per person

Authentic Danube

Authentic Danube

Vienna to Nuremberg | 8 days

As your adventure starts, castles, stunning architecture, natural wonders and rich history ensue. Discover the old walled city of Nuremberg and its mesmerizing castles. Stroll through countless...

Ship: River Princess

4.7 /5 (58 reviews)

Rhine Holiday Markets

Rhine Holiday Markets

Basel to Cologne | 8 days

Discover the roots of our Christmas traditions as you explore some of Europe’s most charming towns. Browse for unique ornaments in Basel’s Christmas Market. Sip vin chaud as you stroll to ...

Ships: S.S. Antoinette, S.S. Elisabeth

Countries: France, Germany, Switzerland

4.4 /5 (133 reviews)

Delightful Danube & Prague

Delightful Danube & Prague

Budapest to Prague | 10 days

Experience dynamic Budapest, imperial Vienna and exquisitely preserved Prague. Marvel at ravishing scenery as your luxurious ship glides through the Wachau Valley, celebrated as one of the...

Countries: Austria, Czech Republic, Germany, Hungary

4.5 /5 (491 reviews)

Delightful Danube

Delightful Danube

Budapest to Nuremberg | 8 days

Experience dynamic Budapest and imperial Vienna. Marvel at ravishing scenery as your luxurious ship glides through the Wachau Valley, celebrated as one of the world’s most beautiful landscapes, ...

Countries: Austria, Germany, Hungary

4.5 /5 (92 reviews)

Authentic Danube & Prague

Authentic Danube & Prague

Vienna to Prague | 10 days

As your adventure starts, castles, stunning architecture and natural wonders ensue. Discover the old walled city of Nuremberg and its mesmerizing castles. Stroll through countless enchanting towns...

Countries: Austria, Germany, Czech Republic

4.4 /5 (132 reviews)

Classic Christmas Markets

Classic Christmas Markets

Nuremberg to Frankfurt | 8 days

Discover villages with fairytale houses and a friendly, festive atmosphere. Share traditional holiday goodies with the people who made them. Watch as modern children abandon their usual electronics...

Ships: River Duchess, River Princess, River Queen

Country: Germany

Rivers: Main, Rhine

4.2 /5 (125 reviews)

From $3,699 per person

Rhine River Valley

Rhine River Valley

Nuremberg to Basel | 8 days

Immerse yourself in history as you stroll through beautifully preserved medieval towns and a stunning imperial palace. Sample the fruits of the Rhine’s famously excellent wineries and enjoy...

Countries: Germany, France, Switzerland

3.7 /5 (15 reviews)

Grand Central Europe & Zurich

Grand Central Europe & Zurich

Zurich to Vienna | 17 days

Cruise between the picturesque city of Basel and imperial Vienna. Along the way, you’ll cruise through 3 different rivers—the Rhine, Main and Danube—to visit Switzerland, France,...

Countries: Switzerland, France, Germany, Austria

Rivers: Rhine, Danube

4.2 /5 (6 reviews)

From $7,299 per person

Grand Christmas & New Year's

Grand Christmas & New Year's

Nuremberg to Budapest | 13 days

You’ll sail through Germany, Austria, and Hungary along the shimmering Danube and past incredible sights on this unique itinerary. Explore charming old-world villages and Gothic cathedrals and...

Ship: S.S. Beatrice

Rivers: Danube, Main

4.5 /5 (26 reviews)

Venice & the Jewels of Veneto

Venice & the Jewels of Veneto

Venice to Venice | 8 days

This ultimate Venetian vacation is perfected by one unique quality: your stay onboard our floating boutique hotel. Not only will you benefit from an enviable location in Venice, you’ll also...

Ship: S.S. La Venezia

Country: Italy

River: Venice Lagoon

4.6 /5 (106 reviews)

Portugal, Spain & the Douro River Valley

Portugal, Spain & the Douro River Valley

Porto to Lisbon | 11 days

Following the Douro River through Portugal and into Spain, you’ll cruise past steeply terraced hillsides, quaint villages and acres of ripe vineyards. Enjoy private tastings of Port and explore ...

Ship: S.S. São Gabriel

Countries: Portugal, Spain

River: Douro

4.3 /5 (419 reviews)

From $5,399 per person

Douro River Valley

Douro River Valley

Porto to Porto | 8 days

As you follow the Douro River through Portugal and into Spain, you’ll cruise past steeply terraced hillsides, quaint villages and acres of ripe vineyards. Enjoy private tastings of Port....

4.3 /5 (119 reviews)

From $4,699 per person

Brilliant Bordeaux

Brilliant Bordeaux

Bordeaux to Bordeaux | 8 days

Set sail along three stunning rivers, the Garonne, Dordogne and Gironde, on one fascinatingly historical and invigorating journey. Explore the country’s breathtaking backdrops, wines and...

Ship: S.S. Bon Voyage

Rivers: Dordogne, Garonne

4.4 /5 (419 reviews)

Splendors of Egypt & the Nile

Splendors of Egypt & the Nile

Cairo to Cairo | 12 days

For 12 adventure-filled days, experience Egypt and the Nile’s most wondrous sites in style and luxury. * Wander amongst the towering ruins of the Temple of Karnak, the world’s largest...

Ships: River Tosca, S.S. Sphinx

Country: Egypt

River: Nile

4.5 /5 (686 reviews)

Paris & Normandy

Paris & Normandy

Paris to Paris | 8 days

Cruise from Paris through Normandy’s countryside, uncovering its many charms: Château de La Roche-Guyon, the medieval capital of Rouen, Monet’s beloved home in Giverny and the famed ...

Ship: S.S. Joie de Vivre

River: Seine

4.7 /5 (809 reviews)

From $3,899 per person

Ultimate France

Ultimate France

Bordeaux to Arles | 22 days

This triumvirate of France brings you the very best of each region—Paris and the Normandy coast in the north, vineyard-rich Bordeaux in the southwest and the sun-drenched Mediterranean delights ...

Ships: S.S. Bon Voyage, S.S. Catherine, S.S. Joie de Vivre

Rivers: Dordogne, Garonne, Rhône, Seine

4.4 /5 (51 reviews)

From $11,999 per person

A Portrait of Majestic France

A Portrait of Majestic France

Bordeaux to Paris | 15 days

This picture-perfect journey blends your passion for the good life—art, culture and gastronomy—with a broad sweep of lovely French landscapes. Travel from beautiful Bordeaux and delight...

Ships: S.S. Bon Voyage, S.S. Joie de Vivre

Rivers: Dordogne, Garonne, Seine

4.5 /5 (93 reviews)

From $7,499 per person

India's Golden Triangle & the Sacred Ganges

India's Golden Triangle & the Sacred Ganges

New Delhi to Kolkata | 13 days

Complex and beguiling, India is a country unlike any other. Wondrous sights rich in romance and intrigue come alive in the “Golden Triangle”—Delhi, Jaipur, and Agra. Delhi’s...

Ship: Ganges Voyager II

Country: India

River: Ganges

4.7 /5 (175 reviews)

From $6,999 per person

Peruvian Rivers & Rainforest Discovery

Peruvian Rivers & Rainforest Discovery

Lima to Lima | 11 days

Peru is a land of mysteries, legends and ancient cultures. Your journey starts in the country’s capital, Lima. Known as the “City of Kings,” this melting pot of culture will...

Ship: Aria Amazon

Country: Peru

Rivers: Maranon, Ucayali

5 /5 (6 reviews)

From $12,499 per person

Belgian Holiday Markets

Belgian Holiday Markets

Brussels to Brussels | 8 days

There’s no more magical way to enjoy the holiday season than with a visit to a Christmas market. And on an all-inclusive, luxury river cruise, you can wander the stalls of many such markets in...

3.8 /5 (49 reviews)

From $3,799 per person

Cruise & Rail: Grand Alpine & the Enchanting Danube

Cruise & Rail: Grand Alpine & the Enchanting Danube

Passau to Venice | 14 days

Embark on a river cruise down the shimmering waters of the fabled Danube River, where our locally-based destination experts will take you well beyond the “must-sees” of each region,...

