River cruising truly is a relaxing experience. Once onboard, unpack once, meet your fellow passengers, sit back and experience changing landscapes and scenery in a leisurely way.
Ships tie up right in town, so you can walk to local shops, a sidewalk café, meet locals, head off on the ship's organized tours to museums, monuments and other must-see attractions or simply explore the area on your own. Not rushed, allowing you to savor the experience.
All true, but what many new to river cruising don't realize is just how active it can be or is. As much or as little as you want it to be. If you are like me, I find it relaxing just to be away from my normal day to day life, away from the office, taking in new sites, but I do miss my workouts. Some level of activity on most days - walking, hiking, biking - adds to my overall experience. And I'm not alone in this thinking.
River cruise companies have really picked up on this trend. Many boomers are active travelers and are seeking out experiences to fit this lifestyle. River cruising has also been discovered by younger generations and adding active excursions is a perfect enticement. One can see this with the increase of multi-generational trips and younger couples on board ship.
Most of the cruise lines already have walking tours for all levels of fitness, and some have complimentary bikes on board that can be used as part of a guided tour or on their own. Free time in town has always provided the opportunity to add an adventure or two. In Passau, for example, you can hike up to the Oberhaus Castle for a birds eye view of the town and river, or take walk/run along the Danube to the tip of the peninsula where the three rivers (Danube, Inn and Ilz) converge. In Rudesheim many take the gondola ride up to the top and hike back down through the vineyards. Some lines are even offering kayaking and canoeing.
Several companies, though, are taking a bigger step and launching new programs, expanding the active excursions to their current offerings or partnering with specialty companies, combining daily rides and hikes with the comforts of the ships.
AmaWaterways has partnered with Backroads, the world's #1 active travel company, offering bicycling and walking options on a number of river cruises in Europe (Danube, Douro, Rhine and Seine rivers) and Asia (Mekong river). Check out the Danube itinerary.
Avalon Waterways has added a variety of new active excursions to several Danube itineraries. Here is what Avalon has to say - direct from their website:
"Avalon's latest addition to its menu of Special Interest Cruises truly energizes the river cruise experience. They're called Active Discovery cruises and that they are. In addition to cruising down the Danube, travelers can hike, bike and explore their way through the scenic and historic wonders of the world. On these exhilarating vacations, travelers don't just walk through time. They jog through it. They don't just float down rivers. They paddle down them.
And when they've rightfully earned a slice of Linzer Torte, they bake one themselves.
These action-packed itineraries include the chance to discover an ice cave, take an archery lesson, and even tend to a farm, its crops and its critters – keeping travelers moving and engaged.
From ascending a mountain on a guided climb to descending into an underground salt mine, travelers and their sneakers can expect full immersion on these Active Discovery cruises."
CroisiEurope has teamed up with DIGnGO (a top bike tour company in Europe), offering biking excursions on three itineraries in France. CroisiEurope also has lovely hiking programs, in France in the Bordeaux region and along the Seine as well as on the lower Rhine, hiking along three borders (France, Germany and Switzerland). Traditional non-hiking excursions are offered too. Both traditional and hiking options are included in the fares.
Emerald Waterways has launched Emerald Active excursions, guided bike tours and hiking, on six of their most popular European itineraries. These excursions are not overly strenuous, but guests must be in proper physical condition to enjoy them. Great news - these excursions are offered with no additional charge.
These are just a few of the activities being offered. Yes, river cruising certainly can be as relaxing as you want, but it can be equally "exhausting" with all the options being offered for those seeking additional adventures.
Laurie Marschall - Owner and Founder