Porthole’s Five Faves
And the Living’s Easy
With summer comes great reasons to river cruise!
River cruises operate nearly year-round, stopping only in the dead of winter. Fall foliage sailings are popular as trees along the riverside show their brilliant colors. Turning colder, Christmas market itineraries feature city centers filled with the aroma of fresh gingerbread baking and some of the best holiday shopping in the world. Spring brings thoughts of sailings in the Netherlands with tulips in full bloom and leads right into summer… and our five favorite reasons to take a summer river cruise.
Summer brings locals to the riverside as a social place to meet, relax, and enjoy a nice summer day. Festivals along many European rivers make for a bonus day ashore with many cruise travelers opting to fully engage summer festivals with their music, entertainment, and cuisine.
Sidewalk Café Season
It happens year-round in most river cruise ports but more so in the summer when it seems everywhere you look is a sidewalk café. Sure, in cold weather many of the venues wrap their space in plastic and heat it up, but once the sun comes out and the heaters go away, there’s nothing quite like lingering at a sidewalk café in Europe and drinking in the scene with a good cup of coffee, glass of local wine, or icy cold beer.
Town Center Markets
The same places that are set up as Christmas markets during the winter holidays transform into colorful farmers’ markets in the summer. Fresh produce, flowers, and other products make great photos. Good food, drinks, and truly unique gifts make for great memories.
Top Deck Scenic Cruising
In summer, most river cruise lines will have a period of “scenic cruising” — the river equivalent of an ocean cruise’s “day at sea.” Passengers are invited to the open-air top deck where the ship’s program director narrates what they see. Castles, tiny towns, vineyards, parks, and more make scenic cruising on a warm summer day a highlight of most itineraries.
Wine and Beer Lovers Delight
If wine, beer, or both are more than mere beverages to you, and if you really like getting into the process, summer is the time to sail. Walking rows of grapevines or visiting breweries to learn about (and sample) regional beers is good reason enough to sail in the summer. Add a fresh grilled sausage and heaven awaits.
— Chris Owen, chriscruises.com