Countries: Germany, Austria, Slovakia, Hungary, Switzerland, Slovenia, Italy

From $18,494 per person

Enchanting Christmas & New Year's Cruise

Enchanting Christmas & New Year's Cruise

Passau to Budapest | 11 days

Cruise the mighty Danube, visiting classic capitals like Budapest and Vienna. Spend Christmas Eve in Passau, then ring in the New Year in elegant style in Budapest. Festive celebrations are plentiful ...

4.6 /5 (25 reviews)

From $5,999 per person

Zurich & the Rhine River Valley

Zurich & the Rhine River Valley

Nuremberg to Zurich | 10 days

4.4 /5 (18 reviews)

From $4,199 per person

Milan, Venice & the Jewels of Veneto

Milan, Venice & the Jewels of Veneto

Milan to Venice | 10 days

Begin your journey in stunning Milan and disembark in romantic Venice. These two legendary cities will bookend unforgettable experiences throughout the Veneto region.

This ultimate Venetian vacation...

4.5 /5 (90 reviews)

Magnificent Moselle & Rhine

Magnificent Moselle & Rhine

Frankfurt to Frankfurt | 10 days

Uncover the best-kept secret in river cruising, the Moselle, as you sail past some of Europe’s most serene and vineyard-lined landscapes. Explore Cochem’s castle-dotted hillsides. See ...

Countries: Germany, Luxembourg

Rivers: Rhine, Moselle

4.7 /5 (29 reviews)

Peruvian Amazon & Machu Picchu Exploration

Peruvian Amazon & Machu Picchu Exploration

Lima to Lima | 16 days

From a deep dive into Lima—the “City of Kings”—to the legendary Machu Picchu, this 16-day cruise/tour is an all-encompassing adventure into the marvels of Peru and the Amazon...

4.8 /5 (32 reviews)

From $13,999 per person

Tulips & Windmills

Tulips & Windmills

Amsterdam to Antwerp | 10 days

From the canals of Amsterdam to the belfry of Bruges, you’ll discover the best of the Netherlands and Belgium. Stroll through colorful acres of tulips at Keukenhof Gardens to get a sense of the ...

4.6 /5 (227 reviews)

Cruise & Rail: Delightful Danube & the Castles of Transylvania

Cruise & Rail: Delightful Danube & the Castles of Transylvania

Istanbul to Nuremberg | 15 days

Begin with the exquisite mosques of Istanbul, where we explore the fascinating history and age-old traditions of this magnificent city, shaped by the empires of times gone by. Then join us on a...

Ship: River Duchess

Countries: Austria, Bulgaria, Germany, Hungary, Romania, Turkey

From $16,694 per person

Dutch Delight

Dutch Delight

Amsterdam to Amsterdam | 8 days

Windmills, colorful flowers, a rich art history, and more bikes than you can possibly imagine—the Netherlands is like nowhere else on earth. See the full spectrum of Dutch life, landscapes, and ...

Ship: River Queen

Country: Netherlands

4.3 /5 (47 reviews)

From $3,199 per person

Grand Central Europe

Grand Central Europe

Vienna to Basel | 15 days

Begin your journey in the picturesque city of Basel and end in imperial Vienna, two showstopping destinations to highlight your cruise. Along the way, you’ll cruise through 3 different...

Rivers: Rhine, Main, Danube

4.7 /5 (16 reviews)

From $6,199 per person

Cruise & Rail: Grand Alpine & the Jewels of Veneto

Cruise & Rail: Grand Alpine & the Jewels of Veneto

Budapest to Venice | 16 days

Begin your journey in the stunning cities of Budapest and Vienna, from which you’ll ascend into the idyllic wonderland of the Alps via a luxury overnight train. Your days will be filled with...

Countries: Hungary, Austria, Switzerland, Slovenia, Italy

From $17,994 per person

Cruise & Rail: Venice, Istanbul & the Balkans

Cruise & Rail: Venice, Istanbul & the Balkans

Venice to Istanbul | 17 days

Embark on a private train journey to Istanbul, during which you’ll sleep on the luxury Golden Eagle Danube Express with ever-changing views at your window—the perfect addition to a river...

Countries: Italy, Slovenia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Macedonia, Bulgaria, Turkey

From $18,794 per person

Cruise & Rail: Milan, Venice, Istanbul & the Balkans

Cruise & Rail: Milan, Venice, Istanbul & the Balkans

Milan to Istanbul | 19 days

Begin your journey in stunning Milan and embark on your cruise in romantic Venice. These two legendary cities will bookend unforgettable experiences throughout the Veneto region. Treat yourself to a...

From $19,694 per person

Cruise & Rail: The Sacred Ganges & the Maharajas' Express

Cruise & Rail: The Sacred Ganges & the Maharajas' Express

Kolkata to New Delhi | 16 days

Start your journey onboard the luxurious riverboat, the Ganges Voyager II . Travel to villages lining the Ganges River that only a few people get to see each year and experience our Wellness Program ,...

From $21,499 per person

Rivers of the World Cruise

Rivers of the World Cruise

Lima to Ho Chi Minh City | 55 days

This 55-day odyssey will span three continents and four luxurious ships, taking 40 adventurous guests to some of our favorite destinations as well as new-to-Uniworld locales.

Sail one of...

Ships: Aqua Nera, Mekong Jewel, S.S. Beatrice, S.S. Catherine

Countries: Peru, Argentina, Brazil, Netherlands, Germany, Hungary, Austria, France, Vietnam, Cambodia

4.1 /5 (8 reviews)

From $49,399 per person

Holland & Belgium at Tulip Time (2025)

From $5,199 per person

Holland & Belgium at Tulip Time (2024)

Castles along the rhine (2025).

Ships: S.S. Antoinette, S.S. Elisabeth, S.S. Victoria

Castles along The Rhine (2024)

Ships: River Queen, S.S. Antoinette, S.S. Victoria

Highlights of Eastern Europe (2024)

From $4,499 per person

Burgundy & Provence (2024)

Grand france (2025).

From $7,099 per person

Remarkable Rhine & Historic Holland (2024)

Danube holiday markets (2025), european holiday markets (2024), ultimate european journey (2024).

From $12,099 per person

European Jewels (2025)

Ships: River Duchess, River Princess

Timeless Wonders of Vietnam, Cambodia & the Mekong (2025)

Enchanting danube (2025), ultimate european journey (2025).

Amsterdam to Bucharest | 24 days

Danube Holiday Markets (2024)

From $4,799 per person

Portraits of Eastern Europe (2024)

From $8,699 per person

Authentic Danube (2024)

Rhine holiday markets (2024).

Ship: S.S. Antoinette

Rhine Holiday Markets (2025)

Delightful danube & prague (2024), highlights of eastern europe (2025), european holiday markets (2025), delightful danube & prague (2025), delightful danube (2024), enchanting danube (2024), delightful danube (2025), portraits of eastern europe (2025), remarkable rhine & historic holland (2025), authentic danube & prague (2024), burgundy & provence (2025), classic christmas markets (2024).

Ships: River Princess, River Queen

European Jewels (2024)

Budapest to Amsterdam | 16 days

Classic Christmas Markets (2025)

Rhine river valley (2024), grand central europe & zurich (2024), grand christmas & new year's (2025).

From $7,399 per person

Venice & the Jewels of Veneto (2025)

Portugal, spain & the douro river valley (2025).

From $5,599 per person

Douro River Valley (2024)

Brilliant bordeaux (2024), grand christmas & new year's (2024), splendors of egypt & the nile (2024), paris & normandy (2025), ultimate france (2025), a portrait of majestic france (2025), india's golden triangle & the sacred ganges (2024).

