Shorter itineraries are becoming more common on European rivers as cruise lines respond to customer demand for shorter holidays.

Lines like Avalon Waterways, A-Rosa Cruises and CroisiEurope are all offering short sailings in their 2019 and 2020 season.

“We have built these shorter itineraries due to our customer feedback. In Australia for example, consumers tend to go to Europe for longer trips, so these short cruises are a perfect addition to their overall journey. In America, consumers tend to take shorter holidays so these short cruises are a great choice for those wanting a quick break,” says Chris Fundell, Director of Marketing at Avalon Waterways.

The sampler itineraries on the Rhine, Main, Danube, Rhone and Seine are three to six-days long – shorter than the full itineraries offered by half or even more.

They are also perfect for younger cruisers with limited time to holiday as well as new cruisers who want to try out the experience.

“These cruises are also for those customers who want to try river cruising, but don’t want to commit to a more traditional 15 day cruise; they can dip their toe in the water so to speak,” says Mr Fundell.

An added bonus is that in times when rivers are hit with low water lever, these itineraries are much more easy to complete without disruption.

“We have received a fantastic response from both consumers and our trade partners in regards to Avalon Waterways’ expanded short duration river cruises, and early sales are looking promising,” says Mr Fundell.

Crystal Cruises also has a selection of 7-night river cruises in the European rivers, which are not quite short enough to be a called sampler but are still shorter than most itineraries with other lines that often start from 10-days onwards.

So how much do you see when you sail these short itineraries?

Avalon Waterways

For 2019, Avalon Waterways has the five-day ‘The Dreamy Rhine’, which sails Basel to Mainz vice versa. This itinerary is a shortened version of the line’s eight-day ‘Romantic Rhine’ that sails Amsterdam to Basel, but you’ll still be taken across Germany, making stops in Speyer, Rudesheim as well as Strasbourg in France before concluding the sailing in Mainz.

In 2020, the line is offering a five-day “A Taste of the Rhine” that sails from Mainz to Amsterdam. This route is the other half of the Amsterdam to Basel itinerary and its sails the Rhine Gorge from Rudesheim to Koblenz and stops at the heritage town of Cologne before arriving at Amsterdam.

The line also has another six-day short itinerary ‘Danube Symphony’ in 2020. Itineraries on the Danube River are 11 to 19-days on average so the ‘Danube Symphony’ gives you taste of the full experience as you sail from Pussau to Budapest. On this sampler itinerary you’ll get to stop by Linz to see Austria’s largest medieval square, the marble Trinity Column, sail through the Wachau Valley to Krems, take a tour of Vienna’s gilded landmarks as well as visit Bratislava before you disembark at Budapest.


CroisiEurope has a three-day “Escape to Provence” sailing on the Rhone which starts in Lyon before arriving at Avignon where it is home to the Papal Palace, and the Pont du Gard, the ancient Roman bridge, a technical feat built to channel water to the nearest town. The itinerary then moves on to Arles, where you can visit the Camargue natural park. Safari through the wetlands to explore the home of the white horses, pink flamingos and black bulls before heading to the towns of Port Saint Louis and Martigues.

The line also offers five to six-day roundtrip sailings in Strasbourg, Bordeaux, Venice, Paris and more.

A-Rosa Cruises

The German fleet with eye-catching floral painted bows, has a range of five-night roundtrip cruises on the Seine, Rhone, and Rhine as well as a 4-night itinerary on the Danube. Itineraries on the Seine sail from Paris, while itineraries on the Rhone sail from Lyon. Depart from Cologne for the Rhine and Pussau for the Danube.