If you’ve ever wished that time could stand still, or at least slow down, to better appreciate the magical moments that life has to offer, a river cruise could be the perfect holiday for you. Sailing along one of Europe’s iconic waterways aboard one of these charming vessels is surely the most relaxing and sublimely comfortable way to enjoy the continent’s grand cultural cities and ever-changing scenic panoramas. There is no need to pack and unpack more than once, and moorings invariably place you at the heart of the action, just minutes’ walk from shops, bars and restaurants. No wonder river cruising has been growing hugely in popularity in recent years.
For cruise holidays, there is something to recommend
every significant river in
Europe, from the Oder to the Volga, the Seine to the Douro, but two in particular stand out for the sheer breadth of attractions that they offer.
The Rhine, winding its way 830km northeast from the Swiss Alps to the North Sea, has been a ‘history-maker’ for millennia – as the barrier between Celtic and Germanic tribes, the backbone of the Frankish, Carolingian and Holy Roman Empires and, later, as the much disputed border between France and Germany. Though the river begins as a raging torrent plunging through steep mountain gorges and over waterfalls, it stabilises into the peaceful and beautiful ‘heroic Rhine’ of literature and legend, dotted with fairy-tale castles and picturesque vineyards. This enchanting section, the Rhine of the Lorelei, the nymph who lured fishermen to their deaths with her singing, and Siegfried, who slew a dragon on its shores, forms the focus of the majority of cruises.
The Danube, the longest European river outside Russia, rises in Germany’s Black Forest and flows almost 3,000km to the Black Sea, through no fewer than 10 countries, including Austria, Hungary, Serbia and Slovakia, whose capital cities stand on its banks. Another important highway of antiquity, the Danube was famed as the long-time frontier of the Roman Empire and, as such, the cultural influences to the north and south can be markedly different. Its majesty has inspired great works of literature and art, including the 16th century Danube school of landscape painting and, of course, music, most notably Johan Strauss’ waltz On the Beautiful Blue Danube. Though its waters may not always be
as vividly blue as that music
has its visitors expect, the Danube still presents the most romantic and captivating way to travel between Central and Eastern Europe.
On both rivers there is plenty of choice for holidaymakers of all budgets, from great value 3* vessels to extraordinary deluxe floating palaces. Food on board is generally excellent, freshly prepared and inspired by the regions cruised, and many operators will also routinely include complimentary wine
with lunch and dinner. Public spaces will most likely include lounges with panoramic views, a library, sun-deck, small gym and perhaps even a spa centre. Shore excursions vary – most operators include at least two or three in your holiday price, but some (such as Uniworld) include a choice of excursions in every major port of call.
MS Serenade 1 is an enticing prospect for 2017 river cruises. This classically elegant, 136-passenger, 4* ship will undergo a refurbishment over the winter to further
enhance the onboard experience, and next year it will exclusively sail the Titan flag on a full programme of imaginative itineraries. Its season begins in spring among the flower fields of Holland, high summer sees it ply fairytale stretches of the ‘Romantic Rhine’ and in late summer it continues to the mighty Danube,
so rich in landscape and culture.
Titan holidays are on sale only in the UK and so, with only Titan holidaymakers aboard, every element of the cruise, from the itinerary to the cuisine, the entertainment to the shore excursions (and of course the language), will be tailored perfectly to the interests and preferences of British travellers. Cabins are more spacious than most vessels in this class, and uniquely include a separate bath and shower in every en-suite. And you also get to enjoy Titan’s multi award-winning VIP Home Departure Service, transporting you from your home to the airport and back again in comfort and style, ensuring that your river cruise holiday really does begin the moment you close your front door.
Prices start at an amazing £1,049 per person, including door-to-door transfers, scheduled flights, full board accommodation, wine, beer and soft drinks with lunch and dinner, gala welcome and farewell dinners, and three shore excursions (on 7-night cruises, five or six on longer cruises) with Quietvox personal audio headsets. Speak to your local Baldwins Travel agent to book.
you also get to enjoy Titan’s multi award-winning
VIP Home Departure Service, transporting you
from your home to the airport and back again in
comfort and style, ensuring that your river cruise
holiday really does begin the moment you close
your front door.
Prices start at an amazing £1,049 per person,
including door-to-door transfers, scheduled flights,
full board accommodation, wine, beer and soft
drinks with lunch and dinner, gala welcome and
farewell dinners, and three shore excursions (on
7-night cruises, five or six on longer cruises) with
Quietvox personal audio headsets. Speak to your
local Baldwins Travel agent to book.