From $7,699 per person

Ultimate France (2024)

Splendors of egypt & the nile (2025), peruvian rivers & rainforest discovery (2024), venice & the jewels of veneto (2024), brilliant bordeaux (2025), belgian holiday markets (2025), cruise & rail: grand alpine & the enchanting danube (2024), enchanting christmas & new year's cruise (2024).

From $6,299 per person

Zurich & the Rhine River Valley (2024)

Milan, venice & the jewels of veneto (2025).

From $4,299 per person

Magnificent Moselle & Rhine (2024)

Belgian holiday markets (2024), milan, venice & the jewels of veneto (2024), india's golden triangle & the sacred ganges (2025), peruvian amazon & machu picchu exploration (2024), a portrait of majestic france (2024).

From $7,799 per person

Peruvian Amazon & Machu Picchu Exploration (2025)

From $14,499 per person

Tulips & Windmills (2025)

Cruise & rail: delightful danube & the castles of transylvania (2024), paris & normandy (2024), tulips & windmills (2024).

From $4,399 per person

Dutch Delight (2024)

Douro river valley (2025).

From $4,899 per person

Grand Central Europe (2024)

Peruvian rivers & rainforest discovery (2025).

From $12,999 per person

Enchanting Christmas & New Year's Cruise (2025)

Timeless wonders of vietnam, cambodia & the mekong (2024).

From $7,999 per person

Portugal, Spain & the Douro River Valley (2024)

Grand france (2024), cruise & rail: grand alpine & the jewels of veneto (2024), cruise & rail: venice, istanbul & the balkans (2024), cruise & rail: milan, venice, istanbul & the balkans (2024), cruise & rail: the sacred ganges & the maharajas' express (2024).

From $28,599 per person

Rivers of the World Cruise (2024)

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Visiting the Gateway Arch: Enter the monument through the Gateway Arch Visitor Center, which faces Fourth Street and the Old Courthouse. The Gateway Arch legs are exits only. Please allow at least 30 minutes to go through security. Tickets sell out early and often, advance reservations are strongly recommended. Pending availability, additional tickets may be available for same-day purchase beginning at 9am each day through our website, call center, and ticket center at the Gateway Arch. Same-day ticket availability is not guaranteed and sells out early and often.

  • Sample Itinerary
  • Hours & Pricing
  • Directions & Parking
  • Tram Ride to the Top
  • Riverboat Cruises
  • Virtual Reality Theater
  • Old Courthouse
  • Activities & Attractions
  • Tour Operators
  • Field Trips
  • Private Events
  • Group Pricing
  • Submit Photos

Riverboats at the Gateway Arch

Enjoy some of the best views of the Gateway Arch and St. Louis’ working riverfront on a riverboat cruise. Whether you’re in the mood for a romantic dinner, a relaxing tour, or a floating party with live music and dancing, we have a cruise to suit your interests.

St. Louis Riverfront Cruise

Catch some of the best views of the Gateway Arch and downtown St. Louis on a fascinating one-hour riverboat tour.

Daily cruises : 10:30 am, noon, 1:30 pm, 3 pm, 4:30 pm, 6 pm and 7:30 pm *Times vary, call (877) 982-1410 for schedule

Pricing: Adult: $24, Child (3-15): $14, Senior (60+): $22, Infant (0-2): FREE, * Group pricing available

Tram & Cruise Combo : Save up to $2 by adding a Tram Ride to the Top of the Gateway Arch

Skyline Dinner Cruise

Make any night special on this scenic two-hour cruise.  Our flagship evening cruise features live music on Fridays and a DJ on Saturdays, a chef-inspired menu, and captivating views of the St. Louis Skyline.

Sunday Brunch Cruise

The perfect Sunday starts here. Join us aboard the Becky Thatcher for the ultimate brunch experience with live entertainment, chef-inspired cuisine and great views.

Pricing: Adults: $57* Children (3-12): $23 * Group pricing available **Cruise dates and prices are subject to change.

Reservations are required.

Specialty Cruises

All aboard for fun on one of our specialty cruises. Whether it’s a holiday celebration, a leisurely brunch, or a lively party cruise, the Riverboats at the Gateway Arch offer outings for guests of all ages. Reservations are required. See below for upcoming cruises.

Upcoming Specialty Cruises

Artist Billy Peek strums his guitar while performing hit blues songs aboard a Blues Cruise on the Riverboats at the Gateway Arch.

Paddlewheel Café

The Paddlewheel Café – St. Louis’ only waterfront dining destination!  Order a made-to-order burger while you’re enjoying views of the Gateway Arch and traffic on the Mississippi River. Join us for happy hour and grab a specialty cocktail, draft beer, or soft drink from the Dockside Bar.

Closed for the season. Will reopen in spring 2024!

Friends touching wine glasses

Private Charters & Events

For a unique and memorable birthday celebration, anniversary, reunion, private reception, wedding, business outing or company party, just add water. Let the Riverboats at the Gateway Arch be your host. We can customize your event with a variety of sit-down or buffet meals, bar options, and entertainment.

Group of diverse people on riverboat at night

Group Reservations

Whether you’re looking for a short tour or an all-day outing, our team is eager to work with you to ensure the best possible experience for your guests. From tour groups and scout troops to corporate retreats, church groups and field trips to family reunions, we welcome groups of all ages, sizes, and interests.

Riverboat Address

50 S. Leonor K. Sullivan Boulevard St. Louis, MO 63102

Cash parking is available on the levee.

For more information,  click here .

Please note:  Levee parking is not operated by the Gateway Arch or Riverboats at the Gateway Arch.

Visiting the Gateway Arch: Enter the monument through the Gateway Arch Visitor Center, which faces Fourth Street and the Old Courthouse. The Gateway Arch legs are exits only. Please allow at least 30 minutes to go through security. Tickets sell out early and often, advance reservations are strongly recommended. Pending availability, additional tickets may be available for same-day purchase beginning at 9am each day through our website, call center, and ticket center at the Gateway Arch. Same-day ticket availability is not guaranteed and sells out early and often.

  • Sample Itinerary
  • Hours & Pricing
  • Directions & Parking
  • Tram Ride to the Top
  • Riverboat Cruises
  • Virtual Reality Theater
  • Old Courthouse
  • Activities & Attractions
  • Tour Operators
  • Field Trips
  • Private Events
  • Group Pricing
  • Submit Photos

Image of the Becky Thatcher riverboat

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St. Louis Riverfront Cruise – 1:30 pm

Relive the days when steamboats ruled the river on this one-hour cruise along St. Louis’ diverse riverfront. Narrated by the captain or a National Park Service ranger, this cruise highlights the Mississippi River’s important role in St. Louis history and the significance of the working river today. Concessions available on board.

2018 Schedule: Cruises run daily, March through November. Cruise times vary.

A ranger from the National Park Service joins the cruise to explain how the river affects and benefits the surrounding city. Ranger Schedule: Spring & Fall – Saturdays & Sundays at 1:30pm ending Nov. 18; Summer – Daily at 12pm, 1:30pm, and 3pm from May 26 – September 3

Price: $20/adult, $10/child (3-15 yrs) Group Pricing Available

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st louis river cruises

Dramatic sunset over river Seine in Paris, France, with Conciergerie and cruise boats.

The 8 Best European River Cruises For Every Type Of Traveler

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F rom Portugal's dazzling Douro to the mighty Danube, a river cruise is a fantastic way of exploring Europe’s magical cities and sensational countryside. Sparkling new Europe-based ships seemingly debut every year, all with innovative features and itineraries that showcase art, history, food and more. The best European river cruises make it easy to enjoy the continent’s marvelous scenery to its fullest, with thoughtful amenities, intimate ship sizes and a slower pace to soak it all in.

Selecting the right river cruise for you depends on the kind of experience you’re after. There’s a European river cruise for every type of traveler, from families and couples to the budget-conscious and luxury seekers. For a true luxury experience, we recommend a sail aboard Uniworld’s S.S. La Venezia , while for active travelers we love the holistic wellness offerings found on AmaWaterways’ AmaMagna . No matter what you’re searching for, these are the best European river cruises to book for 2024 and beyond.

