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Rhine river cruise: Sailing on Europe’s finest river

Rhine, river cruise, cruise, Rhine river cruise, travel, European rivers

Rising in the Alps and meandering through Switzerland, France, Germany and Holland, the 776-mile river known as Father Rhine is a mighty waterway in more ways than one.

The Rhine has long been a historic and economic artery for the people living by it, clear to see from the banks lined with castles – more than any other river in the world – fortresses, churches, vineyards and cultural cities such as Cologne. As far as tourism is concerned, the Rhine is one of the most popular rivers for cruising, accounting for 42.1 per cent of all UK bookings according to latest CLIA statistics. Seven-night sailings, typically from Amsterdam to Basel, and all-new taster itineraries are ideal for new-to-cruise clients, with longer voyages taking in the Danube a good option for repeaters.

With all mainstream river companies featuring the Rhine, there’s always something new to sell. This year and 2020 will see new and refurbished ships and expanded cruise programmes. Rhine river cruise highlights include the picturesque 40-mile Middle Rhine Valley, which is dotted with castles, wine-making villages such as Rudesheim, and the landmark Lorelei Rock.

A-Rosa, river cruise, environment, Rhine river cruise, emissions, battery powered ships
A-Rosa’s emission-free vessel launches in 2021

Looking to the future

AmaWaterways is increasing its capacity on the Rhine with two new ships. The 156-passenger AmaMora is based on the Rhine for 2019 and sails the seven-night Enchanting Rhine and Captivating Rhine itineraries, as well as festive market cruises. Sister vessel AmaSiena will debut in 2020, with itineraries including the 10-night Rhine & Moselle Delights and the 11-night Rhine & Moselle Fairytales.

In 2020 the River Cruise Line is offering MS Arena, the first significant expansion since the company was bought by Arena Travel in 2017. The four-star ship is having extensive refurbishment and will be available only for the line’s customers.

The River Cruise Line’s sales and business development manager, Tim Fleming, says: “Many of our most popular cruises are on the Rhine, so for 2020 it is really exciting to be able to offer several new itineraries aboard the MS Arena. For those clients who have perhaps experienced the Rhine before on a short trip, such as visiting the Christmas markets, our new itineraries that combine the Rhine with the Moselle or the Danube, will offer a chance to enjoy longer journeys and to discover some fascinating destinations.”

In 2021 A-Rosa will unveil its first ground-breaking E-Motion vessel on the Rhine. The 140-passenger ship will feature battery propulsion for emission-free sailing in and out of ports. Designed specifically for family and multi-generational cruises, it will have a dedicated kids’ club and separate children’s pool. It will also be the first Rhine ship with four passenger decks.

Shearings Holidays will offer 24 Rhine itineraries for 2020, including four new ones with A-Rosa – three festive cruises and sailings to coincide with the dazzling Rhine in Flames celebrations when towns and villages along the river are lit up by fireworks during the summer.

Shearings also has a new Rhine & Glacier Express itinerary with CroisiEurope featuring a four-night cruise through Switzerland, France and Germany and a spectacular panoramic journey on the Glacier Express train, on dates between May and October 2020. In addition, the seven-night Classic Rhine to Switzerland cruise through Holland, Germany, France and Switzerland is a new five-star option in partnership with Amadeus.

“The Rhine is a great choice for a river cruise, with a host of different itineraries and durations available,” explains Shearings’ product and yield director, Matthew Herbert. “It offers unique scenery with dramatic valleys, charming towns and villages and vineyards that line the hillsides along with fairytale castles and fortresses.

“The Rhine in Flames events are incredible to experience and a great reason to cruise. The same goes for festive cruises and agents should always promote these as a great way to see not just one Christmas market, but many along the route.”

Titan Travel, river cruise, Rhine river cruise, European rivers, travel
Titan Travel has two eight and 10-night Rhine options for 2020

Themed sailings

CroisiEurope is introducing a themed Rhine in Flames sailing for the first time this year, with a round-trip Strasbourg cruise departing on 9 August and leading in at £935. Other lines with new offerings for 2020 include Avalon Waterways. Part of its series of taster sailings, aimed at first-time river cruisers, is the four-night Taste of the Rhine. With fares from £1,311pp, it includes a culinary walk through Amsterdam and wine-tasting in Boppard.

New for 2020 from Newmarket Holidays is the four-night Frankfurt, Rudesheim & the Classic Rhine itinerary, also a perfect introduction to river cruising. Priced from £819pp, there are March and November departures, with air, rail or cruise only options available.

For clients with more time, Titan Travel has two eight and 10-night Rhine options for 2020. The longer itinerary, The Enchanting Rhine, from Basel to Amsterdam, is aboard MS Serenade 1, which is exclusively chartered by Titan and leads in at £1,599 for an October departure. Both sailings feature Titan’s VIP door-to-door travel service.

Emerald Waterways, meanwhile, has the new seven-night Tulips and the Rhine river cruise, which includes a visit to the famous Keukenhof Gardens. Fares start from £1,695pp in March and April 2020.

In addition to the seven-night Treasures of the Rhine cruise for 2020 from £1,720pp, all-inclusive brand Scenic has renovated its Space-Ships for 2019. Upgrades include novel salt therapy lounges to give passengers an invigorating boost and opulent baths with river views in the Royal Owner’s Suites.

There’s also been a facelift on APT’s Essential ships. Travelmarvel Diamond, Jewel and Sapphire have been fully refurbished with a modern fresh look and feel. Vessels sail on the 14-night European Gems cruise from Budapest to Amsterdam, with prices from £2,594pp.

Selling tips

  • Wide choice of ships and itineraries to suit all budgets
  • Ideal destination for first-time river cruise clients
  • Suggest sailings to coincide with colourful annual events such the wine harvest
  • Menus showcasing regional food, wine and beer
  • Long sailing season available, with springtime bulb field and Christmas market cruises

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