There is a saying in German: “Wenn schon, den schon.” It basically means “Let’s go whole hog.” Or “All In.”
When it comes to cruise travel, I often encourage you to take advantage of already being in a region by adding on time for deeper discovery, deeper immersion. One easy way to do this – adding time before and after your cruise in the ports where your cruise starts or ends. A second way, adding time to discover more of the immediate region (or even a bit further away). For example, adding the Loire Valley to a Bordeaux or Seine cruise, or taking the Eurostar to London when ending in Amsterdam or Paris. A third way – extending your cruises from the traditional week to two, three and even six weeks.
Now that’s what I would call “Going whole hog”!
In ocean cruising we call putting two cruises together “back to backs” – staying on the same ship for multiple itineraries, since many lines have different itineraries every other week or so.
How do you do this on a river cruise?
Similar to ocean cruising - by connecting sequential itineraries on the same ship/river or on different ships with the same/close disembarkation/embarkation dates in the same port or a manageable travel distance. For example, you could combine a Rhine River cruise with the Dutch Waterways since both include Amsterdam.
Some of the cruise lines are good about helping you put two itineraries together, but the best way to enjoy a longer itinerary? Book an itinerary that is already “prebuilt” that way. Whether you stay on the same ship or change ships, the cruise line handles everything, including the transportation and your luggage. Stress free for you, more time to enjoy the sites. Simply put, smoother sailing!
Following are my top longer cruise (15+ nights) itinerary recommendations:
Quite popular, this itinerary sails between Amsterdam and Budapest, along the Upper Rhine, the Main, Main Canal and the Danube. A second option is between Basel and Budapest – a similar itinerary except it sails the lower Rhine, starting or ending in Basel.
Both itineraries are quintessential Europe: iconic cities and capitals, storybook towns, great museums, incredible architecture, medieval castles, UNESCO sites, religious relics, war monuments and history galore.
The Grand Danube
Sailing between Germany and Romania, this itinerary offers you the opportunity to experience the Upper Danube (between Germany (Deggensdorf or Vilshofen) and Budapest) combined with the lesser traveled, former countries under Soviet rule Lower Danube (Budapest to Giurgiu). Along with the iconic Upper Danube sites (Vienna, Wachau Valley, Melk Abbey) amazing sites and cities await you on the Lower Danube, including the Iron Gates, Belogradchik Rocks and Fortress, centuries old wine growing hills, Bucharest, the rich history and beauty of Transylvania, the Danube Delta and Black Sea.
Truly a gem, this 25 day itinerary combines the Quintessential Europe with the Grand Danube, sailing between Amsterdam and Giurgiu (Romania).
The Rhine and Rhone
This itinerary is a combination of two traditional cruises - the Rhine between Amsterdam and Basel along with Provence between St. Jean de Losne (Beaune) and Port-Saint-Louis, just south of Avignon. A ride on the fast train transfers you between Basel and Beaune. Add an extra day Port-Saint-Louis to explore the Camargue, famous for their white horses, bulls and pink flamingos.
If you love everything about France, these two itineraries are for you. The Grand combines the Rhone with the Seine. A lovely combination, you experience the wonders of Provence, Paris and Normandy along with the intrigue of French history.
A second itinerary extends the trip to 22 days by adding in Bordeaux, home to 290,000 acres of vineyards, exceptional wines, French heritage sites (only second to Paris), hundreds of chateaux, the UNESCO medieval town of Saint-Emilion and of course the city of Bordeaux - also a UNESCO World Heritage site. A paradise for lover of wine and foodies.
A European Journey
Imagine – 46 night on the rivers, sailing through 14 countries. The grandest of them all! This trip has you exploring wonderful cities along the Dutch and Belgium Waterways, the Rhine, Moselle, Rhone, Seine, Main and Danube.
Europe may have the majority of the itineraries, but don't overlook the Mighty Mississippi! Ranging from 15 to 22 days, you can sail between Minneapolis (Red Wing) and New Orleans, experiencing truly All American cities along the way, including Hannibal, Missouri where you can step right into the writings of Mark Twain.
Interested in learning more about these exciting itineraries? Here to assist! For more information email me Laurie@lakamatravel.com or call 602.540.7338. Note - the names of the itineraries are for descriptive purposes. Actual itinerary names will differ by cruise line.
Laurie Marschall - Owner and Founder