  • Best European River Cruise Overall: Viking Cruises, Viking Egdir

Best High-End European River Cruise: Uniworld, S.S. La Venezia

Best european river cruise for families: a-rosa, a-rosa sena, best european river cruise for couples: scenic, scenic azure, best european river cruise for history lovers: tauck river cruising, ms sapphire, best value european river cruise: emerald cruises, emerald luna, best european river cruise for foodies: riverside luxury cruises, riverside ravel, best european river cruise for active travelers: amawaterways, amamagna, best overall european river cruise: viking cruises, viking egdir.

The stellar 2022-built Viking Egdir, carrying 190 passengers, offers a ringside seat of bucolic vineyards and medieval castles on the Rhine, Main and Danube.

Viking Egdir

Recommended Itinerary: 15-day Grand European Tour, Budapest to Amsterdam (or vice versa)
Departure: March 15 - November 5, 2024, and April 10 - October 23, 2025
All-Star Amenities : Aquavit Terrace for outdoor dining; wine and beer included with lunch and dinner; spacious Sun Deck; golf putting; elegant library; free Wi-Fi; inclusive shore tour option in every port; elegant Scandinavian design

The doyen of Europe's waterways is the adults-only Viking Cruises, a multifaceted cruise line that also boasts a fleet of ocean and expedition vessels. With 55 Nordic-inspired “Longships” sailing mainland Europe—including the Danube, Rhine, Seine, Rhône and Elbe—plus four ships on Portugal's River Douro, Viking has an itinerary for every type of river cruiser. The cruise line’s soothing Scandinavian aesthetic combines a chic design with spacious accommodations that include river views or private verandas, and sails also include drinks during mealtimes, shore excursions and Wi-Fi.

The stellar 2022-built Viking Egdir , carrying 190 passengers, offers a ringside seat of bucolic vineyards and medieval castles on the Rhine, Main and Danube. It also takes passengers to some of Europe's blockbuster cities, including Budapest, Vienna, Cologne and Amsterdam. Passengers can sip on fine wines in the Wachau Valley, wander Regensburg's UNESCO-listed old town and marvel at Vienna's Habsburg-period architecture. Itineraries feature guided trips to revered museums, cathedrals, and palaces—complemented by slow days sailing these scenic waterways.

Passengers can dine on fresh wood-fired pizza at Cielo's and sip Bellinis at Hari's Bar, all while taking in views of Venice's sparkling lagoon.

S.S. La Venezia

Itineraries : 8-day Venice and The Jewels of Veneto, Venice to Venice
Departure: Weekly between March 31 - October 27, 2024, and April 8 - November 3, 2025
All-Star Amenities : Inclusive alcohol, including premium spirits and wines; Asprey toiletries; airport transfers in port; bikes and Nordic walking sticks available for use in port; butler-serviced suites

Murano glass, Savoir beds and marble-clad bathrooms with Asprey toiletries are just some of the sumptuous features that make Uniworld high-end European river cruising at its finest. Each of the cruise line’s 12 vessels is adorned with opulent antiques, crystal chandeliers and dramatic artwork to create the feel of a lavish boutique-hotel-on-water. Passengers can indulge in free-flowing drinks and market-fresh cuisine, while suite guests are assigned white-gloved butlers, each one trained at the prestigious Ivor Spencer Butler School in England to ensure royal standards are met.

One of the few vessels permitted to dock in Italy’s Venetian Lagoon, S.S. La Venezia explores the colorful facades of Burano, Mazzorbo and Torcello, charming Chioggia and the Po Delta, with the bonus of four nights moored in the center of Venice. This ship truly embodies the decadence of Renaissance Venice, with a playful interior featuring hand-painted Venetian masks and flamboyant custom-made fabrics by Venice-design house Fortuny. Passengers can dine on fresh wood-fired pizza at Cielo's and sip Bellinis at Hari's Bar, all while taking in views of Venice's sparkling lagoon.

The 280-passenger ship—the largest on the Rhine—has a kids splash pool next to a larger pool, with some sailings offering kids swimming lessons for an extra fee.

A-Rosa Sena

Itineraries : 7-night Rhine Experience Amsterdam and Rotterdam, Cologne to Cologne
Departure: Late March to late October 2024 and 2025
All-Star Amenities : Children up to 15 travel free; family cabins sleeping up to five and kids splash pool (A-ROSA Sena); dedicated kids club with programming for 4 to 15 years olds; spa thermal area; wine tasting room; family excursions

German river cruise line A-Rosa has carved a niche for multigenerational river voyages after pioneering its kids club in 2014. The line's European family program is available on at least one ship on each river the line sails during school breaks. Fun activities include a “meet the captain” event, pizza-making classes and treasure hunts. All ships are stocked with age-appropriate games and books, and family shore excursions to zoos and theme parks feature on itineraries.

A-Rosa Sena , launched in 2022, is a knockout for its array of family facilities. A jaunty kids' club with a climbing wall and secret nooks is positioned next to 12 family cabins, each sleeping up to five, featuring nautical-themed bunk beds. The 280-passenger ship—the largest on the Rhine—has a kids’ splash pool next to a larger pool, with some sailings offering kids swimming lessons for an extra fee. Mealtimes are peachy, too, with dishes such as dressed salmon and pork goulash, plus a children's buffet luring kids to the table. After a long day of exploring, parents and grandparents can relax at the spa or in the lounge.

The intimate 96-passenger Scenic Azure winds through the port-producing Douro Valley, with its terraced vineyards, olive groves and tranquil towns and villages.

Scenic Azure

Itineraries: 11-day Unforgettable Douro, Porto to Porto
Departure: April-November 2024 and 2025
All-Star Amenities : Butler service; Scenic Sun Lounges; complimentary restocked minibar; pillow menus in suites; included premium drinks, Wi-Fi, shore excursions and gratuities; L’Occitane toiletries; Vitality Pool and Scenic E-Bikes available for use in port

While Scenic isn't strictly adults-only, this elegant Australian-owned cruise line doesn't tend to draw many families, making it ideal for couples. There are 12 Scenic all-suite vessels on Europe's waterways, each one featuring nifty innovations such as in-suite windows that slide down at the touch of a button—perfect for languid mornings gazing at picture-perfect scenery. Couples can dress up for glitzy cocktail receptions and choose from romantic dining venues, including Portobellos or L'Amour, for candlelit meals for two. Diamond Deck and Junior Suite guests can also dine at Table d'Or, where a six-course degustation menu is paired with local wines.

With balmy summertime temperatures, Portugal's sublime Douro is an idyllic river cruise destination for couples. The intimate 96-passenger Scenic Azure winds through the port-producing (and UNESCO-listed) Douro Valley, with its terraced vineyards, olive groves and tranquil towns and villages. The itinerary sees Scenic whisk passengers to historic vineyards and cellars in Regua, Vinhateiro and the Côa Valley to sip on local wines and Port. An unmissable outing for couples is a private classical concert at the beguiling Sao Francisco Church in Porto, offered as one of the cruise line’s “Scenic Enrich” experiences.

Sail the storied Seine from Paris to Normandy aboard Tauck’s 98-passenger MS Sapphire.

MS Sapphire

Itineraries : 11-day River Seine: Châteaux, Impressionism and Normandy, Paris to Paris
Departure: July-August 2024
All-Star Amenities : Inclusive drinks, shore exclusive shore excursions, gratuities and airport transfers; Molton Brown toiletries and terry cloth robes in cabins, 400-thread satin bed linen; putting green

Tauck’s all-inclusive European river cruises are a boon for travelers with a thirst for history. The cruise line sails all of Europe’s major rivers, offering thoughtfully crafted shore experiences that dig deep into each destination’s past. Between off-hours tours at world-renowned museums and guided walks through medieval cities, guests are also invited to join enriching lectures aboard the ships.

