The Essential Guide to River Cruising

Luxury, discovery and wonder — welcome to the world of all-inclusive Scenic river cruising, where you’ll enjoy exclusive travel experiences and special events not available to the ordinary traveller.

For over 30 years, Scenic has been at the forefront of luxury travel, combining innovation and luxury with our signature all-inclusive service. Our fleet of Scenic Space-Ships have set a new precedent in 5-star river cruising, helping you uncover the iconic wonders of the world’s great waterways in absolute comfort, luxury and elegance.

From the cosmopolitan capitals of Europe to the exotic charms of the Orient; a luxury river cruise allows you to see the world’s great spectacles in one seamless journey — unpacking your suitcase only once as you set out on the trip of a lifetime.

If you’re considering booking a luxury river cruise for the very first time, you’ll doubtless have a few questions about what you can expect from all-inclusive river travel. This page looks to answer these queries, providing helpful information and insight into the world of luxury river cruising.

guide to river cruise

Benefits of a River Cruise

A luxury river cruise is quite unlike any other type of holiday, with a variety of perks, privileges and special experiences included to ensure your experience is nothing short of unforgettable.

Visit Multiple Destinations in a Single Journey

Pencilling in trips to all the destinations on your travel wish list can take a lifetime — not so on a river cruise. From esteemed capital cities like Paris, Vienna, Budapest and Amsterdam to timeless regions like Provence, Wachau Valley and the Rhine Gorge; you’ll visit an extraordinary array of destinations over the course of a single itinerary, waking up in another exciting place every day of your journey.

Take the Stress Out of Travelling

We all want to experience new and exciting cultural destinations, but not at the expense of our relaxation and wellbeing. For discerning travellers hoping to expand their horizons, a river cruise offers a stress-free way to travel from destination to destination, with all transfers taken care of from the moment you reach the departure gate. What’s more, you’ll never need to stock up on guidebooks, consult a map or decipher a foreign language during your river cruise — perfect for those looking for a little adventure without the revision.

Outstanding Food and Drink

Sampling delicious fine food and drink is integral to any holiday, and this is an area in which luxury river cruising excels. Over the course of your journey, you’ll be privy to a menu of exceptional dishes inspired by local flavours and cuisines, as well as a roster of sommelier-selected wines and beverages. Fresh produce is locally sourced from each destination, with chefs regularly disembarking to seek out the finest new ingredients for tonight’s culinary showcase.

excellent food river cruises guide

Enjoy Special Events and Excursions, Every Day

While you may only enjoy a couple of excursions over the course of a normal getaway, luxury river cruising is quite different. Waking up somewhere new each day, you’ll have a handful of enriching excursions to choose from, helping you experience every destination to its fullest. From escorted guided tours around ageless cities to museum, gallery and exhibition visits; river cruising lets you enjoy more of the things you love, for a truly special break away.

Which River is For Me?

Now that we’ve piqued your interest with the many benefits of river cruising, it’s time to start thinking about which river would be the perfect passageway on which to experience your first luxury river cruise.

Here, we explore some of the world’s most popular river cruise routes, offering guidance on the type of holiday each affords the discerning traveller.

Danube River

Stretching for 1,770 miles through the heart of central and eastern Europe, the Danube has become a river cruise classic, beloved by travellers the world over. This majestic waterway, which springs forth in Germany’s Black Forest, cuts a course through 10 countries on its epic journey from source to sea — providing steady passage through such renowned cities and beauty spots as Vienna, Budapest, the Austrian Alps and the Wachau Valley.

Perfect for those new to the world of river cruising, the Danube offers daily cultural enrichment thanks to the variety of fascinating towns, cities and heritage sites which line its banks. Whether you fancy a trip to the opera in Vienna or can envisage yourself relaxing in one of Budapest’s many thermal spas; the Danube provides a blissful introduction to the wonders of river travel.

Click here for a full collection of Danube river cruises.

danube river

Rhine River

Crossing through Switzerland, Liechtenstein, Germany, France and the Netherlands on its way to the North Sea, the Rhine is another border-hopping waterway favoured among river cruise goers — and for good reason. The Rhine carves a dramatic course through central and western Europe, showcasing the beauty of the Rhine Gorge and the cultural splendour of such destinations as Basel, Cologne, Nuremberg and Amsterdam along the way.

