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What Is The Average Cost Of A European River Cruise


Modified: December 28, 2023

by Crystie Abbott



Embarking on a European river cruise is a dream come true for many travelers. It offers a unique and enchanting way to explore some of the most iconic and picturesque destinations in the world. From the romantic waterways of the Rhine and Danube to the historic charms of the Seine and Douro, there is a river cruise for every travel enthusiast.


However, before setting sail, it’s essential to have a clear understanding of the costs associated with a European river cruise. While each cruise line and itinerary may vary, there are common factors that affect the overall pricing. By familiarizing yourself with these factors, you can better plan and budget for your dream vacation.


In this article, we will delve into the average cost of a European river cruise, exploring the various factors that influence the price, and providing tips on how to save money without compromising on the experience. So, whether you’re a seasoned traveler or embarking on your first river cruise, let’s navigate the waters of cost and discover the treasures that await.


Factors Affecting the Cost of European River Cruises

When it comes to calculating the cost of a European river cruise, several factors come into play. Understanding these factors can help you decipher the pricing structure and make an informed decision.

  • Cruise Line: Different cruise lines offer varying levels of luxury, amenities, and services. Luxury lines tend to have higher price points, while more budget-friendly options are available as well.
  • Cruise Itinerary: The duration and destinations of the cruise can affect the cost. Longer cruises and those that visit popular cities or include exclusive ports of call are generally more expensive.
  • Time of Year: The time of year you choose to sail can greatly impact the price. Peak season, typically during the summer months, tends to be more expensive, while shoulder or off-peak seasons offer more affordable rates.
  • Cabin Category: The type of cabin you choose will affect the cost. Suite accommodations with balconies or larger rooms will be priced higher than standard cabins with fewer amenities.
  • Inclusions: Consider what is included in the cruise fare. Some cruise lines include excursions, Wi-Fi, and beverages, while others may charge extra for these amenities.

It’s important to note that the base price of a river cruise often doesn’t include certain additional expenses, such as airfare, pre and post-cruise accommodations, travel insurance, and onboard expenses like spa treatments or specialty dining. These factors should be taken into account when planning and budgeting for your trip.


By understanding the factors that influence the cost of a European river cruise, you can make informed decisions about which options align with your preferences and budget. Next, let’s explore the specific aspects of a river cruise that can impact the overall price.


Accommodation Options and Pricing

When it comes to European river cruises, accommodation options can vary, and the type of cabin you choose will influence the overall cost of your trip.


Most river cruise ships offer a range of cabin categories to cater to different budgets and preferences. These can include standard cabins, suites, and even luxurious staterooms with private balconies. The size, amenities, and location of the cabin within the ship can affect the pricing.


The cost of the cabin will typically be higher for more spacious accommodations with added amenities and better views. Suites and cabins with balconies or French balconies often command a premium price due to the increased space and the opportunity to enjoy scenic views from the privacy of your own room.


It’s important to note that while upgrading to a higher category cabin can enhance your overall experience, it may also come with a higher price tag. If budget is a concern, opting for a standard cabin can still provide a comfortable and enjoyable river cruise experience.


Additionally, some cruise lines offer single cabins that are specifically designed for solo travelers. These cabins are usually priced at a premium compared to a single occupancy rate for a double cabin, but they provide the convenience and privacy that solo travelers seek.


It’s essential to consider your priorities and budget when choosing the accommodation for your European river cruise. Whether you opt for a luxurious suite or a cozy standard cabin, the comfort and amenities of your chosen cabin will contribute to your overall enjoyment of the journey.


Dining and Beverage Expenses

One of the highlights of a European river cruise is the dining experience, where you can indulge in a variety of culinary delights while taking in picturesque views along the river. However, it’s important to understand that dining and beverage expenses are typically not included in the base price of a river cruise.


Most river cruise lines offer multiple dining venues onboard, ranging from elegant gourmet restaurants to casual cafes. The cost of dining can vary depending on the cruise line and the level of luxury. Some cruise lines may include all meals in the cruise fare, while others may charge extra for specialty dining experiences.


Additionally, alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages are often not included in the base fare. River cruise lines typically offer beverage packages or charge for beverages individually. It’s worth considering whether purchasing a beverage package is more cost-effective for you depending on your preferences and consumption habits.


Some cruise lines offer complimentary regional wines, beers, and soft drinks during meal times, while others may charge for all beverages throughout the day. It’s essential to check the policy of the cruise line you choose to ensure you understand how dining and beverage expenses will impact your overall budget.