Sail the Seine from Paris to Normandy aboard Tauck’s intimate 98-passenger MS Sapphire to explore destinations such as Caudebec-en-Caux, Les Andelys, Mont-St-Michel and Étretat. The cruise features a number of thoughtful, exclusive excursions, like dinner at the 16th-century Château du Taillis and a walking tour in Rouen to Joan of Arc Square and the Cathédrale Notre-Dame de Rouen. Most poignant, however, is the chance to pause at the D–Day Beaches, with 2024 marking the 80th anniversary of the Allied landings in Normandy. The guided tour also visits the somber Normandy American Cemetery and Memorial on Omaha Beach.

The line’s newest ship sails Europe’s Rhine, Main, Danube and Moselle rivers, featuring a heated pool that transforms into a cinema, spacious suites and a dedicated wellness area.

Emerald Luna

Itineraries: 8-day Jewels of the Rhine, Amsterdam to Basel (or vice versa)
Departure: May-October 2024 and 2025
All-Star Amenities : Indoor pool that turns into a movie theater at night; 20 e-bikes for use in port; Egyptian cotton sheets; ESPA toiletries in bathrooms; top-deck barbecues; golf-putting green; single occupancy cabins

River cruises are not known as a low-cost vacation option. Some lines, however, offer excellent value—especially when you compare the price to the overall cost of a land-based vacation in Europe. One cruise line that consistently offers great value is Emerald Cruises, a river cruise operator that gets travelers more bang for their buck—without compromising on quality or service. As standard, Emerald’s eight Europe-based “Star-Ships” offer a generous number of inclusions built into the cost of the cruise, with typically lower entry level fares.

Airport transfers to and from the ship, drinks (non-alcoholic, beer and wine) with lunch and dinner, gratuities, Wi-Fi and a plethora of shore excursions are included. There are often excellent deals to be had, too, such as free flight credit when booking early, buy-one-get-one-free offers and reduced-single supplement for solo travelers. Emerald’s ships are unquestionably elegant, including the 180-guest Emerald Luna, which sails Europe’s Rhine, Main, Danube and Moselle rivers. Guests on board can enjoy a heated pool that transforms into a cinema, spacious suites and a dedicated wellness area.

The fleetwide reservation-only Vintage Room is set up for private dining, with an extravagant seven-course wine-pairing menu.

Riverside Ravel

Itineraries: 7-night Experience Rhône, Avignon to Avignon (three-, four- and five-night itineraries also available)
Departure: April 10, April 22, June 14, June 26, 2024
All-Star Amenities : All-suite ship; butler-service; onboard concierges; Vintage Room for private dining and wine tastings; open dining in the main restaurant; rooftop herb gardens

Palate-pleasing gastronomy and epicurean shore excursions make new arrival Riverside Luxury Cruises a standout for foodies. The cruise line, which cruises on several ships that once belonged to luxury cruise line Crystal, offers a sublime culinary program, particularly on the 110-passenger Riverside Ravel , which taps into the Rhône’s extraordinary bounty. All menus onboard reflect the region, with vintage wines, dishes featuring truffle, escargot and foie gras and a gout-inducing selection of premium cheeses.

For true indulgence, book a table at the fleetwide reservation-only Vintage Room, set up for private dining, with an extravagant seven-course wine-pairing menu. The experience is worth the $295 fee, especially for true oenophiles who will get to savor coveted Bordeaux Grand Crus. Other highlights include visiting a truffle farm near Viviers and savoring a selection of wines at Châteauneuf-du-Pape vineyard. In Lyon, guests can visit foodie heaven at Les Halles de Lyon Paul Bocuse, the city’s outstanding indoor food market filled with a vast array of produce.

AmaWaterways' active excursions take in some of Europe’s most breathtaking scenery—enticing passengers on hilly bike rides and waterside hikes.

Itineraries: 7-night Magna on the Danube, Budapest to Vilshofen
Departure: February 11-December 15, 2024, March 9 - December 28, 2025
All-Star Amenities: Full-size pickleball court (AmaMagna); wellness studio with fitness equipment; active shore excursions; included Wi-Fi and excursions in every port; complimentary wellness bar with juices and infused water; daily cocktail hour and bikes for use ashore

AmaWaterways' holistic wellness program encompasses a variety of fitness classes and wellness-themed excursions, making it the leading European river cruise line for active travelers. Each ship has an onboard wellness director who hosts daily fitness classes as well as meditation and yoga. The cruise line’s active excursions are perfect for taking in some of Europe’s most breathtaking scenery, with passengers able to cycle among Austria's Wachau Valley vineyards on a Danube cruise or hike the Philosopher's Way for dreamy views of Heidelberg on a Rhine sailing. AmaWaterways was also the first river cruise operator to carry a fleet of complimentary bicycles.

The 196-passenger, Danube-based AmaMagna is a standout among the cruise line’s well-equipped offerings. Limber up for a game of pickleball on the full-size court that was just added in 2023. Passengers can work out solo at the Zen Wellness Studio or join an open-air spin class, while drinking in scenic river views. The ship's ample deck space also offers passengers the chance to unwind in the heated pool and indulge in a nap-inducing massage in one of two treatment rooms.

About Kerry Spencer, Your European River Cruise Guide

I am a freelance journalist who has covered travel for over a decade and the cruise industry for several of those years. I've written about destinations ranging from the South China Sea to the Arctic and Norway. Some of my favorite cruise experiences include sailing the Rhine during fall or a transatlantic voyage on the Queen Mary 2 during summer. I adore my home city, London, the west coast of Ireland and New York, where I once spent a summer living in Brooklyn Heights on a work abroad program. Outside of travel, my passions are my veggie patch, my record collection and spending time with friends and family.

Kerry Spencer

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The New River Cruise Ships and Sailings We’re Most Excited About This Year

The world’s newest river cruise ships are delivering passengers to beautiful destinations in europe, asia, and south america in style. and they’re leaving less of a footprint, too..

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A rendering of the sun deck with a hot tub and white lounge chairs on the forthcoming "Amadeus Nova" river cruise ship

The forthcoming Amadeus Nova is bringing sustainable luxury to the Danube.

Courtesy of Amadeus River Cruises

A new year is a good time to set new goals, and for river cruise lines that has meant putting a stronger focus on developing more eco-friendly ships and products for the year ahead.

River cruise companies are joining a growing industry-wide effort to reduce carbon emissions by implementing new sustainability practices. As demand for greener trips grows, companies are aiming to keep pace.

From ships equipped with cleaner, more energy-efficient engines to new vegan menus and sailings that explore destinations rich in biodiversity, here are five new river cruise ships, itineraries, and programs that are putting sustainability front and center in 2024.

“Amadeus Nova,” a model for more sustainable European river cruising

Aerial view of Germany's Wachau Valley, with calm, curving Danube River and green hills

Among the destinations the Amadeus Nova will explore will be Germany’s Wachau Valley.

Courtesy of Thomas Peham/Unsplash

In April, the Illinois-based river cruise line with Austrian roots, Amadeus River Cruises , will launch the new Amadeus Nova , which will introduce new energy-efficient technology aimed at lowering the line’s carbon footprint on Europe’s inland waterways. The 158-passenger vessel will feature hybrid diesel-electric drive, a powerful battery, and upgraded engines with filters and catalysts aimed at reducing emissions and eliminating pollutants. Solar panels will provide the electricity onboard, while heat recovery systems and insulated glass will enhance energy efficiency. All of these features will also translate into a quieter sailing experience for guests with less vibration felt overall due to an upgraded propeller system.

In addition to the green innovations, Amadaus Nova will also feature the line’s trademark amenities onboard, including a spa and fitness center, a heated pool on the sun deck, and the signature Café Vienna, a Viennese-inspired coffeehouse featuring a variety of hot beverages and pastries.

The Amadeus Nova will sail on the Danube River beginning in April, offering five itineraries ranging from 8- to 11-day cruises, with fares starting at $1,926 per person. Highlights will include stops in the Wachau Valley, Vienna, Budapest, Belgrade, and Bucharest.