Lovers of history, heritage and the great outdoors will be well catered for on the waters of the Rhine, with such sights as Marksburg Castle, the Black Forest, Regensburg and the palace of Rastatt providing plenty of cultural immersion. The same can be said of wine buffs, with the Rhine passing close to many of Germany’s most esteemed vineyards.

Click here for a full selection of Rhine river cruises.

Seine River

Take to the peaceful waters of the Seine River, and explore Paris, Rouen and the beaches of Normandy in one seamless journey. This charming waterway flows through some of the most idyllic stretches of countryside in northern France, linking ancient towns and villages like Vernon and Conflans with captivating cities like Rouen, Honfleur and of course, Paris.

Peaceful, relaxing and teeming with history; the Seine is perfect for those looking to get away from it all with a week of culture and discovery. Uncover the legacy of the Impressionist masters in Honfleur, trace the footsteps of Joan of Arc in Rouen, or take advantage of the legendary shopping in Paris. All this is yours to uncover on the tempting flow of the Seine.

Click here for a full selection of Seine river cruises.

Rhône River

Long dreamt of visiting the Provence region of France? Book a luxury river cruise on the Rhône River, and you’ll experience the many highlights of this charming French region. From its source in the Swiss Alps, the Rhône flows south through the pastoral landscapes of Provence, weaving through such esteemed destinations as Lyon, Vienne, Viviers and Avignon on its way to the Mediterranean Sea.

Imagine Provence, and you probably picture sun-kissed vineyards, colourful lavender fields and quaint towns and villages where life is lived at a more idle pace. This is indeed the sort of welcome you can expect on the waters of the Rhône, and it goes without saying that wine and food lovers will be in their element on this timeless passageway.

Click here for a full selection of Rhône River cruises.

Douro River

Flowing through Portugal’s fertile northern uplands between Spain and the Atlantic Ocean, the Douro is a wonderful river cruise route for those who want to take in some of Portugal’s most beautiful landmarks whilst basking in the country’s warm and sunny climate. Discover Porto, Portugal’s illustrious and colourful second city, before venturing out into the countryside, where terraced hills heavy with grapevines rise steadily from the water’s edge.

Sound idyllic? The Douro is perfect for those who want to make the most of the summer sun whilst savouring a few cultural distractions, including a visit to Mateus Palace, Vega de Terron and the Coa Valley Museum.

Click here for a full selection of Douro River cruises.


Essential Tips for First-Time River Cruisers

If this is to be your first luxury river cruise, there are a few things you should know to help you pick the perfect itinerary and enjoy a holiday of a lifetime. Here, we offer some essential tips for first-time river cruisers, including booking advice and tips on what to pack.

Booking Tips

  • Join mailing lists: By signing up to mailing lists from river cruise providers, you’ll be privy to the very latest offers, helping you get a great deal on your next holiday.
  • Book well in advance: For the most competitive rates on river cruise suites, make sure you book well in advance. Not only will you have more choice and greater flexibility in which cabin you choose, you may be able to take advantage of special early booking discounts.
  • Or wait until the last minute: On the flip side, if you have no real preference over your cabin class or, in some instances, the destination, it could be worth leaving it until the last minute to book. River cruise providers are keen to get bodies on their ships as departure dates draw near, and may offer great discounts on available suites as a result.
  • Call direct: While most people take to the internet to access the best deals, it could pay to make enquiries over the phone. By speaking to someone directly, they may be able to pass on deals and discounts which are yet to go live online. Failing that, there may be the opportunity to negotiate a better price on your river cruise.

River Cruise Packing Tips

Before packing for your first river cruise, there are a few things you should consider that will dictate the type of clothing, shoes and accessories you’ll need to take with you to ensure a comfortable and enjoyable trip. This includes where you’re travelling, what time of year you’re departing, local climate factors and, of course, the duration of your tour.

For those looking forward to an upcoming holiday, our guide to the must pack items for a river cruise can help ensure you have everything you need to make your trip one to remember.

And if you still require any further help of assistance, please call our friendly sales team on 0808 231 9866.

Dominic Keely
Dominic Keely
Dominic is Scenic's Marketing Exec. His favourite river is the Seine, because of the rich history of the region. Dom's a huge football and Manchester United fan, and plays on a team himself.