Travel Made Easy: European river cruises

European river cruises are fast becoming the best way to see Europe and mature travelers love river cruising. I’ll distinguish between river cruises because there are ships that cruise rivers in Europe, United States, China and Vietnam. All very different experiences so, for now I’ll focus on my experiences with European river cruises.

Most of us who watch PBS are familiar with the beautiful river scenes shown by Viking River Cruises. You should know there are several other river cruise lines in European waters such as Avalon, AMA, Uniworld, Tauck, Scenic, Emerald and more. The amenities vary from ship to ship, but all of the cruise lines offer similar experiences.

All of the river cruise ships offer the wonder of sailing on a scenic European waterway, packing and unpacking only once, three meals a day, shore excursions in magnificent and historical cities as well as viewing the passing countryside of small towns and villages.

After several river cruises, I can tell you without reservation this is a great way to see Europe. But as a mobility challenged traveler, there are some very important things to consider. Most importantly, this is not a trip for a wheelchair-bound traveler or a person who uses an electric scooter. Companies that deliver handicapped equipment do not deliver to European river cruise ships.

Some other important information: Elevators do not necessarily go to all floors of the ship; ramps to embark and disembark can be very steep depending on the level of the water; the cobblestones that make the streets in towns so quaint also make it difficult to walk. By the very fact that the river towns are located on a river usually means there is an access road or walkway close to the ship but the town could be located up steep streets or stairways to gain access to the town proper. As soon as local guides discuss the record flooding the town has experienced, you begin to understand the elevation of the riverside towns.

Daily shore excursions are included in the river cruise itinerary and involve walking tours of the villages and towns. Options include a “slow walkers” group for those of us who won’t keep up with the normal walking tour pace. For me, even the slow walkers’ group at times moved too quickly. Checking with the ship’s cruise director, I would see if there were alternatives to see the towns at my own pace. I ended up with suggestions for a sightseeing tram in two cities and a walking tour on my own as way to explore at my own pace. See, it can be done. You need to understand your limitations and have a plan.

Travel Tip: Consider your limitations when planning a river cruise. There will be steps to climb on the ship and many of the picturesque towns include cobblestone streets and walkways. The ships Cruise Director can help you choose shore excursions that fit your needs.

 

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About Kate DeLosso

Kate DeLosso is a travel professional with over 20 years of experience traveling the world on land and by ship, visiting over 30 countries with an emphasis on travel in Asia. Kate DeLosso Travel is a home based travel agency that helps individual travelers and groups explore the US, Europe and Asia. A number of years ago, Kate had stroke and had to re-learn how to walk, type and drive a car. With a mobility handicap, she became aware that travel was “different” for people with physical challenges. One of her missions has become to share the knowledge accumulated after 20 years of traveling the world as a mobility challenged person. Kate DeLosso is a Certified Travel Counselor, Special Interest Travel Specialist and an Accredited Cruise Counselor and founder of Kate DeLosso Travel. She has lived and worked in Chadds Ford since 1999.

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