With the variety of dining options available onboard, you can expect a range of cuisines and flavors to suit different palates. From regional specialties to international dishes, the culinary experiences onboard a European river cruise are designed to delight and satisfy.


While dining and beverage expenses may add to the overall cost of your river cruise, it’s important to consider them as part of the overall experience. Delighting in gourmet meals, sipping fine wines, and enjoying the ambiance of onboard dining venues are all part of the memorable journey along Europe’s stunning waterways.


Excursions and Onboard Activities Costs

One of the advantages of a European river cruise is the opportunity to explore fascinating destinations along the way. Excursions to iconic landmarks, cultural sites, and immersive experiences are often a highlight of the journey. However, it’s important to note that these excursions are typically not included in the base price of the cruise.


Most river cruise lines offer a range of optional shore excursions at each port of call. These excursions can vary in terms of duration, activities, and level of exploration. Examples of popular excursions include guided walking tours, visits to historical sites, wine tastings, and culinary experiences.


The cost of these excursions can vary, depending on the complexity of the itinerary and the type of activity included. It’s important to review the excursion options offered by your chosen cruise line and factor in the additional cost when budgeting for your trip.


In addition to shore excursions, river cruise ships offer a range of onboard activities to keep guests entertained and engaged during their journey. These activities can include cultural talks, cooking demonstrations, onboard performances, and wellness classes.


While many onboard activities are included in the cruise fare, there may be some additional activities or experiences that come at an extra cost. It’s a good idea to familiarize yourself with the onboard activities offered by your chosen cruise line and check whether any of them require an additional fee.


By planning ahead and budgeting for excursions and onboard activities, you can ensure that you make the most of your European river cruise experience without any financial surprises.


Transportation and Airfare Expenses

When considering the cost of a European river cruise, it’s important to take into account transportation and airfare expenses. These costs are separate from the cruise fare and can significantly impact your overall budget.


For travelers coming from distant locations, airfare is typically the largest transportation expense. The cost of airfare can vary depending on factors such as your departure city, travel dates, and the airline you choose. Booking your flights well in advance or taking advantage of airline promotions can help reduce this expense.


Once you arrive at your embarkation port, you may also need to arrange transportation from the airport to the cruise port. This can be done through a variety of means, including taxis, private transfers, or even pre-arranged transportation services offered by the cruise line. It’s important to consider this cost when planning your overall budget.


Additionally, if you plan to extend your trip before or after the cruise, you may have additional transportation expenses for getting to and from the extra destinations. This can include train tickets, domestic flights, or rental cars, depending on your chosen itinerary.


It’s important to research and compare different transportation options to find the most cost-effective solutions for your specific needs. Booking in advance, being flexible with travel dates, and considering alternative airports or modes of transportation can help you save on transportation expenses.


By factoring in transportation and airfare expenses when budgeting for your European river cruise, you can ensure that you have a realistic estimate of the overall cost of your trip.


Additional Fees and Gratuities

When planning for a European river cruise, it’s important to consider additional fees and gratuities that may be incurred during your journey. These costs, although optional to some extent, are part of the overall experience and should be taken into account when budgeting for your trip.


One common additional fee is the port charges or port taxes. These fees are typically imposed by the ports of call and cover various administrative costs such as docking fees and local regulations. The amount can vary depending on the itinerary and the ports visited, so it’s important to check with your cruise line for the specific charges applicable to your trip.


Another additional expense to consider is gratuities or service charges. River cruise lines often have guidelines or recommended gratuity amounts for the crew members who provide exceptional service throughout your journey. These gratuities are typically optional and can be paid in cash or added to your onboard account. It’s advisable to familiarize yourself with the gratuity policy of your chosen cruise line to avoid any surprises.


Other optional additional fees may include premium services such as spa treatments, salon services, specialty dining experiences, and premium beverages. These luxuries can enhance your experience but should be budgeted for separately, as they are not typically included in the base fare. It’s a good idea to review the pricing and availability of these premium services before your cruise and plan accordingly.


By understanding the potential additional fees and gratuity expenses, you can plan your budget more accurately and ensure that you can fully enjoy the amenities and services available during your European river cruise.


Average Cost of European River Cruises by Destination

The cost of European river cruises can vary depending on the destination you choose to explore. Different regions and rivers offer unique experiences, and the pricing can reflect the popularity and demand for each destination.


