Those European riverboats that slowly make their way down the continent’s beloved waterways are picking up speed. River cruising has become the fastest-growing segment of the cruise industry—and these vessels are not your grandparents’ riverboats. North Americans are flocking to river cruises in record numbers, and leading river lines are providing supply for the demand.
German cruise line A-Rosa offers an all-inclusive river-cruise experience in European waters, including the Rhine, the Danube, and the Rhone. Traditionally, river-ship rooms have been small and Spartan, and balconies were rare, since the vessels must be built narrow enough to fit through locks and low enough to pass under Old World bridges. But A-Rosa’s river-ship rooms are comfortable, and if proof is needed that you are indeed on a river, you need to just gaze out the floor-to-ceiling window—yes, you are drifting.
For a repeat sea or ocean cruiser, the pace of a European river cruise can be unexpected. While most cruise ships prepare you for days at sea with a resort-like ambience and more than enough activities on board, the focus of a European river cruise is on the itinerary and the fantastic ports of call. Most great European cities were built either on the coast or, if landlocked, on the banks of a river; majestic castles, rolling vineyards, and charming rural villages, seemingly lost in time, are part of the everyday scenery.
There is the wonderful food, of course, and the entertainment, but the spa and fitness facilities on the A-Rosa ships deserve special mention. And you won’t have to miss a sight—the sauna includes a view outside to the river.