If you are even slightly interested in taking a river cruise, you need to consider traveling on the Danube. This river runs through Austria, Bulgaria, Croatia, Germany, Hungary, Moldova, Romania, Serbia, Slovakia, and Ukraine. 10 different countries all with port cities where a river cruise ship can stop and let you out to explore. This river has been used for travel throughout the area for the last 2000 years, meaning every coast and bank littered with history and amazing sites. From ancient castles and towering monasteries to bustling city streets and modern art centers, it's all there for you to take in. And the cruise itself is there to inspire you even more with comfortable staterooms and food that shares in the surrounding land heritage. This review is meant to educate on a few of some of the best cruise lines for that task - Danube River Cruise. 




Danube River Cruises
Pros & Cons

PROS

  • Meals and drinks are included in the fare
  • One free shore excursions at every port of call
  • All outside cabins

CONS

  • Expensive
  • Busy, packed days with a new port every day


Danube River Cruises 

Danube River cruise travels throughout the Danube river and makes port at cities like Budapest, Vienna, Passau, Melk, just to name a few


What is a Danube River Cruise?

A Danube River cruise travels throughout the Danube river and makes port at cities like Budapest, Vienna, Passau, Melk, just to name a few, and then often includes a flight to Prague. Once the ship makes port into one of these cities and more, there are many activities to partake in, all of which are designed to let you experience the culture, traditions, and history of the peoples and lands you are visiting. Be prepared to take tours of historical sites, walk or ride a bike through old city streets, take art classes, sample the local cuisine and more. 

Product Specs of Danube River Cruise

A river cruise on the Danube is chucked full of history, traditions, and activities to impress you with all the cultures along the way. These cruises can last as little as three days or as long as 16. While the ports mentioned above are the most widely known and used, there are others and far more activities to occupy your time. Each ship is designed to get you there with all the comforts of home and none of the hassle. Most are destination oriented, so the experiences of those countries are included in your meals, in the ships' decor, and in the onboard activities available. 

Pricing of Danube River Cruise

All of these river cruise options, as well as many others, can be found online directly through the company owning the cruise ships or on third-party sites like Expedia or Avoya. These sites are designed to show you all the vacation packages within a certain set of criteria such as travel dates, cruise line, and length of the trip to give you the best deal. The price of the fare or ticket is may vary drastically based on the time of year you are traveling, the size of a stateroom or suite, the length of the trip, what ports and how many ports you visit, and the company you are buying the tickets from. For example, the longer you travel and the larger your onboard accommodations, the more expensive it will be. Common details included are shore excursions, food and drinks, ground transportation, and even airfare. Most Danube river cruise trips cost anywhere from around $1500 to $8000 per person depending on certain listed above factors. For the purpose of this review, we have based all listed approximation of prices on a standard 7-day cruise on the Danube river. 

Danube River Cruise: How it Compares

We picked a couple of similar cruise lines that offer Danube river cruise to see how they compare.     

Viking River Cruises

Emerald Waterways

A'ROSA

Grand Circle Cruise Line


Viking River Cruises

Viking is the largest river cruise line in the world. It boasts a fleet of over 70 ships, with more being constructed each year. Viking prides itself on offering the best luxuries available all while traveling and experiencing the world's greatest cities and historical sites. Each ship in uniquely crafted and designed to incorporate exquisite Scandinavian elements combined with art, decor, and aesthetic features from the specific cultures and places where they are traveling to.

Destination Themed

The whole ship is destination themed, with authentic food and drinks made with local ingredients and cooked by the world best cultural chefs. There are lectures and enrichment programs to continuously teach the passengers about the land, history, culture, and lifestyle of the area in which they are passing through. On board, each ship is also a curated library filled with articles, maps, books, and other forms of media to further enlighten the cruiser about their destinations. Viking pays for one shore excursion at each port of call enabling every passenger to get to experience at least a little taste of the city they are visiting. From wine tastings and tours of the Melk Abbey to art classes and nights at the Vienna Opera, Viking offers the world to every cruiser. They might be a bit pricey, but they also include a lot, such as the shore excursion we already mentioned, as well as most meals and drinks, 24 room service and onboard activities. They have several ships that offer Danube river cruise with different itineraries and lengths.

Price (about  $, $$$ per person)                 

Activities     {Melk Abbey tours, UNESCO sites, wine tasting, shopping, museums, and more}        (5-star rating system)

Ports (Budapest, Visegrad, Vienna, Durnstein, Passau, Regensburg, Bamberg, Prague)  5 stars

Additional Perks & Features {Destination themes and dining, swimming pool, curated library, and spa }   5 stars


Pros

  • Meals and drinks are included in the fare
  • One free shore excursions at every port of call
  • All outside cabins

Cons

  • Expensive
  • Busy, packed days with a new port every day

Emerald Waterways

Emerald Waterways has offered luxury river cruises in Europe for several years and is known for their great customer service and more affordable deals. They strive to offer a balance to the world of river cruises by providing most of the comforts and amenities found of luxury cruises paired with more affordable prices that still include a fair amount of things, such as food and drinks, shore excursions, transfers, and gratuities. They have some of the most innovative ship designs available. All of their ships, except for the smallest one, houses an indoor, heated pool with a retractable roof during the day that transforms into an entertaining cinema at night. For rooms that have balconies, these will convert to conservatories that block out the chilly night air.

