Scenic and historic rivers in the United States and abroad offer a variety of options and opportunities for bank groups, from the convenience of a floating hotel room on multiday trips to sightseeing, dinner and dance cruises on day trips.
Whether it is a four-hour river cruise in Pittsburgh for western Pennsylvania fall foliage or an eight-day tour in Germany with history and an abundance of the best beers on the itinerary, river cruises are a treat.
Avalon Waterways’ seven-day adventure from Amsterdam, Netherlands, to Basel, Switzerland, begins with a canal boat cruise where the grand architecture of Amsterdam’s Golden Age is on display.
A stop in one of Germany’s largest cities, Cologne, offers Gothic sights and the opportunity to explore the Germano-Roman Museum, drink local ale and purchase, of course, some cologne. Sailing through the Rhine Gorge, passengers are reminded that it is there that local beauties once lured enchanted sailors to their doom from the rock of Lorelei.
Wine-lovers will stock up in Mainz, Germany’s largest wine destination, after visiting the Gutenberg Museum. During free time in Heidelberg, Germany, photo ops abound at the castle ruins towering above the city.
After a stop in Strasbourg, situated on the border of France and Germany, groups continue to Breisach, Germany, and the Black Forest, an area famous for not only natural beauty but also Black Forest ham and Black Forest cherry cake.
Avalon Waterways, part of the Globus family of brands, sails the waters of Europe, Asia and Egypt. With ships that vary in passenger capacity from 138 to 170, Avalon also boasts the youngest river cruising fleet in Europe, according to Michael Lundquist, national group sales manager.
“Themed river cruises are also a big feature for Avalon Waterways,” Lundquist said. “We offer cruises themed with wine, music, jazz, art, Christmas markets and more.”
Uniworld’s 10-day tour of Paris and Normandy, France, combines art, culture and the landscapes associated with painting masters.
The trip begins with a two-night stay at a Parisian hotel and the opportunity to explore the sights in the City of Light, including a panoramic tour with time at the Champs de Mars, Notre Dame Cathedral, the Latin Quarter and more.
Featured excursions on cruises on the Seine River through the countryside of northern France include a full day of history at Normandy with time at the D-Day Museum and the poignant beaches. In Rouen, highlights on a walking tour offer the sites of the Gothic cathedral and Vieux Marche, where Joan of Arc was punished for her defiance.
Art-lovers will love the French harbor town of Honfleur, where painters found their inspiration, and Giverny, Claude Monet’s home for 43 years. The journey ends with a tour of Montmartre, where tiny streets, the Sacre Coeur and views of the rooftops of Paris offer unmatched photo opportunities.
Uniworld, sailing the rivers of Europe, Russia, Egypt, Vietnam, Cambodia and China, typically carries 130 passengers. Arnelle Kendall, vice president of public relations, highlighted just a few of the cruise line’s amenities.
“With the epitome of service, food and entertainment, there is no end to the catering to guests. We offer wellness to all our guests through massages, yoga and bicycles in port. Our ships are refurbished every five years, so they are always new,” she said.
Viking River Cruises
Viking River Cruises’ eight-day cruise Romantic Danube features sights and tastes of three European countries. Beginning in Budapest, Hungary, groups first experience Vaci Utca, a pedestrian thoroughfare featuring shops and cafes, and time amidst some of this capital city’s most iconic landmarks.
In Vienna, Austria, St. Stephen’s Cathedral, with a private concert on a 17,000-pipe organ, and shopping along the Kartnerstrasse and the Oberhaus Fortress are just a few highlights. Local Austrian specialties are served on board while the ship sails past riverside towns and castle ruins that dot the landscape before time in Passau features a walking tour along the town’s narrow streets.
In Regensburg, Germany, considered one of Europe’s best-preserved medieval cities, a walking tour offers sights of the largest groupings of 13th- and 14th-century church spires north of the Alps. Later, groups can travel by ferry to the Danube Gorge’s 400-foot chalk cliffs and Weltenburg Abbey, renowned for the dark ale brewed there by monks since 1050.
A special sailing treat is experiencing the locks that make up the Main-Danube Canal, considered an engineering marvel and stretching 106 miles. In Nuremberg, Germany, a tour features the former Nazi parade grounds and the Palace of Justice, site of the Nuremberg Trials.
In 2012, Viking River Cruises, sailing the rivers of Europe, Egypt, Russia, China, Ukraine and Southeast Asia in ships accommodating between 120 and 260 guests, will debut six state-of-the-art cruise vessels, the Viking Longships, according to Laura Reeve, spokeswoman.
“Each will boast key innovations to allow for full-size staterooms and full-size verandas, as well as the new indoor/outdoor Aquavit Terrace, a reinvention of the lounge by bringing the outdoor river scenery indoors with retractable, floor-to-ceiling glass doors,” she said.