For centuries, Europe’s majestic and historic rivers - the Danube, the Rhine, the Seine, the Volga, and the Douro - have served as enchanting conduits of culture, history, and breathtaking natural beauty. Navigating their storied waters on a river cruise opens a portal to the heart of the continent, showcasing the past beautifully juxtaposed with the vibrant present. The romance of these journeys is undeniable. As you drift past stately castles, lush vineyards, and old-world villages, every twist and turn along the river reveals something new.

The allure of a European river cruise is simple. It offers a seamless blend of exploration and comfort, where timeless landscapes unfold before your eyes, all from the tranquil luxury of what could easily be a five-star hotel. Best of all, it’s never been easier to set your sights on a storied European waterway. A roster of new river ships and imaginative itineraries from celebrated lines like AmaWaterways ensure that wherever you dream of going, there is a ship to take you there.

Here, we highlight the top five reasons your next trip should be a cruise on one of Europe’s iconic rivers.


Reason 1: You’re a fan of smaller ships

The smaller size of river cruise ships allows for a more personal and relaxed experience. Typically, these ships accommodate fewer than 200 passengers, thus promoting a strong sense of camaraderie among passengers. The pace tends to be more leisurely and contemplative, with just the right balance between observing everyday life along the banks of Europe’s most famous rivers and fully immersing yourself in it. On average, AmaWaterways’ ships accommodate about 150 passengers, though two new ships launching in 2024, the AmaLilia and AmaMagdelena, will accommodate just 68 and 70 guests, respectively.

Even the line’s largest ship, the flagship AmaMagna, feels small and intimate, despite measuring nearly double the width of other river ships on the Danube. The added square footage is devoted not to more passengers but to passenger-loved features like larger staterooms (more than half are suites with full balconies), more dining options, and a range of recreational amenities (including a pool, cinema, and pickleball court) rarely seen on river ships.

Reason 2: You’re a devoted foodie and oenophile

Naturally, exceptional food and wine are integral components of a river cruise experience, especially in Europe, where each region has its own unique culinary traditions and styles of wine – and sampling them is an especially rewarding way to experience the local culture. Because many European wine regions are located along major rivers, a river cruise on the Douro, the Rhine, or the Rhône (to name a few) will take you into the heart of the world’s most famous wine-producing areas. Expect tastings, vineyard tours, and dinners with expert food and wine parings.

As the first river cruise company ever to be inducted into the Chaîne des Rôtisseurs, one of the world’s most prestigious food and wine guilds, AmaWaterways sets the culinary bar high. Among its signature experiences is the Chef’s Table, an intimate and lavish multi-course dinner prepared while you watch, then expertly paired with hand-selected local reds and whites from Europe’s most renowned wine regions.

In addition, the line offers more than 60 exclusive “Celebration of Wine River Cruises” through Europe’s most famous wine regions. These wine-themed sailings include rare opportunities to indulge in enhanced epicurean experiences such as wine tastings, curated dinners showcasing exceptionally paired food and wine, and shore excursions to acclaimed vineyards, wineries, and cellars. Naturally, each “Celebration of Wine River Cruise” is hosted by a wine professional with unsurpassed industry knowledge. For example, guests of AmaWaterways’ “Enticing Douro” voyage in November 2023 will travel in the company of Karl & Carole Dinger, owners of Terra Vina Wines in Wilsonville, Oregon.


Reason 3: You only want to pack once

If there’s one thing travelers love about cruising, it is the opportunity to pack once but still visit multiple destinations in a single trip. This is especially appealing to families who want to share their love of travel with the next generation but don’t relish the packing and unpacking required on a land tour.

The more intimate size of a river ship, as well as the availability of connecting staterooms and triple or quadruple accommodations and the abundance of high-energy recreational options at each stop, make European river cruising an accessible and engaging travel experience for families and groups of friends.

Reason 4: You’ve never met an old-world city you didn’t love

And there’s no better time to experience a European city’s old-world charm than during the holiday season. River cruises offer a magical opportunity to celebrate the Yuletide season and partake in one of the continent’s most timeless and iconic holiday traditions: the charming Christmas Markets that proliferate along the banks of Europe’s iconic rivers, including the Danube and the Rhine. 

Combining spellbinding settings with rich history, AmaWaterways offers five unique river cruises showcasing Europe’s storied Christmas Markets, including the Cologne Christmas Market, located in front of the city’s UNESCO-designated Gothic cathedral, and Christkindelsmärik in Strasbourg, France’s oldest Christmas market. The line’s eight-day “Christmas Markets on the Rhine” voyage, for example, pairs stops at multiple Christmas markets with immersive activities like vineyard hikes, bike tours, beer tastings, and gondola rides.


Reason 5: You’re looking for a bucket list trip

A bucket list trip needs to check many boxes – history, culture, food, and adventure – and AmaWaterways’ new “Seven River Journeys through Europe” does just that. In short, it’s an unmatched fusion of exploration, relaxation, and cultural immersion. It’s more than just a river cruise; it’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to experience the many layers of Europe, its rich history, vibrant cultures, and the serene beauty of its rivers in a profound and personal way.

Ranging from 45 to 49 days, these unique extended journeys – the longest river cruises ever offered – include seven rivers, 14 countries, and countless signature experiences exclusive to AmaWaterways. The voyages debuted in the spring of 2023, with seasonal departures scheduled this fall, and in the spring and summer of 2024.

Befitting a voyage crafted by the “Godfather of River Cruising,” AmaWaterways co-founder Rudi Schreiner, the journeys pair specially curated experiences with exceptional amenities and a breathtaking assortment of included shore excursions in historic European capitals, charming old-world villages, and UNESCO World Heritage Sites.