Features

This is all done with the simple push of a button. Meals and onboard activities usually include ones that are destination oriented to give the passenger even more of an authentic feel to their travels. Emerald offers several plans of action for shore excursions. For the more active and fit there are options for hiking and long walks. For those that are a little older and wouldn't appreciate those activities as much, there are ones that fit into their style a bit more, like home visits with residents where they get to sample authentic food and drinks and experience "normal" local life. These experiences and their great onboard atmosphere make this Danube river cruise one of the best for the money.

Price (about $, $$$ per person)                   

Activities     {Melk Abbey tours, UNESCO sites, wine tasting, shopping, museums, and more}        5 stars

Ports {Budapest, Bratislava, Vienna, Melk, Passau, Prague}  5 stars

Additional Perks & Features {pool that converts to a cinema at night, balconies that convert to conservatories}   4 stars


Pros

  • Meals and all drinks included in the fare
  • Most shore excursions included in the fare
  • A pool that converts into a cinema at night

Cons

  • Expensive
  • Not a lot of onboard activities
  • Rooms are typically small

A-ROSA

A-ROSA is decidedly a bit different from the rest of the Danube river cruise lines on this list. This company is German to the core. This influences the designs of their ships, the way meals are served and also the dished prepared. As such, they also limit the passengers to English-speaking ones only. The crew speaks both English and German. The decor and style on board are also different from most others who offer similar routes and expeditions. Their ships designed with bright and vivid colors to attract a slightly younger and more active group of passengers.

Features

This crowd makes the atmosphere far less stuffy and much more like an ongoing cocktail party. This is especially true for some because A-ROSA in practically all inclusive with their fare and so all drinks and food are included. The 11 ships of the fleet also boast the largest spas and pools known for river cruises. They also include several onboard activities and options for children and those of a younger crowd. A-ROSA is one of the few Danube river cruise lines that offer free passage to children under 15, but limits one free child per one paying adult. Many meals are served in a buffet fashion true to their German heritage. However, the food options are not always strictly German. They try to cater many of their meals in accordance with their destinations as well.

Price  {about $, $$$ per person}                  

Activities     {Melk Abbey tours, UNESCO sites, wine tasting, shopping, museums, and more}       5 stars

Ports {Budapest, Bratislava, Vienna, Melk, Passau, Prague}  5 stars

Additional Perks & Features {Spa, salon, fitness center, top side pools, be filled by Writer}   5 stars


Pros

  • All inclusive
  • On board spa, pools, and fitness center
  • A free fare for children under 15

Cons

  • Caters to a younger crowd
  • Doesn't focus on the destinations so much

Grand Circle Cruise Line

Grand Circle has been around the travel industry for a while. They are known for their emphasis on culture and enrichment. Their goal in all vacation packages they offer is to teach the passenger or participant about the cultures. And, also the traditions of the places they are traveling. 

 For this reason, they don't offer a lot of onboard options unless they are related to the enrichment of their passengers. They don't have casinos or bars or even multiple dining venues. Also, they are all about the destination.

Specialization

They specialize in great onboard lectures, classes and enrichment programs. In addition, they are also involved in the shore excursions. They have made it a point to connect with local business people, farmers, and tradesman. This is to give their passengers the best authentic experiences available. Everyone they work with is a local resident. And therefore able to entertain whether in guided tours, lectures, or specialized classes on the actual happenings of the area. They also focus their business on repeat customers and affiliates.

Growth

For this reason, they don't publicly advertise but rely on word of mouth and their excellent customer service to open new doors for them. And it works. They are continuously growing. This goes to show that they can provide both amazing experiences and the best customer service. For both on water and on shore. They have recently improved their Danube river cruise for this year. Which is to include tours of palaces and monasteries, wine and food tastings, visits to local schools and historic sites and much more.

Price  {about $, $$$ per person}                  

Activities     {UNESCO sites, wine tasting, shopping, palace tours, and more}        5 stars

Ports {Budapest, Bratislava, Vienna, Krems, Linz, and Prague}  5 stars

Additional Perks & Features {lectures, destination foods, casual atmosphere}   4 stars


Pros

  • Destination themed dinners and lectures
  • Casual atmosphere
  • Based on comfort and convenience

Cons

  • Not a lot of onboard activities
  • Caters to an older crowd

Conclusion

If you're looking to or even slightly interested in going on a Danube river cruise, we highly suggest that you do. Depending on the company you decide to sail with, maybe on this list, you can have the time of your life. All of these will offer a fantastic trip with lots to do and see. However, not all trips may be the best for everyone. We like Viking for a Danube River Cruise. And we give it 5 stars overall for its great price, ports, and additional perks, like its inclusions. We also like that it is so destination oriented. Grand Circle cruise lines come in a close second. However, if you don't like an older crowd and the higher prices, you might consider A-ROSA. They have lower prices and are all-inclusive. They also cater to children and young adults, with much more activities on board than some other cruise lines offer. Check each one out and see which one fits you and your needs the best. Then book a river cruise on the Danube. You won't regret it.

 

QUALITY

PRICE

RATING

Excellent

$$


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