Antara launches catamarans in India’s Bhitarkanika National Park

A broad, flat waterway between green banks of Bhitarkanika National Park

Explore the verdant wilderness of Bhitarkanika National Park from the vantage point of an intimate catamaran.

Photo by Shutterstock

What better way to launch a new river cruise destination in one of India’s most ecologically rich national parks than with a new fleet of intimate ships, thoughtfully designed to leave as little impact as possible on its natural surroundings?

Enter the new catamarans from Antara River Cruises , a pair of first-of-their-kind vessels for the luxury Indian river cruise company and a stark departure from its typical, larger 56-passenger river boats that sail on the Ganges River, often between Varanasi and Kolkata. Antara’s catamarans are sleek in design and small in size, with only two identical suites onboard, which can accommodate up to four people; they feature queen beds and private bathrooms, along with a lounge, dining area, and sun deck.

As with the rest of Antara’s fleet, the catamarans prioritize sustainability. They are custom built to run on a hybrid solar electric and fuel-powered system and are equipped with biochemical toilets and water purifiers onboard. The ships sail deep into the network of the Brahmani, Baitarani, and Mahanadi rivers in the Bhitarkanika National Park in eastern India, home to saltwater crocodiles, more than 320 species of birds, and India’s largest mangrove system.

There are two itineraries available on the two vessels: the three-night “Cruising in Bhitarkanika” voyage and the four-night “Amazon of the East” journey; both sail roundtrip from Gupti in Odisha. Departures kicked off this month with fares starting at $1,080 per person for both itineraries.

AmaWaterway’s “AmaMagdalena” explores the biodiversity of Colombia’s Magdalena River

Sunset over the colonial coastal city of Cartegena, Colombia, including historic church with cupola, with modern skyscrapers in distance

The Magdalena River cruises all either begin or end in the colonial coastal city of Cartegena.

Luxury cruisers will have a new river to explore when AmaWaterways debuts the first of two ships on Colombia’s Magdalena River. Sailings on the 60-passenger AmaMagdalena , which launches in November 2024, will immerse travelers in the diverse populations, cultures, and music along the river that explorers sailed to pave the way for trade and communications between the Andes and the Caribbean. Today, the river basin is home to about 80 percent of Colombia’s population, which has a blend of people with Indigenous, European, and African ancestry.

Colombia is also rich with biodiversity—home to more than 1,900 species of birds and 150 types of mammals—and AmaWaterways aims to prioritize sustainability in its ship design in order to leave as little impact on its natural surroundings as possible. The AmaMagdalena will feature 30 staterooms, all with the balconies, a main restaurant, fitness center, three spa treatment rooms, and a sun deck with whirlpool. AmaWaterways will be the first major river cruise line to launch in Colombia. But it probably won’t be the last. Abercrombie & Kent, which purchased the luxury Crystal Cruises brand, said it is also looking to put a ship or two on the river.

A eight-day sailing between Baranquilla and Cartagena includes a stop in Palenque, the first free city in Colombia, bird-watching in Magangue, and a visit to Nueva Venecia, a village of stilt houses, with fares starting at $3,599 per person.

“Avalon Alegria” brings greener sailings to Portugal’s Douro River Valley

A rendering of a beige stateroom, with floor-to-ceiling glass door on the "Avalon Alegria"

The Avalon Alegria will offer priceless Douro River Valley views from staterooms with beds facing floor-to-ceiling sliding glass doors.

Courtesy of Avalon Waterways

For the first time, river cruise line Avalon Waterways will begin sailing in Portugal’s Douro River Valley in April 2024, launching a new ship there along with two itineraries. The Avalon Alegria will be able to accommodate 102 guests across 14 deluxe staterooms and 37 Panorama Suites, all with beds that face the floor-to-ceiling windows/doors and provide scenic views of the rolling hills and vineyards passing by.

Expect to find the familiar elements of Avalon’s Suite Ships onboard Alegria , from its relaxed luxury design to its sustainable features. The Suite Ships are built with technology to reduce energy consumption and emissions; they are also paper-free, using digital communications through its AvalonGo app with guests onboard for shore excursions, cruise updates, and menu items. The line uses locally sourced produce and other ingredients to further reduce its carbon footprint while sailing and to support local farming communities.

Itineraries available on the Avalon Alegria include the 8-day “Vida Portugal: Vineyards & Villages Along the Douro ,” which sails roundtrip from Porto, visiting everything from the birthplace of Mateus Rosé in Amarante to the artisanal markets of Pinhão. An 11-day version of this itinerary begins with a three-night extension in Lisbon, before boarding the 7-night cruise in Porto.

Fares for the 8-day “Vida Portugal” itinerary begin at $3,299, while fares for the 11-day version start at $4,248.

Vegan-friendly options with AmaWaterways

A white plate filled will colorful vegetables, figs, and pomegranate seeds, viewed from overhead, next to fork and knife

With more travelers looking for plant-based options, AmaWaterways is making vegan and vegetarian meals more widely available across its fleet.

Courtesy of Louis Hansel/Unsplash

River cruise line AmaWaterways , known for its upscale ships and excellent service, is expanding the vegan options onboard all of its ships in 2024 with a larger roster of plant-based menu items in response to increased demand.

Highlights of the new plant-based offerings begin with the appetizers, including an oven-roasted eggplant bruschetta with herbs or a garlic chickpeas bruschetta with balsamic vinegar; savory main courses like a slow-braised vegetable stew featuring portobello mushrooms, carrots, and cauliflower or grilled cauliflower and sweet potato paired with lemon salsa verde, cherry tomatoes, beans, and broccoli. For dessert, a nut-crusted pumpkin mousse infused with dates promises to provide a sweet finish to this sustainable culinary journey.

Jeri Clausing contributed to this story.

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13 European Rivers and Waterways to Cruise

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Michael Runkel / robert harding / Getty Images

The number of river cruise ships sailing in Europe has been rapidly growing for most of this century, and river cruises continue to be a very popular way to see cities and towns inaccessible to ocean-going ships. 

Today, travelers can cruise over a dozen different rivers in Europe. Most river cruise lines sail similar itineraries and include shore excursions in each port of call. The price differential between the river cruise lines is usually due to the level of service, cabin size, and onboard amenities.

This article explains some of the differences in the 13 primary cruise ship rivers and their itineraries. Although each river is discussed individually, note that many river cruise itineraries cover more than one river. For example, if someone has about 3 to 4 weeks of vacation time and enough money, they can sail all the way between Amsterdam and the Black Sea on the same ship. River cruise lines offer other combinations, but they involve moving on land from one river to another.

The Danube River: Central Europe

TripSavvy / Lauren Breedlove 

The source of the Danube River (Donau in German) is in the Black Forest of Germany, and it flows almost 1,800 miles east through central Europe towards the Black Sea, passing through or touching the border of Germany, Austria, Slovakia, Hungary, Croatia, Serbia, Romania, Bulgaria, Moldova, and Ukraine. 

River cruises sail the length of the navigable Danube between Regensburg and the Black Sea, but most itineraries focus on one of the two most spectacular sections—either between Passau and Budapest  or between Budapest and Bucharest. The navigable Danube has 19 locks, with 15 of them between Regensburg​ and Vienna. 

Passau to Budapest River Cruise

This Danube River cruise covers some of central Europe's most gorgeous river scenery in the UNESCO World Heritage Site Wachau Valley , plus it stops in three of the continent's most fascinating capital cities— Vienna , Bratislava , and Budapest . Other ports of call include towns like Linz (for tours to Salzburg), Melk , Krems, or Durnstein.

Most ports are marvelous walking destinations, and river ships stop right in the heart of the town and include a walking tour and free time to explore. 

Budapest to Bucharest

Travelers love this river cruise itinerary because it gives them the opportunity to visit eastern European countries where travel for North Americans has just become very popular and accessible in this century.  The citizens of Hungary, Serbia, Romania, and Bulgaria welcome tourists and love to share their corner of the world with travelers.