The Danube River, often referred to as the “Queen of Europe’s rivers,” is one of the most popular choices for river cruising. Cruises along the Danube typically offer a mix of cultural cities, charming towns, and scenic landscapes. The average cost for a Danube river cruise can range from $2,500 to $5,000 per person, depending on factors such as cruise line, cabin category, and duration.


The Rhine River is another sought-after destination, known for its breathtaking castles, vineyards, and storybook settings. Cruises along the Rhine can range from $2,500 to $4,500 per person, with variations in price based on itinerary, cabin selection, and cruise line.


The Seine River, with its picturesque scenery and proximity to Paris, is a popular choice for those seeking a mix of urban and natural beauty. Seine River cruises can range from $2,500 to $5,000 per person, depending on the length of the cruise, cabin type, and inclusions.


The Douro River, known for its beautiful vineyards and charming villages, offers a unique and tranquil river cruising experience. Douro River cruises typically range from $3,000 to $6,000 per person, depending on the level of luxury, cabin category, and duration of the cruise.


These are just a few examples of the average costs of European river cruises by destination. It’s important to note that these prices are approximate and can vary based on various factors, including the time of year, cabin category, cruise line, and inclusions.


When budgeting for your European river cruise, it’s advisable to research and compare different cruise lines and itineraries to find the best value for your preferences and budget. Be sure to factor in additional expenses such as transportation, excursions, dining, and gratuities to get a comprehensive understanding of the total cost of your dream river cruise.


Tips for Saving Money on European River Cruises

While European river cruises offer an exceptional and luxurious travel experience, there are ways to save money and make your dream trip more affordable. Here are some tips to help you save on your European river cruise:

  • Choose the right time: Consider sailing during the shoulder season or off-peak times when prices are typically lower. Avoiding peak travel periods can significantly reduce the cost of your cruise.
  • Book in advance: Early booking often comes with discounts and special offers. By securing your spot early, you can also have a better chance of getting the cabin category and itinerary you desire.
  • Be flexible with your itinerary: Consider alternative cruise routes or less popular destinations. These options may come at a lower cost due to lower demand.
  • Research different cruise lines: Compare prices, inclusions, and amenities offered by various cruise lines. This can help you find the best value for your money while still enjoying a high-quality experience.
  • Consider lower cabin categories: Upgrading to a higher category cabin can be tempting, but opting for a standard or lower category cabin can still provide a comfortable and enjoyable experience at a lower cost.
  • Manage onboard expenses: Set a budget for onboard expenses such as specialty dining, beverages, and spa treatments. Limiting these extra costs can help you stay within your budget.
  • Research shore excursion options: Compare prices of shore excursions offered by the cruise line with independent tour operators. In some cases, booking tours directly with local operators can be more cost-effective while still providing an enriching experience.
  • Consider pre or post-cruise accommodation: Instead of staying at a hotel recommended by the cruise line, research and book accommodations independently. This can often result in significant savings.
  • Look for promotions and deals: Keep an eye out for special promotions, discounts, and package deals offered by cruise lines or travel agencies. These promotions can provide valuable savings.
  • Travel as a group: Some cruise lines offer group discounts, so consider traveling with family or friends to take advantage of these savings.

By implementing these tips, you can make your European river cruise more affordable without compromising on the experience. Saving money along the way will allow you to fully enjoy the wonders of the river, explore stunning destinations, and create unforgettable memories.



Embarking on a European river cruise is a captivating experience that allows you to immerse yourself in the beauty and history of the continent. While the cost of a river cruise can vary depending on several factors, it’s important to have a comprehensive understanding of the expenses involved in order to plan and budget effectively.


Factors such as the cruise line, itinerary, accommodation, dining, excursions, transportation, and additional fees all contribute to the overall cost of a European river cruise. By researching and comparing options, you can find the best value for your preferences and budget.


It’s also worth considering various money-saving strategies, such as traveling during the off-peak season, booking in advance, managing onboard expenses, and exploring alternative shore excursion options. These tips can help you optimize your budget without compromising on the quality of your experience.


Ultimately, a European river cruise offers a unique and unforgettable way to explore the stunning landscapes, cultural treasures, and vibrant cities of Europe. By understanding the costs involved and employing money-saving strategies, you can embark on your dream journey with confidence and enjoy every moment of your adventure.


So, whether you choose to cruise along the Danube, Rhine, Seine, Douro, or any other picturesque river, allow yourself to be swept away by the beauty and charm of Europe on a river cruise that fits your budget and exceeds your expectations.