As the Danube continues its way to the Black Sea, travelers first explore amazing Budapest, with most ships spending either one or two days at the dock to allow their guests adequate time to see the city. The ship next stops in Kalocsa , the "Paprika Capital of the World", before moving on to Belgrade, the capital of Serbia. It is one of Europe's oldest cities and still carries remnants of the destruction of its last war in the 1990's.  As the ship moves downriver, guests explore a Roman archaeological site, museums of ancient history, the Iron Gates of the Danube, and miles of lovely scenery. Most of the river ships do not sail all the way to the Black Sea, but end at a small town near the Romanian capital of Bucharest.  Passengers are bused between the river and Bucharest, and the cruise tour includes time to see the city.

The Main River: Germany

The Main River (pronounced "mine") in Germany is the longest river that lies entirely in Germany. It flows west and joins the Rhine River near Mainz. The Main River is 327 miles long, but only 246 miles are open to traffic, and this navigable section of the river has 34 locks. The Main River cruise ports of call are Bamberg , Wurzburg , Wertheim , and Miltenberg . Each of these towns features interesting history, walking tours, and picturesque streets and architecture. 

Most river cruise travelers primarily see the Main River as a link between the Rhine and Danube Rivers. However, ships could not sail from the North Sea to the Black Sea until the Main-Danube Canal was completed in 1992, and it took 32 years of construction. Ships pass through 16 locks on the 106-mile transit of the canal. The Main-Danube Canal starts near the Danube River near Regensburg and travels north by Nuremberg to Bamberg. River cruise ships often feature day-long tours of Nuremberg while their ship passes through several of the locks, saving time for everyone.

The locks of the Main-Danube Canal (and elsewhere on the Danube and Main Rivers) are important to cruise travelers because the size of the locks dictates the size of river ships. Anyone who wonders why a river ship is so narrow will understand when they see the size of the locks. The low bridges over these same rivers control the height of the river ships. 

The Rhine River: Switzerland to the Netherlands

The source of the Rhine River is in Switzerland, and it flows over 800 miles generally northwest before dumping into the North Sea near Rotterdam in the Netherlands. River ships sailing only on the Rhine move between Basel, Switzerland (near the border of France, Germany, and Switzerland) and Amsterdam. The Rhine has 12 locks, 10 of which are downstream from Basel. All 10 of these are between Basel and Mainz where the Main River joins the Rhine. 

The cruise between Basel and Mainz features stopovers at Strasbourg and Heidelberg. Many visitors find Strasbourg particularly interesting since part of the city is in France and the other (across the Rhine) is in Germany. Heidelberg is not quite on the river but is very nearby. This university town is lively, and the city has a marvelous castle. 

The Rhine River cruise region between Mainz and Koblenz is one of the most scenic in Europe. The breathtaking castles lining the Upper Middle Rhine Valley make it a traveler's favorite. Many people take a European river cruise just to see these magnificent old castles. The Loreley (Lorelei) Rock is also found along this section of the river. Cruise travelers have many opportunities to see the "castles on the Rhine" since they are also included on cruises between Amsterdam and Danube River ports or on Moselle/Rhine/Main/Danube River cruises.

One cute town with lots to offer Rhine River cruise travelers is Rudesheim , which is between Mainz and Koblenz. It offers a fun "party" street, a mechanical musical instrument museum (way more fun and interesting than it sounds), a cable car to the top of a hill with great views of the river and surrounding vineyards, and a giant German monument. 

Another popular stopover on the Rhine River is at Cologne , Germany. As river ships approach the city, the huge cathedral soon comes into view, and a visit to the cathedral and its square is a popular site in the city.

The only other stop for most ships sailing the Rhine River towards Amsterdam is at Kinderdijk to see its 19 windmills, most dating back to the 18th century. Along with tulips, windmills are an iconic symbol of the Netherlands, and the most picturesque are at Kinderdijk.

The Moselle River: France, Luxembourg, and Germany

The Mosel (German) or Moselle (French) River begins in France and passes through Luxembourg and Germany before flowing into the Rhine River at Koblenz. The Moselle has 28 locks, but only 12 are on the section of the river used by river cruise ships. The Moselle is 255 miles long, but river cruises only sail on the last 100 miles before it enters the Rhine. 

The Moselle River is one of Europe's most scenic, with a river valley that twists and turns as it makes its way towards the Rhine. The hillsides are covered with vineyards, most growing grapes for Germany's famous Riesling.  Ports of call include Cochem, Bernkastel, and Koblenz. All three of these towns are delightful to explore, and ships dock near the town centers. A highlight of Cochem is its spectacular castle , and cruise ship guests all love the views of the river from its towers. 

Some of the river cruise lines' most innovative itineraries include the Moselle River. For example, Moselle River cruises often start in Luxembourg or in Trier , Germany. However, cruise lines sometimes include a few days in Paris before the cruise begins and then transport guests to the ship via the TGV train from Paris to Metz or Remich and then on to Trier via bus. It's an exciting way to start a cruise! 

The Moselle River is included on river cruise tours between Paris and Prague , Amsterdam and Basel, or Paris to Budapest. 

The Elbe River: Germany

TripSavvy / Christopher Larson

The Rhine and Danube Rivers are the most popular rivers to cruise in Germany, but those who are fascinated by 20th-century history or by Martin Luther and the Protestant Reformation will love an Elbe River cruise between Prague and Berlin . The 680-mile long Elbe has seven locks, but five are in the Czech Republic upstream from where river cruises embark in Melnik and the other two are downstream from where the ships disembark at Magdeburg for the drive to Potsdam and then Berlin. The Elbe eventually flows into the North Sea near Hamburg. 

Elbe River cruise tours include hotel stays in Prague and Berlin, two of Europe's great cities. Most of the cruise is in eastern Germany, and cities like Dresden , Meissen, and Wittenburg all have their own special charm. After being almost completely destroyed during World War II and now rebuilt, Dresden is a marvelous city to visit, with one of the world's great museums. Meissen has its fine porcelain, and Wittenburg has Martin Luther and the Reformation. Seeing the improvements in these eastern German cities since the reunification of the country in 1990 is impressive.

The Elbe River is often shallow, so cruise lines sailing the Elbe use smaller ships with a shallower draft for these cruises. 

The Seine River: France

TripSavvy / Taylor McIntyre

Almost all Seine River  cruises sail roundtrip from Paris, heading downstream and north towards Le Havre and Honfleur, where it enters the English Channel. The 483-mile river has 34 locks, but 29 are upstream from Paris.  Paris is a beautiful city and a perfect place to begin a French river cruise vacation.

Ports of call visited between Paris and the sea might include Vernon, Les Andelys, Conflans, and Mantes-la-Jolie.  Monet's famous  Giverny garden is near Vernon. A highlight for many travelers is an all-day excursion to the Normandy beaches of World War II .

Many river ships turn around near Rouen , which is 75 miles from the sea and navigable by ocean-going ships.  Others go 27 miles further downstream to Caudebec-en-Caux. Most cruise lines spend one or two nights in one of these two cities, which allows their guests to have a day on the Normandy beaches and to explore the charming coastal town of Honfleur. 

The Rhone River: France

France also has river cruises in the southern part of the country. One of these is a Rhone River cruise in the Provence region between Lyon and Arles or Avignon .  The 500-mile Rhone River has 13 locks, and 12 of these are between Lyon and where the Rhone empties into the Mediterranean Sea.  The source of the Rhone River is the Rhone Glacier in Switzerland. 

Some Rhone River cruise tours begin with a few days at a hotel in Paris and then include a transfer to Lyon to begin their cruise. It's not a surprise that many of the highlights of one of these cruises include food or drink. Wine and cheeses abound, and a tour of the Valrhona chocolate factory in Tournon is an unforgettable experience for all chocolate lovers. History buffs will love Avignon and its importance to the Catholic Church, and they'll also love exploring the walled-city of Viviers and the Roman Pont du Gard near Avignon.

Most river cruise lines have combination tours that include Rhone River cruises along with one on the Saone, Seine, or Bordeaux region of France. Extensions to Paris, Nice, or other cities in Provence or the French Riviera are also easily done. 

The Saone River: France

The 300-mile long Saone River is a tributary of the Rhone River, merging in Lyon. Since river ships can only sail about 80 miles upstream from Lyon through Macon up to Chalon-sur-Saone, cruises usually include time on the Rhone River also. Although the Saone has 51 locks, only 3 are impacted by river cruises.

Macon is a city in the south Burgundy region of France, so it has some fine wines and opportunities to taste them. This ancient city dates back to 200 BC, and the town also has several museums and historic attractions. Many of the interesting parts of the old city are on the Saone River. 

Chalon-sur-Saone  is also in Burgundy, and many local activities revolve around food and wine. 

Bordeaux Waterways: France

The fourth region of France with river cruises is Bordeaux , which is southwest of Paris. Ships explore the Bordeaux region on three rivers—the Dordogne, Garonne, and Gironde. The city of Bordeaux is the heart of the cruise, which primarily showcases the superb wines of the region.

These three rivers are not as scenic as those in other parts of Europe, primarily because they are subject to huge fluctuations with the tides (especially the Gironde). In addition, the land is very flat. The vineyards offer some beauty, but many cannot be seen from the rivers.

Some ocean ships can sail from the Atlantic Ocean up to the city of Bordeaux , but a bridge prevents them from going further. Bordeaux is a gorgeous French city and is fun to explore, even for those who don't like wine.

In addition to the city of Bordeaux, ports of call might include Cadillac, Libourne, Pauillac, Saint Emilion, and Blaye. Seeing the many famous vineyards  and wine cellars near Pauillac and Saint Emilion is memorable for all who love wine and historic cities. Travelers will have their friends talking if they take a selfie front of a Saint Emilion shop that sells bottles of wine for thousands of dollars each.

Some cruise lines even offer an optional tour to the city of Cognac, where guests have the opportunity to blend their own. Another fun activity is to go truffle hunting with a farmer and his dog (pigs aren't used anymore). 

The Douro River: Portugal and Spain

Until a few years ago, even experienced travelers did not know about the Douro River as a cruise destination . This 557-mile long river starts in Spain, but most of its navigable waters are in Portugal, and the river flows into the Atlantic Ocean at Porto. The Douro River has 15 dams that generate hydroelectric power, but only five are on the navigable section, and all of these also have locks to enable ships to go up and down the river. Because of its rapids, the Douro was once very dangerous for ships to travel, but it has always been used to transport valuable goods downstream. The first valuable was gold mined in the mountains, but wine eventually replaced the gold.

The Douro River valley is spectacular as the river winds its way down the mountains toward the sea. Once ships leave Porto and sail upriver, the scenery changes rapidly as the river narrows and cliffs are steeper. Only a few small towns are visible, although vineyards fill the slopes. The region is settled, but there is not much to be seen by just walking from the ship. Buses are needed to take guests sightseeing and to visit the historical and cultural sites. This is an amazing river cruise destination, so don't let the bus time scare you.

Ships sail up the Douro from Porto to Spain, turn around, and sail back down. They are not allowed to sail at night, but different shore excursions are offered upstream and downstream, so it doesn't seem repetitive. 

Douro River ships are specifically built to sail this river and are smaller since they need to navigate the sharp turns in the river and the smaller locks. Some river cruise lines feature 7-day cruise-only vacations, embarking and disembarking their ships in Porto.  Others have cruise tours that include two or three nights in Lisbon, a transfer to Porto, and then a 7-day cruise. 

The Volga River and Other Russian Waterways

A cruise on Russian rivers and waterways between St. Petersburg and Moscow is the best way to see parts of Russia on a cruise. Many will travel to St. Petersburg on a Baltic cruise and are amazed at the beauty and fascinated by the history and culture of this great city. Some of these travelers want to learn more about Russia, and this river cruise itinerary fits the bill.

The Volga River, which is Europe's longest, is the major river on this cruise. Its source is in central Russia and it empties into the Caspian Sea. Ships sailing from St. Petersburg embark on the Neva River, sail through Lake Ladoga and then onto the Svir River, which joins with the Volga-Baltic Waterway before entering the Volga River. The Volga system features many reservoirs, so often ship passengers feel they are on an ocean rather than a river. The last body of water is the Moscow Canal, but thanks to the lock system, Moscow is connected with the Baltic Sea at St. Petersburg and the cities on the Volga downstream to the Caspian Sea. 

This cruise is usually 12-13 days and includes overnights (or more) in both St. Petersburg and Moscow . Other ports of call include small towns on the Svir River that are perfect for shopping, trying different kinds of vodka, or experiencing a Russian banya (sauna and bath house). Ships also stop at Kizhi Island to see traditional wooden homes and churches, and at historic towns down the Volga River like Yaroslavl and Uglich that provide a look at the culture and life outside of the major cities. 

The tour guides on this river cruise recognize that travelers are very interested about their lives in Russia, so they feature many lectures and free-flowing discussions on different topics while the ship is sailing. Since the cruise is only in one country, the entire focus can be on Russian food, drink, clothing, schools, churches, politics, and everyday life.  And, since Moscow is far inland, it's an unexpected treat to visit on a cruise. 

The Dnieper River: Ukraine

The 1,333-mile Dnieper River is Europe's fourth longest and sails from Russia through Belarus and Ukraine before flowing into the Black Sea. It has many hydroelectric dams and is very important to the Ukraine economy. 

Cruises sail between Kiev and Odessa, so the entire cruise is in the Ukraine. These two cities are so important over half of an 11-day cruise is spent there. Kiev is the capital of Ukraine and is one of Europe's oldest cities, offering many historic sites and a major cathedral. ​Odessa sits on the northern shore of the Black Sea, not far from where the Dnieper River enters the Sea. Unlike Kiev, Odessa was not founded until the 18th century by Russian Empress Catherine the Great.Today, it is a transportation hub and its beaches attract many tourists.  

Other Dnieper River ports visited on the cruise are Kremenchug, Dnipro, and Zaporozhye, which is the ancestral home of the Cossacks. It's not surprising that Cossack horsemen put on a show similar to the one in Puszta , Hungary since Cossacks settled both regions.

Due to the political unrest in the Ukraine, many river cruise lines have postponed running their ships on the Dnieper River. Viking River Cruises is the only major river cruise line that caters to English-speaking guests that currently has Dnieper cruises scheduled.

Spring Tulip and Windmill Cruises: Netherlands and Belgium

A river cruise in the Netherlands and Belgium encompasses parts of well-known rivers like the Rhine and lesser-known rivers such as the Issel, Nedderrijn, and Schelde (or Scheldt). Some of the cruises are also on waterways such as the Amsterdam-Rhine Canal or Ijssel Lake. 

A spring tulip time cruise in the Netherlands and Belgium is a marvelous cruise for flower lovers, but also for those who appreciate quiet villages, windmills, and history. Travelers fascinated by the power of water will enjoy learning about how the Dutch have reclaimed much of their land from the sea and also how they keep the sea from flooding that precious land. The waterways of the Netherlands and Belgium have about 40 locks, all of which are important for flood control rather than height differences. (Don't worry, river cruises don't pass through all of them.)

Many of these cruises are roundtrip from Amsterdam , and a day touring this famous city is often included in the tour before the ship sails. 

The best time to see the tulip fields and world-famous Keukenhof Gardens is from late March to mid-May, so river cruise lines operate at full strength during this time. Most of the ships that sail the waterways of the Netherlands are 7 or 8 days long, while those that sail around the Netherlands and Belgium are usually 10-14 days. 

A few cruise lines also sail the Netherlands and Belgium in the fall months, but you won't see any tulips blooming in the fields at that time of year. 

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